Ultimate New York By Night

Radio Interview on 105.3 VMP

Jim:“And we’re back to the #1 hard rock and metal station in New York: 105.3 VMP: The Vampyre! With us in the studio tonight is the assembled members of local night-dwelling act, Stripped Cog Nightmare! They are here to discuss with us their upcoming album, their past and future, and to play us a live in-studio set. SpYttE, you’re the head-honcho in charge of this act. What can you tell the listeners of your plans for the future?”

SpYttE:" Well Jim, I have to say, I’m really psyched about the upcoming album, due to it being our first major label production. Uhhh… We have no idea on the release date yet, but we’re going re-record a few tracks from our previous albums, particularly Hymen of Mortality and BloodRape. This is not, you know, us being out of ideas, but we figure the professional production and how the songs have evolved after the first recording that uh, would give us better songs."

Jim:" So are you afraid that you will be alienating a portion of your fanbase with rerecording these songs?"

SpYttE:" Not at all, man. The fucking fans-"

Jim:" Hey! Language, bro!"

SpYttE:" Right, sh- I mean sorry. Anyway, the fans will love whatever we do, as long as we don’t sell out. We’re here to shank people with our serrated blend of extreme metal and goth-synth, and we’re not going to relent. Sure, we can be more goth-synth than metal on one track and the opposite on the next, but that’s what we are and we aren’t fu- erm- gonna change."

Jim:" Right? I’ve heard that you guys have trouble holding onto guitar players?"

SpYttE:" Well… That seems to have… uh… settled down. ShAnK here has been pretty persistent with staying with us, so I call him a full time member. Best damn guitarist we’ve had so far to say the least. Say hi, to the fans man!

ShAnK:" Hi!"(Subdued, due to being out of the mic’s range)

Jim:" And as far as your studio team goes-"

SpYttE:" Undecided. All we have set in stone is us four, and our manager, Donovan Mathews. Producers and mixers are still being hooked up with, you know?"

Jim: “Ah. So what are you guys going to give us tonight?”

SpYttE: “I think we’re going to give you guys our rendition of Sisters of Mercy’s No Time to Cry.
I’d like to describe the sound of it as Marilyn Manson and Children of Bodom doing a collaboration. It sounds sick as hell!”

Jim:" Well, what are you waiting for? Let’s hear it!"

SpYttE:" Ok. Hey guys ready? Count off from SLyMe?"

Four rhythmic cymbal crashes from SLyMe, and the music blazes in

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Daddy - Daughter Heart to Heart
Sage advice from the Sheriff

A quiet night in the woods, the air softly shakes the treetops, the deer move past me quick not even stopping to register my presence. There are a few hours yet before the rosy dawn breaks the horizon and I go back into the dirt again. But there is still time. I climb a tree, the usual one, smelling bright pine – the soft whisper of the highway but its far far off now. No need for sunglasses here. Nestled in the crooked arm of this great pine I call Renolds.

Two rings. I hang up. Four rings. I hang up. And then he calls back.

“Yes Wren? What can I help you with tonight?” We’ve come to an understanding him and I. I never tell him what to do and he does me the same. I can hear the ocean boiling on the other end of the phone.

“Are you telling me I can’t simply call my Daddy whenever I like? Is it really too much to ask? I thought you’d like to know how I was doing.” On the other end of the line I can hear him laugh.

”I’m just surprised you’re still there. Haven’t turned tail yet?” Mocking amusement is one of his strongest points. “Oh fuck you! I don’t have a tail! And I have big plans – big big plans. I can’t just abandon them.” “So that means you haven’t found him yet?” I move in the tree, watching the remains of that elk herd pass below. “Bigger things to worry about at the moment. Did you know this city doesn’t even have a prince? No prince, no sheriff, no Elysium. It’s like the goddamn wild west out here.”

