I fixed myself up, drew on my 'C’ symbol with extra care, and got ready to go.
I picked Sammy up at his apartment shortly after, and we drove out West to the outskirts of the city. I followed the directions that Gabriel had written out for me to a tee, but was amazed at how quickly the sparkling city skyline left us once we started traveling away from downtown Chicago. It was almost as if the city itself had forsaken us, offering us no further protection from its bright lights once we were outside of its public boundaries. The buildings got further and further apart, and once we passed the 'Harpo Studios' building...things began to get darker and darker, guiding us underneath elevated train tracks, designed to drop passengers off in small, dimly lit, neighborhoods that looked almost abandoned as we rolled past them. Sammy was especially quiet, looking at the landscape around us. He was visibly shaken. Still...we both went forward.
When I finally started seeing streets that were mentioned on Gabriel's note, I found myself a bit more at ease, and the directions led us to what looked like an old warehouse. I parked the car on the street, and Sammy and I assured ourselves that we would both check out the second we felt anything going 'weird' in this place if one of us didn't like the vibe of it. Then we got out of the car and walked towards the old building. There was definitely music coming from inside, and Sammy and I walked to an alley entrance where a few other people were standing outside. Either waiting to get in, or just milling around, getting some air after being inside for so long. There was a large ice bucket full of bottled water by the door, and a clear plastic box for 'donations', but none were necessary. I dropped a five dollar bill in regardless. Might as well be a good guest, you know?
There was a big guy at the door with a flashlight, and Sammy and I both showed him our hands. He smiled at us, and said, "Welcome to the party, boys. They've been expecting you." He stepped aside and let us in, and as soon as we walked in...we were amazed with what we saw.
The warehouse was decorated with bright, blacklit, glow-in-the-dark graffiti, glow sticks and ropes, and there was a giant platform in the middle of the flat that had steps on either side, leading up to a rather 'overstocked' bar. There were speakers in every corner of the room, aggressively blasting music from every direction, and the place was full of what looked like 200 people or more. It was exactly as Gabriel had said it would be. There were people there from ages 13 to 30, from 30 to 50, from 50 to 80. Every shape, size, height, color, and culture. Some were dancing, some laughing, others quietly talking in small dark corners of the room, and others still...doing everything short of having a public orgy right there in front of everyone watching. I could see a variety of different 'C' symbol designs all around me, on every person in the room. Some on the back of their hands, some on their middle fingernail, some on the knuckle, or on the inside of the wrist, some discretely hidden behind the right or left ear, and others on the side of the neck. One boy even had contact lenses with the letter 'C' made into a glow-in-the-dark, bright green pupil, so it could be seen as long as his eyes were open. There were lasers shooting back and forth across the ceiling, a few strobe lights, some flashy designs...it was a party that literally had something for everybody. And once Sammy saw that it wasn't some creepy coven of website fanatics, he calmed down and offered to get me something from the bar.
Looking around the room, I realized that Gabriel had told me another truth about this place. There were definitely a lot of cute boys there! I mean...they were HOT!!! And they had no trouble looking you in the eye if you spotted them from a distance. I don't think I ever got more smiles and nods in a club before than I did when I walked through that front door. Naturally, there were the usual party 'cliques' that could be easily spotted in certain places around the room. Like little hipster elitists, standing in tiny circles of five or six people, off to themselves, and not allowing anybody to penetrate their tight little community. But whatever. It's to be expected in any party atmosphere.
And speaking of penetrating something tight..."JT! You came!" I saw Gabriel walking up from the corner of the room, and he gave me a big hug around the neck. I didn't expect such a familiar greeting from him but, wow...his body felt so soft to me. So slim and so sweet. Wrapping my arms around him made me feel tingly all over.
"Well, I figured...what else have I got to do, right?" I told him.
"Radical, man! Well, what do you think?"
"This is...this is amazing! Honestly, I didn't know what to expect."
"Probably some killer cult thing, huh?" He grinned, throwing an arm over my shoulder. "Don't sweat it, man. We get that a lot. Come on, I'll get you in good with everybody so you can make yourself at home." And that's exactly what he did. He took me from person to person, group to group, and showed me off like a prize winning pig at the fair. "Hey, JT...this is Sonia, and that's Serena. Over there you've got Paulo, and that's Marcus, and this is Stiles..." I was dizzy from being dragged through so many names at once. Not to mention that another day at work seemed to be catching up to me all over again, because my head was spinning even faster than ever. I REALLY need more sleep. This dizziness is getting worse by the day.
