Author Topic: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Vampires and other Bloodsuckers (Results)  (Read 1415 times)

Sinitrena

  • Mittens Serf
  • Wheel of Fate
    • I can help with translating
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Vampires and other Bloodsuckers



They come in the night and take our blood. They rip our throats and take our life. Some literal, some in a more metaphorical sense, when they wear business suits and work for a bank, for example. Or maybe they are just animals that happen to survive by drinking blood, like leeches?

It doesn't matter what kind of bloodsucking being we're talking about. It doesn't matter if they are the hero or the villain of the tale. They can be romantic or terrifying, afraid of garlic or sparkle in daylight (okay, probably not that one, unless we have Twilight fans here  :X), they can be a secret to everybody or out in the open. As long as there are vampires or other (metaphorical) bloodsuckers in your story, this is the right competition for you.

Deadline: 19th October 2021
« Last Edit: 25 Oct 2021, 11:39 by Sinitrena »

Mandle

  • NO PIXEL LEFT BEHIND!!!
    • Mandle worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
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    • Mandle worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Loving this theme.

I am maybe halfway through my story and can see the finish line!
« Last Edit: 08 Oct 2021, 12:35 by Mandle »

Mandle

  • NO PIXEL LEFT BEHIND!!!
    • Mandle worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Mandle worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
AMBULANCE CHASERS

Spoiler: ShowHide
A roo skipped out in front of their blood-wagon and Grant yelled "SHIT!" and started to swerve but the stupid animal jumped back off the road and out of the headlights that pierced through the early-morning mists of their Wilcannia to Broken Hill run.

Liz, woken from her doze in the passenger seat, barked out "Jesus, Grant! Lay off a bit, willya?!".

"Fuckin' roos," grunted Grant. "At least this one knew which way to jum..." but then the whole frame of the medical transport van he was behind the wheel of started to vibrate in a way he had never felt before and had no idea what to do with.

Liz turned her chubby red-headed and peach-fuzzed face towards Grant, her eyes huge exclamation-marks, and said "What the f..." and that was when the big spotlight from the sky hit them. And hit them hard.

Grant's face, that Liz had always found pleasantly round and agreeable, was thrown into sharp relief from the shockingly-white beam of light that stabbed its way through his driver-side window.

The foggy view of eucalyptus trees and low scrub flashing by his side window was instantly erased for Liz by the apocalyptic glare.

Grant's face, caught in an extreme exposure of terror, was now the only thing she could make out as her retinas shrank within her Irish-green corneas.

Eleven years went by and the carefree years of the early nineties faded and then suddenly slammed into the paranoid early years of the two thousands.

Racing along Sixth Avenue, lights flashing and sirens wailing, Gerald steered his ambulance in and out of traffic. His rider was bleeding out in the back and he could hear the rubber-soled shoes of Rod, his deliciously young and brown paramedic, squeashing this way and that in the red puddles sloshing around back there every time he darted into a new lane, as he threaded their way through the impossible fabric of New York traffic.

A lanky lady, hair foofed to the extreme, stepped carelessly into traffic right in front of Gerald's ambulance and he veered left hard.

The one, and then one more, angry bangs of her fist on the side of his ambulance were the last sounds Gerald heard on earth before the soundless blast of intense white light came down from above.

Rod called out "Ger! What is going on out there?" as Gerald looked out the side window of the ambulance to see the passers-bys' feet growing slower and then leaned forward and looked up through the front windscreen of the ambulance to squint against the pure-white glare through which a wide rectangular claw descended and thumped into and rattled heavily across the top of the white van before sliding just enough sideways for its hydraulics to clamp down on either side and pull Gerald, Rod, and their rider, up into the air and out of their reality forever.

A few drops of ruby-red blood fell in slow-motion, flexing liquidly between the hurrying feet of the dazed New-Yorkers, some pausing and wondering where they had been going, before splashing down in a spray on the pavement in extravagant slow-spreading patterns.

A hexagonal room about five meters across from corner to opposite corner. The walls were made of some kind of yellowish metal, but not a metal that felt cold at first and then slowly warmed to the touch. It always felt the same temperature as the hand that touched it, as Grant, Liz, Gerald, and Rod had noticed over the last couple of hours.

The ceiling was a solid, seamless glow of a color just slightly off from white through what looked like a very finely corrugated layer of semi-opaque plastic. It was at least three meters high and well out of reach.

The floor was just stupidly weird. It felt like skin. It was a shade darker than beige, with a slight bluish tinge, but it was warm and supple and felt just wrong to walk around on, especially in bare feet. It sank under each footstep and bulged up around the perimeter of each foot in an uncomfortable and unfamiliar way.

"Wait... what?! BOTH OF THEM?!" said Liz as she paced her spongy bare-footed way to one wall and back for the several dozenth time.

Rod sighed and said "Yeah, and then building seven a few hours later."

Liz turned and squinted down into Rod's brown Pakistani face and asked "But... how could anyone, I mean, what kind of people could...".

"Oh, faaark orf with this future-talk bullshit!" interrupted Grant from his own corner, where he sat slouched, directly opposite from Rod. Liz's back-and-forth pacing between them had finally driven him up the wall enough to go on the attack in a deliberately over-the-top Aussie accent.

Gerald, leaning against the wall Liz had visited, stopped at, and turned back from several dozen times, spoke up and said "For the thousand and umpteenth time, we have as hard a time believing that you are both from the past as you have believing that we ar..."

"Oh, piss the faaaark off you fuckin' New York fag. You from farkin' Queens?" barked back Grant, cutting him off.

Gerald let his right hand slip away from his cheek in the most flamboyant way he possibly could and dropped it to the opposite elbow that he had that arm already cupped under and replied "Yeth, nineties caveman, I'm thimply flaaaaming! Better hide that cute aatthh of yours before I can get around behind it." and then, noting the shocked, uncertain look on Gerald's face, dropped the lisp and went on with "Yes, I'm gay. Deal with it, dickhead!".

Grant snorted a huge laugh through his nose, shook his head with a grin on his meaty chops, and said "You just made me like you, GAY-rald."

Gerald started to reply "Well, that wasn't my intention but now I guess I gotta deal with the consequences of my..."

And that was when the light above the rippled ceiling turned red and the noise started.

It started lower than human ears could hear, but then rose up into the detectable range with its "buk-buk-buk" which was rising up into "buk-buk-Buk-Buk-Buk" by the time Grant said "What the hell is that Model-T-Ford-horn-sounding-bullshit?!".

Buk-Buk-BUK-BUK-BUUUUK... and then shWIp! as thousands upon thousands of hyperdermic-like needle-tips sliced up through the skin of the floor in a spreading hexagonal pattern outwards from the center point of the room. Each needle-tip was about half a centimeter from its surrounding six neighbors and each came out about a centimeter and a half in length through the fleshy floor of the room.

Liz, at the center of the room, screamed in pain and clenched her fists up by her ruddy red cheeks as the needles shot into the soles of her bare feet. The dozens that went into her heels were the worst.

At least a couple-hundred went up into the butt-cheeks and the backs of the thighs of Rod and Grant. Rod's eyes seemed ready to pop out of his head in silent pain but Grant just yelled out "FAAAAARKKK MEEEEEE!!!".

Gerald, halfway through thinking what clever retort he would lay down on Grant, just clenched his eyes shut as his feet received the same treatment as Liz's and moaned "Hnggggg!".

And then the vertical rows of barbs down the six microscopic sides of the needles snapped out into their collective flesh and everyone screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed.

Their screaming went on as the needles embedded in them filled with their blood, drawn down the tiny hexagonal metallic tubes in tiny spiraling torrents.

Not heard by anyone over their screaming, the noise changed to "wup-wup-wup" and then increased to "Wup-Wup-Wup-WUP" and then upwards into "WUP-WUP-WUP-WUP-WUUUUUP" and then there was a huge "CLICK" like the sound of a forgotten door let ajar snicking closed in a random breeze, except about a hundred times louder.

Then a "Whhhhhrrrrrr... snak" as the barbs snapped back into the shells of the needle shafts, and the needles withdrew back down under the skin of the floor without even a drop of blood, or a single trace of any holes, left behind.

