Open Your Eyes. Start the Adventure!

The dream was strange. He was lying in bed with a sensation almost like he was floating, but could still feel his weight on the mattress. It didn’t feel the same though. Lighter maybe? He imagined that’s what sleeping on the moon would feel like. He wiggled his toes happily.

Little non-existent needles poked into his skin. It didn’t hurt, only tickled, and gave his fingers and toes the feeling of being mildly shocked. It felt warm, tingly, and fuzzy. It felt like being tucked in as a kid. The feeling slowly crept into his arms and feet, and further up and into his body. After an excruciatingly blissful few moments, the needles and fuzz embraced him. He vibrated in place on his bed and wiggled his toes some more. The lamp next to his bed shut off and the medical equipment that he didn’t even notice in his room stopped their incessant beeping. Weren’t those supposed to mean something to him? Something important? No, that was when he was awake. He didn’t need them now, he was dreaming.

The lamp was out but there was a glow in the room. Was the sun coming up already? No, the window was as dark as ever. It was night. He was sleeping. And dreaming apparently. He rolled his head around trying to find the source of light, a pale bluish glow that seemed to radiate from the walls themselves. Slowly he realized it was him; a glowing ball of energy on the bed tingling his entire being. He raised his hand and it was radiant like a full moon beaming onto freshly fallen snow. In December, it was obviously December snow.

It all faded into another deeper sleep and there was nothing.

Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. It was his heartbeat saying it in his chest. He had heard it his entire life but never noticed it before. It almost sounded like a woman’s voice if you listened hard enough. There was nothing to do but to listen, so he listened. The voice became clearer: Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! The voice was gentle, more asking him if he’d like to wake up, coaxing him to open his eyes, than being a strict order. She said, “Don’t you want to wake up? You’re ready to do this. You don’t think you are, but you are. Open your eyes. Start the adventure!”

After an eternity of nothing that passed in an instant he opened his eyes. 

There was still nothing. The room was black and his eyes saw nothing. He blinked a few times to ensure his eyes were actually opened and they were. He sat up, or tried to sit up, but all there was was a sensation of movement like he was floating in a pool. He moved his head to the left and right but it only moved his consciousness around. He went to move his arms and there was nothing to move. He felt around for his body but not having arms made this a pointless gesture.

He lowered his consciousness down a foot or two and there was no bed. He shot forward ten feet and there was no wall to stop him. He traveled further and no matter where he went there was nothing.

There was nothing but he never felt alone. All around him were people — things, spirits, entities — that were just like him. In the silent and still nothingness around him he made friends with everyone. One Black Thing smiled and laughed at him as if it told a joke, or if he was the joke, and then he laughed along with it. A vibration rang out amongst all of them: You’re the joke! And I’m the joke too! And what a funny joke it all is!

Love, passion, humor, wisdom, yearning, and longing, every possible mix and matched mismatched emotion was around him. He was nothing but he was nothing with all the other nothings around him and he was whole. He was fine. It all made sense. What made sense, he didn’t know, but it made sense. He was there amongst all the things he loved.

WAKE UP!

This time the sound was an alarm clock mixed with angry yelling. “Wake up! You need to get your ass ready for school! It’s already 7:15 and you’re going to miss the damn bus again! And I’m not being late to work again because you woke up late!”

She opened her eyes, rubbed them, and smashed a button on the alarm clock. It was 7:15 — 7:16 now — and it was going to be a rough morning indeed. A flood of memories came back to her in the early morning sun. She had a paper to turn in for social studies. And they were going to learn fractions in math soon. Ugh, all her friends were scared of fractions. And maybe she’d play with that one cute boy during recess if only she could get the courage to do so. Maybe that could wait until tomorrow though…

As she sat up something clicked in her brain. It was only a flash — something she had forgotten about, something really important — but it made her think. Did she forget one of her homework assignments yesterday? Did she leave her art supplies strewn about the living room? Did she forget to do the dishes? Feed her pet doggie? No, it wasn’t any of those but, dang it, she just couldn’t put her finger on what was tickling her memories.

Before she stood up she wiggled her toes and giggled.

Urban Exploration (Part One)

The old factory sat downtown against the river clustered amongst the other abandoned buildings. They didn’t mean anything anymore, relics of an economy long forgotten but whose ghost still remains in America. Everyone in town knew of them but not directly. In memory they only appear as vague and ghostly shapes around the peripheral of actual memories. Countless wedding pictures and social media posts show these ghostly, grim structures hiding in plain sight across the river, but nobody takes notice.

