8.4 The Black Rabbit

by Matt P.

The moment Walter opened the door to the Black Rabbit the music hit his ears. He had been braced for the kind of aural shock that most clubs portended, and was pleasantly surprised when it was only audible rather than bracing. It was some kind of jazzy number, with a woman singing words he couldn’t quite make out. The door opened in to a long hallway that went down, hit a little landing, and then went down further. The hallway was covered in dark green wallpaper and lit by peridic flickering electrical lights. He thought maybe they were designed to look lie gaslight, but he couldn’t be sure.

“That’s one thing they never get right about the past,” Morgan offered conversationally as they walked down the stairs. “Hollywood never shows anything really dark, it’s all kind of blue—but the past was really dark. I remembering growing up, candles were expensive. We made our own or bought tallow, but a lot of the time when the sun went down it was just dark.”

Tania nodded, smiling faintly at her sister. “I remember when we started getting Border wired for electricity. Turning on the lights for the first time…I’m not sure it was any less amazing than the first time we used magic. Probably more so, because it was something external and new to the world.”

They continued to walk in silence after that for a few seconds. “It is mind boggling sometims to think about what it means that you’re as old as you are,” Walter commented after considering the words to make sure they weren’t going to sound the wrong way. “Did you ever consider going Interview with the Faeries and telling someone about all the things you’ve seen?”

“No,” both women answered at the same time. “We continue to disagree about how much we should tell you,” Morgan explained. “Sometimes just knowing about things can make them notice you—because you react to it, or even because you see it when you shouldn’t. The world we move in has an incredibly steep learning curve, and there’s a lot of corpses of good people at the bottom of that curve.”

“I’m not sure that’s how learning curves work…” Ryan pointed out wryly, drawing a glare from both women. “Comment withdrawn.”

“Speaking of potentially fatal pieces of knowledge,” Walter asked as they passed the first landing and continued walking toward the bottom of the stairs. “What’s the plan once we get here? Presumably we’re not going to hash out if they’re all evil drug dealing monsters in the middle of the club?”

“You know how in a business meeting or an interview they’ll make you wait for a little while before bringing you back?” Morgan asked, reaching out to grab the nob to the door at the bottom of the steps. When Walter nodded, she smirked. “It’s like that, only we can be drinking while we do.”

The club beyond the door was dark, both in terms of lighting and decor. Dark polished wood chairs, tables, and booths made those pieces that did sparkle—gold and brass metal accents, the taps and bottles at the bar, the apparently custom made coasters—do so more brilliantly. It was way larger than Walter expected, with a long wrap around bar creating two sides and a front area. Each section had large tables on the open floor and many shadowed nooks and booths along the wall. Many of the booths had velvet curtains which could be drawn shut to offer those inside a bit more privacy.

“When we went to clubs in Eastern Europe that had those it was normally used for—” Ryan began, before he was interrupted by Tania.

“Substantially the same thing they’ve been used for here, from the smell,” Tania offered, wrinkling her nose slightly. “Albeit less often, and they attempt to clean more.” She gave Ryan an amused look. “I’ve been to Bucharest and Prague too,” she pointed out with a laugh. “This booth seems cleanest,” she gestured to a large booth in one corner that was unoccupied. The benches were well upholstered, and comfortable as they all slid down on to them.

The booth also gave them an almost unobstructed view of the entire large club. Walter could see in one corner was a woman on stage with a band, singing what appeared to be swing and big band inspired covers of modern songs; in the other he could see a couple of doors which appeared to lead back to offices or storage of some kind.

“Security back there, you think?” Ryan asked, his eyes having made the same circuit of the room that Walter’s had. Walter nodded.

“Yup, and management too, I bet,” Walter confirmed as he leaned back and considered the room. “If we’re going to have a meeting we’ll probably have it in one of the rooms back there.” He loooked back to the woman singing. “You know, they’re actually pretty good. Kind of like some of the things my kids watch on the internet.”

“I believe,” Morgan pointed out primly, “That you’re required to call it the intertubes if you’re going to sound that old. I would know,” she offered conciliatorily. Walter smirked, and was about to say something when a server came over, and asked for their drink orders.

“I’ll take a bourbon and soda,” Walter ordered. “Whatever your mid-shelf is.” He looked over to the others. Ryan ordered the same, and Tania ordered for both she and her sister.

“Scotch, expensive and old,” she ordered, before looking to Morgan. When Morgan nodded, Tania smiled. “And go back and tell your manager that Mab and Titania have come to discuss their treaty.”

The waitress blinked a little bit at that, scowling slightly. “Listen, if this is a LARP or something, we’re not playing and I’m not going to involve my manager…”

Morgan leaned in, and gave the woman a reassuring smile. “I know it’s strange, but you’re going to walk back in to your manager’s office and tell them that, after bringing us our drinks.” She put her hand on the woman’s arm as she said it, and met her eyes. The waitress blinked, but then nodded.

“Okaay…” the waitress offered hesitantly, before turning to go. Morgan smirked, and then shrugged to Walter.

“I figured we could have our drinks first, since they’ll make us wait anyway.”