MY BLOOD RUNS HOT FOR CARNAVAL
Quentin moaned, and pulled the blanket over his eyes. Coming to Rio and staying wasted for the entire week of Carnaval had seemed like such a great idea ... on paper. No one thinks of the hangover before they drink, and no one understands that if you keep the good times going, the body keeps running up the bill. Eventually, thought Quentin, you've got to pay.
But not today.
Marcel, who was born here, had invited Quentin to come to Rio with him and "show him a good time." As luck would have it, Marcel also had the constitution of a lion, and was a morning person to boot.
"Hey, Quentin," called Marcel as he came into the room. "Get up. Get up! Time to get ready to go, man!"
"Fala mais baixo," groaned Quentin. "Estou de ressaca."
Marcel laughed, but lowered his voice. "Hangover, huh? Who taught you that?"
"It's six o'clock, man, you slept all day." Marcel was all business about the partying. "We got to get going. Drink this." He put a small glass of orange liquid down by the bed. "Then take a shower. I've got some food waiting for you.
Quentin picked up the glass with a trembling hand. His mouth tasted like the bottom of a sandal. The juice was cool, and tasted of citrus and mango, with a little back-end kick of sweet liquor. Immediately Quentin felt a little better. He pushed himself upright, and walked to the bathroom. After a nearly two minute piss, and an eight minute shower, he was feeling almost human again.
When he came out of the bathroom, there was another drink waiting for him. He downed it, and got dressed. Marcel had thoughtfully ordered in some breakfast, despite the fact that the sun was setting. The man himself was standing on the balcony with a glass of wine, watching the party come to life on the streets below.
"What's the plan for tonight?" Quentin asked, between bites of egg and sausage.
"We're going to a club my cousin owns," said Marcel.
Half an hour later, they were down on the street together, working their way through the crowds. He wasn't one for dancing, but Marcel had found that everyone moved to the Samba rhythm of Carnaval, and that going with it meant you got where you were going a lot faster. Marcel slipped him another can of beer. They'd be drinking good stuff in a bit, but keeping the appropriate party buzz took careful planning and maintenance.
Everywhere Quentin looked, there was vibrant, violent excess. Costumes of lace,lammé and papier maché filled the streets with a rainbow of sweaty, gyrating colour. And women. They were the real promise of Carnaval, fulfilled. At Marcel's urging, Quentin had spent each of the four nights thus far with his hip pocket full of condoms. From ten, he only had two left. Carnaval, it seemed, brought out the best - and worst - in people. To his surprise, almost all of them had been fellow tourists. Brazilian women, though fierce and fearless in the amount of skin they showed, preferred to keep dancing. Luckily, the women here on vacation were under the same misconception that Quentin had been, and would not be returning home unfulfilled. The trouble, if you could call it that, was that between the constant drinking and the language barrier, it was hard to distinguish one frenzied tryst from the other. He finally got to thinking of them in terms of position.
The first night, he'd been with a petite Italian brunette that had started the evening dressed as a silver butterfly. Here, on Tuesday, he remembered her as "Missionary." Saturday through Monday had brought "Doggie style" from Spain, "Reverse Cowgirl" from Australia, and finally, the six-foot Amazon - the only native carioca in the bunch - that had practically thrown him into the ladies' room at the Scala club last night. Her name, she'd said, was "Iara"; but by the time he got back to the office next week, he'd only remember her as "Up Against the Wall." By Wednesday, Quentin had decided that Marcel had a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue coming his way for bringing him along on this trip.
His thoughts broke off as a slender hand covered in silver rings pulled lightly on his wrist. Quentin looked around, and saw a Gothic Goddess smiling back at him. Her black lace dress was accented with thousands of tiny crimson crystals. Thick white makeup coated every inch of exposed flesh, which was considerable. The effect, in contrast to the riot of colour surrounding them, was shocking.
She didn't speak, but pulled him into a nearby alley. Before he could fully register his new situation, she was kissing him with hectic, predatory fervour. Her tongue found his, and coaxed it quickly to response. Quentin could taste rum, cigarettes, and the heavy black lipstick she'd been wearing. He started to pick up the pace, and his hands started running over the lines and ridges of her costume. Gently, she pushed him back, and drew him further down the alley. At the far end, Quentin could see the tell-tale bare-bulb lights of the favelas. The slums were no place for a gringo, no matter how beautiful the woman he was with. In fact, it was highly likely that she could be luring him to an ambush. Quentin stopped.