The factory wasn’t special — just one of many — but it was the one we scouted out one weekend night and it became special to us. It was perfect as far as abandoned factories go, tucked away from the main streets, dark and secluded with the street lamps far away. As we wheeled to the side of the building we noticed that the windows, while boarded up nearest to the ground and shattered higher up, were not that high. We’d just have to find a way to get up to them. Riding around to the opposite side of the building we discovered a tree growing, one large branch probing directly into the building, with the single plywood sheet smashed into the interior. The tree was leaning towards the opening almost as if it knew we wanted a way in.

She climbed up the trunk, carefully grabbing the few branches to access the window while I watched our bikes. No one was around so I took a drink of our mutual vodka and waited for her report.

“It’s fine,” she said as she clicked on her flashlight and peered through the smashed window. “It leads to a small room and there’s a table right under the branch.”

“Very cool,” I said.

“Are we doing this now?” She asked.

The alcohol was coursing through both of our veins, I could feel the pull of the adventure, but we could wait. And we should’ve waited. This evening was meant to be an aimless drunken bike ride and only in the midst of the factories had we talked about exploring one. We were just poking around, seeing what could be accessed, and had lucked out; we actually found one to plunder. There’d be other days to explore the abandoned corpse, there was no rush, and next time we could prepare.

“Maybe we should come back next weekend. We could bring some supplies or something.”

“Come on, chicken shit. What ‘supplies’ do we need anyways? We have our phones for lights, and climb up here and give me the vodka. Let’s do this!

She had a point. Maybe I was only being my hesitant self? Another way to pass up the adventure and succumb to my anxiety; adventures are always in the future for me. I took another drink and climbed up after her.

It took a few moments for my eyes to adjust from the dim light of downtown to the utter darkness inside the factory. I turned my phone on and shone the light inside. My eyes followed the bright circle of light as it darted around the room. There was a table a few feet below the window strewn with old papers and file folders. The back of my mind vaguely noted that none of these papers were printed. Handwritten scrawl all over the pages, numbers and codes that ceased to have meaning to anyone alive except some old retiree living somewhere in the world.

We both climbed down onto the table and then to the floor. Filing cabinets lined one wall while desks took up the rest. All useful machines, typewriters, phones, and whatever else had been in the room had been removed. Papers covered the floor and a few broken lamps layed sideways with their bulbs smashed and glass glittering in the pale light.

An old wooden door led to a hallway that ran in both directions. Across from us was another “office room” (at least this is what we called it). This room was the same as the last, littered with the same cryptic papers and trash, although the far wall was all dusty glass. We walked up and peered into the blackness of the factory floor. Some large machines remained, old, decrepit and long being useful to anyone. Our lights didn’t shine far and we didn’t know what the rest of the floor contained, shrouded in a darkness that the little ambient light from the few holes in the roofs couldn’t dispel.

We walked down the hallway and entered another room along the outer wall like the one that led us inside. This room wasn’t totally dark. A solitary oil lamp sat on the floor. We both looked at each other and crawled our lights around the room. There was a pile of blankets a few feet from the lamp in a corner of the room. It looked like another heap of junk, except that it moved.

We gasped and stared at each other in the dim reflected light from our lights. Eyeing the pile closer we noticed there was a shaggy head of hair peeking up under the covers. The bum coughed, rolled over, and tucked himself into his nest, apparently still fast asleep. Our senses came back to us after this initial shock. We noticed the pipe of empty cans and bottles of beer and alcohol as well as a few cans of food. Ravioli. Beans. Soup. Old bread and fast-food bags also littered around the nest.

We nodded to each other and silently left the room, retreating back to the windowed office room.

“That scared the shit out of me. I didn’t expect anyone to actually be here.” She said.

“I about pissed my pants. But it is an old factory. There’s probably homeless people all over the place.” I said. “Should we leave? I think we should leave.”

“No. There’s this whole building to explore, we can’t leave now. He’s sleeping anyways and didn’t notice us so we’re fine. We’ll just be very quiet, okay?”

“Sure. I guess.”

“Gimme the vodka; stop hogging it.”

I pulled the bottle out and we took drinks from it.

“Well, you ready?” She asked.

