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Paragon Vanguard

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About Paragon Vanguard

  • Birthday 05/17/1971
  1. ((Most awesome. I did have a look about, though no one was there. Am interested in fostering some rp from it. I cannot at this time join the guild, but can make some toons if you are in need. My idea is for one of my SG's young wards to attend it.)) Head Mistress Blackthistle, I was made aware of your school and am very interested in it. We have a young ward that is in need of proper schooling, especially in his abilities. While we provide some training to him, our time is sparse, and none of us are actual teachers. I can see where your school would be very helpful to him. I have concerns about it's location and the safety of my ward, and would like to speak further with you on this. For obvious reasons I prefer to not name him, or even his other guardians, at this time. Please let me know when you are available and I will attempt to meet you then. Dr. James K. Wild, PHD ((Let me know the times you are usually on, or how to get in touch if you will. Looking forward to rp))
  2. Vanguard found the two conspirators hiding in Vinny's office. Vinny was no coward, though the big man's power was quite scary. Still, he shot a slug from his .44 magnum directly into the big V on the chest of the hero. It had little effect. Vanguard quickly took the man's gun away, and careful not to kill him, slapped Vinny in the jaw. The gangster boss crumpled to the floor, his gun, now just a ball of crushed metal, dropped with a thud by him. Stanford, however, coward beneath Vinny's desk, until Vanguard told him to come out. He was obviously scared for his life, the gunshot not having helped that one bit. "I, I can give you......." he began, but seeing the frown on the big man deepen let the sentence drop. "Well done, Paragon Vanguard," Detective Hutchinson said, a big smile on his face as he motioned for the PPD officers to take the two criminals that were hanging helpless from the big hands of the hero. "Not really, sir," Vanguard said, handing the two miscreants over to the officers. He had stood there, holding the two, who at first were kicking and trying to get away, for about 5 minutes. He endured the promises of plenty of cash if he just put them down and let them go. "I actually followed that one," he said, pointing to Stanford," because I was worried he would kill himself over the loss of his wife. I was as fooled as everyone else." Hutchinson grinned and patted Vanguard on his massive shoulder. "Luck is just as good as skill, my friend." Epilogue Michael Summers was up late looking out of his back sliding glass doors, the moon light showing in on him, when Kathy came up from behind and placed her hand on his back. "You okay?" She asked, offering him a smile. "Yeah, I am. Just beating myself up because I really believed Stanford. He had me convinced." "So," she said, the smile still there. Michael looked to her, his head tilted a bit, wondering where she was going with that. "I believed him too," she went on. "Is Michael Summers then beyond being fooled by an apparent grieving man, even though his wife is not. Should I be beating myself up over it?" "Of course not," he said, then let out a sigh. "I am doing it again, aren't I?" "Yes you are. You think because God has gifted you with the power to protect people, that you must be perfect. Well you aren't, and no one expects you to be. We expect you to be a good man, and I would rather you concern yourself with 10 friends who need your support, and 1 turn out to be liar, than you to refuse to care." Michael smiled, and was about to say something when his phone rang. "You get that, I will get the hot chocolate, and you can meet me in the bed room, big boy," Kathy said, and headed to the kitchen. Kathy sighed as she made the hot chocolate. Her husband tried to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. As massive as they were, they could not hold the weight of what the world was becoming. The water began to boil as Michael walked back in, a grin on his face. "It seems Bob Smith and his wife were arrested by the Memphis Police Department. He was trying to skip out of the Hilton Towers without paying the bill. Hutchinson is taking a plane to get him." "Well thank God this is all over, he will be relieved for sure." Memphis, Hours Later Detective Hutchinson had the two brought to the airport via taxi. He was not putting them in his rental. He could still hear Mrs. Smith as the taxi screeched off. She was present when the detective explained everything that happened to the Memphis police officers, and assured them that the Hilton bill would be paid. "......and further more, momma said I should have never married you, you were no good, you were two bit, and you had shifty eyes. I kind of liked your eyes Bob, but they are shifty sometimes. Momma said you weren't normal. You know what Bob, THIS IS NOT NORMAL!" Bob sighed, and looked out at the Memphis buildings, as the taxi carried him to the airport. He could not help but wonder if normal was ever going to be normal again. THE END
  3. Oddly, Stanford did not head to his home. He headed to the docks. Not a particularly safe place for an accountant, and Paragon Vanguard wondered if the man even cared. He seemed very emotional, and who would not be, considering the trials the man went through. Stanford's car rounded the docks, and stopped by a warehouse. It was a very unimposing warehouse, for that matter. It was not in the safest of areas, as this part of town was full of gang members, and this particular part filled with Family, notorious gangsters that cared only for money and power. The doors were opened however, and Stanford was motioned inside. It was really becoming odd. Odder still, Vanguard was pretty sure this was near where the man's wife was found murdered. Maybe Stanford was investigating the murder on his own, his mourning causing him to not think things through? Paragon Vanguard would have to investigate further. Stanford, little to his own knowledge, was surely in great danger now. "They call us Mirror...." the one began. ".....Mirror" the other finished. It mattered little to Vanguard, as both connected his jaw with a very powerful punch, sending him falling back. Falling back, something Paragon Vanguard seldom did. As fast as the two look alike thugs hit him, they were back on top of him, ready to pound some more. They wore pin stripe suits, and were obvious gang members. However, by the chords leading from their arms to their backs, they were augmented in some way. To make things worse, they worked perfectly together. Before the hero could get up, the two connected his ribs with a very powerful kick, one on each side, causing Vanguard to lose his breath completely. Vanguard sent a back fist right into the face of one of the twins. He didn't hold back like he normally had to, these guys were tough, and surely a match for him. As the one that was hit spun about and slid across the floor, the other also looked dazed, and but for a moment, stumbled backwards. This gave Vanguard enough time to recover, and he was on the twin still standing. He covered the distance quickly, leading with his fist, right into the chest of his target, before he felt the other brother on his back, an arm snaking around his neck. Once again though, both brothers grunted, and Vanguard began to wonder if he was really dealing with twins. Vanguard had made his way into the warehouse, unnoticed as he entered through a sky window. What he saw shocked him. What he heard, shocked him even more. "Where is that coward of a man," Stanford asked, then chuckled a bit. "What are you doing here, Stanford. You really should not be here," Vinny said, a deep frown on his face. "If anyone saw you come in..." "Relax. No one is watching me. I am the grieving husband that finds it hard to believe his employee, Bob Smith, would actually kill is wife in a lover's fit. Bob was perfect," Stanford laughed. "And now I am done with the bimbo, and she