July 2nd 2000, Sunday
Sergei Romanova (Part I)
3120 22nd Place, North Chicago, Illinois, USA
Sergei finds himself suddenly in the hallway of suburban home with the sounds of a young girl screaming echoing off the walls. Sergei (knowing somehow that he had to protect her) runs down the hallway to find a nine-limbed creature savaging a small girl. The thing has eyes in some of its hands and mouths in others, though its overall shape is vaguely egg-like1. Sticking to the shadows Sergei snuck up upon the creature and killed it with two quick strikes from his ninja-to. The little girl then tells him that the monsters “killed her mom and her dad went somewhere…” Gathering her into his arms he proceeds to fight his way through several more of the creatures (with a few ‘assists’ here and there from the plucky little girl). He even loses a eye to one of the monsters who attacks him from behind while protecting her. Getting her to run outside he fights off the remaining creatures before calling her back in to get her coat and things so they can leave. She introduces herself as Marie Daisy Alcott. Outside Sergei steers Marie away from looking at the sight that greets them outside: her father’s body ripped to pieces half in and half out of the family car. Concerned about Sergei’s eye injury she rips a piece of cloth from the arm of his gi and bandages it up while he remarks that “God gave him a spare.” In the eerie unnatural darkness they began to walk towards the highway in a effort to get somewhere safe.
Hachiko Koga (Part I)
1015 10th Street North Chicago, Illinois, USA
Driving back home from an all-night session at Naval Station Great Lakes Chief Petty Officer Hachiko Koga (formerly of SEAL Team 8) is tired and more than a little wired when he decides to pull into the Number One Stop Mini Mart for coffee. Inside, manning the counter is a young man with a slack-jacked expression, a young woman carelessly twiddling her hair as she stares at the prophylactics section of the medicine aisle, and older man staring contentiously at the many flavors of soda in the fridge section while mumbling under his breath. Grabbing a cup of java and a bear-claw Hachiko saunters up to the counter but before he can pay for anything the lights go out, looking outside the window he sees his ’76 Super Beetle’s headlights die out, then the skyline of the rest of the city… Sighing and impatient Hachiko tries to pay for his items but is refused by the clerk because “the register is out”. Moments later a strange multihued light can be seen emanating from outside and both the clerk and the young woman go to look at it. Just as Hachiko is about to go out as well, the old man shuts the door with his foot. Outside the glowing lights, keep shifting hues, colors, and intensity. The old man turns around and begins heading for the mart’s freezer urging Hachiko and the others to come as well. Only Hachiko hears (and follows) him, once inside the freezer the old man bars the doors and moments later a concussive blast was felt that knocked the food off the shelves inside the freezer and nearly ripped the door off its hinges. Hachiko quickly goes outside the freezer to find the clerk impaled on a nearby parking post (obviously dead) while the young woman is unconscious against the (now shattered) front windows. Hachiko picks her up and places her in his car to drive her to the hospital but discovers that his car completely dead. Beside him the old man is cussing at his older model Ford, finally kicking it, making it ‘magically’ start. In the distance the sound of a ‘yipping’ bark can be heard. The old man urges Hachiko to put the girl in his truck so they can leave before “whatever that is shows up.” Handing Hachiko a Winchester 1887 lever-action shotgun the old man revved the engine and peeled out of the parking lot. With the not so distant bark-yips from before coming closer…
Alex Hamilton (Part I)
611 Lakehurst Road, Waukegan, Illinois, USA
At Lakehurst Mall, Alex the nightshift security guard finds himself doing the job of his relief (who is as usual, late). While opening the doors downstairs so that the service staff can get into the building he notices an odd sound coming from the second floor. Investigating he hears a scream halfway up the escalator and takes off running as fast as he can. As soon as he reaches the topmost step the lights go completely out and another scream echoes, animal-like, in the empty space of the mall. While trying to turn on his flashlight he realizes the batteries are dead and replaces them with spares he has at hand. Armed with his sidearm (a Sig Sauer-226) and the now functioning light he works his way to where the scream came from, hearing crunching sounds he comes upon the corpse of one of the janitor staff half eaten. Alex’s training kicks in and he takes cover behind a nearby pillar scanning the area with his flashlight/firearm he sees nothing. Hearing a vague crunching sound he slowly raises the flashlight to the ceiling where he sees a large terrier-sized moth-like creature2. However, instead of a head, it has a recessed mouth that sticks straight out from its body and its skin is more rubbery and octopus-like than insectile. Letting out an involuntary gasp the creature notices him and detaches from the ceiling where it had been digesting its kill. Alex shoots the creature but it manages to bite him on the leg anyways as it attacks. Though quickly dying as he squeezes off several more rounds severing its wings from its body. Pulling the creature off his leg he heads back down stairs…
Angelique Ashur (Part I)
611 Lakehurst Road, Waukegan, Illinois, USA
A.L. Feyr is one of the newest and most popular authors on the block, with a rabid (and massive) fan base. Angelique (whose pen name is A.L. Feyr) has been at Lakehurst mall most of the night shilling for one of her favorite local bookstore’s: Kendall’s Printed Page. The signing ended up a rousing success that lasted far into the morning. Angelique, volunteering to help Kendall with the clean up, ends up staying late. While moving chairs and tables back into Kendall’s shop the lights go out and a scream followed by another can be heard from above. The sound of echoing gunshots can be heard next and then rapid footsteps. A pale multi-hued pulsating light can be seen coming from the second floor…
Angelique Ashur & Alex Hamilton (Part I)
611 Lakehurst Road, Waukegan, Illinois, USA
While Angelique goes to investigate the strange lights, Kendall grabs a baseball bat from behind his counter and follows. Once outside they can see a borealis-like effect forming over the food court. Then flying creatures like the one that attacked Alex begin pouring out. Angelique, scared, taps into her psychokinetic powers and ‘pours fire’ into the swirling vortex of creatures killing them. Getting close to the strange phenomena she can see a hooded man from the other side as well as the Dreamlands themselves. The figure, dressed in robes, sandals, and wearing a large set of japa mala (Buddhist Prayer Beads) held out a hand and said, “It’s not what you think, it is a m…” Deciding not to take any risks Angelique again calls on her supernatural abilities and through adrenaline/excitement/fear forces the phenomena shut. Alex, Angelique, and Kendall then make their way out of the mall only to discover their cars are nonfunctioning. Angelique and Alex grab their ‘go-bags’ from their vehicles and then begin walking. After a few miles, they find a pair of unattended (and in one case a bloody saddle) police horses, which they then mount, riding on.
Sergei Romanova & Hachiko Koga (Part I)
Skokie Highway Mile-marker 10
Hachiko, the injured young woman, and the old man drive down the highway. By now all three have realized that the darkness pervading the moring sky is unnatural (it is way beyond sunrise at this point) but that does not seem to be what they are focusing on. The highway itself is almost completely empty of other drivers except for the lonely one here and there. Behind them Hachiko can still hear the strangely yipping barks. Passing a stranded minivan occupied by a woman and her young daughter, the creatures3 pursuing them stop and began to attack those in the minivan. The old man stops the truck and begins going in reverse, Hachiko, not waiting for the action to start opens the vehicles door and hops up and into the truck bed using the railing as a hand hold. Holding on he proceeds to fire the shotgun at the large canine-like creatures that have been following them.
From the nearby shadows of the off-ramp Sergei waits anxiously, his hand protectively over Marie hoping the creatures will leave. Marie however has other ideas and convinces Sergei to help the mother and child being attacked by the monsters. Reluctantly, Sergei moves into position and with carless ease quickly dispatches three of the canine creatures using several accurately hurled shuriken. By this time, the old man had backed up close enough to the minivan and began to help the woman and her child into the back of the truck. Marie asked the large imposing Hachiko if they can come with them. Hachiko answers her by helping her into the truck, Sergei climbing in after. The motley crew then make their way down the highway.