It’s silent for a long time. I wonder if he hung up. But I can hear the rattle of Emerson and I know he’s still on the line. “So what are you saying then oh Childe of mine? That you want to take up the badge like your old man? Bring some law and order back to the Big Apple?” I can’t help but laugh. “Not exactly. I don’t know, how often does the opportunity present it’s self? Plenty of skulls to crack and that big comfy throne all vacant.” He begins to speak but he stops. Like he’s working it out in his head. I give him a minute. Losing myself in the dark of the forest, I brace for a slap I’m thankful he’s too far away to deliver.

”You crazy bitch. What did that Malkavian little girlfriend of yours do to you? You cannot be saying what I think you’re saying. I have to be getting old.” I wait. Trying to formulate an answer. But I can’t so I stop trying. “And what if I was?” Oh yeah, like that’s the best thing I could come up with.

“First I’d tell you that you’ve lost your damn mind Childe. Second I’d tell you that you’d hypothetically be pretty good for the job. Assuming you don’t let the power go to your head. You’ve always been my little diplomat. Lynne taught you well. But – and it’s a pretty big ‘But’ you need to be ready for all of hell to come down on that pretty little head of yours. So you’d need some really powerful friends.”

I listen, I stay in my tree. “Get the other Gangrel. Get the Roses. Get the Brujah. Get the Creeps. And do all the fucking ring kissing you can. But only make promises you can keep.” “I wish you were here.” I interject, the words leaving my lips before I even think about it. “I wish I was there too, kiddo. Also. I know how you feel about those magic fuckers. But you need to keep them happy. Failing that get the Venture. They are the King Makers after all. But wait until you have the force of the crowd to back you up. If you can do that then maybe, just maybe, you’ll have a real shot at it. But don’t forget doing that you’re painting the biggest Bull’s Eye right on yourself. Be careful. Please be careful.” There is some honest emotion in his voice. Like he really cares what happens to me. “I will Jay. I will.”

And then I think about what Lynne would say. And I remember and I’m still on the phone and I can’t help but laugh. Laugh like a crazy person. “I was thinking the same thing kiddo. Get some rest. You’ll need it.” And then he hangs up. Leaving me to the woods and Lynne’s voice echoing in my head.

”There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.”

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Events of Interestingly Epic Proportion
Wow... Sh*t Happens...

SCN convened at the studio space to write and practice our songs for the upcoming record. We were f*cking stoked. We had no real idea what we were dragging ourselves into, but we were more than enthused about it. We were working on a new piece, entitled “Murder Hurt Her”, and it was going epically.

“Alright, let’s clean up the bridge section towards the end there,” I called to slEDGe, SLyMe , and Scott “ShAnK” Hemato. They nodded in agreement, and with a cymbal count-off from SLyMe, we jumped back onto the high-tempo passage that was giving us a lot of trouble. My bass line probably was the most simple part of this jam sequence, but that’s still not saying much.
I didn’t flub my line this time though. I hear a metallic clack and a loud “Son of a b*tch!” as SLyMe’s cymbal splits and is sent flipping through the air. SLyMe drops his sticks and catches the flying piece of metal in mid-flight, which cuts his hand and leads him into another scream-fest.
“Cock-sucker!” He roars, as he hurls the metal fragment onto the ground and storms out of the rehearsal space. sLEDGe and ShAnK look at each other, and then me, in confusion. I shrug then say, “I think that’s enough for the day, guys. He needs to cool off and get his stuff in order. Practice your parts until your hands can’t move anymore. Sound like a plan?”
They nod in unison.
“Right, then. See you guys tomorrow night.” I switch off my amp and get to the ass-pain of a process of packing my sh*t up.

I bolt the door to my appartment and sit the guitar-case and amp down in my room. I check the seals on my windows to make sure everything is still in line. Then, I go back to the living room, pick up the remote, switch on the TV, and flop down on the couch to sift through the channels only to realize that I just sat on something that didn’t feel like a cushion. I pluck the foreign object from the ass of my pants and stare at it. It was a thick, rectangular package, wrapped in brown paper, with a note jutting out of it.

