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Blood & Bourbon

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Victoria III, Chapter X

Crazy Talk

“You need to check in to the psych ward.”
Anna May Perry

Thursday night, 7 April 2016, PM

Victoria: “A-anna?!” Sylvia cries into the phone.

She expects to feel her heart skip.

GM: There’s what sounds like a frown.


Victoria: “You’re alive?!”

She slumps down against the building.

GM: “…yes, why wouldn’t I be?”

Victoria: No. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry.

“You don’t remember? You’re not hurt?”

GM: “Sylvia, what’s going on?” says Anna, who doesn’t sound on the verge of tears. “Did you see the lawyer? And schedule an appointment with the psychiatrist?”

Victoria: “Wh—”

Is she going crazy?

“Anna, you don’t remember?”

How can she not remember? The pain. The blood. What Victoria did to her.

GM: “Of course I remember!” says Anna. “I remember being scared you were going to shoot someone!”

Victoria: “What happened the rest of that night?”

GM: “Sorry, the rest of the night?”

Victoria: “After you took my gun. What happened?”

GM: There’s a long pause.


“We had a fight.”

“You scared me.”

“You really, really scared me.”

The words are a whisper. Anna sounds like she might be the one ready to cry, now.

Victoria: Victoria sounds mortified.

“I’m scared, Anna. Tell me about the fight. What did I do? Where did I go?”

GM: “Sylvia, do… do you not remember?” Anna asks in a fragile voice.

Victoria: “I d-don’t, and I’m n-not okay, and I’m s-scared. Please. Tell me what happened.”

GM: There’s another long pause.

Victoria has to wonder what’s passing on her partner’s face.

Anna’s voice is tremulous as she continues,

“You came home. You had a gun, that wasn’t yours. You denied it and dismissed it when I brought it up. You wouldn’t tell me anything.”

“You said you were seeing things.”

“You’d turned the safety off.”

“I asked you to give me the gun.”

Victoria: “And I gave it to you,” she nods.

GM: “No. You said no.”

Victoria: “…didn’t I?”

She doesn’t even believe herself."

GM: “No, Sylvia, no. You said no. N-no.”

Anna sounds like she’s suppressing tears.

Victoria: “Anna. When did I leave the house?”

GM: “You said you were going to use it. That you were… that people were after you. That you were going to… kill them. That you were in too…”

“I don’t remember what. I don’t remember what you said. I just remember you screaming, and saying, and s-saying… I remember being s-so scared, Sylvia, that you were…”

Anna gives a sob.

Victoria: “Anna.”

She’s deadly serious. Her voice is that voice she only uses when she needs Anna to focus, regardless her feelings.

“Where did I say I was going when I left?”

GM: “You di… didn’t, Sylvia!” Anna exclaims in a choked voice. “I have n… no idea, where you’ve been, or what you… what you… I s-said I was going to c-call the police, if you didn’t give me the gun, because I w… and you s… said…”

There’s no mistaking it.

She’s full-on crying now.

“You g… gave it… and called me… th… things…”

“And I s… said… you… have… to see a lawyer… and a therapist… or we’re… or we’re through, Sylvia, or we’re through…!”

Victoria: “Anna, baby. I need you to listen to me. Okay? I’m not going to make excuses.”

She waits.

GM: She hears Anna’s low crying over the line.

Her girlfriend doesn’t say anything else.

Victoria: “I’m not okay. I will get a lawyer. There’s more to it than that, though. The people after me—they aren’t going to sue or press charges. They did something to me last night, and…”

“I’m not sure what happened. I don’t want to see you hurt anymore.”

GM: “Sylvia. You need… you need to see a psychiatrist. You’re not… you’re not okay…” Anna chokingly repeats those words.

Victoria: “I need a psychiatrist. I’m not okay. I’ll get one. Promise. I’ll become okay. I’m listening, Anna. I’m listening.”

No one thinks they can take a bullet and finds no wound.

No one blacks out and wakes up in a pool of blood.

Three times.

No one sane.

She pulls the note from her pocket.

“I’m so sorry, Anna.”

GM: “Th… thank you,” Anna repeats in the same choked tone. “That’s… that’s all I wanted to hear… I want you to be o… kay…”

Victoria: She reads the note again.

“It’s going to take a while.”

GM: Anna sniffs.

“You… you start where you can.”

“Will you come home, after… you schedule the appointment?”

Victoria: “I’ll come home as soon as I can, Anna. I don’t have my phone or wallet or anything.”

GM: “Wh… why not?” Anna asks confusedly.

“Where’d you stay…?”

Victoria: “There’s a lot that happened overnight. I’m going to get help.”

A pause.

“At a hotel. Listen, Anna—I’m going to come get you, okay? Can you trust me if I promise to get a psych?”

