Under the Influence
Everyone has a weakness, thought Delaney as she sauntered through the crowd. She clutched a plastic cup full of cheap beer that sloshed dangerously close to the rim every time she bumped into someone. It was impossible not to spill with the basement so full of teenage partiers. They all want to be cool and they don’t even know what cool is.
She smirked, her deep red lips pulled back to reveal perfect teeth. The boy nearest her smiled back hopefully. He wasn’t bad looking, with straight blonde hair and broad shoulders, but he already showed signs of serious inebriation. No challenge there. She kept going.
She worked her way to the front, near the stairs. That was where she’d spotted her. Long honey colored curls and caramel skin, Akari looked good enough to eat. But, it wasn’t her body Delaney was after – it was her soul.
She paused to check out one of the silver mylar balloons being passed around. They weren’t filled with helium. But Delaney’s interest lay only in her somewhat distorted reflection. She had to be careful or she would stare all night. Her image did that, but who could blame her? She was hot. Perfect creamy skin, shiny black hair cut pixie style, and almond shaped eyes that glowed red for the tiniest of moments before returning to their normal chocolate shade of brown.
She turned back toward the party, reluctantly. There was business to conduct.
Akari practically glowed with decency. The fact that she’s even here testifies to my powers of persuasion. Delaney recalled the conversation after school when she’d convinced Akari to come.
“I don’t know. I’m not so sure my parents would be too happy about it,” Akari had said.
“What they don’t know won’t hurt them. Come on Akari, you won’t do anything you don’t want to do. Besides if you aren’t there to watch out for me, I might be tempted to do something crazy. I need you to be my guardian angel.” How could she possibly resist that?
Delaney studied Akari’s face as the girl stood on the bottom steps surveying the party. She expected to find her pale and sweaty with apprehension about her choice.
Delaney’s grin wilted. How can she look so cool? And why is she smiling? Delaney shook off the sudden sensation of unease that threatened to crack her usually untouchable confidence. She’s quite the little actress. On the inside she’s probably having a panic attack.
“Akari, hi!” Delaney called when she was close enough to be heard over the cranked up speakers.
Akari’s eyes lit up with recognition as she waved back to Delaney. She ducked down into the melee and popped up next to her seconds later. She was petite, but well endowed. Delaney began picturing Akari dancing with the drunken blonde boy back a ways.
“Here.” She shoved the cup into Akari’s hand. Akari took it with a smile but was bumped seconds later and spilled the contents on the floor.
“Oh no! I’m sorry.” Akari said.
“No problem. We’ll just get some more.” Delaney led the way back through to the keg in the corner. “To be honest I didn’t think you’d show.”
“Well, it’s not really my kind of party, but I didn’t want to let you down.”
Delaney wondered what her ‘kind of party’ was. She pictured a sorority style pillow fight and suppressed a laugh. You won’t let me down, don’t you worry, Akari.
“You’re going to have a great time, and if you want, next time you have a party I’ll come to yours.” It was so easy to lie.
“Wow, you’d really do that? That’s so cool.” Akari said.
They wandered through the black-lit room. Delaney’s tight white pants and tank top glowed as she led the way through the labyrinth of people.
“Hey babe, let’s dance.” A tall skinny boy with dark skin and hair worked his way in front of Akari and pulled her close. His eyes were clouded from too much of something. Akari looked positively faint.
Delaney laughed at the delicious possibilities. He was wasted and Akari was weak. He could easily lead her upstairs and – but that would do Delaney no good. She needed Akari’s soul and Akari had to be a willing partner. Frustrated, Delaney pulled the boy away with one sturdy tug and put an arm around Akari.
“Sorry about that. He’s high or something, but at least you know he liked what he saw.” She raised her eyebrows.
“That’s a good way to look at it.”
Delaney found the keg and filled two more plastic cups. She handed one to Akari and raised it in a toast. Getting her to drink wouldn’t be enough, but it would open up whole new worlds of possibility. Tilting her own drink back against her lips, she watched greedily as Akari sipped and then made a face.
“You get used to it.” She said.
“Oh.” Akari’s smile faltered for a brief moment before she turned toward the party.
“Do you like this music?” Delaney asked.
“Not really. I’m more of a classical fan. Mozart, Beethoven, Bach is my favorite.”
“Really?” Delaney could hardly keep the contempt out of her voice.
“Yes. I can’t stand metal. But, jazz is OK.” Akari took another sip of her drink.
“Hey, I think that cute guy over there likes you.” Delaney nudged her arm and lifted her glass toward a boy to their right. He was handsome in a classic sense, chiseled features and strong build, which she knew would appeal to Miss Goody Two Shoes. But, he also exuded danger from every pore. His eyes were as sharp and malevolent as her own, despite the beer in his hand. He tossed back his long brown hair that slipped temptingly over his left eye and stared, checking them out.
I’d snap him up in a second if I didn’t need him to help me bring her down.
“He is kind of cute, but he’s not really my type.”
“Oh? What is your type?” Delaney moved in so close they were almost touching. She was so much taller; Akari’s eyes were level with her chest. She inhaled deeply, letting her breasts rise and then fall. She was a master of seduction.
