((Each italicized quote is the beginning of a new scene.)) Alisa and Natalie "God is cruel. Sometimes he makes you live." -Stephen King The Mad City is a place of horror, but also of balance. It is the direct opposite of the Sleeping City, a place forever awake. It is filled with all the little pieces of life forgotten or found unremarkable. The land wasn't able to be mapped or measured, time flowed oddly and without quantity. It made finding places that arrived upon the hour rather difficult, but that's how it was. In the Bizarre Bazaar, there was no fear of being captured. One could still be hurt or lured, but the rough patchwork of alliances and enemies was bridged. It was the only marketplace amongst all the Mad City, the last place that was safe. It appeared to be a collage of times and places. Street vendors mixed among high rises, tinkerers calling out from their blankets and carts of goods rolling through the streets. From all eras the Bizarre Bazaar originated to sell some of the most varied and unheard-of items. Perhaps all of its charm came from the way pedlar's stood besides corporate businessmen. The whole atmosphere was perfectly wrapped up in its name. This was where the Awake was supposed to be coming. Yet with all the possible doors or windows they could be arriving through it would be a little hard to find a person. The massive marketplace was stuffed full of Nightmares and Citizens, and trying to push her way through was a child. Her light blue frock was splattered in mud, feet and ankles absolutely coated. The thick mud that was caking her legs had earlier taken her shoes, and now the young lady ran about barefoot. Running about she was, going as fast as her feet could carry her in this crowded, strange place that didn't seem so strange any more. No, indeed, she was ducking and checking, searching for someone. The Stray Cats were helping, moving across the rooftops and trying to spy anyone out of the ordinary. It was a little hard to do, though, considering there was no idea what the new Awake was or even gender. As it happened, though, they found her. Alisa raced to the lady, quite afraid what could happen if another Nightmare found a new Awake just wandering about the Bizarre Bazaar. So the young girl followed the Stray Cats' calls, ending before the woman. A lovely woman, who brought to image housewives and expensive dresses. But she was here, in the Mad City, and all homely images no longer applied. "Hi! Welcome to the Mad City!" she greeted this Awake breathlessly. "I'm Alisa, and what's your name?" The little errand-runner held out her hand, giving as good a smile she could. Mathew The devil's voice is sweet to hear. Stephen King A debt. The debt that has been waiting to be collected, that was meant to be paid yesterday. It is a terrible thing to owe money, even more so when the money you were meant to give up was due yesterday. The situation only became worse as the collectors haven't come yet and the storm was growing. Every moment it didn't crest just meant it was getting bigger and bigger and was going to spill over like a tsunami. For Mathew Chase, the tsunami would more than likely end up being full of blood and broken bones; sticks and stones, so to say. There was a very polite knock on Mr. Chase's door. A simple, light tap in a one-two-three pattern. Then, door bulged from its frame, small slivers of wood splintering while it bowed. The thing on the other side banged into it again, breaking it down to reveal a pair of men. They had white, wrinkled skin and the outfits of a Colonial militia. Muskets with bayonets rested over their shoulders and swords were fashioned to their belts. The two seemed ancient, moving slowly as they stepped over the door and into Mathew's house. Their sunken eyes stared at the room before them, and could at the very first instant be mistaken for very corporeal and out of place ghosts from the good old times of America. Ghosts, however, did not break down doors. They did not go hunting for a certain man by the name of Mathew Chase and try to bring him back to their commander. No, these were Minutemen. A whole world worse than ghosts. Felicity "Hope requires the contender Who sees no virtue in surrender." -Dean Koontz Errands to run, things to be done. Away form her father and the safety of family there were darker things at lurking. A weak young woman, Awake to the Mad City yet not quite thrown into its dark tantrums yet. It was like an unopened treasure chest found within a sunken ship. Greedy treasure hunters kept their eyes upon her, stalking her. Well, truly just one. A figure that looked human, but the androgyny was truly astounding, with the build like a male's yet the gentle curve of hips and the slight bow of lips that made one think otherwise. It wore a dusty, dirty jacket that buttoned across the breast like a military uniform. Dark