Logs:Customer Service

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Customer Service


Characters: Michael as ST and Seraphine as the victim.
Date: 2020-03-16
Summary: After a string of vandalisms, Seraphine tries to help a customer find what he's looking for.
Disclaimers: Potentially disturbing violence and emotional torments.

Set the Mood

--

It started out small. Seraphine came in to work one day and found the front facade defaced by spray paint. FRAUD, it said in big, crimson letters, staining the walls. The side said WITCH. An angry customer, perhaps. It's easy enough to wash off. It escalated the next day. She comes in to the dumpster out back turned over, bags ripped apart, like wild animals got into them. A bit of bad luck, really, and ugh, the sidewalk near the shop smells rancid, now. Surely the city will clean that at some point. The third day was peaceful. There's no more vandalism. There was one customer who came in and bought a pack of Real Authentic Voodoo Tarot Cards, which he believed could predict the future and help him find love and defeat his enemies. The fourth morning, she comes in to see a brick thrown through the front glass, tied to it a note that says 'CRY, LITTLE DOLL'.

Then the week was peaceful, and she's now forced to endure the latest customer, a day after the glass got fixed. A little pain in the pocket book that was. But this man seems.. strange. He has been in here for a few minutes, and not taken anything, not said anything. He's just walked up and down the counters, unaggressive and strange. Seraphine hasn't yet said anything to him, and he has said nothing to her.

--

This week as been more than irritating, it's been darn right unsettling. All this weirdness; the graffiti, the brick through the window, all of it... it's made Seraphine sort of freaked and jumping at her own shadow. So when the latest guy has come in, acting strange, she is quite wary. "M-m-m-m-m ay I help you?" She stutters some, belaying the fear that seems to have gripped her insides and wrenches them around. Perhaps individually the happenings might not have been unsettling, but altogether they certainly seem to be affecting the Darkling, who ironically deals in the currency of fear. "Is there something I can help you with?" She mostly repeats the question, waiting hesitantly for the man to respond.

--

"Where is it, little doll?"

The customer, a portly, middle-aged man in slacks and a wifebeater, speaks once Seraphine firmly addresses him. His head tilts to the side, then pushes further, then flattens, his ear to his shoulder, as his mouth widens in a forced and gaping smile. "Where is it? He was here. My be-lo- ved." The man takes a step closer, scrunching his face up, his head lolling back forward as he looks down into a glass display showing all sorts of fake voodoo trinkets: locks of hair from monsters, a totally real shrunken skull, absolutely, definitely, yep, packs of cards, bead jewelry with some hocus pocus story attached. He stares...

And then smashes his own face into the glass. "Where! Where! Where!" His face bleeds.

WHERE!  WHERE!  WHERE!

--

"I don't know what you're talking about... Where is what? Or who? Your... beloved? Did he come into the shop earlier or something. I assure you there is no one here but myself." She instantly regrets admitting to that little bit of information, but the issue is quickly overshadowed by the man brutally smashing his face into the glass. And it was not thin glass. "Jesus Christ! What is /wrong/ with you! Are you okay? I need to call 911, you're bleeding everywhere!" Frantically, Seraphine hunts for her phone, which is not in the place she thinks she left it last. "Where is it!?" Desperately she paws through books and papers behind the counter, trying to find it until it does magically finally appear. "Oh thank god... are you ok? go sit down over at that table and I'll get you some help, okay?" Nervously she hits 9-1-1 on her phone and waits for the call to be answered...

--

Three face-abrading smashes later and the man pauses. He's crying and he's bleeding, his face a slick river of red, the fluorescent lights glittering off the shards of glass now sown into his skin like seed to a field. A moment drags on, and then he looks to Seraphine, and he lets out a scream, a real eardrum-burster, shameless, animalistic. God, why can people scream like that? And then he's clambering over the counter, a red-faced screaming demon, his gut poking out from under his shirt, his pits sweat-stained --

And he's trying to grab her.

--

The bleeding mad starts to come at Seraphine and she freaks out. Having no idea what he's after but seeing how eager he is to do violence, at least to himself, the Darkling reacts reflexively and calls upon a contract to stop the man in his tracks. She grows beautiful and terrifying and causes the man to stop dead in his tracks. She is panicked, gasping for breath and trying to hold the phone but fumbles and drops it, A huge crack appears and the display goes black. "Fuck! Jesus Christ what is wrong with you?" She screams at the man, which after a moment seems pointless. He's probably mentally disturbed and this really has nothing to do with her. But she doesn't seemt to be able to catch her breath, the fear having gotten a strangle hold on her.

