Michael had tried to watch the television to take his mind off of things. The attempt had proven to be a waste of his time. He switched on to the news, but the reporters eyes kept boring into him. Michael was afraid that somehow the man knew what he was, that the man was actually watching him through the television set. Michael turned it off and returned to the living room with the pictures of his mother.
It had been several nights since the incident with the man in the room. Since then, the Goblet had not been refilled. Michael's body was wracked in terror at the thought of having to go out and drink somebody's blood. He had no idea how to go about it, he was sure somone would catch him and put him in jail, or kill him, or worse...
He started pacing again.
"Stop Pacing Michael."
"Who said that, hello?" Michael stammered.
A figure materialized in front of Michael. It was slightly blurry, but he could make out that it was indeed his mother. This time she looked much more real than anytime before. Michael could feel his mind leaning over the edge for a moment, as a voice inside him pointed out that he was talking to his long deceased mother.
Michael muttered his mothers name over and over as he caressed her face; he wasn't sure if he actually felt her or not, as he was so fully captivated by her gaze.
You need to feed yourself Michael.
Michael wasn't sure whether or not she was saying it, or if it was coming from inside of his head.
"I know I do Mom, but they will see me, people will know what I am. I can't think straight anymore! I don't know what's real. Youre dead for Godsake!" he screamed.
"You need to focus Michael. You need to feed. You need to learn some things. You are more important right now than you will ever know. You are going to need to be strong and ready when your time to act comes."
Michael for a moment wondered if this was real... If he wasn't just talking to thin air. The image of his mother wavered for a moment, but he didn't want her to leave. She couldn't leave, she was real, and he needed her now more than ever. He stared at her even more deeply; she was much clearer than a few minutes before. Michael flinched in disgust as he realized that his mother looked rotted and decomposed. Her wet moldy skin was a greyish color with blemishes and a few rips, and her eyes looked more like prunes. Her once golden hair was matted and gone in several places.
Michael stepped back, the shock evident on his face.
"Oh God no." Michael squeaked.
He doubled over on the wooden floor of his living room and puked up a mouthfull of blood. He instantly felt a little weaker. His entire body shivered as the image of his mother flashed in his head. He was still too revolted to look up and see if the disgusting hag was still standing there. Tears began to well up in his eyes once again. What was happening to him, and who was this monster who claimed to be his mother?
"GET UP! YOU DON'T HAVE TIME FOR THIS!" Mother screamed.
The sound was terrifying. It sent pain and horror though Michaels body. He jumped to his feet and backed into the corner whimpering.
"Please mother calm down, don't get angry. I'm sorry, please don't."
"YOU ARE GOING TO LEAVE THIS APARTMENT TO FEED. IMAGINE THAT NOBODY CAN SEE YOU AND YOU SHALL BE FINE! NOW MOVE YOU PATHETIC SHIT!" she bellowed.
"You promise that they won't hurt me?" The prospect of leaving his apartment made him want to cry. It had been countless days since he had left it. Indeed he had not left since the change had taken place. But he would do anything to stop his Mother from screaming, it made his soul cringe to hear her scream.
He pushed open the door and stepped into the hallway of his second floor apartment building. The hallway was empty except for him, he walked down the hallway, never turning his head once to look around, just keeping his eye on the elevator door. He mashed the button and fidgeted as the elevator slowly ascended to his level. The doors creaked open and Michael cautiousley stepped out of elevator. He was almost out of the building when his Land Lord spotted him and started walking towards him.
"Hey there. Your rent was due several days ago. What's yer excuse."
He knows somethings wrong. I wish I hadn't left my apartment. Oh God If I go back that thing, that corpse will yell again. Michael could feel himself on the verge of sobs again, he turned completely in on himself. He thought only of himself and refused to believe that this was happening, that the people would not notice him and that Mr. Erikson would leave.
The look of confusion was evident on Mr. Eriksons face. He thought he had caught a glimpse of Michael, one of his tennets on the second floor. Working long days was getting to the man. He subconciousley stepped around Michael, who was frozen in fear, though no longer visible to anyone.
