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By PrimaImperatrix All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Scifi

Chapter One

Despite protestations of being broke, lured out by the promises of drinks to be purchased from another pocket, Max Lucas now found herself in a bar full of hipsters. She did not want to be there, and she had no intentions of having a good time. With the alcohol in her apartment having run dry, and a rattle detectable in her hand, Max had come here in a moment of weakness and desperation. The possibility of facing the night sober was worse than dealing with hipsters, but only just, which is why she had caved to her friend Leo’s offer to purchase her drinks if she would just come out and be social.

From the moment she observed the clientele as the bouncer with bottle cap size black grommets in his ears checked her I.D., she immediately regretted the decision to come. Thankfully she was here for the sole purpose of getting nearly black out drunk which, thankfully, was the only mode in which she found hipsters tolerable. Guilt laden lectures on the benefits of veganism and arguments over the best, new underground German electronica were best handled while absolutely faced.

Bisecting the throbbing crowd unapologetically, she made her way to Leo at the bar. She could see he was chatting up a miserable looking girl with burgundy colored hair swept into her face, wearing a Jareth the Goblin King t-shirt with a hideous floral skirt held up by suspenders. Upon this, she viscerally braced for impact. Slinging herself onto the edge of the bar, she leaned against the edge of a retrofitted old bowling alley lane, and propped herself up by the elbows.

“Fuck, I miss smoking in bars,” she lamented. “Two minutes with these post-adolescent Emo kids, and I already feel like I need a cigarette.”

“Nice to see you dressed up for the occasion.” Leo tugged at her shirt and loose fitting jeans, paint splattered from an afternoon spent working on her latest for-profit masterpiece.

“You wanted me here, I’m here,” she reminded him, stealing a stirring straw from the mix station and popping in her mouth like a toothpick.

“Well, at least you won’t have to spend all evening telling innocent and interested young men to fuck right off—you’ve perfected a look that does it for you.” He bopped the messy, tangled brunette bun on the back of her head.

“The black rimmed glasses to skinny jeans ratio is far too high for a starving artist to not be in someone’s wheelhouse,” she raised her voice to be heard over the next song that had just begun to play on a jukebox that played .45s rather than digital streaming music, “So, I’m sure several of these pretentious poser douchebags will get the royal treatment before night’s end.”

“What are you drinking tonight, Tyler Durden?”

“Anything with alcohol,” she waved her hand nonchalantly, then catching her mistake replied, “No PBR. I have standards.” She leaned further on the bar to speak to Leo’s quarry, who had made absolutely no attempt of acknowledging her. “Hey Big Red,” she reached over to get the girl’s attention by snapping a suspender, “What tastes ironic?”

Leo jabbed Max in the ribs as Big Red made a prissy, judgmental scrunch face.

“Yeah... I’m gonna get in line for the ladies,” she sneered, and swished off to another group-- not the bathroom.

“Thanks, Max,” Leo grumbled

“You’re going to realize I just did you a favor,” she scoffed. “Seriously, what is your fetish for these self-righteous hipster chicks?”

“Uhh…” he hesitated like it should be obvious, “the fact that most of them have astonishingly manipulatable daddy issues.”

“Well, pardon my cock block.” She feigned remorse with a hand placed delicately to her chest

“Don’t worry about it. That girl’s going home with me tonight.” He spun around to lean his back on the edge of the bar, running his hand through his dirty blonde hair, and then smoothed out the wrinkles on his black vest jacket over a plaid button up.

“Trust me, dude, she thinks you’re repulsive.”

“What makes you think that?” Leo asked skeptically, squinting at her from the corner of his eye.

“I can read her aura,” she joked. “I’m very sensitive to vibes.”

“Well then, let’s test your ability. I bet you I take that girl home tonight, and...” he proposed, his eyes scanning the crowd as if he was suddenly looking for somebody, “… she’s coming with us.”