Sammy finally found me, and handed me a drink. "Where have YOU been? I was looking all over for you." He asked me, and I tapped Gabriel on the shoulder to introduce him.
The moment Gabriel turned around, he grinned and said, "You must be Sammy! Dude, so happy to have you with us tonight!" And he gave him a big hug around the neck like he did to me when I first walked in. Sammy tightened up a bit from the strangely warm greeting, but enjoyed the idea of it being from such a young cutie, and melted into the embrace rather quickly. "He's a cute one, JT. I'm sure some of our guests have their eye on him already." Gabriel said.
We all shared a chuckle together, but something was bugging me. "Hey...uh...how did you know his name?"
"What?" Gabriel asked with a smile.
"Sammy. How did you know his name? I don't remember telling you."
He gave me a strange look. "Yes you did. On the train, remember? You said you only expected to see 'two' symbols tops. And that included your friend, Sammy. Don’t you remember?" He asked me. "I just figured this had to be him. This IS Sammy, right?"
"Ohhh...yeah. You're absolutely right. I did say that, didn't I?" I told him.
"Hehehe, yes, you did. Or maybe...I'm just reading your thoughts. Oooooh!" He giggled, and made a big mystical deal out of whistling a spooky little tune in front of me. "Come on, chill out. Drink. Dance. Smoke. Whatever. There are a lot of good people here. Have fun, k? That's the only rule tonight. Everybody's family, so don't be afraid to mingle a bit." He told me, and then kissed Sammy on the cheek. "Good to meet you, Sammy." And he skipped off to become one with the party again.
"Mmm! Good to meet YOU, hot stuff!" Sammy smiled. "Is THAT the boy from the train you told me about?"
"Yep!" I happily confessed.
"No WONDER you wanted to come out here tonight! I would have followed that boy into shark infested waters wearing a freakin' bloody pork chop around my neck if he promised me another one of those sexy hugs."
"SEE? And you were worried!" I said, causing Sammy to give me a shove.
"Dude, there is a virtual ARMY of 'boy model' guys here tonight! And I'm not leaving until I get at least FIVE phone numbers!" He said.
"Have at it, man. I think...I think I might actually try talking to Gabriel a bit more." I said, and he grinned at me. "WHAT???"
"Nothing. Nothing at all. You go chase your little blond chicken. I'm looking for someone a little more age appropriate, if you don't mind."
"Psh! Please! Aren't YOU the one who seduced a 25 year old man when you were 16?"
"That guy was weak in spirit and I was merely a willing participant in his molestation of me." He snickered. "Besides, that was different. He was a priest. He was way too hot to be a priest. He should have known better."
"Oh my god...ok, dude...get away from me before you give me nightmares." I said, and he giggled happily as he practically dove into that crowd of cute guys, just waiting to be chatted up. I have to admit, there was an awful lot of 'playground' here for the two of us to tackle.
But Gabriel seemed to have snatched my attention away from all others. And as I walked around the room with my drink, he was the one I kept an eye out for.
I felt a bit of wetness splash up on my arm as I accidentally bumped into someone beside me. It was an extremely gorgeous guy, about the same age as Gabriel, but with long, shoulder length, dark hair that he tied up in a pony tail behind him. And eyes that were almost light blue. "Awww, man. I'm sorry." I said, hoping that I didn't waste too much of his drink.
"Oh don't worry about it. There's more where that came from." He said, and extended his hand. "The name's Lucas. And yours?"
"It's uh...it's JT." I said, and returned his greeting by extending my hand as well. At that moment, I heard some noise behind me, and I saw two guys from the party kind of thrashing about in one of the other corners of the room. There were people surrounding them, and seemed to be pushing them, quite helplessly, into one of the rooms in the back. It looked a little too rough to be playful, but Lucas grabbed my attention again.
"Alcohol does strange things to some people." He said.
"Are they gonna be alright?"
"Of course they are. There aren't any incidents that we can't handle here. We're...'family'." He grinned.
"Yeah. Right." I smiled, keeping an eye on the two of them until they were out of sight.
"JT...you seem a bit tense to me. Coming straight from work, I assume?"
"Yeah, I am. Geez, is it that obvious?"
