It Is Always Three O'Clock in the Morning

Episode 3: Return of the Fly

Music: Misfits – Return of the Fly

As Roman and his thugs cross the parking lot to meet Penny, Angel, and Anthony hanging out next to the blood-filled ambulance, Anthony steps forward to take point. He quickly introduces himself to Roman, who sidesteps him and calls, “Penny Scholtz! Who is this jerk?” Anthony tries to re-explain, but doesn’t get too far before Roman and Angel lock eyes, and recognition dawns. Roman cracks, “Hello kiddo,” but Angel shoots forward screaming curses in Spanish as he sprints past first Penny and then Anthony, intending to kick the shit out of mother-fucker who did this to him. Anthony gets in his way, tries to hold him back, but he’s no match for Angel’s snarling, bestial rage. Penny pulls a gun from her purse and yells, “Angel, don’t make me shoot you!” but Angel pays no attention to anything other than his white-hot rage.

Angel, now shrieking incoherently and snapping his jaws as saliva pours over his lips, barrels into Roman, trying to slam him to the ground. But after a moment or two of struggle, Angel is on the ground and Roman is staggering backwards. He’s got his hands out, “Hey, kid, ha ha, you keep it up if you want, good luck!” In a split-second Angel is on his feet again, powered by the stolen blood pumping in his veins, his face distorting and stretching in a parody of canine form, and scary fuck-off claws sliding out of his finger as he steps toward Roman again. “Come on, son, let’s see what you’re capable of,” Roman taunts. But before Angel can dive into him again, Anthony tackles him to the ground, and holds Angel down before his frenzied ass can get them in any more trouble.

About fifteen minutes later, Angel is strapped down inside the ambulance to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself or someone else. The others stand tensely outside, discussing the deal at hand. “I’m sorry for that,” Anthony explains primly, “Let me reintroduce myself?” Roman cocks his head, “Seriously, Penny, who is this jerkoff?” Penny replies, “He’s… an associate, I guess?” Anthony just plows on ahead, nonetheless, and before the deal is done, he asks for Roman to let Jo and Tiff be his problem inside of letting them meet the dawn. “Why the hell would you want that? What’s your angle?” Roman asks incredulously. “I’m looking for friends, you could say,” Anthony replies. “Well, okay, let me give you a little bit of free advice,” says Roman, “Around people like us, you want to be very careful of the kind of friends you make, because make the wrong ones and you will end up dead, or worse. And I can think of few things that fit the description of ‘wrong friends’ more than junkie trash. But yeah, sure, you want them, you got it. Have fun.”

Their conversation is interrupted, though, when Anthony emerges from the ambulance, having calmed down and unstrapped himself. Roman fixes him with a smile, “Feeling better, kiddo?” Angel just grimaces, his teeth still jagged and fanged, “Fuck you.” Roman laughs, “What? Nothing more than that? We aren’t going to have any father-son moments? But I’ve got so much wisdom to share!” Angel just stares for a moment, before very quietly replying, “No. I don’t want anything from you. All I want you to know is that someday, no matter how long it takes, I will destroy you for what you’ve done to me.” Roman rolls his eyes, “Oh, okay, I see it. You’ve gone all Louis – you’re so weepy about your terrible fate, oh poor woe is me, on and on. Well, let me ask you a question. If you’re such a monster, if you’re so cursed, why are you still here? You could have checked out at any moment before now. Suicide is painless, and all that. Yes, you can say it’s to get revenge on me, but keep in mind every day you’re still walking, you’re hurting people. Probably killing them! So save me your moral righteousness shit, because it smells rotten.” They stare at each other for a long moment, before Angel mutters and just walks away, followed shortly by Anthony and Penny.

The next night, the trio heads over to the scummy punk bar where Jo and Tiff play shows, and wind their way throw the crowd into the back to find the pair. Knocking on the door of their back room, the door is thrown open by a hard-looking woman with very short black hair and a wad of 20s in her hand. Behind her a waifish blond girl lies half-dozing on a couch. “Do you have our shit,” the woman at the door asks, but steps back and raises her voice when Anthony steps immediately into the room. Penny steps in after him, and Angel remains leaning against (and blocking) the door. “Who the fuck are you?” the woman asks angrily. Anthony raises a hand, “Hey, listen, we need to talk. Jo?” Anthony tries to introduce himself as a friend, but the woman who does seem to be Jo just gets angrier. “Listen, asshole, I’ve got a knife, and I will cut you.” Anthony grins, “You know, I’ve got a knife too. And I won’t cut you.” She does not react well to this and they go back and forth for a while with Anthony trying to explain how Roman has cast them out and he is their best friend right now, and Jo trying to get them the hell out. At the least, Anthony gets across to Jo that everyone here is kindred, but this just seems to make her angrier.