can't touch a bit of money. I am free to party, like any rich man should, without the fear of paying alimony." Vinny shook his head, and continued to frown. "You are having too much fun, Stanford. For me, this is business." "Good. Here is the money I said I would pay you, a fraction of what my wife would have gotten. We are done after this. No more contact. You will be done with my firm, not wanting the trouble. I will be a saddened millionaire, who's only consolable bright spot in this darkness is that the life insurance I took out on my wife will pay me a considerable amount." "You are a hard man Stanford. However, if you get caught, it's all on you. You killed her, not me. I only helped you cook up this story of Bob Smith," Vinny said, taking the money. It was at this time that Vanguard had heard enough. His anger had gotten the better of him. He should have simply called the police, and let them handle Stanford and Vinny. He just couldn't wait. "You aren't going anywhere, either of you," Paragon called as he lighted to the floor. "The police will be notified and you two will be going to jail. You, Stanford, for the murder of your wife." Stanford's eyes got big, he knew he was caught. "Vinny, help," Stanford squeaked, and turned to run. "Boys, take the trash out," Vinny called, backing away from Vanguard, as twins dressed in tailored pin stripe suits stood between Vanguard and the two conspirators. Vanguard spun the one on his back around, and crashed directly into the other. With all of his strength he pushed them all through the side of the building, taking down metal beams and steel siding. The twins were ripped apart from him, as all three sprawled onto the cement outside. One of the twins was bleeding pretty bad from a cut on his cheek, oddly enough, the other was holding the same cheek as if he felt the pain as well. They both looked to him, this time hate and murder were etched in their eyes. Paragon knew murder was not something new to these guys. "You die, hero, like other heroes before you," they both said together. "No," Vanguard said, and with supersonic speed, raced to the one that had the injured cheek, both fists in front of him. At the last moment he drew back his right fist, and then drove it into the face of the gangster, a "superman punch" from a super man. Bone and flesh gave, and the gangster fell with a thud. Vanguard looked back, and knew then that his theory was correct, as the other one buckled and fell to the ground. They were not twins. As their bodies melded back together, it was apparent they were really one person. "Mirror Mirror," he said low, understanding the name now. Vanguard looked up from the super villain, to the building where the devious plotters were hiding. This was not over.
  4. "Well, it seems then at least they have a lead," Michael told Stanford, and nodded as he did so. The man was very distraught, still. He was telling Michael how he had to see a psychologist now, and seemed very embarrassed about it. "Yes, but nothing they do will bring my wife back," he put his head down. What could Michael say to that? It was true. He was not really much of a help either. He was not a detective. Not all heroes were detectives, that was only in the comic books. This was real life. A real person was dead. He was not about to play detective. Instead, he offered as much help and comfort to his accountant as possible. "I am so depressed," Stanford said, and lowered his head and cried. Michael simply patted him on the shoulder, gentle even for a huge man with super strength. Kathy came in with some cookies and placed the platter before the two, before sitting down as well. She looked to her husband who apparently looked at a loss for words. Kathy could not blame him, she had no idea what to tell Stanford either. A story of her mother passing away of old age? A distant cousin that she had a pen pal friendship with that died in a car wreck? No, none of those can compare to the loss of a spouse. Apparently a very beloved spouse. There was few words between them, though Stanford did pull himself together as he headed for the door. He said that the police were looking into Bob Smith, an employee of his accounting firm. He was sure that Bob had nothing to do with it though, but the police insisted. "Where are you going?" Kathy asked, as they walked him to the door. "For a drive, I just need to be alone," he said, his head bowed some. "You can stay here longer if you need," Michael assured him, but deep down he really was a bit relieved to see the man go. "No no, I have taken up too much of your evening already. It is getting near 10," he assured them, and was soon in his car and driving off. "I can't even imagine how he must feel," Michael said, looking to Kathy as they watched the tail lights of the car leave the drive. "Me either, I kept trying to think of words, but came up blank." "Guess there really isn't words that can help someone so depressed," Michael sighed, then noticed his wife's very worried look as she watched the car. "What are you thinking?" He asked, following her gaze. "He is very depressed. Do you think it would be best for you to maybe follow him a bit and make sure he does not harm himself?" She asked, looking to her husband. Michael nodded, and grabbed for the keys to their car. "Michael," she chuckled a bit looking to him, with one brow raised. "Oh, yeah, I will get my suit," he said, with a grin on his own face. It would be much easier to follow him as Paragon Vanguard than as Michael Summers.
  5. "Why are we leaving, we should be here for two weeks, you said Vinny said we could," Mrs. Smith complained, as Bob hurriedly packed his bags. "We have other sites to see," he said, motioning her to hurry. "So why the hurry Bob, why the hurry? I had planned for a good movie tonight, you know that one with that handsome curly haired guy I like," she fussed, but began packing. "Bob, you are sweating. You never hardly ever sweat. Why are you sweating?" "It's hot in here, and I am in my sweater, dear," he offered, hurriedly packing still. Bob Smith's day was okay, considering he was on the run for a murder he did not commit, the victim a friend's wife he did not have an affair with, despite how it all looked. It was okay, that is, until he got the bill. The bill. Not the receipt. Not the paper showing that he paid in full. No no, the bill. To many this would not mean time to panic, but to Bob, this was somewhere beyond panic time. It was more like sit down and have a panic attack, and hope to die, time. He tried hard to call Vinny, but only got his voice mail. There was no way he could afford 4 days and nights in the Memphis Hilton Towers. It would completely drain his bank account, and then some. He would then be stuck on the streets of Memphis. "Out of control, this is out of control," he said low, to himself. "What did you say honey, I didn't hear you," Mrs. Smith asked, as she slowly, ever so slowly it seemed to Bob, packed her things. "Nothing dear, just pack. Just pack that suitcase, and dont worry about nothing." How could he tell her that they were on the run from the cops, that Vinny said had been snooping around. He said that he would deal with them, but it was a good idea to lay low none the less. He said all expenses would be paid. He said he would take care of Bob. He of course knew how to do that, in the line of work he did. The fact that he was obviously associated with the Family of Paragon City meant he had plenty of connections. Bob on the other hand had no connections. He was not connected to anything but his wife and two kids. His two car garage, and his very normal life. No, no connections. Except for Vinny. Vinny, who, for some reason, has stopped paying for the Hotel Room. All expenses paid has suddenly turned into no expenses paid. Call me anytime has turned into can't get in touch with you Vinny. This may be normal for some people, but not for Bob Smith. "Can we take the drinks," Mrs. Smith asked, looking to Bob with a grin. "WOULD YOU JUST PACK", Bob shouted, and quickly covered his mouth. Not normal at all.