Liz fell to her knees, then sideways onto her butt and held one of the soles of her feet up towards her sweating face. It was patterned with tiny red dots but, despite the pain the needles had brought, not a single trace of blood was visible.

Gerald checked his own feet and, seeing the same, said "What the frick?! That was more painful than my first anal! But much less blood.".

Grant was rubbing his butt-cheeks and the backs of his thighs furiously in the kneeling position he had lept up into and said "Faark, that hurt!".

Rod just curled up into a ball and started shaking and sobbing.

Liz, still holding her foot up close to her face said "The dots are fading!".

Gerald said "Mine are already gone.".

Grant said "Haven't checked my areas yet. Anyone wanna take a look for me? Gerald? You like that kind of...", but was cut off by the ceiling light turning a pale shade of blue.

Everyone looked up and saw the glowing outlines of four standing human figures appear on the ceiling's opaque surface, as if drawn there in bright yellow by hidden lasers.

"That's me on the end!" exclaimed Grant. "And that's Liz over on the...".

"Shut up, Grant," said Liz. "We can all tell who we are by the outlines.".

There was a brief hum, cutting off Gerald's attempted sentence of "What do they...", and then the interiors of the outlines all rapidly faded from the pale blue light of the surrounding ceiling to a deep crimson.

Once again the pin-pricks of what the four captives thought of as yellow lasers appeared indistinctly through the rippled opaque ceiling, as if high above it, and drew a series of three symbols above the heads of each of their outlines, and then started tracing the symbols over and over into different, equally unrecognizable ones, as the crimson filling within the yellow outlines of their bodies started to slowly drain down from the crowns of the outlines' heads.

"It's a countdown!" said Gerald after watching the crimson level pass down under the ear-level of his representation on the ceiling.

"What is?!" said Liz, putting her foot back down and crouching back up to a standing position.

"The symbols. The yellow symbols," replied Gerald.

Liz replied with a simple "Ahh," and they all watched the crimson levels dip lower and lower on the yellow-outlined figures on the ceiling at least three meters above their heads while the yellow-lasered symbols above the figures' heads flashed and changed.

Once the crimson levels had drained down as far as they looked likely to go, and the yellow symbols stopped refreshing from left-to-right, Grant said "Why did mine go down to the neck and everyone else's only went down to the chin?!".

"WHAT THE HELL IS ALL THIS?!" screamed out Rod from his uncurling fetal-position over in his corner.

Ignoring Rod, and answering Grant, Liz said "Must be that true-blue Aussie blood of yours, eh?!".

"Well, faaarrrk that.. and hang on a sec... why did Gerald's only go down to his..." started Grant but then there was a "CLICK!!!" that hit everyone's eardrums hard enough to cause them all to cry out and start putting their hands up to their ears but then it was over and the ceiling suddenly switched back to its "normal" off-whitish hue. The figures and symbols displayed on it were gone.

Gerald, slowly putting his hands back down, said "To my what?" and this is where a long discussion began as the room did nothing else for a very long time.

The much-speculated-about food dispenser hatches never appeared, and yet nobody even began to feel hungry, let alone getting thirsty from the much-expected water tubes never appearing either.

Time passed, or did not. They couldn't tell either way. The theory that the needles had provided them with nourishment and hydration was passed around and then Grant said "Yeah, and never having to take a slash or a poo ever again as well?!" and everyone had to admit that maybe time wasn't passing as they thought it was or...

"Maybe they are controlling our organs?" suggested Liz.

"True," added Grant, his lips slipping sideways into a sly grin. "I haven't gotten a sleep-boner since we landed here and that's a nightly thing for me.".

"We haven't slept," replied Rod from his own corner on the opposite side of the room from where the other three were gathered.

Grant looked over his shoulder back at Rod and started to reply "Yeah, big duuur, brown-boy. Like nobody's noticed that ye..." but Liz cut him off, her brow beetled and eyes darting and said "WAIT! Anyone hear anything?!".

Nobody except Liz heard it for the first few seconds but then the ceiling lighting turned red again and the "buk-buk-buk" sound became audible to all.

Gerald had a split-second to reflect on how right Grant had been that it sounded like an old-timey vintage-car horn before Rod cried out "NO! I CAN'T DO THIS AGAIN!".

Gerald sat down, cross-legged, on the floor and said "ROD! Get on my lap!".

Liz tried to get some kind of handhold on the wall but they were so friction-less that all she managed to do was pull one leg up in a bent embrace against it and Grant started to try jumping as fast as he could and Rod took a few long steps and turned and fell into Gerald's lap, his knees bent up, holding his legs and feet as high away above the skin-like floor as he could manage as Gerald grunted at the impact.

And then the needles came again.

Gerald wrapped his arms around Rod's chest from behind to stop him from falling forward back onto the floor that was already pushing up the needles through its unnatural skin-like surface from the center outwards in spreading hexagonal waves until they pierced his thighs and ass-cheeks again and he bit down on his lower lip and grunted a long and controlled "Mmmmmmphhhh".

Liz was pierced through the sole of her right foot and the pain made her slam her left foot down onto the other waiting ones before they released their barbs.

Grant was not so lucky.

He had managed a final leap off of the spongy floor after the needles had already pierced his feet for the first time but landed back down upon them after they had snapped their barbs out.

The soles of his bare feet were sliced apart at every needle by the barbs as he landed on them. And then, by pure reflex, he tried jumping again but he pivoted slightly and the barbs dug into new flesh.

While Liz screamed in pain and Gerald thought to release his teeth from his bottom lip before he bit right through it, Grant fell backwards, his feet locked in place, towards the thousands of barbed needles that awaited below. His knee-joints gave way, the bony caps breaking loose from the supporting cushion under them due to the unnatural stress the legs of his pinned feet were under.

Gerald's screams reached a primal level, drowning out the merely painful screams of Liz, as his body bent backwards and, very slowly, impaled his upper-back and shoulders onto the barbed needles below. He managed to keep his head up and off of the needles but it thrashed back and forth and the mouth in it screamed and screamed and screamed. His mind was whited-out in a blank-screen of agony.

His body thrashed on the barbed needles, tearing through back-muscle and tendons. There was a horrible "crunc-POING" noise as a large splintered fragment snapping off from one of his shoulder-blades shattered loose and hit one of the weird not-quite-metal walls of the room.

And then he was pinned in place, bent over backwards. He should have passed out from shock but, as it now seemed, that was also not a possibility in this room.

Grant's mouth screamed as his back spurted blood down onto the room's floor and it poured out from under him in a butterfly-wing spread.

Rod, the only one not impaled by this second event, locked his arms around under his knees to keep his legs up and off the floor. Gerald kept his arms locked around Rod's torso while, for the first time, starting to scream in pain himself.

After what seemed like forever but was, in reality, only about over one, closer to two, minutes, the "wup-wup-wup" noise started again.

As before, it ramped up in volume to "wup-WUP-WUP-WUP-WUUUUUP" and then there was that huge "CLICK".

Then the "Whhhhhrrrrrr... snak" as the barbs snapped back into the hexagonal shells of the needle shafts, and the needles withdrew back down under the skin of the floor without even a drop of blood, or a single trace of any holes, left behind.

No trace of blood, that is, apart from the puddle of spreading red around the still-screaming Grant's back.

As the needles made their rapid exit, Grant's body suddenly collapsed from the rigid thrashing form it had been down onto the yielding floor with a "Thudsh-SPLOOSH" as the blood pooled under and around him splashed outwards in a spray of droplets both large and small that splattered and stained the floor, the trouser-legs and jackets and faces of the other medics in varying amounts.

"NAAhhhhhgnnnn! Naaaaaaaah! Faaaaaaarrrrk, ahhhhhhh! nggghhhhh..." began Grant, his spread feet and hands twitching in shock, but quickly laying quiet and trembling, visibly but not greatly.

The ceiling turned its pale blue light again and the pin-pricks of the yellow scribbling lights far above etched each of their figures onto it and then flicked over and began to write and rewrite their rows of three alien symbols over the heads of each outline.

