Violet City

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Summary

Jace is just your average teen living in the big city. Or... at least he used to be, until one night he experiences his own death and awakens a vampire. Now, ten years later, Jace is faced with many obstacles accompanying his newfound identity. Not only that, but Jace begins to discover that strange things have been happening around Violet City. Suspicious strangers in red cloaks, people disappearing without a trace, and even people exhibiting extreme violent behaviors while crying… tears of blood? I guess the streets of Violet City aren't as safe as Jace thought them to be. ***Trigger Warning! Contains depictions of violence, self-harm, and abuse***

Genre:
Drama / Fantasy
Author:
M.J. Hebert
Status:
Ongoing
Chapters:
14
Rating:
5.0 4 reviews
Age Rating:
18+

That Fateful Night

The heavy rain poured down upon the concrete jungle, slicing through the humid, midnight summer air. The roar of the sudden downpour echoed over the usual, bustling white noises of the sleepless metropolis while also camouflaging the sounds of my shoes slamming the pavement as I burst through the backdoor of the club and ran down the long, darkened alleyway. My heart pounded within my chest as the adrenaline coursed through my veins. My mouth was completely dried, and my tongue almost numbed, as I gasped for air.

If I can just… make it… into the street.

I continuously peered behind me in fear as I bolted down the narrow passage, even though the downpour clouded my vision. I could feel my entire being straining to meet the demands of the heavy sprinting as my body burned in response.

Did I—did I lose him?! Fuck… Is—is he still behind me?!

I can’t… I don’t see him… with all this damn rain!!

Maybe—maybe he can’t see me! Just… gotta keep… almost there!

Suddenly, an ear-piercing gunshot was heard as a single bullet ripped through the air and penetrated straight into my left leg. I immediately stumbled to the ground as the intensely burning pain enveloped my leg. I wanted to scream out in pain, but no sounds escaped my throat.

Fuck!! My leg!!” I screamed in my mind as I peered at my pants leg that was continuously soaking up the blood that seeped through the wound.

The voice in the back of my head nagged at me to keep going, but my body would not respond. I was frozen and helpless as my pursuer came into view and edged closer.

Get up! Move—NOW! C’mon, body!! MOVE!

He’s gonna… he will get me!!

Why—why can’t… I can’t move!

The tall, slender figure came ever closer, revealing his black, beady eyes as he glared at me with a crooked grin. His eerily calm and sinister voice cut through the sound of the rain like nails on a chalkboard.

“I’ve got you now, you piece of shit.” He said as he approached me menacingly.

I stared in terror as the man’s arm slowly rose to unveil the small handgun as its barrel was aimed directly at me. I felt warm tears as they welled up inside my eyes and streamed down my face.

No—no! Please…

It can’t… It can’t end like this.

Mom… someone!! Please—please save me!

I never… got to say goodbye. Please.

