Ever notice how a story often begins with a description of the weather? Detailing how the wind hammered against the shutters, or perhaps how the rain poured down on the roof? Not my story, oh no!
I've been by many names and only the other week did I pick up a new one. But for now we'll use my birth name.
I came to New Fairbank like many others, seeking fame and fortune, but it was not the first one I had visited, or even the last, no not at all.
I used to be a card shark, playing the big rooms at Capital City. I was skilled and crafty, but it was the application of these skills that got me to the next city.
It is not easy you see, to convince an entire room to part with their cash and possessions, at least willingly anyway. Heck! Anyone can pull a gun and perform a robbery, but it takes a certain, something, to do what I did.
Eventually I came to New Fairbank and it was here that I started plying my trade again. You know what? It worked well!
The people here, so obsessed with their worthless stones and trinkets, they didn't even see the worth of their jewellery and cash. I was more than happy to alleviate them of their burdens.
It didn't take long however for the lawmen of this town to clue up on what I was doing. One night after a successful grift, they asked me outside where they beat five shades of shit out of me.
I tell you, I've never been beaten like I had before on that night and as I lay on the floor, my insides on the outside I noticed that something was not right.
Earlier that night I had managed to grift a small box from some guy. It didn't seem like much but I figured I could trade it for a shell or two. But there with my very life pouring away, the box began to glow from the inside.
I tell you now it was eery, white light coming out from the box like the wisps my mam used to tell me about as a kid back in the old country.
The light, it moved. I know how that sounds, but it did! It moved out of the box, flowed through the air like water and then forced itself down my throat.
You should know, I've never been a nice man, but going through this, feeling that power being literally rammed past my lips, I swore through teared eyes that I would never hurt another woman again, not like how I was being hurt at that point.
I can't really remember what happened next, other than I woke up underground, my clothes covered in mud and my hands red with someone else's blood. My injuries? Gone! Every one of them.
So I found the way up and crawled back to the surface. Heard a story when I got out too, of four lawmen torn limb from limb. They story tellers said it was a Shifter whatever the hell that is.
The next night I told myself I wasn't going on the grift. Things were getting weird and I was going to get the heck out! Then I heard the music, the sweet, sweet music. It calmed and caressed my worries, told me everything would be fine and that I should return underground, only with company this time.
I looked down and saw my chest glowing with that infernal light, it moved, forced it's way up and into my throat. I retched.
There was no bile, no sick only music. Music that swam out of my mouth like a glorious lullaby. I don't know what it was, but I was drawn to the window of my place, I looked down to the streets below and saw about half a dozen children and young women walking in a daze towards my place. Their eyes like nothing I've ever seen, just pale and vacant, drawn to the song that played from the light.
Something didn't feel right. I don't know what it was but I felt my body twist and change, my proportions shift and mutate and it was agony, true indescribably agony.
I don't know how long it was, but once everything had stopped spinning, once the pain of transformation had died, I stood and stared at my strangely familiar reflection in the mirror.
The face, the body, the arms and legs. They were not my own, but I recognised them all the same. They belonged to my childhood nightmare, a man who I was certain came into my room at night with a shadowed face and long thin arms and fingers. I had never given him a name.
The music continued, it called from within but not just to those outside, but to me, telling me to go underground, that my new look would not last past sunrise, but until then I would use the image of my own childhood's fears to bring about pain on everyone else.
I knew the music was right. Everyone else had so much and I had so little, with those red crystals they lorded about, their stupid trinkets and pockets full of cash. They didn't deserve any of it, it should all have been mine!
So I swore there and then that I would take it all from them, their wealth, their children, their lives!
That was three months ago. Every night I steal something away from a family, sometimes it is a family heirloom, sometimes it's their precious family, and sometimes it is their most treasured possession of all; hope.
As the people of New Fairbank get weaker, I get stronger. The light feeds on their losses and brings it back to me three fold.
Now I walk with confidence down main street, a cane in hand, a faithful hound at my side and pockets overflowing with riches!
I even have a new target, ripe for the picking. The Frenchman and his boy. He'll regret the day that he refuses to serve me at that poxy bar!
They'll all regret it! The men who laughed, the women who rejected me! Every last one of them.
Well... Maybe not the women, even a monster needs some standards.
- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley