Disoriented

Chapter 1

by Eric L. Busby / Illustrated by Lee Alverson

Chain Border

That was the best way to describe Trent's condition. He felt as if he had just woken up in a strange room without an idea as to how he gotten there the night before. But it wasn't only that however. His limbs felt very sore and he felt…what? He could not put a name to the feeling for the moment. But it was something that was gnawing at the back of his mind. He pushed it aside, it would come to him later.

Trent struggled to push himself up from the ground where he had been laying. His arms and legs were stiff and made a cracking, snapping noises as he rose. It hurt so much to move! What had caused this? Long distant running and lifting weights maybe? It felt a hundred times worse than that. A burning pain flooded his joints whenever he moved. He just wanted to lay back down and let the pain pass. Yet despite that, he forced himself to get to his feet.

Trent found he was not in any room at all but in some back alley. There was a dumpster covered in grimy stains, and trash was laying about here and there. Suddenly the muscles of his abdomen cramped up. He fell to his knees and bent over. In a wave of nausea he began to vomit out the contents of his stomach. The substance that once fed his body with the essence it needed to live was now poisonous to his system and had to be purged.

ChrissyIt wasn't until all that had been within him had been expelled that he was able to get to his feet once more. That was when Trent really began to notice it. The something that had been gnawing itself at the back of his mind was not in his mind at all. It was in his stomach and he now knew what it was called.

Hunger.

Not a hunger for food, but something new, something different. The hunger was more painful than getting to his feet had been. Trent needed to feed and soon. He wondered how long had it been since he had last fed? He couldn't remember. He couldn't remember much of anything before waking here. All he really knew was that he was being consumed with the ravenous need to feed. He could sense the substance he needed. Smell it over the rot and stench of the trash around him. He started to move forward in lurching stumbles. His limbs must not have been used in sometime. The burning was back with his every move. But he had to feed now, that was all that mattered.

That's when Trent saw him.

The man dressed in a long black leather coat from head to toe. He had long dark hair and his skin was deathly white. This being would not serve his need, Trent could sense that from him. Trent snarled at the man with a mouth full of small needle sharp teeth, then moved off. Suddenly he felt something grab his shoulder and jerk him to a stop.

He looked and saw that the Pale man had grabbed him. Why, Trent thought for a passing moment. Then the thought faded away to the ever present hunger and he lashed out at the Pale man's arm. His talon like hands slash through the man's coat and his flesh. Droplets of dark blood started to spill onto the ground. With a cry of pain, the Pale man pulled his arm back and cradled the cut the talons had made.

Good, that should teach him to leave him alone, Trent thought as he turned and started to run off from the alley. Every step hurt, but the hunger must be attended to. It was all that mattered to him. He must find substance to end the hunger.

***

Three years in Portland had done much to change Christina 'Chris' Sparrow's outlook on the world. When she had first arrived she had found the city to be menacing and overwhelming. She had never before lived in any major city. The largest building up to this point in her life had been the bank in her hometown which had consisted of two floors and an attic. Now she was seeing huge juggernauts that reached up and disappeared into the clouds on rainy afternoons. Streets filled with hundreds of thousands of people from every walk of life. Cars, trucks and trains locked in an endless struggle to see which could arrive at their destination first.

It had not been anything like she had expected. She wanted to run from it. Go back to Maine and everything she felt comfortable with and put this behind her. A nice quiet life without all the noises and confusion. And yet the longer she stayed the more comfortable she came to be with the city at large around her. She had used the Max train system to get back and forth to work. In time she had even stopped staring in wonder at the sights from the windows as everything fell into commonality. She had started to take the city for granted. The city became little more than a background setting for her life. Portland was simply where she was now. Thoughts of returning to the simple life in Maine were distant to non-existent

Chris had found work serving coffee and drinks in the cafe of 'Druther's Books and Collectibles.' The pay was not all that great, but it did let her cover her rent and bills with something left over so she could go out once and a while and catch the latest big movie, play or event that people where willing to shell out their hard earned money to see. So the next day they could get together with friends and say thing like, "Guess what I did last night."

