Last Beat Of Your Heart

There is a proverb here in America. Another day, another dollar.
But not today. The last few weeks have been exceptionally busy, but today is going to be a lazy day, a slow day. Time to finally enjoy the fruits of her labour, if one can even say so.

She has slept in until two p.m, ordered in, wondered if she should call one of the few people that she sometimes goes out with, and decided against it. Somehow she enjoys not having to talk to anyone, leaving her face naked and her hair in a simple braid, just to keep it from blocking her sight.
A day of not having to represent anything, a day without acting. Bliss.
She hasn't said more than maybe ten words today and it feels wonderful. The new state-of-the-art laptop sits on the floor next to her armchair, whirring happily. She runs her fingers almost affectionately across the pristine screen. There's a mug of tea in her hand, and a book in her lap, and no other person to be seen or heard or catered to at least until next Friday.
There also is a distant nagging somewhere at the back of her mind, disturbing the idyll. A vague but utterly uncomfortable feeling of dread, like a half-choked guilty conscience.

She should not be proud of this. Not of the things she acquired, and first and foremost, she should be ashamed for having given up on looking for proper work.
But I do - I keep sending out CVs and they keep coming back.
You have given up the thought of ever finding work in the computer department again is why they keep coming back. You have arranged yourself with the situation and secretly lost all hope for being able to change anything. You lie to yourself, you hide from yourself the way you always do.

She gets up just a bit too quickly, the book falls to the floor. The first day of several free days in a row is always the best, and she won't spoil it by extensive brooding over things like that. She walks to the kitchen to top up her tea with a shot of rum, for celebrating.
When she comes back, her cell phone screen shows a missed call. With a long annoyed sigh, she picks it up. A number she doesn't know. Redial.
"Hello?" A woman's voice.
"Hello, this is me. You just called?"
"Yes, in fact I do. From my web page, you say?"
"Yes. Tell me name of hotel, please, and what time you want me to come."
"Absolutely. I'll be there, then - let's talk about detail later?"

Jadzia hangs up after that short talk, looking angry and disappointed. There goes her evening. There go her plans of finally being left alone and not having to show herself off. But then, installments have to be paid - plus, she needs some extra money in case anything happens.
Company, the other woman - a woman, by the way? Unusual - had said. Just to keep her company.
Oh yes, of course. Go ahead and think of some other lame excuses for agreeing. You just stooped to a new low. Congratulations, kochanie - Ciotka would turn over in her grave if she knew any of this.
Jadzia shrugs wearily, then chooses a dark blue dress and matching lingerie and heads off to the bathroom. None of my business, to ask her questions. We'll see.
A shower later, she stands in front of the mirror, carefully applying make-up, brushing her hair and redoing it. Two small braids on either side, then her usual chignon, decorated with the braids and some loose strands in front, shorter than the rest. She makes a face at the mirror.
A woman.
I never did that before. And I shouldn't be doing it, whatever it turns out to be. It's not right, it's going to be a sin, at least that's what I learned - but then, in America, no one seems to care anyway. I shouldn't care any more.
She grabs her coat, her purse and her silver cigarette case and, fully dressed, goes back to the kitchen. A swig of rum, straight from the bottle. A cigarette. One for the road.
The door slams. Jadzia is on her way to an unpredictable evening.

1 Kommentar 24.12.10 15:42, kommentieren


No kissing

The tinkling of silverware on crockery filled the room, the murmur of people enjoying a wonderful evening out. The man facing her raised his glass and said something she didn't understand. She smiled and they toasted, their wine glasses clinking.

"Na zdrowie."
He laughed softly as she took a sip of white wine. "I swear, Jazzy, I don't understand a word of that but you still sound cute."

She played with a strand of hair that somehow had escaped from her chignon. "I like you, too." Not even a lie, that; he was quite good-looking and not as obnoxious as some other clients she had had. An executive or something ... he could afford this restaurant and he was quite likely to spend some more on a hotel room and a few more hours of her ... company.
She quickly glanced at him. In another life, they probably would have been colleagues, and this would have been an ordinary after-work date. She would have accepted his invitation, told her friends about him and taken hours to decide on her clothing, happily wasting her time by extensive worrying what to talk about, how to act, if he would like her enough for this to be the start of something serious - the like. The last question now was one she wouldn't have to ask herself any more. Not with him. As to the rest - she was experienced enough to know just what to do, and how.
She took out her cigarette case, lighting one and slowly blowing the smoke in his direction, her mouth a trembling red heart, a full, seducing pout. He stared at her for a short time, lost in the sight, then gathered his mind enough to say something.

