A smoking skull

The Gaslight Chronicles

Night Fangs Issue #3.3

Stranger in a Strange Land

Within the gloom of the candle lit study, the man slouched over a timeworn mahogany desk. He withdrew an aged journal from a clandestine drawer, its leather-bound spine crumbling under his touch, whispering tales of forgotten years. The pages, delicately textured and dyed a golden-brown with age, awaited the recounting of his twisted journey.

Laying out the journal before him, he dipped his quill into an inkpot, his mind a whirlwind of half-formed thoughts and faded memories. Each word he scribbled was a part of his mysterious tale, a thread of his soul etched into the faded canvas of the past.

"Since I found myself naked and alone in this damned city, months have passed" he began, his pen dancing across the page. "I arrived without reverie, thrown into a corpse pile, a bastardized byproduct of some unholy ritual, of what purpose I do not know."

He paused, the ink dotting the period at the end of his sentence, letting the weight of his words sink in. His thoughts wandered to the confounding mysteries that plagued his existence. His past life, his future, and his purpose in this city remained elusive specters in the fog of his memory. His brow furrowed in frustration, a physical manifestation of his mental struggle.

Next, he inscribed his unlikely acquaintance, a figure of both dread and fascination. "In this forsaken realm, I found an ally, the famed character named Dracula," he wrote, the powerful name seeming to darken the room further. "He is an enigma, not the monstrous beast told of in the films and tales from the time I can no longer call mine. He bares opulence, power, status and respect, yet his aura of loneliness remains."

A shiver raced down his spine as he remembered his encounter with the dark arts in Egypt. The resonating energy of black magic that thrummed within this city was all too familiar.

"In that blackest pit beneath the Great Sphinx, where I was imprisoned, I encountered the same black magic," he confessed, the words flowing with unease. "I now realize it was no hallucination. It was a harsh rebuttal to my skepticism, a prelude to my destiny."

His skepticism, a lingering shadow of his past life, was being brutally shattered. The world as he knew it, governed by logic and reason, was now replaced by a realm of darkness, where the supernatural was the norm. His thoughts wandered then to his life before, a time when he danced with death, teasing the grim reaper time and again. Each close encounter was a vivid memory, a painting in his mind's gallery. An aching void within him, as if this gallery was missing it's most prized work, turned his thoughts to his lost love. His wife, once the source of light in his life, was now but a specter, a memory that haunted him. Her name, a melody that once soothed him, was lost in the abyss of his fragmented past. The warmth of love and the fire of lust were only a vague memory of softness and an unpainted void.

"Her name, I cannot remember," he admitted with a sigh, his heart heavy with the agony of forgetting. "I remember my daring escapades, the risks I took, but the warmth of her love escapes me."

"I remember defying death, each moment I looked the reaper in the eye," he wrote, "but the love, the desire, they're all distant echoes. I find myself haunted by a nameless love, a faceless wife. Could my present be a punishment for my past recklessness?" he pondered, the chilling query staining the page with his inner turmoil. "A retribution for all those times I mocked death?"

The mystery of a message he was to deliver plagued him. It was a riddle he carried, yet its meaning and intended recipient eluded him. "A cryptic message haunts me," he penned, the weight of the unknown a heavy burden. "A message I must deliver, yet its content and recipient remain shrouded in the fog of amnesia."

He studied his reflection in the dim light of the room. His body, a vessel in its early 30s, was a paradox against his seasoned soul. He traced his fingers over the skin of his forearm, the surface smooth and unlined. His reflection, a youthful visage stared back at him from the ornate mirror on the wall. "This body, this form, it seems to be trapped in my early thirties, frozen in time," he scrawled, his bewilderment echoed in his shaky handwriting.

"Am I in Hell?" he dared to ask, the question emerging as a chilling whisper. "I remember dying, yet the afterlife is but a gaping hole in my memory. Prairie fields and faint memories of my mother, another name that escapes my tongue, are all that remain of the life after death, if that was indeed the case. Perhaps, this is my purgatory?"

As he continued to record his thoughts, he realized the eerie transformations he'd undergone. He moved to the darker deeds he had found himself performing, deeds he would have never considered in his past life. "In this new reality, I've had to spill blood, act in self-preservation, survival... Actions I would have never fathomed in my previous life." His pen hovered over the last sentence, the words a stark testament of the drastic transformation his life had taken.

"Yet my past life feels both within reach and unfathomably distant," he wrote, a palpable longing seeping through his words. He missed the normalcy, the sunlight, and the sound of laughter. But most of all, he missed her.

With a weary sigh, he closed the journal, tucking it back into its clandestine drawer. His existence, once clear as a flowing river, was now a labyrinth to be navigated, his past a ghostly phantom, his future shrouded in enigmatic shadows. His life had become an unwritten saga in New Gaslight's darkened chronicles, a testament to a reality he could barely comprehend.