For the last few days Chris had been working the late afternoon, night shift. She and a few others helped close the store and clean up. By the time she was finished and on her way home it was well past midnight. She would walk to the Max stop with her gray backpack slung over one shoulder. The nice thing about the train system was that it ran until two in the morning so she would be able to catch a ride. But at this late hour there were not so many people out and about. So when Chris got to the Max station she found herself quite alone.

She pulled out her pass and fed it into the validation machine, then took a seat on the small bench to want for the next train to come by. It was a cool spring night and as was often the case in Oregon, quite overcast. Although it was not raining, the high clouds blocked out the starlight. Not that had it been clear she would have seen much. The light pollution from the city tended to make stargazing next to impossible. It wasn't until she got out into the suburbs that she would be able to make out the stars. But such would not be the case tonight.

She took a deep breath and rubbed her arms. Why had she not brought a coat from home with her? It was always so chilly at this time of night and her jacket would have been most welcome. Still she dismissed the thought. The train would be here soon enough and it was often quite warm inside. She sat back and rubbed her arms again.

Crunch. Crackle.

The sound had started Chris for a moment. The Max station was surrounded by broken up bits of shale and trees. When one stepped on the loose stones they had a tendency to make small crunching sounds as they ground against one another. Was someone else looking to catch a late night ride on the Max? She looked around but did not see anyone else present. Could be a cat or another animal out hunting, Chris thought.

CRUNCH! CRACKLE!

The sound came again, only louder this time, closer. Chris got to her feet and looked around. Like before she saw nothing. "Hello?" she called out, "Is there someone there?" There came no answer. Chris stood still for a moment and listened. She heard nothing apart from the normal background night sounds. She shook her head and sat back down.

'Getting worked up over nothing.' She thought. Still she wished the Max would hurry up and get here. That when it struck. He came in a flash from out of the trees and slammed into her. Chris was thrown from the bench and landed hard on the concrete floor, her breath knocked from her. She rolled over to see a person crouched over her.

He was dressed in tattered rags that were covered in gory bits of blood and chunks of flesh. But it was his face that really grabbed Chris's attention. Red patches of skin were visible where his hair was missing. What little hair was left was wild and unkempt. His eyes were yellow with a feral, insane look. His skin was grayish and had open, puss oozing sores. Strings of foamy drool hung from his bottom lip. He was breathing very heavy. He dove down onto her, Chris feared he meant to rape her. She screamed for help as she kicked and hit him as hard as she could. But he was much stronger than her and the blows had little effect upon him. Then with a snarl, he bit into her neck and tore through the soft skin.

***

The blood rushed into Trent's mouth and he swallowed it again and again, ravenously. This was far better than anything he had known. Better than food, better than sex, better than life itself. He was in ecstasy. The woman was trying to resist. Why? Trent found himself asking. Did she not know he must feed? Did she not understand that it was all that mattered? Perhaps that was why she was resisting and making that screeching noise. Still it mattered not. The more he drank, the weaker she seamed to become. After a few moments she had even stopped making that disagreeable noise. All the while her blood flowed into him.

That was until something grabbed Trent by the back of the head and pulled him away from her. He found himself violently slammed to the concrete platform and pinned face down. He twisted his head so as to look at who could have done this. Who would be so foolish as to come between him and his meal. He quickly discovered he was being held down by the Pale man from back in the alley.

Why? Why was he doing this? Not that it mattered. He simply needed to get free and resume feeding, that was what really mattered. Trent tried to move his arms so as to use his talons against the Pale man. He quickly discovered they were being held down by the pale skinned man's knees. Indeed he was quite trapped until the Pale man would let him up.

Then he saw the Pale man pulled something from his coat pocket. Some sort of long pin. No, not a pin, a needle. A syringe to be precise. The Pale man popped off the plastic cap and then jabbed the syringe into Trent's back. It hurt! Not as bad as the endless burning his limbs made when he moved. No, this felt more like being stung by an annoying insect. How dare he do that!

