There was something about the three blonde, black-eyed women that was not quite right. At least that was Colin’s opinion as he finished one pint and considered starting another. His thoughts turned as they always did to his bitch ex Jackie, who was giving him grief and not letting him see the wee man until he paid what she said he owed. Fat chance of that when he’d just lost his job in the off-licence where he had worked for ten years. Who could have predicted offies in Scotland would ever go out of business? You had to get through the cold, smothering dark of the winter months somehow and it had long been a family tradition that a vast quantity of booze was just the way to do it.
He decided on another pint and whisky chaser and lumbered unsteadily to the bar to get them in. The Bingo Wings was a run-down sort of place, but you could sit in the gloom and nurse drink and grievances in equal measure with no interference from anyone who knew what was good for them. So the hot glances thrown his way from the blond bints, weren’t really what he’d come to expect from his inner sanctum, least of all on a blustery Tuesday afternoon. No, talent-spotting wasn’t the usual pastime in the Bingo Wings and there were other more likely venues for that sort of nonsense. This was where silent, angry men sat and drank themselves into a well earned oblivion before picking a fight outside to round the evening off.
Christ they were fit though: lush, full figured and from the long legs, not much shy of his six feet frame. He thought maybe they’d been to a fancy dress party because they were all dressed in white see-through dress things that rode right up when they sat down on the bar stools, so you could pretty much see everything. Little tarts.
The nearest one turned her head to look at him, a sinuous, twisting motion accompanied by a fall of white-blond hair that was so long she could have sat on it. Well, if the little slag played her cards right, she’d be sitting on something else before the end of the night.
“Are you sisters then?” he said controlling the slurring with a mighty effort.
The other two turned to stare at him with that same serpentine motion and three pairs of black eyes fixed on his face as though he was the most fascinating creature in the world. Probably couldn’t believe their luck. They must have been sisters because their features were almost identical. There was also a sharpness about the nose and cheek-bones that he hadn’t noticed at first, but they were still stunners, no doubt about it.
“In a way,” the nearest one answered in a soft voice.
She was definitely up for it. Wait until Jackie found out that he still had the old one, two magic.
“What’s your name?” she asked.
“Eh, Colin. Colin McQuarrie. Yours?” he asked, finally remembering the finer points of leg-over etiquette.
“Margo. And this is Morgan and Marjorie.”
The blond in the middle, Morgan, slid gracefully off her stool and came to stand next to him. Maybe he’d be in a three-way before the night was out if he minded his p’s and q’s. He hurriedly calculated just how much he’d had to drink because it really wouldn’t do to disappoint the ladies. Not if the abuse Jackie had regularly showered him with was anything to go by.
Morgan put a hand on his arm and was so close he could smell her: an intoxicating scent that brought with it the green promise of spring woods. He was just about to press his mouth to hers and maybe even give her a bit of tongue, when she ruined the moment by speaking. That was women for you.
“Did you know you have an elemental attached to you?”
“An elephant? Are you pissed hen?”
The third blond, Marjorie had joined them and stood on his other side. He felt hemmed in for some reason and started to wonder where Rab the barman was; quelling a sudden surge of adrenalin as though some part of his brain was telling him to make a run for it. Why would he run from three lassies?
“It’s a lower form of spirit-”
“That attaches itself to people who have done bad things in their lives. It feeds off the energy that creates-”
“And for every bad deed, the elemental gets bigger-”
“And bigger and-”
“Yours is the size of a tenement. And it’s still growing. You must have been a very naughty boy Colin.”
He’d lost track of who was saying what but it didn’t matter because it melded into a seamless whole as though the conversation was taking place entirely inside his own head. The three hadn’t taken their eyes off him, tracking his progress like a deer or some other prey that didn’t have a hope in hell. Being hopeless had never felt so good.
“You know those angry, frustrated feelings you get where you want to burn the world and everybody in it?”
He was pretty sure that was Marjorie who was stroking his arm, snaking a trail up to the back of his neck. Dumbly he nodded.
“That’s from the elemental. Sort of like waste products if you see what I mean. You’ll have noticed how it’s getting worse no doubt? That’s the elemental getting stronger. Soon it’ll be powerful enough to swallow your soul. While you’re still alive I mean. You’ll be little more than a walking, talking corpse. Isn’t that something?” Margo smiled. Was it just his imagination, or were her teeth more prominent than they had been a moment ago?
He was really confused now, unsure if it was the drink or if the women had drugged him. He wasn’t sure he cared, as long as they stayed with him.
“Can’t I get rid of it? I mean, couldn’t you help me?” he said, like a little boy pleading not to be sent to bed. He didn’t question the truth of what he was being told: it was as if he’d always known. Ever since that hit and run that he’d been responsible for as a teenager and then all the other stuff since then…
“Ah, now. We were just getting to that,” said Morgan. “But first there’s something you need to do for us.”