Loud gunshots rang through the air, and suddenly it was as if time itself came to a complete standstill.

~~~*~~~

…Ja...

…Jace.

…Jace!

“Jace, honey, you’re going to be late!” My mother’s voice echoed from downstairs. “Your friends are waiting on you!”

“I’ll be down in a minute!” I called in response.

I stared into the mirror while meticulously fidgeting with my outfit and my unruly, thick, black hair. My style wasn’t exactly the trendiest, but for a young adult like me, I figured that it would work just fine. After a few more moments of nitpicking my look, I finally decided to finish getting ready. I quickly brushed my teeth, then ran over to my room, and spritzed on a bit of my favorite cologne. I hastily returned to the bathroom mirror and once more gazed into my reflection as I took a deep breath.

“You’ve got this Jace. Tonight will be lots of fun, you’ll see!” I said to pep myself up for the night ahead.

I rushed back to my room, grabbed my belongings off the dresser, and scurried my way down the stairs into the living room. Once I reached the living room however, my mom suddenly blocked my path to the front door like a brick wall.

“Mom! I’m gonna be late! Everyone is waiting for me!” I said with irritation before she wrapped me into a large bear hug.

Although she wasn’t a large woman, she was always known for her strong bear hugs, and being that I’m a very slim-built guy, it didn’t take much for her to overpower me. I attempted to struggle through her aggressive hug but every effort I made was futile as her grip tightened.

“Oh, my baby boy. I love you so much. Stop struggling and just accept my love sweetie. Shhh. Shhh. Just accept it.”

Through muffled voice, I said, “M-mom… I phhhttt… I can’t… breathe.”

She rolled her eyes and responded, “Ok, fine. I guess I can let you breathe.”

She had finally let me go and I took a big gasp of air.

“Oh, come on, Jace. It wasn’t that bad. You’re still alive, aren’t you?” she said jokingly as she rubbed my head, ruining my hair.

“Aw, c’mon mom. I just spent so much time fixing my hair.” I said begrudgingly as she snickered at my annoyance.

“Oh, honey! Before you head out… How do I look in this new outfit, hm?” My mom asked as she made a few model-like poses.

She then imitated walking along a catwalk while repeatedly stopping to turn and look at me with excessively pouted lips.

“So? What do you think? Your mom has still got it, right?” She said with enthusiasm.

I laughed. “Well, definitely don’t quit your day job.”

She smiled and said, “You little gremlin!” as she grabbed a nearby pillow from the couch and tossed it at me.

I narrowly dodged the pillow and taunted her with a goofy face in response to her missed throw. We then simultaneously laughed as she gave chase, causing us to circle the couch in a “cat and mouse” fashion. Once she had finally caught me (Psh. I let her win), she once more embraced me with a giant bear hug. Who needs to breathe, right? She then gently grabbed my face and looked at me deeply through her auburn-colored eyes that matched mine.

“Now, my Jace, go have fun. Be the life of the party. Smoke a few blunts…” She said with a mischievous grin.

“Stop!” I said as I tried to push her away while she laughed.

“No, but seriously Jace…” She looked me in the eyes again, this time with a soft and loving smile.

“I want you to go out and have fun. It’s your first night going out to the club! You should be so excited! You get to drink, and meet new people, and dance to all your favorite songs.”

“It’ll be fine, I guess…” I replied.

She said I should have been excited, I knew I should have been excited, but for some reason I couldn’t shake the weird feeling I was having.

She gave me a concerned look, then smiled. “Okay, just please be safe out there?”

She then gave me a soft, motherly hug as I melted into her arms.

“I love you, Mom. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.” I replied to reassure not only her, but me as well.

She smiled again. “Don’t stay out too late, okay?”

I smiled back at her. “Yeah, yeah. Sure.”

“Oh, Jace. Before you go, don’t forget an umbrella. Weather says it’s going to storm tonight.”

I smiled at her in response, “Mom, I’ll be fine. It’s just a little rain. Besides, I hate carrying around an umbrella anyway. I’m just gonna end up losing it.”

She followed me as I walked through the living room towards the front door. As I opened the door, I saw my friends sitting on the stoop waiting for me. Once they all turned to look at me, I was met with their disappointed faces.

“Jeez, Jace. It’s about time!” said Joey.

Trevor joined in, “Yeah, man. Why does it always take you so long to get ready? Ever since we were kids…”

“I thought we were gonna be old geezers by the time you finished!” Mike followed.

I rolled my eyes at their remarks. “Hey! You guys were the ones who invited me to go out with you tonight, remember?”

Honestly, these three morons could use taking some extra time to get ready. Their lack of hygiene speaks volumes about their efforts.

I stepped out into the warm, evening air and descended the stoop stairs to join them before they each gave an attempt at wrestling me into a head-locked position.

These guys… always with the violence, I swear.

Once I had successfully pushed them off, I turned and waved bye to my mom.

