A Daisy Chain Adventure for B2BCyCon 2018, written by Anita, Carmilla, Susanne, Brenda and Naching. The parts written by me (Carmilla Voiez) are in red font.
It Comes From Beyond The moon peeked out from behind the clouds, slivers of its light illuminating the road. The distant motor of a car could be heard, with the faint smell of exhaust drifting in the air. John turned up the collar of his jacket, trying to cover his neck. He had a long walk ahead of him. He shouldn't have drunk so much. He shouldn't have insulted his friends that way. If he could get a signal on this damn cell phone, he'd ring and apologise.
The night looms ahead of him, Miles of the road yet to cover. He might as well walk to Kim, Her house only one town over.
Raynor is awakened by the sound of robot-like creatures on the beach overlooking his villa. Was he dreaming or was it a vision? Raynor is a hospital doctor. The woman he secretly loves is engaged to another man and is sleeping in the next room. Why is she there?
John stopped walking, shocked. What just happened? Was he seeing things? Did the road really just turn into a doctor looking at robot-like creatures swarming up a beach?
"It's the booze," he mumbled. "Got to be the booze. That can't have been real."
Between walking, thinking of Kim's warm bed and the freakish doctor vision, and the constant pangs of guilt at telling his friend to go to hell, John knew this was going to be a long night. What he didn't know yet, was what a strange night it would become.
Am I awake? He shook his head as if to shake off his drowsiness. Is this something out of a science fiction movie? Am I seeing hundreds of short people with tiny heads walking like robots on the beach? He scratched his head again, and then pinched himself. That hurt. I am not dreaming. "Not again!" John's shout echoed into the night. Why was he having visions of this doctor? Did someone spike his booze? Janet stood there smiling. “Don’t you remember anything?” She continued looking at him intently. He glanced up and down her beautiful slim body. Her dark brown hair fell on her tanned shoulders. “You mean we spent the night together?” Janet laughed. “No, silly. I took you home last night. You had too much to drink at the mayor’s ball. You have a lovely house on the beachfront.” "What is going on!" John shouted his frustration into the night. "Who is this doctor? And now Janet? Why am I hallucinating? And why robots?" "Maybe you've been bad." The soft voice from behind him made John whirl. Mist softened the lines of the tree trunks which skirted the empty road. The shimmering air was thickest a few meters away from where John stood, shaking his head in despair. He feared he was going mad. Surely the drink alone wouldn't cause this psychosis. Maybe he would become what he most feared, like his father, drooling in a padded cell. His father, John Sr., had been a well-respected doctor and surgeon. As a boy, John had loved him and wanted to be him. He didn't know about the secret life. Didn't know about the strange experiments and the schizophrenia which had affected his father. The revelation had been as harsh as the moonlight which now broke through the clouds.
A dark shadow blocked John's view. He peered into the fog and recognized Kim's house. All of the lights were off. The only sound he heard was the keening of the cold wind. He walked up the steps and knocked on the door. The door creaked as it opened. John moved forward into the house, a thought tickling the back of his mind: How did I get here this quickly?
"Perhaps what you're seeing isn't real." The same voice from before made John gasp. He turned to flee, but then he heard Kim's voice, "John, is that you? I've been waiting."
The first thought that whipped through John's head was that this was the voice he'd heard on the road. The second thought was that it carried no warmth. It was colder than the mist that clung to his jacket.
A figure approached John, holding a lit candelabra. "Join us for dinner, won't you?"
John watched as the woman he thought was Kim turned from him and drifted down the hall. She resembled Kim but yet something was off with her. The darkness swallowed the retreating figure as John stood by the front door, debating what to do next. Then John decided, and followed Kim, but not Kim, into the interior of the house. She led him to the dining room.
Dr. Raynor, the man from his vision, stood by the table. "Your father has returned from Hell, John, and brought his demon robot army. We need your help."
Around the long dining room table, where candles flickered down its center, sat small people with cherubic faces. Their beady eyes watched John as he followed Dr. Raynor to the head of the table. The doctor offered him a seat beside him. They sat facing the vertically-challenged group.
"These are the souls your father sent to Hell. They rescued me this morning. As did she." The doctor nodded at the fake Kim.
John looked at her. Her face shimmered and suddenly Janet stood there. Doctor Raynor's voice said. "She's a shapeshifter."
The false Janet morphed once more and became a head with crab-like legs. She scuttled across the floor toward John. John threw his head back and laughed. The creature on the floor froze, raised its head, and morphed once more into Janet.
She pointed at John. "You've ruined everything. You and your father. We've escaped from hell, but we are still prisoners, prisoners of your father's demented mind. Thank God he's dead!" She strode away in her red high heels and tight red dress. "No!" John yelled at her. "He is not dead." The tiny creatures at the table clapped their hands and giggled in glee at John.
