My visits to the Nightshone Manor have been rather erratic, much as the Manor is itself. It seems to be different every time I go, though I can feel with absolute certainty that it is the same place. Perhaps it is some kind of quirk of the dimensional space in which it inhabits that causes it shift so strangely. I will never understand how its inhabitants can all be so different and its surroundings completely new yet they always seem to act as though it has always been in whatever state I find it, but perhaps that is all just part of the quirks. I believe that I will never truly understand the nature of the manor and I do not pretend to, and yet I find myself drawn to it time after time. Something about it, its allure, it begs to be explored, to be understood, but even so it remains incomprehensible.
The visit that haunts me the most is when I was brought to Third Floor Side A. I would say that it is probably the closest I have ever to come death in my entire life, though that is not a claim that I can make with any confidence as death seems to lurk in every decrypted nook and cranny of the manor, but I can say with certainty that it is when I most feared I would find my end. Perhaps it was not the chance of the end but the manner which made it stand out to me, but I digress. The Third Floor Side A is a place that I have dreaded for some time. The only nice thing to say about it I can think of is that it is not Third Floor Side B. Guests and even most staff are forbidden entrance; The doors leading to it are locked on every stairwell and the button on the elevator is locked behind a glass case that few are allowed to carry the keys of. This is of course better than Side B to which all the staircases leading to have been torn down and the button on the elevator simply does not exist as it goes straight from two to four, but I digress.
The evening began relatively normal, as normal as the manor would allow. The only thing that was a bit off was that I awoke with a mild headache, but I have had plenty before and it did not strike me as anything abnormal. I went about my night as usual, following my assignment to greet every new guest to give a cursory scan as to whether any of them had within them great potential or were obvious threats. The more I chatted with them, the worse my headache became. I wondered if it was just from the noise and the lighting or perhaps if I was beginning to take after the staff. I remember well the times when Chize held my position at the door and parlor, how he would visible sneer and cringe at each word that came out of the guests’ mouths as though they both disgusted and pained him. I found my own patience quickly thinning as my head throbbed and I was barraged with incessant questions of the most trivial matters such as food and bedding. How such imbeciles were drawn to this place and why such creature comforts were their first concern upon entering instead of say the goat headed muscular manservants wielding axes at the door both annoyed and astounded me. Really them asking about the manservants would not have been too much better as it is tired and used, but at least they are more interesting than when dinner will be. Even what dinner would be if a far more sensible concern given the nature of the manor.
I quickly found myself gritting and grinding my teeth as I tried my best to maintain composure and act polite. The pain in my brain grew worse still. It is then that I started to worry. A guest was going on about some drivel as I began to entertain the idea that perhaps this headache was not not natural at all, but perhaps the cause of some kind of dark hex or the like. The intensity was greater than anything I had experience prior and it grew and grew. The sensation soon became akin to having some sort of beetle crawling around in my skull. It was as though I could feel it’s legs piercing into my brain with each step as it scuttled about in a frenzy, its pincers then began biting and twisting my cerebral lobes. I became convinced of the presence of some sort of creature in my skull and I needed to get it out. The guests looked on in horror and the staff in curiosity as I began to scratch at my head fervently. It felt warm and wet as the scalp gave way to my nails, but I could not pierce the skull which was far too dense to scrape away. The pain was excrutiating from my own efforts, but worse was the pain on the inside of my head. Realizing that my attempts to scratch through were useless, I bowed my head down and charged into nearest wall. A loud crack and a sudden sharp pain were all I could recall as the world seemed to fade to black around me, but at the very least as my consciousness drifted away, so too did the pain.
I awoke some time later still with a pain at the top of my head, but it was clear that it was from the physical trauma I had caused it and not from whatever vile source that headache came from so I felt at ease. I could not find the strength to turn my neck at first so I was left staring at a blank white ceiling. From the eggshell color of the walls I could tell that I was not in guest nor servant nor student quarters but I could not recognize quite where in the manor I was. I was too exhausted to be concerned with this at the time and so I allowed myself to drift off to sleep once more. That was a foolish mistake.
My slumber became with a sudden shock, a jolt of literal electricity ran through my body, starting at my chest and ravaging to my extremities; if the bleeding from earlier had not already been stopped, it certainly would have been cauterized by the sudden flash of heat as I could smell my blood burning. My body jerked and reeled in place as I now found leather straps binding my legs, arms, torso, forehead, and neck. My eyes bulged open, feeling as though they were trying to leap out of their sockets and it is then that I saw a metallic face staring back down at me. “It’s alive” it said with noticeable lack of enthusiasm. The voice was somewhat feminine but came with a distinct clinking and whirring of gears and other gizmos. As it looked down upon me, two cogs on its cheeks began to twist with a horrible screeching sound of sheer metal plates scraping against one another and its mouth contorted into what must have been considered by whoever made the thing to be a smile.
