oh, this is lovely. Thanks BZ
OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD I REMEMBER THIS GAME! I SAW THIS GAME MANY YEARS AGO WHEN THIS WAS A FORUM GAME! MY HALF-NOSTALGIA SPLANCH IS WAGGLING!
Dibs on the Coroner.
Do you want us to write sub stories for this or just plan out something that will happen/ has happened?
Hugo's Tavern at the corner of 4th and Vinnerva was as close to a neutral territory as could exist in the borough of Midtown. Nowhere in Dark City was peaceful but most neighborhoods belonged to a kingpin, an overlord, a feudal government, or even the shroud of darkness itself. Midtown, however, was at war.
Saugath was a former mayor of the city now known as Darktown and Saugath's way was once a major thoroughfare. There was a time where Park Square was a world famous destination for tourists to come and spend their money. Now, the massive square is a strategic place to move drugs and other contraband. It used to be that contraband was moved in black alleyways and other places hidden from the law, but now it's most important to have many avenues for escape, should a rival come with his friends to take your product by force. The beggar did not belong to his post by accident.
If you want to become a Thrice Dead Man, the first step is to have malice and greed in your heart; granted, that’s not difficult in a city where almost everyone wears the proverbial manacles of poverty. Most people with a full stomach and a waterproof ceiling won’t willingly commit murder for coin, but, as a wise man once said, desperate times call for desperate measures.
The second step is to let one buy you a drink. How do they contact you? Why do they contact you? How do they even know who you are? I’ve no idea, but every now and then they’ll decide on a particularly nasty rapscallion and take him out for a night on the town. Immediately, you’ll know who you’re dealing with; the gunshot wound to the chin is a dead giveaway.
If you really want to go through with it, drink what he offers you. It really doesn’t matter what it is, or what rundown pub he buys it for you at. Once that swill hits your throat, you’re a goner. If you imagine a hundred thousand hot peppers, on fire, in your throat, you won’t be too far off.
“You bastard! This is poisoned!” you may very well declare, much to the horror of the other patrons. It doesn’t really matter what you say, because you’re collapsing to the floor, at that point. His face — a malformed mass of webbed scar tissue and smugness — will be the last thing you see…
Before you wake up, and hey, you’re onto step three. You’ll be bound to the chair, naked as the day you were born. You may be wondering if it isn’t just the Midtown Mafia up to no good, but it’s definitely not those goons. With a bit of intuition, you’ll quickly realize that you’re in an old warehouse, somewhere in the now-defunct Manufacturing District.
More of those scarred-face bastards will be there to greet you. One of them will likely be holding a notepad, and the other will be holding a rusty old pry bar. Just so you're not surprised, he’ll use that to pop your kneecaps out. It’s about as painful as it sounds.
While he does that, Notepad Man will ask you all sorts of invasive questions. He asks you questions that could be anything from “Do you want to fuck your mother?”, “Have you ever killed a man?”, to “Do you or a family member have a history of Chronic Fatigue?”
The questions don’t matter, so much as the answers. Be snappy about it, and you’ll do just fine. Remember, the excruciating pain is just in your mind, and in twenty minutes it won’t matter anyway. If the interview goes well, expect Pry Bar to shove the pointy end right in your gullet. Don’t worry, it will all be over soon. Everything gets dark, you see your great grandmother off in the distance, and then you’ll wake up again.
This time you’ll be free, and thankfully your family jewels will be covered. You’ll be in one of those absurdly frilly beds that those rich ladies used to sleep in, before everything went to shit. Across the room, on a wooden footstool will be Ezekiel, Chosen of the Craven Ones.
Don’t let the name fool you, he’s the picture of a gentlemen. You two will have a long conversation, I expect. You’ll talk about everything from the afterlife to “Hey, why did your goons pry my legs off?” Speaking of those legs, you’ll be pleased to find them happily attached to your body.
When you’re done talking, he’ll toss you a flintlock from somewhere in his peacoat, and tell you to do what needs to be done. You may want to shoot Ezekiel, and be done with it. That’s an awful idea, trust me. The correct answer is to blow your own brains about.
What’s that? Yes, you’ll be Thrice Dead at that point. Aren’t you an astute one?
Listen, you’ve already shanked a couple people, and probably made some decent money doing it. If you want to step up your career as a leg breaker and hitman, that’s the best way to go about it.
Bah, you ask too many questions! Here, let’s step out of the cold and I’ll buy you a drink.
Nice premise. By any chance has anyone seen the masterpiece that was the 1998 movie Dark City?
Despair births further despair, and yet with it a glimmer of hope. Many fled the city, knowing it's days were numbered, others stayed to make this cesspit their hunting ground after the bigger predators had moved on to more succulent prey, and yet there were others who stayed on as well. As the city was falling into ruin, civic services were plagued by a vicious cycle: As problems rose throughout the city, their ability to respond and help fell. As their ability to help fell, so did their budgets, shaved off into the pockets of one thieving politician or another. As their budgets plummeted, their services deteriorated ever further, and after nearly a decade of this madness, the fire crew for a city of millions was a handful of old men nearing their pensions, and young thrill-seekers who would consider a burnt human as fun to watch as a rescued one.
Into this crucible of suffering, the Sisters of the Fallen emerged. Working silently behind the scenes, they established houses for their Order across the most wretched parts of the city, where even the corrupt bureaucracy would not enter out of pity for the conditions of those who remained. The Sisters would take in the poor, the hurt, the lost, and even the damned. These former vagrants would then be given medicine, food, old but adequate clothing and most importantly - purpose. Where everyone else in the world was out to hurt, the Sisters were there to heal. Initiates were trained in emergency medicine and two man teams were spread across the city to do what the now collapsing hospitals could not - save the people. Over their years, their ranks swelled as their good deeds attracted a swarm of help seekers, which the city had no shortage of. Initiaties who could not be kept in the city were relocated to farms on the outskirts, where they grew food and tended to the livestock that would serve as the bloodlines for the Sisters' work. Their ascent was not without incident, gangs had initially tried to expel the Sisters from their turf, but later allowed them in when they saw that their wounded were treated for free, which meant more profits to show to their leadership.
