I was mashed up into the corner as the parade got bigger, with actual floats and giant masks dancing their way through. And on the middle float, a band of UNNATURALLY gorgeous young boy and girl vampires, about 12 or 13 years old I guess, singing their hearts out in freshly 'converted' pubescent voices and playing instruments. An entire band of heartthrobs, harmonizing in French with such an adorable boyish tone, to a swinging Cajun tune that had everybody within earshot screaming right along with them. My eyes were drawn to their beauty, leaving me breathless from the raw sexual aura that just poured out of them in buckets. The boys were exotic, with more than a 'touch' of femininity to give them this sensual vibe that refus to be ignored. As they moved past, a few of the girls in the band tossed me enough beads to weigh my neck down to the floor, and one of them leaned off of the float to kiss me on the lips. One of the cutest dark haired Creole French boys on the float watched me closely, his eyes glowing a bright shade of gold. He winked at me, beckoning me to climb up on the float with him and maybe...'have some fun'. But I was still a bit too stunned by having this sudden super-bright, multi colored, festival suddenly dropped on me out of nowhere to really respond. The cute boy waited for a moment or two, hoping I'd join him. God he was beautiful. But when I didn't jump on...he simply shrugged his shoulders, rode the float a bit further while still singing in perfect pitch, and pulled up another boy my age from the crowd. They started kissing madly as soon as he got his foothold on the raft, and someone else had to come in and sing his part of the harmony as they laid on the floor and began removing their clothes right there in front of everybody. Shit...I KNOW I've got the most awesome boyfriend in the world...but I still wish I could have had a taste of that. Then, just like that, they kept going and the parade continued without a break. And the opportunity passed me by.
In the distance....I could almost see the end of the procession, with a dark cloud following behind it. I guess that once the parade had passed, the club goes right back to normal. In order to keep up with the Cajun festival, you'd have to follow the rest of them. Wild. There was just SO much visual overload in this place. And whenever you got used to one stable atmosphere...the club completely flipped it upside down on you. Amazing.
My mind seemed to gently 'twitch' from the inside, however. I couldn't shake the feeling. I was still being watched. It was the same signature as before, but not one I was used to. I wondered if maybe Soren had sent one scumbags to spy on me. But why? Looking around, I couldn't see much of anything, and I felt that slight feeling of panic enter me again. Who WAS that? And why were they following me? Shit! Maybe I can lose them in the crowd.
I dipped in and out of the crowd a few times, trying to ditch whoever was tracking me and get some space. Jesus. "It's almost time!" Said a random boy standing next to me. He was about 16 I guess, and he roughly took hold of my arm as if in desperation for someone to listen. He was dressed in a dark grey cloak and had one side of his face painted navy blue. His eyes were bugged out something fierce, and he had a slight twitch in his neck as his speech poured out of him so fast that it was barely understandable. He looked half crazy to me. "2012...it's coming. The end."
"The end of what?" I asked, trying to get my arm back from him.
"The end of EVERYTHING! The end of the world, it's approaching fast!" Okaaaaay...I assume that these were the kinda drugs our guidance counselors warned us to stay away from.
"Riiiight..." I said, and tried to find a way to move back into the undertow of the crowd. But he held me tight.
"LISTEN!!! All the vampire psychics have predicted it! The human psychics have predicted it too! The end is coming! You think 9/11 was bad? Not even! Not EVEN! It all starts to go down in August of this year! THIS YEAR! They're rebuilding the temple in the Middle East! Did ya know that? A temple! Cattle sacrifices...do you understand? Special breed of cattle! They thought they were extinct, but they're not! They've been breeding them in secret! Keeping them for this particular reason! The Temple is being rebuilt! Just as it was predicted!!! Sacrifices...you'll see!" I was able to pull away with a little bit of struggle, and started walking through the crowd again. The strange boy followed me closely though. "Did you know that they found Noah's Ark? They did! In a mountain...highest on the planet, lowest below sea level! 100 mile an hour winds and temperatures reaching 40 degrees below zero! The Bible said Noah docked the boat when he saw a rainbow in the sky, ya see? There's a rainbow around that mountain EVERY...SINGLE...DAY! Has been for thousands of years! They found it! Expeditions start this fall. That's a part of the prophecy. Don't you get it? Comicality knew! Eggman knew! Jaxsper Finn and Dean Lidster knew! All of the authors of the vampire scriptures are slowly discovering the signs! They're going underground. You think they're gonna stay HERE? HERE? No way! No WAY!"
