Chapter 1 - Dream Monsters


 

Dear Reader...

Please note that while all reading on this site is free, it is also 100% raw, first draft material. It is also very possible the story may not be continued in any recognizable form to what is here. I enjoy sharing my work, and hopefully no one is offended by what is written.

Having said that, please understand that this story, plots, characters, and settings are all works of fiction and are not intended to be reflective of any one or group of individuals, stories, or otherwise. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, events, and incidents are completely imaginary and any resemblance to reality in living or dead people, or events that have occurred, are purely coincidental.

Happy reading!

xoxo Skyla Blazewright

 

Chapter 1
Dream Monsters


Rain…

Why was it always rain?

Did rain cause some sort of heightened connection to the feeling of urgency, or fear? Was the chill of the rain supposed to affect a person in a way to make them feel disconnected from the world, or perhaps make them feel alone or completely isolated? Did it matter how a person felt when it was raining, or shining, or was all of that a complete fabrication put in a person’s head by the wealthy or powerful?

But the rain wasn’t cold. She looked at her pale hands, watching the water bead up in her palms or splash off her fingers and arms. The rain was warm, and even though she was soaked through, she didn’t feel cold.

She heard an unexpected noise and turned around to look for the cause. She was in an abandoned street that had seen better days. Large trash cans were tipped on their sides along the walls of the buildings the narrow street followed, spilling their contents. Graffiti was covering the wall in different languages. The business awnings were tattered and torn.

At the other end of the street was a hunched over shadow that looked too beastly to be a man, but too human to be a beast. It had glowing white eyes that terrified her. She didn’t want to see that beast up close, but it was looking at her with a hunger she couldn’t explain, so she ran.

It began to chase her, growling and snarling behind her. She could feel her bare feet hitting the street, and every second that passed while she tried to escape felt endless, like escape was a dream she could never hope to achieve. She could feel the pain of stumbling as she tripped over something. When she looked, she saw she’d fallen over an arm. Red began to soak the ordinary gray wool fabric pants she wore. Her eyes followed the arm and the shoulder to a face stuck in permanent agony, but when she saw the lifeless eyes and the face covered in blood, she scrambled back and away. She barely managed to back up in time for the creature to miss her, as it reached out for her right where she had been a moment ago. She didn’t want to see the frightening white eyes of the creature so she turned to run again, vision blurring from tears that were starting to flow from her eyes unasked.

Her breathing was panicked and shallow. She couldn’t find a voice to scream, but would it matter? That creature behind her was closer and she was just struggling to get ahead of it, to get to the end of the narrow alley. She came to a staircase that led up out of the alley. It wasn’t a lot of stairs but with each step, it felt like the creature picked up speed toward her based on its quick steps that echoed as similarly barefooted as her own, and her heart only raced faster. By the time she neared the top, she was scrambling to run with her hands and feet on the stairs and she ran around the corner of the building’s wall.

She didn’t know how she knew it would be there, but she rolled under a partially open merchant’s loading bay door and hid in the loading dock, finding a shadowy corner to hide in that still allowed her to view out on hands and knees from under the bay door. The shadow creature burst out of the alley into a street that was suddenly full of people. It made no sense to her how she managed to escape into hiding when it had been so close, but she accepted it without a thought. When the people saw it, some screamed and tried to get away. A few tried to subdue the creature.

It was growling, and even screaming at points as it was injured in the struggle. More people began to flood the street from a building opposite where she was hiding. All of those people were armed with weapons and armor, but not anything she would imagine could be effective considering they weren’t taking the creature down. If she were to guess, those people wanted the shadow creature alive. Strange bolts of electricity crashed into the creature, yet it only made it angrier. She covered her mouth, even though she knew she couldn’t make a sound. It was as if her voice didn’t work. As the shadow creature screamed in what sounded like equal parts victory and anger, everything inside of her tensed. It wanted her. But it terrified her with its black, almost human-and-beastlike shadow form and glowing white eyes, so she knew she didn’t want to go near it.