I pluck the note, in a display of obscene curiosity and unneeded glee, and read the formal cursive of a very familiar hand-writing.

“This is to be read three days after you believe me to be dead”

My eyes widen, as I flip the card open.

“This is my journal of political rantings and plans for the Elysium. Use it to the best of your abilities and follow their directions to the “T”.

Signed, Alan Buchanan
P.S. Kill Victor, that fucking snake!"

I stare out into the open space for a few seconds after reading that line. Then, my eyes widen in excitement, and a vicious, blood thirsty smile crosses my face.

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Bigger News!
Possible Signing!

I sit in the coffee house chair, as nervous as I can be. It still took me alot of effort to realize I was speaking to a representative of Nuclear Blast Records. He was a balding man in a very nice tux, and he was sweating bullets at the sight of us.
The Tally: Me, slEDGe , SLyMe , Donovan Mathews , and this poor bastard in the middle of a night-cafe of NYC.

Donovan straightens up and continues with his work. “So Jim… What does Nuclear Blast want from Stripped Cog Nightmare?”

Jim straightens up in response. “Well… We think that you guys would want to sign with us. Am I right?”

Donovan arches an eyebrow. “M’kay. What’s your offer?”

Jim wipes his forehead before going into a long, in technical detail discussion with Donovan that went more than a little over my head. I couldn’t quite get this guy. He was scared pissless of us. Or was he scared pissless of Donovan?

“The label won’t be very receptive of your times of available performance. Many shows and festivals are still hosted in broad daylight. How can they work around that kind of loss?” Jim asks, loosened up but still in fearful awe.

Donovan smirks. “Tell them it’s a Night/Shade managed act. They ought to know the prerequisites of our clientelle. Ask the members Schadenfreude. Aren’t they signed with you? They are managed by Night/Shade, regardless.”

Jim goes back into sweating his nut-sack off. He then wordlessly reaches down, and picks up a stack of forms and sits them on the table. He then gulps and says at length, “Well then. Here are the contracts for each of you, individually. You can sign now, or later when I get proper word from the head of the label. you gentlemen have a lovely evening.”

He shakes hands with all of us. His fingers were sweaty and clammy, like he was expecting to be killed at any moment. What could he be so afraid of? If he was afraid of Donovan, then what kind of reputation did he have among their groups?

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Sharpbone Another's Handiwork

Sharpbone – Another’s Handiwork

Its late when the shadows dance at the masters return. As silent as you please a note is slid under the door, “look outside and verify its me Rutgar”. It takes several long moments before the rustling of footsteps are heard on the other side, the faithful servant has stumbled upon the note in his rounds.

::Clilak:: Nervous eyes glint through the small window slit – peering unsure into the darkness. ::Moving in front of the window and curling two distended fingers around a bar:: Rutgar its me. ::His eyes gleam with a tinge of madness – the game of a twenty questions is wearing on him. It seems more than masks wear away – I wonder if my own mind is slipping under the stress of it all:: Yes Master, if you would be so kind as to tell me how Geert earned his nickname ::I can see the sweat beading on his brow despite the subterranean chill:: Ahh that is a good question – a story I remember well and enjoy telling. Our fine friend Art lost himself in a rage and quite destroyed his fancy gun upon dear Geert. However after tonight we may need to reconsider the uniqueness of that name. ::The fear runs from his eyes, but so does the strength fade from him. I just have to wonder how many times he comes to this door and its not me.::