Angelique Ashur & Alex Hamilton (Part II)
Skokie Highway Mile-marker 5
Alex, Angelique, and Kendall ride down Skokie Highway on horseback realizing by now that the sun should have already risen (Angelique knows something is wrong but is not sure what it is). They pass several vehicles along the roadside, most of them abandoned though a few have stubborn occupants which stare incredulously as they pass by. Reaching an underpass, they stop for a moment to rest. Soon the sound of twisting metal can be heard as right before their eyes a big-rig truck began to change and metamorphose into something from a nightmare…
Gelar Ohanzee (Part I)
3001 Green Bay Road, North Chicago, Illinois, USA
Gelar finds himself awake suddenly, the smell of antiseptic and the sounds of medical machines beeping all around him. Carefully disengaging himself from the machines he is hooked up too he looks around for clothing but instead finds his bow, quiver, and tomahawk on his hospital table with a scrawled note in feminine handwriting saying “Good luck, you’re going to need it”. Gelar recognizes the handwriting as belonging to his ex-fiancé (and the one who put him in the hospital to begin with), Archana Kimiko. Looking outside he finds the hallway littered with corpses with strange small circler puncture marks all over their flesh. Dragging one of the bodies inside his room, he steals its clothes to wear, though the poor bastards feet are “smaller than his mothers.” Gathering up his weaponry he exits the building and tries to discover what has happened. In the dark of the hospital’s hallways he makes a horrifying discovery: every single person in this area is dead or dying. The cause seems to be large (almost half a foot) black leeches4 that have seemed to take over the Emergency Room area of the hospital. Assessing the situation Gelar goes back to the nurses’ station and grabs a large bottom of isopropyl alcohol. He then pours a line of the liquid onto the floor and reaches in his corpse-lifted pants looking for (and finding) a zippo lighter which he uses to light the fluid. Unfortunately he did not take stock of how close he was to a oxygen tank and the trail of fire quickly leads there. Spotting it in time Gelar ducks into a room right before the door is blown through the wall to outside leaving a hole just big enough for him to squeeze through with some effort. Heading into the parking lot he tries to start a car but realizes that something is wrong with them takes off on foot towards a small cluster of stores into the distance.
Angelique Ashur, Alex Hamilton, Gelar Ohanzee, Hachiko Koga, & Sergei Romanova (Part I)
Skokie Highway Mile-marker 17
As the big rig truck begins to shift and morph into some sort of nightmarish amalgam of steel and pulsating flesh5 Angelique, Alex, and Kendall back away readying themselves for a fight. Angelique’s horse decides to confront the monstrosity with her on it and using her psychokinetic abilities damages several of its internal structures; while Alex gets close enough to start shooting at it though his small caliber bullets don’t seem to do enough damage to penetrate the creatures metallic ‘hide’.
Coming across the scene as they drive down the other side of the highway, the old man (once again) stops the truck and gets out, emptying his .357 magnum revolver into the truck-monster. Hachiko and Sergei also exit the truck, with Hachiko putting two shells into the critter while he bounded over the highway divider. Sergei on the other hand just disappeared, pouncing on the truck-monster and embedding his ninja-to blades hilt deep into its engine block while simultaneously balancing on the hood. Angelique, following the ninja’s example hops up onto the hood of the monster while drawing her large kris and trying to cut into it. From the distance an arrow is shot and hits a front tire/clawed hand making the beast roar. Both Alex and Hachiko tries shooting at the things gas tanks but this doesn’t seem to cause it much distress. Eventually the old man gets close enough to use what he has been holding in his hand the whole time, a phosphorous grenade. The old man, shoving the explosive into the engine block as everyone begins shooting and attacking until the twisted metal stops moving. Hachiko and Angelique bandage the wounds of the others with everyone converging on the old man’s truck which then shuts off leaving them stranded and exposed on the highway…
July 2nd 2000, Sunday
Skokie Highway Mile-marker 17
1This creature is a wamp, a carrion eater from the Dreamlands that do not mind if its prey is not dead yet, it often stores corpses for months till they are of the ‘right’ taste. They travel in packs and posses an intelligence similar to that of a chimpanzee or a ‘movie’ animal. They are savage and will fight to the death being exceedingly territorial.
2This creature is a fluttermouth, starting life as a fungal-like spore they grow to maturity as grubs infesting the host that either breathes a flutterbloom in or is bitten by an adult fluttermouth. Specimens range from actual moth size to the size of large dogs! They end their lifecycle by dying and becoming a flutterbloom that carries the next generation. Their bite (and touching their skin) can produce hallucinations that are very real and many pleasant dreams have turned to nightmares with an invading fluttermouth flock. Fluttermouths subsist almost entirely on bone marrow but also like to eat internal organs.
3This creature is a Barghest, a large horse-sized canine that resembles a cross between a hyena and a wolf with mangy fur and sharp pointed ears. Barghest are found commonly through the Dreamlands and hunt in packs, they are especially sensitive to prey with magical capabilities whom they find delightfully tasty. They possess animal level intellect but are cunning and capable of cornering or boxing in their prey.
4 This creature is a the psychic manifestation of a person’s fear (in this case a Vietnam vet’s remembered horror of the leeches he had to deal with). While psychic manifestations are rare the Blackout seems to be having some sort of effect on the rarity of such situations.
5This creature is a marowit, a dreamlander given form by a powerful nightmare (typically a phobia or other pathological fear). Marowit can take any form and have varying levels of power and ability. This particular specimen is from a child’s fear of ‘monster trucks’ which caused a normal truck to spontaneously animate and supernaturally mutate into the thing they faced.