In a street corner in a mostly abandoned part of a city, there lies a quaint little coffee shop. The antique plaque over the weathered black door has some rune-like decorations, the phases of the moon, and the word “Midnight” in flowing letters. The door has a sign that says “Open, from” and under it, it says “0.00 AM to 5.00 AM”. Inside, the cafe it’s rather dark, only a single dim bulb lights the common area. The bar and behind are lit with another one. There are two doors, one with “Personnel Only” above it, and the other slightly ajar, apparently leading to a stairway downstairs. In the common area are a few tables, each with no more than four chairs. In addition, there are a couple of more private, lodge-like compartments. There are no mirrors inside. There’s currently a red note on the door that says “closed for today, we’ll open tomorrow as usual”.
There are four people inside, everyone dressed in black in some way. It’s really quiet, not even outside noises are heard here. It smells faintly of incense of some sort. The tallest one, a pale thin woman with very long jet black hair and piercing silver eyes, is leaning on the bar. She’s dressed in a long dress, almost skintight to her knees, and then opens up and flares to wide hem at her ankles. She’s looking at the shortest one, a frail, teenage-looking short girl with heavy goth makeup and thin, unkempt-looking long black hair and dark blue eyes who is sitting at the bar in a corner, shadows surrounding her as if embracing and caressing her. She’s dressed in a frilly lace dress with small dark accents here and there. The other two are sitting at a table nearby. The first one a taller, muscular slightly tanned woman with short curly hair and warm yellow eyes. She’s wearing a skintight t-shirt and black leather pants. There’s a leather coat hanging behind her on her chair. The other is an almost as tall, thinner woman with dark blue hair and bright green eyes. She has a few rune-like tattoos under her left eye and neck. She’s dressed in a black robe with intricate purple runes at the hem. It looks like a silken robe but appears to fold like a thicker one.
“Chichiri, why call us all here today?“, The shortest one asks the tallest one and tilts her head slightly sideways. Her voice sounds like whispers on black satin, a breathy soft tone. Her black lips barely move when she speaks.
“Please don’t call me that when there are other people around, Jeannie. My name’s Charlotte”, the tallest one says. Her voice is rich and full, her manners that of a noblewoman. She speaks with a noticeable Eastern European accent, but not one that is very pronounced or recent. Her bright red lips contrast shockingly with her black hair and almost-white skin. The result is a stunning look that is not easily forgotten.
“Okay. So, Charlotte, why did you call us all here? I thought it would be just the two of us today as usual”, Jeannie whispers.
“Because I have an idea. A suggestion that needs everyone’s approval”, Charlotte says, her voice like explaining it to a child.
“Hey, you two. You can stop the bickering, we know you are like an old married couple”, says the one wearing leather pants. Her voice is warm and slightly harsh with a slightly wider and “outback-ish” accent.
“Grace, don’t agitate them”, the one in the robe says to the leather pants one. She speaks in a soft voice, not quite as whispery as Jeannie, but lower than normal. There’s a slight edge in her voice, like a razor blade hidden just under a silken surface.
“Spoilsport”, Grace says. “You’re no fun at parties, Evie.” She grins at the robed one and sticks her tongue out.
“It’s Evelyn”, the robed one says. “At least if there are other people around, you know that.”
“But it’s just them!”, Grace says and points at Jeannie and Charlotte. “They are not ‘other people’. They’re.. well, they’re them!”, she says and shrugs.
“Alright, alright”, Charlotte says. “Now keep silent, and listen, I have a plan.”
“Oh shit”, Evelyn says under her breath.
“So lemme get this straight”, Grace says and leans backward with her hands behind her neck. “Your ‘great plan’ was to sic me and Evie to keep the cafe open at daytime when you can’t and Jeannie doesn’t want to?”, she says and looks directly at Charlotte. They are all sitting around the largest table in the cafe, with drinks in front of all of them except Charlotte.
“It’s actually kind of a good plan, Grace”, Evelyn says. “I actually wonder why we haven’t done that before. We can keep the cafe open more and thus get more income. You and I are perfectly capable of handling things together when Charlotte and Jeannie are not there. And we get to go home at nights more because they’ll be here then.”
“Exactly”, Charlotte says. “I tried - no, we tried. Jeannie and me. - but we didn’t come up with any real reasons why we should not do this.”