The voice of his mother urged Michael to continue on outside the building and down a few blocks. Soon the voice told him to stand in the alley and wait for a person to come along. Michael conscience was full of pain, just thinking about what he was going to do to someone who was unlucky enough to wander into the alley way. Michael only had to wait an hour or so.
A man came slowly walking down the alley way. He looked like he was in his early forties, but that was because of work. Really only in his early thirties. The man was carrying a duffle bag with and wore jeans and a white t-shirt. When the man was only halfway through the ally Michael decided to try and feed. He trailed the man by only a few steps and then quickened his pace. He gripped the mans shoulders and moved his mouth in towards the mans neck.
Michael was suprised how strong and fast the man actually was. Just split seconds before he sank his teeth into the mans neck, the man spun around out of Michaels grasp and delivered a blow to his face with his fist. Michael reeled back in suprise and lept at the man. He knocked the man down, but the man started screaming for help, Michael tried his best to shut the man up, but when he did the man threw Michael off of him. The Man started running down the ally when the figure Michael had seen in his house appeared in front of the man and gripped him by the neck. Slowly lifted the man off the ground, the figure held him there for a moment, then released him. The limp body fell onto the cement and did not move, not even an inch. The figure turned and ran and began fading into the night, by the time the figure took its third step it had once again vanished from Michaels sight. Most likely using the same ability that had helped Michael elude the people in his building and the people on the streets.
Michael turned back to the injured man on the ground. He ran over to him, preying to God that the man would be alright. When he got to the injured man he checked him for a pulse and got nothing. He listened for a heart beat, but once again, he heard nothing. Michael felt on the mans neck where he had been gripped so tightly. He could see the bruise marks where the figure had hurt the man. He realized the mans neck had been broken. Michael gathered the man up into his arms and rocked back and forth sobbing.
Oh God what have I become. I didn't mean to do this. Oh God maybe I can still save him. I should call an ambulance. They will come and get me if I do. YOU WON'T CALL ANYONE. Please mom don't, not right now, please leave me alone for a minute. Let me think. FEED ON HIM AND GO, OTHERS WILL COME SOON. Oh god.
Michael continued to rock back and forth, tears of blood staining the man and Michaels shirt. After twenty minutes of this michael began to feel very low on strength. He lay on the man and looked at his neck. He could smell the blood inside the man. He thought about running right then, but realized he might have to try and do this again. His mom would be angry, and make him do this all over. He buried his teeth in the dead mans neck and began suckling the red ichor. It took several minutes but Michael gorged himself on the man. Michael grabbed the corpse, and after apologizing to it profusely, placed a blanket over it that he found in the alley, and ran home as fast as possible. On his way home he couldn't help but feel that he was being watched, that something sinister, something that made his bones shiver was watching him, plotting. Only the thought of the room full of pictures calmed him down long enough for him to make it back.
Long, square tipped translucent nails tapped relentlessly on the arm of the mahogany chair. The long backed darkly carved chair was antique; everything in the room was at least one hundred years older than the owner. Corinthe liked to think it made her feel young again, to be surrounded by the decadent splendor of bygone eras. She was very obviously an appreciator of beauty, and very obviously rich beyond imagination.
She also ruled the city 24 hours a day, whether or not she was awake to see it. With cold logic and heavy donations to both charity and racketeers, she had held the city for over fifty years. Corinthe had seen it grow from a two-dollar boom town along the old West trail to California into a modern electric city of commerce. Nurturing the ramshackle town had been anything but easy. Anarchs were always on march, occasionally devastating her little town with violence. Mercifully, the Sabbat had not moved as far North as to reach her, yet.
But now, Corinthe was bored.
All of the downtown buildings had been individually scrapped and redone to meet earthquake codes and her own personal standards of architecture. She had, in fact, designed the multiplex cinema and the old record store on 6th Avenue herself. The motion had gone unchallenged with both the gangs and the mayor in her pocket. The Anarchs had not shown their grubby faces in years, and she had not received an order from her sire or the clan head in twice as long.
The monotony made her restless. Perhaps if the town knew, it would have thrown a bit more at her, challenged her intellect and financial skills. Even a bit of intrigue would have kept her from making the final decision.
Laurec! she called out from the dining room, her high pitched voice ringing from the Tiffany chandelier.
At your service, my Prince, the young man dashed into the room at hearing his masters call.