Gerald, and Rod, still on his savior's lap, and Liz watched the outlines fade-in with crimson all the way to the tops of the heads again and then begin draining down. All except for one; Rod's. His outline's crimson stayed full up to the crown of its head.

The yellow symbols above the other three outlines rapidly started changing again as the level of crimson in them dropped.

The crimson level in Liz's outline dropped to its armpits this time.

Gerald saw his own outline's level drop to just under its shoulders.

Grant's figure's level hardly dropped at all, only reaching its eyebrow level or so.

"Cover your ears!" yelled Gerald, and everyone but Grant made it in time before the painful eardrum pressure of the final "CLICK" happened and the ceiling turned back to its "normal" blank, off-white self.

Rod turned his face to Gerald's as they both took their hands back off of their ears and said "Thank you. I mean... sorry, but..." and then started to cry.

"It is all well and fine, young man," replied Gerald. "But would you mind getting off of my lap so we can go check on our injured member?".

Tipping out of his savior's lap and rolling sideways, and wiping away the tears from his eyes, Rod replied "Oh, yeah... shit.".

The three of them crawled together across the spongy, beige-with-a-tint-of-blue floor towards the now-still form of Grant. As they approached him they noticed the blood pooled around him begin to retreat. The light glinting off the curved edges of the blood-puddle, raised up by surface-tension a millimeter or two above the floor, began to squash out wider and wider and spread out further into a flat sheen as the puddle crept back slowly into the shallow depression made by Grant's prone form.

By the time they reached Grant's side, there was no sign of his spilt blood expect for a rapidly-fading purplish stain on the skin-like floor.

Liz looked back over her shoulder out of basic human curiosity at the segment of shoulder blade that had come out of him. It was lying about half a meter from the wall it had bounced off of. It was fizzling and foaming and, as she watched, it snapped apart into two pieces, which roughly resembled the country of New Zealand, and the fractured pieces grew lower and fizzier until they were just two more quickly-fading stains on the floor.

From Grant's point of view, as their three faces refocused above his own, he recognized Liz first of all. He tried to say "G'day" but a bubble of dull-yellow mucus, filmed over with swirling red blood, formed from his lips instead and burst back down into his mouth. He started to choke on it and coughed violently again and again.

Gerald said "Get him on his side!".

The three of them, all trained in handling just this kind of situation, professionally rolled Grant onto his side into the recovery position.

The back of his shirt was so torn to pieces that it was basically missing. They could see the damage that thrashing around on top of the barbed needles had done to him back there.

Grant's back was torn apart into several sections, each edged by ragged flaps of flesh. Half of one of his shoulder-blades was showing through, white stained with red, with the broken-off section obvious to all.

Lower down, there were at least four vertebrae visible through two more horizontal tears.

Liz said "What the hell?!".

"Yeah, this is bad," answered Rod, his eyes wide under his brown, sweat-beaded brow.

"No! I mean... What the ACTUAL hell?! He isn't bleeding!" said Liz.

Gerald said "She's right! He should be pissing blood everywhere from these kinds of wounds!".

The three attendants looked from face to face for a few moments, all at a loss.

Liz finally said "I dunno what to do! My training tells me to stop the bleeding and get him to a hospital but...".

"There's no bleeding and there's no fucking hospital," finished Gerald for her.

"Do we dress the wounds somehow?", asked Rod.

"Naw, I feel farkin' great!" came Grant's voice, as normal as ever, and he rolled back over onto his torn-apart back and got his feet back under himself and stood up on his ruptured knees as if nothing was the slightest bit wrong with him.

Quite some time passed while Grant stalked back and forth between the various corners of the hexagonal room, his knees making popping, squelchy sounds while the flayed-out jagged edges of the skin of his ripped-apart back swayed this way and that at every sudden turn, never bleeding but never healing.

All the time that Grant spent on his strolls talking about how good he felt was spent equally by the other three, crouched together in one corner or another, talking over their situation.

Eventually the threads of their conversation, after much useless speculation about their abductions and the blood-draining aliens, weaved back into a common strand of just what the fuck they were going to do:

"We don't know when the blue light will start again, but we have agreed on two things," said Liz in a low voice.

"Yes," whispered Gerald back. "We know that the needles take an equal amount of blood each time regardless of how many... ummm, participants are involved."

Rod added "And we know the only way to avoid the needles.", turning his eyes towards the incoherent and constantly pacing form of Grant.

Liz and Gerald's eyes followed Rod's. Liz sighed and said "Dammit all to fuck! He was my friend for fuck's sake!"

"Doesn't matter anymore, Liz," said Gerald. "Look at him. He is done. Do you want your friend staggering around in here, getting the flesh stripped even more off of him, or do you want to...".

"Okay, alright!" cut in Liz. "The next time the light goes red we'll...".

And then the ceiling turned red.

The three of them jumped up and ran towards Grant, who was all the way over close to the opposite corner they had been crouched in.

Again, Liz heard it first, the low "buk-buk-buk" sound and yelled out "GO! Take him down!" and dived low, wrapping her arms around the backs of Grant's legs.

Gerald went high, wrapping his arms around Grant's torso from behind, pinning his arms and pivoting him forward,

Grant fell into the wall face-first as the sound racketed up to "buk-BUK-BUK" and split his upper and lower lip on it before sliding quickly down, leaving a red smear, onto his front.

"BUK-BUK-BUK" said the room as Liz jumped onto the frayed shoulders of Grant's back. She regained her posture, in danger of tipping backwards, by grabbing a huge snatch of his hair. She tipped her splayed legs up into the air, on either side of the back of Grant's head.

As Grant's head was pulled upwards by Liz's tug he started to say "I feel better than I have ev..." but then could only say "WHOOOOF!!" as Gerald landed on his lower back, tucking his own legs up and inwards in what looked almost like a Japanese sitting position.

Rod turned around and fell backwards and let his butt plant down on Grant's as the final "BUUUUK!" sounded. He tried to lift both of his legs off from the floor and position them on top of Grant's splayed legs but the "shWIp!" of the needles coming through the floor caught the heel of his left foot just at their tips.

Rod screamed out "NOOO!!! FUCK YOU!!!" as he pulled his heel up and off from the half-a-dozen needles that had pierced it and planted it safely on top of the back of Grant's right calf just in time before the needle's barbs snapped out.

Grant's body juddered under the weight of its three riders and was pulled down a few millimeters further into the fleshy surface of the room's floor and the draining began.

By the time the "wup-wup-wup" sound started again, Liz's arms were so tired from holding back Grant's hair that she had to let it slip through her fingers and let his face slam down onto the needles that were still protruding through the skin of the floor.

The last sound Grant ever uttered was "Faaaaa," as the needles retracted their barbs with their "Whhhhhrrrrrr... snak" from his impaled face and body, and then he was dead and beyond any further pain or torture.

The ceiling did its usual light-show and told the three survivors what they had expected to see:

None of their yellow-drawn outlines had had their crimson-levels drained, not even one bit.

Grant's had been drained down below the soles of his figure's feet.

Some more "time" passed. The three survivors pulled Grant's pallid corpse into a corner and sat around it, talking little and avoiding eye-contact with each other.

Grant's bloating and blackening body was their life-raft out of here, if any such escape was even possible. That is a fact that they had all agreed on. None of them were proud of this fact, and none of them took any joy in mounting the back of his corpse in the positions they had practiced in anticipation of the inevitable red light when it came again.

The red light came again.

"buk-buk-BUK-BUUUUK!" and the needles fanned out and they felt Grant's corpse shudder under them as the barbs snicked into it and then a drop of about a centimeter or two under them as the needles started to suck.

Then the "wup-wup-wup" shit all over again and the needles released and withdrew.

Liz said "This is how we are gonna beat this shit! As long as this pattern keeps going we can ride it all the way to wherever we are being taken to and...".

Grant said "Shush up!" and pointed a finger upwards as the display on the ceiling appeared.

Their three figures inscribed on the ceiling filled with crimson as usual, but Grant's filled only with black and drained down to just below his forehead before the yellow symbols drawn above his outline's head suddenly froze and turned black against the pale blue ceiling.