The Sisters were funded and supplied by an unnamed business house, or so they thought. The true name and purpose of their benefactor remains unknown, is he or she a saint or a devil. Is this mysterious benefactor simply biding their time, waiting for the Sisters to spread, before exploiting their good reputation when the time is right? Only time will tell, and as is their Creed - Do not think, only help - attests, the Sisters are not concerned about the provenance of the coin they spend.
Basically a faction that has built a presence around the city, a beggar network of sorts. One that sees everything but is seen by no one. By supplying aid to the city they stay in its good books and can pull a heelface turn into madness and a quest for control should the opportune moment arise
While some gangs were persuaded to allow the Sisters to stay for financial reasons, others did attempt to exile the sisters from this place or that. It never worked. In time, all but the most powerful and bold warlords grew to accept the Sisters as a fact of life; as a piece of the environment. Truth be told, the Sisters had a different kind of resource: they had been permitted into the darkness and seen what existed in the blackest reaches of the Dark City where no one but them could enter and then exit. The Sisters had stared into the abyss and their placid, helpful exterior sometimes betrayed the abyss staring back out.
Thinking their mysterious benefactor has larger ambitions.
The faction head would be a charismatic lady who intentionally wore humble clothes and had a disarming demeanor, something of a female High Sparrow (from Game of Thrones), but more of an eloquent spymaster archetype. She'd be happier to have power through pulling strings in the shadows than through open conflict as the Sparrows did, her support and information could mean the difference between success and failure. Her covert operations would be run through dead drops and cut outs managed by her trusted few, loyal members who had been with her since the beginning or who had proven themselves capable of guile through exceptional feats. Of course, no one in the lower ranks would know about any of this, and for what it's worth, the lower ranks were indeed helping the city in a way, keeping it limping at the edge of failure, never fully falling off the cliff. Succession to the post of Head Sister was by nomination, and the name selected would be kept under a seal in the central room so whoever was next in line didn't know it beforehand and wouldn't try to speed up the change of the guard.
Additionally, followers of the Sisters would have a tattoo emblazoned onto their foreheads. If anyone were to defy the order the tattoo would be removed, with the head - though such happenings had not been heard outside whispers, and the Sisters kept a tight lid on whispers that did not favor their cause.
Uncovering the identity and motives of the benefactor would be a major story goal (and would help with negotiation checks later). At the same time, many impostors would claim to be the benefactor/related to the benefactor/supported by the benefactor. It is unknown whether the Head Sister knows the identity of the benefactor, though they surely know about her clandestine work.
What makes a city without its streets or its venues?
Of the few towers that are left standing in the Dark City, the Sundial presents itself as one of the least popular of them all. Surface streets remain as the only ways to get even near it, as it would seem that long before the Dark City became what it is today, no subways nor highways were built within five city blocks.
Within this radius, no buildings exceed two stories in height. Some considered it the downtown area of the City in its early days, but one would have to question why were all the buildings so similar in nature; white walls met dusty white floors, and the rest simply did not exist. What might have been a restaurant was as equally a good candidate to be a department store, but if it must be reiterated, then let it be so :
Absolutely nothing exists within these buildings, save for the same fine layer of dust and the same ceiling lights. There are no chairs, no abandoned paraphernalia, nor fixtures nor equipment to hint at any purpose of anything in particular. Tables, chairs, drawers, and shelves don't exist within the Sundial.
The same could be said for the streets as well. Whatever was painted into asphalt is gone today, and anything that could be painted within the streets was scraped off by the elements. Trees, shrubbery, and even the vegetation that would often grow along the cracks of curbs simply have no space to even start. Trash-cans, mailboxes, and even litter occupy no space within the premises. In short, there exists nothing through and through, save for the groundwork that would simply define a city.
After all, what makes a city as such without its sterling streets or its valued venues?
When bodies started piling up in the outer reaches of the suburbs for the first time, they came in droves. Too many, too frequently, to drive them all to the morgues in the inner-city. So of course they built another one. For years that stark, office-laden tower jutted out over the low, quaint houses of the suburbs. It was a gaunt monolith whose windows glowed through the night and stared blank and dark through the day.
Having a morgue building on the city limits proved to be somewhat useful when civic services in the main city ground to a halt, though the suburban morgue wasn't doing much better. The head coroner always seemed to know more than he told, and there always seemed to be an unspoken agreement between himself and those in his employ. Those that said too much always seemed to join the party of twitching husks in the backyards and trash cans before they could say anymore. It got to the point where they simply stopped talking to the press.
Except for the coroner... He seemed particularly fond of talking to the press. In fact, when the police were no longer there for North Darktown, he was the closest thing their local news had to a police reporter.
His eyes were brown, and he was in his office the first day the cameras were on him. He was discussing the murder of an Ex-High School student, who had been out gathering radio parts for the recyclable metal. Someone had shot them and left them to die in a ditch, not even bothering to loot the body.
"Such a tragedy," he said. This would become a recurring statement, though it was always hard to tell whether he meant it.
The next time he was asked to report, his eyes were green. He appeared to be at the scene of the crime. He had just arrived there. A reaver had stolen a mother of four away in the evening. She had died of repetitive blunt trauma to the brain. The killer, he had said, was a particularly disgusting fellow. Luckily, citizens need not have any worry. The reaver had been chased off when he was found with the body.
It was such a tragedy.
Nobody was surprised when the Coroner's eyes turned out to be blue the next day. Or, at least one of them was blue. He never opened his left eye then. Its lid seemed caked with blood, among other fluids. Today, 32 people, lined up to receive soup for the day, were gunned down by a man who had seen too much...