“Sure. Let’s see what…”

Footsteps on the floor above us and we froze. It didn’t sound like a single person either, maybe two or three. They didn’t seem like they were scared of making noise either, their footsteps being confidently loud and booming in the silent stillness of the building.

“How about now? Are you ready to get the hell out of here?” I asked.

“Let’s wait. Maybe they’ll…”

The footsteps moved across the ceiling above us and down a flight of stairs in the distance. The sounds echoed from the end of the hallway looming in the distance.

We shut our lights off and hid up against the wall next to the doorway. If anyone looked in our room maybe they’d miss us?

Her courage was greater than mine. She peered around and out of the doorway. There were three people, one carrying an oil lamp and the other two had, well what did they have? She couldn’t clearly see.

They stopped at the room with the bum, and a voice spoke up. “Will he work?”

“Yes,” another voice replied.

“Do you think he’ll fight?”

“No. He’s passed out drunk. Get him.”

The figures walked into the room and we heard rustling and grunting. A raspy voice seemed to be mumbling and questioning something and was silenced by the sound of fist against flesh. There was more mumbling and grunting, this time with an edge of pain to it.

“Good. Get him upstairs.”

The figures helped the bum limp his way along the hallway with something held to his neck. It could only be a knife. The footsteps faded into the silence of the building, into the silence of the night, and once again transformed into those threatening steps on the ceiling above us.

“We’re leaving now, right? Let’s get out of here. Fuck all of this.” I said. “Unless you’re still bold and courageous for some reason.” I was joking; I wanted to leave.

She grabbed the bottle out of my pocket and took a drink bigger than I’d seen her do thus far. “Let’s check it out. Why not? He’s in trouble, it’s obvious, and maybe we can help him.”

“What kinda trouble do you think he’s in? They can’t rob him, he has nothing, so…?”

“Come on. Let’s go.” I followed sheepishly as she led the way through the darkness towards the stairway.

The Virus (Part Two)

A typical trip to the store during a pandemic.

Note: This is a continuation of The Virus (Part One). I orginally planned for this to be a two-part story, but it looks like it’ll be a three-parter.

Who is infected? Who isn’t? You can’t tell: treat everyone as a hazard. The six-foot rule? No, give people ten or twenty feet, as much as you possibly can because your life is at stake. The virus is small, invisible, and deadly. Walking corpses of the future pumping respiratory failure into the air with their still-functioning lungs. I picture the air currents and the wind stirring the invisible death into the air, swirling and making beautiful unseen vertices mixing virus and atmosphere together.

A man is riding his bike along my side of the road. I’m upwind of him, and picturing the air leaving his mouth and swirling around his cheeks and chin, around his neck, and into the slipstream he’s dragging behind him. He’s not a threat with the air currents today. Any death he might be carrying blows the other way and I’m safe. As safe as can be in this world at least.

The rest of the trip to the dollar store was uneventful, at least as uneventful as you could expect in these times. A few gunshots and screams rang out in the distance, punctuating the silence of our new world with reminders of the horrors occurring nearby. A drive-by shooting a mile ahead on the road I was walking along; I could see the car slow down and the crack crack of gunshots delayed by five seconds, and the small group of people walking on the side of the road fleeing and collapsing. I couldn’t tell if murder was involved from this distance.

And clouds of smoke rose up to the east, near downtown. More fires, more rioting, more unrest. It was all so uneventful that I didn’t pay it much mind. This was the world now.

Finally I arrived at the store, but as I reached the front corner I noticed something. Blood, a lot of blood on the sidewalk and road that led around the side of the store. The blood smeared towards the back as if someone was dragged away; the streaks leading around the back corner of the store.

My choices were laid out in front of me in a mere fraction of a second. Continue on into the store and pretend that I didn’t notice the blood, cower my head and flee, or investigate the scene. My heart started pounding and I began to shake with adrenaline once again filling my body. Fight or flight? Decisions had to be made even if adrenaline cripples logical thought. Before I realized it my knife was out and I was turning the corner to the back of the store. The choice was made, but seemingly not by me.

The path of blood led to the store’s dumpster area, a tiny fenced-in area to hide the trash the store accumulates daily. The gate was slightly propped open and the path of blood welcomed me through the gate. One new problem now; there was a second path of blood leading from the other side of the building, two streaks of blood from each side of the store. What awaited me along with the pungent smell of trash and refuse?

