Prologue: Coming Evening
"The best thing about dreams is that fleeting moment, when you are between asleep and awake, when you don't know the difference between reality and fantasy, when for just that one moment you feel with your entire soul that the dream is reality, and it really happened."
With each deep breath, he felt the sting of the wound in his left shoulder. He winced when he tore away his bloodied shirt sleeve and let out a seething gasp of pain. The bullet wound was a clean through and through, but the pain was only felt in the front as his back had gone numb.
The hotel room was veiled mostly in darkness, with only a flickering incandescent red lamp on the nightstand illuminating the place. The furniture, all themed on mahogany and heartwood, had their shadows dancing across the walls in bursts. The curtains were drawn closed but the light of the fires outside blipped through the cloth. He thought the room looked like hell.
With his free hand, he took a bottle of vodka off the dresser next to him and leaned back against the recliner he sat in. He could feel the spine of the chair drenched warm, probably with his blood more than sweat. There was a white towel on his armrest and embroidered in gold in its corner was Hotel Alexandria.
"Okay," he said to himself, taking deep breathes once more. He looked to his left and sure enough, the cabinet he had pushed against the door stood firm behind the locks and latch. He turned back and saw his reflection in the dresser mirror.
His face was pale, not with fear, but a fierce look of determination. Though his eyes had a black ring of fatigue around it, his skin was bleached white. His maroon hair was darkened more by blood. Oily and unkempt. His green eyes felt distant, and he looked nothing like he thought he'd look. Given the situation, he felt that the mirror was doing him a favour, making him out as clean as he was. The entire left half of his white shirt was stained with blood.
"Okay," he said again, trying to squeeze out the remnants of hesitation in him. He hovered the bottle of vodka over his injured shoulder. "Okay."
He overturned the bottle and its contents poured over his wound. Through gritted teeth, he let out a scream, foaming and drooling. The bottle fell out of his hand before it was even half emptied, spilling over the carpet floor. Quickly, he took the towel and wrapped it around his wound and knotted it using his teeth, letting out a pained scream in the process as the makeshift bandage tightened.
Releasing the knot, he felt weak and disoriented. Tired, unable to think, all he remembered was a fog of darkness surrounding him.
His eyes flew open as he woke. The familiar itch and slight pain of his missing right arm tingled his senses. The pain from the gunshot wound in his left shoulder was gone, as expected. With his left arm, he reached for the stump where his right elbow was and felt the dried blood on the bandage.
"Damn it," he sighed, getting to his feet. He wore a black shirt, torn, tattered and dirtied at places. The entire right sleeve and part of the right side was a darker shade than the rest, having been drenched in blood before. He wore a pair of black cargo pants that had been ripped through the left pocket, a scar from a cut down the calves could be seen through it. His once grey shoe had a shell of dried mud covering it.
Scanning the area, he was surrounded by rows and columns of red metal pillars and beams, fences of criss-crossing support rebars, cardboard walls, and sparse wooden plank flooring. A couple of gas lamps hung under the beams, spread out in such a way that there would always be corners of shadows. "Where the hell am I this time?"
The gaps in the floor showed there were multiple levels of the same environment that stretched down to what seemed like forever. From what he could see beyond the walls, there were what looked to be stars in the distant night sky. Overall, the place looked like a building in construction. Yet it had no tools, materials, machines or anything else that even remotely tied it down as such a place.
Zut. Zoon. Zut. Zoon.
A hair raising sound, one which he had heard too many times before. He spun in his place, looking for the source.
Zut. Zoon. Zut. Zoon. The sound of the saw, back and forth, back and forth. Cutting...something.
He backed up against the wall so he would have one less direction to cover. His eyes darted between the two corridor that connected his small piece of open space.
Zut. Zoon. Zut. Zoon. The beating of his heart was almost as loud as the sound of the saw.
The sound got louder, closer. He could now hear the Sawman's footsteps. Soft knocks for a thing of such size.
Zut. Zoon. Zut. Zoon.
He was ready to run to the opposite of which ever corridor the Sawman came from. A cat and mouse chase for his life. He needed to wake up though. There were things he needed to finish doing.