“You can even watch me book the appointment.”

GM: Anna pauses for a moment.

“Yes. Okay…”

Victoria: She thinks that through again.

“Actually… with no money and car… could you get me?”

GM: “Okay. Where are you?”

Victoria: She gives Marcus’ address, walking back to the building.

GM: She finds the front doors closed and locked, as before.

“All right. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

Victoria: “Okay. I’ll be inside. Just call this number.”

She pushes the buzzer for Marcus.

GM: “That you, Vic?”

Victoria: “Yeah. Anna is coming to get me. Do you want your change? I’ll give you it all back and then some another time, regardless.”

GM: “Keep it. You can pay me back in other ways.”

Victoria: “I’m gonna pay you back in both. You’re the only one who helped me.”

GM: “You’re welcome.”

It’s not long before Victoria gets a text from Anna.

Outside the building

Victoria: She’s still outside.

She hops into the car, still shaking.

She looks pale.

At least there’s no blood.

Not yet.

Not now.


She swallows.

“I’m going to spend the rest of my life apologizing.”

GM: Anna looks surprised when she sees her girlfriend.

She looks like she was crying, earlier. Her eyes are still a bit red and puffy.

Victoria can hear her steadily beating heart.

The thought comes unbidden:

What would Anna taste like…?

“As long… as long as you get help,” Anna answers, rubbing a hand along Victoria’s shoulder. “That’s the important thing.”

Victoria: She swallows that thought as if it were a splinter pool cue, locking it deep inside her.

“I will, Anna. I will. I love you. You’re… all that matters. I’m going to get help.”

“Anna, do you have any perfume?”

GM: “I love you t…. perfume?” Anna asks confusedly as she starts the car.

“Uh, at home.”

Victoria: She cracks the window. The heat is oppressive, but less oppressive than thoughts of Anna’s taste.

“It’s fine.”

GM: The Arts District rolls past the car window.

“Why do you ask?”

Victoria: “You smell good.”

Not entirely a lie.

GM: Anna gives a small laugh.

“Uh, thanks.”

Victoria: She clears her throat.

“I was taken last night, Anna.”

Or was she?

GM: The mirth on Anna’s face dies.


Victoria: “I’m… going to tell you everything. You’re going to think I’m crazy, but I’m going to tell you, because that’s what you deserve.”

She rolls the window back up.

Thump… thump… thump…

“In exchange, I need you to do something equally crazy for me. Nothing illegal.”

GM: “Okay,” Anna says slowly.

“And you’re going to call a psychiatrist to schedule an appointment as soon as we get home.”

“And a lawyer.”

Victoria: “A psychiatrist, and a lawyer. I’ll make the appointment, and I’ll allow them to discuss with you.”

So you know that I go, and that I try.

She doesn’t need to say that to Anna. Anna knows.

“I want you to go on vacation for a while. I’ll pay.”

“Just for a week or so.”

GM: Anna sounds puzzled.


“Why do you want me on vacation?”

Victoria: “Because if what’s happening to me isn’t just in my head, then I want to know you’re safe.”

“And if what’s happening to me is in my head, then you get a break to come back refreshed, knowing I’m working on me while you’re away.”

GM: “Okay,” Anna repeats. “I can take a vacation.”

Victoria: “Bahamas?”

Victoria would send her to the moon if she could.

GM: “Uh. I thought you just meant time off from work.”

Victoria: “Nope. You’ve been stressed, and you need to relax. I meant a vacation.”

A pause hangs between them.

“You can lock up the gun and change the combination.”

GM: “I’m a little reluctant to just leave right now, Sylvia,” says Anna.

“You need help.”


Victoria: “I agree.”

Anna doesn’t know half of it.

GM: “And I don’t know that I could really relax anyway.”

Victoria: “Okay—then we’ll get a hotel. Somewhere nice, and local. In the city. Is that a fair compromise?”

GM: “Yes. That’d be okay.”

Victoria: “Okay.”

It’s not okay.

And so she launches into her story.

She tells her everything. The fight. The blackout.

Waking up. The torture.

She obfuscates her forced role in it.

Waking up in the hotel.

Waking up in a pool of blood. Her fangs.

The bite marks.

She shows Anna her teeth. She’d have screamed if she had fangs when she got in the car, right?

The run. The near-robbery.

Getting shot.

Finding no wounds.


“…it’s, fucking crazy. I sound crazy. I think I might be crazy; but, if it’s not, then you’re in danger.”

She pulls the note out of her pocket, handing it to Anna.

“I woke up with this on the nightstand.”

GM: Anna pulls over the car when Victoria starts talking about being tortured.

Her being tortured.

“Sylvia…” she finally interrupts with a pained look.

“That didn’t… that didn’t happen.”

Her voice quavers.

“You’re imagining things.”