Liz said "I hear something..." just a split second before the "blart-Blaaart-BLAART!" noise started.

The three of them only had a few seconds to look each other in the face for the last time before a wall of the cell slid suddenly upward and they were sucked out into the vacuum of space.

Rod lived the longest and had the time to kick his feet enough to orientate himself so that he could see the beautiful blue planet beneath him before the moisture covering his eyeballs cracked as it became solid ice.

Their frozen bodies orbited the Earth for centuries, sometimes drawn back in by the gravity of the ring of the millions of hexagonal cells circling the planet, only to bounce off again without a sound and eventually burn up on reentry one by one.
« Last Edit: 17 Oct 2021, 14:59 by Mandle »

Sinitrena

  • Mittens Serf
  • Wheel of Fate
    • I can help with translating
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Oh, an early entry. 8-0 Nice!
Keep them coming.

Baron

  • Mittens Serf
  • AGS Baker
  • Rottwheelers
  • Not-so-Evil Banana Dictator
    • I can help with AGS tutoring
    • I can help with voice acting
    • Best Innovation Award Winner 2011, for the concept and management of SWARMAGS
    • Baron worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Baron worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Ooo!  The ultimate parasites!  (nod)

Sinitrena

  • Mittens Serf
  • Wheel of Fate
    • I can help with translating
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
A bit over two days left!

How are your stories getting along?

I’m brewing a story but Ive struggled to find a moment to bash it out. I do have tomorrow off though, so I might be about to pull something out the bag.

Mandle

  • NO PIXEL LEFT BEHIND!!!
    • Mandle worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Mandle worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
I’m brewing a story but Ive struggled to find a moment to bash it out. I do have tomorrow off though, so I might be about to pull something out the blood bag.

EjectedStar

  • I'm Bobbin Threadbare, are you my mother?
A New Cycle

Congealed blood began to flow through desiccated veins, the oozing liquid slow, yet methodical. Each pump of the wizened heart brought more life to the husk of a corpse which laid curled upon itself, forgotten and alone in the dark. As blood reached the brain and began to flow through long disused twisting passages, no thoughts rose, only one pure and immutable feeling: Hunger.

Winston lay within his crypt as consciousness slowly returned to him. His eyelids scraped over dry orbs within sunken sockets. He always found this the worst part, other than the burning pit of hunger within his stomach: the dryness, the dehydrated state which he found himself as he awoke. Eventually, given enough time, the magic within his veins and his blood would bring him round to a more normal state, but he would be here for hours, unable to move as his muscles were nothing but long strips of dried meat.

Time passed and soon he was able to move, to twist and turn his aching muscles and creaking joints. He reached above his head, his fingers scrabbling through the grave dirt, until his fingers brushed along the glass jars he had left there years before. Too many clinked together hollowly as he searched blindly through the lot, their contents either leaking through impossibly small cracks, or making its way through the corks and wax which sealed them. At last his hand thumped into a jar and it resisted his feeble muscles, still full to the brim.

With shaking hands he pulled the jar from above his head, and after a few minutes he was able to pry the cork and wax from its resting place. He tilted the jar and let the water splash across his face and into his mouth. He heaved, his stomach refusing the vile substance. Ever since becoming one with the night, he could not stomach anything that wasn’t primarily blood, but he knew the water was vital to quickening the revitalizing process and he forced it down through his resisting esophagus.

Hours later he stood and moved the slab of granite which covered his grave. The slab was heavy, but the small portion of strength that had returned granted him enough power to shift it out of the way. The granite walls of his grave only reached his knees, leaving him curled upon himself, but the small space and heavy stone left little airflow, leaving his clothes relatively intact. He surveyed himself as he stood in the chill air of night. His posh clothes had survived well this time, the tight stones making an almost airtight seal, although he could feel some water damage along the back of his collar where the water had seeped out from the jars from years ago. No matter, his dark hair, now rejuvenated by the water and the magic within his veins, flowed neatly down his back and covered any offending stains.

The mausoleum in which he stood hadn’t faired so well. What remained of the structure was a pitiful sight indeed. Half of the marble stone walls had fallen into such disrepair that they left massive gaps leading out into the night. No doubt the magic of his kind had been the only thing that had kept him from being discovered… that and a healthy dose of luck.

His bloodline was known as The Sleepers. They were some of the most powerful of the vampires, their magics powerful and without equal, but they were only able to be active for a short amount of years before the deep slumber called them back to the earth. Winston had actually heard of a type of insect which followed a similar pattern, to sleep for more than a decade before awakening for a month to mate and then die. He felt a strange kinship to the little bug, as his existence was fairly similar; except he didn’t die at the end of his active period… he had done that centuries beforehand.

Winston strolled out from the mausoleum and stretched in the light of the full moon. Grave dirt still stuck to his clothes as he weaved between overgrown headstones but he gave it little thought. His looks and charm were of little importance on this night, the void of emptiness that ate away at his midsection was the only thing on his mind.

He moved his way past a large cast iron gate which marked the entrance to the cemetery. When he had first entered the graveyard a century or so ago, it was impressive and stood tall among the stones. Now, it was nothing but a pitted and rusted reminder of time’s slow march. His leather shoes clicked across some kind of hard packed road, where once a cobblestone street had once winded its way through the village. He nudged at it with the tip of his shoe, but he could not discern what kind of material it had been assembled with.

His thoughts and curiosity were pulled away as he noticed light approaching from down the road. His stomach panged and he could feel the incisors within his mouth sharpen with anticipation. He smiled and tried to tamp down his excitement as the motor car approached. Always a nice change of pace when your meal came directly to you. He smoothed down the front of his jacket and awaited the carriage’s arrival.

The hired man at the motor car’s wheel must have been in quite the hurry, as the car’s lights approached in record time, within seconds of his noticing of the headlights. He lifted his hand as the vehicle neared and it squealed and screeched as it swerved around him and came to a stop. He rose an eyebrow as he inspected the smooth lines and features that made up the vehicle, its entire frame completely enclosed upon itself in metal and glass.

He raised his hand in greeting as the driver’s side window slid down and into the door.

“Good evening, kind sir,” Wiston began.

“Hey, you fuckin’ cosplay weirdo, get the fuck outta the road before you kill somebody. What the hell is wrong with you? It’s midnight for Christ’s sake.”

Winston’s mouth hung open and one of his eyes was squinted in confusion.

“Yeah, just keep standing there, ya douchenozzle. Get bent.”

A loud squeal emanated from the tires and the car disappeared down the road before Winston knew what was happening. His hand fell to his side, but the confused expression stayed plastered on his face. He had run into uncouth gentlemen before but nothing like this, and what in the world was a douchenozzle? He would love to stay and ponder the interaction, but his stomach urged him onward, hunger overcoming the forefront of his mind.

With more tapping of his fancy shoes he moved from the outskirts and into the town proper, large domiciles were packed in closely together along spiraling streets. Most neighborhoods sported electric buzzing lights, casting wide arcs of yellow light across empty black roads. This confused Winston, why light empty roads in the middle of the night? He steered clear of the neighborhoods that were brightly lit and stuck to quieter areas.

As he neared a quaint brick house he nodded to himself, the tried and true method of infiltration was always a sure winner. Of course it wasn’t the most gentlemanly way of hunting, but the hunger that burned inside of him paid no heed to the proper way of doing things. He approached stealthily, his footsteps becoming lighter as he poured his attention into becoming silent as the wind. His magics were still weak in his state, but they would soon swell as he quenched his thirst.

A large wooden fence sat near the house and he sidled up to it. With a well-practiced move, he snagged the top of the fence and kicked his legs up and around. Lights blared to life around him and he froze, one leg propped atop the wooden slats.

Winston, wide-eyed, looked around and noticed the large pair of electric lights mounted far up the wall which had clicked to life as he crossed the fence’s barrier. A curious metal tube with a dark lens was also pointed in his direction and he stared at the strange device in awe.
A man’s voice from the other side of the fence tore his attention away from the lights.