Laurec was especially pale for not attaining Kindred status. His dark hair hung over his brown eyes in spikes to please Corinthe. Although she loved the modern style of dressing, her own cotton Victorian peasant dress made her look like a lost relic. Her strawberry blonde hair curled around her shoulders, just touching the faded yellow lace of the dress.
Matches the furniture, Laurec thought.
I know, Corinthe answered his unspoken sentiment.
Laurec flushed at the knowledge of the intimate contact with his mind. He knelt down at her side and kissed her delicate hand.
You are beautiful, he thought, hoping she was still listening.
I know, she replied again.
A smile played on her pink glossed lips at his open adoration. She brushed her hand along his smooth cheek, lightly dragging the tips of her nails along his skin. Vanilla and lace.
What is your wish, my Prince? Laurec sighed against her palm.
Ive heard some nasty rumors about Autarks fowling my lovely city... she paused.
Ill have their locations by tomorrow night, Lady Corinthe, Laurec proffered.
Excellent, but Im afraid that will not be quite enough.
Laurec cringed at the disappointment in her voice. He knew he should have offered a hunting party as well. Cursing himself, he lowered his head.
Laurec, I want them destroyed, regardless of their pitiful excuses. This city needs to be cleansed, she said flippantly.
Yes, my Lady, he said with sincerity.
Hmm... And while were at it, the children of Malkav have served their purpose. They only draw undue attention. If anyone asks, they broke the Masquerade. And let the Gangrel know theyre next.
Laurec nodded his head. A moment of silence passed while Corinthe absently stroked her ghouls stiffly shiny hair.
I want their ashes in an urn by the end of one week. Otherwise, I will be liquidating my assets and moving on. I will leave, Laurec. You tell the Ventrue to try and run this shit-hole without me, she said, bitterness rising in her voice.
The trembling ghoul caught and clutched at her hand, terrified at the thought of her leaving. He didnt realize that he would be liquidated along with the rest of her possessions, but he couldnt stand the thought of life without her glowing radiance.
Yes, your Grace, Laurec replied shakily.
She stood from the ornate chair at the head of the table and drifted away from him across the sea of rose patterned carpet to stand in front of a gilded wall length mirror. She seemed to stare vacantly at her reflection until the ghoul left, shutting the double wooden doors softly behind him. She traced the vine pattern along the gold edges until she heard a muted click. The massive mirror swung open, revealing a narrow candle-lit hallway. Corinthe passed through the entryway and quickly disappeared into dim obscurity as the hidden door closed behind her.
Imre swore in Spanish loudly. Over the years, he had noticed that the louder you cussed, the more drunk they thought you were. Surrounded by tough chicos, he wanted to give the impression of being witless as he watched the drugs exchange shaking hands. He hated being part of the process of corrupting human life, but his current possessions were too precious to sell, and he needed money to buy information and safety.
His eyes were constantly moving as he went through the motions of drinking the foul smelling alcohol. What he really wanted was Madeleines sweet blood on his lips, but she was already becoming too needy. He hated it when they became clingy, because he knew he would have to break their hearts. Imres soul already belonged to another... to one far away who he may never lay eyes on again.
Painfully, he dragged his thoughts back to the present, away from the memories of tears and promises, of battles and campfires. The men around him were sweaty, nervous, and high on illegal substances. Imre used this to his advantage as he deftly pocketed an extra fifty dollar bill. He had already sold the strange gadget from Madeleines apartment, discouraged that it only brought him a mere ten American collars.
If he couldnt come up with five thousand dollars by the next night, he wouldnt be able to stay and investigate his lead to the next target. He could no longer afford the luxury of staying with vitae enchanted mortals. They had the startling tendency to crack like porcelain, the fine lines of obsessive madness spreading invisibly until they completely fell apart. This time, he needed to buy protection. Then he could rest and find the last two digits of the phone number which would lead him one step closer to his victim.
For a split second, Londons clouding hunger receded with a chilling cool. He let his upheld fist slide back to his side, brushing his sensitive fingertips along the cool soft fabric of his long coat. He took in one deep breath, holding in the damp air while looking straight at the door. His eyes unfocused as he let them roam across the cool steel apartment numbers.
