The Doghouse; fill your bowl.
The words blared out across the street in the form of a sour candy apple green neon sign, joined with a cheap tagline that looked better on a box of cheap brand dog food. Everything about the building screamed cheap, foul, ruined straight to the core. Once, the now whorehouse equivalent of a dive bar had snagged the eye of every passerby and drawn them in with nothing but a muted beat and the allure of nights of passion and temptation driven-euphoria.
Now though? It was merely a shell of its former glory. The music had died, the paint on the walls had dried, chipped and flaked away to reveal the dusty white, mould riddled drywall. The floor, a once reflective black and gold marble, was now just cracked, dulled, sticky, and fouled with stains and marks that made the mind scowl in distaste.
The decor was no longer white and gold marble statues of women in positions of pleasure; frozen forever with bliss etched into their immaculate features- no, the statues were nothing more but broken busts. One lacked a head, some lacked arms, one was nothing but a hand between clenched thighs. Even the blood red ribbon curtains that’d once acted as screens of privacy were now so moth eaten and torn that every act of sin was more or less an exhibitionist sport than anything else.
A lack of customers meant a lack of money, and a lack of money meant staff had upped and left the Doghouse to that of the dogs themselves. From the bar staff to the very whores that brought business in the first place. Nowadays, the Doghouse was just another cheap, high-roller wannabe. Instead of dancing or trying to lure in the stray client, the remaining men and women -strapped to the whorehouse via debt- didn’t even try to tease or attempt. The allure was gone, the desire? In the same state as the whorehouse itself; faded and now nothing but a lowly attempt at business.
Even if a customer did enter, they found themselves with the amateur and the jaded. The newbies who wanted a start in the world of sex and sin, or the weathered; downtrodden and only stay due to the near literal shackles that held them there.
“And to think, this place used to house high prestige…” A disgruntled customer of the Doghouse expressed his distasteful thoughts aloud as he zipped his fly and buttoned the waist, seemingly unaware of the woman clutching torn black silk bed covers to her pale form, panting softly. “How the mighty fall.” His voice held a hypnotic pull to it; a light Scottish accent mixed with the comfort of warm honey yet layered with an educated sharpness.
“I’m s-s-sorry-” The woman weakly stammered out, still on the cusp of catching her breath. Her name was Jeanne, a vampire bound to the whorehouse by an act of misfortune and a debt that could never be wiped by her own hands. It was a shame, for rare, pure-blooded, redheaded beauty and with a set of piercing claret optics -and a body that men would kill for- to be trapped in a cesspit.
“Don’t be,” The customer replied in a most nonchalant tone, buttoning his shirt in front of a cracked mirror. “You were…” A smirk prickled up at the corner of his mouth as he reached down and plucked a black suede jacket from atop the pile of discarded clothes before his legs pushed him onwards to the door. “Let’s just say: I’ll be sure to leave a tip for you.”
As the door closed, the soft, muffled whine of disappointment merged with the clicking of the lock yet the customer couldn’t hide the broad grin that near stretched to his ears. The ego flared for a moment and a chuckle aired itself in the body strew hallway as he began to walk. Oh, how he still had it.
Right, pleasure sorted. Now to engage in business
The business was that of simplicity: murder, well possible murder. He hadn’t solely come to the Doghouse to satiate his personal desires, no. There was a professional edge to his actions; takeover. There was a reason he emptied the last of his pocket on probably one of the most expensive whores and a private room. Instead of letting the Doghouse literally fall to that of the dogs, he felt like it needed a fresh coat of paint and a change of hands.
To find the current owner’s ‘office’ wasn’t exactly difficult; a matte red door with two hulking thugs in ill-fitting suits, sitting at the end of the hallway. As the customer weaved his path over and past the many partners writhing within the realm of drug fueled pleasures, he took a slight note of how every man and woman held a blue-ish glow to their veins.
The cries and moans seemed over-exaggerated, far too high in pitch and in pleasure. An aphrodisiac? Stepping over two bodies writhing on the cold, crack floor, he couldn’t help but shake his head at the ear piercing cries from a man; pressed against the wall of the hall, a woman with her head between his legs, twitching and spasming in the final throes of life; overdosed on the unknown drug, the veins in her neck and arms a solid, navy blue.