“See you later, Mrs. Goth! Don’t worry, we will bring Jace back in one piece!” Joey said as he eagerly waved to my mom.

“I guarantee it’s not me she’s worried about.” I mumbled under my breath.

My mom chuckled as she waved back and called out, “Please, call me Alysia, boys. I’m the cool mom, remember?”

“I’m surrounded by psychopaths.” I said as I shook my head in embarrassment.

We began to walk the dimly lit street, venturing towards the local subway station that would transport us downtown. As we walked, I felt a strange, ominous feeling bubbling within my chest that caused me to tone out the obnoxious antics of my friends. In response, I quickly glanced back just in time as I saw my mom gently shutting the front door. For some odd reason, I had a strange feeling that I would never see her again… but why?

I soon shook it off as I rejoined the idiotic conversation my friends were sharing.

“Wow, our very first night out in Violet City! I wonder how many hot chicks we will see tonight?” said Mike ecstatically.

“I heard this club has all kinds of hot women. I can’t wait to scope them all out!” Trevor said confidently.

Mike and Joey nodded in unison with Trevor’s comment.

I guarantee none of them will be as lucky tonight as they believe.

“Hey, Jace! You gonna get drinks for us tonight?” Mike quickly chimed in with an excited grin on his face.

“Jeez. If it’s not girls, it’s alcohol. Fine. As long as you guys are paying for it.” I replied.

“Aw c’mon, Jace! Don’t be such a party pooper!” Mike nudged me jokingly.

“Hey, just because I’m the only one old enough to get the drinks doesn’t mean that I should pay for them too. You guys are always such moochers.” I said as I crossed my arms.

“Oh, hey! You think this club will have those swings that hang from the ceiling? You know, the ones that the half-naked chicks swing from? I’ve always wanted to go to a place that had those!” Mike asked with drooling curiosity.

“What?! What the hell kind of club do you think we are going to?!” I replied with embarrassment as a lone, late-night jogger quickly paced by.

We walked for a few blocks, following the narrow sidewalk that lined the rows of brownstone homes, as we continued our loud chatter that broke through the silence of the calm, silent neighborhood. After a long-winded argument between Trevor and Joey over a previous night’s D&D campaign, we finally arrived at the subway station. We each descended the steep stairs and walked over to the station’s turnstile. Each of us, excluding Mike, pulled out our metro cards and swiped it through the turnstile slot, which then signaled our allowed entry with a ding. We pushed through the rotating bars, then each turned around to figure out why Mike has yet to have passed through.

“Hey, what’s the hold up? You need some fare money or somethin’?” said Joey with confusion.

Mike then said, “Check this out guys.”

He took a few steps back before breaking into a full run, then he clumsily jumped the turnstile bars.

After regaining his balance, he gave us a smug look and said, “Why pay the fare when I don’t need to?”

Showoff.

We casually walked to the downtown bound side of the station and descended another set of stairs to reach the platform. I looked up at the station monitor to see when the next train would arrive before the loud, prerecorded voice blared over the station speakers.

“There is a Portview bound train local train approaching the station. Please stand away from the platform edge.”

Suddenly, a large rush of wind powered through the entire platform as the subway train came speeding by, followed by the loud screeching of the train breaks. The train eventually came to a full stop, and the metal doors opened. We entered the mildly crowded train and searched for an area where all four of us could sit together. Once we all were seated, our loud conversation sparked once more.

“So, which club are we headed to exactly?” I asked.

Trevor enthusiastically chimed in, “Okay, so I heard about this club in the center of the downtown Prism District. It’s called ‘The Underground.’ Word has it that this place has tons of hot chicks. They even say that lots of babes from the White Wing District go to this club.”

Here we go again…” I thought to myself as I rolled my eyes.

It was always the same, dumb shit conversations with these guys. It was as if the only things they could ever think about was the rich White Wing District women, getting laid, money, and alcohol. I tuned out their excited (and boring) discussion as I glanced around the train until my focus rested upon Joey as he sat quietly while awkwardly fidgeting.

“Hey Joey, what’s wrong?” I asked as the others turned to look at him.

“Actually…” Joey said nervously, “I’ve heard rumors of ‘The Underground’ before. Not good ones either.”

Mike looked at him quizzically. “Rumors? What rumors?”

Joey shuffled in his seat. “I’ve heard—I’ve heard rumors that the place is a dangerous club for… vampires.”

It grew silent for a moment before Mike, Trevor, and I burst into laughter.

“Vampires? What are you, a toddler? C’mon, vampires aren’t real. That’s fairytale stuff.” Said Mike.

Joey appeared even more uncomfortable. “I don’t know guys. Remember that kid – what was his name – Derek? He was in our high school Algebra class. He had to transfer schools and move in with his relatives because his parents were brutally murdered by vampires!”

