Chuck glanced down at the watch on his wrist, his left foot tapping steadily on the pearl tiled floor. He knew beforehand that his visit to the Department of Motor Vehicles wouldn’t exactly be a quick stop-off, but rather an elongated, slow, and otherwise unpleasant ordeal. Still, he didn’t think it would be quite as bad as it was. For starters, he had no idea that so many people would be cutting their own arms and bleeding into some sort of golden chalice as they “patiently” awaited their turn to enter the building. Likewise, he didn’t expect to find all of the employees adorned in long, black gowns, with elaborate, golden designs stitched into them. Regardless, the experience was about as unpleasant as it had been the last time he’d stopped off at the DMV.
The man ahead of him inched forward slightly, Chuck taking a step to keep up with the pace of the nearly immobile line to enter the building. It had been a while since he’d visited the DMV, mostly because he absolutely despised the entire event. He hated the employees that always seemed to hate him more; hated the lines that usually encircled the building; hated the inevitable photo that was guaranteed to ruin his driver’s license for the next six years. There was nothing pleasant about it. Yet he’d put it off as long as he could, received two—almost three, had the first officer not taken pity on him—tickets for driving with an expired license. Anymore and he’d risk jail time. As such, he hopped in his car, illegally drove to the DMV, and found himself waiting to simply get into the massive, foreboding, brick building.
The last time Chuck had been to the DMV was roughly five years prior. He remembered it being just as dingy, depressing, and utterly lifeless as it currently looked; however, it seemed they’d done quite a bit of redecorating the interior—or at least what he could see from the windows. Gone were the drab, emotionless beige curtains that lined the cigarette-stained walls. Instead, everything was covered in black veil, with what looked like blood-colored streaks spelling out some sort of words Chuck could not recognize. It was clearly some other language, or perhaps just English instructions made completely illegible at the great pleasure of the DMV employees. In fact, the workers as well, adorned in their black and gold robes, seemed even more lifeless than they had been in the past. They looked much paler, their voices monotone as they chanted some sort of Latin-sounding verse. The ominous song, however, Chuck was pretty sure he’d heard during his last visit. This time, however, more people were joining in. In fact, everybody on line seemed to be.
Chuck glanced up at the lettering that lined the black-veiled walls through the window, squinting in an attempt to make out the words. He was sure they were some sort of instructions, some tips on how to quickly and efficiently make use of his time at the DMV. That was why they were so illegible, to spite the people taking off work to come in and address their driver-related issues. Chuck sighed, knowing he’d now probably end up getting to the desk and find out he’s missing some sort of form. The angry, overly-aggressive employee would then point to the illegible characters on the wall and explain “he was a fucking retard for not reading the tips.” He’d then probably be sent to the back of the line. He so hated the DMV.
“Next,” said an employee, his face buried beneath a black hood. The man ahead of Chuck stepped forward and held out his arms, his wrists covered in blood. He had previously been standing over some sort of golden chalice, the ruby liquid spewing from his veins into the cup. Now, the blood fell uninterrupted to the cold, pearl tiled floors of the DMV. The man in the black and gold robe seemed to nod at the fellow ahead of Chuck, who then disappeared beyond the door of the DMV.
“Next,” repeated the employee. Chuck glanced up at him and stepped forward.
“Hello,” Chuck said, digging his hand into his pocket and reaching for his wallet. “I’d like to renew my license.”
The man stared at Chuck, his pale face shrouded by the hood over his head. “Dhsula Laquia?”
“I’m sorry?” Chuck said, not even remotely sure of what the man had said.
“You seek a new path?” the man said, now speaking in English. He had a thick, Eastern European accent. Possibly Russia or Poland; Chuck was never good with dialects.
“Sure,” Chuck shrugged.
“Present the pale of your limb, the underside of your skin.”
Chuck held out his arms, assuming that was what the man meant, and flipped his palms toward the ceiling. The man reached his right hand into his robe and pulled out a long, silver sword. Chuck stared at it for a second before thrusting his hand backward.
“What is that?” Chuck said, staring at the sword and hiding his arms.
“Your path,” the man said, running his palm along the blade hard enough to draw blood. “You may not enter without showing your faith.”
Chuck stared at him for a moment, his head tilted. It had been a while since he’d been to the DMV, yes, but he didn’t recall any blood rituals. His memory wasn’t what it used to be, though. “Fine,” Chuck sighed, holding his arm back out.
The man lifted the blade and slashed it down Chuck’s wrist horizontally, splitting the skin. Blood spurted out several inches, falling back down and splattering onto the pearl tiled floor beside where the prior man’s had. It felt genuinely unpleasant, but was pretty much what he expected from the DMV.
“Pass,” the man said, nodding toward the entrance to the DMV. Chuck glanced at it, a trail of dark, thick blood leading into the halls beyond. “Enter the Halls of the Department of Motor Vehicles.”
Chuck again shrugged his shoulders, blood spurting out of his hand. He wasn’t exactly sure why, but he had a pretty good feeling that he’d just accidentally joined a cult. He stepped forward and pulled back on the massive, steel doors to the building, the trail of blood continuing on within. He moved inside, following the specs and pools of dark, arterial blood until he reached the innards of the DMV. Within it sat dozens of people in colorful and obviously uncomfortable plastic chairs, their blood-soaked hands clutching small, paper number tickets. A counter stood above them in a hard to read location, displaying whose number was up next. Several desks sat unoccupied in the middle of the back of the room, with just one employee—a clearly angry, and overly-aggressive woman—yelling something about a driving test to a crying elderly man. Chuck nodded slowly, scanning the room. He had definitely been wrong about the cult, it was simply the DMV.