And she is pretty. Soft too, and blonde, not always how I like them, but she hasn't said a word all night and hasn't minded no one's said a word to her. Just soft, back arched on Doug's velvet couch and smiling at bits of overheard conversation. I could like this girl, I know it, but Doug taps my shoulder. He's got big plans.

I only see Doug once every three, six months even now that we are practically neighbors. He's good at chess and poker and making something stupid like breakfast at the diner we are both sick of ridiculously entertaining. Last time the waitress, who was very stuffy, left the check and then asked if he'd fuck her, right there on the table. You knew that she was serious, and I think that Doug knew too. He politely declined. He drove me back to my apartment in reverse. Because, just because. That was Doug.

So he taps me on the shoulder while I'm looking at the peached-faced little beauty leaning across his couch and it's his party but he's got a look in his eye like he's got big plans and he's gotta get out of here before he chokes. I don't mind. Doug's parties are sort of where people chat eagerly and drink jungle juice and watch movies in the basement, a lot of fun, but not Doug at all. I don't know whose fault that is exactly, but anyway. Weird.

Doug takes me out in his car which is this perfect beat up piece of shit boat, avocado green, license plates pounded to unintelligible shit and a line of duct tape across the windshield. There's maybe like five, six of us all cozy in the car and two of the girls in the backseat are singing in delectable half-awake voices. They're not the blonde on the couch, but I don't mind so much. Because here we all are.

Doug's better at bars than I am, better than most people I guess. He wins a limbo contest, a costume contest (like, if only they knew one of the pigeon voiced backseat beauties says later). At the last one, Doug throws his head back and breathes fire, careful not to burn anyone and winning bottomless free beer for all of us. Not bad.

I was already to the best part of drinking, past invincibility (for I am not Doug and never will be) and to where everything and everyone is liquid, the sky a soft, tissuey purple and the city seems kinder and smiling.

And she is smiling too. On the street, where I'm walking as liquid as I think, we catch all these people we knew from Doug's party and the peachy-faced girl is among them. Prettier now, not because we're underwater drunk (though she happened to sport clamshells and a tail), just because, and I'm getting to hello. Hello and hello and hello when Doug - who we'd somehow lost - comes tearing up the block.

Not breathing too good. Panting. Fur, black as night, glistening. I torched the bakery ,he said. It's gonna blow up in ten, nine, eight.

I take her hand, seven six five, and we're off, four three two, into the city, laughing hard. One.

for They Hunger For Nodes: An e2 Halloween Scary Story Quest

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