For a moment, he moved to intervene, to calm the man yet he could see in a single second that the cries were not of sorrow or pain but pleasure. The man didn’t know his partner was dead and merely proceeded to grabbed a handful of the woman’s hair, solely to continue the act of pleasure he’d received moments prior.
A grimace flickered it’s way over the customer who’d laid with the vampire, his eyes averting from the more morbid sight and swiftly locking on the end of the hallway as he continued his approach. The door seemed flimsy, rotted wood painted over. Not exactly a difficulty in regards to entry. The brutes in suits though? They could be more than a problem. Words would be far more civil and more preferred over violence, however…disagreements would more than likely lead to fists.
“Gentlemen,” The customer started, layering in the honey-esque catch to his accent. The welcoming, the warm tone as he stood before the guards; arms tucked behind his back, presenting the air of a more contained and collected door to door salesman. “You don’t mind if I have a chat with your employer, do you?”
“…Sir?” One of the duo stepped forwards; a scarred face man, lightly tanned, with an odd pair of orange eyes. He looked like he could take more than a punch as he seemed to house a frame of sheer, bulging muscles. A cliche.
“You heard me.”
“Sir, I’m going to have to ask for you to return to your room.” The scarred man said, his voice holding an unnaturally soft Irish brogue despite his stature and general build. His hand was outstretched, as if trying to soothe an upset child. “Mr. Donovan isn’t seeing anyone tonight and…I don’t thin-”
“Boss ain’t talkin’ to no one tonight,” The other brute said, words lathered in a thick London British accent.
The man was an African-American; scowling from behind his collegue, one arm already moving to pluck whatever weapon he had nestled within his coat. The scowl was fierce, laid down by piercing pale blue eyes that were backed up with startlingly soft features. The man had muscle, yes but there was a frailer look to him. The brains to the brawn?
“Morty, I’ve got this.“ The scar-faced man said through his teeth.
“Gene-” Morty began.
“I’ve. Got. This.” Gene said through a locked jaw as he turned back to scold Morty with an apparently vexed glare. “Now-“ Turning back, Gene’s face contorted into a mixed mask of amusement, confusion and grand irritation.
The customer was quiet; still sporting his smile that could sell a block of ice to even the coldest of eskimos. Neither Gene nor Morty could narrow down the smile to some form of facade or if the man merely found their open aired tête-à-tête. However, the source of Gene’s mixed expression was solely down to the customer with an outstretched fist; a single gold signet ring glinting.
“See this?” The customer said -still as calm as ever- tapping the ring with the tattooed left index. Engraved on the simple ring sat the crest of a house: a hound in mid-flight, a pair of wings, filled in with silver, burgeoning from it’s back. “You take a nice look at that and tell me what you see.”
The curiosity of Gene and Morty was clearly strong enough that the two of them, lacking any form of guard, leaned forward enough to get a clear enough look at the ring. Morty having to squint some as he did.
“It’s a dog…” Gene started.
“With wings?” Morty finished, his asked answer seemingly filling the space with the collective caution and curiosity of himself and Gene.
“That, gentlemen, is the crest of the House of the Winged Dog,” The customer still kept his tone collected as he lowered his arm, still smiling; his total composure slack in all tension compared to the upright and rigid nature of Morty and Gene. “One of you can tell Mr. Donovan that a representative of the House is here…if you’d be so kind.”
For a moment, both Gene and Morty shared a single look that seemed to scream out a silent ‘What the actual fuck?’ yet the customer’s general tone, his casual posture, the genuine lack of intimidation in his words, it gave off an air of -strangely enough- comfort. The man hadn’t move an inch. He hadn’t tried to jump the two and he hadn’t come tearing through the hallway with a gun.
Gene and Morty didn’t like the man but there was a strange admiration to be so relaxed in a whorehouse where the wrong look could easily end in a missing eye, or said eye socket being used for…someone’s stress relief.
“Morty…” Gene passively ordered, still keeping his gaze on the strange customer. “Go tell Donovan.”