::kuuch:: ::I drop the perforated body onto the floor – a difficult prize to sneak out from under Eddie’s nose:: Do you know who this is Rutgar? ::He turns the body from side to side and at one point glances up to me in worry:: Master, this being is much like Geert. The sharpness of the bones and the general appearance, at first I even though he had gotten by me and you had recaptured him. The lack of finesse was what first gave me pause ::he pokes a few fingers straight threw the side of the rib cage.:: ::Putting a proud hand on Rutgers shoulder and giving a soft squeeze:: Very astute Rutgar, but the method was rather more skillful than you would imagine. ::Tracing a finger across a cheek bone – I pull it away with a drop of thick cold blood quickly blooming forward even as the flesh heals underneath:: I thought the physical make up of Geert was his own handiwork at first, this causes me to second guess that assumption. I believe Geert was worked upon – perhaps that feeds into the perverse joy I’ve seen upon him as he works with me upon Milan’s flesh. I plan to speak with him upon it this evening and give ::Albrecht knells and pats the chill corpses forehead:: this one to be done with as he sees fit. I do hope it is not a dear friend of his. ::Shouldering the hefty burden, the two make towards Geerts door::

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Renewed Faith In A Hotel Room
A meeting of the Tetrarchy

She lit the single red candle in the middle of the room, the most recent cheap hotel room in the progression of her exile. Regina sat on the bed and stared at the candle for minutes that felt like hours. The shifting shadows cast from its faint glow bent themselves and twist as if reacting to her contemplations.

A knock at the door brought her to her feet, moving quietly to the door. She placed a hand against the wood as she looked out the peep hole, tense and wary. Three figures stood outside, just as tense and wary as she.

“And what is the number that stands united, between corners and cross roads?” the closest figure said quietly against the door, barely perceptible. Regina pressed her head against the opposite side of the door and answered, “Four at the corners of the battle field and the four in the cross guard of Caine’s sword,” She opened the door to them, satisfied and a little sad to hear the familiar words that her late sire had spoke to them, declaring the formation of the Tetrarchs.

The three moved inside quickly, the candle flame flickering in the momentary draft before the door was once more locked tight. The one who spoke at the door raised a hand, gripping Regina’s arm as she did the same to him. “I’m glad you’re alright,” he says with genuine relief. “Henry told us you went after the raid. That might be the most fucking stupid think you’ve ever done.” If he was being sarcastic or trying to joke, the attempt failed miserably.

The auburn haired fox draped his arms over each of their shoulders, grinning in that nervous way the third guest at a party trying to diffuse a heated conversation about politics or religion or other unsavory topics. “Come on, Danny, it’s not like anyone saw her after all. Lighten up.” Daniel shook his head, letting his exiled Priest’s hand slip from his and shrugging off the arm of the grinning fool.

“You know we can’t be here too long, boys,” came the exaggerated deep voice of the dark skinned giant lurking by the door. “Let’s get this done and split,” he stammered just slightly, remembering the manners due to his brethren, “Episkopos.”

Regina griped the roguish Henry in a one armed hug, nodding over his shoulder to the human redwood tree. “You’re right, Genie.” She let go of Henry and walks back to the candle. The others followed, arranging themselves in at cardinal directions around the red light of the candle. She knelt down to the bag at her feet, pulling out a simple earthenware bowl and a big hunting knife with a well worn handle. The other three knelt with her as she passed the bowl to Daniel. He drew back the sleeve of his shirt as his priest began to speak, low and reverent.

“There will come a time when the heads of three Princes will watch the burning of the dawn on a pillar of white.” The Ductus ran the blade up the inside of his forearm, leaving a four or five inch gash that bled slowly into the bowl before him. “There will come a time when an Elder Darkness will stir in a city which has forgotten.”

The skin already beginning to knit over the wound, Daniel passed the bowl to Henry, who repeated the procedure solemnly. “Of these signs you will know. The Dark Father will awaken and drink deep of the blood of his unfaithful children. Of these signs you will know that the time has come to lay claim to your Cainite’s duty, to avenge the Dark Father.”

The hunting knife seemed dwarfed to a harmless butter knife as it passed to Genie’s hands, but it drew blood just as simply as it had before. “Of these signs, you must know that Gehenna waits even at the door, as an actor waits in the wings.”