The shadow creature got free of the people trying to capture it by releasing what appeared to be a fireball from one hand, burning one person to a crisp, and clawing the throat from another. It wasn’t easy to swallow the image. She pulled away from the opening, covering her ears. She refused to even look out at it again. What if it saw her looking? She could still hear some of the things going on out there even through her hands on her ears. Gunfire and the noise of the electricity shooting from the ends of sticks, and screams which were slowly becoming fewer in number as the humans died.

Only when it was all completely quiet for a long time did she dare to look out again. The shadow monster was gone. Nothing was out there but the dead and her vision seemed to be completely seeped in red tint as if she had to look through a veil of sheer red fabric. She anxiously crawled out of the merchant stall and that was when she saw where she had ended up.

She was standing outside a tall building with a sign hanging vertical off it reading, “Love Doll Creations”. There wasn’t enough rain to wash away all the blood, and behind her and around the fancy building, everything else was starting to burn.

Nettie shot upward, startled out of her dream and causing some minor upset from her beloved pet who had been fast asleep with a long neck and head on her chest. Her heart was still racing and she felt like her entire body had run a marathon.

Unfortunately the rushed movement caused her bed, which was made out of stacks of magazines and paperback books made soft by a mattress of two sleeping bags, to fall apart. “Aieee!” She exclaimed as she slid with the cascade of magazines and ended up in a heap.

Her pet, a Gorkie in her third morph stage, lifted a long scaled neck and head toward Nettie. Those big, celery colored eyes were giving Nettie a look that clearly stated, “What is wrong with you, human?”

Nettie’s response was, “Oh, shush you. You weren’t supposed to let me nap.”

She rolled to her feet, wandering around the room to pick up after herself and get ready for the day. She poured some water into a bowl to wash the sleep off her face and changed clothing to something less sweat soaked. After, she went to open the window.

The sun beat down on the city of Doire on yet another hot day. The city of Doire was home to criminals, built around a large freshwater lake from which five rivers flowed to the sea. The city was big enough for several hundred thousand people, but as it was spread around the entire lake it did not have the feel of over-crowding.

The ground in Doire was cracked and dry, and the heat coming off the pavement during the day was barely offset by the sea breeze coming in with the nearby sea. Buildings were made of the hard ground which was mined and cut into bricks—one of very few unlimited commodities in the wasteland known as Bardun.

Two very different eyes looked out the window and toward the distance: one dark green eye, and the other eye light blue with a burst of reds, oranges, and yellows inside the iris. Nettie Garson couldn’t help but smile at the distant view. She knew what the city looked like: old fashioned, with too many saloons to count them all, and more drunken quick-draws than was truly safe for the population.

Bardun was a country with only two cities built in the massive wasteland. Almost everyone had a gun, and even the few who didn’t have one had some kind of reason for being in Bardun. It was not the typical home of choice. It was not Nettie’s home of choice and she still wasn’t sure why she ever ended up in it. She dreamed of leaving Doire one day. The cowboy hats, animal skin boots with jangling spurs, and brown leather vests simply didn’t suit her personal taste.

She preferred a more modern look: second-hand, over-sized men’s suit shirts which she (very poorly) tailored to her size, removed the sleeves, and turned the collar into a more modern and feminine low style which created straps for the dress. She attached a ribbon drawstring to bow under the bust and cinch the converted shirt-dress under her breasts. This turned the shirt into a short dress (or very long shirt depending on how one looked at it). She wore second-hand athletic shorts that gave her freedom of movement yet covered her to above her knees made out of a stretchy black material under the dress. Instead of cowboy boots, she liked running shoes, and though hers fit, they were two different colors.  At least they were the same brand of shoe unlike the previous pair she had owned. She didn’t spend hours styling her hair like other women in Doire. The long, light brown locks had a bit of a natural curl and hung to her waist so all she did was slap it up in a messy knot on the back of her head with a few bands when she took her beloved pet for a walk. When it was left down, she tied the front sections out of her face with two ribbons that always came undone. Her skin remained pale no matter the season: Almost Summer, Summer, or After Summer.

