A Short Story by Richard Bleil
What was meant to be a fluff piece for my blog turned into something terrible.
Probably one of the most alluring cities in the world must be Las Vegas. Founded as a “playground” for the “families” that lived on either coast, Las Vegas was meant as a safe place for mafia to unwind in 1905. It was too much to hope to find any of the original architects or builders, I was fortunate to find the grandson of one of the most influential founders of the entire city, still alive and long retired in his seventies. I couldn’t believe the luck.
Much to my delight, he agreed to meet with me. I booked a room at one of the better hotels in the city, and flew in early a couple of days before our scheduled appointment so I could get a feel for the flavor of the city and do a little bit of background research.
The night I landed it was too early to do much, save eating at one of the infamous city buffets, and visit a lounge. Not being much for gambling, I found myself at the hotel bar, an open bar in the middle of the floor. It intrigued me because it offered cigars, and as rarely as one sees cigars, and since it is the only tobacco items I’ll indulge even if only once every several years, I couldn’t help but take one.
As the blue smoke rose, a young couple took the stool beside me, and disgusted moved along. I guess I should have felt bad for offending their sensibilities, but I figured that they didn’t have to sit next to me in the first place. Without intending to be obnoxious, I continued enjoying my cigar when she took the seat instead.
“I love men who smoke cigars,” she confessed. “New to town?”
She was stunning, probably the sexiest woman I’d ever seen. And she was so good. As we chatted, she found excuses to touch me, and eventually put her arm around me, asking if she could be closer to smell the cigar. She smelled of ambrosia, and no doubt tasted even better. She ran her long sexy fingers up and down my arm, and her leg “innocently” touched mine. She seemed inordinately interested in how long I would be staying, and when I told her my flight was in three days her interest seemed to spike. She whispered in my ear, and her price was more than reasonable.
I wasn’t there for that, but she was so alluring that I couldn’t resist her advances. I’m not proud, but I took her to my room.
The next day, a day before the interview, I elected to take a trip to the University of Nevada Las Vegas to visit their library archives. Founded in 1967, it is considered to be the most comprehensive library of the city, with digital photographs that date back to when the city was little more than a western town. It was just dumb luck that I found it.
I could swear that it was her, but it was impossible. A photo dating to the early ‘20’s of a powerful man in the city’s history, and she was hanging onto him. I suppose it could have been a distance relative, or just someone that looked like her, but aside from the hair style I could swear it was her.
I scoured the photograph, looking for some kind of distinguishing mark, maybe a small scar or mole, but there was nothing. That in and of itself seemed odd, but to be fair, if I found something I doubt I would have remembered it on her.
That night, I looked everywhere for her, but she was nowhere to be found. I don’t know what I would have asked if I did find her, but I had to try.
The next day I went to the interview. The house, frankly, was gorgeous. I have no idea where he came into his money, but he clearly had a lot of it. I was shown to the library, and my jaw dropped.
As I waited, I looked at dozens of photographs of her, obviously taken without her knowledge, spread out on a roll top desk in the library, all with a different man. Clearly, he had been studying her and her clients. On the back of each photo were two dates, the first on some of them matching up with the time stamp on the photo, and the second always less than a week later.
“Those are not for prying eyes,” a harsh voice rang out. He rolled up in a wheelchair, and quickly closed the lid of the desk.
“I met her,” I said.
He hesitated. He opened up a manila envelope that seemed to have been unopened and pulled out a photograph. “I see you did,” he replied, handing a photograph of me with her.
“What is this?” I asked.
“She killed my grandfather,” he replied matter-of-factly. He went to a desk and pulled out a print of the photograph I had found in the library. He pointed to the man. “My grandfather. He helped build the city.”
“How is that possible?” I asked as he casually to the photo of me and wrote today’s date on the back.
“There is no explanation,” he answered. “only otherworldly.”
“I’m sorry?” I asked.
“Do you believe in Hell?” he asked.
“Um, well, I never really thought about it,” I mumbled in the usual non-committal manner as most people would answer.
“I believe she is a succubus, a demon from Hell. She finds her victims, but can only act if they sin.” He paused. “Like sharing a bed with her.”
My eyes widened. “What…what are the two dates?”
“The first you surely have ascertained, the second is the date of his death.”
“And nobody notices?”
“Never,” he replies. “She’s very careful, one victim a night, no more.”
“Surely somebody would have noticed by now if people keep dying.”
“Did she ask you when you’re leaving?”
My mind darted back to the initial conversation. “She did.”
“She eats their souls,” he said. “People can live without their soul, but only for a few days. They fly home and pass away peacefully of ‘natural causes’.”
“But every day?”
“We have over one hundred and thirty thousand people leaving Las Vegas every day,” he explained. “Nobody notices one natural death in a hundred thirty thousand.”
And here I am, three days later telling the story. I don’t know if I believe it or not, but it seems prudent to bring this to light just in case. He said I’ll simply wake up one day, but not on earth, and not in Heaven. I fear this may be the night. If this story shows up as some form of fiction somewhere, beware. She is still out there. And she is still hungry. And this is as real as it gets.