“Hmm.” Akari said thoughtfully, “Him.” She pointed back over Delaney’s shoulder. Delaney spun around.
Must have read her wrong, she thought, dull, just as I should have suspected. She took in the gangly, freckled boy trying to fit in with the basketball players. He coughed, as the inexperienced will, after pulling too hard and fast on a cigarette. But she wasn’t going to give up on Akari. Maybe she was going about this all wrong. Perhaps she had lost her finesse after all of those uncomplicated adolescents.
“Let’s go upstairs. Its kind of noisy down here, don’t you think?” Delaney cupped her hands over her ears to emphasize the point.
“Sure.” Akari sounded relieved.
The two girls pushed their way through the crowd until they escaped up the basement steps. As soon as they opened the door at the top, their hands flew up to cover their eyes from the lights. It wasn’t that they were terribly bright; it was just the difference in intensity between the empty house and the dark, crowded basement.
“That’s better.” Delaney said, grabbing Akari’s hand and dragging her toward the porch.
A few stragglers from the party had made their way out in the yard. The blonde boy who’d first showed interest was now upstairs with a pretty redhead making out. A couple of other boys were plotting loudly to teepee some houses in the area.
Pathetic, thought Delaney.
“You want to go catch a movie or something?” Akari said.
“Actually I was thinking we could play truth or dare.” Delaney’s eyes flashed red at Akari’s fleeting smile.
“Truth or dare?” Akari asked.
“I’ll go first if you’re worried. I pick truth.” Delaney gave Akari another winning grin.
“Um, okay. What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?”
“Once, when I was ten, I snuck out and drove my Mother’s car around the block.” The lie rolled off Delaney’s tongue.
“Did you get caught?”
“No way, your turn first!” Delaney said.
“Oh, right. Truth.”
Of course. “All right. What’s the worst thing you can think of that you really want to do?” Delaney went right for the jugular.
“Hmm. I would really like to take that convertible for a joy ride.” Akari hiccupped slightly and pointed at a shiny, black Beemer on the street.
Now we’re talking.
“It belongs to that boy downstairs that tried to dance with me. I’ve seen him drive it to school. He thinks he can just do whatever he wants ‘cause his dad’s rich.” Akari said with distaste.
“That would teach him a lesson,” Delaney said.
“Sure would. Your turn.”
“Dare,” said Delaney.
“You do it. You help me take the car.” Akari was breathless, her electric eyes wide.
“Only if you come, too.” It was a start.
“Of course.” Akari giggled and followed Delaney down to the car.
“You drive. I’ll get it started.” Delaney instructed.
“You know how to hotwire it?”
“My cousin’s a mechanic.” She said easily. It was the kind of stupid thing Akari would buy without question.
Drunk driving was always a good one; maybe she could get her to go somewhere populated…
As Akari climbed in the driver’s seat and put her hands on the wheel, Delaney leapt into the passenger side and leaned down under the steering column. She pointed one flaming red fingernail at the underside of the ignition and the car roared to life. She smiled and leaned back into the luxurious leather seat. She flipped on the radio as Akari gunned it in first.
Ouch. She obviously didn’t know how to handle a stick. Strike one for little Akari. The car lurched forward a few feet and then stopped hard.
“Hey! That’s my car!” The boy from the yard was halfway across the grass supporting a very lethargic looking girl when he’d realized what was happening.
“Delaney! I don’t know how to drive it; you have to get us out of here.” Akari’s voice squeaked with panic.
“Sure hon.” They quickly switched seats and Delaney threw the boy a wink before peeling out just as he reached the driver’s side. The girl he’d been half-carrying lay abandoned in the yard.
He looked angry. I could’ve ripped him to shreds, but this is much more fun.
“Where to now?” She asked Akari. Maybe if she were lucky Akari would be in the mood for a little fooling around. But when she looked around, she saw a glow emanating from the girl.
The car screeched to a halt and she threw it into park.
“What the hell-“
“Thank you so much, Delaney! I just earned my halo because of you.” Akari said. She was rising up and out of the car.
Delaney grabbed at Akari’s ankle and pain seared through her palm. She fell back cradling her burnt hand and stared dumbfounded up at the ascending angel. Akari looked back at her and smiled kindly.
“You are a demon.”
“Yes.” Delaney had never been afraid before.
“You will be thrown into purgatory.”
“You’ve done a good deed, my dear.” Akari’s smile was maddening. Delaney longed to scratch it off her beautiful face.
“I think you’ve got it backwards,” she said.
“No. I had to protect that girl, the one this car’s owner drugged. You helped me save her by stealing his car.”
“But that’s not why-“
“I don’t think your boss will care why you did it, just that you did.”
“How could you do this to me?” Delaney’s face was twisted with rage. Her eyes glowed red.
“You were trying to damn my soul, Delaney. Instead you’ve done some good. You’ll find it gets under your skin, like an itch you just have to scratch. You might even find you enjoy it. Who knows, I might see you up there someday.”
“I will never-“ But before the demon could finish her pronouncement, Akari began to glow brighter until Delaney had to shield her eyes, and when she looked again, she was alone.