"E-ehm.. Jaz... you can't smoke here. This is a restaurant. It's forbidden." He gestured, taking a cigarette from her case, lifting it and shaking his head.
She looked at him blankly and took another drag, blowing him a kiss when she exhaled. She knew. She understood. It was just her way of speeding things up a little.
He seemed not to know what to do. "No. Nyet." He shook the unlit cigarette like a puppy would shake a slipper in its teeth, just before killing it.
She smiled at him. "No cigarette in here?"
He was relieved. "Yes. Exactly. Do you want to step outside for that?" She nodded and gathered her things to follow him outside - the cigarette case, the lighter, the minuscule purse.
He looked at the passing cars and carefully avoided every glance in her direction; she finished her cigarette, lighting another one after a few minutes. He finally came over.
"Jesus, Jaz, you really smoke too much."
She shook her head, laughing. "Just right number. Not too much." She stepped closer to him, noticing that he looked slightly uncomfortable but didn't back off. Perfect. That part of the game could almost be called one of her favorite ones - it just was the game itself she didn't really like.
"Prosze - is cold. Can I .. ?" She gestured vaguely towards him, which made him take off his jacket and drape it round her shoulders. She wrapped herself in it and came even closer, almost touching his torso with her own, leaning in against him.

He put one arm around her, drawing her in and protecting her against the "cold". She snuggled up to him. The fingers of her right hand slowly wandered up and down his back, light as feathers and almost unnoticeable. She could feel his eyes on her body, slowly gliding up and down. Staring. She flicked an invisible speck of ash off her neckline, noticing his gaze following every movement of her fingers against her skin.
Another deep drag on her cigarette. This time she almost accidentally touched her lips while removing it, tracing along the cupid's bow, a touch that might or might not have been a minuscule caress.
She had him. And she knew.
She could feel his hand on her hip, moving slowly while she blew out the smoke with visible pleasure.
She turned towards him, looking up and pressing her breasts against his ribcage for a moment. "Evening is almost over."
He looked crestfallen for a second, then pulled himself together. "Aw. You want to leave already?"
"Is deal." She looked down, appearing shy all of a sudden. "I want to stay. But - this will cost."
He thought for a minute, then nodded. "Okay. How much?"
She looked thoughtful, then pulled away, taking a tiny note pad out of her purse. "Sorry. Not know in English. This for evening. And night. Do all things you want." A few numbers were scribbled, the note pad then passed over. He inhaled sharply, then looked at her again. She smiled radiantly, inching even closer and drawing a long, slow, deep breath.
He nodded again. "So... that's it. I'm in on it. When? Tomorrow?"
She shook her head, opened a hand. "Half now, half ... jutro. Tomorrow."

"Fine. " There and then, he took out his wallet, carefully counting bills and handing them over to her.

"Zgoda." She let go of him again to re-count and pocket the money. There she had the programs, and maybe also some new clothes. Cute ones. Depended on the electricity bill this month.
She took his hand, her radiant smile back. "What now?"
He shrugged.
"Well. We could go back inside and finish our meal. Have a drink, if you want to, get to know each other better. And then maybe ask if they have a room for us. They rent here, too."
She smiled to herself, looking knowing and a bit mysterious.
"Yes. Why not?"

They walked up a flight of stairs stairs to the newly rented room, both of them having had a little too much wine, both of them giggling for various reasons.
"Nie", she repeated for what seemed like the fiftieth time, grinning, as they reached the top of the stairs. "Not Jaz. Jadzia, okay? Jad-zi-a. You say."
"Ja .. Jats.. aw no, forget it!" He started laughing somewhat embarrassedly. "You should know by now I can't pronounce that - now, where is room number 4?" He looked around as they passed several doors, leading the way to one that was almost at the end of the corridor. She watched as he fumbled for the keys, reaching out to stroke his shoulder.
He unlocked, took her outstretched hand and gently pulled her the rest of the way towards him and inside the room. His face came closer.
With an apologetic smile, she brought her index finger to his lips as if to tell him to be quiet, stopping him.
"Please. Everything else, but - nie pocalujmy sie. No kissing."