As they argue, the waifish Tiff calls over from the couch, “Jo, is this them? Do they have the stuff you said we could get?” She pauses, “Could I, you know, bite them?” It’s clear she’s high out of her mind, and while Jo and Anthony snipe back and forth and Angel smolders, Penny walks over to the girl and begins speaking softly, very softly, very close to her ear. After a few moments, Tiff sits up on the couch and begins to sob quietly but powerfully. Jo notices and immediately walks to her, sitting on the couch and putting her arm around the girl protectively. “What in the Jesus Christing Fuck is wrong with you people? You come in here, trying to tell me what that Roman has basically given us to you, acting like I should be thanking you for god knows what, and now you make my fucking girlfriend cry? What. The. Fuck.” Penny looks at Tiff, “I was, um, helping her. She’s a junkie, and now she probably won’t be. One way or the other.” Anthony jumps in with, “Yeah, that’s really not very healthy for her, and you’re buying drugs for her?” Jo explodes again: “You bastard. You absolute bastard. She has a problem, I know it’s a shitty situation, but what do you want me to do? We’re working on it.” Penny says softly, “Yes, now you are.” And Jo begins to get worked up again, yelling at the three.

At this point, Angel has had enough. He stops smoldering and stalks to the center of the room, and matches Jo in volume and anger. “Okay, now it’s time for you to listen. You can sit there with your righteous anger all you want, fine, you do whatever the hell you want. But, and I have no idea why he did this for a couple of strays, especially a junkie like her, but Anthony here literally just saved your ass and no, we’re not asking anything in return for it. So you can sit here and get staked tomorrow night, or you could stop being such an idiot and trust the three people in this city who have actually tried to help you.” At this, Jo grows quiet, and after a moment or two she agrees to go to the address Anthony gives them, the abandoned flophouse he and Angel inhabit.

Having handled that problem, the trio leaves Jo to comfort Tiff and they remove themselves to the bar proper. As they pretend to drink, Anthony turns to Penny: “So, I have to ask, what did you do to her in there?” Penny gives him a side-eyed look, “You’re not the only one who can make people do things, like when you go all sparkly. Or feel things, for that matter.” Anthony mulls this over for a second and says, “Yeah, I’m sure, it just seemed very different from what I did to those guards the other night. More… painful.” Penny looks irritated, “Of course not. We’re not the same, Anthony. Not in any sense.” Angel throws in with an edge of bitterness, “Yeah. Don’t compare us to you, because we’re not like you. We don’t pick up strays, for example.” Anthony shoots back, “What? Uh, I don’t know what you mean? We’re helping those people.” “Yeah,” Penny says, “you’re helping them by taking a junkie into your house. Angel is right, that is fucking stupid.” Angel nods, “Exactly. You don’t understand, Anthony, you did grow up in this world. Junkies are poison, and she will fuck is. Christ.” They argue back and forth over this for a while, with Anthony being well-intentioned or naïve (depending on which side you believe), until Angel finally storms off in a fit of frustration. “Damn,” Anthony says to Penny, “What got into his kibbles this morning?” Penny sighs, and also stalks out of the room annoyed.

Later that evening, Penny is sitting in her apartment, staring at the plastic food taking up all the room in her fridge now. (It was more convenient than replacing groceries of real food, which inevitably rotted when not eaten.) She picks up her phone, and dials Tyrone’s number. After a few rings he answers, “Yeah, Penny.” “Hey, Tyrone,” Penny says, “I just did this thing for Roman. And I gotta say, I think I’m confused about a few things. Specifically, I thought that by working for you guys, you were going to look out for me. I thought you guys looked out for each other. Instead I did this thing for Roman, and now I feel worse off than I started.” There is a long pause on the line. “Hm. Yeah. Penny, you have to believe me, I want to help you. I want to make you one of us, have your back, I really do. I think you’re smart, and you’re right not to trust Roman. He says he’s an anarch, sure, but what he really wants us is for us to shack up with the Sabbat. Between him and that Sabbat collaborator bitch of a Prince we have, this city is fucked seven ways to Sunday, and I’d like to have you on our side. But, see, here’s the thing. You’re too attached to your old life, Penny. I know you still see your sister. And her kid. If you want to be one of us, Penny, you’ve got to let that go. It’s over. You get this?” There is another long pause as Penny stares into space. “Um… I’ll call you back,” and she hangs out.