Trent tried harder to pull free. But the struggle was in vain. All he could do was lay there and watch as the Pale man drew his blood. Once the vial was full the Pale man pulled it free, replaced the safety cap, and drop the syringe back into his coat. Perhaps he would let him go now, or so Trent hoped. He still needed to feed for the hunger was growing once more. It was then the Pale man began the tearing.

***

Chris had wanted to move, to get up from the ground. But she didn't even have the strength to cry out any more. Her body felt so cold and numb now. The only thing she really felt was the wound on her throat. Funny, but it did not hurt as much as it had at first. Now it was more of a dull ache than anything else. How could that be, she wondered. Then she heard something. A very odd sound. She could not tell what it was. If she had to describe it she would have said it sounded like raw meat being ripped away from bone. A deep, wet, sucking, tearing noise.

Then she heard her attacker. At first he'd been snarling at whatever had pulled him off her. But when the tearing sound had begun the snarl had quickly turned into a whimpering, kind of like a wounded dog makes. After a while he stopped making any sound whatsoever. All Chris heard was a wet dripping onto the pavement.

She felt very light headed and sleepy. Vaguely she recalled that this was a symptom of sever blood loss. Where had she learned that? Probably from one of the books back at the shop, or maybe a magazine someplace. She didn't really remember. She didn't really care. All she felt was tired. So very tired. Perhaps she should take a nap. A quick one to regain her strength. Then she could catch the Max and go home. Yeah, her foggy mind decided, that was a good idea. It was getting harder to keep her eyes open anyways.

Then there was someone standing over her again. Not the attacker. No this was someone different. A man with dark hair and pale skin who was looking down at her. He smiled. Such a warm friendly smile, Chris, thought as she closed her eyes and sleep began to take her. The last thing she remembered was the Pale man talking to her.

"Don't worry," He said, "You're safe. Everything's going to fine." Then she blacked out.

***
September, 12th.

After several nights of searching I finally encountered another of the creatures. Much like the others, it was in a disheveled state, with signs of advance decay. Something that was far from human, but not quite a true vampire as well.

It was definitely a long term user of the designer drug, Nox. I was able to take a sample of its blood and found traces of Nox within. I am still unable to say what the drug actually is, but my research of its effect indicates that it causes a slow mutation of the users DNA. The more they use it, the more the DNA is altered. The long term effect is they go through a metamorphosis that creates creatures like the one I encountered last night.

Its much like dealing with a feral animal than anything else. Violent and quite deadly. They seam to seek out that which they must feed upon (flesh and blood) and will attack and destroy anything that gets in their path. Unlike vampires who only hunt in shadows to keep their presents a secret, these creature have no regard for were they hunt or whom they attack.

This alone put the sects and domination of the Legend clans at risk. I don't just mean the vampires, but the elves, dwarves, wizards and so on. Should they become exposed and the world learn of the Legend's existence…Well, things would be bad to say the least. Not to mention that my own agenda would be at peril.

Although the creatures have been few and far between. The more people use Nox, the more these creature will come into being. I must find out who is creating it and how they are distributing it before this get out of hand.

Side note:

Although I was able to dispose of the creature last night, it was not before it attacked a young woman. I brought her to my home and dressed her wounds. I also ran an analysis on her blood as well. It would seam due to the attack that there is now a trace amount of Nox in her body. I believe it was transferred from the creature's saliva as it was feeding on her.

What effects this will have upon her I do not know. It is possible that the drug is in such a minute quantity that it will have no effect. However it is also possible that her DNA is being subtly altered even now. The question is, is there anything I can do about it?

Extract ends.

***

The light was very bright. Like when during a doctor examination they take out a small pen flashlight and shine it into your eyes. However in this case it was in both eyes at once and very intense. Chris slowly opened one eye and discovered that it was not some bright flashlight on her, but the morning sun streaming through a window.

"Fuck," She moaned, "It rains six days out of seven in this burg. But the sun just had to be out today!"