Shatter awakes with a start, jerking up from her old mattress in the corner of a rather large subterranean bunker. Concrete walls. Piles of paper, among them all sorts of other tidbits. The distant whirr of computer fans, faint typing noises, a word spoken here or there.
A dream. A memory. Nothing more.
But so damn vivid she could swear she still can taste the wine, smell that executive guy's after shave, feel that ever-present delight in being courted and attractive, and the slightly darker, underlying satisfaction upon knowing exactly how to lure him - anyone - in. The twisted joy of being prey, sought-after bait and hunter at the same time, of setting up a trap and watching it work just the way it is supposed to.
And still underneath that, almost successfully repressed, the disgust with her clients especially, and people in general being so predictable. The silent anger at the fact all it takes is to smile and to appear just a touch too daring, to come just an inch too close and to use just one "exotic" word more than necessary. And no one will bother to look further into her, as long as her mask is interesting enough to soothe their weak conscience into oblivion and to help forget the fact that they paid to see exactly that. And nothing more.

Lost in her memories, she clenches her fists. The pale light of an old lamp reflecting on the naked walls slowly brings her back to this day, or rather night. This life, or rather unlife. This city underneath the city of Rochester, NY, World's Image Centre on the shore of Lake Ontario. Somewhere in the distance, the dull roar of the High Falls echoes through the sewers.
Shatter grits her teeth. She needs to get out of here, to smell some fresh air and to see the open nightly sky. She wraps bin liners around her legs, puts on a pair of heavy duty plastic bags over her shoes as a sort of gaiters and fastens everything with twine. Two years in a sewer system make you careful; you never know when a tunnel is flooded or there is some kind of "high tide", as Seamus calls it.
"Will dash", she murmurs to no one in particular. From one of several desks on the other side of the room she hears a frantic clicking and then, "Damn, not again!".
A half-hearted wave, then she is off, climbing a ladder to an opening in the ceiling, squeezing through narrow drifts full of cables that probably never were intended to be used as passes, in the direction of the distantly roaring waterfalls. A short slide, then a staircase leading down to something that looks like an underground quay.
Along the "river", the stench of sewage overwhelming.
The waste water rushes down a hole almost vertically, the elevated walkway next to it ends. Shatter jumps off its end and keeps following the now more or less dry sewage pipe that winds and branches. The roar gets louder. She starts running, to get the weird feeling out of her system that she hasn't been able to shake since she woke. Since that dream.
She never would have thought that - but she actually misses the escort work.
Not everything. The good bits. Just them.
Especially being touched. She hated it back then, and still doesn't want to be touched by just anyone, but body contact in general is something she does miss. Hugs upon meeting, for example.
The warmth of another person. Their skin touching hers. Reading affection in their eyes, feeling wanted and admired.
"None of this really matters any more", Shatter murmurs, quoting one of Seamus's favorite songs. "There is no you - there is only me."
What was the first line again?
"I'm becoming less defined as days go by", something like that. Too true. She'd never thought of it that way, but if you never are touched by anyone else, not even someone brushing your arm ever so slightly in passing, you forget where your body begins and where it ends. And what it really feels like to be at home in it.
Shatter looks down at her still-running feet. A faithful machine, nothing more, nothing less. Stronger than ever, even though her left leg has started hurting more and more, day after day, as if someone reshaped it ever so slowly. Half an inch every three nights, maybe, nothing more, if that isn't just her imagination.
The slippery concrete floor slaps against the soles of her feet. She doesn't really feel it, notices her muscles moving, but ... not really.

The pipe opens to a shore; the roar of water rushing down is now deafening. She takes the last few steps outside and stands at the foot of High Falls, Genesee River flowing just a few feet away from the mouth of the pipe. She plops down, noticing only now that running through the Warrens has indeed exhausted her a little.
A crescent moon drifts through the dark sky, its blurred reflection in the waters hardly more than a lot of small twinkling shards. She lights a cigarette, sucks in the smoke like vitae, desperate, craving at least a poor rip-off of her memory. The taste of tobacco never before has disappointed her and now it doesn't, either; the greyish smoke blossoms on her tongue and in whatever is left of her lungs the way it always used to do.
They at least have stayed the same. Her oldest vice, her most reliable friends.
She thoughtfully scratches a speck of dried wound discharge off her left cheek and gestures with her cigarette the way she used to do. Back then.
She smiles alluringly, looking like a cruel caricature of her living self and knowing it.