Meanwhile, Angel speaks to Marcel via phone as well. Marcel assures him he’ll get his money soon, and that Viktor is pleased with all three of them for what went down. “Although,” Marcel comments, “steer clear of the Prince right now, and the Sheriff to boot. Seems something happened in their territory to the hospital, and they’re fucking pissed. Oh well. Hey, could you get me Anthony’s number?” And thus, a few short minutes later, Anthony’s phone buzzes. Picking it up, he sees a text from Marcel: an address and a name, “Arianne.”

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Episode 2: Terror Couple Kill Colonel

A man sits on the stoop of a rowhouse where plywood sheets cover the holes where windows should go. It is early evening. A pale figure and another person obviously deferent to the pale individual are walking down the street toward the man. The pale woman greets the sitting man, “What the fuck, man?” They argue. The man sells drugs for the woman, but he can’t pay for the product because his supply has been ripped off, and he doesn’t know by who or even really how. Shouting follows, as the man tries to convince the woman he’ll get the money back (somehow) and that he’s still truthworthy. The woman has had enough of this, and orders her companion to beat the shit out of the man. As the woman and her companion leave, the now bloody and broken man crawls painfully back into the rowhouse, hoping to sleep off his possibly broken nose on the bare floor. It is only too late that he realizes something else is in the rowhouse with him, and as the door closes on the dark room he mumbles, “Who the hell are you?” These are the last words the man ever says.

.

A couple of weeks after Angel and Anthony’s botched introduction to the society of pretentious monsters calling themselves Camarilla, they sit in a downtown diner with new acquaintance Penny Scholtz. Penny is a fellow “Kindred,” but unlike the others she was recently turned, just like Angel and Anthony, and frankly she seems less batshit than the others they’ve met. As a result, they’ve struck up a kind of friendship, and now they sit chatting in a diner while moving forks around plates of food they don’t intend to eat. Penny’s dish positively reeks of garlic, and she is making more of a show of pretending to eat it while looking over at other diner patrons. They are making conversation quietly about the other underground group, the “Sabbat,” or more specifically about how little they know about them other than their supposed brutality, when the bell above the door rings and Marcel walks in.

Marcel calls over to Angel, telling him he’s been looking for him all over. He also says hello to Anthony, and then smarts off Penny, questioning her on whether “Edith knows her poodle is playing outside the yard?” “Fuck you, Marcel,” she replies. Marcel explains that Viktor has a job for Angel and “the strays you hang out with.” Apparently, a couple of anarch firebrands have been intruding on Viktor’s territory in the slummier parts of town, and Viktor needs that taken care of. “Specifically,” Marcel says, “Viktor wants the problem solved, so this is a good thing. He sees you as a problem solver. Good news.” Angel confirms he’ll receive his usual payment, and then agrees. Marcel turns to Anthony and Penny, “How about it? You guys in too?” Anthony demands information on Arianne, who he suspects is his sire, and when Marcel agrees he is in. Penny on the other hand feels she could use a friend in Viktor – anyone but Edith, really – and goes along with it too. “Fantastic,” Marcel grins. “Here’s the address – their names are Jo and Tiff and they play in some shitty Marxist punk band at this place on the southeast side, The Slopbucket.” He laughs. “Good luck.”

The trio do a bit of background digging, looking up The Slopbucket’s ugly Myspace page and seeing that Jo and Tiff would be performing tomorrow night. They decide to go down and check out the place tonight, though, hoping to scope the place out or even just find them hanging out. An hour later, they find themselves standing in a scummy bar, with blaring punk noise coming from stereos on the walls. Penny excuses herself and walks out the door, while Angel and Anthony move to the bar to try and get some questions answered. Anthony calls over to the bartender and asks if he knows Jo and Tiff, that he and his friend are buddies of theirs and want to find them. The bartender responses incredulously and asks aloud if Anthony is a narc. He’s in fact generally unhelpful.

While this is going on, a bleary-eyed woman, swaying with obvious intoxication, approaches Angel. “Did you say you’re looking for Jo and Tiff?” she yells over the music. When Angel nods, the woman leans in close and shouts, “Are you guys, like, with them?” Angel looks at her with a confused look and responds, “With them? What does that mean?” The woman tries to fix him with a conspiratorial look and goes, “With them! You know, like, I don’t know, are you guys like them? Do you, uh, you know?” Angel looks her over for a second, before leaning in himself and saying with an edge of menace, “Why, do you want it?” At this, the woman stammers and tries to evade, saying she didn’t mean anything by it, as she begins backing away, quickly moving away from the bar.