Mike laughed again. “Wasn’t it actually because he was nuts and they had to put him in a mental clinic or something?”

“Yeah, I mean—vampires? C’mon Joey. Nobody believes in that stuff.” Trevor spoke.

“I’m serious! I’ve heard vampires are scary shit! I definitely wouldn’t want to be caught in a dark alleyway with one.” Trevor said anxiously.

“Psh. You guys are lame. Vampires? Yeah right. Sounds like you’ve been playing too many video games Joey. If vampires were real, wouldn’t stuff like that be all over the news? I mean, be realistic here. Wouldn’t it be so obvious? Seeing people turning into bats and using weird, spooky vampire magic? It would be kinda hard to keep stuff like that under wraps.”

Joey responded matter-of-factly, “That’s the thing! I hear vampires are really stealthy. They hide in the shadows and stay out of sight. They keep to themselves until they need to go out and sink their sharp fangs into someone’s neck! Even then, they use their powers to conceal their identities! They can make themselves look like normal people like you and me!”

Joey leaned in to lower his voice to a whisper. “There could even be vampires on this very train, waiting until the perfect moment to suck out all of our blood!”

“Jeez, Joey.” Said Trevor, “You really have been reading way too many comic books or somethin’. I’m sure a hot chick at the club would absolutely love to hear your crazy ramblings. You should use it as your pickup line.”

Mike made a goofy voice to mimic Joey’s. “Hey there! Have you heard that vampires may be walking among us? How would you like to talk more about that at my place?”

We each laughed as Joey’s face turned bright red.

“I’m serious! Don’t say I didn’t warn ya when you go wandering a dark street and get your throat ripped apart!”

After a long train ride, we finally arrived at our stop.

“This stop is King’s Avenue. Please be careful of the gap between the platform and the train.” Spoke the conductor’s voice over the speakers.

“Oh, hey guys. This is our stop!” said Trevor as we quickly disembarked the train.

Once we walked onto the crowded platform, we were immediately bombarded by the smell of rotting garbage and piss.

“Oh god! That smells awful! It’s like a homeless man died in my nostrils!” exclaimed Mike.

“I always heard that downtown Prism District was very grungy, but damn this is disgusting!” said Trevor as he covered his nose with his shirt collar.

“My mom always did say it’s like ‘the aftermath of a Mardi Gras celebration. Lots of cranky drunks, vomit, and tons of garbage’ in the downtown area. This suffocating heat of this underground subway platform probably doesn’t help with the horrible smell either.” I said as I too covered my nose.

“Let’s hurry up and get out of here.” Said Joey with a gag.

We all simultaneously pushed through the crowded platform and headed for the exit. Once we had found the stairway leading above ground, we noticed that it had started to drizzle.

Trevor quickly pointed above as he spoke, “Hey, guys, it’s starting to rain. Maybe we should hurry. The bar isn’t far from here. We can probably make it there before it starts pouring.”

We ascended the stairs and were immediately enshrouded by the blinding bright lights radiating from numerous neon signs and gigantic monitors displaying fashion ads that hung from the skyscraper-like buildings that lined the streets.

“Wow! If I didn’t know that it was so late in the evening, I could have easily sworn it was midday from how ridiculously bright it is here. This area is amazing!” I said in complete awe as I stared up at all the flashing lights.

“Speak for yourself…” Joey said as he frantically tried not to be pushed over by the never-ending amounts of people bustling by.

Suddenly, a large man hurried by while aggressively pushing me aside while shouting, “Get out the way, fucking brat!”

…And now my moment of being awestruck is ruined.

Trevor quickly checked his phone’s GPS to gather his bearings.

“Oh, hey! It’s this way, guys! C’mon!” he said as he signaled for us to follow.

We quickly walked down King’s Avenue, while attempting to not only dodge the suffocating crowds of people but also the rain, until we reach an old, brick building with a large, neon sign that read “The Underground” hanging above the door.

“Here it is guys!” Trevor said with excitement.

We rushed through the door and are instantly met by a large man, who I assumed to be the bouncer of the club.

He gave us a suspicious glance and immediately asked for our I.D.s. We handed over our identification cards, and the man inspected each one thoroughly.

He glanced at each of us with skepticism and concern. “You sure you kids are at the right place?”

We each looked at each other in confusion.

“This is ‘The Underground,’ isn’t it?” Trevor asked.

“Well, yeah but…” The bouncer had spoken before abruptly ending his statement.

He stared at us for a moment before letting out a deep sigh.

“Fine. You kids can go in. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya though.” He said as he signaled our entry by opening the black curtain behind him which led into the noisy club.

“W—warn us? Warn us of w—what?” Joey stuttered.

I noticed Joey had begun to shiver.

“Warn us of all the hot babes this club has! C’mon. quit being a chicken shit, Joey.” Mike said as he pulled Joey along inside.