  6. Poplar street, Memphis Bob was very unsure why it was called that. It was not a normal street, no not at all. He watched the traffic out of his hotel room, thinking at any moment one of those cars could be the cops, or FBI, are whoever they sent after men who murdered their mistress and skipped town. Never mind he did not murder anyone, and did not have a mistress. He did however skip town. It was the only way Vinny would help him. He would set him up in Memphis for a bit, at least until things cooled down. This was a week ago. "Oh Bob, you should relax. It is our first vacation we have had in years!" Mrs. Smith called from the other room. This caused his lip to twitch a bit. A twitch was not normal. He liked his life with his normal wife, and normal kids. The kids, thank God, was at their aunts in Washington for now. He and his wife were enjoying their "second honeymoon", or so he told everyone. They were in a popular, expensive hotel chain. Vinny had him sign up, but was paying the cost. In fact, the first two nights receipts were shoved under his door, marked "paid in full", despite the fact that his wife ordered midnight snacks brought up to the room, all of the movies she could watch in a day, and additions to the wet bar. Sometimes she did not even watch the movies, she ordered them and left the room to do whatever she was doing, the cost fully paid, the movie going unwatched. His life was spiraling completely out of control. Of course he never told her that they were in a room paid for by a gangster, because it appeared that he killed his mistress, which happened to be his boss' wife, while at a party full of hookers and alcohol. No, one did not tell their wives this. Not normally, anyway. And if he was nothing else, he was normal. "I will be there in a minute," he called back, barely loud enough for her to hear over the television that she was not watching. Bob watched as the snow began to fall, ever so slightly. Paragon City Michael Summers stood at the door of the house, as the Sheriff's detective went through the proper etiquette's of a search warrant. Stanford kept looking to Michael for answers, Michael only shook his head and nodded toward the officers. Once they were done explaining it to him, they began to search the home. "Why are they doing this Mr. Summers?" he asked. Michael had received a heads up that they were doing the search from his detective friend, that he called in some favors and Michael would be allowed to be present, as long as he stayed out of the way. "They have to cover all bases, that is all." Michael assured him, but was not completely sure that was the case. He would not have been made privy to any information concerning this case. He was neither a detective nor an officer. People misunderstood many heroes rolls in society, thinking all of them worked directly with the police departments. It simply was not true. Michael was, in fact, simply a professor, that happened to have super powers. Brolin, his friend at the police department, was only returning a favor, after Michael helped him with some gangs in Atlas. He did not seem too pleased about that. Thankfully Brolin worked well with heroes, even the ones that were not considered law enforcement. "Do they think that I killed her," he asked, a look of fear on his face, mixed with the sadness of his situation. "I could never have." Michael simply shook his head. "What little I do know is that they have to cover all bases, which means they have to show that you did not do it." This seemed to put Stanford a bit more at ease, and the two stood their silently for a bit until one of the detectives called Stanford over. Michael followed. "Ever seen this before," the detective asked, showing Stanford a loose leaf paper with something written on it. "Or these," he showed him some other opened envelopes with apparently more letters in them. Stanford went to reach for them, but the detective pulled them back. "Just read, don't touch." Stanford read over it, his face a mask of confusion. "Bob?" He asked, and looked to the detective. The detective simply looked to him for answers. "I didn't write that letter," he said. Another detective looked over, as he was looking through the other letters. "All signed, 'love Bob' ", he offered. "Bob? She doesn't know a Bob. Could those be old letters or something?" he asked, but even as he was asking, it was obvious the paper on many of them was not that old. "I never saw these, where did you find them?" "They were in her wardrobe closet, in the drawer, under some magazines." The detective offered. Michael suddenly felt very uncomfortable, as Stanford looked to him, then back to the officers. "Bob Smith is the only Bob that we know," he offered, but shook his head even as he said it. "Bob Smith just is not the type, could never." The first detective looked to the other, and both nodded at one another. "Tell me about Bob Smith," he prompted.
  7. "I can't believe she is dead," he kept telling Michael, after having explained that his wife was found murdered at the dock in Independence Port. Michael felt a bit out of place, standing there with his W forms, his pay checks from the last year, his receipts, and everything he would need to have his taxes done. Tax time can be a bit of an emotional time for many, happy if you are getting back, a bit stressed if you are giving, and at ease if you find neither true for you. Stanford just stood there at the door of the Summer's house, just on the edge of Paragon City. It was indeed a suburb of the city, though the yards were large and flush, and the neighbors were not very close. "Invite him in honey," Kathy said behind Michael, who apparently had no idea how to deal with a sobbing accountant that was suppose to be showing up to gather his tax information. Stanford always did come to the Summer's home, feeling it was a privilege to work with a super hero. Michael was a bit put off with this at first, but he soon warmed up to the idea, especially since Stanford was a no nonsense accountant. He never cut corners. He did not try to gain you a better tax cut by "fluffing the numbers", as one accountant promised Michael one year. No, he seemed to be very honest. "Please come in," he said to the man, moving his huge frame out of the doorway, and allowing the accountant to enter. Stanford was normally well in control of things. He was handsome, blond wavy hair, and a pleasant smile that put everyone around him at ease. He was built like an athlete, with broad shoulders and a slim waist. Michael lead Stanford into their dining room, and the two sat at the table. Kathy went to get them some coffee, making motions to her husband to encourage the accountant to speak. Michael Summers could not help but think that he was a teacher, not a psychologist. Alas, the man did need to talk, and Michael could not turn him away. Especially with Mrs. Summers expecting otherwise. "I am so sorry, Mr. Summers. I do not usually bring my troubles to my clients, you do understand," Stanford said, a deep frown of sadness marring his face. "No no, I understand. I just don't get why you are working. You said they just told you that your wife was dead only four days ago. Why are you even here. You should have sent someone else, or something...." Michael said. "I must confess, I did not come to do your taxes. I do not think I could keep my mind on it well enough to even begin to do a good job," his head then flopped into his hands, and a few sobs began to shake his body. Michael was not a man without a heart. He felt for Stanford. He was just not in the habit of comforting non-family members at such an intimate time. The death of a spouse, well, Michael could not imagine. However, when Kathy walked in, and he saw the gray streaks in her hair, and he watched as she opened and closed her hands after setting the coffee cups before them, he realized time was doing to him, what this killer did to his accountant. "I need you to help," the man