The knife, having traversed the entirety of the circle came back to Regina’s hands. As she opened her wrist to the bowl her compatriots echoed over a thousand years of Noddist faith, watching her own blood as it mixed with theirs. “Shine black the sun, shine blood the moon.”

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Short Notice
Obviously, I'll be a little late.

It was when I was preparing for tonight’s events to unfold that I received a call. Even though the I.D. said Private Number , I was already certain who it was.
“Hello?” I inquire.
“Hello, Mr. SpYttE.” The slick voice of Donovan Matthews. Wonder what could be on his mind?
As if answering my question, he says, “You have a gig, my man.”
Puzzled, I say, “Really? When?”
“Two hours from now. The original opening act is unable to play. The lead guitarist was staked last night. We don’t quite know the circumstances, but they are refusing to play.”
“Such short notice, though? What about the rest of the guys?”
“Already been called. They are waiting outside. We only lack you.”
I pause. “Really? I’m the last member you call? I feel a tad offended at that.”
“Don’t think of it as being less important. Think of it as us taking care of the hard part for you. I’m sure we do a better job at convincing your band to play on such short notice than you do. Either way, the gig is at the Sprint Mobil Colosseum. you are opening for Schadenfreude and Dredge Symphonia for their Hell Upon Dusk Tour. As your manager, I strongly recommend taking this.”
I bristled at the insult, but I knew he was right. Who knew what kind of PR we could get from this. “Alright, then.”
“The U-Haul is outside, waiting for you. Rock hard!” Click

I walk back into my room to wake up Nicole. “Wake up, babe. We’ve got a show to do.”
She was already awake and half dressed, clasping her black bra, as she looked up at my sudden entry. “Okay. What should I tell the others?”
“Surprise show at the Sprint Mobil Colosseum. Opening act for Dredge Symphonia and Schadenfreude. Biggest show we’ve yet to do.”
“Alright. When?”
“Two hours from now. The U-Haul is waiting for us now.”
“Sh*t! Making this fast then!” She slides back on her jeans, shoes, and top faster than I’d seen any mortal do, then she picks her DROID up, and starts typing keys like a bat out of hell.
“Let’s move. You can finish that in the van.” I pick up my Jackson, and move it to it’s case.

Well. Here we go. This is going to be big. The guys should understand.

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Second Thoughts and Choices

::Arturo shines an ostentatious crocodile skin shoe from the old country::

Elysium-What is it? Greek? Latin? Heaven? Forget about it. ::Sigh:: I could very well be fucking myself here throwing in with Buchanan.Maybe it’s a goddamn set-up and the bosses are just using me as a guinea pig to see how they stand with the Camarilla family.Ha! guinea for sure.::examines his polishing job::

What if they see through the whole Giancarlo Andolini-Ventrue thing? As soon as I leave “heaven” they’ll stake me out for the sun-Shit.::picks up the other shoe,and begins to polish it::It will be my so called mates who will come at me.That’s how it’s always done,I will be called for some sort of sit down and then…..Fuck it. ::Arturo tosses the shoes aside:: These won’t work-too ethnic-I’ll wear the Stacey Adams Wing-Tips.Very Ventrue.

::Arturo walks to his closet and begins looking through his suits::

Ok what suit?

The purple Zoot suit? It would be fine with the crocodile shoes-Something one would wear when one of the family is gonna get made,but too tacky for this occasion, maybe, and draw too much attention to myself-Naw ::slides the hanger to the next suit:: The black Armani-Now this is a suit! It says money,power if not a bit somber.One knows they’re doing alright when one has such a suit in their closet. ::Arturo strokes it appreciatively::But I don’t want to look like I just came from a fucking funeral.This suit would make me look like I am trying too hard-This suit is for the “special” special occasion.::slides the hanger to the next suit:: My new Mantoni with white pinstripes-Yes. Perfect. Elegant stylish not too tacky not too formal.