"You're correct John, your father isn't dead, he's undead." Dr. Raynor spoke. "And he's been trying to communicate with you. Those visions, that's your father's doing. Showing you how he tried to kill me this morning. But you already deduced that, didn't you?"
John spun around and faced Raynor. "Are you now telling me he's a vampire?" He shook his head. "My father would never allow that to happen."
Raynor took a step forward and grasped John's collar with beefy hands. "He is crazy and out of control. We must annihilate him before others are killed."
John shoved Raynor's sweaty hands off his shirt. "I don't believe you. You are the evil one. My father has always suspected you of killing your patients." He pointed to the small people around the table. "I bet these are your patients condemned to hell for all eternity. Why? Because they had the bad luck of choosing you for their doctor."
Dr. Raynor unleashed a roar. His fangs descended as his eyes took on a red glow. "You have no idea how right you are."
John's bravery deserted him. He managed not to scream, but his heart raced and his limbs felt like jelly. He scanned the faces around the table hoping he might find help there, but they were simply gleeful spectators. He was the entertainment. This fight was his alone. His hands were empty. He needed a weapon of some kind. Then he saw it on the wall, the perfect weapon in this battle to save both his life and his soul. John grabbed the wooden stake off the wall and plunged it into Raynor's thick chest. Blood oozed from the deep hole and down his white shirt. A look of disbelief crossed his face. He fell to his knees.
"I'm not the vampire." He struggled to remove the thick piece of wood. "Your father is the vampire."
His body toppled to the floor, face down. The stake wedged into his bleeding heart. John shrugged. Stakes weren't just for vampire slaying. Now he had to deal with the Janet crab.
"Stop being an idiot."
John whirled to see a six foot tall demon with red skin, yellow eyes and horns staring at him. She grabbed the stake out of his hand and pushed him into a chair. "Thank you for ridding us of that fool." She nodded at the dead doctor as her demon minions scurried away with the corpse. "His insistence on my using a human form was annoying."
John whispered, realization dawning, "Janet?"
She nodded, "But my real name is Acara. And I need you to help me stop your father from ending the world."
John wasn't sure he could trust this demon, but pretending might be his only chance to get out of this alive. His head spun, but not from the alcohol, he felt surprisingly sober now. The entire situation felt unreal. His father a vampire? Not to mention the demon in the room and the dead man at his feet. "What do you need me to do?" he asked, desperately hoping the answer would be 'wake up'.
Acara snapped her fingers and the room faded away. A large room with vaulted marble ceilings and Italian marble walls took its place.
"Where are we?" John asked, breath smoking in the chill.
"Where do you think we are?" Acara replied.
Acara laughed. "These are my apartments. My Hell Sweet Hell."
"Why is it so cold?"
"Some of my weapons are, let us say. perishable." Acara turned around and opened the door to a vault. Cold air swept out from the open doorway. "Come and follow me." Acara waved, then disappeared inside.
John checked the room. He stood alone beside the dead body. The little people had left him alone. Shaking his head, he followed Acara. Once he cleared the threshold, he froze. In front of him hung weapons made of ice. There were knives, bows and arrows, even guns.
He crossed the tomb and made a move to touch one of the knives. Acara's hiss made him take a step back. "What?" he asked.
"Manners," she chided. "You should ask before you touch a lady's things. You are more like your father than you realise."
"He's more like me than you think," a deep voice said.
"What?" John spun around and came face to face with his father. He shook his head. It couldn't be him; he was dead. He resembled his father, but his skin was white and his lips blood red.
The man stepped forward. "I am your father." His eyes twinkled green in the dim light. It was his father.
And then he disappeared. John stared at empty space.
Behind him Acara's voice echoed, "An astral projection. He's getting stronger. Soon he will be able to summon his Hell followers to this mortal realm to conquer the world. You need to make a decision. Fight him or join him."
"You'll need to explain this. My mind keeps telling me none of this is real. We buried my dad. How do I know I'm not dreaming all this? Tell me! How did my father become a vampire and how does he have followers in Hell? What will happen if he summons them? And if it is all true, what do you expect me to do? If he's really a vampire ... if you're really a demon and not just a nightmare ... I'm only human. A dumb kid who was never going to live up to his father's reputation. I don't see how I can help you save the world."
"Your father did indeed die. Prerequisite of being a vampire, that." Acara smiled, her fangs making John shiver. "Our dead Dr. Raynor recruited him for his experiments. They were messing with forces they didn't understand and your father took a trip to Hell as a result. Now he's back, looking to tear down the barriers between our worlds. Now personally, I wouldn't mind Hell expanding its territory, but my superiors don't want your father messing with the status quo. They sent me to stop him." Acara fingered one of her weapons. "As to where you come in, we need your blood."
