Chapter 12 : Boho City Rollers
“This isn’t going to work.”
Carlotta watched as Mindy, in her full racing car outfit, executed a perfect pirouette into a death drop and the crowd of people burst into foot-stomping applause. Unsurprisingly, Mindy was having the absolute time of her life which, actually, worked in their favour since the rest of them had turned out to be lackluster perfume promoters at best.
Behind her Cassandra was clinging unsteadily to the back of a chair. Every now and then Carlotta would hear her mutter something in her native Trojan. Carlotta watched with a mixture of trepidation and pity as a young man in ripped black jeans and a carefully scruffy Nirvana t-shirt approached her glowering nest mate.
“Hey gorgeous, you look like you’re having some trouble there. Gimme your hands.”
Carlotta winced as Cassandra skewered him with a look so venomous she wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d spontaneously burst into flames. Instead she saw the blood drain from his face along with his expression of charming confidence. Looking decidedly less sure of himself, he backpedaled rapidly away into the crowd of people flowing into the cavernous warehouse, disappearing with one last look over his shoulder as he fled.
Carlotta looked at Cassandra with a sigh, “I know sales isn’t your forte, Cass, but try not to completely horrify the punters, ok?”
Cassandra spat something in Trojan that Carlotta happened to know was both very rude and anatomically impossible. With a wink and a grin Carlotta left her to carry on muttering to herself and trying to stay vertical while she moved off to join the others mingling with the crowd and pimping L’Octane.
The roller derby venue was a massive warehouse with the track in the centre surrounded on three sides by stands for spectators. A bar at the far side was doing a brisk trade in pints of craft beer and Jäger bombs. Crowds of people were now flowing through the open doors, the high ceiling echoing the many voices as well as the sound of skates clattering against the track as the teams warmed up. Overtop of it all played a stream of Indy rock.
Carlotta weaved through the crowd to where Morgana was offering perfume samples to a scrum of men and women who were all vying for her attention. Draping an arm over her sister’s shoulders, Carlotta whispered in her ear.
“Any sign of you-know-who?”
Still smiling and handing out samples, Morgana shook her head, “Haven’t spotted her.”
Carlotta sighed and glanced around hopefully, “She should be here by now, the match is going to start soon.”
She felt Morgana shrug.
“Okay, meet me over by Cassandra in five minutes.”
Skating away she looked around for Nisha and Mindy. Spotting a jostling crowd cheering and whistling at something, she felt it was a safe bet she’d find Mindy at the centre. Sure enough, pushing her way to the front, she found both her younger sisters doing some kind of elaborate roller disco dance routine. She spared a moment to wonder if they had prepared this in advance or if they could just crank this kind of thing out on the fly.
Catching Nisha’s eye, she jerked her head in the direction of Cassandra then turned and made her way back through the crowd.
Approaching at such breakneck speed that Cassandra flinched and would have crashed to the ground had Morgana not held her upright, Mindy skidded to a last minute halt and her muffled voice immediately started a rapid fire of speech.
“Guys we’ve sold our WHOLE stock of L’Octane! Every bottle! People fucking love us.”
Morgana gave her a level stare, “Min, of course they’re buying it when you’re glamouring the shit out of everyone! Not very ethical by the way, but also has anyone seen Alina?”
Head shakes all around.
Mindy’s voice had a distinctly defensive cast as it emerged from her helmet, “I didn’t glamour everyone and I don’t think being a vampire is traditionally associated with being particularly ethical anyway so I don’t—“
Nisha put a soothing hand on her arm to halt her huffy reply.
Ignoring Mindy, Carlotta took a deep breath, “Okay so either she’s not here or we’ve missed her somehow. We’re going to have to change tack.”
There was a moment of silence while they all digested this and then Morgana spoke.
“Well, if she’s here and we’ve missed her then…she’s going to be playing, right?
“So…she’s guaranteed to be on the track at some point at least, right?”
Cassandra began to shake her head vehemently then stopped when one foot slipped out from under her and Morgana had to catch her again.
“Absolutely not. Don’t even say it, Morgana.”
“It would guarantee we’d get close enough to deliver a dose of the potion.”
Cassandra was still shaking her head weakly but she couldn’t argue with her sister’s logic.
Nisha frowned, “Are you suggesting we, what, gatecrash the match? Won’t that make the exact kind of memorable scene we’re meant to avoid?”
Morgana made eye contact with each of them, “Not if we’re the other team, it won’t.”
As understanding dawned on the others Cassandra just hung her head in resignation.
Standing in a huddle by the doors to the changing rooms, the girls conferred in hushed voices.
“Alright,” Mindy spoke with an unusual degree of authority, “Smash (Your) Mouth have fifteen on their roster but there are only ever five players on the track during a jam. Obviously, I can’t play so there will only be four of you. That means we need to convince the players to let you guys step in.”