“Are you serious, dude?” The man said, his tone more annoyed than agitated. He wore a thin blue vest and beige colored pants, a cigarette was held in one hand and the burning ember left streaks in the low light as he moved it around. “I just got off a twelve hour shift from Walmart, and now I got some creepy dude climbing into my yard.”

His free hand pinched at the space between his brows and he sighed quietly. “Will you please just fuck off before I call the cops? I really just want to finish my cigarette and go to bed without dealing with any more late night weirdos. Please?”

Winston nodded, let himself down slowly from the fence and once he was out of the man’s eyesight he turned and ran, his dirty coattails flapping in the wind. Once he was far enough away from being pursued he let himself slow and balled his hands against his temples. What in the world was going on? This was his sixth cycle of sleep, and nothing like this had ever happened before. Sure people changed, technology improved, but this world he found himself in was some kind of alien landscape.

A shot of pain echoed out from his stomach and he hunched over trying to quell the beast inside him. After a few minutes he was able to continue on, his brow furrowed in determination. He continued down sidewalks, now uncaring about the pools of light that shone down from lamp posts. He closed his eyes as he walked and reached out with his mind, letting the nearby lifeforces within the quiet houses guide him.

Soon he came upon what he was looking for and opened his eyes. A garishly painted yellow house stood before him, but the young woman inside was alone and ripe for the picking. He strode confidently up the front steps and stood before the entrance. He brushed at the errant dirt that clung to his sleeves, puffed himself up and rapped at the door. Sure, he was a bit dirty, but he had seduced many a women in many different states of dress and undress. A smile crossed his lip as his mind wandered back to better days, running through a count’s keep, the man's young bride’s hand locked in his, laughs light upon their chests.

A woman’s voice blared out from beside the door, pulling him out from his day dream. “Yeah?” she said, her voice tired and uncaring, “What do you want?”

Winston raised an eyebrow and searched around for the source of the voice and found a small white box attached to the doorframe. It sported a familiar black lens, but gave no further hint at what it could possibly be. He could feel the woman’s lifeforce somewhere on the other side of the door. No matter, his magics were weak, but he could still seduce a woman through a closed door.

“M’lady,” he said through a dangerous smile, “perchance I could have a bit of your time? I know it is late, but I am in need of assistance at this tumultuous time.” He could feel his mind connect to the woman’s somewhere within the house, a click as he opened a faraway lock.

“Ugh,” the voice next to the door blared out, “Is this that Vlad guy from Tinder again? Listen dude, I already told you to get lost, I am not even remotely interested in whatever weird roleplay you’re into-“

“No, no, no, m’lady, I am Winston of the Night Thorns, and all I ask is for but a moment of your time.” He pushed deeper with his connection and could feel his magics working to penetrate her mind.

“Oh,” she said, her voice less sleepy than before, “Yeah, not interested. Get lost.”

The connection was instantly severed and Winston reeled from the shock. It was as if a hundred doors had slammed shut within his mind and it left him staggered. He stumbled down the steps and back out into the street. This was the most confused he had been all night. A single woman of childbearing age that he had made a solid connection with had so easily resisted his advances? The door and the device had no bearing on his outcome, somehow the woman had shut him down without a second thought. Nothing like this had ever happened in the centuries he had been at this game.

He shook his head and sat down on the curb, his head in his hands. This world was nothing like the place he had come from, the people were just so incredibly different that nothing he knew from the old world had any kind of positive affect. Maybe he was just a massive douchenozzle?

After a few minutes of self-pity, his stomach urged him onwards and he stood. He could last a time without feeding, but he wouldn’t last forever. Failure and true-death wasn’t an option, he would make it in this world, one way or another.

---------------------------

Winston’s phone buzzed and jingled in his pocket and he rolled his eyes. It was probably his nightshift manager Brad, wanting him to work the dinner shift at Shenanigans, where he served onion rings to the most annoying Americans in existence. He sighed and let his head fall back against the sofa.

“Damn it,” his roommate Travis said as the tv screen turned red and his choices for respawning popped up.

“You need to watch the corners in the warehouse,” Winston said helpfully, “they like to sit and spawn camp in there.”

“Thanks, Winnie, you think I don’t know that?” Travis replied without looking over or taking off his earphones.

Winston ground his teeth together and stared daggers at the back of his head, he wanted nothing more than to rip his head off and drink from the spewing fountain of gushing blood… but he still had six months on the lease, and he had to submit his fingerprints under his new false identity, and there was no way he was going to jeopardize that and go on the run once more. It was way too much a pain in the ass to get a new identity in the 21st century, plus, he had worked hard on getting his credit built up and he didn’t want to have to start from scratch again.

He finally dug his phone out from his hoodie pocket and checked it. Surprisingly, it wasn’t Brad The Asshole, but his Vampire connection out in Pennsylvania who had a stalking slot available in two weeks. He did some quick math in his head and figured he could make it another few weeks without too much trouble and shot back a quick text letting him know that he would be able to make it.

Winston still had a few more years before he would have to head back into the deep slumber and he knew he could last until them, especially with a steady drip of easy Amish pickings once a month or two. The only people who didn’t have Ring doorbells on every damn porch. This cycle was a complete wash, but maybe the next one would be easier, maybe this whole global warming thing would knock modern humans back far enough to where his life wouldn’t be such a difficult hell.

Just a few more years, he thought, he knew he could do it. Life as a vampire in 2021 was not easy going.

His phone buzzed again and he checked it. “Fuck you, Brad,” he said under his breath as he looked at the clock and figured he only had 30 minutes until he had to be back at work.

Victor

"We can't let him out there. Not after last time."

"What happened last time was an accident. No one could have predicted that. And nobody died, did they?"

"And what if there's another accident? We're just creating more work for ourselves."

"Trust me, Ray. It has to be done."

"He's just a kid, for Christ's sake."

"He's 19. He won't even feel it."

"I'm not talking about the civilian, Arn I'm talking about Victor. He's just a boy."

"Victor is 153 years old, Ray."

"You know what I mean."

"I'm sending him out tonight. By midnight this won't be our problem any more."

________________________________________________

Simon hopped across the road, only briefly minding the corners of his eyes to confirm the lack of oncoming traffic A streetlight above him flickered and he flinched nervously. He pulled a key out of his pocket and unlocked the door beside a shuttered hairdresser that lead upstairs to the safest place he could possibly have been: Michael Bailey's Architect's office. His mother had worked for Mr Bailey before her retirement last year, and somehow she had never been asked for the key. No one would think to look for him here.

He cursed as the light came on automatically and he scrambled to close the blinds, so as not to draw attention to the room from outside. He went into what he knew to be the conference room, which also served as the breakroom, and sat down to catch his breath and try to make sense of what had just happened.

He decided to record the story into his phone in case it could be used later:

So, err, if you're listening to this, then, err, well, err, hello. My name is Simon Durst. This evening I witnessed a kidnapping, but I fled the scene because, well, let me go back a bit.

I was going to the pub after karate, as I do every week. Erm, along Peignton Avenue, and I saw a girl, maybe 12, or... 11 or 12, being bundled into the back of a car. Err, a black car. It was just in front of the letter box there, err near the old cafe that's always closed. Err. Number plate... I didn't see the number... to be honest, I don't think it even had number plates. It was dark, but, yeah. Err, black car, no plates and two men, that I saw.

I shouted something, probably  "OI!" Quite loud, maybe a neighbour heard, or something. So the men turned their heads and saw me. They looked pissed off, I didn't know what to do next, so I just kind of stood there. Err, I was pretty close to them, by the way, like close enough to see. I would recognise them. They didn't look like kidnappers, like creepy pedos or anything, they looked like some kind of government, conspiracy shit... er... and I regretted shouting. Maybe I thought they would drive off and leave the girl, but they didn't, they continued bundling this girl into the car. She looked like she was resisting, but she wasn't crying or screaming, from what I saw.

And then just before they closed the car door, something fell on the road. Then they drove off. I was sure they would kill me or something but they didn't. I went and checked the thing on the floor and it was this fucking USB stick or something. That's when I called the police, but I didn't hang around because I thought maybe they'd realise the memory stick was gone and come back for it. So I took the stick. Not like, er, tampering with evidence or anything. I just thought better to take it now and give it to the police later, than hang around for the men to come and get it back.