John shivered as the blood she demanded went cold. "Come with me," she said, gathering weapons of ice from her walls and handing them out to the child-sized minions. Taking the final weapon in her right hand, she extended her left towards John. Talons glinted. He took a terrified step forward and grasped her hand in his. The room melted and his hair moved as they seemed to stand still in the centre of a vortex. A moment later, they were in another room, and his father was staring at them. "John, my boy!" His father said. "How wonderful to see you again."
They stood in a room with books stacked on shelves all the up to the glass-domed ceiling. John loved books, and so did his father. John approached the robed figure standing beside the oversized desk. "Father, where are we? And what do you want from me?" Sad eyes focused on his son; he responded, "We're in hell, and I need your help. We must save our world before all of humanity ends up down here."
Acara hissed. "Don't believe his lies, John!" But when John embraced his father the years melted away. When he looked into those intelligent grey eyes he was six years old again and in awe of the amazing man. He glanced back at Acara, horned and red skinned with sharp fangs and cold weapons. "I love you, dad," John whispered. "Tell me what to do."
His father paced away, his head down in thought. "I'm organizing an army." He turned to face his son. "I need someone to lead the troops. Someone I can trust."
John shook his head. "I'm not qualified to lead armies."
"Yes, you are. You were a captain in the United States Army."
John sunk into the nearest chair. "I didn't lead. I only took orders from above. And we engaged in little actual combat."
His father sat beside him, his arm around the back of John's chair. "You are the most intelligent man I know. You can do anything."
John looked up into the eyes of the man he loved more than anything else in the world. He felt ten feet tall when he heard his father's praise. He wasn't afraid any more. He could do this. His father believed in him. He turned around to tell Acara where she could stick her plan to use him to defeat his father, but she was no longer there. It didn't cross John's mind that perhaps this had been Acara's intention from the start. John was too busy enjoying the blissful reconciliation with a father who seemed alive, sane and loving. The weirdness of the evening fell away and all he wanted to do was enjoy these moments. For the first time that day, John hoped he wasn't dreaming.
He was so happy, he didn't see the shadow behind him until it was too late. A net descended on him, trapping him in its tight cocoon. John struggled with the strings holding him close, but he couldn't move. He looked up into the face of a man, no a creature smiling down at him.
"Hello. I'm happy to meet you." The man with hooves for feet and claws for hands smiled.
John tried to move forward, but the net held him in place. "Who are you? What are you?"
The creature lifted a long claw. John's father rose in the air. The claw dropped, and so did his father. "I control the underworld, and now I control your dear father."
"Satan?" John asked.
"That's one of my names," the beast replied. "So you want to help your father?"
John nodded. "I'd do anything. Please don't hurt him."
John's father's eyes were moist with gratitude. "Brave boy," he mouthed. No sound reached John's ears but the meaning was clear. He could and would save his father, whatever the cost.
"Is Acara with or against you?" John asked, searching for clarity in the confusion.
Satan grinned. The hoofed man extended his arm. A cage appeared with Acara inside. Her hands clasped the bars, her eyes open wide.
"Damn you, Lucifer. I hate you." She snarled.
Lucifer bowed. "I'm happy to meet you." His eyes focused on John. "Welcome to my kingdom of hell." He pointed to John's father and then to Acara. "I hate intruders. They will pay the price."
John stepped back. Manic laughter filled the dark room accompanied by grinning faces appearing in the blackness. He grabbed his father's arm and tried to pull the man to his feet. Some desperate idea of running away compelled him. Run where wasn't a question he asked. His father wouldn't move. His arm was soft, but the weight felt like lead.
"Get up!" he urged.
His father shook his head. "I can't, son. He won't let me move."
John looked around. Where had the net gone? And where was Lucifer? The room lit up. Acara grasped the bars as her cage swung from the domed ceiling. His father stood frozen in place. A hot wind blew across the room, melting his father to a puddle on the floor.
"Father!" John ran over, but it was too late. His father was gone. He glanced up. The cage hung empty.
John stumbled. He was back on the road. Trees crowded in on him from either side. Mist gathered around him like a cloak. The chill of it made his skin prickle. His brain was full of fog too, from the night of heavy drinking. He felt too tired to walk any further. His heart raced. He weaved closer to the trees on his right and found support against a damp tree trunk. Acid filled his throat and mouth. He emptied his stomach in a steaming pile at his feet. He sought friends in the darkness around him, but found none. Tears filled his eyes and spilled over his cheeks. If this was madness then let it take him.
He sighed, and started walking.
Then, carried on the wind, John heard a sound like a soft laugh. Then Lucifer's voice. "We'll be seeing each other again, John. Soon."