suddenly said, lifting his head from his hands, and grabbing the sleeve of Michael's green sweater. "Help, what can I do?" Michael asked, which seems absurd to some, considering him being a super hero. However, this seemed like a case for a detective. While Michael Summers, more specifically Paragon Vanguard, was more than capable of meeting threats that even law enforcement could not, he was not a detective. "You are a hero, and a very powerful one. Can't you help with this? I loved her very much. Synthia Stanford was my life, Mr. Summers. My life! We were even trying to have our first child," the man, normally handsome, was not looking so great with the tears drying on his face, the look of desperation causing creases on the corner of his eyes. Synthia. Now she had a name. It was becoming harder and harder to excuse himself from the situation. "I do not know even where to start, Mr. Stanford," Michael said, and felt the warm hand of his wife rest on his massive shoulder. He looked up to her, but she was simply looking at the accountant with sadness. "I am not a detective. I have only slim contacts with the police department. I helped PPD a bit with some gang stuff, but other than that," he just shrugged. "I am sorry to put this on you, sir. I had no right to come in and ask you to do anything," Stanford nodded. His head dropped a bit, and he looked embarrassed. "No no, my husband will do what he can son," Kathy spoke up quickly, a deep look of concern on her own face. Michael looked to her pretty blue eyes, then back to Stanford. "I will ask around a bit, see if I can find any leads. Other than that, I really don't know what else I can do," Michael offered. Stanford looked up to him with new hope. "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" He said, and began sobbing again. The Summers' watched as the accountant drove away. "You are a good man, Michael Summers," Kathy said, a pretty smile crossing her lips. "I don't know what all I can do, honey. I am not a detective. Show me the bad guy, then I can help." "You will figure out what to do to help, you always do," she encouraged him. "I noticed your hands are hurting again," Michael said, gently cupping her hands into his massive hands. The warmth of his hands indeed made her's feel better. "It's nothing. The cold air is all. Nothing that no one else at our age doesn't experience," she laughed and then kissed his hands before laying her head into his chest. "You are a great guy, Michael Summers." This normally would bring a big grin to his face, but had she been looking she would have only seen worry, as he though that the cold effected most people at their age. It had no effect on him. His age had no effect on him.
  8. Samantha Summers was actually enjoying herself serving the homeless. She did not know what to expect. Her dad would not let her come to this part of the city until she was grown, which basically meant she would never have his permission. She knew her dad was simply being too much like a, well, like a dad. The end of the day was a bit harder, as the lines of the homeless started to finally shorten. It was nine at night, and she had been at it for over 12 hours. Her feet hurt, her hands hurt, and she had a headache. However, she felt very good about what they did. Turkey and ham, black beans and rolls, someone had given roasts and deserts even. Samantha almost cried when a little old lady offered her a quarter and a blessing. The clean up team came in, and they were now relieved. "Oh thank goodness," Leana, her new friend from college declared. "I couldn't bare it any longer. My feet are killing me." Of course they were, Leana decided to serve while wearing high heels. At least Samantha knew enough to wear her tennis shoes. She just laughed at Leana's complaining. Her friend was dark skinned, dark eyed. She was tall, with much of her lower leg showing from beneath a skirt that would have gone near Samantha's ankles. Leana was beautiful, but she did not always think before she did things. "It's over, and I thank you for joining me," Samantha said, considering she had to talk her well to do friend into it. "You just cant tell pops, he would kill us both if he found out you put me in danger of being killed!" She laughed, and Samantha laughed with her. Samantha was almost a stark difference to her friend. She was light skinned, blonde haired like her dad, more average height. She did have wonderful blue eyes like her mother, and where Leana's legs usually caught someone's first attention, Samantha's eyes did. Both of their parents were college professors, but while Samantha's dad was a professor of a state college, PCU, Leana's dad was teaching in an ivey league school in New York. The difference did not stop there, of course. Samantha's dad was also Paragon Vanguard, and she was pretty sure Leana's dad was not a super hero, though he was a super guy, and a very loving dad. Her mother had died from cancer a few years ago, something Leana was not over. The two chatted as they exited the back door of the soup hall, into the alley. Much of the other volunteer servers had already left while Leana was trying to wash the smell of food off of her, to no avail. Anything less than a full shower was not going to do, and Samantha knew Leana would not stop complaining about it, until she actually got the shower. As the two got to the road, Samantha stopped. "My purse, I forgot my purse!" She exclaimed. "Well, you go back and get it, I will get us a cab," Leana said, looking down the street for one. Samantha nodded, and headed back into the dim lit alley. As she reached for the door, her small white purse dangled in front of her, held by a large meaty hand. "See, you do need your dad," the huge man said, as he stepped from the shadows. Samantha did not even startle, though most would. She had lived with Paragon Vanguard her entire life. A smile simply crossed her face. "Daddy!" She said, and offered a hug, that was gladly received. From behind they both heard a noise, and Samantha looked back to see her friend, armed with a can of pepper spray, eyeing the two. It didn't matter to Michael Summers that the young lady saw them, he did not hide who he was. "Leana, I told you about my dad," Samantha said, and motioned to him. Leana looked at him, and blinked. "Dad? This man cant be but maybe 30! What was he, 10 when you were born?" "I do not age," was all Michael said, offering a big hand, and bit of an embarrassed smile. Leana took his hand, very dainty like, as was her way, and smiled a beautiful smile. "Please to meet you," she said. "I have to go, I just wanted to see you," Michael kissed his daughter's cheek. "And dont leave that purse lying about, with all the cash you have in it." Samantha watched her dad take to the air, the snow swirling up and following him, and he was gone. She looked to Leana and smiled, then back to her purse. "I dont have any cash, I am flat.....Oh dad," she blew another kiss to the sky. Samantha then looked to her friend, who was also looking up to the sky. She still had the pepper spray can in her hand. "What exaclty were you going to do with that?" Samantha laughed, pointing to the can. "You dont even know how to use the thing, do you?" "Oh dont you doubt I can use it, my dad showed me, in fact, I even accidentally sprayed him so I know it works, besides......" Paragon Vanguard watched as the two climbed into a cab, Samantha's new friend going on and on about her pepper spray abilities. He was pleased that she had a friend that would protect her. Still, he wanted to follow the cab anyway. Alas no, he had been there long enough. His wife was waiting at home. She would shake her head at his endeavors that night, and pick on him when Samantha was around, but truth be told, she as much wanted him to check on her as he wanted to check on her himself. As the cab blended in with other New York City traffic, Paragon Vanguard made his way back to Rhode Island at near super sonic speed.
