Genre: Epic Fantasy
Publisher: Azure Spider Publications
Publication Date: October 1, 2018
Dave lay on his back in the boarding house, smelling the perfume of Cinnamon left on his dress shirt. Warmth spread through him though he hadn’t had sex with her. She seemed to know when he just wanted to cuddle.
The pager sounded from the bedside table. He grabbed it and looked at the number. Laya again. He picked up the phone and dialed the number to the office.
“Another dead girl by the university. Same MO. I need you to investigate,” the sheriff told him.
Dave tightened his tie and put on his sports coat. Maybe Jolene would be there, but he doubted it. The university would send their own crime unit.
The Alpha Sigma Theta fraternity specialized in students who were in law school, full of young, budding future international trade law students sent here by their fathers’ big checkbooks.
The scene was worse than he imagined. There was not one dead girl but five, and no fewer than fifteen school boys. The police had cordoned off the house, preventing anyone from leaving while they took statements.
Dobrowski stood over the girls. “Where did they come from?”
“A website. Coed escorts,” an officer said.
“Yes, they started consuming the kids about an hour ago. The fraternity called 911. By the time the medics arrived, the girls were dead and the guys who had sex with them were dying.”
The evidence team scoured the house, collecting small spiders. The rec room floor was covered in the writhing bodies of dying spiders. Blood had spilled on the carpet from the devouring and the air reeked of rotten eggs.
The girls that were there but still alive were from the Omega Mu sorority. They were in sleek dresses with perfectly coiffed hair bound up in elegant sweeps.
“What brings you here?” Dave asked the first girl. “This doesn’t seem like your kind of party.”
“The Alpha Sigs are a big deal. They graduate lawyers and MBAs. It is a smart investment on our part.”
“And what does your sorority specialize in? MRS?” Dave took down a note.
The girl bristled. “We are a sorority of lawyers and premed students. We will be having our own careers, but meeting the right kind of man who will help bolster our career is very important,” Brandi retorted.
“So, did you see these people, you know, getting it on?”
“That is disgusting. I will tell you this much: they would leave the room, go to their rooms and come back. We knew what these girls were. We also know that they live in the dorms. They use the website to raise extra money for their tuition.”
“Why didn’t they just go to the brothel? They are good-looking enough.”
“And what, get stuck living out at the ranch every weekend? Have no control over their own schedule?” Brandi grimaced. “That doesn’t sound like good business to me. Why give the ranch fifty percent when they can keep the whole ball of wax?”
“Hmm… let me think. Weekly health checks, protection with massive security guys, and… oh yes! It is illegal off tribal lands.”
“Well they weren’t in our sorority. But who is to say that we should stop them?”
“Aren’t you worried that your enlightened men would bring something home once you were married?”
“Look at their website. They are high-priced and exclusive, not some skanky streetwalker at Shattered Dreams.”
Dave turned next to the president of the fraternity. “I see you have refrained from sampling the house special today. What is your name?”
“I am Clyvin, the president of Alpha Sigma. I have a girlfriend in the Omega Mus. She would have my balls if she caught me banging a hooker.”
“Still, over twenty dead, the rec room a carpet of black spiders and every boy who slept with the girls is now dead. I am about to arrest you for promoting prostitution. This was planned for the party and in case you missed the memo, prostitution is illegal in Washington State. The reason why the House is able to be run legally is because it is on tribal land and they are covered by federal law.”
“But the women on the ranch don’t make house calls. And this was supposed to be a private party. No one was supposed to be hurt.”
“That doesn’t make it any more legal.” Dave turned to the officers. “Arrest him, and anyone else who looks like they are in charge. Someone hired these girls and that someone needs to pay.”
Clyvin pointed toward one of the dead fraternity boys. “Roger did it. That is him over there.”
“Nice that he gave us the pass on his prosecution. But you are still coming downtown with me.”
The medical examiner was still putting bodies in body bags when Dave left the house. What is going on? Is Cinnamon safe? Could he convince her to leave the profession and marry him?
Back at the squad room, the television was on in the corner and the officers were gathered around it. On the screen, in a bright red business suit with a black silk blouse, her long black hair tied up in a bun, Jezebelle addressed the crowd.
“We are saddened and sickened by the deaths of the college students, but the girls at the party were illegal. We have no way to know if they were clean or if they were infected. Here at the House of Fire and Rain, our girls are checked every week. Mandatory condoms and birth control. Weekly cervical checks and routine flushes with holy water ensure that our girls are as clean as possible. We must, as a society, protect these women and their clients. Illegal prostitution doesn’t protect our society. If you don’t believe me that only illegal girls are infected, watch Nevada. Not a single case of AIDS has been connected to a Nevada ranch. Not a single case of AIDS or STD has been connected to our house. I call upon the legislature of Washington to legalize prostitution. Get the girls off the street and into safe, clean, well-managed houses. Do this before the death toll rises.”