What a tragedy.
Not a week after that was the day of the last broadcast the news station had ever made. That day, his eyes were black. While normally gaunt in appearance, they say the Coroner’s whole face and head seemed swollen, misshapen, even. His skin was clammy and oily-looking. He sat behind the anchorman’s desk, or, what seemed to be the anchorman’s desk. It was covered in a wet, opaque white sheet, lumps quietly writhing underneath it.
He calmly explained that the anchorman, the reporters, were out sick, and that he would be covering for all of them. To this day, nobody’s exactly sure what went on in that broadcast. Nobody rightly remembers, and those that supposedly do have started remembering a lot of things that never rightly happened since. One thing seems to be consistent among the ramblings of most madmen who saw it, though. Throughout the broadcast, he blinked one eye at a time, hard and heavy, for seconds at a time, and opened up an empty socket. Then, accompanied by painful screams or not, he would reach under the sheet, procure another dangling eye, and put it in the empty hole. Throughout the hour-long broadcast, the coroner was recorded in various locales in the city, often dangerous ones, picking up eyes from offscreen and “swallowing” them.
It is always difficult, even foolish, to rely on the memory of maddened vagrants, even in lucidity, to discern what really happened that day… Or who The Coroner was, if he was ever on the news at all. What we do know, is that in that leaning, cavernous tower, a very dangerous blind man in a morgue uniform, with a very dangerous following, does things in the underground levels that nightmares dare not express. That hearses of heavily armed and poorly washed individuals, nearly as cold and skeletal as the corpses they stalk, babble on about “Sensuous Oils” and a “Throttled Goddess”.
These “Vulture Men” seem to make themselves ubiquitous wherever death is present, always haunting the alleyways and corners, always perched in safe places overlooking the battlefields and street fights. They are always quietly mumbling, always going about their dirty work, and always scornfully violent to anything they perceive as being in their way. Unnerving and grim as their presence may seem to an outsider, the work of of the Vultures is almost a comforting sign to the street dwellers of Darktown. After all, if a Vulture Man took its eyes, that usually means it’s suffered the kind of death you don’t get back up from…
Not much was left of the grand old district of King's Garden. Its townhouses and palatial towers were now no more than empty husks, crumbling under the weight of time and memory. Avenues and plazas that once housed the rich and powerful, where loaded ladies once paraded around in their finest jewels, accompanied by influential lords away from their spouses, were now filled with rats, scurrying around the ruins of an almost forgotten past.
At first glance, a visitor (if anyone were foolish enough to wander the topside paths) might believe King's Garden to be as dead as the monarch who commissioned it. Little do they know they are dearly mistaken. For right off the main road, in the half-toppled shell of a former palace, a single shop still provides for its customers.
No one really knows at what point Reginald Harper opened up shop, nor where he came from, or how he manages to maintain his business. Some rumours say that he is the only royal to have survived the purges, others say that he is an outside opportunist, carving his fortune from the most stinking sludge Dark City has to offer. Not that it really matters anyway. All that the few people left in the ruined district need to know is that, if you are desperate for food, and have money to spare, the 'Prince's Folly' always has freshly baked goods for sale.
It doesn't do well to dwell on 'ifs' and 'buts' in a city like this, and most of those who made it this far have long since learned that lesson, especially those desperate enough to cling to their lives with their every last ounce of willpower. It's therefore no surprise that no one has noticed, or at least spoken out loud about, the noticeable absence of rodents in the vicinity of the Folly. Nor have people put down their pies when they occasionally found small, surprisingly familiar-looking eyeballs in their filling. After all, the supply of tasty food is already short enough without such petty things as ethics, or human decency, to take into account. In that sense, the district hasn't changed that much from what it used to be.
A kill is worth 500 bucks, I'd say.
I mean, think about it. There's so many vagabonds and degenerates these days. Half the population would steal your possessions in an instant, and the other half would kill you for them. Technically, I should be doing this thing for free, but I thought, hey, why not get paid for it?
This bloody mess in front of me, this heap of flesh that used to be human. Where did it all begin?... Well, where does anything begin?
A Tavern. Hugo's. At least, that's how my days have been beginning lately.
People know me. They know what I do. They know what I do and they're all scared of me. The Bogeyman. They never sit next to me at the Tavern because they know better. The only two reasons anyone ever talks to me is if they need someone dead, or they don't know who I am.
Lucky for Danny, he was the former.
I didn't catch most of his sob story, but he wanted me to kill a rapist and murderer. James Tovar. He said he'd pay another 50 above my usual rate if I could get back the necklace Tovar wears around his neck; a gold heart locket. Seemed easy enough.
And it was.
Tovar wasn't exactly the hardest man to find. I traveled to the known location, and found him in a dick measuring contest with his vagrant buddies. Each of them had some sort of trophy for every kill. A ring. A blade. A fucking top hat. There was a man there, wearing layers of chains and so many rings that you couldn't see his fingers. But among all the jewelry, one stood out: A gold heart locket, shining in the light of the fire barrel.
"Oh, you think that's good? This one..." he said, grabbing and waving the locket around, his chains clinking and jingling. "This was a double. Mother and daughter, thought they were safe at home. Fucked them both, and ended it rather quick. Daughter had this on her..."
The stories went on, and I had half a mind to kill the other three men for free. But Tovar started retreating back to his hovel, and followed him as he clinked down the street and into an abandoned apartment building. It was almost too easy to sneak in and jump him at his door.
James was in a chair, bound. He started asking me about who sent me. Thought I was Midtown at first, coming to collect a debt. Started bargaining. "Take the chains! Take the rings!". I told him I wasn't here for his money. Told him I was here to kill him. Then he started pleading. "Shit, don't kill me! I'll pay you twice as much! Please!". He started tearing up.