All the more reason she felt she didn’t belong in Doire. The distant view gave her a dream of a very different life. The building she lived in was on the very edge of Doire, on the northwest side of the northwest district of the city. Beyond was nothing but cracked land, but at the end of the view was what appeared to be an incredible line of fire reaching to the sky and blocking out anything beyond it. The fire was actually known as the Great Glass Wall. At certain points of the day, the wall—which was obviously made out of glass—appeared to be on fire. Just before the wall was The Spire, a tower that rose even taller than the Wall itself. If Nettie could get herself to the top of The Spire, she thought she might be able to see beyond the Wall.

There were two ways to leave the wasteland: by train or by water ship. The places beyond the Great Glass Wall were said to be beautiful, with color everywhere. Green grass, tall trees, and marvels beyond imagination.

She couldn’t help but smile as she imagined the day when she would board a train and leave. It wasn’t like she had lived her entire life in Bardun. She was born in the Vale of Aldor, a small pocket of the world just south of the Kingdom of Xalvadora, which was at the roof of the world. The Vale of Aldor was a unique little place with almost perfect measures of two seasons: winter and summer. It was embraced all around by the Aldor Mountains and had sturdy trees that were not easily affected by snow.

Nettie didn’t want to go back there, though. What she truly wanted to see was the North Countries. They rested between the Aldor Mountains and the Great Glass Wall. Lys in the East, Demos in the center, Riverstone in the Northwest, and Kealon in the West. Those countries were living in the Technology Era, while Bardun paid heavily for scraps of technological advances to scrape by.