I slowly peered around the gate with knife in one hand and pepper spray in the other, my body permanently shaking from what might greet me. I was relieved to find two bodies, one with their neck slit wide open and one with a myriad of gunshot wounds in the chest. Relieved because dead bodies weren’t a threat to me, only a sign of a threat, a threat that wasn’t in my immediate area. The shaking still continued though; the mystery still hadn’t been solved.

A weapon, a gun, anything? The man whose neck that was slit open — both of them armed guards popularly employed to stop robberies and hostage situations in these troubling times — had no gun on him, with his holster strangely empty with the strap open. The other man, the one with the gunshots, still had his weapon. I quickly changed my gloves and took the firearm. It would serve me better than it would serve him. Crouched down, I noticed bloody footsteps leading to and from the dumpsters and back around to the front of the store.

Another conflict arose within me between fighting or fleeing, but the new weapon in my hand urged me on. I took a guard’s gun which was a crime itself, and what if I was charged for these murders? Nothing to worry about though, more crimes were more important to investigate even if the law could eventually catch up to me. Once all of this shit was over they could charge me. That was later, in the indefinite future, and I was determined to survive until that day.

Once again, before I knew it I was standing next to the double glass doors at the front of the store. The world was silent — too silent — and time seemed to stand still. I could feel the sun creeping slowly across the sky, my shadow passing as a sluggish sundial on the sidewalk. More choices — act or flee — but here I was: why run now? Everyone fantasizes about these do or die moments where logic doesn’t apply; what you think you’d do you’d never do and my intuition to flee was countered by this chance encounter to finally do something. Face your fate. Confront the demon in the store whose bloody footprints lead directly to his lair, because the alternative was boring everyday life. Escape it even if it means likely death.

The first door opened quietly as I gently eased through it. And the second door? One of those damn bells to notify the store employees when someone entered. Even though I tried to open it slowly, the bell still jingled making a piercingly loud sound in the silence of the world. No sound answered the bell in return. Everything was silent, still, and oppressive.

But not totally silent as I discovered upon entering the store. Strange muffling arose from behind the counter. I stood there for a moment to gauge the layout of the store and listened for any sounds from the beast that might be lurking in here. Still and silent. Only the rustling behind the counter gave my senses something to latch onto. I glanced over and an employee was seated on the floor, gagged and tied up with the look of sheer panic on her face. She appeared unharmed and nodded her head towards the back of the store, with unintelligible grunts accompanying each motion. The beast was back there, she was saying.

More oppressive silence. It was lurking, hiding, stalking me. I crept forward with my finger on the trigger ready to defend myself and the helpless employee if I needed to. Creeping forward step by step until I reached the end of one of the aisles where I hid on the other side of the end cap. 

This time faint footsteps were heard. Cautious footsteps at the opposite end of the aisle. I looked around trying to formulate some plan of attack, some plan for defense, shoot to kill or shoot to wound? Too many thought racing through my head to make sense of anything. And…and above the door was a mirror: one of those spherical mirrors that allows you to see nearly the entire store in a tiny glass ball. Distorted perspectives but the human eye is sensitive to motion, and at the end of the aisle I was lurking at, a shape moved.

I waited until the shape was halfway down the aisle and peered around the racks to get a glimpse of whoever was stalking me. Gunshots immediately rang out in my direction, some missing down the aisle and shattering into the main door while others slammed into the shaving behind me. This man was unhinged, not even paying attention or deciding if I was a threat or not. Instant firing to kill, reckless firing, and my mind was made up: Kill or be killed. There was no reasoning with this person. Shoot first and enjoy your life if you still had it after time ceased to be frozen.

More creeping from the man towards me. I cleared my throat and said in a weak and shaky voice, “Alright. Let’s talk about this. Okay?” There was no reply besides the footsteps creeping towards me. In the mirror he was three-quarters of the way down the aisle, about fifteen feet away from my location. In the distorted mirror I could see his arm extended with the firearm poised to fill my body full of lead.

“Come on, let’s talk. I’m not a cop. I’m…nobody.” No reply. Unhinged. Unreasonable. Off the rails. And he was almost here.

I shot out from behind the endcap with my arms extended. The man with wild eyes seemed surprised, as if he could sneak up and kill me and I wouldn’t bat an eye or fight otherwise, the finger on his trigger poised, but I was quicker. Filled with adrenaline from the past ten minutes of stopped time, my body was as tense as a compressed spring, and at the tip of the spring ready to snap was my finger. The trigger jarred back and forth an indefinite amount of times before time unfroze and the moment was over. The man lay on the ground ten feet from me, slightly quivering extremities until all motion ceased.