Trevor and I followed behind to see the dimly lit club space where cliques of people were standing almost shoulder-to-shoulder. The place smelled strongly of old wood, alcohol, and cigarettes. A thick haze lingered within the club that made my eyes sting. The speakers stationed at the far end of the club were blasting techno pop music that no one seemed to pay any attention to, as the sounds of energetic conversations overpowered the music. We weaved our way around the bundled groups and found a small space in a lone corner.

“Wow! This place is packed!” Mike shouted so we could hear him. “Way to go on picking this place, Trevor!”

“Yeah, man. I told you guys this place was a hot spot!” Responded Trevor as he held his head high.

“We look so out of place though.” I said as I glanced around the club, noticing that everyone seemed to be wearing very conspicuous outfits except us.

“Who cares? That just means we will have a better chance of snagging some hot chicks if we stand out more. I mean, check out all the babes in this place!”

“Is that all your puny brain ever thinks about?!” I retaliated to his statement.

“Duh! Either way, I’m definitely gonna score big tonight! Then we will see who has the puny brain.” Said Mike confidently. I guarantee it will still be you.

I rolled my eyes at Mike, but then came to notice Joey as he sat awkwardly in the corner.

“Hey, Joey. Don’t worry. Everything will be okay. There are no vampires, alright? We will have a great time tonight.” I reassured him as he kept his head low.

“Yeah, Joey. Quit being a stick in the mud. You’re always such a downer.” Said Mike.

“Aw, c’mon. Leave him be. He’s probably just nervous.” I said as I shoo Mike and Trevor away.

“Oh, I know! Why don’t we start off with some drinks? That’ll loosen you up a bit, eh Joey?” Mike said as he pats Joey on the back, startling him. “Jace, why don’t you order us something?”

“Sure. Give me your cash. What do you guys want to drink?” I asked, which Mike and Trevor responded to with confused faces.

“Ah. Of course, you bimbos wouldn’t know what to drink.” I said with a laugh. “Fine. Fine. I’ll ask the bartender what he recommends.”

I headed in the direction of the bar as I pushed my way through the crowded club. The closer I advanced to the bar however, the tighter the crowds became. Within a matter of seconds, I was squished within the crowd, which I tried to aggressively weasel through.

Jeez. Can these people just freaking move out of the way?! I feel like a sardine in here!

As I continued forcing my way through, I noticed an opening appearing on the other end of the crowd. I decided to give one final hard push to make it through to the clearing, however my full forced push resulted in me losing my balance as I flew forward and slammed into a random person. The immediate force not only caused me to fall to the floor, but also made the stranger lose grip on their drink which ended up spilling all over me.

“Aw, shit. Just great. Now I will reek of alcohol.” I said as I tried to shake off some of the excess drink from my hands.

“Woah, hey! Are you okay? I’m so sorry about that.” said the stranger I had bumped into as they reached out a hand to help me to my feet.

“Yeah, I guess so…” I replied as I grabbed hold of their hand and was lifted to my feet.

“Sorry about bumping into you like that.” I said as I looked upon their face.

The tall, mysterious stranger was dressed fully in black, matching the entire vibe of the rest of the club. Although his face was mostly concealed by a cloth face mask, I could discern from his deep voice and body shape that he was a man. His most notable feature was his piercing pale blue-gray eyes that seemed to almost glow in the dimly lit club.

What’s up with this guy’s eyes?! They seem… unnatural.

“Hey, don’t worry about it. I—uh, wasn’t really interested in the drink anyway. Just trying to blend in, ya know?” He said nervously.

The stranger continued talking to me, but I had unintentionally tuned him out as I began noticing he wasn’t the only one in the club with such an unusual eye color. In fact, it had dawned on me that everyone within the club had oddly colored eyes, except for me and my friends.

What the heck is going on here?” I thought as I glanced around me. “Red. Orange. Yellow. Purple. Could—could Joey have been right?!

“…Hey, uh. Are you sure you’re okay?” said the stranger as he looked at me with concern.

“Oh. I’m—uh. I’m good. Thanks. I just—um. I should get back to my friends over there. Yeah. They are waiting on me.” I said nervously as I turned away from him and pushed through the crowds once more.

“Hey, wait…!” He called out after me.

I could feel his stare on the back of my neck as I retreated from his piercing gaze. I continuously looked around at everyone’s strangely colored eyes as I weaved through the crowd to confirm what I had just seen.

Am I going crazy or am I really seeing this?! There’s no way vampires are real, right? Maybe—maybe everyone decided to wear weird colored contacts tonight. I mean, there’s gotta be some logical explanation… isn’t there?

I hastily returned to my friends just in time to witness Mike and Trevor flirting with two women.

“You boys are just so adorable. Absolutely delicious!” said one woman with a giggle.

“Aren’t they? I could just take them home and eat them up for dinner!” The other woman responds with a similar laugh.