She had to stop day dreaming though, because it was almost time to head to her friend’s apartment, not very far away… in fact, just across the hallway from hers.

~~~~~

Nettie turned from the stove when the door to Fikri’s apartment opened and in came Fikri carrying a bag of meat scraps and a few vegetables. She smiled at his exasperated expression and went to take the groceries from him to the tiny refrigerator. “Welcome home!”

“I thought I took away your key to my apartment, Natalie,” he said, watching as she put things away.

“Oh, you only took away one key. I—of course—had several more made and dispersed them to several locations around Doire in case of emergency. Don’t worry, Fikri. I have you covered.” She told him. Fikri was an pale skinned man who broke out into fits of acne instead of tanning or getting sunburned. She had known him since her first day in Doire. Ever since then, he had looked after her and she did her best to reciprocate the favor.

“Natalie, I took the key away because you can’t seem to get it through your head that you don’t have to serve me like you’re a… servant.” He finished—and rather lamely in her opinion.

She looked over his food before taking out some of the older things and carrying it to the fold-down kitchenette. She wondered if the North made due with kitchens that could be tucked away or if they had those fancy silver or marble counter tops with several kitchen stoves and ovens built into the wall. She would like to see those.

“I used to be a servant. Besides, at least I’m doing it because I want to, not because I have to… How hungry are you?” She asked the question but really she knew he was always hungry when he got home.

“I’m hungry enough,” he replied. “You know you don’t really make a good servant, right?”

She waved it off. “Yes, I know. I’ve never been that great at listening to—or obeying—your orders, Master.” She laughed when he started spluttering over being called master. She knew he didn’t like it, so she often teased him with it. It was his own fault when he was the one who often brought up the fact that he didn’t think she made a good servant. “So I got great news!” She told him, feeling excitement bubble up from finally being able to tell him.

“Why do I feel like that’s a very bad thing?” he asked. She turned to stick her tongue out at the brown-eyed man, just in time to see him hopping around as he tried to yank off his boots. Fikri preferred to wear sneaker-boots as Nettie liked to call them. Sneaker-boots, cargo shorts, and a tee-shirt were his preferred attire. His wheat colored hair was always cut as long as his chin.

“It’s not bad news. It’s good news! I got a new job.” Nettie did have some difficulty holding employment. Her longest (and latest) job had been five weeks long at a gentleman’s club, working as a janitor. She was fired two weeks earlier for refusing to clean the bathroom after finding out it was a staging area for drunken trysts that allowed the dancers to make extra money. “And its a good job too!”

“Oh, yeah?” He didn’t sound like a true believer, although given her track record with jobs (working two hours as a pole dancer before quitting) she supposed he had to be given some slack.

“Yeah, it is! You’re looking at the newest member of L.D.C. Call Center!” His jaw fell open. “Well? What do you think? Pretty good, huh? They pay well!”

“Seriously?” he practically squeaked. “That place is owned by Lazarus—the biggest crime boss of Doire’s largest crime organization. You know nothing about technology! How do you intend to not get shot? And how were you even hired?”

“Alright, alright; so I fudged the details a bit. Who is going to even know what I did other than you?” she wanted to know. “You use computers and stuff, so it can’t be that hard.”

“Can’t be that… L.D.C. is a call center for technical support and you went and got yourself hired there?” He was going to try talking her out of this, wasn’t he? Wasn’t he supposed to be happy for her? He didn’t sound very happy for her.

“If you can do it, so can I. Besides! Think of how much money I can make there!” she pointed out quite cheerfully as she returned to working on preparing her famous peanut stir-fry. Whenever he bought meat scraps, she made the peanut stir-fry and served it on a bed of rice. For them, that was eating richly. “I could pay for my apartment and yours instead of the other way around. I never have enough money and I want to make it up to you for everything you’ve ever done.” It made perfect sense to her: find the high paying job, and do whatever she had to in order to get it, because then she would be set.

“You’d have enough money if you stopped buying all those conspiracy garbage magazines.” Fikri told her. “You’d even have enough money to pay your own rent, buy your own food, and—oh, I don’t know. Buy furniture?”

“I have furniture!” she argued.

“You have a bed made out of magazines.”

“So?”

“Your mattress is a sleeping bag.”

“It’s too hot to sleep in the bag anyway.”

“Ok, what about the fact that you have the dragon of all Gorkies living in your bathroom? Even if we excuse the whole magazine and book expenses, your pet,” he even used his fingers to mime quotations as he said pet, “eats more meat on a daily basis than anyone in Doire can afford.”