And I realized I had killed a man. A fellow human being. Kill or be killed, right?

More footsteps sounded from the rear of the store, somehow quieter than the man’s careful steps moments earlier. I held the gun up again, unsure of how much ammo was left, but there wasn’t time to do anything about it. Bluff if necessary; the gun looked fully-loaded anyways. Recite the mantra again: Kill or be killed.

Around the end of the aisle shuffled a girl, maybe five- or six-year-old. She looked at me, down to the man on the ground, and then looked back at me. She walked over to the man and sat down cross-legged next to him. There were no tears or cries or shouts or curses, just a glazed look on her eyes. The same glazed look the man on the floor had.

“Da…daddy?” she asked the man bleeding on the floor.

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The Vacant Lot

A bike ride past a vacant field filled with memories.

Note: Instead of working on the actual “coherent” stories I’ve been trying to write, I’ve been reading the older stories I’d written years ago. They’re not too bad, and it’s fun to tidy them up a bit. This is one of them.

Without a clear goal or plan I turned left at this street and right at another. I was a free spirit, riding in whichever direction I fancied at the time. The way I took was dictated by emotion and past memory: I remember going down a certain street in high school, or a girl I used to know lived down a street which I blindly turned down. Memories were everywhere — the time was different and sometimes the scenery was different — but the memories still lingered in some way even though they were horribly nonexistent in the present.

I rode by the park we used to play football in, years ago in high school. I wondered if we would ever get people together to play again. Maybe as a ten-year, twenty-year, or even a thirty-year reunion. We could be fifty-year-olds trying to play tackle football at the old park we used to play in. I knew we wouldn’t, and at most maybe a friend or two would meet up someday and throw a football around for nostalgic reasons. But those games, no, they were forever gone. No one ever knew at the time we were playing the last football game that we’d ever play.

The street I was on along the park also had other familiarity to it. It took a few moments of thought — some tying of the strings of my memory — but I finally connected the dots in my head: this was the street my ex-girlfriend and I had rented a house on. It was long ago, not terribly long ago — only a few years — but I was immensely changed since then, making it feel like ages had passed. I felt decades older and wiser even though I’d only gone around the sun two and a half times since. I had no goals or plans that day, so I continued on down the street. It’d be nice to ride by the old house and reminisce.

As I got closer to the house we had rented I realized something; the houses that were along this street were gone. I remembered years earlier there had been a flood, these houses which bordered on the creek had become lost causes, and the city moved to purchase and demolish them. Her and I were together when the flood happened, and being alongside the creek allowed us to see a large part of what had happened. We were on the higher side of the creek and our street didn’t flood; our house wasn’t afloat. Around us were houses seemingly boats in endless water: drifting in a lake that had appeared out of nowhere from the clouds and the rain one August night. The vacant lots allowed me to see the next street over, unimpeded by trees, houses, or any other obstruction and it seemed very strange. Only the creek which had caused the flooding was between me and the street to the north. The creek seemed harmless and nothing like the demon that I knew it could be if fed well enough.

I continued on and finally arrived where our old house was, but something didn’t seem right. I glanced back at the street sign to make sure I didn’t mistake what block I was on, and it was the block, but where was the house? The vacant fields of grass that had stretched endlessly also stretched into this area completely catching me off guard. And further down the road, the field continued. Had the city demolished the entire area?

I slowed and eased my bike towards the curb at the location where I thought the house used to be. There was the same, bland grassy field and nothing gave away the hints of the past. But here, along the curb, was a tree: a single tree between the sidewalk and the street. As I parked under it, I glanced up and felt something. It was a tree, a tree that was unremarkable in every way possible, but something in my memory moved. This was the tree I had parked under for years straight, never really looking up to examine it but seeing it so frequently made an imprint on my memory. It was a ghost, an image of a peripheral that etched its way into my mind. Never noticed but always there. It felt familiar, like an old friend or acquaintance, and I knew this was where the house used to be.

I looked at the field with determination and yearning. Behind me was slightly lower where a driveway used to be, and imagining the memory of the property fit like a puzzle to this sparse field with a creek in the middle of it. Here was where the driveway was, and here was where I put our garbage out on a Wednesday, and there was where the next door neighbors lived, and over there was where I’d sit on the steps and think about us and how we’d never work.