Victoria does not feel any fangs in her mouth.

Victoria: “I…”

She swallows.

“I know. You’re probably right. That’s why… I was so scared when I called you. So surprised.”

GM: “You’re not well, Sylvia,” Anna says in a chocked voice, shaking her head.

“None of that… none of that happened.”

“I’m not sure if any of what you’ve been talking about, with… enemies, and…” she trails off lamely, “everything, has even happened.”

“It sounds like paranoid… paranoi… I’m sorry, delusions, it sounds like, delusions.”

Victoria: “I… I don’t know.”

“You’re right.”

GM: “I… I think a psychiatrist, I think that’s not enough,” Anna continues in that same choked tone, but growing more firm.

“I think you should check in somewhere. I think you should be under observation.”

“I am scared for you, and what you might do.”

Victoria: “Anna. Baby. Why don’t we start with the psych? See what they say?”

“I’m not going to do anything.”

GM: “A psychia… Sylvia, they’re for getting better. Long term. Not… immediate crisis. Which you… which you’re i…” Anna gives another little sob and briefly trails off before continuing, “I think you are in crisis, and I think you need immediate help.”

“Please. I just want you to get help.”

“I don’t think you want to do an… anything, but I am very, very scared about how you believe… people are out to get us, and kidnapped us, and… I’d do desperate, c… extreme things, too, if I believed that was happening.”

Victoria: “Anna, sweetheart, can we give it one day? Just one day, and if you’re still as worried as you are right now, you can check me in. I won’t fight it then. Okay?”

“I’m telling you what I see and hear because I want you to know and understand how fucked it is. It’s not okay. I’m not okay. But I’m not telling you it’s fine, either. I’m treating you as my equal.”

She breathes a shuddering breath.

“Please. Please don’t abandon me.”

GM: Anna sounds like she’s fighting tears.

No, she is fighting tears. They’re trickling down her face, but she seems to be willing herself not to break down, not yet, as she continues,

“Sylvia, I’ll… I will, I will stay with you, I won’t ab… bandon you, I j… you nee… you need…”

Her voice steadies as she implores,

“You need to check in to the psych ward. I am t…. terrified, that you are a d-danger to yourself, r-right now.”

Victoria: Sylvia sets her jaw, as she would when preparing her rebuttal.

She opens her mouth, and closes it.

Then, she softens.


That’s it. No fight. No pleading. No crying. No explanation, or justification. Just ‘okay’.

“You promise that you won’t leave?”

GM: Anna’s shoulders slump as she makes a chocked sound of relief.

“Y-yes. I promise. I j-just want you to get h-help.”

Victoria: “Okay.”

No jokes. No offered wrists.

Just okay.

GM: Anna pulls out and shakily taps into it.

“Okay… T-Tulane has a psych unit. They’re nearby.”

Victoria: She nods.

“That’s fine. We can do that. I trust you.”

GM: Anna gives a nod of relief and resumes driving.

Victoria: Sylvia doesn’t speak for the drive.

The hole is deep enough.

If Anna is right—and, to any sane person, Anna is right—then Tulane Psych is exactly what she needs.

If Anna is wrong, then people will die.

In either case, the only answer to keeping Anna is to comply. So she complies.

They’ll see if anyone else dies.

Thursday night, 7 April 2016, PM

GM: Anna finds a place to park. She walks it to the ER with Sylvia.

It looks as miserable as Anna feels. It’s like a third world refugee camp, with dozens of miserable and pained-looking people crammed into a hard, cold, and uncomfortable space as they wait their turns to be seen by staff. Some of them have obvious bruises and injuries. Some are curled up on seats and moaning. Some have loved ones. Some don’t. Some are crying. Some stare numbly ahead. No one looks like they want to be here.

Anna and Victoria talk to a harried-looking intake nurse. She asks them in a clipped and impersonal voice to describe their symptoms.

Victoria: “I’m… seeing things,” she says. “Hallucinating.”

She does not immediately launch into detail.

GM: Anna doesn’t say anything.

“Not urgent or life-threatening,” the nurse says in a monotone voice, then directs them to take a seat in the packed waiting room.

Victoria can’t even see an open seat.

Victoria: “N-not immediately, but not unquestionably,” she compromises.

GM: “Not urgent or life-threatening,” the nurse repeats in a tone that sounds like she wants them to go away.

Victoria: “O-okay.”

She looks to Anna, then to the waiting room.

“…when I said not leave, I meant me as a whole. You don’t have to wait here. If you don’t want to.”

GM: “I-I do,” says Anna, over the sea of moans from the waiting room. A man on one of the seats starts screaming as he hugs himself. People throw him dirty looks and yell for him to shut up. “I’ll stay.”

Victoria: She takes Anna’s hand, and leads her to a corner. The furthest corner from the screaming.