Lucas smiled at me. "It's not that hard to see the signs of someone who doesn't enjoy their job...or their life...as much as they should. It creates a chemical build up of emotional byproducts. It practically glows on the surface of the skin...begging for release."
I gave him a raised eyebrow, and smiled. "That sounds pretty deep. Hehehe!"
"Indeed, it does." He reached in his pocket, and pulled out a business card. It was just his name and what looked like a public pay phone number. "If you're ever looking to get away from the hustle and want to attack something more satisfying...give me a call. I might just have an offer that's more to your liking." He said, and then I saw him walk back into the crowd, several boys and girls turning to follow him back to their private little corner on another side of the room. Wow...so I've got business proposals being thrown my way now? All from meeting other people from this one website? Hehehe, sweet! This is better than a fraternity!
After walking around and absorbing all that was going on, I kind of lost track of time. It's hard to say how long Sammy and I had been apart. An hour? Maybe two? But a third of the people there were really friendly to us, smiling and making introductions and just welcoming us to this...’family’ that they kept talking about. Another third...they seemed to be watching us closely from the sidelines, and appeared to be so different from everyone else in the room once you noticed them. But give them a nod, and they were quick to approach you with great interest. In fact, the youngest boys in the room seemed to be some of the most fascinating and intelligent in the crowd. It was astounding. It was literally like being inside an exact replica of the erotic website itself. With laughter and wild antics, wacky comments, and thoughtful discussions. I loved it. And then...there was another third of guests at the party...who appeared more standoffish. More isolated. Those same folks that remained in their little groups, giving an intimidating look to anyone who would dare to walk past them with an intent to engage in even the most harmless of conversations. And yet, this group seemed to be highly sexual, once they chose a random person to 'entertain' them. It was such a strange opposition to the vibe they put out there previous to accepting you into their circle. Very weird bunch, those kids in the groups.
I walked around some more, the music pumping louder and louder by the minute. I guess when you're out in the middle of nowhere, you don't really have any neighbors to complain. So there couldn't be that many problems. However...I did see more people being hauled off to that back room, and was curious about what was going on back there. My guess would be some kind of drug use, as is the norm for parties this big. Most of the time I didn't notice the struggle until I heard a glass break, or a shout or grunt that seemed to rise above the pulsating music around me. But everyone kept smiling, kept drinking, and kept dancing. So if they didn't mind, I guess I didn't mind either.
"JT...you having fun, or what?" I heard Gabriel's voice, and turned to see him behind me, bringing me another drink.
"Dude, thank you SOOOO much for inviting me here! This place is spectacular!"
"I'm glad you like it." He said, and then moved closer. "You know...the folks throwing this little festivity have got their eye on you. I think you might just be their favorite new guest this year."
"Hehehe, well, thank you to our gracious hosts, then. Did they mention why?" I asked.
With that, Gabriel smiled, and said.."All in due time. For now, why don't you take this drink and make sure that you don't stop until you're blitzed out of your mind."
"Hahaha, no. I can't. Really. I've gotta drive home tonight..."
"No, you don't. We've got plenty of room for you to crash in the apartment next door. It used to be a motel, but now it's all ours. And if push comes to shove, we've got an entire taxi company dedicated to making sure that everyone gets home safe. We take care of our own. So have a blast, k?" He said, brandishing his 'C’ symbol for me to see again.
"You guys really have thought of everything, haven't you?" I asked him.
"This little operation of ours wouldn't work if we didn't." He lifted the dink to my lips, and then gave me a kiss on the cheek before walking away to rejoin the party. What else could I do? I kept drinking, kept talking to random people, kept having fun. They all knew the website backwards and forwards. We already had a major shared passion of ours in common. We even had little games of trivia going, and I was loving every minute of it. I only wished I could have Sammy by side for it, as he knew the online stories even better than I did.
Where was Sammy, anyway?
I think I was entering my third hour without so much as catching sight of Sammy at the bar. In fact, any time we ever went to a club together, and we got separated, I always knew that all I had to do was go to the bar and wait about fifteen minutes. He'd show up eventually. But not this time.
It got to the point where I got a little bit worried about him. I mean, a little bit of liquor and a bunch of horny strangers don't always make for the best mix. Not that I didn't trust him to make good judgements when he was out...but...we were kind of in a strange place where we didn't know anybody all that well. So when he didn't show up at the bar, I stood up and started looking around in different parts of the warehouse for him. The crowd seemed to be thinning out, little by little, two or three people at a time. And I didn't want to be caught without my main source of protection in this place.