Outside, Penny is on her cell phone down a secluded grimy alley. She’s speaking to Tyrone, one of the two Kindred in charge of the anarchs in Cathedral City. He can’t help with Jo and Tiff, he says, but he gives her the number of the other influential anarch, a man named Roman, and tells her to call him. She dials the number, and it rings an interminable number of times before a sleazy, slimy voice comes on the line, “Hello?” stretching the word into about four syllables. Penny explains that there is a situation with Jo and Tiff, and that she’d like to find a way to fix it. Roman, too friendly, is amenable and explains that if Penny is willing to do him a little favor, he’ll take care of it right away. Penny asks what the favor is, and learns that Roman wants her to rob the blood bank at Cathedral City Central Hospital, on the edge of The Park. “Not their whole supply, just 10 or 12 cases, they should easily have three times that on hand. Is it a deal?” Penny agrees tenuously, and hurries off the phone to deliver the news to the other two.

The three discuss the situation, and agree that robbing the blood is the best option, in that it might allow them to play both sides by making everyone happy and still getting Jo and Tiff off Viktor’s territory peacefully. They scope out CCCH and decide the front entrances are too closely watched, and they settle on a plan for stealing EMT uniforms and going in a back entrance for delivery of non-patient objects by ambulance or freight truck. Hanging out outside the front ER entrance, they notice an ambulance has been left alone by the EMTs who have gone inside. Anthony casually walks over and leans into the back of the ambulance, hoping to look around and at best nab some spare uniforms. He’s stopped, though, when an EMT comes back and catches him. Anthony plays up the stupid frat guy routine, saying, “Hey, man, I just wanted to see what the inside of an ambulance looks like! Wait a second… have you ever seen a dead body?”

Anthony draws the angry, yelling EMT away from the ambulance with this act, and Angel tries to dig around the back of the ambulance himself. But he’s noticed by the EMT, who is starting to freak out at this weird ass collection of college students climbing in his ambulance. The EMT charges over, and surprisingly is able to fling Angel out of the truck bodily. After this, the group backs off, seeing that the strangely capable EMT is not going to let them get their way right now.

Still skulking around the CCCH grounds, the three find a vehicle maintenance building across a rear parking lot, with a couple of ambulances parked outside under a bright streetlamp. The immediate area is deserted, but there are enough people around that the trio is cautious about just attempting to break into this ambulance. Anthony tells the other two to wait, and he reaches within himself, summoning the blood – not his blood – that he is constantly aware pumping in his veins. The shadows of the scene and warp and contort, and fold in on the lamp, making the entire area full of layered darkness. Able to approach the ambulance under cover of this localized dark, Angel climbs in the back and locates uniforms while Penny is able to hot-wire the vehicle. They quickly drive the truck out of the parking lot and away from the hospital, having achieved their aim.

The next night (Anthony having convincing a drug-addicted friend of his to watch the ambulance during the day), the group dons the EMT uniforms and boards the ambulance again, intending to approach the freight entrance and present themselves as a blood supply transfer to a less well-stocked smaller city hospital. But when they are actually at the underground entrance, and Anthony is face to face with a middle-aged security guard, he finds himself stumped by their demands to see his identification. For a few very long moments, the scene is tensed on the edge of things going wrong, but Anthony reacts once again with his predatory powers, and his able to amplify his personal magnetism to make the guards believe his story of lost ID. Having passed the first obstacle Anthony, Angel, and Penny proceed to locate the blood supply rooms on the basement level of the hospital.

The blood bank is a set of two rooms, an entry office with a bookish-seeming secretary sitting at a front desk with a computer and shelves of records, with the storage space through a door behind her. After buzzing in the three, the secretary asks how she can help them. After they explain their story, the blonde woman looks puzzled, she wasn’t expecting any supply transfer tonight? The characters attempt to bluff her, but she is not having any of it, and her hand moves to the phone to try and check all this.