  9. Ok, waking up in a shipping container is NOT normal, Bob thought. Sprawled across a woman who has apparently NOT woken up is NOT normal either. Bob was cold, he was very cold. Abnormally cold in fact. He was not use to being so cold because in his normal home the temperature was always set at 76 degrees. His normal home is where Bob was use to waking up. Not in a shipping container, and especially not sprawled across a prostitute. His head was spinning, and he was sure he would be sick soon. Bob recognized the woman as one of the "ladies" the night before. She had short blonde hair and pretty green eyes. Her hair barely came to her shoulders, and Bob wondered what would possess her to crop it so short. Bob staggered to the container entrance, that was still partially opened. He was not even sure how he got there. He smelled like booze and cheap perfume. He still had the derby on, and his tie. Other than that, he was sporting his plain white boxers and calf high black dress socks. Bob winced as he looked out of the container. Obviously he was in the shipping yard, amidst a bunch of other containers. He could hear muffled talking but it did not sound as if anyone was really all that close to him. With a quick glance around, he did not see his clothes anywhere. Worse still, he did not see any clothes for the woman laying on container floor either. He felt very uncomfortable, and it was not just the cold. Being in a container with an unconscious naked woman is very hard to explain. Thankfully early morning on a weekend, on this part of the docks of Independence Port, was not very busy. Bob walked over and shook the woman, who groaned slightly and began to turn over to her back. Bob quickly stopped her, and insured that she did not further embarrass him by exposing him further to her being exposed. "N-no ma'm, you just lay there. I will uhm, I will get us some clothes, and uhm, well, we can get out of here," he told the woman, who merely seemed to go back to sleep. As cold as it was, they would both be dead if he did not get them out of there. It was definitely below freezing outside, and he was thankful that they probably had not been there that long. Bob looked out of the container again, and saw some boxes. They weren't much, but surely he could pull them apart and place them on the woman to keep her somewhat warm while he found his way back to his client's warehouse. If anyone would know what to do it would be Vinny. Vinny was his friend, and Vinny knew how to do things that weren't normal. This was really past normal. So past normal, that Bob was feeling greatly abnormal. Bob tenderly walked over the cold asphalt, and felt he would freeze if he did not get some clothes soon. He grabbed some of the cleaner looking boxes, and hurried back to the container. As he pulled them apart and placed them on the woman, she stirred again, halfway opened one eye, groaned, and went back to sleep. Bob knew how she felt. His own head was killing him, and he felt he would lose his supper, if indeed he had any supper in him. He was not sure, he did not remember if he ate or not. The nausea would come and go though. Bob knew enough to know he had what others called a "hang over". Bob did not like hang overs. As Bob exited the box, the sun hit his eyes, having now poked out from the city skyline. A new wave of nausea hit, and he released what little he did have in his stomach on the side of the box. Once he got his barrings, he was able to determine which way the warehouse was. Vinny would understand and Vinny would help him. Vinny lead the way to the container. They were blocks away from the warehouse, and Bob walked all that way in his boxers. Bob was thankful Vinny had a pair of pants he could put on, and a shirt, though it was all very baggy on him. Unfortunately either Vinny did not have any extra shoes, or he simply was not letting Bob use them. Bob looked around now, not completely sure which container it was. The morning sun was rising, and people were beginning to come out for work. "You sure you left her out here," Vinny asked, and did not look amused at all. He also seemed to have a hangover. "I-I am sure, sir," Bob said, and began to retrace his steps. Along the way back he was sure to mark where he had been, so he could find the box. Vinny was now following Bob, a long overcoat over his shoulder for the naked woman Bob told him about. "I tell you Bob, I aint never seen someone change so much as you did, you were an animal man! I almost didn't want you to leave, but you said you had to go. Hah, I saw that look in your eye like I seen in many others, I know you gave someone a good time! I just assumed it would have been your wife!" Bob didn't say anything. He was sure he did not give anyone a good time. He was pretty sure he didn't have a time, good or bad, with anyone. Vinny was lead around to the right container, and they both peeped in. Bob saw the hand poking out from under the boxes, and recognized the red nail polish. "You are one crazy son of a gun, Bob. I don't think I will be letting you drink so much next time though. Hah, you even had me worried about you for a while. However, I know these types of girls, and you aint nothing she couldn't handle," he went on, as he pulled the boxes back. Bob decided to stand back and let Vinny handle this. He was not sure if he would throw up again, since he already had to stop two or three times on this trip. "Bob, what did you do?" Vinny asked, and looked over very seriously at Bob. Bob felt his face flush, because truth be told, he had no idea what he did. He was sure however it was nothing that Mrs. Smith would be happy about, no not at all. "C-can we just hurry up, get her up and get out," Bob asked, and Vinny was still staring at him, a very concerned look on his face. "Bob, she is dead," Vinny said. Bob was sure he heard wrong. Surely Vinny said dead drunk, and he just did not hear the drunk part. Dead tired, and he did not hear the tired part. That would have made sense to his senses, but dead, with nothing added behind it, was too preposterous. "Dead?" Bob had to ask. This was definitely something one must clarify if one is told this. Bob of course had to ask the normal question, that anyone in his unshoe'ed feet would have asked. "What do you mean dead?" "Dead Bob," Vinny said, irritated now. "Dead as in dead. Dead as in she aint putting this coat on you made me drag over here for her, dead. Dead as in I do not need this problem, this should have been something you told me about so I could send someone else to get her, dead. DEAD BOB!" Vinny was clearly irritated, but Bob could not think on that too much. Bob pushed past Vinny and looked over. The woman was dead. "Hypothermia?" He asked. "I tried to cover her up to keep her warm. I was not gone that long Vinny!" "Hypo-what? Last I checked hypothermia doesn't cause deep bruises to the neck Bob, or scratches on their neck," Vinny stared at Bob now. "Bob, where did those scratches on your face come from." Bob put his hand up to his face, and felt the scratches. He didn't notice them before, but of course his head was spinning, and he was all but naked in a box with a fully naked woman. "Wait a moment," Vinny looked closer at the woman. "Bob, this aint one of my girls." Bob walked over, and looked closer. "Bob do you know who this woman is?" Bob just looked. A part of his brain was thinking yes, he knew. Another part of his brain was saying impossible. "Bob, this is Danny Stanford's wife. I met her several times at business lunchings." Vinny said, but Bob's mind was saying no way. Bob's knees were saying I cant hold you up buddy as he collapsed against the container wall. Stanford was Bob's boss. In fact, Stanford was one of the closest things he had to a friend at his job. Stanford was the only one that would seem to put up with his odd behaviours, as others called them. Stanford was young, cool, handsome, and actually considered Bob a friend. "I, I don't know...." Vinny just stared at Bob for a moment, and for the first time Bob could see doubt, and maybe worry even, on Vinny's face. "I don't think I want to get involved with this, Bob," Vinny said, shaking his head a bit. "I didn't. I didn't," Bob said, his eyes going from Vinny to the naked Mrs. Stanford. "Well, it sure don't look good for you buddy. I remember you made a phone call before you left," Vinny said. "I had no idea you would be calling Stanford's wife." Bob looked to Vinny, then felt for his phone. He looked at it quickly, checking his calls. There was definitely a number on there he did not recognize, and he was willing to bet it would be her number. "We need to call the police," Bob said, his face another shade of white now. Vinny looked over, and shook his head. "You givin' yourself up? Ifn' you are, you aint making me part of this, you hear!" Bob tilted his head, as it was just now sinking in. Bob was a murderer.