She’s suddenly very aware that hospitals sometimes smell like blood.

GM: She can smell it.

She can smell as strongly as skunk musk, but nowhere nearly as fowl.

It smells delicious.

It smells arousing.

It turns her on.

It makes her hungry.

There’s bits of it, in a lot of places, all throughout the room. Each one pulls at Victoria’s senses like a magnet.

She can smell it’s strongest, too, from the close-eyed woman weakly lying against her partner.

“You’re cold…” says Anna as Victoria takes her hand.

Victoria: It’s like being an alcoholic in the world’s finest bourbon distillery.

She takes slow, deep breaths, trying to ward it off.

It makes it worse.

“I am?”

GM: Anna nods.

Victoria: “I don’t feel cold. I hope I’m not sick.”

Sicker than she already is.

Cold. Pale. Crying blood. Hallucinating.

GM: “Maybe we should tell the nurse that too, and see if it gets you moved up…?”

Victoria: “I think you might have to stab me to get me moved up.”

GM: The man who’s hugging himself starts loudly screaming again.


WILL YOU FUCKING SHUT UP!” shrieks the woman next to him.

“Don’t tempt me,” Anna says dryly.

Victoria: Victoria winces. Hospital music is far from her favorite.

“Got a pen? A shot to the jugular might give us an express.”

GM: “No, just a phone.”

Victoria: “Concussion?”

GM: Anna manages a weak smile and looks around for a free chair.

Seeing none, she sighs and settles down on the floor to wait.

Victoria: Sylvia settles beside her, leaning her head on her shoulder.

“I’m sorry.”

GM: “You’re really cold…” murmurs Anna, but leans back in to her. “You think you might be sick?”

Victoria: “I… don’t feel sick. I actually feel pretty good.”

She rolls her shoulders.

“Better than most days. A little horny? Even for me.”

GM: Anna gives her an odd look.

“Your temperature doesn’t feel normal… that isn’t a good sign.”

Victoria: “How cold is it?”

GM: Anna places a palm against her forehead.

“Enough that I’m worried.”

Victoria: Sylvia whines.

“Will anything at all go right this week?”

GM: Anna’s face says it all.

Victoria: She wraps an arm around her.

“It’ll be okay. Not today or tomorrow. Eventually.”

She believes it.

“…it might be faster to make a psych visit.”

GM: Anna give a little shiver, but her face sets at Sylvia’s next words.

“No. It won’t be. Psychiatrists cannot take you overnight and provide round-the-clock monitoring. And appointments can be days or even weeks away.”

Victoria: “Right. Weeks away might be sooner than…”

She gestures at the room grandly.

GM: Anna gives a very weak smile and settles in to wait.

Time passes.

People come. People go. People cry. People hurt.

Victoria: Sylvia bitches the entire time.

But she doesn’t move to leave.

GM: Seats eventually free up. Anna grabs them and sighs with relief over getting off the cold, hard floor.

Sylvia doesn’t feel any soreness, coldness, or discomfort.

Victoria: If she wasn’t so distracted with the sheer terror of the unknown—whether any of this is real, or all in her head—she might notice that.

She takes Anna’s hand, pulling it into her lap.

“It’s been weeks.”

GM: Anna wearily leans against the seat.

“Sorry, what has…?”

Victoria: Sylvia slumps in the chair.

“Since we got here.”

GM: “Oh. Yeah.”

Victoria: Victoria lifts her head.

“Is someone wounded?”

GM: “Uh. Probably?”

“This is the ER.”

Victoria: “No, like—”

She sits up, sniffing and looking around the room.

“It’s smelled like blood in here for hours. Oppressively.”

GM: “I don’t smell anything,” says Anna.

Victoria: She groans.

“Am I…?”

GM: “I mean it doesn’t smell nice but I don’t smell blood.”

Victoria: Hallucinating.


“It smells worse the longer we’ve sat here. I thought someone might be bleeding around us.”

GM: “Well, wouldn’t surprise me. There’s probably some people bleeding here.” Anna looks around the sea of suffering faces.

Victoria: Why is it so much worse for her than Anna?

She slumps back into the chair, resuming her waiting.

GM: They wait.

And wait.

And wait.

Eventually, a nurse tells Sylvia and Anna that it’s their turn and leads them into an exam room. It has a papered bed to lie down and an adjacent chair. An oxygen tank, tubing, and other medical equipment sit nearby.

“A doctor’ll be with you soon,” the nurse states, then exits through the door.

Anna and Sylvia are left alone in the silent room.

Victoria: To wait.

And wait.

And wait.

It feels like weeks.

“You’re sure about this, Anna?”

GM: Anna’s already sat down on the chair. She looks like she’s starting to nod off.