Nisha frowned, “How on earth are we–”
Carlotta interrupted her, “Glamouring. It’s the only way. We don’t have time for anything else.”
Nisha looked incredulous, “Fifteen people? Is that even possible??”
Carlotta winced. She thought instantly of Marina, whom she’d witnessed many times being able to glamour groups much larger than that. “It’s definitely possible. Mindy, you’re the strongest of us at glamouring. It’ll have to be you.”
Mindy’s helmet bobbed with what they all hoped was determination and confidence.
Carlotta continued, speaking now to Mindy in particular, “Listen, you need to get all their attention on you, ok? Once you have them, keep the message simple. Don’t overcomplicate it. You’ll need to remove your helmet too, for this many people eye contact will be key. You should be safe in the changing rooms, just remember to put it back on when you come out again. All good?”
Nodding, Mindy began to unhook her chin strap.
Carlotta grabbed her sister’s shoulder reassuringly, “You got this, Min. Just shout when we’re good to come inside, ok?”
The others watched Mindy disappear through the door with anxious expressions.
Morgana locked eyes with Carlotta, “Do you really think she can do this, Car?”
Carlotta nodded firmly, “If anyone can wrap a group of hardened roller derby players around her little finger within five minutes it’s our Mindy. She won’t let us down.”
Carlotta checked, for what was probably the four hundredth time, that the vial of potion was still tucked securely into the breast pocket of her uniform. The dress was originally Dickies brand but had been customised to such a degree that it was barely recognisable – now a violent shade of pink, it was covered in patches. Teamed with a pair of fishnet stockings and a matching pink helmet, it was everything one would expect from a Roller Derby team uniform.
Morgana was tugging at the zipper on the front of her dress, “Why won’t this go up? I feel like my boobs are going to fall out.”
Nisha chuckled, “I think that’s the point, hon. They do look great though. You have a top shelf rack.”
They were standing in the middle of the track with the rest of the Smash (Your) Mouth team. The other eleven players were looking somewhat dazed but otherwise no worse for wear given the glamouring smackdown Mindy had laid on them. Carlotta felt slightly guilty about the come downs they all had to look forward to in a few hours but brushed those thoughts aside in order to focus on the task at hand.
Tugging her knee pads up, Carlotta turned to the other girls, “Right, listen up, ladies. The plan is simple, take Alina out and create enough chaos for me to deliver the potion. This is a full contact sport so frankly it shouldn’t be that difficult. Use vampire strength only if you absolutely have to and only if you can do it subtly. Understood?”
Nods all around.
Carlotta looked in dismay at Cassandra who was still clinging to Morgana’s arm.
“Cass…just…try to stay upright as long as you can, alright?”
Cassandra looked like she wanted to say something but she was interrupted by the arrival of the Boho City Rollers. Swooping onto the track to whoops and cheers from their many fans, the Rollers moved confidently to the centre. Waving and smiling they all looked slick and sexy in black Rockabilly button-up hot pants and red polka dot halters. And there, in the centre of the pack, was Alina.
Carlotta turned to her sisters with a wolfish grin, “Game on, girls.”
The whistle blew and the ten women launched forwards. To absolutely no one’s surprise, Cassandra immediately went down hard in a blistering stream of Trojan invective and a clatter of skates. To her credit, she did manage to take down an opposing player with her, albeit temporarily.
However, Carlotta, Nisha, and Morgana didn’t have time to worry about Cassandra and the continuing torrent of foul language behind them told them she was physically unharmed although her ego might be another story.
As the jammers raced to catch up with the pack, the three vampires jostled to get closer to Alina but were caught off guard by the stubborn defence of her teammates. Losing her patience, Carlotta shoved through a little harder than was probably necessary, sending one woman careening into the barrier and another sprawling. She saw Alina’s head swivel around and take in the situation with a frown of concern, realising that for the moment she and her remaining team mate were outnumbered three to two.
Morgana glanced back and noted the rapid approach of not just the two players Carlotta had taken out but also the jammers. It was about to get very chaotic. Surging forward she cut across her sisters and blocked Alina’s path. Seeing their opportunity to pin her against the outside barrier, Nisha and Carlotta closed in from the inside and rear but they underestimated Alina’s speed. Ducking down she suddenly darted inside, avoiding their trap and speeding ahead. Reaching out an arm she whipped her jammer forward, scoring points as the crowd roared their approval and adding insult to injury for the flailing vampires.