I assumed that the metallic humanoid was a robot of some sort and judging by the caduceus engraved into its forehead, I figured it was intended for medical purposes. I could feel all sorts of wires and cold metal rubbing against my body but I was unable to see why this time, not due to pain but due to being rendered completely incapacitated by the leather straps. The robot continued to stare at me with its “smile” as I could feel small suction cups being pulled off of my chest. Unflinching and unblinking it waited there. I decided to try to interact with the thing, asking the obvious, “where am I?” first. It did not respond. “Can you understand me?” “Can you speak to me?” No responses whether vocal or physical expression. I could no longer stand the look of its eyes upon me, so I closed my own. I could still hear the clicks and clanks and whirls of the robot’s inner machinations but at least I could pretend I was next to some overly complicated clock rather being watched by some strange presence. Despite my best efforts, I could not bring myself to fall asleep once more as I was too rested from earlier.
I lay there with my eyes closed for what felt like hours, the robot staying by my side the entire time. I dreaded its presence but at the same time I felt some relief as it gave me company, a source of auditory sensation in a place where I was deprived of any stimulation. Hope and also more fear came as I heard the distinct click of a doorknob being twisted. Light footsteps that quickly increased in both intensity and frequency as whoever or whatever it was broke into a frenzied sprint towards me. A deathly pale young woman shoved the robot which came crashing onto the ground and then put her hands on my shoulders. Her red eyes met mine as she awkwardly opened her blood-splattered mouth. She spoke rapidly, blood and saliva being spit onto my face as the words raced out, “Sorry about that, I sent Hesbot into the waiting room to help any new patients, but I forgot to re-enable her ability to take voice commands from anybody other than me after dealing with a particularly unruly patient and I know that you have probably just been stuck here waiting for a while, but I was busy dealing with another patient…” She kept on talking while I tried to figure out just what she was. She first struck me as perhaps some sort of vampire but her canine teeth were clearly not fangs, they were in fact more blunt than those of an ordinary human. I decided she was probably a ghoul or something of the like, a being which feeds upon the dead. The irony of having one serve as a doctor seemed to fit the manor perfectly.
I did not pay too much attention to what she was saying until she began to pull out a massive needle from her tool belt, “This will just put you to sleep,” she assured me as she brought it up to my eye. I have always been deathly afraid of needles and the fact it was being brought towards my eye made it all the more dreadful. I tried to struggle and flinch but the bindings made me unable to move. I closed my eyes stuttering out “I-i-is this really necessary, and why my eye?” To which she replied, “Don’t worry, it gets into your blood system faster this way, you’ll be out cold before you know it…” She held my eye open with one hand and with the other she plunged the needle straight through my pupil. I am uncertain if it was the medicine taking quick effect or just fainting due to the shock, but I was out cold fast.
I awoke in a new white room, still bound by my arms and legs though now. I looked around the room which in which I was now confined. The door was iron with a small window made of a few bars to peer through as well as what looked like a slot for either mail or food. The floor was a gray cement, though it was only really gray around the edges of the wall as its center, especially near the “bed,” which was really just a simple mattress on the floor, and sink, was stained just about every stain of brown one could imagine, no doubt from various dried liquids. The sink which stood on the wall opposite the door had three faucets, one marked blue, another red, and another green. Blue and red tend to be the universal marking of cold and hot respectively, but I was unable to imagine what the green was intended to signify. The sink’s pipe’s disappeared into rather large openings in the ceiling. In the center of the room was a drain, and I could tell just from the smell coming from its general direction that it had not been cleaned any time recently and was likely used as a toilet. Opposite my side of the room was a curtain partitioning off a section that appeared to hold another bed and patient, my side had the metal rungs to hold sheets of its own, but no curtain was hung. I could hear a deep and steady breathing coming from the other side of the room, too loud to be that of an ordinary person though I had experienced extended periods of time in the hospital back home and recall such breathing to be akin to machine assisted breathing of a patient missing one of his lungs, so I assumed my company must have a similar condition.
Once I had gotten a feel for my surroundings, I realized I had not yet taken inventory of myself. The fact that I had no pressing pains that needed to be examined as earlier caused me a great deal of relief. The top of my head felt fine and there was no headache, but I did feel a strange weight, as though my head was heavier than normal. Looking down on my body, which was stripped bare save for a small blanket covering my loins, I noticed two unusual scars stitched closed, one slightly above my stomach and one below. I did not know too much of anatomy, though from what I did recall from high school, the upper incision appeared to be near my liver and I knew that thankfully you could have quite a fair bit of it removed and still function just fine. As for the lower incision, I prayed that it was for my appendix and not one of my kidneys, but either way I would survive. I sighed and tried to tilt my head to my side so I could stare at the wall as I contemplated my situation, but my efforts to turn were impeded. It was as though there was something sticking out of the side of my head. I turned to the other direction to see if the other side was the same, and sure enough it was. Hunching up my shoulders, I rubbed the extrusions which felt cold, metallic, and covered in tiny ridges. Screws, rather large screws were protruding from the sides of my head as though I was some sort of Frankenstein monster.