Morty turned, glancing over his shoulder for just a moment before he pushed the red door open slightly. The gap was minute, nothing more than an ajar opening to allow the brute to simple poke his head through. He nodded once, twice and a third time before turning back to Gene and the customer.
“Boss says…send him in.”
“You jokin’?” Gene asked, confusion spreading across his face like a rash.
“Boss said so.” Morty shrugged.
“He say fuckin’ wh-” Gene found himself taking up a silence and an infuriated glare as the customer calmly slipped in between the two men.
“Gentlemen,” The customer said calmly, cutting into the second open to the public tête-à-tête. “I’ll leave you two be.”
Gene and Morty stared at the man as he calmly slipped between the them. Gene moved forwards. With an arm outstretched, he aimed to snag the collar of the customer’s jacket yet a swift hand on his chest from Morty merely forced him to lower his hand, muttering softly to himself as he watched the customer vanish behind the red door.
“Don’t worry Gene,” Morty said with a grin slowly stretching across his features. “Give him five minutes and we’ll be haulin’ out a body with something missing.”
Behind the red door, the customer was more than perplexed as he took in the sudden contrast. Instead of a small, decrepit office space with mould-stained walls, chipped paint, a stagnant scent of drugs and sex lingering in the air like a foul cloud; the room itself was grand; walls black marble with flecks of gold and silver lingering within. The floor itself was a mosaic art-piece of golds, whites and orange tiles, creating the form of a woman with her head thrown back and crying out. A chandelier hung from the marble ceiling, fashioned as a mosaic art-piece of golds and whites: two bodies holding one another in either the aftermath of pleasure or the final throes itself.
“So…what the fuck do you want, small fry?” A voice emanated from the center of the room; ever so nasally atop a weathered, mildly distorted voice. Demon in nature. “‘Ouse of the Flappy Dog doesn’t usually bother me.”
The customer stood by the door for a moment, pretending to be both nervous and awkward as he licked his lips and wiped imaginary sweat of his brow before he stepped forward. The room seemed to be doused in some form of supernatural tricks. For the entire room was awash in low mood lighting that continuously jumped a seemingly personal colour spectrum. The walls flickered from a sharp, apple red only to fade into warming orange, shifting finally to a deep, velvet purple. However, what stood out was the dark blot in the center of the room; a perfect little blot of darkness.
“Cut the showmanship, Donovan.“ The customer snapped as he locked the office door. There was a new tone in his voice, dominance? Supremacy? The honey still sat in his voice but it held something sharper, colder at the same time.
“And who the FUCK do you think you are?!” Donovan roar from behind shroud of darkness. “You think you can come into my business, demand to talk to me-”
“I’ll do whatever I damn well please,” The customer cut in as he began to walk forwards. Slow in nature but there was a newfound shift in his posture. He moved with intentions, power, no slick step and relaxed attitude. “So show yourself NOW.”
For a moment, the shroud was quiet. The tension in the air was growing but more in side of the favour of the customer. Whatever flare and trickery usually worked on those who entered the office, it wasn’t working this one. The air seemed to shift and sudden shimmer, acting as if a mirage had been lifted revealing a desk; black marble with the gold flecks once more. The desk held nothing more than a delicately placed tray of cocaine, a single lamp and what appeared to be an olden age telephone. No Donovan.
“The House of the Winged Dog isn’t here for games, Donovan.” The customer said, slowly turning on his heel to scan around the room, trying to pick out any nooks or crannies that the ‘man’ could be hiding in. “Consider this…an upgrade.”
“Fuck you!” Donovan seemingly spat back in distaste, his voice echoing around the room. “I’m fuckin’ with the House of the Flying Hart! There’s a truce across all houses!”
“And does Furfur know what you’re doing?” The customer demanded again, hopping up onto the desk and stamping his foot once on the polished marble; a small crack formed beneath his heel. “How you’re throwing their name and their house through the mud? How you’re using the connections of the house to keep your pockets lined and full?” Again, he stamped his foot on the desk. “You’re a joke, Donovan. A joke to demons and criminals alike.”