Reacting instinctively to the fear of this situation going to hell, Angel suddenly lunges forward across the desk, grabbing her hand before she can reach the phone. They struggle for a moment, and before she can scream out further, Angel attempts to drag her across the desk to subdue her. He is successful in hauling her over, but in her panic she is astonishingly strong and manages to scrabble to the floor and escape his clutches. Anthony instead pounces on her, grabbing her and holding her to floor with his hand over her mouth. Feeling the pounding blood in the struggling woman, and not knowing how to stop her from fighting back, Anthony’s reflexes kick in as he lowers his exposed fangs over her neck, draining her blood. As they have learned is the natural response of normal people to their feeding, she quickly calms and is subdued. Watching this, Penny shouts at Anthony: “What the fuck? What in the hell are you doing? Have you heard of this little thing we have, called the masquerade?” Anthony responds hotly, “Jesus, no it will be fine! I’ll lick her, and the bite will go away,” though little can help the small blood stains already dotting the woman’s clothing.

As Penny and Anthony argue, Angel just wants to get the hell out of here. He goes through the door into the actual blood storage room, looking at the cases of blood bags sitting on the shelves. He counts them, and then counts them again. Shit. He walks outside, “Guys, we have a problem.” The others look up. “There are only 14 cases in there. If we take what Roman wants, this hospital will have no blood to use.” Penny and Anthony’s faces fall. “Did someone rob this place before us?” Anthony asks. “Have we been set up?” Penny walks over to the computer, “Well, let’s see.” After a few moments of searching through records, Penny can see that no, the hospital has just been hit by a recent series of events in the city that have put their supply perilously low. If they take that blood, people will die, and not just a few. She stares at the screen with a fixed expression while Angel and Anthony wait. She makes a decision. “No, their supplies are low, but they’ll be getting a new delivery in the morning,” she lies to the others. “They’ll be just fine if we take this.” Angel and Anthony, wanting to believe this is the truth, accept it. The three escape into the hours of the early morning with the blood they came to take.

With just a few hours until dawn, the trio decides not to risk the truck (and the blood) sitting out another day. Penny makes the call to Roman, to tell him they have his blood. He is extremely pleased, although Penny is not, because Roman says two very disconcerting things. One, “Ohh, yes, Annette and Nathan will be pissed.” She reflexively grimaces at this, not especially wanting to be on the Prince and Sheriff’s shit lists. Two, “Yeah, your problem? No worries. Jo and Tiff are stakebait tomorrow.” Penny relays these two comments to the Anthony and Angel, and everyone shares a profound silence for a few moments. Angel leans back in his seat in the front of the ambulance, and just laughs. “Fuck me,” he says. All this to keep the Camarilla and the anarchs both happy, and to get Jo and Tiff out there peacefully, and this is the result. After a few moments, Anthony brightens up, “Wait, no, I’ve got a plan. Let’s keep the blood in reserve, and bargain with Roman. Tell him we want Jo and Tiff to live. We could even take them into our place, this abandoned house Angel and I have been living in. That way they’re out of Roman’s and Viktor’s shit. That’s at least a little better right?” Penny replies, “Honestly, I don’t want to touch any of this with a 10 foot pole, but fine, whatever, let’s try it.”

In the early hours of the morning, Penny, Anthony, and Angel are waiting outside of the local art installation/club space Missing Sun, in a parking lot where they can see junkies shooting up and drunk party-goers stumbling away. They were meant to make their rendezvous with Roman and his crew in the club, but Penny refused to enter, saying she was just “not up” to withstanding the huge lifelike sun illusion in the club. So here they sit, with their ambulance full of literal blood money, as a group of 3 approaches them from the club entrance. Flanked on either side, obviously in charge, is a short, thin man with sunken features who oozes grease, Roman. Angel glances at Roman, and the recognition is immediate. Roman is the monster who bit Angel, the man who turned Angel into what he is now, and the man who Angel promised to make pay for what he did.

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Episode 1: Cities In Dust

Music: Cities In Dust

Several weeks have passed since Anthony and Angel were embraced. They have learned, in rough terms at least, what they are and what they must do to survive, though neither really full believes it yet. Angel has been spending his nights with Marcel, an old friend of his and small-time drug dealer, who seems to be involved with the strange supernatural underground Angel finds himself a part of. Marcel does not seem to be the same sort of monster Angel is, though Angel does not know exactly what he is. Anthony has been guarded and shepherded by Nora. As the episode opens, Anthony and Nora are walking through a large central city park near midnight, and their conversation reveals tensions and distrust between the two.

Nora angrily accuses Anthony of staying in contact with Tracy, her neighbor and twice now the target of Anthony’s hunger. She lectures him on the danger involved and the need for secrecy. Anthony fends her off as best he can, replying that he understands the risks involved and assuring her he has been careful and safe as possible. He also denies further contact with the woman, though he has in fact spoken with her once or twice more than he is willing to admit. Shifting subjects, Nora gestures to an abandoned bath house and sanitarium on a hill on the edge of the park. That’s their destination, she explains, a place of gathering where they can socialize with “others.” This will be Anthony’s social debut, she intimates mysteriously.