“Yes,” she answers firmly, visibly sitting up at that question.

Victoria: Victoria can’t sit still.

With her question answered, she lays back on the bed, legs straight up the wall.

GM: Time passes.

And passes.

And passes.

And passes.

“Soon” seems like a pretty subjective phrase.

Anna looks half-asleep in her chair.

Victoria: At one point, Victoria does try to fall asleep.

It’s not like she’ll wake up in a hotel room this time.

Or will she?

GM: Sleep doesn’t come.

At all.

She doesn’t feel even remotely drowsy.

Victoria: She groans.

“The wait is murder.”

Did she really kill that woman?"

She swallows.

And that man.

And the elderly couple.

The man back in Chakras—the man that gifted her her career and all its success, in his own way—deserved what she did. These people didn’t.

But was it real?

Is any of it?

GM: Anna makes a tired noise of agreement.

Answers to Sylvia’s questions do not present themselves.

There’s not even the ticking of a clock.

There’s just nothing.

Just waiting.

“Got some granola bars in my purse,” Anna eventually mumbles.

Victoria: Thump… thump… thump… thump…

There is ticking, but Anna can’t hear it.

“I’m not hungry.”

GM: Anna rubs her eyes.

“When did you last eat?”




Victoria: “When I woke up.”

It’s not a lie.

If it’s real.

The thought makes her less sick than it should.

GM: There’s the sound of crinkling wrappers as Anna fishes around in her purse.

“Eat something. That was… all day ago?”

Victoria: “No, like… in the hotel. I woke up a few hours ago. Maybe an hour before I called you?”

GM: “That was…” Anna blinks dully. “Why’d you sleep so late…?”

Victoria: “I don’t remember going to sleep.”

“Or renting a room.”

“Or writing a n—”

She’s not helping.

GM: Anna starts softly crying again.

Victoria: “I’m telling you, Anna… some of it happened. You can’t explain everything away. I didn’t manifest an entire ho…”

And then it hits her.

“Someone paid for the room.”

“Someone had to have paid for the room.”

GM: Anna just shakes her head.

“Y-Yes. Yes, I am s-sure about this. I am very, very, very s-sure, about this.”

Victoria: “Anna, the Hampton inn just a few blocks from our house. Don’t give a name. Just…”

She looks nervously to the door.

“A lot happened that is in my head. I did not invent an entire hotel. That’s impossible.”

“I went somewhere when I left, and those events led me there. I had no money or credit cards on me. Someone paid for it.”

GM: “Or maybe you don’t remember what you did with your cards and money.” Anna’s voice sounds miserable and tired. “We’ll need to report them as missing or stolen.”

Victoria: “The cards, at least.”

Anna isn’t going to believe her. Not now. Not today. Not without proof.

She sighs.

She’ll have to get through this, first.

GM: “You should eat something,” Anna says dully. “Because it sounds like you don’t remember, when you last ate, if you didn’t have any cards or money.”

She extends the granola bars.

Victoria: She gives Anna a tired look, takes a bar, unwraps it, and takes a bite.

She looks as happy as a child given day-old broccoli.

GM: It tastes somewhere between nothing and horrible. It chews like paper. It slides down her throat like glue. She can already feel her stomach’s roiling unease.

Victoria: It’s the only bite she has.

She sets it down.

“I think it’s rotten,” she says, raking her tongue.

GM: Anna sniffs it, then takes a bite.

“Tastes okay to me.”

Victoria: “I don’t think I’m that hungry.”

She doesn’t take it back.

GM: “Do you remember when you last ate?”

Victoria: “I had O’Tolley’s this—yesterday—afternoon?”

GM: “You should really eat, Sylvia,” Anna says tiredly. “Hunger might be aggravating your symptoms.”

Victoria: “Maybe. But that granola bar is disgusting.”

It was her go-to running-late breakfast for years. They just bought a new box a week ago. There’s no way it’s rotten.

GM: Anna sighs, puts it back into her purse, and re-closes her eyes.

Victoria: Sylvia hops off the bed, settling next to Anna. She rubs her knees.

“I’ll ask for something else after the doctor is done.”

GM: “You should eat something,” Anna agrees.

“Maybe it’s why you’re cold. I don’t know.”

Victoria: “Do you have anything else?”

Thump… thump… thump…

GM: Anna shakes her head.


Victoria: The thought makes her want to wretch, but she speaks it anyway.

“Give me the bar.”

GM: Anna hands it over.

Victoria: She gnaws it as if it’s made from moldy charcoal.

GM: It tastes as filling as paper, goes down her throat like glue, and sits in her stomach like a brick.

Victoria: And yet, she finishes it. The entire bar.

This is her love for Anna.

GM: Sylvia doesn’t think she’s ever forced down such an unappetizing meal.