The low jab had worked in the customer’s favour. A low growl filled the air and suddenly, Donovan appeared in the middle of the room; scowling and teeth bared like a rabid hound. He had appeared in an almost cliche fashion; a wave of heat had first washed over the room before the demon formed out of a swirling mass of black smoke. He was also quite cliche. An old school demon in the eyes of many. Greed Demon.
“Keep talkin’ pretty boy, I’ll put your head through that fuckin’ desk the next.” He spat once more, trying to recover his bruised ego in the form of defiance. “I’m not going to bow to some fucking rent-a-thug demon hired through fuckin’ Glasya-Labolas.”
Where most supernatural beings had opted for the cover of blending in as humans or just hiding their more irregular attributes, Donovan held his natural form for all to see. His skin was an onyx black, littered in pulsing veins of gold and white. He lacked any distinct showing of muscle on his frame, instead coming off as rather thin and seemingly fragile, especially as he stood at a near towering six feet and seven inches.
Facial, he was as normal was the customer, at least human-esque in appearance; a head of golden hair, combed over to reveal a single golden horn on the right hand side of his forehead, polished off with a light smattering of black around the tip. His face was rather angular and narrow; exaggerating his large bulbous, golden eyes eyes and skinny, rather scrawny neck. His lips were pulled back in an exaggerated fashion, creating a constant, stretched Cheshire Cat-like look, even despite the furious scowl that sat on his rather hilarious features. He was seemingly a victim of his own colours; dressed in an onyx black suit with a gold dress shirt underneath, collar popped and a few buttons undone to reveal a slither of his chest and the gold runes that ran across his chest.
“No, Donovan, you won’t,” The customer snapped back, jumping down from the desk to now just lean against the edge, arms crossed over his chest and a slow scowl of his own settling in across the once calm demeanour. “You even take one wrong step and I’ll be the one putting your head through this desk, you’re going to be a good boy and listen to what I have to say-”
“And I said fuck you!” Donovan roared again, reaching into his jacket to pull forth a blade; six inches of glittering gold brushed, serrated steel. “See how much you keep jabbering when I cut out your fuckin’ tongue.”
Before the customer could manage out another string of power driven words, Donovan ran forwards. The knife held low and aimed for the customer’s stomach, hoping to gut the customer and then have Morty and Gene deal with the corpse.
The customer didn’t even seem to flinch as he watched Donovan run forwards, instead he merely let out exasperated sigh and merely proceeded to roll his eyes. Uncrossing his arms, he turned round and plucked a cracked shard of marble from atop the table, knowingly giving Donovan an easy and open target.
Come on you idiot.
The bait seemed to work as Donovan charged forwards with very little thought; knife now raised aloft, aimed straight for the customer’s neck. A hellish grin tore over his features as he brought the knife down and- The strange customer span around with a speed that startled Donovan, nothing but a relaxed smile on his features as his hand shot out and grabbed the Greed Demon’s wrist; halting the plunge of the knife in a simple twist of his hand.
The bones in Donovan’s wrist let out a sharp snap and the knife fell to the floor with a sharp clatter, the demon letting out a low howl as pain shot up his arm. Ignoring the pain, Donovan swung his other arm blindly in a wide swing, aiming to crack the strange man round the side of the head.
Again, the man moved with startling speed: managing to both avoid the punch by smashing his head into the bridge of Donovan’s nose. He heard the celery sound crack as the bones in the demon’s nose broke, releasing a gush of golden blood to wash over Donovan’s mouth and chin. He, however, wasn’t done with the demon.
As stars flooded Donovan’s vision and he let out another low moan before it increased to a high pitched wail as he felt the grip on his hand increase tenfold. The snapped bone now crunched and cracked. Shards of golden bone tore through his skin in minute compound fractures, sending rivulets of more golden blood down his arm.
Donovan’s pleas were cut short as the customer let go of the demon’s wrist, pushing him back for a moment with a sharp jab to the chest. For a moment, Donovan could breathe…partially. His head was a mess of white spots and pain, his eyes blurred over and he couldn’t even feel his wrist anymore, the jab had knocked all the air out of his lungs and every breath felt like he was inhaling smoke.