I hit him with my baton again, and again, and again. His needle-marked arms started struggling against the rope, but stopped when I broke his forearms. Tovar started crying out loud, shrieking in pain. He was fucking pathetic. He kills people, robs their corpses, and he expects mercy? After I broke his jaw, devolving the shrieks into moans, I grabbed the chains around his neck and pulled, my knee pressing against the back of the chair. The chains cut into his skin as he was gasping for air. I took the locket off him and opened it with my free hand, viewing the picture of a family of three: Danny, and the two women with him I gathered to be his wife and daughter. She couldn't have been more than 16...
I showed James the picture, his bruised eyes bulging from the lack of oxygen. I said to him... You killed the wrong people, James. You killed the wrong people.
He passed out, and I tipped his chair and stomped his head in.
He won't be missed.
After my kill, I headed back to Danny's address. A similar run-down apartment. Then again, that's how all of them were these days.
I pounded on his door. After a few minutes, he answered and allowed me into his house. I just wanted the money. I gave him his locket and he grabbed it from me, greedily, and opened it. Started crying a bit. Boo fucking Hoo. I asked, Where's my money, Danny? That's when he froze up.
"I don't have it on me."
I asked, You don't have my money, Danny? I turned away from him, gripping the back of a poorly made wooden chair and leaned against it, the chair letting out a long creak. He doesn't have my money. MY. MONEY.
Then he started talking again. "I'm sorry that I lied to you, but I can earn it in a couple months. And, look, I just wanted to say that you've done me a service, and I'll never forget-"
He was interrupted by a chair hitting him in his face.
The impact caused the chair to shatter into pieces, and Danny fell to the floor, crying in pain with too many splinters in his face to count. I picked up a leg of the broken chair, and it had a nice, long nail in it.
Then, I hit him.
Again and again.
Over and over.
You think you can lie to me?! You think you can steal my money?! MY MONEY?!
NOBODY LIES TO ME! NOBODY STEALS FROM ME, DANNY!
And so, as I walk away from the remains of Daniel Jones, clutching a blood covered locket with the feeling of euphoria after a fresh kill, I think to myself:
EDIT: Well, the whole story's up. Interpret the ending as you will. Again, enjoy or not I guess.
"You don't need to know the route. You give me a time and a place, and I show up. You get your shit, hop in the car, I drive you to wherever you're heading, and that's it. We don't see each other again. I go on with my life, you with yours."
"Sound like you're easy to work with."
"Only if you listen to my instructions."
"Right. We're gonna hit a gas station down in Midtown, on Western and Seventh. Roscoe's Food, Drink and Gas, if I remember. You'll know it when you see it. After that you drop us off at Hugo's on Fourth and Vinnerva."
"... Right. I'll be there in five. You won't be able to reach me again." And with that, I hang up the payphone and walk away.
Hitting a place in Midtown right now would be suicide. Either these guys have been living under a rock for the past six years, are downright suicidal, or are too hopped up on drugs to give a shit. When I moved to this city, I was hoping it'd be a piece of cake; get jobs, get paid, and get out when I've got enough. I heard the police down here were practically nonexistent.
No one mentioned the gangs to me, however. There are two major gangs at war with each other in Midtown, and that's not to mention the hundreds of smaller gangs fighting each other in the streets everyday. The Green Sharks own half the area from Fourth to Kino, while the Reavers own a chunk from Vinnerva to Ender's Way. Everything else is for the little guys to squabble over.
Hugo's was the closest thing to a buffer zone they had, a place where even guys from rival gangs could relax and have a drink without having to worry about a knife in their back until they left. Hell, I've seen a Green Shark and a Reaver drink with each other and have a good time, only for the Reaver to shoot the Shark in the head without a second thought a block or so away.
I get into my car. It's an old thing, but I've made sure to rig it so it goes fast. Not fast and loud, just fast; when you're a getaway driver, you don't want people looking at you. I drive to Midtown, a few yards away from Roscoe's. The guys are there. I get a closer look at them.
One's red hair is curly and untamed, with a fair amount of grease in it. He has thick and coarse stubble that looks like it hasn't been cut in a few days at least. A big guy, looks like he could crush anyone's head with his fist without a second thought. He's carrying a duffel bag, most likely for the money or whatever else they want to take.
The other's a little scrawny guy, with red eyes that dart around far too quick for him to just be looking at his surroundings. Looks like my drug theory was right, for one at least. He has his head shaved, but it's starting to grow a bit. Both men spot me, and look me dead in the eye. I nod. They put on some ski masks, pull out pistols, and head inside.
A minute or so later and they're walking out with a full duffel bag. I open the back door for them, and they hop in. I pull out and begin driving to Hugo's.
When we finally arrive, the two have taken off their masks. Then I feel something pointing into my seat, and brushing against my back. A gun. Should've expected that.
"Sorry kid. Can't have anyone know about this." It's the guy from the phone, most likely the big guy based off of how deep his voice is.
"Y-yeah man, more of a cut f-for us!" The other says, his voice stuttery and quick.
"You're making a mistake." I say.
"Pfft. Good one. Keep driving. Down to King's Garden. No one'll look for you there." The red head says.
With a sigh, I do as he says. What the fuck else was I supposed to do? About an hour later, and we're there. I hear a gunshot. I feel a sharp pain in my lower stomach, and I slowly close my eyes and slump onto the wheel.
A few hours later I wake up. I'm naked, and the gunshot wound in my stomach is bandaged up. Slowly, I rise and look around. I don't know where I am. A dark, eerie room with only a flickering light bulb to illuminate it. There's a door. I jimmy the handle. Locked. Of course it is.
A few minutes later, and a man walks in. He looks old and not in the least menacing, and smiles when he sees me. "You're up." He says. I nod. "Took a bad shot to the stomach, you did. Thankfully it didn't tear any organs, or you'd be dead and I'd have to give you to the Coroner... You don't want to be taken to the Coroner."
