It surrounded you at all times. On all sides. It was an infinite vibration that rattled through you nonstop. To the point where your limbs became numb and weak from the constant pounding of soundwaves blasted against you with every quivering pulse of air. It became almost essential to my very movement. If the IceZone had silenced the beat for even a moment, I might have found myself unable to coordinate enough to put one foot in front of the other until it started again. It was a level of insanity that invaded every piece of you, and there was no escaping it.
In all of this chaos...how am I supposed to find my boyfriend?
The corridors were swollen with partygoers of every shape and size, rushing past me like the current of a great river. Hanging on to the sides of the wall was the only way to keep from being dragged under their rapids. Still, anything was better than the horrors I had faced a moment ago. As much as I tried to block out the visions of pain and suffering that I had experienced when Comicality's cloak of shadows wrapped itself around me...I couldn't. Flashes of their lives, the tears, the screams, the hopelessness...they felt as if they were suddenly a permanent part of me. I could feel it inside of my soul. I began to wonder...if perhaps that was what Com felt like all the time. If perhaps...those were the souls he was trying so desperately to save. But...I can't imagine that a feeling like that could be bearable for more than a few seconds. I can't imagine that anyone in their right mind would willingly accept the horrors of the people around him into his life. What kind of existence is that?
Again...I shook myself free of the idea. The visions I had in that black void were sure to come after me again if I didn't stop thinking about it. They'd find me. And they'd make me listen to their screams...and nothing else. Nothing else.
I felt a bit dizzy as I fought to clear my mind, and leaned up against a nearby wall. I took a moment to stand on my tiptoes to look out at the ocean of vampires around me. As though finding Taryn in this mess was possible if I only looked hard enough. There were so many people moving back and forth, dancing and laughing and shouting and drinking...they became faceless. The overload was so extreme that not a single one of them could stand out as being an individual entity anymore. They could suddenly burst into flames and rocket up towards the ceiling in an explosion of confetti, and I doubt anybody would notice. Ugh...why am I so dizzy? I couldn't tell if it was an after effect of the shadows, exhaustion from the battle I had with Cato and his henchmen, or if the machines cancelling out the vampire extras in that area were just coming down on me harder than usual. Whatever it was...I wanted to get out of there. I'm almost nauseous at this point.
Still clinging to the wall, I managed to get to the end of the tight hallway, and into a slightly larger area of the club. It felt good to be able to stretch my arms a bit more, my lungs thankful to be breathing some 'cooler' oxygen than what was provided in the tight confines of that corridor I had just come from. I looked up at the ceiling and saw gigantic holograms and illusions being cast overhead. Large dragons and mermaids, floating softly like ghosts over the crowd, occassionally swooping down to cut through the masses and rise back up towards the ceiling again. It was hypnotic. I kept watching as I wandered through the dancing patrons, and made my way back to another wall. It seemed the only safe place to avoid getting caught in the vibe as the music seemed to pump even harder than before, and a laserlight show began to shoot across the dancefloor. I inched along, and then saw the lights dim until the room became pitch black, suddenly exploding to life again with multicolored strobelights that made it nearly impossible to see. Short flashes of movement, smiling faces, splashes of light that were gone just as soon as you noticed them. And Appearing again just as soon as you noticed they were gone. If I wasn't dizzy enough before, I certainly was now!
Just then, as though it were a lightning bolt from Zeus himself, followed by what sounded like a sonic boon...the indoor roller coaster suddenly came ROARING past me on the outer wall above my head! The sound of its happily screaming passengers streaked by in a flash, nearly causing me to jump out of my skin! I gasped so hard, my hand clutching my chest as I fell back against the wall, that it gave me the freaking hiccups! Jesus! But as I felt my shoulders lean against the concrete, the wall began to move back and shift around me. I didn't know what was happening, but before I was able to regain my balance and back away from the inner mechanism...the wall had spun me all the way around to the other side. And it was like stepping through some kind of strange dimensional portal.
What the hell is going ON with this crazy place??? I was falling backwards through the wall, and stopped myself by holding on to the arm of a couch. A COUCH??? The music had completely changed from the pulse of heartpounding techno rave music and jungle beats...to Run DMC's 'Tricky'! I looked up, and the entire area that I was in was made up to look like a giant house party. Couches, a full kitchen, furniture, family photos and everything. There were loud frat boys crowded around a keg on the back porch, decked out with fake trees and bushes and everything. Even a swimming pool. There were also kids there my age, drinking out of paper cups and dancing on top of the dining room table. Others were making out in the corner or on the steps, and bowls of snacks and bottles of alcohol were laid out everywhere. It was one of the few times that I saw the older vampires and halflife's coexist so easily. I felt a hiccup get caught in my throat, and the jolt snapped me out of my temporary haze. This was so....different from the world on the other side of that wall. The walls and ceiling must have been soundproofed beyond belief. I looked at all of the walls around me, and tried to locate the one I had fallen through.