Following the direction of his pointed finger, she spied a top heavy bottle blonde with dark roots, wearing mom shorts from the early nineties over purposely snagged neon orange tights, and an oversized unicorn sweater.

“You’re going to have a threesome with Big Red and My Little Pony?” Max asked cynically.

“Loser buys drinks next time, all night.”

“I do love getting drunk for free.” She extended her hand to shake on the deal.

“I hope you sell a painting. I’m going to be very thirsty next Saturday.”

Max nodded playfully, but it was not merely her conceited demeanor that convinced her she would win this bet. When she joked about being sensitive, it was not really a joke. Which was the reason she was putting herself through hipster hell for free drinks—if she could read that girl’s mind, then she was sobering up. When the voices were silent, Max found it easier to function. Unfortunately, the only effective means of silencing the voices she had found in the eleven years since she had developed her ability had resulted in full blown alcoholism. Finally flagging down the bartender, she ordered a Long Island followed by three different shots, none of which were for sharing with Leo, but all ended up on his tab.

A few short hours of binge drinking later, Max was feeling better, lighter. And, she only had to tell two pretentious poser douchebags to fuck right off.

When she was getting to the point of needing to sit down, Leo walked away, telling some guys to get out of a booth. Or, at least that is what it kind of looked like being they made no argument about evacuating.

Sometime near round six, or ten, or possibly thirteen for all she knew, Max noticed a man with side parted black hair in a gray leather jacket leering at her from the bar. She pretended never to have noticed. But, in her not noticing as Leo walked back from the restroom, the man grabbed Leo by the arm and held a short conversation. The talked for less than a minute, and Leo came back looking irritated.

“Who was that?” she asked when her companion returned, unable to keep her curiosity at bay, and being frustrated that in her current condition, she could not actually use her ability to glean the guy.

“Just an old friend from my Navy days,” he answered, quickly taking a long drink of his import beer.

“You mean from the three weeks you spent twisting your ankle at boot camp?”

“You’re fucking hilarious…”

When she looked back, he was gone.

Just before last call, Leo disappeared again, returning about ten minutes later, arms draped over Big Red and My Little Pony.

“What if you buy a painting? Does that still count?” Max asked, drunken giggling sandwiched between her questions.

“Excuse us ladies.” Leo leaned towards My Little Pony, stage whispering into her ear over the last song of the night. “Why don’t you hail us a cab? I’ll be with you momentarily.”

With two big, empty smiles, the girls left him alone with Max, and he slid into the booth.

“How the hell do you do that?”

“You have your powers, I have mine.” He shrugged with pride.

“And, how the hell am I getting home?” Max shouted, trying not to slur her words at this point.

“I took care of that.”

Leo tossed his head towards a gawky looking guy with wavy brown hair, wearing teal scrubs that in this crowd screamed “I have a real job, losers!”. As he made his way towards them, Max observed that he did not look amused.

 “Son of a biiiiitch…” She slid down into the booth, almost disappearing under the table, kicking Leo’s knee cap for his trouble. “You called Ridley?”

“What was I supposed to do? You weren’t getting home in your condition… I’m just trying to keep you out of someone’s basement freezer.”

“You get her smashed, and yet I get the pleasure of dragging her drunk ass home,” Ridley huffed, pointing at the smudge of  hair against the backrest of the booth that he assumed was Max.

“Quit your bitching. Are you her boyfriend, or her big brother?” Leo teased.

“Strangely, kind of both,” he replied flatly, “It’s fucking complicated.”

“It’s fucking weird.”

“Can you criticize me and slide her my way at the same time?”

Together, they managed to prop Max up onto Ridley’s shoulders, and accomplished the task of getting her to the door without a fight or vomiting—a surprise on both levels. Saluting them as he walked towards his own cab, Leo sarcastically wished them luck, and Ridley slid the barely conscious Max into the back seat of the cab, giving the driver the address of their apartment.

The driver shot them a pointed glance in the rearview mirror and slowly pulled out into traffic, “Just so you know, buddy, I charge triple for pukers.”
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