Anyway. That's what happened. so... err. Okay.


He suddenly remembered that he was indeed handling evidence. He looked around the office for somewhere to keep the USB stick, a plastic coin bag or something. He noticed Mr Bailey's computer on the desk and found himself switching it on. Happy to see that there was no login screen, Simon slid the stick into a free USB port.

The memory stick was blank.

________________________________________________

"You know where to find him now, Victor." It was more of a statement than a question.

"Yes." He replied anyway.

"Go there. Do what you do. And come back."

"Full course?"

"No, just the main."

"Arn, Don't do this. Victor, You don't have to-"

"Shut up, Ray. Victor. Please go now. Come back before dawn." Victor turns and falls from the window. The flapping of his wings can be heard. "I'm proud of you, boy."

________________________________________________

By now, Simon has checked the memory stick in every port on the PC and it keeps coming up empty. There are no hidden files or folders that he can see. Nothing. Why would those men be carrying around a blank USB stick?

Then it hits him.

"You shouldn't have picked it up." He was thinking these exact words, but they also came from behind him. He turned and froze. Before him stood a boy, he could not have been much older than 11 himself, yet he was weathered and worn like an old headstone. His deep set eyes were exhausted and behind them Simon saw only trauma and pain. The boy's arms were bony and frail, and hanging from them was this battered leathery film. Were those wings? His bruised and flaking legs bowed and shook and he took a feeble scab-footed step towards Simon. Simon screamed and tried to run, but his own legs collapsed beneath him and he was at the mercy of this demon.

"You are lucky," the boy croaked. "You will die in this century. I still have at least another thousand years of this."

"You're not going to kill me?" Simon stuttered.

"I hope not. Though accidents happen. My instructions were to take what's needed. Your memory."

"The memory stick? You can take the memory stick. I don't need it. It's yours."

"No. I will only erase the last three hours from your memory."

"But what about the girl? She needs help."

"She is where she has to be."

"Where is that?"

"The ANNEX have her. They do not kill. She is safe. They just need to learn something from her."

"What is the ANNEX?"

"Enough questions. Please know that she is safe and don't make this harder than it needs to be."

Simon paused for a minute as if something had occurred to him. "Okay. Just. Please don't kill me."

The boy limped towards Simon, who was still on the floor leaning against a desk. With each step the boy took, the smell of pus and faeces and body odour grew stronger and stronger. The boy opened his arms and spread his wings and the stench was sprayed into Simon's face. Simon breathed in the foul air and vomited into his lap as the boy approached him and began to wrap his wings around Simon, who was crying, and gagging for air. The boy opened his mouth to reveal a set of large fangs slathered in a congealed mucous membrane. Simon screamed as the creature sank his fangs into the side of Simon's neck.

________________________________________________

Simon awoke to find himself in his mother's former employer's office. He was covered in vomit and a foul odour lingered in the air. Had he got so wasted after Karate that he had decided to sleep it off in here rather than face his mother at home?

He picked his phone up from the floor next to him and looked at the screen to check for messages. He had somehow put it on voice recorder and it was still recording. He tapped 'stop' and then 'play' and listened back to the recording.

What was all this about a kidnap? That was his voice but he didn't remember any of the details he was saying. Black car? USB stick? Police? And then there was another voice. Someone else was here? Erase my memory? Who the hell is ANNEX? What the hell happened to me?

It took Simon a shower and a rest and several more listens to the recording to fully realise that he'd gotten himself involved in something. He was going to have to find out about this ANNEX, and the creature who attacked him, and the girl.

They do not kill, it had said. Which meant that she was still alive.

________________________________________________

"Well done, my boy. I'm sorry you had to go through that again. I promise it's the last time for a while."

"He was a nice guy. Just worried about Dinah."

"I know. I know, Victor. But you did the right thing."

"Arn. I can't do this any more."

"Ray. Don't be stupid. It's over. The civilian has been safely neuralyzed. We have the girl. No one was killed. We can afford to relax a little."

"I'm sorry, Arn. I'm out."

"Victor. Would you do the honours?"

Baron

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The 13th Day

   Did I ever tell you about the time I almost died?

   I know what you are thinking.  Here goes Radu the Eternal, whining on about almost dying.  It is a relative problem, I agree.  It comes down to a matter of perspective.  But as we have a bit of time on our hands, why not share our perspectives?  You of all people should hear the whole story.

   Imagine your life is an hourglass, and the days remaining to you are grains of sand slipping away into oblivion.  When the glass is full one can ignore the barely perceptible depletion of the sands; time seems almost not to pass at all in a kind of blissful stasis of youth.  But there comes a point for everyone when there is a realization that the sands are not as plentiful as they once were.  No matter how consistent the trickle, the precious grains seem to race away all the more quickly as they dwindle.  As you near the end of your allotted supply your inventory of dusty particles becomes an obsession.  Cleverer men than I have vainly spent those last precious grains struggling to stem the ebbing tide or tip the glass to reverse the process.  But these endeavours merely reveal an ignorance of a basic premise of nature: by the laws of entropy all beings are doomed to decay over time.  In layman's terms, the grains of sand will always fall.  Life happens at the hourglass's neck: without the falling of the sand, there is no life.

   Now, once you have grasped this essence of the riddle of life, it is possible to intuit a solution.  Don't you see?  Many billions of hourglasses crammed together, each with its sand grains trickling away, each flow unstoppable, each supply of grains finite.  But what if the sands of one hourglass could be transferred to another?  In theory there could be an hourglass that never runs out of sand, admittedly at the expense of its neighbours.  The trick, as you are so obviously aware, is to be the vessel that gains from these transactions.

     Of course, another immutable law of nature is the inherent motivation to defend one's precious horde of life-grains.  One might reasonably expect the nearby hourglasses to band together and fight the parasite in their midst, and indeed this was a real problem for me when I first came into my power.  The terms murderer, monster, and warlock were bandied about with a careless disdain for proper semantics, to say nothing of violent hunts for my person.  But as I grew proficient in the theft of life-days, it became possible to spread the losses over an ever larger community.  A few weeks here, a few months there, significant for me but almost imperceptible to each donor.  Especially for the young and hale, those precious days would not be missed for a long time yet.  Thus I was able to become anonymous, like the tax clerk in a distant office that bleeds the community by pinpricks just a bit at a time.  Unlikable and unsavoury, yes, but a sufficiently minor nuisance as not to merit hunting down.

   Yet even this analogy does not do justice to the complexity of my position.  For just as each life-day is a grain of sand, so each grain holds within it a degree of the essence of its owner.  Thus, by absorbing a month of life from a great beauty I can become a fraction more beautiful, and by absorbing a year of life from a great academic I can become 1% smarter.  The effect fades over time, both as the new life-grains fall inevitably into oblivion, but also as they slowly take on the character of their new owner, thereby preserving the essence of me, the host.

   And there are of course the regular hazards of existence to further complicate matters.  Like any other hourglass, mine was but a thin sheath of fragile glass in a world of mortal dangers.  Age and disease I can offset with the judicious addition of vigorous new life-sands, but external trauma is as dangerous to me as it is to any other being.  In addition I face more nuanced dangers: as I absorb a part of the skills and talents of my benefactors, so too I absorb their ailments.  If these be static conditions such as allergies or autism it is a fairly simple matter for me to isolate the problem (as I can move the life essence of others into myself, so can I expunge the unwanted essence within, at least before it becomes widely absorbed).  The rub is in the progressive diseases: cancers and dementia principally, but there are a litany of others, some so obscure as to not have been properly identified by even the greatest medical experts of the ages. 

   There is something admirable in diseases, especially the viral variety.  They can be almost entirely annihilated – indeed they are so often the authors of their own destruction in killing off their hosts - and yet the smallest trace left behind or spread to a new host can cause the disease to rise again phoenix-like from the ashes.  I've made a study of such things, over the ages, as a means of self-preservation.  It has been a.... painful subject of study.