"PARTYYYYYYY!!!!!!!" Some guy screamed, and came streaking through the room completely naked. He was...um...blessed rather nicely. I heard chanting as some college boys held a 15 year old boy upside down over the keg while pumping alcohol into his mouth with the tap. And I watched somebody spit up half of their beer bong contents all over someone's poker game at the kitchen table.
That's when I saw another guy get tossed into the house party through the same spinning wall that I came through. He caught himself on the same couch that I did, and with another hiccup, I hurried over to try to catch it before it closed. "Wooooo! JAEGER SHOTS!!! LET'S GO!!!" Somebody shouted!
His buddy shouted a reply. "YOU'RE GOING DOWN TONIGHT DUDE!!!" Followed by the cheers of 20 or 30 other people who rushed to the kitchen behind them. I pushed and pushed as hard as I could to get through the crowd, but by the time I got to the wall, it was sealed shut again.
"God...'hic'...DAMMIT!!!" I grumbled. I pounded the wall with my fist, and felt around to see if I could find a 'trigger' of some kind to let me out of here. I don't have time for this. I've GOT to find the others. I've GOT to find my Taryn.
"It won't work honey." Came a female voice from over my shoulder. It was a blond woman, about 21 years old from the looks of it, and she was wearing a beer stained cheerleader's uniform that said 'Vampire High - Class Of 1972'
"What?" I asked.
"The wall. It's a one way entrance. You can get in, but you can't get out."
"That can't be. I just saw somebody else come in here. If I could just...'hic'....get this damn door to open...."
"I'm telling you, kid...you'll be sorry. I've been at this party for 23 nights in a row, and very FEW have made their way back through that entrance." She replied. "A lot of guys have lost arms and legs trying. It's too quick to get through it from this side, trust me. You're better off just kicking it here with us for a while."
"You can't be serious." I said.
"Dead serious." She replied, then looked down at my clothes, "Nice shirt. Having a rough night?" I looked down, seeing my shirt cut almost to ribbons from the fight on top of the mosh pit with Cato's men.
"Oh..that. Well, you see..."
"Don't explain. I probably won't care anyway." She turned to one of the halflife's next to her that looked about my size. "You...gimmee your shirt."
The boy was half out of it, and with a grin, gladly unbuttoned his shirt and gave it to me. "There's a semen stain on the collar, but don't worry dude...it's mine." I wrinkled my brow up a bit at the idea.
"Don't listen to him, he's joking. Here." She used her hands to rip what was left of my good shirt off of my chest while I stared in amazement, my bare chest exposed. What the hell was she doing to my clothes??? Then she draped the other shirt over my shoulders and told me to button up.
"I happened to LIKE that shirt, you know?" I told her, getting dressed again.
"Yeah, well...no accounting for taste." She picked up her cup and took a healthy sip. "Come on, have a drink. It'll help to loosen you up a little bit."
"I don't really drink that much...'hic'." I told her, getting frustrated with these damn hiccups.
"Well, it doesn't take much to clear up THAT little issue, now does it?" She handed me a plastic cup full of vodka and cranberry juice. "It'll help with those hiccups."
She practically pushed the cup up against my lips and tilted it back until I either had to drink it or let it spill all over me. The vodka stung my throat, but the cranberry juice helped to extinguish some of that fire. I wanted to stop, but she kept going until every drop of that drink was gone. My eyes spun a little bit, and she giggled at my reaction.
"There ya go, cutie. Feel better?" She smiled. I heard the sound of breaking glass behind me, and I spun around to see two guys in wrestling jackets tusseling around, destroying everything in their path until they hit the ground and started laughing at one another. That's when I noticed an extremely cute boy, about 16 years old, giving me the eye from across the room.
"Um...yeah. I'm fine." I said. I looked back at the boy, and he knew that he had my attention. He must have crossed over a long time ago, as his light blond hair had that short preppy cut to it with a 'flip' in the front, like boys had back in the fifties. A James Dean look, thrown off by the fact that he seemed way too pretty to pull off the 'rebel' persona. And his eyes were so large and bright green that they seemed almost see through. Funny how they maintained their green tint even without a pair of optrix to recreate their natural color. Wow...he was gorgeous.
"I told ya it would help. Not to mention it feels pretty damn good." The lady said, grabbing a random drink that was sitting on the table next to her and taking a gulp or two.
Looking back to the boy, he seemed to be examining me from head to toe. And I'm happy with my boyfriend, but something about him was soooo....so unbelievably cute. The kind that you look at and think, that's the one boy I'd cheat with if I ever felt the need. An almost sinister grin spread across his lips, and he stared me down until I turned away.