"You see the guys who did this?" I ask.
"Nope, just found you lying face first in an alley in King's Garden. Thankfully, I was walking by and carried you here to my clinic."
"You're a doctor then?"
"Somethin' like that. No degree, but I know my way around wounds."
"I need to find those bastards who did this."
"No can do. You'll need a week to recover from this, bud." He replies, shaking his head.
"Give me my clothes."
"But you NEED to re-"
"Now." After a second or so of hesitation, he nods, then leaves the room. A minute later and I have my clothes back. The shirt and jacket have a hole in them from the gunshot, but are otherwise fine. He must've washed them. Wordlessly, I slip into them and leave. "Keep that wound cle-" he's cut off as I close the door.
I look around. I'm not in King's Garden anymore; I'm in Midtown. This bastard must've dragged me a long way. Surprised I'm still alive with how much blood I must've lost along the way. I look around, and find a parked car, before walking up to it, smashing the window, and proceeding to get in and hotwire it.
I will have my revenge.
Slowly, I begin to drive back to Hugo's. I could ask the bartender there if he remembers anything about the guys who shot me, if they decided to go there after all after dumping me. A plethora of thoughts run through my mind, and I feel rather light-headed. There's an aching in my abdomen. It constantly feels as though I've just been shot. A phantom pain, as they call it.
I push through. I can't die before I get to those sons of bitches.
A few minutes later I arrive at Hugo's, park, and walk in. A few people cast glances at me, but they turn away. I walk up to the bar, and tap to get the bartender's attention. "Jesus kid, you look like a corpse... What can I get you?"
"I'm not here to drink. I need to ask you about someone." I say.
The bartender scratches his head, then sighs. "Alright, shoot."
"You see two guys come in here last night? One was big, red hair, other was small and had a shaved head."
"Yeah, I remember those guys. What, they do something to you?"
"Shot me and left me for dead."
"Heh, looks like I was right about the corpse part... Alright, I overheard 'em say something about hitting a place called Lucky Lanes, y'know, the bowling alley down on Ender's Way? Might be there tonight if you're lucky."
"Thanks. I owe you." I say, before fishing out a few dollars and handing them to him. "And I'll take that drink. Whiskey, on the rocks." He pours it, I down it, and with that I'm on my way.
The drink definitely helped soothe the pains, but I still feel a cold sweat dripping down my face. I look in the mirror. My face is pale and waxy, and there are bags and dark circles under my eyes. I really do look like a corpse risen from the dead. But no matter. I need to keeping pushing through.
An hour later and I'm on Ender's Way, a block or so away from Lucky Lanes. I keep looking. I keep pushing through.
I keep looking. I keep pushing through.
I feel my eyelids slowly close...
They're closed now...
I see a bright light...
... No. I need to keep looking. I need to keep pushing through. Time has passed. I don't how long I've been sitting on the brink of death but it appears that it's been a few hours at least. Neon lights light up the streets. I see two silhouettes in the distance. One big and one small. The neon lights slowly glaze over them, allowing me a good look at their faces.
There they are.
I get out of the car and root around in the trunk for something to hide my face. There's a ski mask. Just my luck. I keep rooting around as well, looking for a weapon... And find a claw hammer. Better than nothing. I slip the ski mask on and shove the hammer in my pocket, before closing the trunk and getting back in the car.
I drive closer to the guys. They get a good look at me, then I nod. Wordlessly, they put on the masks, go into Lucky Lanes, I hear gunshots, and then they walk out covered in blood and with another full duffel bag. They run to the car, get in, and I just stay parked.
"W-what the f-f-fuck are you doin', m-man? DRIVE DRIVE DRIVE!" The scrawny one yells.
"Start hauling ass, you stupid fucking cunt!" The big one shouts.
I stifle a laugh, before I turn around and hit the big one right in the face with my hammer. He instantly slumps back in his seat, unconscious. "OH SHIT!" Scrawny yells, and tries to open the door. Did he think I was stupid enough not to lock it? Another hit with the hammer and he's out as well.
I begin to drive.
In a few minutes, I've got them in an empty alley. They're not bound or anything, but given the hit to the head, they'll be far too dazed when they get up to fight back.
The scrawny one wakes up first, a trail of blood leaking down the back of his head where I hit him. "O-oh God! D-don't kill me, p-please man!" He says. I don't say anything. I pull off the mask. He gets a good look at me. "... Oh fuck... OOOOOOH FUUUUUUUUCK!"
He tries to get up to his feet, but I hit him with the hammer. He falls back down. I didn't hit him hard enough to knock him unconscious, but I can tell by the way he shakes his head that he probably has a huge headache by now. I slowly walk up to him. He throws a weak punch at me.
I hit him with the hammer. Over. And over. And over. When I'm done, his left eye is popping out of the socket, and the lower half of his face is fully caved in. That's the end of him.
The big guy wakes up a few minutes later, blinking slowly. He spots me. "Who the hell..." He mutters, then looks closer. His eyes widen. "You... How the fuck are you still al-" he's cut off as I hit him in the face with the hammer. He falls back, clutching his face and groaning in pain. He's sobbing now. Pathetic.
"I told you you were making a mistake." I say, before I turn the hammer around and hit him with the claw. He screams. I hit. He screams. I hit. He groans. I hit. He gurgles on his own blood. I hit. He's silent. I hit. He's dead.
I shove the hammer back in my pocket, and walk out of the alley. I get back in the car, and stare ahead. I keep looking. I keep pushing through.
I close my eyes.
I slowly drift into unconsciousness.
I see a bright light.
Elise is there waiting for me...
No. I don't die here. I can't die here. I won't die here.
I open my eyes, then shift gears. I feel a sharp pain in my stomach. Doc was right; I need to rest. His clinic should be around here somewhere.
Ooh Pact vibes, nice.