The press clamored for more information. She fielded questions.
“Interview her,” Laya told Dave. “Find out what she knows about what is going on. I don’t like it that she is making statements.”
Dave got into his car and drove to the brothel. The trees were bare of leaves and the deep green of the coniferous trees stood in stark contrast to the bare oaks and maples. Winter was coming to western Washington and that meant rain—a lot of it.
He pulled into the parking lot of the brothel. The door to the House was unlocked. The girls who normally lounged in the parlor with silk negligees were not in evidence.
A stunning Nubian woman with chocolate skin and velvet brown eyes greeted him. “What can I do for you, Officer?” She gave his badge a cursory glance.
“I’m here to speak with Jezebelle about the press release.”
“This way, please. We were expecting you.” The scent of musk flowed from her smooth skin and her hips swayed suggestively as she led him down to the madam’s office.
Jezebelle was still in her red suit. She rose from behind the desk and glided to Dave, taking his hand in her warm soft hands.
“I assume you are here about the interview. My attorney warned me you would be coming if I made that announcement.” Jezebelle indicated a rose-colored wingback chair for him to sit in.
“Yes, the sheriff wants to know what you know about these incidents.” Dave took the proffered seat.
“Ah that. In my profession, it helps to know of the occult and what is happening in the hidden world. These spiders, this plague, it is of demonic origins, is it not? Residue of brimstone.”
“How do you know? We never released that detail to the public.”
“People talk, and the smell of rotten eggs was present. A pact has been made between the hormanseph realm and the legal houses that the girls who had legal license would not be infected.”
“And what is in it for you? What do you stand to gain by this bargain?”
“Only the legitimacy of working girls. I am not behind this infection, but it has delivered to me the platform. The working girls need to be protected. They need to feel safe. Our oracle has predicted that this plague will sweep the world before it is curbed. I seek only to lessen the death.”
Jezebelle drew out a scroll from her desk. “I routinely go to an oracle. There is one in Washington. Not all of the state’s occult experts live in Firemountain, you know. This one is out by Coleville. I go out to visit her once a month. She predicted that a plague would be visited upon the world. That working girls would need to be accepted by society or they will die. Thus, when the deaths started in Firemountain, I knew that the time had come. To protect the girls and their clients, I realized we needed to make theirs a socially acceptable practice. Without the acceptance of society, the death toll will be even greater.”
Dave took the readout. It was written in a nice, neat hand, evenly spaced. The script was obviously penned with a fountain pen.
Things will change for the whores
It will arise and change the world
The deaths of the working girls will
Make the deaths of the johns profound
No one will be immune.
Only the acceptance of whores
Only a change in our perception
Will keep the plague in check.
He handed the paper back to Jezebelle. “So who is behind this?”
“I’m not sure. From this note, it appears it is just starting. But I don’t know where it will go.”
“And your new girls? I saw them here last night. Where did they come from?”
“Well, from all over. They are here to learn the ins and outs of managing a brothel.”
“You seem sure that this is the start of something significant.”
“Prostitution is the oldest profession in the world and often looked down upon. Women come to our house with emotional baggage. They come looking for absolution from the abuse they suffered in their childhood homes. They want to escape. Here it is safe. We protect them, pay them, keep them healthy. And you have the temerity to tell me that I shouldn’t cause a panic?” Jezebelle rose to her feet, her black eyes flashing dangerously. “This is the beginning. Society must stop being hypocritical and acknowledge the need for prostitutes. Must accept the fact that these women need to have the same protections that any other person is allowed to have. They need to be free from pimps, and websites, and drugs. Here they are given protection and a sense of purpose. They are neither exploited nor forced to stay because of drugs. Can you say the same about the women in Seattle, or even Olympia? For the most part, the disease-ridden streetwalkers don’t exist in Firemountain because of this house. Only high-end call girls and coeds looking for a quick buck at Shattered Dreams. But what if all those girls had a safe place to stay? What would happen? How much better would our world be if their exploitation was at an end?” Jezebelle took a deep breath.
“No, Detective, I didn’t start the plague, but I will use it to further my agenda. The world needs to stop the exploitation of these women and empower them. Not just in the US, but in all the world.”
“And you think that your brothel is safe? What is to keep it from jumping there?”
“Well, we regularly douche our women in holy water, which is a great deterrent to anything demonic. But more to the point, these women have the protection of our society, which is something that the others do not. Mark my words, Detective, things will get worse.”
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About Victoria Lynn Osborne