But Anna looks glad to see her eat, and gives her a kiss on the cheek.

It’s maybe the first time she’s looked glad about anything since Sylvia called her.

Victoria: She offers her girlfriend a smile.

It makes Anna happy. That’s all that matters.

Friday night, 8 April 2016, AM

GM: Without warning, the door to their room opens. A harried-looking, balding and middle-aged man in a white doctor’s coat strides in and closes the door behind him.

“Which of you am I assessing?” he asks brusquely.

“Her,” says Anna, nodding towards Sylvia.

“Okay,” says the doctor. “Routine physical for you first.”

Without waiting for Sylvia’s response, he partly pulls up her shirt and sharply jabs his fingers against various parts of her abdomen.

“How often do you exercise, smoke, and drink? Any allergies, medications, or past surgeries?” he asks absently.

Victoria: “Me,” she answers in unison, her smile faltering to a relaxed line.

She isn’t enthused with the intrusion to her physical space.

“Often, and vigorously. Rarely. Sometimes. None, not yet, just bone setting.”

GM: “Mm,” the doctor responds noncommittally to her answers. He takes his stethoscope and presses it to Sylvia’s heart.

Victoria: She complies, if only because Anna wills it so.

GM: The doctor frowns, takes it off, looks it over, and presses it to her heart again.

“Something’s wrong with this stethoscope,” he says. “Wait here. I’ll be back with another.”

Victoria: The look she gives the doctor at his words are the same as if she was told he’ll be back with a knife to paint her with wounds.

Mechanically, she turns to look at Anna.

GM: The doctor doesn’t look terribly concerned for Victoria as he heads off.

Anna gives her a puzzled look.

“What was wrong with the stethoscope…?”

Victoria: She swallows.

“You’re not hallucinating, too, right?”

Of course, she could be hallucinating this entire visit.

GM: “No…” says Anna. “He said something was wrong with the stethoscope, that he had to get another… did you see something?”

Victoria: “N-no.”

No heartbeat. What else could be wrong with a stethoscope?

GM: “Okay, that’s good,” says Anna. “I guess every doctor deals with defective equipment at some point.”

Victoria: It’s not defective.


She forces a smile. It’s like a terminal cancer patient telling their loved ones it’ll be okay.

GM: The doctor eventually comes back, and with a nurse too.

He takes an identical-looking stethoscope to Victoria’s heart.

He gives Victoria a curiously blank look, presses the stethoscope to the nurse’s heart without a word, and then back to Victoria’s.

He stares at her like she has two heads.

Victoria: She lofts a brow expectantly.

Thump… thump… thump…

GM: “We’re going to take your blood pressure,” says the doctor.

The nurse fastens the cuff around Victoria’s arm. She feels it snugly tighten.

The doctor reads the monitor.

He wordlessly looks at the nurse.

She frowns in puzzlement.

“Check her pulse,” says the doctor.

The nurse takes Victoria’s arm and presses two fingers to her wrist.

“Nothing,” she says in a baffled voice.

“Try her neck,” says the doctor.

The nurse does so.

“Nothing,” she repeats.

The baffled look on her face deepens.

Anna looks between the two in confusion. “What’s going on?”

“What the hell is this?” the doctor says to Victoria.

Victoria: “You’re asking me? I was told I needed a check up!”

She lifts her arms, as if to display a lack of hidden doubled set.

GM: “You have no pulse, no heartbeat, and no blood pressure,” the doctor says in a flat voice.

“What…?” Anna says confusedly.

Victoria: She knows.

She feigns mock-surprise anyway, snorting.

“Uh huh, and little, pink horns, too. You’ve got broken equipment.”

GM: “Five different tests,” says the doctor.

He’s frowning deeply.

Victoria: It unsettles her, but it doesn’t confirm anything.

What if this is a hallucination?

“Only the best for Tulane.”

She shoots Anna a glance.

GM: Anna just looks bewildered.

“Stay here,” says the doctor. “We’ll… administer some more advanced tests.”

He leaves the room with the nurse.

They close the door after them.

Victoria: She speaks quickly to her girlfriend.

“Now do you believe that something is fucked?”

GM: “Wh… why don’t you have a pulse?” Anna says dumbly.

Victoria: “Anna, we can leave right now, and they won’t know we were here. If you want to stay, I’ll stay—but if we stay, a lot more is likely to go wrong.”

Victoria knows that she’ll be the head of Tulane’s medical mysteries dialogue.

Woman alive! No pulse!

GM: “If… if you don’t have a pulse, something is wrong,” says Anna. “A hospital is exactly where we should be.”

“So you can get help.”

Victoria: “Anna, if I don’t have a fucking pulse and I’m talking to you like it’s a lunch date, I don’t think a hospital is what I need. A church is what I need.”

GM: “Wh… a church?”