I walked around, nodding and smiling at the remaining party people around me. They seemed enchanted by my very presence, and I could see heads turn as I walked past them. Many of them cute, many of them seemingly 'available'...but my only concern for the moment was finding my friend. Luckily, that's when I ran into Gabriel again. "Gabriel! Thank God, I found you!" I said.
"Heyyyy...what's poppin', buddy?" He said, and gave me another affectionate hug. "I hope you're still enjoying yourself."
"Yeah...I am. But...have you seen Sammy?"
"Sammy?" He asked.
"Yeah. My friend, Sammy? It's been a while since I've seen or heard from him, and his cell phone is turned off. He seems to have vanished completely."
"Ohhhh, right. The guy you came in with. Yeah, you know what? I think he went off to have a little 'ring-a-ding' with a cutie he met at the bar." Gabriel told me.
"Really? So, he just...whisked himself away to some dark corner to get some nookie?" That little bastard!
"Seems like it. Hey, you want some more to drink? I can get it for you. Everything is free."
"No...no thanks." I said. "I just wanna find Sammy. He's been gone for a while. Even for something naughty."
Gabriel stopped me as I started to walk away. "It hasn't really been all that long, has it? Relax. Enjoy the music. Why don't you go over to the candy table, get yourself some Jolly Ranchers, and find yourself a nice little corner to chill out in? It'll do you some good."
"I don't want to chill out. I want to find..." But, before I could finish, a loud voice came on over the speakers, and I looked up to see an older man on the microphone, standing up on a small stage in front of a collection of blank monitors where everyone in the room could see him.
"Attention! Attention! I have good word for all of us!" The people in the room all turned their eyes to him as he smiled down from above. "I wanted to let you all know...that because our urban scouts have gathered such a great number of candidates here this evening, we have been granted a special 'bonus' by the One!" He said, and the crowd began to cheer in unison. "I hold here...in my hands, two new printed scriptures from 'he' who supports our cause! He has granted us with two new chapters, and promises to have more of them in circulation by the end of the Summer!" Another loud cheer erupts from the crowd, and Gabriel seems overjoyed at the news. "Soon....our time will come! The great change has already begun! The chosen one walks among us...and soon, our freedom is guaranteed! 'He' has kept his word! Once the prophecy has been fulfilled...we shall walk in darkness no longer!" People applauded and roared with triumph throughout the crowd, and I wanted to get into the festivities, but didn't really understand what was going on or what the man was talking about. "Justin is TRUTH! Justin is LIGHT!"
The whole crowd shouted back, "LONG LIVE THE VAMPIRE DAWN!!!"
It was then, that I saw the boy I bumped into earlier, Lucas, approach from the side, and he gave Gabriel a tight hug as they celebrated this....'announcement' of theirs. I had to ask, "So....what is all of this about? I don’t get it. Did I miss a post on the website or something?"
They both looked at me with a grin, and Gabriel said, "We now have two new original texts ready for circulation. New stories. A whole new audience to reach. As the new scriptures come to a close, and the legend of the chosen one is exposed, we anticipate a great shift in the public's opinion. The circle is almost complete."
"Oh, you mean there are new chapters on the website? Awesome! Jesus! Its about time, am I right? Hehehe! What, is he giving out sneak previews tonight?" I asked.
"Yes. Indeed he is." Lucas told me. "This is a very exciting time. For all of us."
"What do you mean?"
They both looked at one another again, and Gabriel was the first to speak. "The prophecy, JT. The 'change' is almost ready to begin."
I was confused. "The....the change? What change?" They pulled me to the side with a smile. "I don't understand. What's going on?"
"You...you didn't just think they were stories, did you?" Gabriel asked me, his smirk suddenly taking a wicked turn in the corners of his lips.
"What...like the high school stuff?"
"Hehehe, not quite." Lucas added.
Gabriel said, "You must understand, I couldn't tell you ahead of time. I needed you to come here tonight. I needed you to follow." I don't know what it was, but the tension between us began to thicken in the air around us as I tried to make sense out of all of this. "You've been chosen, JT. To help the author document this moment in our history. Do you understand what I am telling you?" Confused, I just gave him a sideways look, and Gabriel told me, "We need your help. Your connections. Once the manuscript has been completed, we will need it to be presented to the rest of the world. You work for a publishing company, correct?"