"I'm sure." I said. "I really can't stay and talk. I've gotta..."
"They ALL say 2012! The Egyptian Pyramids, the decoded crop circles, the Mayan calendar...their lineage stops abruptly at 2012! December 21st exactly! Negotiations are underway to make it happen. They're not paying attention. They're playing out the apocalypse just as it was predicted it would happen. You'll see. Seven years of peace are coming...seven exactly...starting in 2006...and 7 years later....?"
"Sighhh...2012?" I just wanted him to finish his 'message' and leave me alone at this point. I was literally walking around in circles trying to lose him in the drunken Mardi Gras crowd.
"PRECISELY!!!" He shouted, almost deafening me in my right ear. "The poles are shifting, did you know that? Magnetic forces are changing...North to South, South to North. Ships are being led off course. You know why? No compass will work. Screwed up magnetic fields, screwed up compass. The fields are sending boats to fucking Siberia! Can you believe that? People are starving to death at sea! Tragic. So tragic." Geez, and I thought Zero was crazy. I almost was able to duck out on this nutcase...but a 400 pound fat woman with GIGANTIC breasts stopped me and put more beads on my neck! Then she kissed me on the top of my head, rubbing my face in her bouncing cleavage-jelly at the same time. By the time she had released me and howled with laughter at the look at my surprised face and messed up hair, the boy was grabbing my arm again. "2012 they'll flip completely. The world will be upside down!"
"Nooooo no! That's not nice! Nothing nice about that! It means bad things. Bad things." He twitched. Trying to control the volume of his voice...without much success. "AND...and...an asteroid is coming! It's already on its way. Ancient Native American cultures predicted the coming of a silver comet. They specifically said silver comet. Like a second sun in the sky! I think it's gonna come from Mars, don't you?"
"Sure. Mars. Whatever."
"Giant moon rocks from Mars...BAM!!! They hit the Earth, land in the ocean. TOTAL fucking chaos, right? Rivers and oceans boil because it's so hot when it gets through the atmosphere! Get it? Impact creates tremors, weird weather patterns, which creates famine, which creates big swarms of locusts and big fucking...'creepy crawlies', the whole shebang! Mars rock, ok? MARS rock....blocks out the sun, moon turns red, lakes and rivers turn to blood! Makes sense, right?" Fuck...will this guy get AWAY from me?!?!?! "I hear they saw the Virgin Mary appear under a viaduct right here in Chicago! Did you hear about that? Right here! Right on West Fullerton under the freeway. Check it out! It's there! I know! I've seen it! They don't want us to know that it's there, but it's there. And the Dead Sea Scrolls...they tell the whole story. In gory detail. But they were designed specifically so that we couldn't decode them until it was too late. We couldn't even BEGIN until computers were invented! Do you understand? It's like they knew! Thousands of years ago...they KNEW! By the time our technology is advanced enough to break the code and figure the outcome, we won't be able to stop it. We WON'T!"
"LOOK....just...stop talking to me, ok? Seriously..."
"It's the quickening! THAT'S what it is! And it's upon us! Right here, right now. We're corrupt and arrogant. BOTH species...that's why we have to be wiped out. Height of civilization...we have to be cleansed. We NEED to be cleansed! 2012...that's the date it happens!" He didn't pay me any attention at all, and I just tried to lose him again. "They have a squad that specializes in kidnapping and murdering children! CHILDREN! You know why? They keep hurting and making kids disappear, they make it necessary..no, REQUIRED...for all of us to have location chips implanted in our bodies so they can track us everywhere! They'll tell you it's a protective measure, but we know better, don't we? Seen a rash of missing, abducted, and murdered children lately? That's why. They're preparing us. Making us want it on purpose by hurting our children! They'll be introducing the idea to the public soon, you'll see."
Just as I was beginning to get some distance from him...he said something that sounded a little less crazy than the rest of his apocalyptic ramblings. And I was forced to pay attention. "Did you know that a true vampire Mimic walks amongst us right now? It's true. I know. I read the prophecy, it says so!" I stopped in mid step. It was only a moment of panic that passed over me when I realized that he hadn't figured me out. But still, I was interested.
