The Night Patrons
The demon is a fast typist. He's doing sends with a vampire wannabe in an
Anne Rice online chatroom. The demon's claws are six inches long, yellow and
curved like scythes. They're very useful for typing and make a pleasant
clicking noise as they strike the keys. Even the succubus sitting across from
the demon enjoys the rhythmic tap, tap, tapping, and everyone knows that
succubi are the moodiest creatures in existence.
At another computer
nearby, a vampire with the body of a pretty pre-pubescent girl but the eyes
of something that's watched continents rise and sink into the ocean, is on a
conspiracy site. The little vampire writes how her local paper won't carry
stories about the night stalker murders in her town. How they might be
supernatural, but that's all right because the local neighborhood watch
figured out they could chase the killer away with holy water and garlic. A
werewolf at the next table is telling a similar story about alleged wolf-man
attacks in the Pacific northwest. The werewolf stole the idea from the
vampire. Werewolves have no imagination.
It's 2 a.m. in the big public
library downtown. The second floor is full of computers the day patrons use
to surf the Web for news and pornography. Now, it's the night patrons' turn.
Every night they're let in by the janitor, who is their slave and lackey. The
janitor doesn't ask what they do upstairs. He knows better than to bother the
night patrons with questions. He sometimes thinks that the sounds of
those creatures upstairs typing frightens him more than if he heard
a full-blown black mass. At those uncomfortable moments, the
janitor adjusts his headphones, cranks up Slayer on his Walkman
and concentrates on his mopping.
At the computers, a tattooed,
flesh-eating ghoul takes dictation from her friend the Ifrit, a Persian fire
demon. The Ifrit can't type. His flaming hands would melt the keyboard in an
instant. The dragon has a similar problem, but an obliging banshee types the
dragon's words into a mythology discussion group used by a local
Each night it's the same. The day patrons would never suspect
that the night patrons are so industrious. But they're there hard at work
every evening, sending out stories to local newspapers, writing letters
to the editor, hacking their way into religious and
mythological databases, starting rumors in chatrooms, telling tall tales
about mysterious attacks and miraculous rescues. Sometimes they create
whole websites about themselves, adding subtle details to the old myths
Of course, everything they say is a lie. Stakes killing
vampires. Silver scaring witches. The sign of the cross banishing ghosts.
All self-serving cons. Who better to write the myths of demons and
monsters than the beasts themselves? Their disinformation campaign keeps
them safe and means that there's always a lot of funny water-cooler
talk about the old priest who pulled the crucifix or the kid who summoned
a hellspawn while standing in a circle of salt. "Man, the look on
that kid's face when I just licked up that salt and bit off his leg
The demon stretches. The succubus yawns and the vampire checks
her Badtz Maru watch. It's closing in on dawn. The monsters file out of
the library, growling and blowing kisses to one another. The janitor
bows to each as they pass.
He always saves the computer room to clean
last. The night patrons leave things behind. Bloody doodles on notebook
paper. Piles of their dead, flaking skin. A partially gnawed human finger.
The smell is the toughest part. The demons are the worst. The janitor sprays
a whole can of Lysol into the room. It's Hell, so to speak, trying to get the
stink of sulfur out of the air.
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Richard Kadrey is a member of a small group of innovative writers, including William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, John Shirley, Pat Cadigan, Tom Maddox, and others, who changed the face of science fiction in the 1980s. He also creates art. He lives in San Francisco.