Thirty feet above her, in the city, nobody sleeps. Lights are sparkling, people are walking, talking, laughing, getting in and out of restaurants, clubs, bars, theaters. People in the company of others, flirting, fighting, enjoying a night on the town with friends or lovers.
Shatter slowly runs her fingertips across her arms, caressing the skin in the places where it still is intact. She cups her cheek with one hand, her thumb gently stroking her own upper lip.
No kissing.

1 Kommentar 22.12.10 12:56, kommentieren

Rotting On The Vine

((OK, some OoC notes first: 1: This takes place right after the tree-buying with Leinad, Vivian and Yakumo.[played out in the chat yesterday night, GMT+1]

2: I fully know what I got myself into by playing a Nos. She smells like infected wounds and dirt. IS repugnant. Plain simply fugly, which I will elaborate more, IC-wise, if you can stomach it. And she KNOWS. So play on it. She's a member of the clan that's probably lowest on the Cainite social echelon. Insult her, try to hide your disgust if you're a polite one, tread her down. I won't be angry at you, I promise (My char at yours - yes, though). I can distinguish IT and OT quite well. And as a player, I'll be happy if you give me something to play with, that way. Shatter herself won't be too glad, of course. But I will. So go ahead, smack the Nos :D  

3: The song I quote throughout this text is called "Rotting on the vine" by Kristeen Young. You can listen to it here:
I do not claim any rights on anything. This song belongs to the artist(s)/the actual owners of said rights. I don't want to make any money or cookies with it or any part of the WoD whatsoever. I am not responsible for contents of any links posted on any part of this blog.

4: English is not my mother tongue and Shatter's English still isn't what it ought to be. Her mistakes: On purpose. Mine: Gomen nasai *bows*

5: As for most of this blog, warning: LANGUAGE. Mentioning of nudity, non-sexual. Also, description of yummy Nos disfigurement. Enjoy.))




Rotting On The Vine


Shatter enters a long code into the security system, then unlocks the door to her apartment. Upon opening, she is greeted by the hum of various electronic devices and a waft of cold smoke.


She carefully locks the door again, re-enables the alarm, then hangs up her coat and limps across the living room in order to open a window and empty the ashtrays. The tepid air of the room caresses her now-naked arms. She taps the touchpad of her notebook to wake it up and sets the media player to "random all". Haunting, almost dissonant piano chords fill the room and accompany her to the bathroom where she sheds the rest of her clothes.

Somehow, pine needles have found their way underneath, sticking to the partly crusty patches of raw flesh that are scattered across her entire body. She starts picking away at the unbandaged ones, hissing with pain whenever she encounters a particularly tedious needle or piece of fluff from her clothing. 

How I loathe that. Every day it's the same torture - these wounds never seem to close, and if one does, it's only for a new one to open somewhere else.
The shower now runs warm enough for her to step in. The water is almost boiling hot to the seemingly scoured patches. She bites her lower lip, lifts her long hair up in the back and ties it into a loose knot that covers the nape of her neck.
"We have just a few years of juiced-plump skin", the singer states. Shatter hardly hears her. The initial scalding sensation has faded, the water now runs pleasantly warm over her face and body, softening the crusty wound discharge residues and soaking the pus-caked bandages that cover some of the larger ones. Soon she will be able to take them off relatively painlessly.

She sighs, rejoicing in the warmth. A rare sensation ...
Her thoughts start wandering, towards the last few days, the things that happened. The people she met.
The Cajun Primogena of her clan. Little one-eyed Aly, limping like Shatter herself. Andrea, the dancer in the club.
The wealthy-looking Briton that had insisted on kissing her hand. The cute woman who was with him at the tree sale. The weird Asian guy that had claimed that there was someone else in his head, knowing more than he did and therefore bossing him around ...
He hugged me. A silly grin slowly spreads across her face; she forces it off as soon as she notices it.
Twice, even. That British man treated me like a real lady - okay, I was covered, but he knew. And that weird detective knew, too. Even before I let him know. Asking me about my family crest - how nifty.
She takes off the wet bandages, drops them to the bottom of the tub she is standing in. Then she squeezes some antibacterial soap on a washcloth and, not too carefully, scrubs her entire body with it. Some of the wounds open, start oozing drops of vitae or a strange yellowish liquid. She ignores them.