“I can come up with two on the spot”, Grace says and doesn’t look happy about any of this.
“Tell us, then”, Jeannie whispers almost silently. “Other than not being together the four of us that much.”
“Well, as a first, Just two people are not enough if there are a lot of customers”, Grace says and sits straight, then leans her hands on the table and props her head on her hands. She looks at Charlotte. “And with me gone, you’re missing a bouncer - no, don’t even, Charlotte. I know you can do it, but will you? You’re not exactly the prime candidate for throwing someone out, even if you’re perfectly capable of it.”
“And then there’s the big question”, Evelyn says quietly and leans back on her chair, crossing her hands on her belly. “Do we actually want to serve the day folk? At all? Like, normal regular people?”
Charlotte looks troubled, Jeannie draws her legs on her chair and wraps her hands around them. Grace looks at Charlotte and Jeannie, then at Evelyn. She appears to think about something, as do all of them. They spend the next few minutes in complete silence pondering on Evelyn’s words. Jeannie takes her drink and sips it carefully, then sets it back on the table.
“The cultist has a valid point, Chichiri”, she whispers towards Charlotte.
“Watch it, shadow clown”, Evelyn says and throws a glance at Jeannie.
“Jeannie, please”, Charlotte says and turns to look at Jeannie with an exasperated expression.
“But you’re so cute when you get flustered…”, Jeannie says and smiles at both of them. “It’s still a valid point”, she says.
“Well, I got to give it to you, Prieto”, Charlotte says to Evelyn and puts her elbows on the table, then leans her head on top of her crossed hands. “I have to say I’m not overly fond of letting the common folk inside the walls here… Jeannie and I didn’t think of that at all.”
“You’re welcome, Volkova”, Evelyn answers and smiles at Charlotte. “Still, it was a good plan otherwise”, she says.
“I’m not so sure about that”, Grace says. “Let’s just keep it open at nights like we’ve been doing thus far“, she continues and lifts her boots on the table. “That leaves me with more than during the day to have fun with you anyways”, she says and grins widely at Evelyn, who blushes.
“I guess we need to keep doing what we’ve been doing already. Let’s see about more open hours at another time”, Charlotte says.
“You just have to—”, Grace says, lifts her right hand in front of her, spreads her index and middle finger apart and makes gestures with her tongue between them “—with Jeannie some other time”, she says and laughs heartily at them. Jeannie blushes furiously and Charlotte crosses her hands in front of her.
“You’re a nasty piece of work, Fischer”, she says to Grace.
“Stop pretending like we all don’t belong to the ‘Keep Your Right Hand’s Index and Middle Fingers’ Nails Short For a Reason’ -club.”, Grace says and grins. Everyone looks at their right hand. Evelyn buries her face in her hands and sighs. Charlotte groans and Jeannie looks at her deadpan. Grace laughs loudly.
“Prieto, get Fischer out of my sight and… do something about her”, Charlotte says to Evelyn.
Grace sits up and looks at Charlotte with her eyes wide open. “Did you just ask Evie to take me home and fuck me?”, She says surprised. Jeannie giggles.
“Out!”, Charlotte says and points at the door. Evelyn takes Grace by the hand and leads her towards the door.
“See you tomorrow night!”, Evelyn yells from the doorway, then steps out.
“Brennan!”, Grace yells to Jeannie from the door, “You might want to give Volkova some action too, she seems to be in need of some”, she yells and runs laughing out of the door.
“Why do we associate with them, Jeannie?”, Charlotte asks after a couple of minutes.
“Because they’re our friends and are correct most of the time”, Jeannie says and stands up, then walks to Charlotte and wraps her hands around her. “Chichiri, we still have a couple of hours until sunrise. What if we followed Grace’s advice…”, she whispers gently and buries her head between the tall woman’s breasts.
Charlotte sighs, smiles and wraps her hands around Jeannie’s neck, and pulls her closer to her. “You have a dirty mind my love”, she whispers. “But I don’t mind… Grace can be frightfully perceptive sometimes…”
The lights dim and shadows seem to swallow the whole inside of the cafe. A lonely streetlight nearby flickers once and once it comes back on, the cafe is empty. The door to downstairs is closed and the shadows lighter inside.