"You want another drink?" The blond asked me, taking my attention away from him. I put up my hand to refuse while shaking my head. "Aw come on! Just twelve more!"
"Hey TOMMY! Bring me a couple of drinks!" She shouted.
"Wait, wait...no! Look, I've gotta get out of here. I'm not supposed to be here..."
"Tell it to the liquor fairy, sweetie." She grabbed two more cups, and handed me one. The only reason I even took it was to keep her from spilling it all over my shirt. Then I glanced back over to where the cute teenager was standing a second ago...but he was gone. Completely. Ah well...it's not like I would have done anything with him anyway. The blond put her hand on my chest and moved in really close to me, practically grinding on my leg. "I'm glad I found you first in this place. You are HOT! You wanna dance?" She asked, already swiveling her hips against me.
"Dance? No...I'm trying to tell you...I just want to find a way to get out of..."
"Mmmmm...I have a thing for blond boys. You know that?"
"I'm...I'm a LOT younger than you, you know?"
"I have a thing for younger boys too." She said, dancing a bit closer.
"No...I mean...I'm REALLY young. Like...I'm fourteen." I said, and the look on her face changed a bit.
"Fourteen? You mean...like fourteen fourteen??? How long have you been in darkness?"
"Just a couple of months. Not even a year yet." She backed up from me immediately.
"Oh wow...you're just a puppy. Okaaaay, that's definitely NOT my thing. Sorry babe, you're 'cuteness' factor just hit rock bottom. No offense." Geez, it's a good thing that I didn't start out by telling her that I was gay.
"None taken, I suppose." She flicked her hair over her shoulder and turned to walk away, but I stopped her. "Wait! How do I get OUT of this place???" I yelled over the music.
"Do what everybody else does...DRINK your way out. It's the rules." She said. What the hell does THAT mean?
I looked around me at all of the walls, and attempted to find another way out of this place. I tried to push out with my mind reading ability, and it flaked out on me. Out of all the extras that this club had prepared for, reading seems to be the one they fight hardest against. I've hardly been able to keep my head straight since I walked on that first platform. I made my way to the stairs on the side of the room, and walked up to the next floor of the 'house'. But as I looked down the hall, it was made up to look like a row of upstairs bedrooms...hundreds of them. I picked up my pace and trotted my way down the hall, most of the doors left open, leading into rooms of people smoking marijuana, playing video games, or making out on the beds. Then of course, there were the closed doors, where the loud sounds of sex could be heard pounding against the wall. Two women came out of one of the rooms completely naked, giggling at me as I passed them. Damn, this place never ends. I had run down this one hallway for what seemed like three city blocks, and I still wasn't at the end yet. I ran faster, past more bedrooms, more sex, more music, more games....and when I finally saw the end of the hall in site, it only led up to another set of stairs. Shit. I looked over the railing, and it seemed to go up for another five or six floors above me, then leading up to the roof. Frustrated, I walked downstairs instead, and found myself almost exactly back where I started. It didn't even seem structurally possible for that to happen. But somehow, it was true.
This time I moved over to what looked like a 'front door' for the party, and I was able to open it up. I rubbed my eyes slightly as it led out to a front lawn and the illusion of a starry sky above. There were even houses across the street and next door, one window had an animatronic of an old man shaking his fist and shouting, "You damn kids cut off that racket! I'm calling the police!" It was an entire suburban block full of house parties built inside this place, and the end of every street was a dead end. Sighhh...okaaaay...this isn't the way out. I walked back into the house, unsure of where to check next. How the fuck did I get STUCK in this place???
I scanned the partying vampires around me, and tried desperately to get their attention. "Excuse me..." But the first guy pushed past me. I saw another young lady and tapped her on the shoulder. "Um...hi...I'm looking for a way out of here. Can you help me out." But she just leaned forward, her eyes half closed, and with a lazy grin she draped both of her arms over my shoulders.
"Duuuuude....mushrooms are your friends. Don't be scared of the shrooms, man. So so solar." And she then spread her arms out like a bird, and zoomed away from me to the other side of the room. Ok, that's strike two. I started to ask another one of the halflifes in the room instead, but before I could even ask for his attention, he turned green right in front of me and threw up in the house plant next to me. Ok, that's strike three. Sighhh....I guess I'll find my own way out.
It was then that flash of blond hair caught my eye, and I saw the same cute green eyed boy that I had seen before. Our eyes only connected for a second, and then, I was interrupted.
"HEY!!!" This guy shouted, and I quickly jumped up and turned around to see this big bodybuilding jock standing behind me. "What's your name, pipsqueak?" He yelled.
"It's..it's Justin..." I answered softly.
"JUSTIN!!! You're the MAN! HEY GUYS!!! This is Justin! He's gonna do shots with us!"
"No, um...I really...I really don't..."
