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Chapter 1

Updated: May 31, 2023

"On June 6th, 2006, three friends entered a pact with a succubus. Musical fame and fortune would be there's provided the women could fulfill the demon’s need for sexual energy with willing spirit spouses.


Both parties agreed, and Suck-U-Bus was born."


That’s what the website claimed. But it was just a gimmick to sell tickets. Or so Lisa Hummer thought.


After her brother gets a backstage bus-pass, she isn’t so sure. A strange woman warns them the succubus has marked Danny for more than sex, and it isn’t long before Danny goes missing.


Following the clues, Lisa uncovers a trail of chaos wherever the band plays. She can’t be certain if there is a nefarious plot or if it’s simply a bizarre series of coincidences.


Is the succubus real or is it all in her head?


Step onto the bus and into this bizarre occult mystery.







October 12th, 2007




1.


“Not succubus. Suck-U-Bus.” Danny plopped his CD folder on the table and flipped through pages of morbid covers. He settled on a graffitied school bus flying through a hellish landscape. “It’s a play on words. You know, like getting sucked on the bus.”


Lisa creased her brow. “That’s not really a play on words.”


“Well, kind of. A PHX Fun Guide article called the concept a bang bus with a demon.”


“Bang bus?”


“Scratch that,” Danny said. “Their imagery and songs all involve sex and succubus legends, but—”


“Maybe you should bring a date instead of me.”


“Excuse me for wanting to spend quality time with my sister listening to kickass music—hilarious music, by the way. They’re like GWAR.”


“You can’t find a date, can you?” Lisa smirked.


“And you wonder why they called you bitch,” Danny rapped in a terrible Tupac impersonation.


“No, they called me Ice Queen.” She winked, happy they could still tease each other.


“I’m glad they called you that and not slut.”


“Yet you still think I’ll enjoy myself at a demon-sex bang bus concert.”


“Can I finish please?” he said, sharing in her snickers. “It’s funny sex stuff. Not sexy sex stuff. Imagine Metal Shop if they played actual heavy metal, not glam cock-rock. And not all Suck-U-Bus songs are about sex. They’ve got a B-movie murder metal vibe with a killer origin story.”


“B-movie murder metal? These sub-categories are getting out of control.” She grinned. “Does that mean sexy vocals like Peter Steele? Or is it one of your Cookie Monster bands no one understands?”


“I hate when you call them Cookie Monster vocals.”


“Nom, nom, nom,” Lisa growled in her best Chris Barnes’ voice. “Cookieeeeee.”


“I understand exactly what they’re saying.” Danny dropped the Suck-U-Bus CD insert and presented one featuring two bloody, dismembered corpses. A severed torso dove skull-first into the rotting vagina of the second. “Here, quiz me on Tomb of the Mutilated lyrics.”


“Tomb of the Mutilated?” Lisa rolled her eyes but took the gore-splattered insert. “I don’t think I want to know the lyrics. The titles are bad enough.” She scanned the tracks. “‘I Cum Blood.’ ‘Addicted to Vaginal Skin’. Goddamn, Danny. If regular necrophilia wasn’t bad enough. You’ve got ‘Necropedilia.’ Should I be worried about you?”


Perhaps her tone came out harsher than she intended because, at this quip, Danny’s frown turned legit.


“It’s the same shit we always listened to. You saw Cannibal Corpse in concert with me.”


“They opened for My Dying Bride,” Lisa said. “I’d have sat through any opener to see Aaron Stainthorpe live.”


“My Dying Bride?” Danny’s voice lacked anger, but the sportive tone from earlier was gone. “Their name alone is morbid as hell. How about Nine Inch Nails’ wanting to fuck like an animal? And don’t start me on your precious Type O Negative. Do you pay attention to the words you’re singing along to? It’s all morbid and filthy.”


Jeez, touched a nerve, Lisa thought. Insulting Danny Hummer’s music taste was a bigger deal than highlighting his failures with women.


If either of them had the right to be bothered by all this, it was Lisa. After months of silence, Danny was attempting to bond over a succubus-inspired concert. Either he was seriously dense, or needed a designated driver so badly he didn’t care.


“At least you can dance to my type of metal.” Lisa stuck out her tongue, hoping to recapture the playful mood. Still, his overreaction reignited her concern something might be wrong; Danny arrived with excessive luggage for a two-day visit. Not that she was unhappy to see him; Lisa just hoped there weren’t any problems lurking under Danny’s request to crash at her place after the concert.


“Headbanging is a form of dancing,” Danny said. “Also, don’t you watch murder porn? That’s just as twisted as Cannibal Corpse.”


“Murder porn?”


“You know, those TV shows where a black widow kills men for money. Or a guy is living three different lives with three different wives, then kills one of them.”


“All right, all right. You win.” Her tone conceded, but her eyes lingered on the blood-covered page of CD inserts. There was a big difference between Marilyn Manson’s sexy-blasphemous Anti-Christ Superstar and Cannibal Corpse’s insane-murderous ‘Entrails Ripped from a Virgin’s Cunt.’ Lisa just didn’t know how to articulate it. “For the record, it’s called true crime. Not murder porn. It’s very popular. But you’ll be happy to know I haven’t watched an episode in a while.”