::Arturo pulls out his new 45 from his drawer:: Beautiful gun ::cocks it and takes aim.:: ::Click:: ::oils it and loads the magazine with bullets and slides the magazine home:: Smooth deadly. Embrace without the proxy kiss? Take the safety off,pull back the hammer stick it in your pants and hope to God and Sonny Jesus it doesn’t blow your nuts off. ::Sigh::

Who?

::sits on the bed::
A made guy? Too obvious too dangerous. I can imagine one of those guys in Elysium cutting loose and breaking my balls over something from sometime,and then I would have to cover and answer a bunch of questions. No grazie.One of those guys would go over like a turd in a bowl of Cheerios-Might be worth it.::smiles:: Nope it would be my ass and then the Bosses would ask me why our cover was blown.

Victor Millner? Hmmmmm. Yes but later. I’m gonna give him the proxy kiss.Introduce him to the family nice and slow,besides I couldn’t easily replace him if I were to give him the embrace;and I might need him if things go bad.Later- for something special and when all my ducks are in a row. I need to talk to the guys at the firm first anyway.

::Replaces the 45 into the leather shoulder holster::

I would love to embrace Valerie,but she ain’t family.I wonder if you can embrace someone married into the family? ::Arturo imagines marrying Valerie and what she might look like in a white wedding gown. ::Snorts:: She certainly can’t wear white with some of the things she done.
If I were still alive,I would make her my queen and we would rule this town. We would be rolling in dough. Forget about it! Man if I walked into Elysium with her on my arm,the roses would wet themselves in joy or envy-Maybe both. ::Ponders:: Nah she has a good thing where she’s at,and she ain’t family-Blood is thicker than water and all that. I like how things are between us now.

Eva-A wild card.Dangerous. She’s so young and I am sure my sister would never speak to me again. ::smiles:: I’ll put my sister in my will-a dowry- like they did in the old country.Talk to Victor.Maybe start the proxy kiss when we get my will straightened out. I wonder if all this shit will work out? It better or it’s my ass for sure. Is Eva ready? She might go bat shit on me-she seems half crazy already.It would gaurantee our connection as long as we continued to exist. I would have to stress how important it is she keeps her cool. But is it right? ::Arturo rubs his eyes:: If it ain’t me then it will be one of the creeps for sure.At least with me,it stays in the immediate family. I can protect her get her strong.It would be in the family with the creeps too,but it’s a part of the family she ain’t even met let alone know of. They’ll get to her in the end anyway. She’s a Rosselini too. Necromancy is in her blood and she’s a natural. ::shutters:: I’ll talk to Tino about it,domani

::Feels the sun rising and slowly sinks on to the bed to sleep the sleep of the dead.

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Home Invasion

::The night is harsh – the chill of the recent rains chill upon unfeeling flesh, dripping in thick globes of crimson from a mutilated countenance. The beast stumbles down into the dark, the peaceful darkness, towards the heart of its lair – to peace and security. ::

::The bloody being bangs at the doors – only to find them swinging open in a chilly invitation. The lights are shattered their powdered remains cast haphazardly along the dusty floors and the every present and helpful retainer, Rutger, is no where to be seen. Several of the cell doors yawn open onto deep darkness, the tiny cells seeming to stretch on into eternity.::

::There is something deeply wrong here.::

Ruthh-garr! Wharr ar yuu! ::Albrecht stumbles half blind into the defiled expanse of Safe Storage – perhaps a less than fitting name now. Shambling down the long dark hall, Al makes his way to the cells of Milan and Geert – carved deeply into the thick iron doors reads “Nice purties. Son.” Leaning heavily on the doors, Al is frozen in shock. This place was to be a sanctuary away from everything – not less than a week later Jethro has found it. Its over an hour before Al shakily rises from the floor – a thin veil of dust having settled in the long stillness. Throwing the doors open to the two closed rooms reveals his guests gagged and bound, more so than before, but otherwise untouched.::