  10. Vinny tweaked the brim of the derby that now sat upon the head of Bob Smith, then he straightened Bob's tie. His suit was gray, and his shirt was white, all normal like, like Bob likes. "You lookin' good there, my friend," Vinny said, with a snap of his finger and a wink. Bob just smiled. It took them only three weeks. Three weeks and Bob Smith was not feeling normal at all. He was not sure if he liked it or not. Oh, he liked the extra money he was getting, but he did not like having to explain it away as nothing to his wife. It felt like lying. Lying was not something Bob normally did. Bob liked the attention he got from these rough, powerful men. He did not like how they treated others, though he kept his mouth shut. It felt like he was just as responsible. He liked to make Vinny happy when he "doctored" the books, but he did not like that much of it, if ever found out, would be criminal. It felt dishonest. "Th-thanks Mr. Vinny. Uhm, I have a good report for you, as always," Bob said, and it was not bragging. He always made sure he had a good report for Vinny. He was not sure what happened to the last accountant. He was not sure he wanted to know. He was sure he did not want to end up like the last accountant, and always made sure Vinny got a good report. "You always have a good report Bob! Always! I like that Bob. My people like that Bob," he said, spreading his arms out to motion to the men all around the warehouse, who were not paying much attention to Bob anymore. "My boss likes that as well Bob!" "That is, uhm, that is great. I just wanted to point out..." he began, but Vinny, as usual, wanted little to do with it. "Put away all those papers. Put that briefcase in your car, Bob. We have worked enough today," though Bob was not sure what kind of work Vinny did today. The man pretty much sat in his office while Bob worked on the numbers. "In but a moment a car is going to pull up Bob, and in that limo is going to be more ladies than we have men here," Vinny grinned. Bob was pretty sure of what Vinny meant. He was also sure that he would not like this, no not one bit. Bob was normal, as he liked to point out to others, though not to Vinny. He was also certain however that his very normal wife would not exactly understand. "I see your worry in your face, but I have something for you Bob. I have a wonderful year of brandy, and I tell you, it goes down smooth like water." Vinny slapped Bob on the back, and headed to his office to retrieve the drinks. Bob just stood there. He was actually exploring the idea of making a run for it. Head to his car, and race off, never to look back. That would not have been normal. It would have been such an odd thing for someone to do, he could not bring himself to do it. It soon no longer mattered, because Vinny showed back up with drinks. "Here you go my friend. Drink up, and enjoy. Life is great." What was Bob to do? Vinny gulped his own drink down, and then began yelling at one of his thugs to open the warehouse's giant doors so the "gals" can come on in when they get here. The men all cheered. Bob did not exactly gulp his down. In fact, it took quite a few sniffs, sips, and finger stirs before he actually took a real drink. He was only halfway done when Vinny returned with another for himself. He was only 2/3s done when the limo pulled in. In fact, the ladies, if you can call them such, were all popping open wine bottles and champagne by the time Bob finished his first drink. People kept pouring different kinds of alcohol in his glass, but usually Vinny came along and dumped out whatever strange concoction he had in his glass. "You and me aint like them, are we Bob? We are refined. We like the real stuff," he would proclaim as he poured from the Brandy bottle. Bob did begin to loosen up, as his head began to spin. In fact, he was not such a fuddy duddy as to keep pushing these nice girls off of him. They were friendly, and did not deserve to be treated as such, as Vinny well pointed out. "Okay. This is not normal", was one of the last thoughts that he would remember.