Anna looks confused.

Victoria: FUCK!

Panic finally sets in.

No adrenaline crashes through her system.

“Think about the story I told you. Think about what you felt out in the waiting room.”

She hops off the bed, coming to a stop before her. She takes Anna’s hand, pressing it firmly to her chest.

GM: “What… story?”

Anna looks distinctly uncomfortable.

“You’re… you’re cold…”

Victoria: “The story that you thought was a hallucination. Anna, please. We need to go. We need to go.”

GM: Anna throws up her hands.

“Where could we go? Why can’t we just get you help? These are doctors!”

“They can find out, why… why you don’t have a pulse.”

Victoria: “Because I have no PULSE! I have no heartbeat! What do you think they’re going to do? Shock me back to life?!”

“Sure, doctor,” she mocks. “I’ll just settle one paddle here, and one paddle here. There. Look right? No, I can do it myself!”

GM: “I… I don’t know…” Anna says dumbly. “They’re the doctors, not me. Maybe this is… maybe this has happened?”

Victoria: She gives her a withered stare.

GM: Anna throws up her hand again.

“Sylvia, where would you even want to go?”

“Where else can we get you help?”

Victoria: “A hotel. Just so we can think. That’s it. Something isn’t right, Anna. I might be hallucinating, but we both aren’t—and if there’s a chance that some of what happened last night—some of what I did—is real? Then I can’t be locked up in a hospital.”

Because the doctors will be dead. The moment they try to restrain her, she knows it: she’ll wake up in a pool of blood, and some of it might be Anna’s.

GM: “Sylvia, it’s… it’s all a jumble,” says Anna. “What do you think happened last night? I know you think people are out to get us, and kidnapped us, but that didn’t happen. I was back home, wasn’t I?”

Victoria: “And I wasn’t.

“I entered Marcus’ apartment covered in blood with bullet holes in my shirt.”

“It’s still there.”

“Do I look like I’ve been shot?”

GM: “No, you don’t,” says Anna. “You might’ve been hallucinating that.”

Victoria: “Would you like to call Marcus and have him send a picture of the shirt?”

GM: Anna holds up her hands. “Look, let’s just… what are we going to do at a hotel, Sylvia? What are we going to think up? I’m a teacher. You’re a dominatrix. This isn’t our department. We’re not doctors, we’re not psychiatrists. If anyone can help us, it’s going to be a hospital, isn’t it? What’s the harm in staying?”

Victoria: “Because our names will be tied to whatever is going on, and whatever did this to me is probably going to be pissed! You read the note—someone thinks of me as a friend. Have you ever heard of anything like this happening, outside stupid stories? There’s probably a reason for th—”

If the color could drain from such a pale face, it would.

“…my name is on the registration. FUCK! Anna, we need to go!”

GM: “Sylvia,” Anna says slowly, “you’re scaring me. You could’ve written that note yourself. We don’t know that anyone did anything to you, okay? Let’s just… let’s just let the doctors do their jobs and find out what’s wrong, okay?”

Victoria: She groans, tugging her hair and turning to pace back and forth.

They’re going to die.

They’re going to die.

They’re going to die.

She’s going to kill them.

All of them.

Every one.

The nurse.

The doctor.



Not Anna.

Please not Anna.

The patients—everyone in the waiting room.

The receptionists.

They’re all going to die.

GM: Oblivious to such murderous and panicked thoughts, Anna rests her hands on Sylvia’s shoulders.

Her cold shoulders.

“Sylvia. Please. I just want you to get better, okay?” Her voice is breaking again. “This is the best… the only way, that I know how. I’m trying to help. Okay? This is how I’m… how we’re helping. Okay?”

Victoria: “Anna, you can’t heal someone who has every sign of death.

GM: Anna’s heart looks like it’s breaking through her face.

“Sylvia. You’re not g-going to die. You don’t have to die. I love you, okay? I love you. We’ll g… get through this, you j… just have to let people help you, ok… ay?”

Victoria: “I’m not going to die! I have. No. Pulse. I’m cold. I can hear EVERY beat of your heart. I’m not going to die, Anna! I am DEAD.

Or otherwise going to spend a long, long time in a white vest.

GM: Sylvia hears more heartbeats than Anna’s.

She hears three.

Approaching the room.

Drawing closer.

Thumping louder.

“Sylvia, you’re sc-scaring me,” Anna says shakily, “you’re not dead, you’re alive, you’re ALIVE, o-”

Victoria: The look she gives Anna is the same she gave her when she told her that party was a bad idea.

“Anna, I don’t know what they’re going to do when they come in, but it’s not going to end well. I love you—more than anything I’ve ever cared for. I haven’t given any illicit, psychological behavior to them. If they treat me with anything other than the respect of a patient, I need you to leave. Okay? I need you to leave, and don’t worry about me. Do you understand?”