   Oh the years I've spent in suffering with these lingering afflictions, trying to drain the sink of the dirty water so that I could at the last moment refill it again with pure life-essence, only to discover the taint still lingered, growing insidiously in the dark corners of my being.  It was a long time before I stumbled upon - nay stooped to - the obvious solution.  Think now, child.  Which vessel has the vibrancy and plasticity to heal itself?  You do not need to be overly smart to divine the answer, but you do need to be ruthless to contemplate it.  When my back is against the wall and I need to reset my health, it is an infant child that I must drain of its life-days.

   Now with careful living and constant study, I am proud to admit that I have resorted to outright baby draining on only twenty-two occasions.  Oh put away your self-righteous judgements – they would all have died anyway, after all.  Most of them would have lived a wretched existence on the lowest margins of society – for it is only there that the strongest and most robust beings can survive (to say nothing of the collective shrug at the loss of another poor mouth to feed).  And in a matter of speaking there are parts of their souls that have survived far longer than even the longest lived human, as a part of my eternal being.  Theirs has indeed been a charmed existence, as we have lived quite well off of my accumulated wealth over the ages.  From an objective perspective, then, you could almost say I did them a favour.

   From the way that you quiver I can see you feel differently....   Alas society has evolved in a distressing direction recently, not just with lip-service to human rights but with a worrisome predisposition to believing in them.  Every being has an inalienable right to life, liberty, and happiness!  Of course this defies a rational evaluation of the future prospects of the vast majority of humanity.  If you live long enough you can see these moral proclivities for the fads they are, a luxury of idled affluence.  The only transcendent truths are Darwinian. 

   This at least you understand.  Of course, the law of the jungle is easier to swallow when you are the lion.  I'm sure you can imagine such a predator, crouched in the shadows, spotting what might be its prey through the chaotic undergrowth.  In this case she is a rare occultist thoroughly steeped in the arcana of the ages, and yet critically thoughtful enough to see through the fluff and nonsense.  I don't even know her name, but let's call her Morgan after the aspirational Arthurian enchantress.

   How many years it took to draw together the disparate puzzle pieces I can not imagine, all while the life-sands were pouring relentlessly away.  Perhaps these things go more quickly with these fact-sifting boxes that men set so much store in these days....  No matter how it came to pass, credit must be given to the result.  Morgan noticed a pattern of the missing or desiccated infants over the years, and put the pieces together.  Of course the other details were only half-guessed at, but Morgan knew enough to anticipate where and when the perpetrator would strike again.  Indeed, her research allowed her to set out the perfect bait.  One wonders where she even found the mewling thing, for she was clearly too old for it to be her own.  She at least was not one of the new age's bleeding hearts.

   And then there I was, desperately afflicted by the latest modern plague, on the prowl for a reset, and the perfect infant practically served up to me on a silver platter.  Oh how a fish must feel, after eating so many worms over the years, only to discover the shocking presence of a hook in its latest meal!  Barely had I touched fang to chubby-cheek but the world was inverted and I was snared tightly in rope as if by a jungle constrictor.  I dangled there, gobsmacked, mouth agape like a Carpathian mountain peasant, a half-consumed infant stuck between my teeth, whining wretchedly at the loss of its final forty years.  It vomited while hanging there against my face, adding insult to my injured pride.

   But the greatest indignity was facing that woman.  How triumphant she looked, that jumped-up fortune teller, that merchant of myth, that Morgan!  To my eyes she was little more than an infant herself, her intellect but a fraction of my own.  And yet she had me at her mercy, her eyes greedily calculating the powers she intended to extract.  My shame was only eclipsed by my fear at how many ways this amateur surgeon might botch her intended operation.  And as it turned out, my fears were fell-founded.

   For although Morgan was a first-class paranormal sleuth, she was sadly only a third-rate scientist.  In all her scheming and plotting never had she given any serious consideration as to exactly what to do with me when I was caught.  For a while she merely played with me, like a kitten who had surprised itself in catching a mouse.  There followed of course a battery of bloody extractions and tortures as she crudely grasped towards understanding, but I am proud to confide that my cryptic half-truths only confounded her further.  By the twelfth day she had convinced herself that she had indeed determined the secret to eternal life, putting my decades of studying viral pathology to shame.  The ignorance of youth would be amusing were it not so tragic.

   And so then, as the sun set on the twelfth day, she drained me of my life-days.  Of course the outcome was inevitable from the moment I was snared in her trap, but the foolish creature took twelve days vacillating between uncertainty and mania before finally succumbing to the obvious.  And thus I died.

   But the story continues.  Obviously.....

   Time is a funny thing.  Just as living beings slowly decay, so do truths only slowly come into focus.  The fly might think it is only a little stuck when it first alights upon the spider's web, but as it pulls gently and tugs carefully it works its way ever further into the clutches of the patient arachnid.  At which point it realizes the inevitable is hard to determine, for a fly is a creature of cunning instinct but sadly very little intelligence.  But know the truth it must, sooner or later....

   And now, as time brings the end of my tale into greater focus, you must ask yourself the most critical of questions:  between you – Morgan the National Enquirer Subscriber – and I – Radu the Eternal – which one of us is the spider, and which one of us is the fly?

   You see exactly what is happening now, but it is too late to stop the inevitable.  Your consciousness squirms in terror and anguish and... is that morbid curiosity I detect?  Did I not mention that I was intensely curious about the survival strategies of the humble virus for reasons of self-preservation?  The assimilation of the essence of the victim was already a part of the natural process.  It just took several decades of tinkering to hijack the process for a viral takeover.  I'm sure you of all people can appreciate the allure of an esoteric hobby? 

Mandle

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    • Mandle worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Good to have four stories! I have read all and will vote/feedback when it opens.

Sinitrena

  • Mittens Serf
  • Wheel of Fate
    • I can help with translating
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
And with that, the monsters are all in position and the blood-letting shall begin.

Let's have a good look at them:

Ambulance Chasers by Mandle
A New Cycle by EjectedStar
Victor by Stupot
The 13th Day by Baron


Sharpen your teeth, ready your claws and then sink them in in our juicy tales. Take from them all you want and need, but be nice and let them live when you dissect them.

How do you dissect them, you wonder?
Why, by commenting here, of course. And by voting. You've got 10 points to distribute among our competitors. Send your votes by PM to me until the end of 24th October.



Mandle

  • NO PIXEL LEFT BEHIND!!!
    • Mandle worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Mandle worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Feedback:

Baron:
Spoiler: ShowHide
 This is what I have been wanting to read from you for ages! A serious Baron story, and in my favorite genre of horror to boot! I suspect you are a fan of the Fallen movie as the opening line mirrors its own opening line, and the ending suggests a similar outcome: The switching of bodies to continue the evil. The moment that your story tipped me to vote for it slightly higher than the other two excellent entries was... of course... the WTF?! baby scene... Horrific and a bit hilarious, but funny in the way that makes the reader doubt their own sanity for finding it funny... My only issue is that I found the "Morgan" character so intriguing that I wanted a chapter in the middle from their point of view but a wonderful twisted tale nonetheless!


Stupot:
Spoiler: ShowHide
 An exciting, well written, and more serious story from you. I absolutely loved the descriptions of the boy; I could see him in my mind and he was creepy AF!!! As I was getting down towards the last few lines of the story I was wondering how you were gonna wrap it up, but you pulled it off and the foreshadowing at the beginning of the story about that staff member's reluctance made the Men-In-Blackish payoff well earned!


Ejected Star:
Spoiler: ShowHide
 An excellently written piece, as usual. You had me laughing quite a few times with the fish-out-of-water humor of the ancient vampire losing out against the cynical heart of the modern world. I got my biggest laugh from your description of him caught balanced on one foot atop the fence when the automatic sentry lights snapped on. From that point on I started to visualize everything like a very well-drawn cartoon in the vein (hehehe) of the 2000's Scooby Doo movies... The way you tied vampirism with the cicada life-cycle was very imaginative. I want to read more tales of this variety of vampire who woke up in unfamiliar ages... Reminded me a bit also of the characters in Anne Rice's novels seeking ways to reconnect with the changing world as they remained unchanging. I just wish the story had gone on. I would have read a whole book about this particular breed of bloodsuckers.