I frowned as I examined the vacant field some more. The memories were both good and bad and they randomly came at me with no rhyme or reason; they just appeared as ghosts of the location. 

I thought of the house, and where I happened to be currently. There was a pile of rubble of the old house somewhere and I wondered if anyone thought of the memories they held. There was a chunk of concrete out there in the world that I walked on daily, and a board of wood that creaked every time we went up the steps, and the walls that watched us smile, cry, scream, and yell as the days came and passed. They existed somewhere and in some form out in the world without anyone but myself knowing their history.

Reality slowly creeped back in as I stared into the air. I was standing there next to a field and, well, I was on a bike ride that day. Feeling the outside world pressing in on my senses again, I mounted the bike and kicked off from the curb that her car tire had rubbed on countless times. I imagined that maybe there were bits of rubber from her car on my shoes as I sped off down the street. But that was the past that was past and this was the neverending present and it was time to get on with life.

I moved on from that day, from that leisurely bike ride, without much conscious thought about what I had seen. Going to work, sleeping, eating, and generally existing were enough to fill my time, and I didn’t think of the lost house very much. But as much as I’d have liked to think it didn’t weigh on me, it must have, because my mind would somehow turn to the image of the empty field with the creek behind it, and it would seem to occur when I was alone, trying to not think of anything at all. As I tried to fall asleep, I’d see the field again, and sometimes the house that used to be there. I thought of her, and wondered what she was up to. The thoughts were never strong enough to give me pause, to keep me awake at night, or to make me think deeply; they would randomly appear and then after a few thoughtful moments, they’d drift away into the oblivion from which they came.

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Clubbin’ in The Skooma Den

Pip the Argonian goes on a violent rampage in The Skooma Den.

Note: I don’t usually post chapters from my Morrowind fanfic here, mostly because it’s over at Wattpad, but I think this chapter came out fucked up enough to serve as a stand-alone story. If you’d like to read more of it, here’s the link.

The skooma den only a few buildings down from The Eight Plates didn’t have a proper name: only The Skooma Den. It was known to everyone in the city certainly, but the official view of nearly every inhabitant of Balmora was to ignore its presence entirely. The locals who lived quiet and happy lives gave the place a wide berth, barely even glancing in its direction as they passed by. Imperial law enforcement didn’t want anything to do with it despite it breaking countless laws, mostly because their jobs were supported by it. The lowlifes that inhabited the place surely caused trouble elsewhere, usually minor crimes like thieving, stealing, or selling their drugs outside of the establishment, and the Empire was happy to crack down on those poor souls. This way they didn’t have to deal with cutting off the head of the monster whose tentacles inadvertently paid their salaries. And the local Dunmer house in charge didn’t want anything to do with the place either due to the countless higher ups within House Hlaalu having very important obligations to the building and its business. The pockets of corruption are always deep and widespread and it’s best not to get tangled into the web too much if you valued your life.

The inhabitants of The Skooma Den were the lowest that Tamriel had to offer the world. Those well over the cliff of addiction, those who had thrown all aspects of their lives away in chase of the ever fading high they couldn’t live without. In fact, the high was their life and they accepted it for better or for worse (mostly worse). It’s noble in a way to accept what your life is or isn’t and these people surely woke up one day, well down the skooma hole but still grasping desperately at a normal and happy life, only to finally accept their fate. Looking in the mirror they would eventually say a variation of this: I am a skooma addict: this is who I am.

The place was part skooma dealing, part partying; a safe zone for the skooma junkie to let their inhibitions loose with other like-minded individuals. The floor was littered with the corpses of old and busted glass skooma pipes and alcohol bottles, and no one seemed to care about walking around barefoot on the sharp shards. Skooma dulls the nerves and leaves you feeling wistful and undefeatable: to them the glass slicing their feet with every sloppy and misplaced step only seemed some abstraction of the mind because their minds were Truly Free. There was no need for physical distractions from their consciousness, at least the bad physical distractions.

And the back room was called “the orgy room” for obvious reasons. It was a constant naked, hedonistic, and fluid-stained room with no policy to participation at all. When you felt the urge to partake you went into the room and did whatever the skooma told you to do in the moment. And when you finally got your fill (were filled or did the filling, it didn’t matter) you left. No one cared anymore about the vague ideas of love or partnership. Everything was temporary and they all grasped at the temporary pleasures whenever they felt like they needed them.