Earlier in the night, Angel rides with Marcel in a beaten-up old car as they drive through a run-down part of Cathedral City. Marcel has been fairly helpful but also secretive, and tonight he began the evening by declaring that “the boss” wants to see Angel, and that Angel had little choice in the matter. On the upside, Marcel says the boss might be able to help Angel figure out who did this to him, who turned him into the thing he is now. Angel rides along, and follows even when Marcel leads him in an unmarked back door of a decript-looking building and down several flights of crumbling stairs, until they are well and truly underground. Through a series of halls and tunnels, they find themselves at a large rusty metal door and Marcel gestures for Angel to go inside. From now on he’s on his own.

Inside the dank-smelling room underneath the city Angel finds an exquisitely beautiful library, and an exquisitely horrible monster in the library, sitting at an ornate writing desk. It gestures Angel to come forward and in a clipped European accent of some kind introduces himself as Viktor. Even with everything that has come before, Angel has difficulty controlling his panic and visceral disgust as the creature in front of him, with his surrealist-nightmare face and his amateurishly rearranged looming body. Nonetheless, the creature named Viktor asks Angel what he knows of what is he is, and listens patient to his explanation. Viktor enlightens Angel further, explaining that there is a diversity of monsters like Angel in the world that would beggar the imagination. Viktor is one of them, in fact, though quite different from Angel. There even exists a gentile society of monsters, it explains, to provide some company in the lonely nocturnal void. And finally, Viktor explains that if Angel works with this society, the Camarilla, and more specifically if he works with Viktor, great rewards are possibly in store. But before allowing him to make the decision, the Viktor thing beckons Angel to follow him through a further door into the labyrinth, so that Angel “might make an informed decision.”

Following Viktor through a smaller rusted door and down several twists and turns, Angel finds himself in something resembling no less than a modern equivalent of a castle dungeon. A handful of rows of cells line the walls of this narrow corridor, with shadowy half-light given by electric torches hung by hooks on the ceiling. And there in the last cell, squirming on the floor of the cell and whimpering pitifully, a moving thing. Angel gasps as he realizes the thing is a person, a thing like himself except only flailing stumps exist where arms and legs should be. After allowing this scene to sink in for a moment or two, Viktor turns to Angel and explains that other societies exist, ones actually more horrific than the Camarilla, and that the man on the floor belongs to one such alternative. This, Viktor suggests, is the price of not playing along. At this it faces Angel, and asks whether he is willing to receive the benefits of service. Angel says yes to this convincing offer, and Viktor attempts a sinister broken, grey-gummed smile in response. “Excellent. Well, we must be going,” Viktor says, “You are wanted at Elysium.”

In the echoing art noveau halls of an empty house of baths, sinister people gossip and whisper in small groups around the high walkway edges or linger on plush, rotten couches at the bottoms of pools. Anthony and Angel find themselves brought together, sitting on uncomfortable wooden chairs at the bottom of a long, deep pool in front of a depressingly normal metal desk. They share few glances but fewer words, instead waiting in the echoing silence as various other figures appear in the walkway on the edge of the pool, shadowed and far enough away to prevent identification. After what seems like an eternity of waiting, the empt metal chair is suddenly and instantaneously filled by a mousey-looking woman in a rumpled brown suit appearing seemingly out of thin air. She wastes no time but begins to interview Angel and Anthony for some unexplained purpose, her eyes alive with a rare intensity. Her questions are invasive and seem to suggest that Anthony and Angel are by turns violent, predatory, cowardly, sadistic, and perverted. Angel plays along, but Anthony is defiantly reticent, and the mousey woman mysteriously threatens “positive reinforcement” if he does not begin to comply. Unhappy with the idea of finding out what that might be, Anthony follows along, for now at least.

During this exchange, Anthony is questioned about the woman who turned him, who they refer to as his “sire.” After describing her, an unseen man comments to an unseen woman on the walk above, “Certainly sounds like Arianne..” and with that, another woman has appeared in the pool bottom, a tall and severe-looking woman with piercing gaze behind a set of ornate spectacles. She proceeds to press Anthony hotly on his sire, and condescendingly patronizes to him when his answers don’t seem sufficient to her. Finally fed up with this treatment, Anthony shouts in response to yet another badgering demand, and slams his hand on the desk in his frustration.