Both women flashed their gleaming, orange eyes as they gazed upon Mike and Trevor with curiosity. I then quickly interrupted the conversation by pulling Mike and Trevor aside.

“Guys, we need to ta—” I started before Mike cut me off.

“Hey man, what gives? Can’t you see we were working our charm over on these hot babes?!” He said as he released himself from my grip.

“Aw, man. What hell is that smell?!” Trevor said as he sniffed the air waved his hand in front of his face. “What happened to you? You smell terrible!”

“Yeah, dude. Jeez. You were supposed to bring the drinks to us, not spill them all over yourself.” Said Mike as he inspected my damp clothes.

“Guys, listen! There’s something really weird about this club.” I said as I peaked over at the two women patiently awaiting Mike and Trevor’s return.

Mike and Trevor simultaneously glanced over at the two women, to which they flirtatiously waved in response.

Mike and Trevor returned their focus to me, and Trevor angrily responded, “The only weird ones around here are you and Joey. Both of you are being total buzzkills tonight.”

“Yeah, dude. Can’t you see we are this close to scoring? I mean, check out these lovely ladies, man!” Mike said as he pointed towards the women.

“Yeah, and haven’t you noticed their weirdly unusual eye colors as well?!” I said with irritation. “In fact, haven’t you noticed that everyone at this club, besides us, has really, weirdly colored eyes? It just doesn’t seem—normal.” I said with alarm.

“So…? What’s your point? Maybe tonight is like a ‘weird eye color’ night or somethin’. Big deal. It’s probably just colored contacts or somethin’.” Mike replied.

“Hey, dude. Are you gonna pay us back for those drinks you spilled on yourself, or what?” Asked Trevor.

“Can you forget the drinks for a minute! I’m telling you guys. Something strange is going on—” I said before suddenly noticing Joey’s absence.

“Hey. Where did Joey go?” I said as I looked around.

“Oh. That big wuss? He went off to the bathroom. I told him to go chill out and splash some water in his face or something. He hasn’t stopped blubbering since we got here.” Said Mike with an annoyed tone.

“Hey. Don’t tell me you’re gonna be a stick in the mud all night now too, are you?” He said with a raised eyebrow.

“Ugh. Whatever. I’ll go check on him and see how he’s doing. I’ll be right back. Don’t do anything stupid!” I said.

Mike and Trevor looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders, then returned to the two women. The women immediately expressed joy at Mike and Trevor’s return as they began flirting once more.

Ugh. Idiots.” I thought as I rolled my eyes.

I turned away and scouted out where the location of the bathrooms could be. I noticed a small hallway at the far end of the club where the crowds of people seemed to thin out.

“Well, that’s as good a place as any to start looking.”

I fought my way through the tight crowds of people while carefully avoiding having any more drinks spilled on me. I could once again feel eyes on the back of my neck as I pushed through the crowds. I stopped to look around and noticed the man from before perched at the bar, his pale-colored eyes locked on me.

Ugh. What a weirdo. Why does he keep staring at me like that? It’s so creepy.

I felt a shiver run down my spine at the sight of his persistent gaze as a thought emerged within my mind.

Could it—could it be that he wants to suck my blood?!

I shook my head and returned my focus to the task at hand as I quickly rushed towards my destination to escape his creepy stare. Once I finally arrived at the small, narrow hallway, I noticed the two doors at the end of the path. One labeled as “Men” and the other labeled “Women.” I pulled on the door to left, and quickly slide inside the small bathroom. The restroom was extremely dark, dank, and very unclean. How anyone could use these restrooms properly while in a drunken state was beyond me. It was no wonder why the bathroom floors were so wet with piss.

“Hey Joey, are you in here? It’s me, Jace.” I called out as I attempted to peer under the stalls.

There was no response, as the music outside continued to shake the walls.

“…Hello? Joey?” I called out again.

The last stall door slowly opened as Joey walked out with his head lowered.

“Oh, there you are.” I said with relief. “I was looking for you. You doing okay?”

I walked over to him, seeing his head raise in response with an uncomfortable expression painted across his face. I gently patted him on the back and met his expression with a soft smile.

“Hey, c’mon. Let’s go regroup with the others, okay?” I said as I gently tried to lead him to the door.

However, Joey quickly resisted. I glanced at him in response and noticed as he struggled to bring words to his mouth.

“I—I’m not going back out there.” He stuttered. “I warned you g—guys about this place…”

I could feel him shivering with fear.

“Hey, look. I get it. There is something really off about this place. It’s making me feel really –uncomfortable– too.”

I looked around the room before looking back at him. “…But do you really wanna hide out the rest of the night in a gross place like this? I know I sure wouldn’t. I say we go join the others, then get out of this place. I’m sure we can make it back to my place just in time for my mom to make us some really awesome pizza rolls. So, what do you say?”

