The sidewalk was littered with hippies. They were like cockroaches, attracted to the neighborhood by an increasing number of news articles that reported on pie-eyed college and high school students flocking to the scene, to be somewhere, feeling something, feeding an new hunger, at some edge of a revolution. The story fed on itself like an ouroboros. Along the sidewalk scurried a middle-aged man with thick glasses named Aidan Ogden. He used to be an accountant but hadn't been employed in any taxable capacity for some years. His hair was balding and gray at the temples. He wore a decade-old suit that smelled slightly of mothballs, but without a tie. It was his one concession to the comparatively outlandish fashions that surrounded him. He carried a small paper bag carefully with two hands. The bottom was wet.
Ogden stepped over a dazed teenager who held out his hand but didn't bother to vocalize asking for anything. Ogden gritted his teeth and gave the kid a kick as he passed. He scurried on under the light of the street lamps. His destination was the front door of a purple painted lady. He reached it quickly, unlocked it, and scrambled up a steep set of stairs that started immediately inside the entrance.
"My lady," he called out, panting with the effort of the climb. He leaned against the wall halfway up the stairs in order to catch his breath. It was always best not to disturb his mistress. He took in a deep inhale and resumed the climb, and finally pushed through a curtain of beads at the top.
The room was smokey with incense, tobacco, and weed. Ogden felt an immediate wave of nausea and his forehead became slick with sweat. He tried to look through the haze but couldn't find her. There were carpets and pillows on the floor with nothing Ogden would classify as 'real' furniture. In the middle of the room was a circle of candles. He shuffled to the edge of the circle, knelt down, leaned over, and placed the wet paper bag in the center of the circle.
"Well done, Aidan," said a husky female voice.
He felt her slender hand on his shoulder. He turned around, but did not stand. She stood barefoot, in a mesh miniskirt. He tried not to look anywhere but her face, which was framed by long black hair, and in the current fashion, she wore no makeup, but even so, her beauty was so radiant that it was disturbing, and belied her non-human origin. Ogden had found out too late that she was a succubus, and before he knew anything was amiss with her, after just one private meeting with her at the strip club she worked at, he had pledged his life and soul to be her eternal servant. Her stage name was Moon Orchid.
"It's from a young boy. Maybe fifteen," said Ogden, his eyelids blinking uncontrollably with the issuance of the words.
"Groovy," said Moon Orchid. She started to walk around the circle.
Ogden looked down and examined the weft of the carpet by his knees.
"I don't like having to do this," he said.
"Not your choice," said Moon Orchid.
"They're just kids."
"They come here so willingly."
"They just want to believe in love."
"And I do love them, in my way," she purred.
She stepped into the circle and stood over the bag and worked herself up into a state of ecstasy. Ogden shivered and grimaced. She moaned out then picked up the bag. She ripped at the paper with her teeth and revealed the beating heart inside. She pressed her forehead to it, and it started to beat faster and faster. Her eyes rolled back and she shook her legs, then swayed and writhed to an unheard tune. Ogden crawled on his hands and knees towards the corner of the room. He curled up against several pillows and watched her. The heart was pulsing now, it was almost done. She fell to her knees just as the heart disintegrated into bloody sludge. She rubbed the remnants over her face and body then laid down in the circle and sighed with satisfaction.
"You're awful," said Ogden. Moon Orchid laughed. Ogden balled his fists. "I hate you."
"You love me," said Moon Orchid. "You can't help it."
"Yes I can. I may not have stood up for anything in my life, but I can stand up to you."
"Right," said Moon Orchid. She began to lick her hands with a certain feline finesse. "Now bring me another."
"It's been three tonight already," said Ogden. "Isn't that enough? I risk my life getting them for you. You don't even care about me."
"Well, I can't go out myself. I have a reputation to maintain. Now go or I'll cause you exquisite pain."
Moon Orchid stared menacingly at Ogden. He returned her stare, but looked at her with pity.
"If you want a heart, take mine," he said. "I'm not killing any more innocent kids."
Moon Orchid sat up. She looked at her palms, then spread them across the candle flames, extinguishing them.
"Your heart doesn't interest me. You are a dirty, low creature. You've done things that have tainted your heart and it is diseased."
"You made me!" sputtered Ogden.
Moon Orchid laughed to the point of tears.
"You came to me willingly. Willingly," she emphasized, her voice a low thrum.
"I love you!" he sobbed. "I did everything for you...why can't you love me back?"
"There's nothing you could possibly do that could make me love you." She stood up and and walked to a cluster of pillows by the opposite wall. She flopped down, and reached between the cushions to retrieve a pack of cigarettes and lit one up. Ogden clutched a pillow and sobbed into it. Moon Orchid looked at him intently as she blew out a stream of smoke from her nostrils.
"Physical pain isn't going to work on you anymore, is it?" she asked. He did not say anything. "Fine," she sighed. "I release you."
"What?" he asked, rubbing his face.
"Get out. Never come back." She casually picked a fleck of tobacco from her lower lip.
"But I love you," said Ogden.
"You're useless to me. Out. Now," she said.
A breeze started to flow through the room, even though no windows were open and it was the middle of summer. Ogden stumbled up and scrambled for the beaded curtain. He pushed through, lost his balance, and tumbled down the stairs in a confusion of limbs. He made it to the bottom without out any broken bones. He opened the door and ran out into the street as fast as he could and quickly disappeared into the night. The boy he had stepped over now stood at the entrance. The fragrance of the room above slithered around him. He put his foot on the first step and felt something of his deep hunger sated, and he instantly wanted more.