--

The twisting magic of the Darkling embeds itself into the soul and psyche of the frenzied man. An overload of sensation causes him to war with himself; his face snarls, he bites his own lips and tongue, a capillary in the eye bursts and he weeps blood down his cheek. And then.. then he slumps, lets out a deep, pained exhalation, and simply stands there, held in thrall to the terrible grandeur of this fae-touched divinity panicking before him. He neither speaks nor moves, captivated.

"9-1-1, what is your emergency?"

--

OH! the phone is still working! Seraphine reaches down to grab it and even though she can't see anything in the screen, she talks into the mic and states her emergency. "This is Seraphine Baker at Jinx, 2345 Whatever street, downtown, I need help fast. This man just bashed himself against my glass counter and tried to come at me. I need help! I'm afraid he's going to..." She pauses, watching in horror as the man bleeds from his burst eyes and blood rund down his cheeks. "Please hurry! I think he's trying to kill me and I don't know why!"

--

"Please remain calm, ma'am. A dispatch has just been sent out. If you can move to another room, do so and lock the door." The operator maintains a neutral-leaning-toward-warmth professional tone. It will only be a couple of minutes, now. All Seraphine needs to do is maintain her concentration, leave the man-thing starstruck and frightened, and everything will be alright. Just a couple of minutes of the man staring at her, bleeding, glass in his mouth.

--

Nope! This is too scary. She breaks her concentration and turns to run for the back room. It has a lock on it, if she can only make it there before this freak of nature heads her off and prevents her from locking herself safely away... It's only a short distance to the door. Surely she can make it...

--

As Seraphine flees, and makes it to the back room, she might expect to be chased down, pursued, in her mindless panic unable even to fully compel the Contract she called upon..

Yet she makes it into the room, slams the door shut, locks it, breathing heavily in a panic. In and out, in and out, until some semblance of calm comes, an unconscious wave of relief when there's no sound of footsteps. There's no sound of anything, actually, except a sudden pained cry, a retching sob, and then

"The hell are you doing here, you crazy bastard? Get out! Go on, get out of here, before I shoot! I mean it! Go!"

It's a voice. It stirs at some memory, some familiarity, though not one especially well-known. "Miss? Miss, are you alright? He -- he ran off, the crazy fellow. I pretended I had a gun. It's okay now, I promise."

In the middle of the store is Michael, a local homeless she may have a memory of meeting, and even - - she made an invitation to him, she believes. But he did not impose on her, in the end. He's.. flush, red-cheeked, but composed. Stoic, for her sake.

--

The voice does indeed seem familiar and conjures up a vision of a man she met who was in a wheelchair. "Michael? Is that you?" She thinks his name was Michael, anyway. She sighs with relief even before he answers her to confirm and gingerly unlocks and opens the door, peering around cautiously. THe man in the wheelchair is indeed there and she sighs again with a smile. "So you saw him too? It wasn't some horrible nightmare I conjured up myself?" She smiles weakly and then suddenly remembering, she tells the 911 operator that the man has fled and she is no longer in imminent danger. "Thank you. Thank you so much. I can't believe you were able to chase him off. I'm so grateful." She smiles at Michael, a genuine, grateful smile.

--

"It's me, darling, it's Michael," the wheelchair-bound man replies, in that ever-so-gentlemanly southern drawl of his. He propels himself forward and reaches a hand out for Seraphine's as she talks on the phone, offering a comforting squeeze and a hug, if she'll allow it. "The Devil was in that fellow, you mark my words, miss," he warns, after spending a quiet moment simply reassuring her with his silent presence. The 9-1-1 operator asks for a description, and says an alert will be sent out, but... well, that's now out of Seraphine's hands, and the call has ended.

"I saw some strange fella messing about with your garbage the other night," he finally admits. "Kept mumbling to himself, asking where it is, where it is. Ripped open all them bags, and he was -- he was sniffing the garbage, tasting some of it." Michael makes a sour face, then shakes his head. "I thought I'd keep an eye out for you, when I was nearby.. what as thanks for your sweet kindnesses to me. When he started smacking himself on the glass, I crossed the street, and.. "

Michael frowns, looking deeply apologetic up at Seraphine. "I'm sorry I couldn't get over faster, miss. It's just.. these damn legs of mine."