“Gor-Gor is working on building a taste for vegetables and fish.”

“No one has a Gorkie! It’s not a pet to keep!” He retorted. “It’s a bug! A pest! It’s the rodent of the wasteland!”

“So?” By that point, she wasn’t really sure what he was trying to argue although she supposed she could say it must be related to the fact that he thought she had more money and that she ought to quit the job she just got hired on to.

“So? So it’s a flesh eating rodent of the wasteland!” he emphasized.

“…So?”

“So it’s a flesh eating rodent of the wasteland that sprays flammable liquid and sets it on fire with sparks from its pincers!”

“Gor-Gor is domesticated. She’s never harmed me before. What’s your point?”

“It’s a flesh eating rodent of the wasteland that can spit fire and spawns hundreds of tiny flesh eating Gorkies that can spit fire if its killed! Gorkies are supposed to be the size of a pinky nail, but yours is the size of a mid-sized canine!”

She huffed. “Is this conversation going anywhere?”

“Yes! You don’t need to work for L.D.C. I’m doing fine taking care of both of our expenses. Why don’t you just find a nice job that isn’t technology related and doesn’t have anything to do with phone calls. Don’t you hate phones to begin with?”

She waved it off. “Lenny’s right. We need an inside man. We need to get in there if we’re going to find out what the government is up to. Lenny can’t do it. They wouldn’t even let her apply. They let me though, so now that I got the job I can learn all the government secrets. I start up next week for my first day.”

He put his head in his palms. “Natalie…”

“Dinner’s ready.” She brought over two dishes of leftover rice topped with peanut stir-fry.

“Sometimes I just don’t know what to do with you.” He sighed, and thanked her for the food. They ate together in peace before Nettie cleaned the dishes and got up. “Well, I’m going to go take Gor-Gor for a walk. See you later.” She walked to the window.

“Natalie, where are you going?” he asked.

“Back the way I came in…” she climbed on the window sill. The low ceiling meant the roof was easily accessible via windows. Well, easily enough. She wormed her way up onto the roof, walked across the flat surface, and went down the other side into her apartment.

It took some squirming and wiggling to manage to get into the apartment without falling off the second-story rooftop. At least she was happy to note that not many buildings in Doire were very tall. The castle in the Vale of Aldor had always been overloaded with stairs.

She looked in the bathroom and as usual found Gor-Gor, her beloved Gorkie, lying at the base of the washing basin. Bathrooms were far more modern in Doire than they were in the Vale. The Vale had no electricity. Eight months out of the year, rich kids from the North Countries traveled to the Vale for school, arriving just at the end of winter and leaving just as winter started up again. It was nothing but a place for the wealthy to deposit their spawn and for the citizens born in the Vale to be forced into servitude and hope that one day they might make it fairly high in the ranks of servants. That was exactly why Nettie smuggled herself out.

She smiled as Gor-Gor barely twitched. Gor-Gor was a female Gorkie, as stated by Fikri to be considered a pest of the wasteland. She was an odd creature. Nettie imagined Gor-Gor’s kind was a mutant baby of a cat, a humming bird, a bumble bee, and a dragon. “Gor-Gor, ready for your walk?” she asked the creature, kneeling down beside it to run her hand down the long neck. Gorkies did eat flesh, but Gor-Gor only ate what Nettie gave her. “Come on, then.” She encouraged the creature to get up. “Walk time! Go by the door!”

Gor-Gor gave Nettie a look that clearly said, “How dare you—I’m napping.”

Nettie sighed. “Well, fine. I’ll walk without you.” She headed for the door and very quickly, Gor-Gor had raced to the door, leaned on her hindquarters, and got her own leash and halter off the wall with her nose. “Good girl,” Nettie smiled as Gor-Gor proudly walked the leash to Nettie.

Nettie attached the halter and leash and out they went. She always found it quite suspicious when everyone who saw her stared at her so much, but at least she and Gor-Gor had the street free. Even the horses would neigh and shift uneasily as she and Gor-Gor trotted by.

Eventually, Gor-Gor would get moving quickly and her wings would start shifting. That was usually the point when Nettie made it to the very edge of the paved land and onto the cracked wasteland. She never jogged too long in Doire. Besides that, Gor-Gor could often find Sacs, which were the hardened, egg-shaped cocoons of the Gorkies as they went from one form to the next. These Sacs were hard enough that they appeared just like mounds of wasteland rock, complete with the same cracked pattern the ground had and in the same dull-red-brown the ground was. That meant that there were some people who had no idea what they were.