This quite simply makes the entire situation go batshit. The mousey woman shrieks in response to Anthony’s echoing slam, and fetches a large scalpel from somewhere under the table which she attempts to drive directly into Anthony’s fist, though Anthony is able to jerk his hand back just quickly enough to avoid being pinned to the desk. But before he can recover he is picked up bodily from his chair as the tall woman’s hand closes on his face with an iron-grip and lifts him one-handed in the air. “Edith! Calm yourself,“ she shouts. “My name is Annette, and I am Prince of this domain, neonate,” she growls. “That means I’m in fucking charge here. If you choose to bawl like a baby any more in front of me, you can greet the dawn. Got it?” Anthony weakly nods, and finds himself dropped unceremoniously on the floor. “I’m done with you,” Annette announces. “Listen to your babysitters, and stay out of trouble unless you want me to schedule a private session between you and Edith. Now get out of here.”

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Episode 0: We Only Come Out At Night

Music: We Only Come Out At Night

A prelude

A cold wind blows down the streets of Cathedral City late on a dry early autumn night. Anthony Forzaglia and Angel Luis Iglesias, two twenty-something guys who could not be more different, are walking these streets heading home. Home to Angel is his family’s small apartment in a run-down residential tower complex, and he’s returning from a long shift at a second job. Anthony, a rich kid slumming it up, is coming back from a nightclub and returning home to his dorm at a prestigious downtown city university. These two have never met, but their attention is drawn by the smell of smoke and the reflected light of a blazing building fire on the nighttime clouds above.

Drawing closer, Angel realizes it’s his building that is on fire and he breaks into a run, sprinting headlong for the entrance. He dashes inside heedless of his own safety, because he knows his family, his mother and two younger sisters, could be inside. As he bounds up the countless flights of stairs to get to his apartment, Anthony cautiously detours to to the scene. Not hearing sirens despite the fire’s already roaring state, he pulls out his phone to quickly dial 911, and when done he keeps it in hand just in case. He’s distracted from getting closer to the fire, though, because his attention is caught by a scream in a nearby alley. A woman is being mugged, and shouting for help.

Angel emerges on the 13th floor of the tower. His family is on the 28th, but he has to cross a long hallway, full of fallen ceiling and flames, to reach a second set of stairs to get there. As he runs down the hall, he stops in response to a feeble cry from an open apartment door. Inside is an old woman in a wheelchair, someone he recognizes dimly, and she’s begging him to help her get out. She can’t walk the whole way down, she needs Angel’s help, she says. Angel can see it’s only a matter of time before her ceiling collapses and the entire room is full of flame. He stares at her numbly for a few moments before mumbling that he’ll come back after he grabs his family, and he backs out of the room. But he knows she probably won’t have the time to wait.

Meanwhile, Anthony plunges down the shadowed alley to help the screaming woman. He rounds a right angle turn to the end of the alley, and sees them: a hulking guy with a knife standing above a woman in anomalously fashionable clothes cowering on the ground, clutching her purse and sobbing. Anthony screams for the mugger to leave the woman alone, and suddenly too many things happen at once. The big guy turns in surprise toward Anthony, leaping at him, and Anthony feels a sudden dull ache in his gut. A gun goes off from somewhere behind him and Anthony is suddenly showered in bits of human being. He looks down as the guy who doesn’t seem so large now crumples to the pavement, and notices the handle end of a particularly large knife jutting out of his abdomen. Glancing up, the previously cowering woman is walking toward him with a revolver in her hand, her mascara-streaked face smiling. Anthony quietly considers this sequence of events until the woman is inches from his face. He whispers, “Help me,” finding it surprisingly hard to speak. She leans in and whispers back, “Oh, I will,” as she lowers her hand to the knife handle. Sharp new explosions of pain cry out as she drives the knife rhythmically in and out of Anthony’s body. The last thing he is aware of before he blacks out is her mouth descending to his neck, and a sharp pain combined with a euphoric coldness…

Angel drives on, thinking of his family but also hopeful that maybe possibly he could help the old lady below. Hitting the 28th floor, he sees down the hall that his door is ajar, and he sprints through it into his living room. He is unprepared for what he finds there. His mother and sisters are here, as he feared. But they’re backed into a corner of the kitchen by a small man with sunken features. Angel shouts at him and picks up a knife on a counter. The small man turns to face him and.. snarls? A rage plays across the man’s withered face, a kind of animal emotion that could only be called a rage, accompanied by a look in his eye as fiery as the blazes surrounding them.