Dammmmm uooooo Jeth-ooooo! ::As the anguished cries echo into the shadows a pained moan answers from the O.R. – only one resident is unaccounted for. Moving quickly now, Al dashes through the last set of doors to find Rutger laying is a pool of thick congealed blood. His breath is shallow, leaning in to check his pulse – it merely flutters at the gates of death. Wasting no time – Al gashes his wrist open and bleeds the precious vatae into Rutger’s mouth. Seeing to the more serious wounds, it is only moments before Rutger is back to himself::

::Rutger rises slowly and sits upon the operating table – his legs hanging limply down:: Master, I must ask your deepest apologies. ::Unable to retain the stiff back, Rutger’s posture slouches down:: he appeared like you master. He came in and inspected Miss Milan and Sir Geert – then we went into the O.R. and that’s all I remember other than that horrible laughter and the pain. ::Rutger slowly raises his eyes and sees his master’s face for the first time this night, the ruin played out before him:: Master! ::Rutger straightens and reaches his hands out to Al’s face:: What happened?! Did Jethro do this? ::The anger starts to grip his voice then falls away to fear and weakness::

Noo noo, I deth thes to mythef – thouth Jeth-oo plathed a parth. ::Carefully taking his friends hands from his face and setting them upon his lap:: Juth reth, I’ll rethern lather. Asth me sumthith of theth crath-t to makth surth ::disgusted with him self Al stops and merely pats his chest me::

::Al helps his ghoul up and to his room down the hall – before returning to the lab to clean himself up. With the bones cleaned and new wood installed and ready for a new mask, Al takes down the loathsome “Face of Wrath”:: Finally, whole again. Anger, strength and viciousness. These are the things Jethro understands, I have grown and will meet him in kind.

::Albretch stalks back to his own chambers to face his troubled dreams::

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Another Phone Call
Always When I'm About To Sleep!

After tonight’s wonderful disaster, I popped in back home at Cypress Hill. It was then that I found a new, glimmering steel lined door in the place of my smashed-in apartment door. Wow. That was quick. I remember thinking, as I tried to open the door. It was locked tight. I then went back to the entrance and asked the receptionist.

“Hey. My door was replaced, but I don’t have a key.”

A large, plump elderly woman, whose name tag said Barbara looked up from her magazine, and gave me an intense glare. She then looks back down to her magazine and says, “What room, hon?”

“273,” I reply, trying to think of a reason why she’d give me that look.

“Well. I don’t have a key for your door, but there’s a package addressed to that room.” She reaches under the desk, and pulls out a brown package, with a red card attached to it. She slides it over her magazine, to the edge of her desk, and goes back to flipping through her magazine.

As “patient” as I am, I immediately read the card.

Dear SpYttE

I trust the new door fits your accommodations. In this box is the key. The Apartment Manager has the other. Read the letter in the box only after you’ve shut and bolted the door.

DM

I rip open the box, which proves to be a hasty move, as the box splits open and spills the contents onto the dingy tile. I quickly scoop it all back up, and examine what was dropped.
A letter, a heavy gray key, and a bundle of paper work. Rather than examine the papers, I immediately rushed up to my door and unlocked the door. I could feel it’s exceptional weight as I pushed the door open into the threshold of my living room.

I could see that whoever it was who installed the door didn’t clean up very well afterward. I didn’t care. It’s not like I was really ever here long enough to clean anyway. I lumbered back into my room, and flop onto my bed. It was almost dawn, I figured I would worry about the paper sh*t tomorrow.

As I near sleep, I get a phone call. This seems to be a reoccurring problem. Maybe I should change my number, I remember thinking, as I check the number. Private Number F*cking perfect. I warily answer, and prepare for some sh*t.