He could feel his heart pace quicken. What if Michael doesnt understand... what if he was so scared that he hurt me?
It was then that he heard the footsteps... worried and tired. Dashing to the side, London slid nicely behind a cove in the hallway. He smelled something like a rotting ashtray, but focused every sense to his delicate ears.
Sure enough, not a minute later, out came the mythical Michael. He was hurting inside... London could hear it. The hunger was worse than his, though. The boy was never sure if he would die if he never had the blood. He had gone months without it... every day dragging on and more painful than the next. He felt so close to death the last time, but out of anguish, he forced himself to hunt one down and steal a drink. He was a very attractive boy... and given the right circumstances, he could charm a snake into bed.
Before London could leap out and speak, Michael raced towards the elevator. London, somewhat relieved, let the man go. As soon as the elevator doors slid shut, the thin boy began working on the door. Within the minute, the dead bolt slid and the door submissively swung open.
It was dark. London could smell blood, the sweet scent of rusted iron. Even from this far away, unfortunately, he knew that it wasnt the kind of delicious sustenance he so desired. Michael hadnt vacuumed in months. The apartment was a mess of dust and old cat hair. Every frame in the house had been torn down from the desolate walls and had images ruthlessly shoved into the encompasment so violently that some of the glass plating lay in shards on the carpet. All of the desecrated frames lay on the floor in the living room... each one with the Mothers cold dead eyes staring at the center of the room. London could feel her black eyes smoothy tracking him as he slid into Michaels bed room. The musty curtains were hastily drawn, making light incredibly scarce... but London could still see the source of the incredible blood scent.
A single ornate brass goblet lay in the center of the floor. It had been tipped on its side and only a light residue of blood remained coagulated in the bottom. London swooped down to inspect it further, snatching it up with his hungry fingers.
It was then, as he stood back up straight when a wave of hunger hit him. Color, light and chaos burst into the back of the boys sensitive eyes. His head became weightless as his shoulders and chest became too overburdened with clumsy deadweight to hold up with his seemingly shriveled legs. He fell hard.
The pain of his shoulder impacting with the bed knob wasnt even enough to wake the poor boy, nor was the cool dirty carpet and clang of brass. There he lay on the unsuspecting Michaels floor, out cold.
At least in Londons unconscious state, the insistent hunger was gone. There London was, floating through the night being carried by a small sweet breeze. There wasnt even a glimmering star in the sky. On the tree studded horizon, barley lit by the invisible moon was a small shack. Wondering if the gentle Reverend was there, London swooped nearer.
Evidently, the shack was much closer than he had thought, for within a blink, he stood within its cool damp charred walls. A fire had torn the building in years past, and only its desecrated corpse still remained. The walls seemed to quiver with some unnatural life. The house slowly inhaled a painful breath then spoke.
London, you shouldnt have come back... The voice was filled with pain as the wind seemed to gush past the torn and bleeding incorporeal vocal chords.
London trembled. He wasnt sure if the house was attempting to warn him, or threaten him. He had heard the Reverend speak of the terrors of the house, but never had he thought he would witness them. Suddenly he was cold... so very cold. His left arm had been enlarged somehow. It slowly burned and ached, throbbing with the violent breaths of the house. At the shoulder, London regarded in horror, was an arm budding. The twisted flehsen claw grew and grew and grew until a foetid bloody creature dislodged itself from Londons raging arm.
The boy didnt want to see anymore. He had fought this nightmare before... too many times. Only now, due to his hunger, he hadnt the strength to fight.
The twisted beast spoke from its oily fleshless face. You dont belong there, child... come back to me... I can take care of you now that... the Reverend is... gone. The words slowly oozed out of its malformed throat.
London heard the Reverend cry. His beautiful voice bent in anguish. Spinning, there London saw the once glorious and proud man laying over a wooden cross, his clothes and body torn nearly beyond recognition. Both of the Reverends beautiful soothing eyes had been taken from his head by use of something massive and blunt.
At that moment, London wished with all his heart that he had never been gifted with the sight. He tried to scream, but all he could do was see, smell and feel the Reverends pain as the mangled beast behind him began to laugh, speaking in the same horrible voice as the rancid house.