Again, any form of plea or request was silenced as the customer grabbed Donovan by his scrawny neck and threw him into the desk. The demon met the hard marble with a hard thump as his chest connected with the edge and he found himself winded once again. Collapsing on the desk, the neatly cut cocaine now thrown to the floor, there was now nothing but the rasping pants of Donovan’s pain filled breathing to fill the air, and again, the customer wasn’t done.
“I hope by now, Donovan, you’ve figured out who I am,” The customer stated as he moved to stand behind the Greed Demon. “It’s not common place for members of other houses to deal with the problems that are not of their own. Taboo even.” His voice no longer held the demanding, sharp, cutting tone it had mere moments ago. It was soft, relaxing, housing the honey tone that could easily lull anyone to sleep.
Donovan felt safe for just a moment now that there was a voice. If the customer was talking, he felt that the beating was over. How wrong he was. A sharp kick to the back of his right leg sent the demon backwards slightly, forcing him down to his knees and with his head now resting on the very edge of the desk.
“So who am I?” The customer demanding, grabbing a fistful of Donovan’s hair and pulling his head backwards.The Greed Demon wanted to curl up at the sight before him. The customer had in his hand, a single piece of cracked marble. Jagged, sharp; a perfect impromptu blade to press against a jugular..
“Gla-Gla-GlaGlaGla-” Donovan’s heart began to hammer hard against his chest, so fast that his head began to lighten and the white spots began to flash into his vision once more.
“Pardon?” The customer questioned, now pressing the jagged shard against Donovan’s throat, pressing the edge in ever so slightly to gain a trickle of blood down the demon’s neck.
Before the Greed Demon could even finish his answer, the customer ripped the shard across the surface of Donovan’s throat. Those bulging eyes managed to bulge even wider one last time as his throat opened and golden blood sprayed across the front of the desk. Donovan choked out his final breaths as the customer threw him to the cold floor, allowing the Greed Demon to writhe and spasm in his throes of death, hands clasped around his neck in a weak attempt to stave off his bleeding out.
Blood frothed at Donovan’s mouth as he stared up at the customer, eyes still wide but fading of their original light. Instead of beating him more, the customer hunched down, peering at the golden eyes with nothing more than a blank expression.
“The House of the Winged Dog sends its regards.” The customer said, managing the cold words despite the still warming tone in his voice.
Donovan croaked his final breath as his eyes rolled upwards and he rolled onto his back, laying in a small pool of his own blood. Just as the Greed Demon died, the door of the office flung open in splinters via the boot of Gene. The Irish brute stepped into the room with wide eyes, confusion and fury fighting it out to take form on his features. Morty followed shortly after, his own eyes wide but his face twisting in a hard grimace.
“What the fuck happened in here?” Morty demanded, a simple snub nosed revolver pointed towards the customer. Gene was too busy retching in the doorway to compose any form of sentence.
“Ah, gentlemen,” The customer turned, once again moving to rest on the edge of the desk, seemingly as cheerful as he was with the duo out in the hallway, even sporting the same slick smile. “I’m surprised you took so long.”
“You…killed the boss.” Morty sounded distant, confused more than anything. His statement sounded half on edge of a question rather than an actually statement.
“No, he killed himself,“ The customer retorted. “I told you, I had come for words and he wished for violence.”
“Give me…a fuckin’ good reason why I shouldn’t…tear your arms from your body.” Gene cut in, leaning against the doorway, his face slightly pale yet there was a sure showing of anger and fury brewing in those soft features.
“Because,” The customer boomed, his smile stretching up and into a sharp grin. “I am Glasya-Labolas: Head of the House of the Griffin Winged Dog and now that Donovan is dead, under the Pact of the 72 Houses, should a demon fall to me, I come the sole proprietor of their entire earthly possessions.”
“Meaning…?” Morty asked cautiously, still holding the revolver at Glasya’s head.
“Meaning, Mr. Morty,” The grin became broader, filled with dazzling whites. “I’m in charge, and gentlemen…oh how I have plans for this place.”
Red Light District had a new contender.