As I was busy trying to imagine how silly I looked, I was interrupted by a loud metallic screech as the door opened. Purple mist along the pale woman from earlier came through, this time wearing a doctor’s mask. She pulled it down to reveal a smile, this time mouth cleaned of any stains. “Oh hey, sorry about earlier I was really in a rush, but you’ll be happy to know that the operation was a complete success,” She said as freed my hands from my bindings. My first reaction was to feel around my lower abdomen to ensure that my kidney was still there, and sure enough I felt matching lumps on both sides. “Oh, well that was a bit of a side surgery, I know that the problem was with your head, not your belly, but we figured while you were out cold we might as well do an appendectomy, and well it went really well, and I mean really well, well for us that is, anyways, so we took out some of your liver as well,” Listening to her speak was painful but my curiosity to find out just what happened to my body forbade me from tuning her out, “Anyways, you are probably curious about the screws,” I nodded with a blank expression, “well you see, it turns out that the pain in your head, we read your recent memories by the way, not too far back just from when you woke up, was caused by excess pressure building up in your skull. It looks like you’ve been studying too hard and cramming your brain with too much knowledge,” she giggled but I was honestly unsure as to whether she was joking or serious. This was certainly not the first time I would have experience negative physical side-effects from learning forbidden knowledge. “The screws are there so you can adjust it yourself just in case you have any future problems, tightening them should also help out when you want to focus and loosening them will help you relax, go on try it,” I tried twisting the screw on my right. It was quite the experience, I could feel my entire skull caving in, my brain felt as if it were a spaghetti noodle being twisted around a fork.
“Excellent,” I responded as sincerely as I could. “Now can I leave?”
“Oh sorry, well nobody can leave the Third Floor without permission from the Chom, and well because of things going well earlier, you have very high quality blood and organs, and we want to see if we can have you stay as an organ donor.”
“I see,” I had my suspicions that I was on the Third Floor due to the dreadful atmosphere I was perceiving, but I still had hoped it was not the case until she removed any remaining shadow of doubt. “I do not wish to be a donor.”
“Sorry, that’s not for you to decide,” She said as she scribbled frantically away on a clipboard.
I had figured that was the case but it probably did not hurt to try. “I see, well may I go to the bathroom?” She looked towards the drain in the center of the room, “A proper bathroom?”
“Sure, right down the hall, but first,” she pulled out a large needle connected to an empty vial. I knew exactly what that meant. I stuck out my trembling arm, revealing the soft side opposite my elbow. Her eyes lit up as she grabbed onto my forearm and stroked upwards, eyes fixated on my veins. She licked onto a piece of tissue paper and rubbed onto my arm, surprising it made that area tingle and lose sensation. Then she placed the needle up against it, “Three, two, one,” and she stuck it in. Indeed, it did not feel any worse than a mosquito bit, but the dread of the whole thing had me shaking and grasping onto the bed. I watched despite my dread and as one vial filled, she replaced it with another empty one. Then another, and another still. Once she was satisfied with her four vials, she placed them on her side satchel.
The woman loosened the bindings on my legs and for the first time since arriving on the Third Floor I was given freedom of movement, though I was still trapped on the floor itself. “Here,” she strapped her surgical mask on my face. Not caring enough to listen to her explanation, I ventured out into the hall. A thick purple fog spread throughout the room and the walls were lined with more metal doors. I took off my mask and inhaled for a split-second; the smell was nauseating and I almost passed out immediately; perhaps it was some sort of narcotic. The fog formed a layer just below the window openings on each door. It seemed to me to be some sort of defense mechanism to keep patients in their rooms as any who walked through the halls without a mask was sure to inhale some and be knocked out cold.
One one end of the hall appeared to be an office with a frosted glass window. I could make out the shadows of two figures moving within, one rather large with a very well-defined shape and the other a vaguely human shaped blob. That was likely the office of the Chom. On the other end of a hall was a set of double doors, these ones steel with a layer of cross-hatched silver. Wooden boards all shaped like like crosses formed a fence around it. The floor and walls were scarred with massive claw-marks and stained with blood. A simple sign hung from the ceiling reading “Side B.” I was not even curious of what could lie back there.
