The Hollow Crown
All Tomorrow's Parties
‘What colour will the poor girl wear/ to all tomorrow’s parties’ in flowing elegant script completes the work. The last drop of paint drips from the can onto the sidewalk. The stencil is removed, revealing the image of a Cinderella-esque sweat shop worker seeming to finish the dress of the mannequin in the window of the Armani shop.
‘No rats this time, I thought they were your trademark?’ The ashen lady’s purring tones fill the air. As always, Doyle hasn’t heard her arrive. In fact it was almost six months before she had realised she wasn’t a bad acid trip, or consequence of fumes.
‘Rats- Do I look like Walt Fucking Disney’ she turns to survey her work. She nods almost to herself and takes a picture before pulling herself over a wall. The drop on the other side gets her to the motorcycle she has concealed. As always she’s finds the ashen lady, shrouded in her grey cloak, waiting ahead of her. Doyle hates to admit it, even to herself, but the silhouette and face of the angels she have moved from Natasha’s face, to that of the ashen lady. She notices the chain, where her bike once was, takes in the sound of the approaching police car.
“Fuck” looking around, she spots the bottom of a fire-escape. Leaping forward, she grabs the bottom rung, and drags herself towards the icy roof. She tries not to notice the grace with which the lady manages the same action. It’s almost as if she floats, or flows, up the ladder, barely touching the rungs. Catching her breathe, Doyle sees the plume of breath in the cold air, her hands ache from the minor ice burns gained as she pulled herself up the ladder.
By contrast, the ashen lady, snow falling onto her cloak, appears as pale as the moonlight that is drawn around her. “I could take away these petty pains, allow you to focus on your art forever.” The honeyed voice, the simple request,hard to resist on a night like this. Doyle can start to feel her body age, feel the ravages of her time PN, begin to catch up with her. Shaking her head, her decision is made, time to settle down into the respectable life with Natasha.
She puts down the spray can. “The answer is no. I won’t change my mind, don’t ask me again.” She looks the lady straight in the eye, “I’m leaving Boston, Natasha has a new job in New York, she’s found me a job in youth outreach. This is the last piece of work I’ll do”
The ashen lady looks sadly at her, “Such a waste of talent. Still I suppose working with the young is a noble calling. I wish you well.” The words hold their same sweetness, but Doyle can feel a coldness, a deliberateness, that wasn’t there before. Doyle mods to her and sets off, as she comes to the edge of the wall, the Lady calls to her, Doyle turns to look at her “Be careful on the rooftops, with all this ice around it would be easy to slip.”
Doyle smiles, sure in her footing, hasn’t she walked this way for ,ost of the last decade? Then she feels void, falling beneath her, looks up at the horrified face of the Lady as she falls away from her. She feels the impact of the railing, straight through her chest, as the Lady drops beside her. “Do you want to live? Do you want to be with Natasha?” Doyle is barely able to mumble a yes, before she blacks out.
“Why did you do it/ why did you do this thing to me” the music plays out of the remains of a tv hanging from the wall. Picking her way with disgust through the detritus, the Ashen Lady clears a space to sit and looks at the canvasses and sketch books strewn around the room.
“The woman was clear she wanted nothing to do with you, why do you insist on drawing such tripe?” The Lady looks at another canvas, which shows little more than a childish cartoon. “Stop mewling, show one spark of the talent that convinced me to waste my blood on you, and drag you from the street, you ungrateful wretch.”she strides over to a chained Doyle. “You know why I had to do this? Hmm?” Doyle spits blood at her, her scorched arm evidence of her almost dying after feeding on a junkie.
“You should have let me die bitch!”
“Very well, I release you. Henceforth, you are free to do with your unlife as you see fit. Obey the traditions. Try not to soil our clan’s reputation more than you already have.” She unlocks the key, and the window, “Go, I hope you come to your senses soon.”
“Some of them want to abuse you/ some of them want to be abused”
The sound of the concert reverberates through the club. Doyle smiles lazily as she leaves the ladies room, the little gothette she fed on lies slumped in the stalls. She’ll wake tomorrow, maybe, another victim of ‘the Dead to the World’ tour. She gives an evil smirk to the woman serving behind the bar in the toilet, who has got used to seeing these ‘trysts’.
She drops out to meet Jay, wondering just what the silly little slapper had been taking, everyone’s aura is blazing now. However the music can’t be avoided, she drops into the crowd, losing herself.
She finds Jay and the crew, dancing with a group of cos-players, all done up to look like Manson. A quick scan of their aura mark them as vampires, a few of their auras marked with black veins, just like Jay’s. She nods to them, probably Nosferatu, a few have been coming through town, and Jay is the man to talk to.
She winks at the unsmiling Tremere, and dances closer to the nearest Nosferatu, the one looking most ‘female’. She looks up briefly, as the singer on stage talks to the audience “Leave me in a room with crayons, you’ll come back to find me drawing on the wall”. Punching her fist in the air, “fucking A”. Jay smiles, “lets show these boys how we party in Boston.”
Three nights later
“Just do it already” the figure looks defiantly at the leader. The church had fallen to ruin, following the area around it. Lying in the hinterland between Concord and Maynard, the urban regeneration hasn’t got there yet. The church had been built with a crypt, one that is now being used to inter the newly turned mortals.
Doyle feels her olds anger return to her, feels a moment of clarity, as sheprepares herself. She closes her eyes, refinding her faith, of sorts, as she utters Natasha’s name. Then there is the feel of fire, the feeling of the beast rising, the chaos of battle. Looking up she launches herself at the closest one, ripping out its throat in desperation.
The blond scourge looks at her with interest. As he guts the last of the Sabbat, that Jay and her anarch friends had mistaken for Nosferatu. That insufferable arsehole, Gaveston stands with him, healing a series of cuts as he decapitates a newly emerging kindred from the shallow ground. “Johannes, looks like they got all of Jogger’s crew. We’ll need to put them out of their misery. She’s of my clan, i’ll take care of her.”
Johannes grabs his arm, “She hasn’t been buried James. She’s still got a chance. Stake her while we clear the rest. I’ll take the consequences.”
“And the boon from Arabella?” Kingston smiles as he plants the stake in Doyle’s chest. She only begins to hear Gaveston’s response
“I doubt the Ashen Lady will thank you…”
Johannes looked at floor to ceiling paintings. “Cheerful, what do you think James?”
“Typical Toreador arty fatty crap, everything’s in black and white, need a good fire in there, I’ll be happy to oblige?” Doyl e looks up, genuinely unsure if her friend is joking, relaxing as she sees the slight grin in Kingston’s eyes. “It’s good, you are getting some of the old talent back. It’s not easy.” The smile fades as he drops back into his own torments.
Doyle looks at Johannes, “on your other point, give her a choice. A real choice” Johannes winks at her, flips a mock salute.
“Like she would have a chance against my winning smile…” He walks into the night towards Harvard.