That seemed to have calmed him down a bit as his expression softened and he no longer held his ground. Joey quietly responded with a nod and placed my arm around his shoulder.

“O—okay. You’re right.” He said as he sniffled. “Let’s go.”

“Alright. C’mon, let’s go get the others.” I said as I walked with him to the door.

Suddenly, Joey came to a complete halt and froze in place. I felt his entire body stiffen as I looked at him with confusion.

“What’s wrong? Why’d you stop?” I asked but Joey quickly raised his hand to silence me.

“Shh. Listen. You hear that? That sound…” He said with a look of concentration.

I stared at him for a moment quizzically, then tried to focus on what sound he could be talking about. For a moment, all I could hear was the usual “boom boom boom of the music outside the door, but as I focused harder, I noticed something else. A “popping” sound that is mixing in with the music. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop.

“Wait. What is that? You hear that popping noise?” I asked, but Joey quickly hushed me once more.

Pop. Pop. Pop. The strange noise continued. Then, I could suddenly hear loud screaming. I could feel Joey’s body shiver.

“Jace, we’ve got to go. Now!” He said with a shaky voice.

Joey quickly pulled away from my arm and rushed to the door.

“Wait. What’s going on? Joey!” I called to him as he quickly pulled open the bathroom door a sprinted out.

“What’s going on? What was that all about?” I asked myself as I stared for a moment wondering why Joey suddenly became so flustered.

What’s up with him? And what—what was with that scream?! Maybe I should take his advice and get out of here.

I slowly walked to the door and opened it just a crack to look outside. Suddenly, the door gets rammed open by someone on the other side, knocking me backwards as the person fell to the floor.

“Ow! Jeez. Watch where you’re going.” I said as I regained my balance.

I quickly glanced at the person who had rammed their way through the door and noticed that not only would they not respond, but they were also covered in blood.

What the hell?! Is he… dead?!

I continued staring at the lifeless body as more blood steadily formed a pool on the floor. I snapped myself back to reality and hastily edged around the body to look out the door to see what was happening. I peered out and saw people running and stumbling in every direction while screaming. Fear was emblazoned within all of their faces. Multiple bodies lay motionlessly about the floor, and the air was saturated with the smell of blood.

I stared as the gunman I rapidly looked around for my friends as I kept myself hidden, but suddenly noticed a fire escape on the opposite side of the club from where the crowds of people were retreating.

Wait… there!

If I go through there… Maybe… I might have a better chance!

I might… get out alive!!

But… what if he sees me?!

I looked back at the gunman as he continuously fired at random people attempting to make their escape. Once a random target collapsed to the floor after being shot, the killer approached the unlucky victim, and fired two or three shots mercilessly at their head. Every so often, he kicked and stomped at the heads of the motionless bodies on the floor, confirming his victims were actually dead. I felt my stomach twist as I held back the need to puke, but then it suddenly came to me. This was the perfect distraction for me to make my escape!

I glanced back at the fire escape and noticed nearby tables that had been overturned. I could easily hide behind the tables as I advanced towards the exit, as long as he remained distracted and didn’t see me. I looked back at the gunman to make sure he was still distracted, then I took a deep breath, summoned my courage, and made a mad dash for the table that was closest to me. Once safely behind it, I took a few seconds to calm myself before peaking out to reconfirm my safety.

Keep going… I can—I can make it!

I have to—I have to survive!!

I took a moment to assess my surroundings before I dashed stealthily to the next table to remain hidden. My head pounded painfully as I felt my entire body furiously pulsing blood.

One more… just one more table!

…So close…

Almost there!

Has he… am I still safe? Has he seen me?!

I peeked out once more and noticed the shooter still seemed focused on the crowd escaping through the front entrance. I could feel my legs shivering and I had become completely drenched in sweat. My heart felt as if it would explode through my chest. My mouth was sandpaper dry and tasted of bile. I took another deep breath and made a mad dash for the last table. Once behind it, I tried to control my breathing for fear of the shooter hearing me breathe so heavily.

There—there’s the doorway…

I can… I can make it…

…But what if he sees me?!

I just—I have to just run!!

I stood to make my final sprint towards the fire escape but realized that the gunman had become aware of my escape and began to approach me.

“Don’t think you can get away from me! Get ready to die, leech!” He called out as I felt my body clench up.

My heart dropped into my stomach as I felt a shock pulse throughout my body. I gazed upon his approaching figure and then the nearby fire escape.

Fuck!! What do I—what do I do?!

…WHAT DO I DO?!

I could feel my eyes widen and my muscles tense as I prepared to make the sprint of my life.