But the big hulk had grabbed a hold of the back of my neck and practically dragged me over to a table where they were playing drinking games. "SIT!" He said, pushing me down into a chair. "HERE!" He set down a beer and 9 full shots of liquor in tiny glasses in front of me.
"Ok...listen to me, ok? I don't really drink that much! Do you understand? I can't do this. I just wanna know how to get out of here."
"Get OUT of here! Who wants to leave THIS place? Come on, let us give you the rules of the game..."
"NO!!! I've gotta go!" I said, hoping that raising my voice would have some kind of effect. But the sheer size of the guy next to me made me look like a toddler in comparison, and everyone else just kinda laughed at me. If only they had seen what I had just done to the LAST group of assholes that tried to mess with me.
"You got guts, kid. I'll tell you what...you play the game. If you win, I'll tell you whatever you need to know."
"I don't WANT to play any games! I'm trying to..."
"Here's how it goes..." He said, ignoring me completely, "You got two decks of cards, my Man Ronald over on the other side of the table has got one, and you got one. You shuffle it any way you want to. You draw from the top of the deck, he draws from the top of the deck. If you draw the high card, you win, he drinks. If you draw the low card, you lose, you drink. You guys draw the same card...you both drink. You get me?" Why was it so hard for this jerk to understand that I needed to get OUT of this place, not get drunk? "Oh...and if you lose three times in a row...you chug a pint of beer. So you'd better keep up a decent winning streak." 'Drink my way out', huh? This is one of those times where having Gyro with me would have really come in handy. The rest of the group startled me as they pounded the table with their fists loudly, and slammed down a deck of cards in front of each of us. "Alright kid...you want out? The magic key is at the bottom of that deck."
Don't think that it din't cross my mind that I should beat the shit out of somebody and force them to tell me where the exit was. But it was just a deck of cards, how hard could it be? Ten minutes, I'm out of here.
Ronald looked at me from across the table with a grin, and I drew a card from the top of the deck. A ten of spades. Then he took his turn...king of hearts. "DRINK!!!" Someone screamed over my shoulder.
Ronald winked at me, "You lose, kid. Take a dip." There were a bunch of small shot glasses on the table in front of me, all containing different liquors and in a variety of rainbow colors. "Today, junior." I figured if I grabbed something light colored, it wouldn't be so sweet. I picked up the glass with my thumb and index finger, and with a slight hesitation...I tilted it back and swallowed it down. GACKKK!!! Jesus! Isn't there ANY kind of liquor that tastes GOOD??? This was like licking wet paint off of the side of a rusted metal door! I coughed and held my chest as the nasty flavor of it crept down into my gullet and nearly made my eyes spin. The rest of the table erupted in a symphony of cheers, and I felt a lot of pats o my back and ruffles of my hair. "NEXT ROUND!!!" Ronald shouted, and the game continued.
Card after card went by, with each of us taking a shot with every lost round. Each shot was worse than the last. No matter what 'strategy' I used to pick one, there was no escaping the burn of the alcohol as it attacked me from the inside. Ronald was evidently much better at taking his punishments than I was, often knocking back shot after shot without so much of a shiver. I, on the other hand, became so scared of losing that I could of sworn that it magically changed my luck for the worst.
"That's THREE in a row, Justin!" Somebody at the table yelled.
"Wh-wh-what...no...no wait...I only lost twice." I told them, hearing the increasing slur in my voice.
"WRONG! I count three, buddy boy! DRINK!!!" The big guy slammed a cup of beer in front of me and the rest of them began to bang on the table.
"CHUG! CHUG! CHUG! CHUG!" They chanted, and the big guy forced the cup to my lips. I started to swallow it all as best as I could, but he was tilting the cup back so fast that it began to dribble all over the sides of my face. By the time the cup was empty, I was gently swaying from side to side. My vision began to blur slightly, and it was a bit hard to focus. How long WAS this damn game anyway?
Shot after shot, and a few more 'chugs', I was SO damn thankful that I had reached the bottom of the damn deck! I don't even know if anybody was keeping...SCORE or anything! I guess when you're drinking this much, winning and losing is an entirely different state of mind. I drew my very last card, the thin rectangle slipping through my fingers to land face up on the table. Queen of diamonds. My whole face was numb, and the back of my throat felt like there was a giant air bubble building to the size of a cantloupe. I widened my eyes to try to see what card Ronald had drawn, and thank GOD...it was the Jack of clubs. More cheers surrounded me, and I laid my head down on the table as the whole room began to tilt and sway in front of me. I saw Ronald do the last shot on the table, and lean back, nearly passing out from the amoung of liquor in his system.
"Hehehe...you're...you're drunk..." I giggled, and suddenly felt my legs turn to warm noodles beneath me, and I slid right out of my chair. I felt my back hit the floor, and stared up at the laughing faces above me. I rubbed my face with both hands, as though it could somehow keep me stable. Shit...I shouldn't have done all this. I'm...I'm really fucked up right now, and all I could think about was how 'comfortable' the floor felt at that moment.
