Killbourntown

The Earth Rejects Thee
Niall's Embrace

Sometimes you see things that just ain’t natural. For Niall Murphy, that time was a Thursday night in March on the South side. His mind wavered between incredulity and cold certainty about what he saw that night. Black Mass? Blood rituals? No. No way in hell that actually happened (you know you saw it). Ridiculous (you saw it happen). Probably just misinterpreting (the signs) something. Best to get on with the day.

Niall made his way to work at the bookstore like any other day, reading (dark) poetry on a slow morning. Same routine that night, make his way over to Paddy’s to work the bar. Another March Madness night, too, so tips should/had better be good. On the way home, he saw a woman he thought he recognized from the night before, but he couldn’t (she looked) remember where (dark). After a few blocks, suspicion crept up his spin. Am I being followed? No, she’s probably just going home. To the same building. On the same floor (you’re being followed). To the room right next door? (definitely following you).

She tries opening the door. No dice. She mentions to no one in particular (?) that she forgot her keys; Niall, of course, notices. She asks if he minds letting her wait in his apartment until her friend gets home to let her in. She looks good, ready to go out on the town. Almost looks like the kind who hunts men like game, and is good at what she does. Long, black hair, distinguished features, unforgettable body. She starts up a conversation. She says her name’s Carmina. Nice name, goes well with that coal-black hair. She starts asking about Niall’s past, where he came from, how he got here, what he’s doing in these parts, is he religious, and other things. Darker things. She asks him how he could have abandoned his friend like that. Just run away while Costas was murdered. He wants to interject and defend himself, but he knows she’s right. All doubt disappears. Last night was real. Very real.

(and you ran to leave Costas to his fate, likely worse than death)

Oh God.

It was at this point that she left, and Niall felt more miserable than many times in recent memory. Alone (you let him die how could you). Low. He felt himself open his wrists in the bathtub and all was black.

But all was not quiet.

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Nothing But The Blood
Costas' Embrace

Plate glass doesn’t break easy, but Costas Petrakis was always a tough guy. The last hour and a half just made him tougher. God, it was a rush. He hated to say it, but it was true, like a little growl in the back of his head telling him how to force the blood through his arms and legs and fists and Boom!, out goes that fuckin’ window and he is gone, sweetness.

He was out of that cellar and over the fence around St. Stan’s in a minute flat, wondering what to do next. Last night’s events replayed in his brain with that flickering quality that only memories and old 16mm films seem to capture. The ominous chanting of the Catholic Kindred. The gleam of the chalice, slick with his comrade’s blood (they’ll pay for that). The flare of the Molotov, screaming, a last howl of defiance and then…

Cold. But not dark.

Costas ran through the streets of South Milwaukee almost at random, pumping his arms with an eerie silence that he realized was the absence of what should be ragged breath pumping from his lungs. He was almost at the lakefront before he managed to stop and force himself to sit down on a park bench, and collect himself.

The oldest creature, the one that did this to him, had explained. A little. He spoke of Embraces and Kindred, of a society that lived in shadows. He also explained how they were God’s predators on a fallen Earth, and something about saints, but Costas mostly tuned him out at that point. The priest offered him blood, though, and Costas drank it, gladly. When morning came, he slept and had dreams that…

That I’m not gonna fucking think about right now. Get your head in the game, fool! Concentrate!

The next night, they left him alone, which was a poor choice on their part. Costas cut through the duct tape with the help of a protruding concrete sear and kicked down the door to a back cellar. Which brought us to the window which brought us to

Right now.

Right here on this bench, looking at the clouds over Lake Mich. Looking at the water where he doesn’t have a reflection any more. Looking at his hands, and were they always so drawn and wicked, were they always so pale and horrible…

After an hour of this, Costas stood. Stick to the plans. The Hole. You’ve got the Hole. Always thought it’d be the cops on his ass, but in the mean time it looks like as good a place as any to crash until he can figure this shit out. Costas started walking down Prospect Avenue, counting manholes.

Twelve… Thirteen… Fourteen… Fifteen. Gotcha.

Maybe someone saw him lift the iron disc and slip into the blackness, but maybe not. For the second time that night, Costas Petrakis disappeared.

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