--

Seraphine is grateful for the hug and lingers there with him for a moment as she tries to summon her courage to face the world again. "Thank you, so much. He was going to kill me, I know he was! I could see it in what was left of his eyes. It's like he imploded or something." She shakes her head before become highly disturbed again. "You did? You saw him in my trash? I'm going to have to tell the officers about that if they come to interview me. Dear Lord, he really is mentally ill, isn't he!" She shivers before totally deciding to unload on Michael, who seems a caring, compassionate sounding board. "Some one graffitied on my shop saying terrible things about me, and then someone threw a brick through my window with a voodoo doll on it. And then all this... I'm quite afraid. I'm... usually the one making people afraid of me." Wait, did she just say that to this totally random stranger? She definitely didn't mean to and it suddenly grows awkwardly silent after letting that hang.

--

Michael shakes the sorrow from his eyes at his crippling, putting on a brave face for this poor and traumatized girl. He smiles, and gives her hand a firm squeeze. "It must be God's Plan I was here when I was," he decides, finding the silver lining in this tragedy with his usual warm-hearted aplomb. "You could have been hurt -- it's a miracle he just stopped when he did. What was that? He started to climb, and then he just.. stopped. I couldn't see from the road. A miracle, miss. Thank God -- don't you think?" Michael's brow furrows in a moment's consternation, lips pursed, before he shrugs and smiles and gives Seraphine's hand another squeeze. "It's awful what's been done to you, miss. I don't mean to judge, but.. maybe it ain't right to sell this hoodoo stuff to folk. It's bad luck, you know? Paganism, and all such evils."

He lets that hang in the air a moment, and then, as the woman confesses to fear, he lets out a warm chuckle, brings her hand to his lips, and graces the back of her knuckles with a kiss. "You take me for a fool, giving that nonsense? You, making people scared! If I was closer to your age, I'd court you with a smile, and call myself lucky if you let me step in your shadow."

--

Seraphine is just rattled enough that she shakes her head violently and suddenly has a theory. "I do it all the time. Intimidate them and make then terrified to be in the shop, and then I eat their fear. Its... delicious to me. And then they go running. I wonder if that guy is one of the ones I pulled that trick on. It's not very nice is it..." She looks suitably embarrassed. "Yes, thank God you were here and had an inkling of what was going on. I mightnot have survived otherwise. I'm very grateful. And if you were more my age and I wasn't taken already, I'd love to be courted by you." She grins and flirts right back to him.

--

"Oh, the breaking of a heart is a sorrowful thing," Michael says as Seraphine admits she's taken, letting out a deep, vibrant belly-laugh. The flirtation's a doddering vet's harmlessness, clearly -- there isn't any world where they're remotely on the same tier, he broken and disheveled, and she such a beautiful creature. He squeezes her hand one more time, soothingly, and then releases her; any more might not be proper. But.. he is giving Seraphine a hard look now, exploratory. "Miss, what are you on about? I think you're a little rattled. Eating fear, you sound like the bad girl on some early morning cartoon." A second laugh, and then he gentles, assuming a paternal aspect. "Come on, Seraphine," he says, using her name like it's a precious treasure, stern and affectionate. "It's time you close up for the night, take a warm bath, and get you some sleep. I don't know what's in your head, but.. God saved you tonight, he did. If you think you did wrong, maybe, but he saved you. So just praise Him and do better from now on."

He offers her one final little smile, and then turns, to slowly wheel himself toward the exit.

--

"God? Yes God must have saved me." She repeats his words but she still appears to be a rattled mess, but is happy enough to just let the fear thing lye. "Thanks Michael, I'll get a hot bath and some tea and try to calm down here a bit. Thank you again for your help, Michael, I wouldn't have survived without you. And God of course." She watches him wheel out and follows through with a grateful wave.

--

And so silence and isolation fall upon the store once more, as Michael wheels himself back across the street into the dark of the night, vanished down an alleyway until he is gone from sight. Seraphine is left alone, to see the shattered glass, to see the splatters of blood upon her flooring, a grim reminder of what happened this night. A grim reminder that whoever that man was, he is still out there, somewhere. Is she really safe .. ? Can she feel safe ..?

--

"You couldn't even get your hands on her," Michael chastises, staring at the dull-eyed, glass-cut man. "I told you, and you disobeyed my Will; that is most unacceptable, Brian." There's a smile, full of warmth. The hand that held Seraphine lifts, and the lips that kissed her hand part.

"Push the glass into your face."