His dark, and so far silent, companion pouted, then shrugged prettily and moved to embrace him again. There was a pile of discarded cardboard boxes against the wall, and they sank down to the ground upon them. Quentin came to rest with his back against the wall. He closed his eyes as she kissed his neck. No matter what, he promised himself, he'd get and remember this one's name. He felt her hands on his chest, popping open the buttons to his navel. Then, she was kissing his body. The sensations were incredible, her lips seemed to be in multiple places at once. Quentin wanted to cry "enough!" More than that, he wanted to throw this black angel to the asphalt beneath him and have her right here. That, too, was Carnaval. He reached out to grab her, and touched only air. Confused, he finally opened his eyes. The woman, whoever she'd been, was gone.
In her place were four small creatures. Each of them was distinctly human in appearance, except for the leathery black wings that sprouted from each of their backs. The things were engaged in licking blood from a dozen tiny wounds on his torso. Quentin screamed, and jumped to his feet. He staggered, as the sudden movement left him dizzy.
The things fell off of him. Now that they were away from him, Quentin saw that they, too, were dressed in costume.
One wore a tiny black tuxedo with red satin accents. Its hair was slicked back from a Bela Lugosi widow's peak, completing the picture.
Standing beside "Bela" was a female creature, dressed in a red leather body suit, that was open to her tiny navel, revealing the swell of proportionately massive breasts. She was licking drops of Quentin's blood off of her lips.
The third creature was a twisted, bald horror in a rotting black suit. Its fingers were long and crooked and its needle teeth protruded at wild angles from its rubbery purple lips.
The final of the miniature monsters was the most "normal" looking of the bunch. It wore a simple cotton shirt over crushed blue velvet pants, and miniscule purple sunglasses. This one still had blood on its lips, but was currently more interested in fixing its long blonde hair.
"What..." Quentin began. He was interrupted by a sultry voice from the shadows further down the alley.
"They're vampires, gringo."
The Goth Queen stepped out from where she had doubtless been watching the events unfold. Quentin's head was swimming from the alcohol and the loss of blood; some of which was still running down his chest.
"You anglos," she continued. "You come here, and you take our festival, our ritual, and you make it something cheap, something to feed your prick."
The creatures started to approach again. With a rapid flutter of leathery wings, the ugly one disappeared over Quentin's shoulder. Sighing and giggling, the female fluttered up to his neck, and began to kiss him. His hands came up to bat her away, but the strength seemed to be gone.
"Do you even know what it means, Gringo? Carnaval?" the woman asked. Her tone was furious, but her black-painted lips were twisted in a feral grin. "It is 'farewell to flesh'. Fitting, no?"
Bela and Lestat battened onto Quentin's calves, and he sank down to his knees. There was a sharp pain in his back as something bit him hard there.
"I...I'm sorry," he cried. "Please..." he swallowed. It was getting hard to talk, and the world was swimming in and out of focus. "Help me."
"Help?" laughed the woman, "Help is for these ones. They are sacred, and they need food. We say farewell to your flesh tonight, huh gringo? They will live. They will bless us."
A surge of anger flooded through Quentin. It was too late to save his life, but he managed to spit, "They're the stupidest looking things I've ever seen. And you..." he gathered some moisture in his mouth and spat. "You are nothing but barrio trash."
She laughed. "That may be, anglo. But I will be still alive in the morning." Looking at the vampires who were ruddy and flushed with colour, she finished, "And my friends don't look like this all the time."
There were tiny smacking sounds coming from from his neck, and Quentin heard the female vampire speak as darkness clouded his vision. It sounded like her mouth was full.
"Come now, gringo, smile! It's Carnaval!"
Bio: Chris Allinotte lives in Toronto with his wife and two children.
He is the editor of 9 Days of Madness, and the host of the blog The Leaky Pencil.
His first collection of short stories, Gathering Darkness, will be published in May, with a novel to follow sometime in the next half decade.