“Hello, SpYttE,” comes the deep, baritone reply of a voice unfamiliar to me.

“May I ask who is calling?” I reply, hoping that my voice implies my actual question to be “Who the hell is this?!”

“Forgive me,” He said. He introduced himself as Donovan Mathews, and then continued: “I am the head of a rather specialized management company called Night/Shade. More accurately, specialized to your… limitations,” He intoned, his voice sinewy, slick, and at length.

“What do you think my limitations are?” I reply, already having a decent guess at what he was implying.

“Why vampirism of course. I would know. You show generally all the signs, and bluntly I might add. Only awake at night, never seen during the day. Your lyrics either focus on unlife or vampirism directly. You never touch the booze nor the catering. Believe me, I’ve asked around a lot to know, and either you’re one strange man, like you’d want all the normal people to think you are, or you are exactly as I know you are, thanks to other contacts that I’ve spoken with. Am I right?”

I sit up in my bed, curious as to how much he knew, furious that he was basically stalking me, and intrigued by what he thought he could offer me.

“You have my attention. What do you have to offer me.”

“Well, for starters, I think you got my tempered steel gift, right?”

You sent me the door?” I said at length.

“Yeah,” he replied, half chuckling.

“Why?” I bluntly asked.

“My people have been watching you for sometime. We saw you were in need. I provided, straight from my own pocket.” was his verbally flourished reply.

“Ok, then. Why did you provide?” I asked, with little patience and minimal self-control. I was too tired to play games.

“A gift. I figured a gift would be a great way to start the negotiations to a deal.”

I froze. A deal?

“Who is the manager to your act”, he asked, “Stripped Cog Nightmare”?

“You’re talking to him.” I say with a hint of sarcastic snark in my voice.

“How would you feel with a professional manager, someone who’s job is to find those gigs of yours for you?” He silkily asked.

“Depends. How much will it cost?”

“Not much. Just a portion of your gig profit. But with the gigs I’ll have you set up with, you will never have to worry about playing beatdown clubs or strip-bars ever again.”

“So how are you supposed to be specialized? What can I get from you that I can’t get from some other management prick?” I wasn’t particularly fond of his cost. It had better be worth it.

“You weren’t the first and definitely not the last to ask this question. Do you think another manager would worry about your needs? What do you think would happen to you if you played in daylight? Do you think any other manager would worry? Not unless you want to violate Masquerade. Not to mention, I have people in all the North American labels, and some of the European labels who might want to sign you, but how can they when you are nowhere near under their radar? Remember Dredge Symphonia? Another group we manage, whom I manage personally even. They have been signed to Nuclear Blast records, and I would love to see you meet a similar fate.”

He was convincing. I couldn’t help but admit he was quite a salesman, at least. I did my best to remain poker-faced (the concept sounds easy over the phone, anyhow), but his words excited me to no end.

“Well… Alright. I’ll see what you’ve got. But this had better be worth it. The moment this even looks like a scam, I’m after your blood.”

“Decent threat. You don’t seem to care about the consequences of killing another vampire, do you? The paperwork is in that box. If you accept the deal, bring those papers signed to the Vermilion Skirt. It’s a strip club, if that’s more for your taste.”

“Ha-Ha” I grate.

“Have a good day’s rest. I trust you need it after the adventure with your,” he sniggers, “drinking buddies. Tell the one with the Mercedes,” he means Buchanan, of course, “that his tags will be out of date in a month.”

::Click::

I sat my phone back down. My head was racing. I was seriously concerned how the hell he was tailing us without any of us knowing. But I was also thinking of the possibilities. I would love to be signed to Roadrunner or even Metal Blade, but I also felt that this may be too good to be true. But this was a good shot. I’ll give him a shot, and if he screws me, I’ll reintroduce him to death, blood-hunt or f*cking not.

I stepped back into the living room to reintroduce myself to the paperwork.

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