Time seems to slow as Angel and the intruder rush at each other, and they struggle for a short instant before the small man’s deceptively powerful arms pin Angel to the floor. Suddenly the whole man’s body is on top of Angel, as the man’s face lowers to meet his. Angel screams for his family to run before the man rips into his throat, and he sees that they escape as the thing in his apartment continues to tear the flesh of his throat with its teeth. Angel begins to lose consciousness as he finally feels the weight of the creature removed from him, and through dimming sight he watches it dash part way out of the apartment before pausing, saying something indistinct, and returning to Angel’s limp figure. Something is pressed to Angel’s lips, and he feels warmth as something copper-tasting drips down his throat. His next experiences are the sharp crash of glass, a strange chill whipping breeze, and a sudden complete loss of consciousness.

Hunger

Some time later, the whole circus of civil intervention has appeared. Firefighters, cops, and a gawking public fill a perimeter around the building as the fire continues to rage. On the outskirts, Nora Amador flits about, seeking some kind of artistic inspiration from the chaos. Her eye is drawn to a figure stumbling out of a nearby alley, a pale man weaving back and forth with a massive blood stain on his neck and face. Shit, Nora mutters to herself, because she recognizes what is happening here. Running to Anthony, she quickly strong-arms him into following her out of sight of the cops and away from the scene. Around the same time, a local drug dealer named Marcel Kelly finds an old friend in a nearby alley, not dead but also not quite alive. He spirits Angel away to a safe place.

Nora brings Anthony to her apartment, a lavish place in a trendy neighborhood. Anthony is conscious but not fully aware of what is going on. He all he knows is that he is ravenous, and he tells this to Nora multiple times as he sits on her bed. She tells him to shut up, pacing back and forth in her room, until there is a sound of another apartment door slamming outside. “Wait here,” Nora tells Anthony as she leaves the apartment. He can hear her knock on a nearby door, and then the dull sounds of conversation. Eventually Nora returns with an attractive young woman, and later Anthony remembers a warm, sticky sequence of events which he interprets as some manner of sexual encounter between the three of them. The entire chain of events is fuzzy, he can’t quite recall it really, but by the end he is no longer hungry.

The next evening, Angel wakes. He is in the backroom of a bodega with the window mostly painted over, but he somehow knows it’s evening. He recognizes the room as belonging to a neighborhood man, a man known for occasionally helping a kids stay out of sight when in trouble. There is a tray of food on the floor, and the churning of Angel’s gut tells him he is so very hungry, but he can’t bring himself to eat the food. Instead he lingers on the bed in the room for hours, hours which seem like days because of the awful twisting of his insides. He can’t make heads nor tails of what happened the previous night, and he couldn’t even if he had a clear head.

Later, after hours and hours, just a couple of hours before dawn, he hears a delivery boy leave the bodega. Rushing to the window though he doesn’t know why, he glimpses a delivery boy about his age walking away down the street. For the first time, in addition to the hunger Angel realizes just how cold he is. How icey his fingers feel, and how hollow he is inside. But that boy, he feels warm, Angel is so cold he can almost feel the boy’s warmth from inside the room. He can also hear the boy, specifically the rhythmic pulsation of his heart inside his chest, hot and full and complete. The window clacks open as Angel shoves it and slithers down onto the street, lurking behind the boy as he follows him, for what purpose Angel knows not.

Angel follows close behind as the delivery boy winds his way through the streets. The more time passes, the chillier and emptier Angel feels inside. Finally, the guy stops at a back entrance of a store hidden from the street by pallets and fencing. Angel doesn’t keep his distance, he is so cold, he walks right up to the delivery boy until the boy is facing him and staring in incomprehension. Angel stares into his eyes for a moment, seeing the similarities between them, when he realizes the solution to his freezing emptiness: he and the boy must become one. He embraces the boy in his arms, and strangely no cry is heard. A little warmer. But now the pounding of the boy’s pulse thrums through Angel’s ears, blocking out all other sounds, and suddenly Angel realizes that the only way to quench his chill, to fill him to completeness, is to join with the boy in the realest sense. Not fully aware of what he is doing, his teeth latch onto the boy’s flesh, and he begins to drink. He has never experienced such warmth, or such completeness of being until this moment. Later Angel is horrified by what he has done, the bloody body he has left on a back stoop for anyone to see, and he flees headlong into the near-dawn, but for a brief few moments he is once again whole.

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