You think they’re there to protect you…

‘[…] I burst through the double doors into the muted corridor to rest panting against a damp wall, waiting for my smoke-stained eyes and nose and throat to clear. Blood pulses in my head, keeping complicit time with the music rumbling through the walls.

The one hanging light casts weird shifting sprays of illumination down the corridor. I touch my chest again, recalling that strange pain. I must be going insane, too many late nights, the shock of seeing someone killed. Maybe it’s the drugs finally getting to me.

Yet Lucs’ words nag at the back of my brain.

I force them from my mind. All that matters is getting out of here. I push away from the wall and head for the back door.

I round a corner. Too late I realise I’m not alone.

A figure is coming towards me, filling the narrow space. When I see the size of the guy I instinctively put one foot back, planting myself.

Pieters. He’s big, bigger even than me, almost scraping the roof with his head. The white badge seems lost against his chest. I tense and wait for him. Then I glimpse over his shoulder another darkened figure bent over something on the ground, something framed by yellow — it is blonde hair, it is a woman. Tight black shorts. Bra-top.

There is blood on her neck.

As I stare at it my vision narrows, focusing solely on its dark stain.

I forget about Pieters, about the club, about the patron being killed.

Pulsing sounds in my ears, strong, blotting out everything else. Spit fills my mouth. I can smell the blood. It floods my senses. My head spins at the thought of tasting it.

I tear my gaze away to look at the hunched-over figure, but the shifting light edging past Pieters’ head and shoulders and underneath his arms warps everything and it seems the figure’s face is somehow stretched and lupine.

“Thought you were a patron,” Pieters says, breaking through my concentration. “Just as well.” He points at the blackening egg on my temple. “You got hit before.”

Disarmed, I raise my hand to my head slowly and feel the lump. My refined senses dissipate, leaving me feeling washed out and empty. I must be going insane. I look at the other security — it is Raph — but his face is normal. For a moment I had thought …

“You can’t let that happen again,” Pieters is saying. “They must fear us.”

I stare at him then look at the girl.

“She overstayed her welcome,” Pieters says.

Raph hauls the black-shorts girl up underneath her arms and drags her to the back door. But there is blood on the wall behind, splattered like the blood on Raph’s cheek. He waits for Pieters to go down the stairwell and open the door and, as I stand watching, the girl’s head lolls to one side on a too-pliable neck and her mouth, split at the corners as if punctured by something, gapes open, drooling a line of spittle onto her top. Raph sees me looking at her face and stares back openly. He reads something in my eyes that satisfies him and he dismisses me, dragging the girl outside.

“You should get back to your post,” Pieters says.

I hesitate, looking towards the back door. Instead I nod and head back into the club.’

© Aaron Sterns 2003, Do not reproduce without permission



“The most disturbing stories are those in which the horror seems a natural extension of the world as we know it: […such as] a nightclub bouncer inducted into a secret world of killing for pleasure (Aaron Sterns’ ‘Watchmen’).”
-Review by Lorien Kaye, The Age, March 29, 2003

“A young bouncer at a nightclub finds himself embroiled in a culture of brutality and violence. It is a very immediate story without too much literary ‘trickery’.”
-Review in The Hafwit Waltz


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