"Need help?" The big guy said, and before I could answer, he yanked me up to my feet with one hand. "Good game, man! You're a real sport." It was at that moment that I felt something inside of me, some kind of awareness that tugged at me through my intoxicated haze. It was almost like a warning of some kind, and even though the machines in this part of the club had practically suffocated almost all of my extras at once, I could tell that something was odd here. Maybe it's just the alcohol. I couldn't tell. But all of the sudden, I wasn't so comfortable being around my present company. I looked at the biggest guy in the group, and squinted my eyes slightly, wondering if there was more to this 'game' than they let on.
"I've gotta go...I need to go. I've got to....got to find my friends." I said, doing my best to pretend as though I had full control over my limbs again. "You said you'd tell me how to get out."
He looked at me, and then the others exchanged a few looks with each other. Ronald let a smile cross his face and said, "Go down through the basement. Far right corner. There should be a breathalizer there and a few promoters at the door. Breathe into it, if your intoxication number is high enough, the door will open for ya."
"What if I'm not drunk enough?" I said, highly doubting that THAT would be a problem.
"Then you come back up here for round two." Ronald chuckled. "Enjoy yourself, kid."
I backed away from the table, attempting to stand on wobbly legs and having to reach out for the wall just to stand straight up. I saw the blond girl that had approached me when I first got trapped in here, standing up against the staircase on the other side of the room, watching me. And right next to her...the cute blond boy I had noticed before. They were both looking at me, but casually glanced away when I noticed them. I have to get out of here. This is starting to get weird now.
There was a door that led down into the basement of the big house, and nearly fell down the steps. Thank goodness for the railings on the side. The entire basement was full of video games and pool tables for thousands of square feet. Not to mention gigantic plasma screens showing almost every sport imaginable playing al at once, with hordes of vampires crowded around and cheering. Occassionally placing bets and yelling out whether they added to or lost the pocket change they came in with. I waded through the smokey room and stumbled my way to the door at the end. The promoters for the party were handing out flyers and free passes while many drunk vampires lined up to get out of there. When it came to my turn for the breath test, I passed with 'flying colors'. I just hope that my stomach will settle before I send 'colors flying' all over this guys brand new suit. I made my way through the door, walked up another short flight of steps...and found myself suddenly reintroduced to the techno rave frenzy of the IceZone's main corridor. Thank God! I thought I'd NEVER get back out here again!
The door quickly slammed shut behind me, and I was sent out into this cyberpunk wilderness, once again. "WATCH IT, HALFLIFE!!! FUCK! Why do they INSIST on letting BABIES in these places!" Some rude asshole pushed past me, and my legs were so weak that I fell back against the wall and slid down to the floor. Another older vampire kicked my leg 'accidentally', and someone else shoved me to the side. Yeah...this is the part of the club that I remember. I rose back up to my feet, and did my best to shake myself free of the dizziness. No such luck though. It stayed with me, fogging up my vision and almost causing me to see double.
I wandered back out into the crowd, and was bounced back and forth for a while as I attempted to remember what the hell I was trying to do before I got sidetracked. Taryn...yes...gotta find Taryn. Gotta think. There's gotta be a way to narrow things down a bit so I know where to begin. Afterall, I'm sure he's looking for me too in this place.
The lights spun around me and lasers flashed nonstop, creating a disorienting path for me to follow that made me feel even more lost than I already was. But my senses focused a little bit better when I suddenly saw the familiar reflection of spinning yellow lights against the wall, and heard an alarm off in the distance. Another fight had broken out somewhere close to this area, and the sounds of explosions and broken furniture began to flood the corridor as I saw the greatly intimidating metal walls lower themselves from the ceiling to trap them inside. The jolt of activity reminded me of how I got so turned around in the first place, and I quickly moved over to the wall to get as far away from that scuffle as humanly possible. The LAST thing that I needed was trouble in my current state of mind.
The giant metal slabs hit the ground, locking all of the unfortunate parties inside whether they were a part of the disruption or not. And the calming female voice broadcasted its unnaturally calm message. "We're sorry for the inconvenience. Security officers are being brought in to handle the situation. Please enjoy the rest of your evening." More blockades. How can I find my place in a world that changes shape every ten minutes? I'll keep going in a straight line. I've gotta come across something I recognize eventually.
I wandered around for what seemed like a half hour or so, and navigated through a few forks in the road, hoping that it would take me to some kind of familiar spot where I could start an actual search of this place. I vaguely remember Dion and Jenna looking for junk food in this place. Doc is probably searching through some of the vampire history museums and exhibits somewhere. And I'm pretty sure that Kid would either be hovering near the skateboard ramps or in the arcade pyramid. Finding a point of reference would definitely make this a lot easier. Hopefully THEY figured out how to use the pagers to find the others. Next time, I'm sticking to them like glue.