We danced. We friggin' danced. Maybe it's because of the prince - but those Lamarians either have some really wicked scheme going on or are just out of their minds.
She smiles again, then shakes her head, quickly, as if to shoo away an all-too-persistent thought, and continues scrubbing the residue off her skin.
"We're not the living - ", the singer now really gets going, " - we're the dying - "
Maybe they were allowed to forget that. Lucky bastards.
"- getting sicker every day - "
She rubs her face violently with both hands, then looks upwards, holding her head directly under the stream of water.
A piece of skin is washed off, circling the drain among the lather and finally pulled down by the murky water. It must have been dislodged by her rubbing.
Huje. Fuuuck. Not again.
She runs her fingers across her face, trying to determine the location of the new sore in the only way possible.
There. Straight on the forehead, down to her right eyelid. A part of her brow now grows from raw flesh.
"Rotting on the vine", the singer wails. Shatter whispers along, smiling grimly.
People listen to me. I am convincing. I even could calm down that.. what was his name again? Yako.. Yakami? Yokume? The little guy.
But singing? No way in hell.

Not with that throat that seems to have been scoured with steel wool during my Embrace.

She steps out of the shower, patting herself down. Reaches for the medicine cabinet.
Bandages. Compresses. Rubbing alcohol. Paper towels.
The mirror in front of her stays empty, reflecting only the closed door behind her.
I still wonder if that's a curse or a blessing. Impractical, though. But would I even need it if it came back?

"It'll be contagious, I'll spoil the home - "
Staring at the blank mirror, Shatter thinks of the many occasions she had to find out what she looks like. Or at least, what effect her appearance has had until now.
She knows she has a nose shaped like a bird's beak, large and prominent; she knows her skin is grey and shiny and that those damn wounds just stay open once they appear, oozing strange stuff from time to time, sometimes becoming infected no matter what she does. But what she actually looks like? Right now? The colour of her eyes, even? No. Clue. 
She only knows she has to look horrible.

People she just wanted to greet backing away in disgust. Those bravely forced Kindred smiles and all-too-quick handshakes, if her outstretched hand was even accepted. The whispers when they thought she wouldn't hear, the loud talking right in front of her when she had lured them into believing that she still, after all these years, didn't understand more than a scrap or two of English. The countless "poor girl"s, or even more numerous and direct: "ugly as hell, with a face like an acid attack and hands cold as a witch's tit".
That Goddamn art collector asking her sweetly how she worked up the courage to show up at an Elysium, and surely there could be done something for her. Maybe he could hook her up with someone? He knew this guy with a belt sander who could finish the job ...

Shatter grins. That cough attack back then was pure coincidence, of course. The sight of that man in his immaculate tailor-made suit as she collapsed on the rug, gasping for air - priceless. Him staring down with utter shock at the heaving, retching Cainite pile at his feet, while she after what must have seemed like forever finally regurgitated a few lumps that looked like chewed-up raw liver. Spattered all over his polished black leather shoes.

That someone soon after that found out that the art collection and the upright servant-of-the-Tower-facade was just that - a facade - well, how could that have been her doing? A poor little sewer rat? That girl with the scoured face? The one that drips and coughs like a Lovecraftian tuberculosis patient? Come on, she can't even follow a conversation without a dictionary, how should she have gotten her hands on sensitive information like that and understood what it meant?

Priceless indeed.