stains splattered across its clothes, looking like blood but perhaps was just an awkward... ketchup stain or something more easily explainable. Tonight something was a bit different. The figure wasn't following from a distance. He was but feet from Felicity while she went upon her errand. The poor student's follower was only getting closer as well, until the sound of its footsteps were right behind her. A hand reached out, to catch Felicity's shoulder. "Pardon me," the enigma grunted, the voice just as gender-less as the appearance, "I think I can help you." Those fingers went to her neck, to touch skin, slowly rising to paralyze Felicity. The Misogynist was on the hunt, and had his treasure right before it. Arden "Those who fear the coming of all Hells are those who should be feared themselves." -Dean Koontz The robbing of a bank was the thing a sinner did. It was a rash, greedy thing. A valiant and brave soul stood up to him, a hero of a man who went up against fear and the unknown. That terrible soul, foiled and sleepless, was allowed to get away with no repercussions but his own conscience. Yet the brink of madness lay close at hand. Doorways, lined with red light and manholes with slow, coiling smoke and the smell of wax raising from it came more and more common. Windows that looked out upon bizarre sceneries and filled with strange anachronisms crossed into Arden's life far more frequently. The Mad City was trying to force itself into his life, filling up all the empty spaces on his walls and throwing itself before his feet. It was his choice. It was always his choice. It was Arden Hall's choice to rob a store, his choice to refuse sleep. Now, he had the choice to escape. Sevens "To know the darkness is to love the light, to welcome dawn and fear the coming and night." -Dean Koontz There were shadows that clung to that room. They seemed to breathe and hang, clouding about the corners. Body parts were in a mass, blood spraying the walls and dripping particularly thickly from the ceiling. Amongst the chunks of flesh that had not been rent were insects. Foul things that all had a uniformly charcoal shade, maggots and centipedes all working their way through he flesh. Crickets that hopped from the splattered blood and clung to the wall as flies buzzed in a thick, cloudy volume around the walls. They were feasting upon the body, and if some sick person were to look close enough, noticed the black crawling shapes had worked from outward in. The creepy crawlies had, apparently, made Guy burst into a spray of blood and body parts. Now a deepening darkness coated the room, making the lights grow dimmer. They were amassing to take a shape though it was impossible to tell what figure would emerge. It was an eerie sight, as the bugs slowly began to roll and crawl their way towards its. Bloated and sated from their feast, they lazed into the shadows to disappear. Each maggot and spider that vanished within the inkiness gave it more depth, more solidification. Elliot "Get busy living or get busy dying." -Stephen King What could bring a life back from death? What was worth a human life, a thing of miracles and emotions? It was only a monster that could kill and run; it took a cold-hearted fiend to walk away from someone freshly dead. There are the horrid beasts who roar and lurk within the shadows, those who revel in blood and pain and are typically found and locked away in cages. There are also the things of silence, slowly hiding and creeping, revealing their face only in the most dire of situations. Elliot Ward was one of the latter. He was left within his own misery. Creeping up into that misery, slowly invading his house, were figures that darted just out of the corner of his eye at first. A blur of movement, vanishing before he could find them. But then they became more brazen, taking things directly. Moving keys or remotes, misplacing items that were always left within a certain spot. They enjoyed the horrors of Elliot's mind, the slow descent into insomnia and the guilt that would plague him from two weeks prior. The Grimlins finally revealed themselves that night. They were feasting upon objects found in the kitchen. Not food, necessarily, but the garbage and other general, random items not meant for consumption. Apparently, the grotesque beasts had a hunger they could not satisfy even with scars. Their bodies were tiny and withered, like those of starved children, with bulbous heads and hands. It made watching them crawl and hop around rather amusing if it weren't for the fact that they were so horribly terrifying with rows of shark-like teeth and torn scraps of clothes that appear to have been scavenged from the worst of junk sites. Their bodies were the same color as old, bruised fruit, and they had a smell of rot about them as well. There were five of them in all, making a ruckus in Elliot's kitchen.