  11. Michael Summers looked out at the snow falling to the ground, from the sliding glass doors in the dining room. The trees on his 2 acre lot were blowing in the north wind, making a swishing noise from time to time, when the wind would pick up. He kind of liked the winter, and he and his wife always anxiously awaited Christmas, watching it pass far too quickly before a New Year set in. Michael looked down to his blue fuzzy slippers, the ones his daughter bought him only last year. How she found any to fit him, he would never know. The morning sun was shining in, causing the fuzz to glitter, and warming the pajamas he wore. Michael let out a big sigh. He was a professor at the university. He was also Paragon Vanguard, guardian of the city, along with a host of others, in a city of heroes. He felt somewhat displaced now, as he looked to the city that peeked over the trees in the distance. He was there when Galaxy City fell into ruin from an attack of the aliens. The whole state of Rhode Island was in shambles because of it, much more so Paragon City. His daughter was gone. She was now in college in New York. She said she felt the curriculum was better suited for her majoring in journalism, but Michael was not so sure that was the reason. It would have been hard enough her attending a college that her dad was a professor at, but he was also Paragon Vanguard, a "hero" of that city. His identity was not a secret. "Can't stop wondering where your daughter has gone," Kathy Summers said, as she handed the big man a cup of hot chocolate. She leaned up against him, pulling her robe up tight at the neck to protect her from the chill. "New York, I know where she is," he said, looking to her. She was in her forties now, and every bit as beautiful as she was when they met in high school. The gray began to show around her temples, only slightly. Michael on the other hand had not aged a day since the accident that made him into Paragon Vanguard, 15 years ago. It was as if, along with the super strength and near invulnerability, time froze for him. "I meant, where that little girl went, that would sit and listen to you read a bed time story, the same one about the bears, every night. The one that would steal sips of your coffee when she thought you weren't looking. The one that would run to the door when she heard it open, anticipating you coming in. Sometimes she would run to that door just thinking she heard it, and become very disappointed when you weren't home yet." Michael looked to his wife, a bit of frown on his face. "Trying to make me feel better?" He asked, as a smile curved at the edge of his lips. Kathy laughed. "No. You are melancholy right now, and I know there isn't much I can say to make you feel better. All I can do is say you aren't alone," she kissed his cheek, and patted his massive chest. There was two meanings in that, and Michael knew it. He was not alone, because she was there. He was not alone in his missing their little girl. "We all grow up honey," she added. Michael watched her as she left the dining room, obviously going to get dressed and prepare for the day. With a sigh, the big man followed his wife towards their bedroom. Nothing was going to change his mood right now, his little girl was not going to be there for the next few months, her Christmas break over now for a couple of weeks. He may as well get dressed and prepare for the day. He had a class in about an hour, and he wanted to prepare his lecture properly. He would have much preferred to just stay home, drinking coffee and hot chocolate, kicking his slippers up, and wishing his daughter was home. This was the last sad thought of the moment to cross his mind, as he entered the bedroom, and found his wife having slipped from her robe, and not exactly trying to get dressed. Maybe the day was not going to start off as bad as he thought.
  12. Bob Smith kissed Mary Smith as he left the house that morning. His house looked like every other house on the block of this nice Rhode Island suburb. In fact, his nice small Toyota, and his nice big SUV looked pretty much like everyone else's vehicles in his nice normal neighborhood. Bob liked it like that. The truth of it all was that he, his wife and two kids moved here because he was guaranteed by the neighborhood committee that everything in the neighborhood was quite normal. Bob liked normal. His ride to work went fairly normal. Traffic was backed up in all the right places. He honked his horn at all the right times, in fact, his face became red, and he shook his head in anger at the usual bottlenecks that he always ran into. While it was irritating, Bob was happy enough that it was nothing new. Bob however began to become worried this morning. His normal exit was now behind him, as he traveled 15 minutes and 32 seconds further to the Paragon City exit, and then another 20 minutes to reach the city. Bob then traveled to Independence Port. His nerves were all a bundle now. This was not normal for Bob. Bob Smith works for an accounting company based out of Paragon City, though he seldom ever travels to their down town office in Atlas Park. Instead, he handles the more normal clients in their satellite office. This always pleased Bob. He did not want to handle the finances of the strange and bizarre that seemed to flock to the big city. He especially did not want to be near the port, which Bob felt could hardly be considered civilized. Bob found the client's office, a warehouse strategically situated right on the docks. He swallowed hard as two rough looking men in suits motioned him to drive on in to the warehouse, and then closed the doors behind him. There were two other men with rifles in hand standing by an office. These two wore derby hats, a suit, white shirts with no ties. Their loafers were shiney, and their frowns were evident. They motioned Bob to get out. Bob got out of his car, though he really did not wish to. All normality left him as he walked on the concrete flooring toward the wooden office. One of the ruffians opened the door and motioned for Bob to enter. Of course Bob entered. What else could he do? Bob really did not like this, because it really was not normal. The rough looking man that sat behind the desk also wore a suit, though it looked tailor made from some fancy material. This many suits in a warehouse on the docks? It was simply not normal, no, not normal at all. Bob was not happy. "Ah, my new accountant. Come in, come in, have a seat," the man said in a strong Italian accent, motioning to a chair as he took a puff of a big cigar. "Your office said they would send someone else. Ashamed what happened to Fred. I liked Fred," the man said with such a deep frown, eyeing Bob, who had no idea that anything had happened to Fred. In fact, Bob did not know who Fred was. He made it an effort not to socialize with too many of his fellow workers. "F-Fred, what happened to Fred," Bob managed to squeak out, as his eyes began to blink a bit too rapid. It was a nervous twitch he developed anytime he found himself in such abnormalities. "Friend of your's eh? Who wouldn't like Fred. The only thing about Fred was he liked to talk. Talk talk talk, it's all he ever did. Talking too much get's you in trouble. Get's you to meeting the fishies, if you know what I mean," the man laughed, which turned into coughs, which turned into fits of coughs as he slammed a huge meaty fist onto the desk several times. Bob's eyes were really blinking now. He was pretty sure that he knew what meeting the fishies meant, as he looked behind him toward the river. He could not see it however, as he was completely concealed from the rest of the world in this warehouse. "Sorry to see him go none the less," the man said, then offered a big meaty, nicotine stained hand. Bob shook his hand. "They call me Vinny, but my real name is Slone. You can call me Vinny. I kinda earned the name, you know," he said, running his hand through his slicked back hair. 'Well, you know how people get names." Bob was unsure how Slone turned into Vinny, but he did not bother to tell Slone, uhm, Vinny this. Instead, he just nodded his head. "Anyway, you and me, we gots lots to do, so we best get to doing it. I pay you guys to make sure I pay the government less than I pay you guys," and this seemed to amuse Vinny very much, but Bob did not quite catch the joke. He just smiled, or at least attempted one, with his eyes blinking so rapidly. "I am Bob Smith," Bob offered, and then suddenly thought that maybe he should have given a fake name. It was too late, he already gave his real name, and changing it at this point probably would not help. Vinny just nodded. "Good, Bob. Let's get to work on suckering the government shall we!" Bob just nodded. No no, this was not normal.
