Anyway, moving forward, here is the next story in the annual folks. It will take up the challenge and introduce a new female character who is presented favourably:
The Cult of Quexecostal
It is Saturday evening. Ben is alone in his apartment sipping an iced tea and listening to Radiohead's 'OK Computer' album. Katie is away on an archaeological project and Ben is alone, thinking about his poor luck in relationship matters.
His phone bleeps and he sees that he has recieved a text from Tara asking if she can come round 'to hang out and listen to some music'. Ben groans to himself and thinks that there must be more to do on a Saturday evening than this. He steels himself, texts Tara back saying 'Not tonight' and determines to go out. There is a new gay club in town ,'Heaven's Above' , and Ben decides to give it a try. He puts on some nice clothes, sprays himself with excusive 'Odour a la Plature' and sets off into the cool evening air.
Arriving at the club, Ben sees a crowd of young guys buzzing around the entrance and going in. Its a cold night and several are dressed just in thin white T-shirts and tight jeans. Ben chuckles to himself and follows them in, thinking that the club looks a tad scabby but needs must. Inside the loud dance music blasts out and Ben finds it all rather unpleasant. He buys a double Martini on the rocks and sits down where he can have a clear view of the young guys on the dancefloor. As he is sitting there, a girl comes and sits next to him:
"Hi. I'm Chiara. You here on your own?"
Ben is puzzled:
"Yes. I'm Ben by the way. I presume you're with your girlfriends'.
"Oh no, I'm straight. I'm with some gay friends from uni, male friends. I do like coming to gay clubs, its less intimidating for a girl in some ways."
"Well it sounds weird to me. How are you going to pull a bloke in here? And you'll attract female attention."
Chiara laughs again:
"Not all women go out just to pull. Anyway Ben, have you seen anyone you fancy?"
Ben looks at the dancefloor:
"Yes. That young guy in the purple shirt with the hilights in his hair. I wouldn't mind spending the night with him."
Chiara laughs again:
"Oh I know him, he's one of my friends, Milo. I'll introduce you."
Chiara leaps up and drags Milo over and introduces them. Ben looks into Milo's dark eyes and they begin to chat. Milo is in his final year at Cambridge studying ancient history and they have a chat about Mayan culture. After a while, Ben needs the toilet and heads off while Milo gets the Martinis in.
In the gents, Ben is irritated to see several camp teenagers laughing and pointing up at something. Looking up he sees a used condom draped over a cubicle door.
"Thats not funny, "
Ben snaps, annoyed, and hearing grunting noises from another cubicle he storms out and finds Milo at the bar:
"This place is too noisy and lowbrow. Lets go somewhere else."
Milo suggests his place and, agreeing, Ben & he leave. On the way out he finds Chiara and they exchange phone numbers:
"I'll tell you how good he is in bed, "
Ben says grinning.
At Milo's penthouse apartment, Ben is delighted to see a well stocked bar. Milo pours him an absinthe and they lie across the leather sofa, kissing. Eventually Milo leads him to the bedroom. As they go in, Ben is puzzled to see that part of the room is partitioned by a purple curtain. Ben is curious:
"Whats behind that?"
"I'll show you" Milo replies and he draws the curtains back. Ben is disconcerted to see an altar with the gold-coloured statue of a large bird on it. Suddenly two more guys enter from the other room and grab hold of Ben, forcing him down onto his knees:
"Behold the image of Quexecostal. All must kneel to him."Milo shouts as the statue's eyes begin to grow red:
"What the hell is this?"
"Bend, bend to the will of Quexecostal" Milo and the others chant as a red light shoots out from the creature's eyes and onto Ben's head. Ben screams as the lifeforce within him is consumed by the light.
As the light consumes Ben, the door flies open and a shocked Chiara bursts in:
"What the hell....."
Shocked by what her friends are doing to Ben she feistily grabs him , dragging him out of the light, while karate kicking Milo and the others. She knocks Milo into the wall and gives him a rabbit punch while the light retracts into the statue. Ben is dazed and semi-conscious but alive. However an image forms and materialises in the room. It is of a bird like creature standing on two legs with an elongated, hideous face:
"I am Quexecostal, last of the Quallufax. Long ago after the Andromeda wars I took refuge in this statue to hide on this primitive planet from out victorious enemies the Hex. Now I have consumed enough cellular energy to return. My disciples have brought me many creatures to consume. "
Chiara is shocked:
"H... How? They would be missed."
A dazed Milo laughs:
"We used mostly renters we picked up in London. Lots of young men disappear in London every year. Of course our Master leaves no bodies to find."
Quexecostal flexes its wings:
"Soon I will control the minds of all humanoids on this planet and enslave them."
Light beams emenate from the creature's eyes and hit Chiara , however she just manages to lob a tablelamp at the gold statue. It knocks its head off and Quexecostal screams.
"No no. Transference not complete."
The creature has not fully transfered from the statue and breaking it in this transitory stage destroys Quexecostal and sends his atoms into the ether in a hazy swirl. Milo and his friends scream as they are released from the creature's mind grip.
A few days later they are all sitting in the Mermaid Wine Bar enjoying a drink and a chat.
"Its lucky you dropped your mobile in the club after we exchanged numbers or I'd never have followed you to Milo's place" Chiara tells Ben.Ben smiles:
"Yes, you certainly saved the day for all of us Chiara, though I don't usually appreciate being followed to my pull's place by women. How did you learn karate moves like that, it must be hard for a girl?"
"Oh I did martial arts classes when younger."
"Well you picked it up surprisingly well" Ben adds.
"You guys are so funny"
Ben, Milo and the others all propose a toast to Chiara and they all clink glasses.
"Heres to Chiara" they say in unison.