Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Bloody Heat: A Tale of Alyria

It’s this bloody heat. It’s making it hard to think straight. I just want to tell someone what happened to me tonight so that I won’t forget it, but it’s getting hard. Keep getting dizzy. I already threw up once. Hope no one got splattered as I leaned out the window. It’s a long way to the ground from up here in the Web.

I guess it all started last night when I was getting ready for the job. I had been casing this minor official’s house, figuring that there would be all sorts of loot inside. Took several days, but I finally figured out how to get in and nab a share of the wealth. Keepers say that generosity is a virtue, and I figure that I’m just sharing the blessing of Pheric upon them that ain’t got no generosity. Just doing my religious duty, you might say.

Anyways, I was waiting for the Devil’s Hour to get started. Ain’t no heist that I’d pull any other time. Besides, this official got them divine lights scattered all over his manor, which would have made the job extra hard. He must burn his entire ration of power on them lights, but I got to say that it is well spent. No thief worth his salt would dream of raiding him with them lights. That’s why my plan was so brilliant. Wait for the Devil’s Hour when the city shuts down and then slip in. Sure, you hear stories about demons roaming the night during the Devil’s Hour, but that’s just superstitious nonsense. Least, that’s what I thought until tonight.

Blast! My arm started twitching again. Hurts like the devil too. Bandage bled through again. Have to change it again.

Okay. That’s better. So, like I was saying, I was getting my equipment together when I glanced out the window and saw the Weeping Moon rising over the city. Now, I ain’t no superstitious man, but I got to say that it gave me chills to see it. A man of less sense than myself might have even called it an omen. For a moment, I thought about staying in and letting the heist pass, do it another night. But then I got my sense back. Ain’t no bloody moon going to get between me and my loot. Course, I was sweating up a storm by then, because of this heat, but I hoisted my pack and headed out towards my target.

My timing was perfect, as normal. Just as I rounded the corner and spotted the manor, the Devil’s Hour struck. The clock stopped. The machinery stopped. All the lights went out. No wonder folks get so scared. You get used to the noise and the light. When it all goes away, it’s scary. The silence could get to a man less hardened than myself. Why, I have even heard of folks going mad during the Devil’s Hour and throwing themselves off of buildings and stuff.

So anyway, my mark was in front of me, lit up now only by some torches and the red light of the Weeping Moon. It was time for me to start hustling. I hopped the wall easily and slipped through an open window. At least this heat is good for something. I wiped my face and looked around. I was in a bedroom of some kind. I knew that the money room was somewhere in the basement, so I eased open the door and took a look around. No one was coming, so I started sneaking down the hall, looking for the basement stairs. Good thing for me, they were at the end of the hall. Just as I started down them, though, I heard the noise.

It’s getting hard to see in this light. Everything looks so red. The Weeping Moon is shining through my window again. It’s giving me chills.

Or am I getting sick? A bit of heatstroke, maybe? I don’t feel so good.

When I heard the moan from back down the hall, I ducked down as far as I could and try to walk quietly down the stairs. Course, with my rotten luck, don’t you know that a step creaked. Footsteps came down the hall toward me. I pressed myself flat up against the wall and prayed to Pheric that I wouldn’t get seen. That’s when the thing came to the top of the stairs. I think that it was human once, but it ain’t been human for a while. It was like a body that got up and started walking. It was bleeding all over and staggered a bit as it walked. I didn’t dare even to move. Then it turned and saw me. With a howl it charged down the stairs at me. I tried to get out of the way but there just wasn’t the room. It plowed into me and we both fell down the stairs. It was kicking and punching and clawing and biting even as we tumbled down the stairs. That’s why I’m so cut up. Its blood smeared all over my clothes as I tried to get away. I managed to push it off of me and then kick it in the head. Its head snapped back with a crack and it fell on the floor. I was stunned. I hadn’t meant to kill it, although there ain’t no way I was losing sleep over it neither. It tried to get me and got its just deserts. Ain’t no skin off my back.

So, I started listening real good and didn’t hear no other noise. Still I figured that I ain’t got much time, right? So I decided that I’d best grab some loot and run. As I went to open the door going into the basement, though, I almost slipped in a puddle. Looking down, I saw more blood oozing out from under the door. This seemed strange to me, so I opened the door carefully so that I could peer inside.

It was just awful. The entire basement was covered in blood. It covered the floor. It dripped from the ceiling. It ran down the walls. Sure, there was some loot in the room but it was also covered in blood. I was trying to decide how badly I wanted the money when I felt something creeping up my leg.

Now I got the shakes. I’m almost done and then I’ll rest. Yes, rest.

The Weeping Moon is looking at me. It’s laughing. I know it is. Curse you, moon! I know what you’re thinking. You want me to jump! I’m not going to do it. I’m not a lunatic. I’m going to stay here and finish talking to my friend!

It’s still laughing.

Some of the blood was running up my leg. That’s right. It was crawling up my leg, like it was trying to cover me. My leg started burning. I screamed and bolted up the stairs. At the top I turned and looked. It was coming after me! The giant red flow was seeping up the stairs! Worse, I could hear it chuckling, laughing, calling my name in a thousand different voices. Slowly part of it formed into a face. My face….

I can’t talk no more. My arm hurts. I’m hot and sweaty. Now I’m starting to see things. My old bandages are starting to move over there in the corner. Everything is turning red. Even my sweat is red. The moon is playing tricks on me. Well, it won’t get the last laugh! You’ll see! You’ll see!

What am I saying? I must have heatstroke or something. Look, I’m going to go lie down now. I’m sure that I’ll feel better in the morning. It’s just this bloody heat that’s driving me crazy. This bloody, bloody heat.

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