Coming around the track at breakneck speed as they tried to get in position to take on Alina again, Carlotta noted that Cassandra was just ahead and had managed to make it unsteadily back to her feet. As if in slow motion, she watched as one of the Smash (Your) Mouth players swooped past and gave her sister a hard shove in the chest, sending her crashing spectacularly back onto the track. The crowd let out a collective groan of mingled delight and sympathy. Carlotta heard Cassandra bellow something about draining the other player’s blood and using her empty skin as a puppet but thankfully it was in particularly archaic Latin so unlikely anyone actually understood. Sparing Cassandra an apologetic grimace as they sped past, Carlotta re-focussed on the task at hand.
Uncomfortably aware that they were running out of time if they wanted to deliver the potion in this jam, Carlotta looked around for Nisha and Morgana.
“Nish! Get in front of me!”
Rejoining the pack of jostling players, Carlotta made room for her sister ahead. Glancing back for Morgana, she beckoned her in closer.
With one eye on Alina who was skating just ahead and to their right, she pulled the potion from her pocket and spoke to her sisters,
“Get ready for the mother of all pile ups, ladies!”
With that brief warning, she shoved Nisha hard, catapulting her into Alina from behind then grabbed Morgana and piled in behind the flailing pair as they slammed into the barrier and went down in the tangle of limbs and skates.
Vaguely, she heard the crowd screaming and cheering overtop of the commentator hollering about complete carnage on the track. With Morgana and Nisha doing everything in their power to elevate the level of chaos, shouting and flailing about, Carlotta wrestled into position until she had a clear view of Alina’s reddened face squashed against the boards of the track.
For one brief moment, their eyes locked and Carlotta saw shock and a dawning realisation on Alina’s face but it was much too late for that now. The cloud of potion completely engulfed the vampire hunter as she gasped and coughed. By the time it cleared, any suspicion had been replaced with a glassy-eyed look of bemusement.
Just then, someone hauled Carlotta up and off Alina. Pocketing the now-empty potion, Carlotta backtracked swiftly to join her sisters nearby while Alina’s own team crowded around her in concern. The jam had been stopped and the ref was making her way over. After a brief look at the downed Alina the referee raised her hand for a medic.
Morgana, Nisha, and Carlotta moved swiftly to collect Cassandra who had ripped off her skates in disgust and was standing in the centre of the track waiting for them impatiently.
“Well?? Did you do it?”
Hustling her away to the changing rooms, Carlotta spoke under her breath, “Yeah, it’s done. Let’s get Mindy and get out of here before the rest of Alina’s team mates decide to take issue with us taking out their star player.”
The drive home was a quiet one with each of them lost in their own thoughts. Tomorrow night was the Betrayer’s Moon and they had no way of knowing for certain that the memory potion had worked. As the car moved through the dark, drizzly London streets they each couldn’t help but wonder if this might be the last night they would ever see.
Carlotta thought about Madeleine and about Marina. She thought about Dracula, her mad, sweet, murderous little man. She glanced briefly from the road to the faces of her sisters, this disparate group of women who had become her chosen family.
She thought about Cassandra who in her long life had seen empires rise and fall. Brave, loyal Cassandra who had seen things people today couldn’t imagine in their wildest dreams. Cassandra who had lost everything to war and the capricious machinations of fickle gods. Her beautiful sister who had rocked her gently as she howled in grief after Prague.
She thought of Morgana, a woman so inextricably entwined with legend that she had become a creature of popular imagination. Little would people dream that she was both very real and that she still walked among them. Morgana who liked to spend summer nights in her garden, surrounded by the scent of lavender and rosemary in the warm night air. Morgana who danced naked under the full moon and talked to trees.
Her mind turned to Nisha, so young compared to the others but just now starting to feel that strange, uncomfortable transformation into something outside of time. That feeling when you play a track that should be an instant crowd pleaser but instead is greeted only by blank stares. The realisation that, one by one, the places you used to go and the people you used to see just aren’t there anymore. Carlotta had watched this painful metamorphosis overtaking her sister with sympathy. But Nisha adjusted with the same gentle good humour and grace with which she approached everything else.
Finally her mind turned to Mindy. Wild, irrepressible Mindy who could charm the pants off just about anyone. Mindy with her quick laugh and devil-may-care attitude. Mindy who, as they well knew, would tumble gleefully into mortal danger but then somehow manage to dance her way out of it. Her littlest sister was only just finding the limits of her immortal life.
All her sisters deserved to live. In her heart, Carlotta knew that their story shouldn’t end tomorrow night. But unfortunately, as was so often the case, it was now out of their hands. They had done what they could.
All that was left was to wait.
Join the Fangily! If you enjoyed this chapter of the Fang Fatales ongoing story, please consider supporting the project by minting an NFT or two over at https://www.fangfatalesnft.com/ at the super low price of only 0.002 ETH + gas! All proceeds go back into the project so that we can create more free stories for you, as well as collaborating with artists in the NFT community.