"Where did you hear about that?"
"It's in the prophecies, man. Everything is. All of it. Understanding, apocalypse, enlightenment, death, war, conflict, betrayal....the end, man! It's all in there! 2012...it'll happen. You'll see. The other predictions were fakes, but this one is REAL! It's real! People have got to know about this! It starts in August! In AUGUST! 2005, right here, right now! The temple....you'll see! The prophecies are never wrong! Never!" He said, now starting to tremble and look around frantically.
"Ok, calm down. What do you know about a Mimic walking amongst us. Tell me about that part." I said, slowing down my speech, hoping that he'll give me a clue.
"You think I'm crazy, don't you? I'm not. I'm not crazy. They just don't want you to know. You'll see. They'll talk about peace, and prosperity, and they'll tell you everything is ok. But it's a lie. It's all a LIE! Look it up. The Vampire Dawn is coming. But it's not for everybody. Nope. It's only for the ones who survive the horrors ahead of us! The ones who don't get it will be the first to fall. That's what it means! The Mimic has to teach us all, otherwise there won't be anyone left. Only the ones who understand will make it! Like...like building a new Ark. Everyone won't survive. No...very FEW understand enough to survive."
"The MIMIC! Please...JUST tell me about the Mimic."
"The Mimic's alive. Born into darkness. I know. It was predicted. It's time for his arrival. He's here. And that means the terrible end times are officially beginning. He might even be in this very club!" He started looking around again nervously as a horde of firecrackers suddenly went off and more confettie dropped from the ceiling. He was fearfully spasming out of control, and I was losing his focus quickly.
"Where did you read about all of this?" He STILL wasn't paying attention to me, he was still looking around, and I had to hold his shoulders still with both hands. "Look at me, ok? Where did you read about this prophecy?"
"There..." He pointed up to a second level in the distance, and I could see a clearly marked blue and white area that looked like it was sectioned off from most of the other club. Kinda like the museum was, but this was bigger. Much bigger. And it looked almost like an oasis in this craziness. "...The Nifty Archive...it's there. The answers and the questions. The beginning and the end. It's there."
It was like finding out that there was really a Santa Claus for me. The idea that this once unheard of mecca of vampire philosophy and history...was an actual concrete place in this world...that it was...REACHABLE...it was beyond me. I couldn't believe it. It was probably the closest I would ever be to an actual handwritten answer for all of my curiosities and emotional blindspots since I first woke up in darkness. The Nifty Archive. The ACTUAL Archive...the vampire scriptures, the works of older and wiser beings than myself, the true revelations of the prophecy...it's IN there! And I can SEE it first hand! It actually made me GLAD that I ran into this weirdo! "THANKS dude! Thanks a TON!" I said, and I shook his hand briefly as I swiftly darted my way through the crowd of people to work my way towards the marked area. Mardi Gras or not, nothing was going to stop me now.
"May the fates be with you...Justin." I heard the boy's voice...calm. Meditative. Almost monk like when he said it. And I spun around from the overall chill it gave me to have him suddenly know my name. And to speak it in such a spooky manner after his wild antics just seconds before. But when I looked back into the crowd, he was gone. Vanished, as if he had evaporated into thin air. Still...I didn't want to lose my chance to finally read some of the scriptures that I've heard so much about from Doc's teachings. To maybe see some of the things that even the others at the lot don't know about. So I didn't look for the boy for long. Wow...I wonder if they'll let me read everything? Even the forbidden stuff. I kept wiggling and pushing forward. I didn't care HOW many people were in this place, or HOW many pushed me aside, yelling at me for being a halflife or for spilling their drink. I HAD to get there. I HAD to! If I was going to find out anything about myself at all...I was going to find it behind those Archive doors.
I struggled and pushed, pushed and struggled, trying persistently to get towards that area of the club. The mob of partygoers seemed to get thicker and more dense as I approached, with my little body almost pointlessly trying to dig its way through them, but I pushed on anyway. It was like trying to swim upstream with a cinder block tied to your ankles, and yet, my soul refused to let me give in. Even if I had to climb on people's shoulders and roll my way towards the Archive....I'd make it there eventually. It was if my very spirit had abandoned everything else for that moment in order to focus on that one goal.