  13. The reality of leaving my home became apparent when the constable came knocking, looking for the shop keepers wife and young son. Of course I told him I had not seen them. What is a lie to a being as cursed as I? Shall some devil come and claim me in the night? I am the devil that comes in the night, and it was in the night that I fed on the very ones they sought. I was quite secure in the knowledge that they would not believe one as sickly as I could have anything to do with the missing mother and child, but then he said something quite strange. She was seen the night before last, but when her name was called she did not respond. She simply vanished into the wooded swamp on the north side of town. It was strange because I fed on her a week ago, her and her child. I waited in the dark for her, something in her blood calling to the sickness in my blood. I could not say what it was, but understand I could not have fought it, even had I tried. The child could not have survived without it's mother, so I did the merciful thing. It sounds horrid, of course, to one that is not as I. In truth, it is horror. Yet, I said I would be honest in my writings, and convincing my own journal of another truth, of something more romantic or less depraved would mean I truly am mad, and only fool myself. That night I sought her, fearing I may have turned her into something as I, hoping I had turned her into something as I. She was beautiful in life, what would she be in death, or undeath? I was torn between my shame and guilt and my hope. My desire for a companion as I. It was in this double mind that I found her. She stood over a quiet pool deep in the forest. She stared into it, even as I approached. Had I a heartbeat it would have been racing. Finally her eyes turned to me, green as the sea. She was beautiful. Her garments were so white, as if the earth refused to settle on her. She was only marred by the red that seeped from her mouth. Her blood red lips a stark contrast to her dress. "He thought I was a goddess," she said, her eyes flowing up to me. "Do you think I am a goddess?" I looked about, unsure of who she meant, until I saw the constable lying dead only a few yards from her. When I looked back to her she was already upon me, only a breath away, a smile showing her fanged teeth. I did not answer her, so she asked again, only this time closer to me. Her cold breath brushing against me. "Tell me I am a goddess," she said seductively. I know now that she had no idea I was a vampire as her, and no idea that I was who turned her. She thought I was human, and she thought to feed on me as she did the constable. She brushed my neck with her lips, only to recoil in disgust. It was then she knew that she could not feed on me. She turned away immediately, without a second glance back at me, and returned to the pool of water and stared once more into it. I tried to speak to her, but she would never again acknowledge me. She was not as some would call feral, but she was quite mad it seemed. In the coming days people began to vanish, some returning pale and strange looking. Others never returning. The town was far removed from cities and other towns, so by the time folks began to understand that something was quite wrong, there were so few left to do anything about it. I sent Ms. Harting away as soon as I discovered what had happened. I remained behind, to try and destroy as many of these ill creatures as I could. None seemed to be anything but the disease, with only the desire to feed. Most were dirty, and animal like, hunting on the few humans still alive. Others were more aware, but locked in their last moment, last "feelings", much as the shop keeper's wife. I destroyed the shop keeper's wife, at the very pool she went to every night after feeding. Again, she did not acknowledge me in the least, making it easy to cut her head off with my saber. Her body quickly bloated, and looked as if it had been laying there rotting for weeks. I then knew she was destroyed. As I wrote above, I destroyed as many of the creatures as I could, none having the awareness I had. Though if any escaped, I would not know, not even now. The ones I was able to decapitate were lucky. Others I was forced to burn, fire being a horrific end for a vampire. Even the feral ones screamed as they would have in life, the clarity of their condition striking them in the last moments it seemed. They were cursed, you see, and damned, and the burning was only a precursor of what they would suffer eternally. If you believe such, of course. This will end my journal of vanity. It may be that some day I shall write again, for there was much that happened in London, where I finally met with Ms. Harting. The trek there was dangerous, especially for a vampire that would burn in the daylight. Years to come I heard rumors of a town that was beset by disease, a blood disease it seemed. Any that may have survived the disease must have burned the bodies, before fleeing from the town themselves. Only a nearby mansion, overlooking a vast plantation and a garden of apple trees remains. The owner having moved away, to London, before the disease could claim him. Unfortunately his staff were not spared, all found dead, completely devoid of blood. Oh what would my dear Abrielle think of me now.
  14. Maybe I can control my lust more, and in the beginning, truth be told I certainly tried. The blood calls to me though. Even now, as I am much older, it still calls to me, and I still must answer. It isn't a matter of if I will feed or not, it is a matter of when I will feed. Some victims are fed upon with little care, and I choose not to even consider the horror they experience, because emotion, be it fear or ecstasy, is all the same to a vampire. Others experience great ecstasy, the host sharing that with the vampire, unto death. You must understand that drinking the blood for sustenance is only part of it. Through the blood, we also drink experiences and emotions. Things we know of, but never feel. We never feel, unless feeding. This is why some vampires gorge and become bloated and often times quite mad from it. They crave the feelings. The feelings that they felt when alive. It calls to us, over time, and it's call becomes louder and louder until it is all we can hear. The taste. The ecstasy. The desire. The fear. The anger. The hate. The love. The warmth. The life. It all matters, the very things that make humans human. We feed on the blood, we feed on their humanity. But we are not human.
  15. A town, even a large one, is no place for a vampire, not even one with great wealth. I could not bear to sell the house, nor the plantation surrounding, but it was growing increasingly evident that I could not stay. The bodies were, and forgive the saying, piling up. No, of course I did not indulge past more than needed. I tried to restrain myself, even considered starvation as a way out. Vampires do not really starve though. My attempt only proved that the disease will feed, with or without my consent. I awakened in my darkened room to Ms. Harting changing me from the blood soaked clothes I wore. I believed that this was the first time she suspected me of being a murderer, though she claimed to believe it was my illness. I suppose she was not wrong. Now I am sure she knew something was different about me even before then. Being an atheist of sorts, she did not believe me to be a vampire, a devil. However, she may have suspected me of being a murderer, much like the killer stalking Whitechapel in London at this time. She spoke of him quite often, and read the stories of the murders to me. It interested her, but I did not find that odd, as it interested most people at the time. I listened with marginal interest, drifting between the need to sleep and the desire to feed. It may have been because of Jack the Knife, or The Apron as they called him at this time, that she suggested we move to London, a place where even a vampire could blend. Especially a vampire. Her reasoning was to seek the best doctors, to see to my illness. She knew I hardly ate, she knew I was weak most days, and she knew bright sunlight was torture to my eyes. Indeed my whole body if truth be told. You see at this time I had not yet learned to sleep in a coffin, which is to say, in a place completely devoid of any light. Though I avoided direct sunlight, and kept my thick black curtains closed, I still tried to function during the day. It seems foolish, perhaps now, but we did not have information at our finger tips, as we do now. I assure you, there are more vampires than one may suspect, even today, but they know more of their own illness than I did. I knew only rumor, and I knew it was hard to separate truth from fiction. To understand some things about me, I must write some truths now, no matter how depraved they seem, about my condition.
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