As I began walking down a ramp into a part of the club that looked a little darker and less 'sparkly' than the rest of the areas around me, I noticed a large series of tables and tents ahead. I kept walking straight, and saw the area open up into what looked almost like a small carnival of shops, with disguised vampires working behind the tables. They each had chalky white drama masks covering their faces. Some happy, some sad. They were dressed in all black from head to toe, and wore black gloves as they displayed their products for every vampire that walked by. I was still trying to walk straight, my buzz keeping a tight grip on my reality as I tried to move through it. But my curiousity got the better of me, and I took a long look at what the vampires were selling. From what I saw...it looked like junk at first. But then, as I looked closer, I noticed that all of this stuff had been...'used' before. It belonged to somebody once. And as I traveled between the tents and saw rich vampires and humans bidding on certain articles here and there, it occurred to me that all of these vampire 'salesmen' were in disguise for a reason. It was a 'Raider' flea market. The same type of despicable vampires that had ripped us off at the lot. Here, in this place, there were hundreds of them, all running seperate stands to display the treasures that they had stolen from the rest of us. And then selling them again for a price that I doubt came anywhere close to their actual value.
The merchants could speak a variety of different languages and dialects with ease, appeaing to each and every vampire and human that walked by. One raider was even carrying on seven different conversations at once, in seven different languages, in fact. Flawlessly. They certainly knew how to cater to their 'public'.
The stands themselves had everything that another vampire could want. Clothes, shoes, jewelry, hats, skateboards and roller blades, small electronics, stuffed animals...whatever you could ask for. But the biggest crowds and the highest prices were paid for those trinkets that were deemed most vauable by the vampires they stole them from. Detailed notebooks and diaries, lucky charms, and books of personal artwork. Even a few unreleased vampire scriptures were put on display, ripped out of the hands of would-be authors before they were completed. Possibly the biggest treasure of them all though were the photographs. There were entire collections of photographs on display, and many vampires and humans alike were paying top dollar for them. It was like...they were buying a piece of someone's life. They had stolen the memories of some poor unsuspecting vampire and sold them to the highest bidder. And in this eternal darkness, this black void of despair, that's all some vampires have to hold onto. How disgusting do you have to be to buy and sell the spirit of strangers? How do you put a price on the life you left behind?
I felt a bump from behind me, and figured it was another vampire getting ready to give me a hard time. But when I turned around, what I saw brightened my whole night! The boy was as fiesty as ever, with bleached white hair down to his 'glitter sparkled' cheeks, still sucking away at that lollipop like it was the last morsel of food on Earth. As soon as I saw his familiar face, blue and purple mascara decorating his young light blue eyes, I smiled with relief. "Evan!"
"What's up baby? You need a date?" He said, business as always.
"Evan, no...you remember me, right? I came in a few hours ago with some friends of mine. You met us up by the entrance?"
His eyes lit up, and he took the red lollipop out of his mouth for a moment with a 'pop'. "Heeeyyyyyyy! Yeah! I remember you, blondie! You were the one with the boyfriend, right? There was a whole bunch of you guys."
"Yes! Yes that's me!"
"Sure, I remember. Bad move bro, bringing your boyfriend to a place like this. Temptation is everywhere, man. Say, whatchya been drinking? You look a little lopsided." An older guy walked past and with just a glance, Evan stopped talking to me and gave him his attention. "What's up baby? You like what you see? Don't be scared, I like it when you look? You need a date?" The guy blushed a bit and declined, Evan's aggressive salesmanship causing him to scurry off with his friends.
"Hey you! Get away from my shop, boy!" One of the raiders shouted. "You're tainting my business! Beat it!"
"Tainting your business? Are you fucking kidding me?" Evan grinned sarcastically. "You're a fucking ROBBER! All your merchandise, you get it for free! What are YOU worried about? I'm sure your profit margin can handle the hit."
"GET OUT OF HERE!!! Move!"
"Screw you!" Evan shouted.
"THIEF!!!" Evan yelled back, and moved away from the man's table. "Dirty, lowdown raiders. They've got no shame at all." Just then, he saw another guy pass him up. "Hey baby! I'll bet this baby soft ass of mine is tighter than your fist! Wanna see?" No shame...right. Dropping his 'business' for a few seconds, Evan turned to talk to me a bit. "So what are you doing waaaay over here! You're practically on the other side of TOWN, cutie."
"There was a little...'incident' on the other side of the club. I got caught up in all that hysteria, and the walls cut me off...and I got into some trouble...and then there was some crazy 'house party' thing, and I couldn't leave until I..."