I bumped into someone who was quick to push me back a few steps through the crowd. A few of them, older, but only by a few years. Looking up at their faces...I was suddenly met with an evil smirk. One that broke my forward motion, and made me think. It took me a moment or two longer to remember them than it took for them to remember me. But as the fog of my recall cleared itself away, I was met with a startling flashback of exactly who they were.
They were in their late teens, wearing jean jackets....except for one, wearing a jacket of jet black leather. Their faces struck me harshly as the details of our first run in dropped down on me like a ton of bricks. I could still hear his voice in my head...
"Good evening, gentlemen."
"One of these boys is FRESH! Just crossed over from the smell of it!"
"You a new member of the family, boy?"
No....it...it CAN'T be! What the hell is THIS? But it was no trick. It was them. The same lowlife scum Taryn and I had met in the subway that night....months ago. The scavengers that nearly killed us BOTH! My mind was locked into the memory, every punch, every kick, even the feel of his savage bite as it sunk deeply into my neck...it was like I could FEEL them all over again. And my body trembled from the sensation. It was so powerful that I suspected that some of Doc's memory extra had implanted itself on me somehow. This was more than just a flashback. It was as vivid and as real as any vampire dream. I could still feel this murdering bastard draining my life essence! Still feel his hand on my crotch, rubbing me, the anger I felt when they began beating Taryn...with me helpless to stop them. It hurt. GOD, it hurt! "Don't worry, pretty boy, you'll get your turn next!" he said. I remembered it exactly as it happened. But I was so shaken by the memory that my body was actually beginning to tremble visibly in their presence. I felt everything all over again. The fear, the hoplessness, the rage, the pain. When they saw the look in my eyes, they just laughed at me.
"Nice to see you doing so well, blondie." The one in the leather jacket said. It disgusted me to the very core! They had gotten away with it! Not even the scars and injuries from their fight with Dion remained. They were walking upright and blemish free, grinning at the fact that I had even survived. I only wish they would give me a rematch NOW! "Hahaha! Let's get outta here! I'm sure we'll run into each other again, pussy!" They pushed their way past me, and I tried so hard to unlock myself from the memory of that night so I could ram my fucking fist right THROUGH them! How DARE they walk the streets knowing what they did to me! They deserve to have their fucking heads bashed in!!! And they came out to goddamn PARTY??? If it wasn't for Dion and my first outburst with my brain geyser...we'd be DEAD! I never thought I'd lay my eyes on those sons of bitches ever again...and yet, here they were. Right in front of my face! But it wasn't until a few moments after they had passed that my mind began to unravel itself and return to reality again. SHIT! When am I EVER going to understand this stuff fully??? I HATE not being able to control myself fully when I need to!
Someone else bumped me from behind, and I was brought back into the present completely. I looked behind me to see the scavengers wading through the crowd again. I stared with such a burning anger in my eyes, that a lady near me told me to 'calm down'. I guess my eyes had taken on their crimson flare, readying me for an attack. I'd have to silence my hunting instincts if I had any plans at all of getting into Nifty. I don't assume that they'd let someone who was looking like they were going to rip someone's head off into the archive. So I attempted to bring it down a few notches, and just absorb myself into the Creole music around me. It took a few minutes, but I eventually found my peace, and started walking forward again. They should consider themselves lucky. Because the NEXT time I see them...I'll give them a fucking party they won't EVER forget!!!
My anger seemed to propell me through the crowd even faster than before. I just didn't care anymore. I was HOPING one of these other vampires would give me a reason to beat them to the floor! I was waiting for it. However, when I finally got passed the parade, and the tidal wave of IceZone patrons...I felt my fists loosen up a little bit, my frown began to lift, and my focus was set on my previous destination again. There was a long, steep, staircase madeof stone that led up from the main floor to the area that I was trying to reach. Area GC-619. The steps were narrow, and very close to the wall. Only wide enough for two people my size, and no bigger. And by the time I had reached the top, my knees ached from the climb. But it was more than worth it. I was soon standing there at the entrance to the Nifty Archive. It towered over me, with doors that stood 15 feet high, and walls made of gleaming white marble. It held such a proud and sacred aura about it...and walking towards the doors was like entering a Holy temple of sorts. I hadn't even seen the inside yet, and already, I was intimidated by the wealth of knowledge held within.