Zut. Zoon. Zut. Zoon.
"Come on, you son of a bitch." He whispered, jaws clenched.
Zut. Zoon. Zut. Zoon.
"Come on." He thought back to the line of the song, Que Sera Sera. And he whispered, "Whatever will be, will be."
A flash of white appeared in the corner of his eyes and he was lifted off his feet by the white cloth that had wrapped itself around his neck. He wanted to shout, to scream for help, as it was humans' natural instinct, but the noose tightened around his airway, not letting a single puff of air in or out. He twisted, turned, kicked his leg, flailed his arms, but could not get released.
Stars filled his vision and a distant part of him wondered if they were they same ones he saw earlier before his vision started to fade to white. It felt as if his eyes were about to come out of its sockets, his head dunked into water and pulled 1000 feet into the sea, about to burst from the pressure.
Then it was over.
He sprang awake and the pain in his shoulder shot through him. He gasped for air, panicking, staring wildly around the room until he slowly realized where he was. Then he started to calm down. Another nightmare. The same painful process in waking. Unable to differentiate between dream and reality. When he caught his breathe and ascertained he still had his right arm, he calmed down, remembered what he needed to do and got to work. With his legs, he pushed the recliner away from the dresser. From the larger side pocket of his cargo pants, he took out a small camera. He turned it on, set the mode to video and started recording. Setting it down to face him on the dresser, he adjusted his position in the LED screen against the mirror and aligned so his face and torso was in the shot.
"Hey," he spoke to the imaginary audience of the video. "My name's Timothy Kleve. If you're watching this, it means I'm dead. Maybe I failed at stopping this, maybe I didn't. If I did fail, then what I'm about to tell you is going to help you do what I couldn't."
He paused, closed his eyes and took a deep breathe to calm down. His whole shoulder was numb now. He smelled of sweat and blood and he could hear the distant screaming of the riot in the streets below.
Opening his eyes, he began to speak. "It all started six months ago. Vashmir Commons was found in his room. Dead. Heart attack. Died in his sleep. The number one-three-nine written all over the walls of his apartment in red paint. I think he's the first victim. His journal recorded of him having nightmares up till the point of his death. He kept getting chased by what he calls, The Family. At first, people thought it was a joke, that was until more people started dying. In the weeks from Commons, there were over a hundred other reported deaths per week. Three months later, it numbered thousands a month, across the whole world. The only signs were the nightmares, all involving this 'Family'. The officials called it the Vashmir Pandemic. Social media called it Suicide in Nightmare. S-I-N. Sin. Doesn't matter what it's called. People were dying and stuff. From heart attacks, dehydration, starvation, suicide, murders, insanity, coma, whatever."
He couldn't focus. His mind a blank but his thoughts racing. Fatigue was pushing him beyond his mental and physical limit, but he had to stay awake until he finished what he needed to say.
He leaned his face against his uninjured hand, covering his eyes but not asleep. "Somnidin, an experimental sleep aid drug that reduces dreams was released to hospitals to counter Sin. But the dose had to be regulated since it had...side effects. The regulation led people to desperation. The underground drug scene started playing on this and an entire illegal market for this Somnidin was created. People killed for the drug. It let them sleep, kept them alive and sane. Or, at least what amounted to sane. It couldn't get any worse. The entire world, cornered in fear of Sin. Enslaved to a drug that could potentially kill them."
Leaning back, careful to not press on his arm, Timothy Kleve sank into the recliner. "At least, it couldn't get any worse until two weeks ago," he sat up straight, staring into the camera with a glazed look in his eyes. "Listen closely. Everything that happened to us during the last two weeks, it's the key to stopping this."
Author's Note: Hi everyone. Thank you for reading 139: In Evening. The story here is a re-upload of the original serial that ran on JukePop Serials in 2015. If you like what you've read so far, and would like to support my writing, you can buy one of my books at my website, including a full edit version of In Evening which includes new chapters and an additional short story. If you really like what you've read and would like to help me write for a longer term, check out my Patreon. Of course, just sharing, liking, reviewing, and commenting helps a great deal as well.