"Hey baby...you need a date?" He asked another guy as he walked past with his girlfriend. The vampire held his girlfriend tight and sneered in Evan's direction. Evan shouted out after him, "You're not FOOLING anybody, closet case! You come see me when you're ready to get real, man!" He looked back at me, "Sorry. Work-related. You understand. I'm saving up to buy myself a trailer, man! A working one! I'll get one someday, and then I'll go mobile. It'll be awesome."
I took the chance I had to ask him for help. "Evan...you wouldn't happen to have seen my boyfriend or any of the other people I came in here with recently have you?"
"Um...yeah, actually. I saw them not long ago." He said. SWEET!!!
"You DID??? Can you tell me where they went???" I asked excitedly. "I've been wandering around this place forever with nothing but dead ends and bad luck. I'd REALLY appreciate it!"
"Why didn't you just look them up on your pager?" He asked.
"My pager's broken. And...I kinda lost it."
"You broke it, AND you lost it? Well no WONDER you're lost!"
"So you can take me to them?"
"Of COURSE I can! No problem." Then he stopped and saw a rather large businessman with a briefcase full of money. He was wearing a mark on his neck, meaning that he was one of those humans that weren't to be touched in the case that any of our kind got 'hungry' for a snack. Naturally, he approached him. "Hi...you look tired. You wanna find someplace dark and quiet to relax for a while? Hmmm? Just you and me? Maybe I can get you to open up that briefcase for me."
"What are you charging, sweetheart?" The man said.
"How about I give you the ride of a lifetime, baby, and you just reach in there and give me what you think I earned, Daddy-O?" He said with a sly smile.
"I like the way you think."
"You're gonna like the way I do a lot of things."
I tapped Evan on the shoulder. "Evan...um...if you just tell me where to find my friends...I'll leave you to your 'business' for the night."
"Hold on just a sec, dude." He told me. "So what do you say? Are we on? I know a good spot over by the Dragon Room where we can be alone. And we'll have plenty of room to move around too."
"Is this boy gonna be there too?" The man winked at me, and Evan stepped between us quickly. Afraid that I might accidently end up with some of his cash.
"Who? HIM? No way! He's not working. He uhh...he caught a nasty disease from the last trick he was with. He's on quarantine for the next few sleep cycles. You don't want that, believe me."
"WHAT???" But Evan silenced me before I could say anything in my defense.
"So are we gonna make this happen or what? I've got a lot of other guys dying to take your 'appointment' here, babe." Evan told him, using those baby blue eyes to full effect.
"I'm there." The man said.
"Evan..." I took a hold of his arm.
"WHAT?!?!" He yelled.
"This is kinda important." I told him.
"No...THIS is important! Back off!" He then turned his attention back to the businessman and smiled seductively. "Why don't you go ahead and head on over there. Let the guy at the counter that you're booking Evan's favorite room, ok? He'll take care of you. Then...I'LL take care of you."
The man nodded, and began to walk away from us. This time, when I grabbed Evan's arm, he yanked it away from me and gave me an angry look! "HEY!!! What the fuck are you DOING? Do you know how much money I could make off of this guy?"
"Are you gonna help me find my friends or not?" I said, frustrated that he would be taking this so lightly.
"Listen, 'sunshine'...there are two things that I'm infamous for giving around here. Blowjobs and information. Neither one of them comes FREE. You got me? So you might wanna offer me a little bit more than your 'appreciation' for my services, newblood!"
"What??? But...I don't HAVE any money!" I told him.
"Then I suggest you go out and find yourself some while I'm still 'local'. Otherwise, you can stay lost for all I care. Now if you don't mind, I've got to go provide that wealthy gentleman a bit of entertainment. Toodles."
I felt this surge of immense anger welling up inside of me. Even with the alcohol in my system, even with the many worries weighing heavy on my mind, even with the systems in the club trying to supress my talents as best as they could...I was going to get this informaion out of Evan one way or the other. And I was going to get it now. He is NOT going to keep me from my boyfriend! Not for one more minute!
My mind began to struggle and push forward, attempting to connect to Evan's mind and force its way in. It wasn't easy. The machinery was very good at doing its job. But not only was I using my own reading ability, but I felt as though some leftover imprints were evident from my meetings with Zero. I walked up and held Evan's arms down at his sides, staring deep into his eyes as I used every last bit of concentration that I had to penetrate his stubborn state of mind. "What are you doing? Let me go! Are you crazy??? Let GO of me!" He shouted, but I just held him still. I separated him from everything else, and through his eyes, I used every bit of mental strength I had to break through the frequency of the IceZone's technology and get into that boy's head. At first, I got nothing, but as I pushed harder, I could feel the energy reaching forward. As though it were an invisible bridge between his thoughts and mine. I had never actually 'forced' my way into someone's mind before...but this time, I had no choice. I felt the connection take place, and locked on to his thought patterns, refusing to let go. "WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING TO ME?!?!?!" He screamed, wiggling to get out of my grasp, but I held him still. Just a few more moments! I can find the informaion I'm looking for. Just give me a little bit more time.