One day an Argonian walked into The Skooma Den from the Balmoran streets. He had never been there before but had heard whispers of the place since he had arrived weeks ago. And he didn’t have a reason to go there or to not go there besides some vague curiosity. Pip, as his name was, didn’t do any drugs passionately and certainly wasn’t the type of person to find The Den an appealing place to be. That would require having purpose, the purpose of living your life as a lost addict. Even a twisted and flawed purpose was still purpose and Pip didn’t have any.

No one noticed Pip as he walked in, his scaly Argonian feet being immune to the blood stained glass that littered the floor. The addicts were all too blasted out of their mind to notice him. Pip looked around, slowly pulled out his two meter long silver staff from his back, and held it poised to strike.

Pip walked up to a man on his hands and knees screaming, occasionally looking at his bloody hands laughing for reasons only he was aware of. And then he struck him over the back lightly. The man giggled. Pip swung again, this time harder than before. The man laughed even more. One more strike from his club with as much Argonian strength as he could muster — enough to break bones if hitting the right spot at the right angle — knocked the man down to the floor, his hands sliding violently over the shards of glass as he collapsed. He rolled over, looked at Pip, pointed, and started laughing so hard he began crying. His body was dead to any physical pain.

Pip thought this was the perfect place for him. 

He walked into the central crowd of people smoking, talking, laughing, screaming, making out, whatever it was that the skooma addicts were occupied with. And he started swinging as hard as he could at anyone within reach of the massive staff. Surprised looks from the junkies: where was this Argonian before? Some people took the bludgeons from the Argonian as a friendly challenge — another skooma head looking for a fight — and tried to tackle him. Pip knocked them down viciously as each charged him. He wheeled and danced around the room swinging his club, knocking people down, raising bruises, removing teeth, and snapping bones like some twisted and graceful ballerina of pain, his club using the force of its length and angular velocity to inflict massive damage to anyone it connected with. The dance only lasted ten minutes before everyone was lying on the jagged floor, dried blood from the past mixing with fresh blood from Pip’s outburst. The blood was black in the strange red and blue lanterns that lit the smoke filled room making the scene appear as a dream.

Pip did the same thing in the orgy room, but this time the occupants seemed to take pleasure from all the pain, it all being the same in their state. Blood mixed in with the various fluids on the bed, chairs, and floor until everyone lay silent, bludgeoned to the brink of their lives during their orgy.

“Clubbin’ fun for Pip. Me do again tomorrow.” And he left.

Not that he killed anyone: Pip wasn’t that viscous. And not that he had any negative views of the skooma addicts. No, he only chose to beat these people within inches of their lives because he could. No one would notice, no one would care, their families and loved ones discarding them long ago. And they could always get healed, either via the Temple, the Cult, or from alchemists and Mages’ Guild restoration magic experts. As their drug wore off and the pain became impossible to ignore, they’d surely crawl, hobble, and limp their way to a healer and beg for something to be done to help them.

As Pip walked in the following day he was greeted with a cheer. They knew him this time and they couldn’t wait for their beating to begin.

“Come on, you can’t do shit to me today! Let’s have a brawl!” On Imperial challenged.

“You got me in the ribs yesterday, get my face today!” A Dunmer exclaimed.

“End my life; I am miserable. I want to die!” screamed one Khajiit in pure joy.

And Pip obliged them all (except the Khajiit), dancing like a ballerina for the second night in a row, beating them all to a pulp once again. Twirling, swinging, clubbing. Some people, before collapsing from the beating, even slipped a few septims into Pip’s robes. They were huge fans of him and his dancing.

Pip showed up for the third night to even more passionate cheers. But this time he was bored with it. Clubbing was only fun for a while and sadly for Pip these people enjoyed it a bit too much. It wasn’t spontaneous anymore. He had a crowd to please, an obligation. It was a job. It was required. And what would he do now that his two days of clubbin’ in The Skooma Den was over before they had even begun?

Pip silenced the expecting and elated cheers with only a few sentences.”Pip no club tonight. Pip no club anymore. Pip bored. Pip have mission to do. Ald’ruhn. Hmm. Pip go find Funny Head. Yessss.” He turned around and walked out of The Skooma Den never to return again, the disappointed howls, screams, and protests following him out the door and into the barren evening streets.

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