I took a step back from them, and wrinkled my forehead. "How is it that you know what I do for a living?" I asked. "As a matter of fact...now that I think about it...I don't even remember telling you my name. How do you know all of this stuff about me?"
"I already 'told' you how I know." Gabriel grinned, pointing a finger to his temple. "You think it...I read it. It's just that simple."
I thought back to the night in the subway. The dizziness I felt, the random surfacing of thoughts for no reason at all, the sudden fatigue. I thought about his approach as he followed me to the train car I was on. And when I was talking to him...
"I believe this is your stop."
How did HE know where I was getting off? What was happening here?
"Listen, this has all been fun and all..." I said, taking a step backwards. "...But, I've gotta find Sammy. I think we're gonna call it a night."
Lucas giggled to himself. "Your friend, Sammy, called it a night hours ago, my friend."
"What? What are you saying?"
Gabriel flashed me a sinister grin. "You won't find your friend, JT. Not 'much' of him anyway." WHAT THE HELL WAS HE SAYING??? I frantically looked around the room, whose population had thinned out considerably. On the right side of the room, beautiful young boys and a few elder gentlemen, all either drinking from black chalices, or sucking on the Jolly Rancher candies they found in the various bowls around the room. And on the left side of the room, all small groupings of boys and girls of different ages, hungrily gnawing on the tattered bones of a late night snack, each cluster centered around one main person who seemed to be the focus of their social orbit. I shivered as Gabriel's hands reached out to gently crawl over my shoulders. "We needed to find a community of people who knew our stories, and could help our collective species rise out of the fairy tales and folklore...and return to take our rightful place in the world again. Many of the humans here tonight were selected for their possibilities, but...well...as you can see...all of them didn't make the cut."
I could hardly breathe, and froze up as I tried to speak. "Whatever kind of game you guys are playing...it's NOT funny. Ok? So...just tell me where my friend is...and we'll go."
"Shhhhh..." Gabriel whispered softly as he moved his lips close to my ear. "...He's gone, JT. Let it go." I felt my bottom lip quivering as my horrified mind tried to accept the idea of what he was saying to me. "My kind gets the blood. That delicious liquid essence of life is ours for the taking." Then he added. "We leave themeat...for the 'wolves'."
Lucas smiled at me, and his eyes began to glow with an ethereal light that shook me to my very core from the horror of it all.
"This isn't happening. This isn't happening. This..." I chanted, but Gabriel walked back out in front of me to stand next to Lucas.
"The time for change is upon us, JT. More and more new readers are signing on every day. And as the public becomes more infatuated with our stories, our numbers will grow. More will want to give themselves over to the eternal darkness. And we will embrace every last one of them. Guaranteed." Gabriel told me.
Lucas spoke. "Your religious right suppresses your natural desires, your government suppresses your freedoms, your corporations hungrily rob you of choice. Gas prices are rising, cost of living is getting too hard to manage, resources are becoming scarce...the rich get richer, and the poor are left to die off like roaches in an empty household. And while the very stench of their heartless oppression chokes you all into a growing level of endless frustration...we offer a more efficient alternative. As your kind tires of the struggles of life...they all come to us eventually."
"Or US." Gabriel continued, with a smile. "The human race is circling the drain, and they don't even know it yet. The passion and beauty of life everlasting lies in the gifts that only WE can provide them. And it is time that our message was heard."
I felt my stomach turn upside down, feeling as though I was going to be sick. I looked over to one side of the room, as a young woman my age was gently dragged into one of the back rooms. Tears on her face, running black streaks of make-up down both of her cheeks. But over the music...I couldn't really hear her screams. This whole night...I doubt that I was even paying attention to what was really going on around me.
"You smell pretty scared there, cutie pie." Lucas grinned, taking a whiff of the air.
Gabriel guided me to sit on a nearby window sill while the enormous weight of the situation began to crush me under its power. "Breathe, JT. You'll be ok. I promise. We are going to take care of you. You're one of the chosen. You are needed. We're not going to hurt you."
"The site...the site is..."
"The website is what it is. The One...'he' who writes the scriptures...he has been in league with us from day one."
"They were just supposed to be stories. It...IT WASN’T SUPPOSED TO BE REAL!!!" I shouted, feeling a few tears drip from my eyes as I thought about poor Sammy, calling out to me while I merged myself with the party crowd.