I drilled my way into his head, cracking his barricades open and absorbing myself into his memories. He said that he had seen them recently, so I only needed to go through his short term memory. And I'm glad...because looking at some of the sexual images in this boy's head was quite possibly one of the most perverted things I've ever seen. He was telling the truth though when he said he was flexible. My God! I shuffled through all of the bullshit, all of the unneccesary patterns, and the current panic that was flooding his mind now that he knew I was inside...and I was able to sort through a few muddy images of the club. In my intoxicated sway, I had to fight to hold onto the image. It was like trying to balance on a tightrope. I saw myself and the others when we came in, I saw us split up, then I saw Evan bouncing naked on the lap of some 40 year old politician. Whoah...fast forward! Fast forward! I didn't need to see that! Ok, slow it down, slower...slower...there! There it is! I see them!
It was Taryn, and Gyro, and Bryson! I'm pretty sure Doc was there too! Awww, my Taryn never looked so beautiful. They were on the other side of the wall when it trapped me inside. Taryn was worried, Bryson was almost frantic. I tried to keep Evan's mind and images focused on just them, but since he was always 'working', the visions were constantly interrupted by a plea for more 'business' from the clubs patrons. So I missed a lot of their conversation. But then...I saw it. Gyro...he was clear as day. He was talking.
He said, "Don't worry about it! I'm sure Justin will come out on the other side of this thing somehow, and we'll catch up with him later! Come on, let's have some fun! Maria's show is starting in like 45 minutes! We've GOTTA start heading over there before she starts or we'll NEVER get in to see her!" Naturally, Bryson and Taryn weren't concerned with any parties or shows, but Gyro talked them into relaxing a bit more. "We can't just wander around this place and 'find' him, you know? It's WAY too huge! Besides, if he follows his pager, he should be able to find us easy. We can look for him later." The rest was a bit of a jumble, and the alcohol in my system was making it hard to hold onto any of the images for more than a few seconds. But I knew where they were heading, and I knew that, deep down, that Taryn didn't want to go. He didn't want to leave me behind, not even for a second. And I found comfort in that. Don't worry baby...I'm coming. I promise.
Just then, as though Evan had given me a physical 'push', I was suddenly TOSSED out of his thoughts entirely, and came crashing back into reality again! "You son of a bitch! You can READ!" He shouted.
"Thanks for the info, Evan. I appreciate it." I said, finally letting him go.
"No FAIR!!! You CHEATED!!! You owe me MONEY for that, you know?" He screamed. "COME BACK HERE!!! You fucking mind thief!!! You're SCUM!!! SCUM!!! YOU HEAR ME?!?!!"
But I just kept walking, keeping my head down as I moved through the merchant's tables and tents to get back to the main corridors of the club. Maria's performance...why didn't I think about that before? She's one of the biggest entertainers in the entire place, she shouldn't be hard to find. And when I get there, I'm sure there will be a huge crowd, but at least I'll have a much smaller scale of people to scan through to find my boyfriend again. All I've got to do now is find a map.
"Still wandering?" Came a voice from beside me, and when I looked over, I was surprised to see the same blond haired, green eyed boy from the house party standing next to me. He was close this time though, and his beauty was almost overwhelming. "You seem lost."
"Um...yeah, a little bit." I said. His eyes were hypnotic, pulling at my very soul with his angelic smile.
"I figured as much. You didn't seem like you belonged at that last party anyway. You're not the type." He said, every word a seductive verse of poetry that shamelessly flirted with my libido and caused my hormones to vibrate wildly inside me. "How are you feeling? You had a lot to drink back there."
"I'm still a little bit out of it, but I can walk though. So I guess I'm doing a bit better than I was when I first left."
"I see. Well, if you need any help..." He started.
"Actually...yeah. I'm looking for some friends of mine that I came in with. I think they might be going to see Maria perform somewhere on the other side of the club. If you could...just...point me in the right direction..."
"I can do a lot better than that. I was actually thinking of going to see her concert myself. Why don't we walk over there together?" He said.
"You...you know the way?"
"Sure. I even know a few shortcuts that'll get us there even faster. Come on...follow me." He said, and started walking. I began to walk behind him, but I couldn't seem to shake the odd feeling that something was odd about this boy. This feling inside, this sudden anxiety, it only really became noticeable when he was around. Like I said before though....maybe it's the alcohol. Or the fact that he's supernaturally gorgeous in every possible way. Hormones and liquor...a bad combination when it comes to judgement. Whatever. He obviously knows this place better than I do. And if following him is going to take me to Taryn...then what choice did I have?