Story Feedback.

Mandle
Spoiler: ShowHide
I loved the concept. I’m a sucker (pun intended) for these kind of high concept stories where a group of people are in a “game” of some sort (I still haven’t seen Squid Game yet but I imagine it’s in the same vein).

This story also reminded me in many ways of the movie Circle (not The Circle). The ending is similar in how it’s aliens who are responsible for the “game” and in how it turns out there are thousands of identical games going on around the planet. My only question, though, is if they all die in the end anyway, is there much point making a game out of it with the big displays and stuff. In Circle one of them is at least supposed to survive.


EjectedStar
Spoiler: ShowHide
Another great concept. We have so many vampire stories either set in old Gothic settings or the modern day, and the theme of ancient vampires in contemporary settings isn’t new but the humour of this story comes from just how freaking fast the world has changed since Winston’s previous cycle. Even a being used to adapting to different eras can not catch up to the crazy world we live in today. My only criticism is that while it is a funny fish-out-of-water concept, with lots of great ideas for funny situations for Winston to face, I think they could have been milked for more comedy.


Baron
Spoiler: ShowHide
You promised us something a little less goofy and delivered the goods. I loved the style and really savored every word. You have a real enviable knack for word choice. I liked the final twist but I enjoyed the build up more. I would like to read a longer version of this character’s story that goes into more detail about his life and experiments.

Mandle

  • NO PIXEL LEFT BEHIND!!!
    • Mandle worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Mandle worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Story Feedback.

Mandle
Spoiler: ShowHide
I loved the concept. I’m a sucker (pun intended) for these kind of high concept stories where a group of people are in a “game” of some sort (I still haven’t seen Squid Game yet but I imagine it’s in the same vein).

This story also reminded me in many ways of the movie Circle (not The Circle). The ending is similar in how it’s aliens who are responsible for the “game” and in how it turns out there are thousands of identical games going on around the planet. My only question, though, is if they all die in the end anyway, is there much point making a game out of it with the big displays and stuff. In Circle one of them is at least supposed to survive.


Spoiler: ShowHide
 Ah, it wasn't really supposed to be a "game". Whoever the kidnappers are, whether they be aliens or if the whole thing is a human construct, or otherwise, they need the blood and have constructed the hive-ring to milk it. This is deliberately left vague. Probably in many of the cells the captives are milked for a very long time, providing the kidnappers with their needed resource, but they have this fail-safe system where if dead blood is detected they just purge that cell. The symbols on the ceiling were supposed to tell the captives that if they just chill out then their blood will regenerate and they can go on living forever with just a minor inconvenience now and then. Whoever the kidnappers are, they don't really understand human nature or just don't care. Thanks for the feedback on your take on the story. In a fully fleshed-out version I would write a lot more speculation between the characters about their situation and your take on the story has given me some hints on possible subjects they would discuss.
 

EjectedStar

  • I'm Bobbin Threadbare, are you my mother?
Mandle:
Spoiler: ShowHide
I'm a huge fan of the 'single room, low-budget, The Cube'ish movies, and like Stupot this really gave me those vibes. It was a little hectic, and even if it was by design, it was kind of hard to keep track of the characters at first, probably because it was a bunch of new characters all talking at once and changing subjects around. Eventually they all clicked in, but it was a little tough at first. I liked the weirdness of the room and it really felt alien.  It did feel like there was 'something' going on in terms of a game that they had to play, but I didn't really get it until reading your spoiler.  But thems the breaks in a short story where you intentionally leave things vague!  Solid entry, for sure.


Stupot:
Spoiler: ShowHide
Interesting little story! My favorite part was how gross the vampire-thing was! You pretty much only get two types of vampires in mainstream fiction, either the standard 'I vant to suck your bluud' type ranging from Sparkling to Dracula, or a visceral monster ala I Am Legend (featuring Will Smith).  The fetid, wrinkled man-monster was a nice surprise, and it makes me more interested in the older Vamps, as well as their weird organization. Lots of interesting story threads in this one, but not a whole lot of answers!


Baron:
Spoiler: ShowHide
Oh how easily you slipped into the point of view of a pompous, verbose wordsmith!  Haha, this was great. The visualizations of the hourglasses and the metaphors strewn about were on point and fit very well with the character. If were to pick out any kind of niggling thing, it would be the introduction of Morgan, her appearance is kind of crammed in there with other metaphors and prose, that it took a second to realize that she was a new character. Other than that though, a solid, well-written piece throughout.

Mandle

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    • Mandle worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Mandle worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Cheers, Ejected Star. again, along with Stu's, valuable feedback. In a future draft I will have the characters talk a little about their own theories of what is being done to them and, being medical professionals of a kind, they will be able to figure out that they are being
Spoiler: ShowHide
harvested.


I was trying to keep a balance here, for the sake of the readers in this contest, of saying just enough to give the correct impression but also keeping the story on the shorter side. It seems I may have erred on the side of brevity just a tad. I will also put a few more hooks concerning each character earlier on to have them stick clearer in the reader's mind. It was probably also not a good idea to have two male characters both with names that start with the same letter. This confused even me a few times while I was writing the story.  (laugh)
« Last Edit: 24 Oct 2021, 08:41 by Mandle »

Baron

  • Mittens Serf
  • AGS Baker
  • Rottwheelers
  • Not-so-Evil Banana Dictator
    • I can help with AGS tutoring
    • I can help with voice acting
    • Best Innovation Award Winner 2011, for the concept and management of SWARMAGS
    • Baron worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Baron worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Nice creepy stories all around.  Here's my feedback:

@Mandle
Spoiler: ShowHide

Aw man, the glint of hope is surely the worst means of torture when all is lost!  This was an awesome premise, although it fell apart a bit for me in the execution.  The walking-talking Grant zombie was never adequately explained, nor was the alien-vampire fetish for paramedics, and there were a few overly complicated descriptions that made me furrow my brow ("Gerald let his right hand slip away.... and dropped it to the opposite elbow that he had that arm already cupped under?!?").  The punchy, short paragraphs were somewhat overshadowed by this sort of overlong sentence, causing the reader to lose the thread of the story sometimes in the complicated prose.  On balance I'll give the work a B overall.


@EjectedStar
Spoiler: ShowHide

This was an awesome story.  I loved you creepy descriptions of Winston's awakening, and then his utter confusion at the changes wrought by modernity.  I felt a little let down that it was never completely explained why Winston's "magics" wouldn't work on the young females of child-bearing age anymore, but this is a minor grievance.  The twist at the end, with Winston sacrificing his happiness in order to survive this cultural hellscape we call 2021, was both hilarious and depressing in an eerily familiar way.  Overall, I give the work an A-.


@Stupot
Spoiler: ShowHide

The writing and build-up were top-notch, and the premise has some serious potential.  The big problem is that the story ends before it's half-told.  What about Dinah?  What about Ray?  Does Simon find out more about the Annex?  Is Victor sick or enslaved or...?  Damn you Arn, you mysterious villain!  I get that sometimes you want the reader to put the pieces together themselves, but the workload in this case is too much to be reasonable.  Thus your mark is B-.

Mandle

  • NO PIXEL LEFT BEHIND!!!
    • Mandle worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Mandle worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Cheers, Baron... Yeah, on a revision I will cut some of those descriptions you mentioned down into more bite-sized pieces.

The exact motivations of the faceless enemy was something I left purposefully vague as I felt it made them scarier. The reason they are targeting ambulances and blood-wagons is because the story was inspired by an account in The Mothman Prophesies book of a blood-wagon being chased down a country road at night by a flying craft with an extending claw like in my story. In the report, the driver managed to evade the descending claw and stay on the road until a set of oncoming headlights appeared ahead and the craft was frightened away.
The chilling line from the author "Maybe we only hear these stories from the people who got away." has always stuck with me so I decided to write a story about the ones who didn't.
« Last Edit: 25 Oct 2021, 02:04 by Mandle »