“That’s all you’re known as, isn’t it? A monstrosity, an abomination of nature. And it’s true, you must be hideous, if you came down here willingly.
Don’t worry, nobody will judge you for how you look here. The uglier, you are the better. There are many of us- hundreds, thousands, all victims of the city aboveground that cast us into the sewers for being different. Now we roam the tunnels underground...taking the victims of society from the streets above and helping them to finally become accepted for who they truly are.
Take me, for instance. I sit before you now, covered in head to toe with bandages, but I used to be normal like you. But that horrible subway accident years ago....that tore apart both my body and soul. But ever since I ventured down here, I have become happy. My breath may be labored and my teeth may be loose and grey, but I am in my utopia. What more could I ask for?
Each and every one of us is unique in their own right, but we can be divided into two basic groups. Those who come willingly, like you, and those who have to be...taken.
Those who come of their own accord are the Disfigured. People like you and I, who became scarred through birth or by accident. We know what it is like to feel pain, pain that tears apart our veins and eats at our hearts. The pain of being an outcast, someone physically rejected by those around us. There is none of that here. Of course, we must reeducate some of us, those who have only known this pain for a short while, since they were brought into the sewers...
The Mutilated. These are the unfortunate individuals who were brought here, well, against their will, to be frank. And they were...too clean for my taste- too beautiful. Any trace of that was stamped out with the deft hands of our many surgeons. They are the ones who scorned us, who mocked us for how we looked. And so we made them like us, so that they could feel the pain and ostracism we went through.
Take Janice, here, who used to be my wife but now grovels at my feet like a pet, loyal only to her master. She used to be such a bitch, if you’ll pardon my language. Flaunting her curves and plastic face at every opportunity...it made me want to vomit. I wasn’t good enough for her, oh no. Not after my skin peeled off and my sores oozed pus. She refused to touch me, or even look at me! Like I was some sort of filthy animal! LIKE A FUCKING FREAK!”
“I apologize for my outburst….most of the memories of my past haven't been too pleasant.
“Anyway, Janice thought she was better than me, but ever since I took her down into the sewers...well, you’ve learned your place, haven’t you? She’s my obedient little dog now- both figuratively and literally. Dr. Mosef is quite the skilled surgeon. His precise cuts have taken from Janice the use of the muscles in her legs...which is fitting, a pet should always crawl on all fours.
“Oh dear, she’s crying. No tears, please, darling….or I’ll have to punish you after I’m finished with my guest.”
And of course, The Lurkers. However skilled our doctors may be, body modification is a rather...risky form of surgery. There are many times when some of the more sadistic members of our staff go too far with the operation- and break the minds of their patients in the process. They’re far too dangerous for us- too unpredictable. They’re nothing more than animals at this point, so we released them into the deeper parts of the sewers. I’d be careful where you ventured down here, if I were you.
Looking past the little kinks that need to be worked out, we’re all one big happy family down here...there’s nobody around to judge you, nobody to mock you or shame you. Down here, you and I and all of us are beautiful.”
“And soon, everybody in this city shall be beautiful as well.”
I am the bard. I used to have another name but I no longer have a need for it. I used to be a devout Buddhist. I used to dream of transending mortal needs. I have reached that point. I no longer sleep, I no longer sleep. I no longer have anything to call my own, not even a name. However the is no eternal happiness for me. They were wrong about that. Really fucking wrong.
For the past four years I have been sitting in the exact same place. I have come to love the unchanging piano bench with it's oak legs and body. The piano itself is long gone, leaving four marks on the floor where it used to lay. I taught myself to play once. I was never very good, but for the first year of my servitude it was all I had going for me. Now I have nothing. Transcendence.
In this state I tell stories. On some days I try and give what little hope I can. Most days I just repeat the news of the week. Hopeless stuff. I take no pride in the number of people who come to listen to me. They treat me like the messiah. If only they knew.
The Cult of the Bard.
No one knows what they call them self. There must be a few dozen of them living their isolated lives, completely uniform in habits. Each day they wake up at 6:15 in the morning. By 7:15 they are at Ull's Bar. They buy nothing, just listen to The Bard. The Indian man on piano bench. Ull doesn't mind them. They don't hurt anybody, they have to be better than the majority of his costumers.
When they are done listening they go home. In an attempt to be like their adopted savoir, they eat, sleep, and drink as little as humanly possible. Skin and bones, each in agony. Barely living. But they never die. Any street dweller has seen one get jumped. They look pathetic, easy targets for some of the less savory men and women of Dark City. They get stabbed over and over again. Then they get up. They don't fight back, they just keep walking. Some think that The Bard's Cult are too afraid of dying to live. Other's think they are already dead. A few whispers imply that their unholy immortality is demonic in nature.
The Bard doesn't know. The Bard just longs to be able to live like one of them for one day. Just one.
==========One Last Job==========
==========Old Habits Die Hard==========
I got a call recently. Old friend named Ron, told me to come down to his old place in Midtown. Told him I can't, because I knew he hasn't gotten out of 'the business' since we last talked and probably never will. He said it was important, and his tone was serious for once. Nothing like the cocky, measured and arrogant voice I was used to.
So I sighed, said "give me a few minutes to get there", hung up and left.
Back in the day, Ron and I were both criminals. We started out low, cutting purses and mugging people unfortunate enough to walk down our street. Eventually we joined up with the Reavers and slowly rose up. No more petty theft and muggings; we were full-blown gangsters.
He was more of a diplomatic guy and started to take command, smoothing things over when they looked rough and recruiting new guys with his silver tongue. I was always more one for action. I guess you could've called me a hitman. Never liked the term. Preferred to be called an exterminator; after all, I was going after vermin so the name fit.
About four years ago I retired, despite Ron's protests. Moved to a decent apartment downtown, and got a job as a librarian in the Dark City Library and Archives. Pretty relaxing job, and it helps to smooth out my rough traits from back in the day.