Hesitantly...I began to take a few shakey steps closer. And I saw a man in a long white robe standing at the door. I was hoping that this wouldn't be the end of my search. But...then again...how did I expect something that would tell me so much about myself to be so easy to find. So easy to gain access to. I half expected the vampire at the door to turn me away. But he didn't. In fact, he stepped aside with a wide smile, and nodded slowly. Almost....'bowing' to me, as though it was a special attribute to want to know more. Who knows, maybe it was. Looking behind me at the dance floor behind me, the Mardi Gras parade now off in the distance, and the hard beats of the techno rave atmosphere flooding the hall once again...I saw something strange. A waste. Almost like....the same kind of waste I saw in the humans when I first noticed them missing out on so much of their existence. Looking at that pit beneath me, I wondered...did any of them care? In that party...they had every drug they could ever want, every kind of music, every kind of alcohol, every kind of sexual fantasy...but when I looked in the doorway of the Nifty Archive, it was empty in comparison. Sure, there were a few who strolled in out of curiousity, and others searching for something more than a good time. But it was so few when put up against the 'good times' below. It's really hard to explain, even harder to understand...but for the first time since all of this began, I felt a tug at my conscience. An inner force that was pushing me from the inside. That made me want to expose them to whatever kind of mixed up truth that I had found throughout all of my experiences as both a vampire and a human. It wasn't so much an ego or a moment of delusion...just the realization that maybe...just maybe....I had an angle that they hadn't explored yet. A perspective that could possibly help them, and guide them, and create in them everything that they would need in order to send a message of their own to others. It enveloped me, and I thought...only briefly....that maybe the boy in the cloak was right.
I should do my part to help them understand.
Perhaps that was why the entrance was positioned so far above the dancefloor as well as the rest of the club. So everyone seeking the knowledge within could see the bliss and joy of the party below. So that everyone could see the difference...and possibly make their own choice as to which group they wanted to be with more. This is strange. I don't know if I like this feeling. It has a huge sense of responsibility and duty and effort and pain dragging behind it. And no visible reward ahead to act as a guiding light for me to follow. What if this prophetic being that they've all been waiting for is just another idiot with the wrong ideas about everything. What if it's me...and I mess it all up? What if I can't? What if I have absolutely nothing of value to tell them? Or what if I'm not strong enough to be what they need me to be? They're expecting me to know what I'm doing...God forbid if I let them down.
"Step inside, child. All are welcome." Said an elderly lady as she was leaving. Her smile warmed my heart, and she put a soft hand on my shoulder. "It's alright. I've seen many a vampire stand on this ledge. No doubt with the same thoughts you're having now."
"Hehehe, somehow...I doubt that." I told her.
"Well...whatever it may be that's troubling you, just you remember...kites only climb against the wind." She smiled. "Doubt, fear, questions, adversity...they give you the fuel to find your own weaknesses and rise above them. They give you the strength to find yourself. And there's no greater glory than having the courage to find yourself." She patted me twice on the shoulder and began walking towards the steep staircase.
"Do you need help or anything?" I offered, but she only smiled in return.
"Thanks, no. I'll be just fine." And she left. "Just be sure not to lose yourself in there, child. Not after all the hard work you put into finding it." I wasn't quite sure what that meant, but it was something about her voice, her smile, her words....they almost remind me of my own grandmother. And I made a mental note to remember what she told me. Even though it seemed like 'losing yourself' was what this gigantic club was all about.
Stepping into the massive Archive, I was a bit intimidated by the overall size and importance of the place. It was clean and pristine, walls as bright as could possibly be achieved in this underground palace. With black and blue writings etched into the walls of the foyer that I was stepping through. It felt almost blasphemous to disturb the nearly deafening silence in this place. It was locked away from the rest of the club entirely, and it felt as though I were waking up from some kind of weird dream. A few vampires strolled the same wide hall as I did. Two here, three there, but not many. And when I saw an end to the hallway, giving me access to the archive itself, I almost stopped in my tracks. I can't really understand why I was so worried about moving forward, but you have to understand...this was the hall of answers. Answers to questions that I didn't even know I had yet. There's something terrifying in that. A deep seeded fear that the answers I want, I won't be able to get. And the answers I get, won't be the ones I'm ready to accept. Still, with an urge that refused to let me stand still...I kept moving towards the end of the hallway. Towards the archive. And towards...what very well might be....my destiny.