With a sigh she sat up and found herself in a bed. It was very large and somewhat odd looking. It was the type of bed she would have expected someone extremely rich or related to royalty might have. It had a huge dark green canopy with tassels on the ends. It was held up by four wooden post. The bed itself was covered in a very soft, velvety brown comforter. How the hell had she gotten here, Angie wondered. And then it all came back to her in a flash of pain and emotion.

The sick looking man at the Max who had attacked her. No, more than just attacked her. He had bitten her neck! Chris reached up and found a cotton bandage tapped to where she had been injured. Funny, but it did not really hurt all that much. Come to think of it, it didn't hurt at all. She pushed back the comforter and found she was wearing a long white robe. She looked around the room and saw her clothes were hanging from a hook. She went over and took them down.

Someone must have cleaned them. There was no blood on them at all. Chris quickly got changed and started to look for a way out of the room. She soon saw a wooden door. It was very large with a rounded top and what looked like stained glass built within. She pushed on the door and with a deep groan it swung open to a hallway beyond.

The hallway was a long wooden structure that looked as if it had been built back in a Victorian age. Old fashion lamps hung down from the roof, with tiny oil flames flickering within. An oriental rug garnered the floor. Painted pictures were mounted upon the walls with images of majestic mountains, vast rivers and huge oceans just to name a few. There were also a series of vases with severely wilted flowers set upon wooden stands in the corners. There was also a scent in the air. A scent of…

It took Chris a moment to tell what it was. "Tea," She said at last. It smelled just like the kind her grandmother use to make when she was a little girl and her family would go over to Grandma's for Christmas eve dinner. Her grandmother would always have a big pot of tea on the table with the turkey and fixings. "Tea." Chris said again.

"Quite right." A voice said behind her, "Earl Grey to be exact. Would you care for some?" Chris yelped and quickly spun around. Standing behind her was the pale man in leather from the Max station last night.

"You startled me!" She said with a snap.

Disoriented"Sorry," The pale man said, "I was coming to check on you," then held out a large mug which Chris took. She quickly noticed that it had an image of the starship Enterprise and 'Star Trek' written in bold letters on the side. She sniffed it. "Tea." She said again and then took a sip. It was divine. Just warm enough so it would not burn her tongue. Just sweet enough so it did not over power the tea. Just like her grandmother use to make. She drank it down very quickly.

"How did you sleep?" The pale man asked.

Chris thought about that for a moment, "Well. At least I think I slept well, " She said handing the empty mug back, "I don't remember much after the station last night. My names Christina by the way. Christina Sparrow."

"Delighted to meet you Ms. Sparrow. I'm Bishop. And no, I guess you wouldn't." He said putting the mug into one of his coat pockets. Then he turned and started back down the hallway. Chris jogged for a moment to catch up with him.

"Your name's Bishop something, or something Bishop?" Chris asked once she had caught up with him.

"I'm simply called Bishop, Ms. Sparrow." Bishop replied, "That and nothing more."

"Did you bring me here?" Chris asked.

"Yes." Was all Bishop said ominously.

"Thank you," Chris said, "If you hadn't come along when you had..."

"You'd be dead now." Bishop completed. The way he said it, as if stating a simple fact, sent a chill up Chris's spine. She began to feel uneasy in Bishop's presence, and wondered just how safe she really was around him.

Bishop stopped in front of a large iron doorway that had dulled with rust. To Chris it looked like an entrance to some medieval dungeon. Bishop turned the knob and with deep groan the door swung open. There was no dungeon beyond the door. But what Chris did see took her by surprised nonetheless.

There were rows upon endless rows of books. Then there were ladders that lead up to a second level where there were more rows of books. And yet more ladders that lead to a third level, and so on and so on, it went. The vast shelves stretched up, and off, as far as Chris's eyes could see. There were candles burning everywhere, hundreds of them. They were sitting upon bookshelves, held aloft in a wooden chandeliers, and in metallic lanterns built into the walls. They were the only source of light in the vast library structure. The floor was made up of a dark reflective surface that intensified the candlelight.