A couple of minutes later I arrive at Ron's place, this shitty rundown apartment in Midtown; Meadowview Heights if I remember correctly. About four stories tall and made of brick. Looked like a shitty place to live to me.
I walk past this young guy who's leaving his room, heads out to his car and starts driving. Car was one fine vehicle, and it went as fast as a race car without even a fraction of the sound. Must be a getaway driver or something.
So I arrive at Ron's place and knock on the door.
And there's the man himself. Short and stocky, with red hair and a clean-shaven face. He gives me a grin, a charming smile with dimples. "There you are Matt. Y'know, you were never one for knocking. Guess that's changed, huh?" He invites me in, and I oblige.
I let out a chuckle at that, but after that keep my face neutral. "Let's keep this brief. What do you want?"
Ron frowns at my harsh tone. "I need you to take care of one last job."
"Pfft. Fuck that. I don't want anything to do with the Mob anymore, Ron."
"Please Matt, if you won't do it for them, do it for me."
"No. I know we're old friends, but nothing will get me back into the bu-"
"Five million dollars." He says. I pause.
"Five million dollars. That's how much I need you to get from the Green Sharks. They hit First National Bank of Dark City a few weeks ago. I want the money. You do this for me, you get half a million. That's more than enough to buy your way outta here. Then we never see each other again."
I pondered that for a moment. Half a million... He's right, far more than enough to get out of Dark City, and I'd still have a good chunk left over.
"... I'm in. When do we start?"
He grins. "Tomorrow night. You know Little Italy Pizzeria? That's the Green Shark's HQ. Not much at first glance, but underground they got something akin to a whole fucking city under there. You get in, get the money, get back to me, and then you're outta here."
"Fine. What time tomorrow?"
"Right. I'll see you tomorrow at dawn. We meet here."
"Right." And with that, he leads me out. "Don't disappoint me, Matt." Then closes the door.
I walk home with much to think about. Soon, I'll be hitting the Green Sharks' HQ. It's a suicide mission. But if there's even a chance that I can get out of this hellhole, I have to try.
That night I don't get much sleep.
To Be Continued...
Deep inside Midtown, in the midst of death and violence, right in the heart of The Green Sharks’ territory, there was an apartment. And like other apartments, it had a name. Eden. Had a nice ring to it, mainly because it was the center of the attraction of Eden Garden. The facility was virtually indistinguishable from the garden. Ivy, creepers, vines, birds, rodents, reptiles, moss, fungi and whatnot had made their home on the exterior. Cordoned off from the rest of Midtown it could be(and was) considered as a forest reserve. But only the staff who worked there knew the truth.
Eden was home to the brightest and greenest minds of the Sharks. The staff had been handpicked by The Boss himself and it was made sure that only the most fanatic and loyal to Gaia were selected. The 15 story apartment housed around 240 scientists and other sub staff who took care of the gardens. But it was below ground where most of the work took place. The massive underground laboratory was the breeding ground for various plants and animal and in some cases humans.
A greenhouse took up the majority of the space and manpower of the facility. Here various plant based drugs such as Tsunami, Viper, Eden(famous for its hallucinatory properties), and other general herbs to make a profit off are grown. Apart from the drugs, there are several experiments with mutated fruits and vegetable taking place. (Needs more refining)
Apologies for the delay
The Gentlman's Club
Some areas of Dark City were never good. The Hills is the prime example of this. Government assisted housing products scattered among liquor stores, strip clubs, and gambling halls. It was a recipe for disaster. When Dark City failed, this area became abandoned. Gangs moved to more wealthy areas, junkies became kings of the newly abundant drug trait. One man however, stayed.
Calvin was a unique child. On the spectrum, but managed to maintain some status when wannabe rappers came looking for a producer. He was the man. A musical genius, could have been a great composer if he was ever exposed to anything but hip-hop. He owned a makeshift studio in which he spent the majority of his waking hours.
When the hills were abandoned Calvin took over one of the strip clubs. The Bowtie Club, named after the article of clothing the performers were forced to wear. He turned it into a radio production center. His next step, acquire dozens of therimins.
Having no musical training, but the genius of young Mozart, Calvin's music was strange. However, people liked it. Dark City was a strange town.
Listen to Calvin
WORK IN PROGRESS
A dark alley in one of the hundreds, if not thousands of shady roads. Two shadows whisper to each other in the gloom, hidden by an overflowing dumpster.
"Yep, the Nerds." One of the shadows seems to nod.
"Have any idea where they're getting their stuff from?" The other shadow leans forward, eager for information.
"That'll cost you." The first shadow puts forth what is hopefully a hand.
The second shadow mumbles something, but brings forth a bag, and deposits it in the outstretched hand.
"Well, I heard that they have stations in the Business Sector, and at Toxicorp. The 'government'," It sniggers, "Is suspected to be in kahoots with them."
"Why thank you, good, thing, for this oh-so-valuable information. But is this reliable information?" It asks in a excited tone.
"Trust me, if it wasn't, we'd be dead already." The first shadow seems to smile, "And yet, we're n-"
Something dark shifts ever so slightly.
"Well, it was a good run." The first shadow shrugs. In the next second, something flashes and the stomach of the first shadow explodes, showering the other shadow with intestine. A shimmering blade protrudes from the stomach of the first shadow, the point inches from the second shadow's face.
"Now it's your turn." Something wraps around the second shadow's mouth, muffling the screams. Something crackles as sparks leap from a hidden weapon, putting the unfortunate person to sleep.
The shadow wakes up, strapped to a chair. This doesn't really come as a surprise. As a matter of fact, usually wakes up in a similar situation. His grimy, unkempt black hair seems to reflect his contempt. his dull blue eyes sparkle as he sees an opportunity. Escape. He, mustering an uncanny strength, begins to hop, chair and all, to the heavy metal door, which is just a tad open. He pulls a knife out of a hidden pocket and begins sawing at the cords binding his hands.