~~~*~~~

My mind suddenly returned to the present as three bullets whizzed through the air, and within an instant, burned through my chest. I immediately collapsed to the ground, and felt the oxygen retreat my lungs as blood quickly filled them instead.

I… I can’t… breathe…

My ears rang loudly, preventing me from hearing the gunman as he advanced towards me. I struggled to endure through the burning pain as I choked on blood.

…No. Please… I can’t…

…Somebody…

Help… help me…

Once near me, the shooter knelt beside me and scanned my face with his pitch-black eyes.

“Oh, fuck! You’re not a leech! You’re a kid! FUCK!” He said with fear in his voice.

He quickly rose to his feet, scanned the area for witnesses, then bolted through the dark alley, disappearing into the downpour. I lay motionless for a moment as I listened for another being that can help me as I choked on blood. Too weak to move, I tried desperately to hold on to my life until someone found me, but my vision began to blur as blood continued swarming my throat and lungs. Adrenaline coursed through me, but it was not enough to dull the enormous pain within my chest. Panic and fear clouded my mind as I felt that this might be my final moments of life.

Mom… I’m… sorry. I wish…I…

Tell you “I love you…”

…One last time.

Why—why didn’t I… stay home?

If I had just… stayed home.

Mom… Anyone…

Please… help me.

I could feel tears trickling from my eyes once more as my body grew cold. I could do nothing but dwell on the inevitability of my death until I suddenly noticed a blurry figure as it appeared in the distance.

Please…

…Help… help me.

…Don’t let me… die.

I don’t… wanna… die.

…Please.

I wanted to call out, but my body grew numb, and my breath had been drowned by blood. The dark figure edged closer to my frail and cold body, and then knelt beside me, and gently reached for my face. My vision began to darken, just as the figure came closer to my face. The world turned to black, and my body became lifeless. The only source of warmth my dulling senses could find was a sudden, soft, and graceful touch to my lips. A pleasantly comforting and gentle embrace that almost awakened my soul yet lulled me to a place of complete peace.

Suddenly, a warm liquid came rushing into my mouth from the foreign source of touch, forcing me to gurgle as I swallowed with what air was left in me. This bitter and metallic taste that I have been drowning in has now flooded my stomach as my body tried its hardest to reactively cough and gasp for air. My body attempted to reject the swallowed, foul substance, but it continued to invade my mouth and make its way down my esophagus, demanding digestion.

Then, it happened. A sudden jolt raged throughout my body, as if to be radiating from my stomach, filling me with pain beyond anything I had ever experienced in my entire life. This tingling shockwave, like that of being struck by lightning, coursed through every cell within my body. An overstimulation so powerful, I convulsed in response. Every muscle in my body began to seize and without warning… my heart stopped. Everything around me became cold as my mind and soul fell into a deep darkness. It was as if my entire being had escaped the confinement of my physical form and was allowed freedom, only to be plunged into a never-ending abyss. Everything grew eerily quiet as I felt myself drifting further into pure nothingness. I felt at ease and finally accepted my fate as I assumed that death has already claimed me. My fear, my panic, my pain… everything seemed to wash away and left me with a hollow emptiness that was oddly relaxing.

So, is this what it’s like to die? It’s all so soothing and comforting…

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