The "rubbing alcohol" is a half-empty bottle of vodka. No time to get her hands on anything better yet.
Shatter, still grinning, soaks a handful of paper towels in the liquor and dabs her face with the wet tissues, then continues the disinfection in the rest of her body, clenching her teeth and secretly relishing the pain.
She finishes tending to the sores, treating some of the larger ones with salve, dresses and bandages those that absolutely have to be bandaged, and puts on new clothes.
Then Shatter sits down in front of the double computer screens - the pristine-looking notebook for surfing and other fun things, the old battered tower connected to a 1999 CRT monitor and surrounded by cables in all colors of the rainbow for doing the real work on - ever-present cigarette in hand. The black and gold of her lighter somehow remind her of Yakumo.
Shatter smiles to herself. Little crazy guy.
Sweet little crazy guy.
She logs on to a random IRC server, absent-mindedly tapping away on the keyboard of her notebook.
I can't even hide my face, other than behind my hair or a hat. I have no camouflage, the way the older ones seem to have. But at least I'm honest that way - no one can trap me by uncovering that I am someone else, something else than what I appear to be. That is your weakness, and yours alone.
She flips the power switch on the CRT monitor. A myriad of green symbols on a black background spring into existence. Shatter starts typing, pulling another keyboard closer to her.
I'm rotting on the vine. And it's just a question of time when even those friendly Lamarians will see. When they won't be able to ignore it any longer, and when even they won't be able to hide their disgust any more.
She is now typing like crazy, a cryptic and seemingly random combination of letters and numbers. A progress bar replaces the symbols. She waits for it to complete.
Better not let my hopes get too high. I don't think my face has changed all of a sudden. And the rest sure as hell hasn't. I'll be prepared for when they show their real faces. Their true reasons. When this too-good-to-be-true mirage will fall apart, the way it always does.
It's a pity, though...

Another cigarette. She crushes the butt of the first one like heroes crush their servants underfoot when they rise to undying fame.
A real pity.

1 Kommentar 20.12.10 20:57, kommentieren

History and further information ((OOC))


Name: Jadzia Lisowska

Age: Looks about 26, but it's difficult to tell.

Nickname on the interne: gda_shattercrypts2397


Fun facts: Chain-smoker with a telltale voice; sometimes has violent cough attacks that lead to her spitting out lumps of something unidentifiable and vile; greasy/slimy, shiny, pale skin with a greyish tint; open sores on arms and face that sometimes drip with pus; aquiline nose, still makes mistakes when speaking English and has a strong accent.

Does NOT like to be called by her given name and will introduce herself as "Shatter".


Looks and behavior: Used to be quite beautiful and outgoing. Still has long highlighted dark blonde hair almost down to her waist (though sometimes tangled and partly wet), which is the only thing about her that stayed intact during the Embrace and behind which she sometimes hides her face. She is about 1.7 metres tall and rather slim; still chooses her clothes carefully, even though life in the sewers has put quite a strain on her wardrobe (stains, rips, tears...). She would also wear make-up, were it not for the fact that she doesn't reflect in mirrors any more. This means she doesn't know how disfigured she exactly is, she only can guess from the reactions of others. Sometimes she forgets about (or rather, represses the thought of) her repugnancy and becomes as flirtatious and seducing as she used to be when she still was human - with often very painful results.

Her Mask of a Thousand Faces mostly will look like she did when she was still alive. If she ever acquires one.

Story: Born and raised in Poland, studied informatics/computer science in Gdánsk and had just started working as a sysadmin when the Eastern Bloc shattered and the Eastern European economy started to crumble. She lost her job and couldn't find a new one that paid well enough to live on, and this was one of the reasons for her to head to USA.

There, she also couldn't find work in her old field (supposedly due to her poor English), so after a few months, she reluctantly started to work as an escort. She was quite good-looking, and so she had no problems in finding "clients", who she contacted via social networks.

She hated her "work", even though it paid well, and so she hid from her life on the Internet, discovering her penchant for encryption and how to disable it. That way she entered the hacking "subculture", making herself quite well-known over time. One evening, she stumbled upon an encrypted site that none of her attacks could decrypt. She was intrigued, poking at the code for weeks on end - until one night, when she came back from a date with a client, someone dragged her into an alley. Next thing she knew, she was waking up in a tunnel that reeked of human waste, with a throbbing headache, a thirst greater than anything she had ever known, and some guy whose face she can't remember explaining her what happened.

You just don't go and try de-crypting a (remote) part of the Nosferatu network. She only wasn't left dead in that alley because she apparently was quite skilled, and because no one would have missed her if she disappeared. To find out all his reasons, though, one would have to contact her sire.


1 Kommentar 17.12.10 23:17, kommentieren