Nettie made the mistake of proving what they were to Fikri once in the middle of trying to convince him to take her to The Spire… It had only resulted in his very firm decision to never leave Doire’s exterminating net. Doire was surrounded by a sort of electricity net that burned any Gorkies that tried to come inside. Nettie always felt a sort of tingle passing through it, but luckily Gor-Gor was too big by that point to be exterminated by a simple bug-net. The net was yet another example of the throw-away scraps of technology that made it into the Wasteland, as if the wasteland was the rest of the world’s garbage dump.

Out on the wasteland walks was where Gor-Gor ate most of her food. Nettie wasn’t afraid of Gorkies hatching from their Sacs in the wasteland. They only did their hatching when they were fully morphed and the creature was simply one per Sac. Gor-Gor would find a fair sized Sac and fly down to scoop it up in her long, clawed fingers. The larger the Sac, the larger the Gorkie inside was. Gor-Gor would then drop the Sac and find the creature under broken bits of hardened rock-like shell. Gor-Gor would squeeze the dying Gorkie under a clawed foot until a sack of eggs popped out of the thing and then eat the Gorkie.

Truly, Gor-Gor was intelligent. She had learned to get the sack of eggs from the Gorkie before eating it or she would suffer for a time when the eggs hatched inside her stomach. Of course, if a human ingested any eggs, the result would be very different than Gor-Gor’s result.

Nettie actually enjoyed watching Gor-Gor hunt. She was trying to convert Gor-Gor to a fish and vegetable diet (it was cheaper than meat and easier than having to stay out on the open wasteland for her to hunt) but Gor-Gor was a hunter by nature and though she did eat fish when given it, the vegetable part of the diet was still a work in progress. Besides that, Nettie tried not to change the true nature of anyone. She thought it was best if people and things were able to remain true to themselves—creatures not withstanding.

There was something amazing about an innocent creature in their natural environment. Watching the way they interacted with life in one form or another… Gor-Gor soared freely, always on the hunt for a new snack. When the sacks squeezed from a Gorkie would explode with dozens of the little gnat-sized Gorkies, they would always go after Gor-Gor and not Nettie. Nettie figured they could smell Gor-Gor on her, which protected her, although she had no real scientific evidence to suggest that was the truth. Since Gor-Gor would never hurt Nettie, she was justified in her feeling of being safe out on the open wasteland.

But even still, she would always run toward the Great Glass Wall, knowing that one day she would go beyond that and find the North Countries. Maybe she would even meet the Prince of Kealon and apologize for stealing from him…? Or maybe not.

As she was on her way back home, just entering through the bug-net that surrounded the city, she saw a few Cleaners picking up a body that had certainly not been there when she left on her jog.

“Gor-Gor, sit,” she told her Gorkie, re-attaching the leash to Gor-Gor’s harness. She didn’t want Gor-Gor going toward the deceased body for a snack, though she was sure that her Gorkie was full.

The Cleaners were picking the body up from barely a block within the bug-net. It was a female, half inside an alley. Nettie found the garishly large blue ribbon tied around the victim’s arm quite curious. The ribbon was at least four inches wide and tied in a bow on a bare arm, so it was more than noticeable. She pitied the poor woman who got killed but before she could think of what to do next, she was bumped from behind. She spun around, and found herself face to chest with a black covered chest. She looked up into the face of the person who bumped her and found a suspicious looking character with red hair and eyes that honestly just creeped her out. They were white—white! And they had a sky blue rim around the white iris! Perhaps her eye wasn’t normal, but at least she didn’t look like she could see through a person’s clothes straight to a poor girl’s nether-bits.

“Well, excuse you,” she grumbled, petting Gor-Gor’s head. He didn’t seem to have bumped her by accident. The street was very large, and she really felt that he could have avoided her if he wanted to.

“Did you see what happened here?” asked the strange, obviously new to the town man in the garish red trench coat.

“No, I didn’t. And if you know what’s good for you, you will learn that Doire’s not the place to get a sniffy nose.” She informed the man who raised one eyebrow.

“A… ‘sniffy nose’?” he inquired, looking somewhat perplexed at the phrase she used.

“Yeah. It’s how we say it around here. It means don’t go poking your nose where it doesn’t belong. The Bossmen don’t like it, and the criminals don’t like it, and people without a sniffy nose live longer.” Oh, of course she would say that, but she was curious herself. She didn’t think she was quite curious to start looking for a murderer, though. Conspiracies were one thing, but Death was always best left to his own devices. She pushed past him, Gor-Gor nipping at the guy as she trotted beside Nettie.

“Hey, wait a minute,” the man called after her, but she chose to ignore him. She kept walking, and when he started to follow her, she gave him the slip in the complicated alleyways.

Chapter 2 coming soon

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