GM: Anna adamantly shakes her head.

“Sylvia, I’m not leaving you, I’ll always stay w-”

She’s interrupted as the door opens. The doctor walks inside, along with the nurse and a man with a radio on his shirt who looks like a security guard.

The doctor looks between Anna and Victoria, then says,

“This way.”

Victoria: “Where are we going?” she asks, feigning timidness.

GM: “Advanced testing,” says the doctor, shuffling through some papers he’s carrying on a clipboard.

“Oh, say. We need you to look at these,” he says, extending them towards Victoria.

Victoria: She doesn’t move.

“Why do you need security to run any testing at all? I’ve done nothing to display that I’m unruly.”

GM: “It’s just a precaution,” says the doctor, extending the clipboard towards Victoria again. “Please tell me if these are accurate.”

Victoria: She reaches out to take the clipboard with ginger fingers, untrusting.

GM: She suddenly feels a stabbing sensation in her neck as the nurse jams a needle there.

Victoria: On instinct—after so many years in a career and life set on edge—she strikes the nurse’s arm upon feeling the pinch.

GM: Victoria’s swift chop sends the syringe flying away—just as she feels hard linoleum slam into her shoulder from the security guard’s tackle. Rage courses through her like fire in her veins, more furious and primal than she’s ever known. She barely registers the pain. They think to manhandle her?!

GET OFF HER!” Anna screams, whacking the security guard over the head with her purse.

The man’s grab slackens, just as the nurse grabs the sedative and jams it into Victoria’s thigh.

She feels nothing.

Nothing except for the rage, hot and hateful and murderous.

Nothing except for the long, sharp fangs jutting from her mouth.

Victoria: When Victoria was cornered in Chakras, she felt fear.

When Anna was assaulted, she felt rage.

This? This is incomparable. This is the primal terror of a cornered cub and murderous ferocity of its mother rolled into one single entity, vengeful as the Devil himself.

She burns, hot as a star, and dark as a night without.

They DARE threaten her? They DARE involve Anna?

She maneuvers enough with Anna’s help to slip an elbow, sending it backward with all her might into the man’s ribs.

GM: Victoria’s elbow drives into the man’s abdomen, hard. He gives a yell and goes down equally hard.

Victoria: CRUNCH!

Her elbow sinks into the man’s stomach, and she uses yet more leverage to shove a foot under her, tossing him off her back.

GM: Victoria scrambles to her feet as the nurse pulls away, gawking at the sedative’s failure to so much as slow her down. The door’s already open. The doctor’s gone. Fled?

Victoria dashes out. Anna runs after her. Their feet pound against the linoleum. Victoria hears her girlfriend’s heart rapidly pounding from adrenaline and physical exertion.

The security guard’s running after them, still clutching his chest. He’s grabbing his radio, too. Yelling into it. Yelling at them.


They dash through the packed ER. A few people, lost in their private worlds of pain, don’t seem to notice. More people yell. One elderly man leaps up and starts screaming and stamping his feet.


Victoria: As the pair pass the ER, her gaze lingers long enough to discern whether or not the elderly man’s screaming is to her or not, and—if not—she continues on out with Anna.


GM: The man’s gaze is out of focus. He could be screaming to her. He could be screaming to God and the Devil. She can’t tell, not in the heat of the moment. Anna doesn’t even seem to register her words, wheezing and sweating as she is with her pounding heart. So mortal. So weak.

The ER room’s automatic doors slide open as Victoria barrels through them, dragging Anna after her. Several people outside yell and scatter from their path. Victoria leaps into her and Anna’s car, pulling her girlfriend after her. They slam the doors. Several security guards run out of the hospital with handguns raised.


Tires squeal as Victoria hits the ignition. There’s the crack-roar of distant bullets, and then the city roars past.

Anna’s mouth hangs open as she stares at Victoria.

Wordlessly, she points.

At Victoria’s mouth.

She still feels fangs.

Victoria: He doesn’t matter. He’s insignificant. Maybe he is screaming at her, and maybe he isn’t. Either way, he’s only a cause to distract their pursuers.

The doors to Tulane barely part before Victoria crashes into—and through—one of them, enough of her momentum clipping it that it’ll need a repair.

The moment they clear line of sight to security, Victoria snaps her vision to Anna, her hands shooting out to touch her.

“Are you hurt? Were you struck?! By anything?!”

She’s as frantic as if she’s Anna’s own mother. She feels and looks around, searching for any sight of red—for Anna’s safety from bullet wounds, as much as safety from herself.

She knows what happens when she smells blood.

As she speaks, her tongue runs over those pointed incisors.

Now do you believe I’m not hallucinating?”


False_Epiphany False_Epiphany