“Good. With that excuse out of the way… I’ll fill you in on The Mothers’ backstory and play the best tracks on the way to the Steele Jar.”


“The Mothers?”


“They write all the music and sing.” Danny picked up the demonic-bus insert again and opened to three veiled women dressed in black Victorian dresses. “Two musicians tour with them for the live performances. They’re always masked, so no one knows who they are. The Mothers never raise their veils either.”


“It sounds fun. But it’s been a rough week—”


“How long has it been since we hung out? Ryan and Lindsey’s wedding? What was that five months ago?”


“Seven. I know because it was spring break.” Lindsey and Ryan Cantor’s special day had been less of a wedding and more of a drunken reception for close friends. The party was a major factor in Lisa distancing herself from that crowd.


“And it’s been even longer since we saw a concert together.”


Why couldn’t he just come over for dinner and a movie? A relaxing weekend of catching up? Bowling, even though they hadn’t gone to the alley since Mom and Dad died.


“The Jar is small. I don’t want to drive there and find it’s sold out—”


“Already bought you a ticket.”


I love you, she wanted to scream. But I can’t go! My bedtime is early now. One glass of wine a week is more than enough, and I listen to the radio instead of CDs. Life is safe. Boring but safe.


“I appreciate it,” Lisa said. “I wish you had asked. Truth is, I’m tired. I have a million deadlines for school. You enjoy tonight. We’ll hang out tomorrow.”


“Remember shows at The Nile? Then IHOP until four in the morning?”


“Oh, god. I can smell the syrup and Marlboro reds.” Lisa smiled. She’d never smoked cigarettes. Only weed. But she was happy drinking coffee and eating pancakes all night in the smoking section with Danny and their friends.


“We rocked those shows even when they roped us in the tiny under-twenty-one sections.”


“Ah, yes.” She snickered. “The dreaded magic-marker X on the hand. Feeling like a baby, isolated and on display.”


“Didn’t matter that I was older. You could pass for twenty-one before me,” Danny said. “Makeup and hair lets girls match almost any ID. Dudes don’t have it so easy.”


“True.” As early as seventeen, a co-worker at Jack-in-the-Box gave Lisa an old ID, and it worked everywhere. Danny and Lisa were inseparable back then. Had been until John Lewis came into her life. “If the music’s so good, maybe you should hit up FourEight; find a lady at the bar to go with you. Or post on Metalhaventickets.com. We can hang tomorrow when you wake up. Sunday, too.”


Lisa had expected these attempts to rope her into the concert when Danny called asking to stay so he didn’t have to rent a hotel room—their family home in Ridge Crest was a two and a half-hour drive from Phoenix. She also expected it to be easy to tell him no. However, saying no to her brother—who raised her from sixteen to twenty-one—turned out to be the hardest thing since she’d built the courage to leave John.


“Or you can come and be my wing-man again—wing-sister.”


“I have always been a terrible wing-sister. You know that.”


“But you’ve always been an awesome concert buddy. What happened to that girl? She changed.”


The dreaded ‘you changed.’ Insult numero uno.


“That girl doesn’t need a fake ID anymore.” Lisa hoped this wouldn’t spiral into a contemptuous weekend. “She has rent, though, due every month, and a need to finish school so she can get a better job than a receptionist at Tank Security.”


After she left John and moved from Ridge Crest, friends extended invitations to spend the weekend, tickets to concerts, and late nights at the bar for the first few months, always offering to pay and carpool because of the distance. But that was not the life Lisa wanted anymore.


Well, it wasn’t a life that promised much of a future. Now and then it called to her. However, she’d avoided the local metal scene for almost a year, and in that time, her progress was night and day. At twenty-four, she finally had her own apartment, re-enrolled at North Estrella Community College, and slept peacefully each night.


“I never see you anymore.” Danny ratcheted up the pathetic-pup voice.


“Life is different.”


He’s not asking to do shots in the parking lot and eat pancakes at midnight. Just one concert with his sister.


“Aren’t we still rock ‘n’ roll forever?” Danny extended his pinky and pointer finger, curling the middle two under his thumb. He held out the metal horns for the special handshake of their youth. “Together?”


Am I so weak I can’t take my brother to a concert without devolving into a party animal again?


“I suppose one night off from adulting won’t kill me.” Lisa made the horns and interlocked her fingers with his. “Rock and roll forever.”


“Together,” they said in unison.


“Fuck yeah!”


“Just don’t keep me out too late.”


“Only one opening band. Early night.”


“I’ll dust off my leather jacket,” Lisa said, immediately remembering there was no leather jacket in her closet anymore. That remained at John’s, along with her CDs and a handful of belongings she’d never see again.


“This is going to be like old times,” Danny said.


Not too much like old times, she hoped.





Connect with Nikki on IG and TikTok @Thatspookybeach


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