But nobody heard my cries. They ignored my distress...the same way that I had been ignoring the distresses of everyone else in that warehouse tonight.
"We needed him as well. The one who writes the scriptures. We tell him about our cultures, our societies, our beliefs...and he writes them down. He is spreading our message to those who need to hear it. He is preparing the world for our triumphant return to the rest of society. Just as it was centuries ago...when people still believed in the horrors held behind the dark curtains of their world." Gabriel said, still trying to comfort me with a friendly smile. "It's a GOOD thing, JT. Mankind is almost ready for our second coming. The website was instrumental in the first stage of that process. Now you and your publishing firm can be the second. You can take us to the next level. And that 'C’ symbol that you wear so proudly on the back of your hand can act as our big flare in the sky to alert the others to our presence. Our burning bush..."
"How....?" I asked meekly. "How can you exist among us without anybody knowing about this...?"
Lucas said, "The humans don't believe in what they can't see. What they can't touch. It's a threat to them to believe in us. It makes our existence SO much easier to know that they prefer the laziness of a social lie than the acknowledgement of the truth, staring them right in the face, each and every day that they draw breath. No more angry mobs. No more torches and pitchforks. Just unsuspecting victims, and the endless sustenance that they provide us when they wander the streets at night. It’s as easy as slaughtering the gullible herd of cattle on your average farm. Tasty."
"Lucas..." Gabriel interrupted, moving to wipe away some of the panicked tears from my eyes. "...You'll frighten him!" Gabriel knelt down in front of me, and looked me in the eyes. "All we need, is for you to get these new texts, and all the ones before it...into the hands of your Mr. Renfield. Get them published. Once the stories are on the open market, and vampire kind is normalized in the eyes of the public...the message will be spread, and our stories will be heard. After that...the transformation between daylight and darkness will be effortless. And once we outnumber those who are against us, it will no longer matter who is in control. Nature will take its rightful place at the top of the food chain...and human evolution will run its course...as it always does."
The thought crossed my mind that I could run. I could head for the door. My mind tried to deny it all. These people are sick in the head! Vampires? Werewolves? How 'stupid' do they think I am? I tried to struggle with it all, but I heard both Lucas and Gabriel sigh out loud as my thoughts and intentions were revealed to them.
Lucas squinted his eyes slightly, and told me, flat out..."You know what happens...if you try to run out on us. Don't you, JT? There won't be any second chances given."
Gabriel looked almost disappointed. "You don't wanna do that. Do you, JT? I mean, things can be better for you. Make the right choice. Don't be stupid." He said. "You won't be able to run. And even if you could, you wouldn't be able to hide. Both of our kinds are already positioned in every major city in the world. The revolution is coming. And SOON! There's nothing that you can do to stop it. So just...be smart, JT. Be a part of it. Join us...while we're still playing 'nice'." Gabriel then had the audacity to smile warmly at me, tenderly rubbing the back of my neck.
I looked back up at Lucas, who was eagerly awaiting my reply. "And if I don't sell you my soul for the sake of getting a few 'fiction/non-fiction’ books published?"
"Heh...then, my friend, you join a very long list of people who made the same decision..." He leaned a bit closer, "...And were never heard from again." He stepped aside, and waved his hand out to draw my attention to a giant series of computer screens that were being flashed against the wall behind the stage. On it...were names. Hundreds of names. All posts on the website forum, but none of them were ever accepted by the site moderators. Sightings of 'C' symbols all over the city, the state, the country, the WORLD!!! Excited posts from kids, from adults, from college campuses and workplaces, from gay clubs, high schools, texted in over cell phones...they were literally coming from everywhere. But without being posted to the rest of the public...it was like they never existed at all. None of us had proof. None of us could be accounted for. And every candidate on that list had been found, targeted, and invited to parties just like this one all over the globe.
As my heart began to beat extra hard from the fear coursing through my veins, the realization that I was totally alone here without any possibility of being saved...I noticed a familiar subject title among the forum posts displayed in front of me. I saw my name attached to it, now highlighted in bold red text, while many others were crossed out. Rejected, and made to become food for the 'gods'. And with my unseen phantom post, brazenly displayed on the screens in front of me...I saw my own words staring back at me...ending with the, now sinister, looking quote attached...