Next to the iron doorway was a large grandfather clock that tick tocked away. A number of elegant chairs around a table were off to her left. To her right was a fountain with a statue of cupid at its center, but strands of green ivy had grown over it. Ivy vines had also grown around the main doorway and most of the open section of the walls. Although she could not be sure, in the far distance, Angie thought she saw birds, or something flying about in the air. "Could they be bats?" she wondered. Bats creeped Chris out. So she decided to think about something else. Like how much it must have cost to build a place like this. Even with his billions, Bill Gates would have had a hard time pulling something like this off. Bishop must be rolling in it.

In between the center of the endless shelves was a circular structure. To Chris it looked like an altar of some kind. But as she came closer she saw that it was not an altar at all, but a very complex computer system that looked to be built out of stone. The computer was hooked up to a series of cables, wires and copper piping that ran along the floor, walls and down from some of the shelves. Others came from gloomy corners where the candles fail to illuminate. Where those went to, Chris could only guess at. It looked like a giant spider web with the computer at its center. On top of the computer slept a gray, tiger stripped cat. The cat opened its eyes and looked over at Chris. It licked one of its paws for a few moments then curled up and went back to sleep.

A little distance behind the computer, was a very strange object. Had this been Doctor Frankenstein's lab, it would have been where the monster's body laid. Awaiting the moment to be brought back to life. However, here was a crystalline cube that was suspended in a shaft of blue glowing light, which radiated up from a hole cut in the floor. Chris started to move towards the cube.

"I wouldn't get to close if I were you." She heard Bishop say. She turned and saw he was now sitting before the computer and typing away at a keyboard. The cat seamed oblivious to him and slept away.

"Why's that?" Chris asked, concerned she may have offended him in some way.

"Byron tends to get moody when he is woken up," Bishop said not looking away from the computer screen, "You know what they say about letting sleeping dogs lie, I find it applies to mystic cubes as well."

"Uhhh yeah. Right." Chris said sheepishly, not really understanding a thing Bishop had just said. The more she stayed around this Bishop guy, the odder he seamed to become. After everything that had happening at Max station last night, all Chris wanted were things that were nice, normal and easy to understand for a time. She decided now was a good moment for her to make her departure.

"Quite a place you have here," She said looking around at everything once again, "Well listen, thanks again for your help. But I do need to be on my way. I've gotta work later today and don't want to be late."

Bishop sat back from the computer and looked at Chris. There was something about his gaze that made her feel very uneasy. Like there was something very dark, very menacing underneath Bishop's pale exterior. More than ever she wanted to be away from him and someplace safe.

Disoriented

Chris thought about making a run for the door. Yet something made her keep her ground. She crossed her arms and looked quite defiant, "Could you show me the way out of here?" She asked politely but with just a hint of force.

Bishop opened his mouth as if he was about to say something. Then closed it and sighed. He looked back at the computer and then a moment later stood up. "Very well, Ms. Sparrow, I'll show you," He said at last, "Please follow me."

Bishop started down one of the long row of books, Chris followed him at a safe distance. Should Bishop turned on her suddenly, she wanted to be able to make a break for safety. Sure, he had saved her the night before, but there was just something about him she didn't trust. Something she really couldn't put her finger on. Whatever it was she felt very uneasy in his company. There was more to Bishop than met the eye.

The two walked for what felt like several minutes. They passed rows and rows of books on endless subjects, until they came to a long stair case the winded downwards. Bishop started down the stairs and Chris followed. The stairs lead out of the library and into another hallway. Chris saw there where more painted picture on the walls and from time to time she saw an old suit of armor. As they came to the end of the hallway Angie saw a large wooden door. Bishop stopped and pointed at it.

"That leads outside," He said, "There's a bus stop not to far from here. You should be able to get wherever you need to go." Then Bishop looked at her. Once more it seamed he was about to say something, but at the last moment chose to hold it back. He simply turned and went off down another hallway.

Chris watched him go with a sense of relief. "Time I'd left wonderland." she though to herself. She opened the door and left the strange building.

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