For such high-tech people, they sure are bad at holding people captive. He smirks as the rope begins to fall away.
"You see Chris, they always try to escape. I'm telling you, we have to stop taunting them. That makes them think they have a chance." A voice utters from the other side of the door.
The eyes of the hostage widen as somebody in a gas mask opens the door, and with a large glistening object, loads his chest full of bullets.
The Order Dark
Boom! I jumped as thunder shook the ground beneath my feet, a black tome clutched to my chest. Rain soaked through my clothes as the cold clawed through flesh, chilling my very bones. My eyes darting as shadows moved across the alley ways and shady figures cast dark looks my way. Only serving to shake my nerve further as the book already seeped a vile aura that turned my stomach.
My stride remained constant as I splashed through the quickly forming puddles in the decrepit sidewalk. Raising my downtrodden eyes, I saw my reason for traversing this vile city of sin. An ancient, crumbling cathedral sat tucked between two ruins that may have been pleasant buildings once. Shoving open the wooden doors, soft with rot, a soft chanting breathed forth from the dark sanctuary. Only lit by the flickering of meager candles, in the center of the large room, a ring of monks stood around… something, chanting. Their robed bodies obscuring the ritual.
A single monk slowly turned from the gathering, never ceasing to chant, and pulled his hands from his cloak, a jingling back in one. Placing the dark tome into the monk's hand, I eyed his disfigured and scared face with disgust. Grabbing the bag, I opened it to reveal what I had come here for, glittering gold coins greeted my greedy grin, but my grin quickly left my face as to shirtless, scared cultist grabbed my arms. I tried to struggle against them, but their grasp did not waver, there stoney faces giving no emotion.
Shoving me forward, into the circle of monks, my fear was to great for me to speak my protest. As I looked down to see a pentagram of blood and gore. A frail, scared body lay curled in a ball in the center as naked as the day he was born. The monk I gave the book to took his place and closed the circle around me and began reading in a guttural language not meant for mortal ears. With all my strength I tried to break the circle of scared, hellish monks, but they pushed back with unimaginable strength. The chanting reached a crescendo and the frail naked man began to convulse on the ground as some unnatural force sapped my strength from my cold bones.
Falling to the ground, my body slowly went numb as my eyes fluttered closed. For a moment I was still conscious as I felt a hand on my shoulder and breath against my eye and an eerie, whispered voice barely could be heard, “The Order Dark thanks you for your sacrifice.” Then darkness...
Here it is as promised. I'll probably use Luis to explore Dark City more. Also, a new supernatural entity!
- - - - -
Their love shone like a light amidst the gloomy streets. It was the kind of love that people fought for, that reminded you that there was hope.
Luis often took that love and smashed people's face in with it.
Luis threw his fist into the man's face, as Kaya watched with a look of terror. "Don't you dare touch her!" Luis' pounded the man's face in, his own barbaric shout drowned out his foe's screams of pain. He picked the man up, and kicked his knife to the side, even farther away from the man's reach.
"I needed the money..." The man whimpered, his nose broken and eyes bruised.
Luis threw the ruffian down onto the cement ground. "Now you need a doctor." Luis turned away from the man, leaving him in the alley, and helped Kaya, his girlfriend, up from the dirty sidewalk. The two walked away into the night.
They arrived at their apartment soon enough. Luis unlocked the door, and allowed Kaya to enter before locking themselves in. Kaya sighed, "I know you want to protect me-"
Luis prepared the sofa-bed, converting it from a couch, into a bed for two.
"-But, I didn't ask for that." Kaya finished, standing near the door. She removed her shoes, and sat on the prepared bed. Luis didn't look up to meet her gaze.
"I could have killed him, y'know that?" Luis blinked, still looking down. "I wanted to. I want to keep you safe. You're all I have left." Luis' voice was dripping with a strange mix of anger and sorrow. "'You best keep that girl, Luis,'" Luis quoted his mother in her last moments, "'There ain't many like her left around here.'"
Kaya's eyes filled with tears. "I'm sorry, Luis." She inched closer to him, and wrapped her arms around his. Luis embraced her, and the two went to sleep.
In the darkness of the room, Luis heard a light tapping sound on the counter. He left the bed and stood in the room. The tapping stopped, and Luis stepped into the small kitchen area. The microwave, stove and oven displayed the time, '2:00 AM'.
"You can't save her." A cold voice whispered in Luis' ear.
"What?" Luis grabbed a large knife from the knife block next to the microwave, rage burned in his body. "Who's there?"
"You're no guardian. She'll never be safe with you." The voice hissed, and grew in intensity.
"I'll always protect her!"
"You cannot!" The voice tore into Luis' mind, flooding his body with pain. Luis swiped at the darkness, in an attempt to slice into the unseen intruder.
Somehow, the gloom of the apartment became darker, and a feeling of dread and anger rose inside of him. "You're wrong! I'll kill anyone I have to! I'm going to keep her safe!" Luis lunged out at the darkness surrounding him.
"It's too late!" The cold voice cried, revealing itself. It lay upon some unseen thing, appearing to lounge upon the darkness itself.
Luis brought the knife down upon the fiend, and his heart grew with satisfaction. However, his joy faded into fear as the darkness melted away, and only the gloom remained. Kaya was gripping his arms, and the knife was lodged in her chest. In fear, Luis tore the knife away and cast it off behind him.
"Luis, why?" Tears of pain and confusion flooded the two lovers' eyes.
"I- It was the darkness, Kaya! It tricked me! I'm so sorry!" It was the first time in a long while that tears ran down his face. He could only hold her hand as she passed away. "Go Kaya, fly out of this hellhole." Luis watched in horror as his only loves hand grew colder and colder.
On that night, Luis' love died.