I walked down in the direction of the bathroom. As I walked I could hear weeping coming one of the rooms. I peered in through the window to see a small girl chained to a bed with a few surgical tubes leading from her wrists into openings in the walls and ceiling. They were either constantly pumping blood into her or constantly draining it, if I had to guess I would pick the latter. The bed on the other side of the room held something I do not quite know how to describe. It was a large mass of flesh vaguely humanoid in shape. Its chest, stomach, and bulbous, digitless, nipple-tipped limbs throbbed and undulated irregularly. This thing was covered in all sorts of surgical tubing, some red, some yellow, some white, and one green. I took another look at the girl to more closely inspect her, and sure enough, all of her toes and fingers had begun to form one amalgamation.
I did not wish to see anymore, so I continued on my way. Sobs and groans of agony were quite commonplace in the hallway. Looking into some more rooms, I could see all sorts of strange plagues and maladies. A few of the patients I recognized as guests, one was covered in mushrooms of some sort and another had teeth sprouting off of his face. One was leaking blood from his mouth into a funnel with a tube that connected straight into his heart. Some were missing limbs while others had too many. Most plentiful and disturbing of all were the blobs of flesh, akin to the one I had seen in the first room with the girl. What I assume were once humans were reduced into meaty sacks to be harvested. Perhaps this is what it means to be a donor.
Soon enough I had made my way to the door with the markings of a restroom. Even though I had the mask on, I did not desire to risk facing whatever rancid smells it might hold, so I turned around and made my way back to my own room. The pale woman, face once again splattered with blood, wearing but two vials of blood on her satchel, and Hesbot were waiting for me. I do not remember exactly what the pale woman said as the prospect of committing any more of her words to memory did not appeal to me, but it had something to do with Hesbot watching over me but making sure I did not leave and with that, she chained my leg to the bed and left, talking the entire time even as the iron door closed behind her.
To test to make sure the robot would actually respond to my commands, I asked “Hesbot, fetch me some water” to which the robot grabbed a beaker, filled it at the sink, then shoved it into my mouth to force me to drink. If I had learned anything from my stay at the manor, it was to expect incompetence. I commanded, “Hesbot, break these chains,” and sure enough the robot yanked them apart and broke the links. I pushed my luck by trying to open the door only to feel the iron grip of Hesbot’s hand clamps burrowing into my shoulder and I was dragged painfully back onto the bed. All of my attempts to get Hesbot to leave or obey my orders over ones it was given previously were met with a “negative.” Then I hatched a cheeky plan. “Hesbot, fetch yourself some water,” the robot positioned its face under the faucet of the sink, opened its mouth, and poured water all over its innards. There were sparks and the clinking and whirring withing grew progressively more rapid before stopping with final clank.
Now that I was free to move around without being watched, I realized that I still did not know which way the exit was and I lacked a mask to walk through the fog. I decided to check on my roommate to see if they knew anything, but pulling the curtain back revealed only another blob thing, this one small and likely deformed from a child. I tore down the curtain, unhooked the child from all of its tubings and hoisted it onto my back using the curtain as a sling. The experiments that I was performing at the manor always had me needing to request more blood and organs from the staff and they probably got it from here anyway, so I figured that there was no real harm in securing myself a direct source.
Still not quite knowing which way to go, I chose to go up. I climbed atop of Hesbot’s back and hoisted myself up the pipes to the opening in the ceiling. It led to a sort of a maintenance area with pipes, tubes, and wires running in every direction. There were also many small creatures, little rat people, gremlins of some sort working on moving everything around and also lazing about and feeding on small leaks in the blood piping. A few came over towards me yipping angrily and the others took notice and began to stare. I rushed forward, grabbed one, and swung it onto a nearby pipe, causing its skull to cave in and splatter gray matter towards the rest. No others approached and they went back to work.
Meanwhile, I noticed that the weight on my back was growing heavier. I slung it off to find that with every pulse and undulation of the blob, it bloated larger. Whatever operations had readied its bodies for the fluid siphons had also made its body dependent on their constant robbery. However, I did not want to lose my prize. I extracted one of the femurs from the gremlin I had crushed and used it to pierce a small hole in the blob to allow it to drain some excess blood. This worked for the time being, but it had the unfortunate side effect of leaving a trail of blood that the gremlins followed, tongues glued to the floor licking it up as they trailed me.
Unfortunately, my escape was not a clean one. As I trod along dripping blood, a few drops dripped down one of the vents. As fate would have it, they landed on the pale woman as she was passing under. She wiped it off her face, licked it, and looked up; I could feel her gaze scanning for me. I held my breath but my heart beat loudly in my chest. A sinister smile appeared on her face, the edges of her lips extended past the covering of the surgical mask her grin was so wide. Perhaps she had some sort of sixth sense for detecting the living, or perhaps thermal vision. Regardless, she leapt upwards and shoved her hand, which now resemble more of a feral claw, through the vent and grabbed for my legs. I scrambled away, though she did cut up my leg quite fiercely and on my shin I could see that she sliced through to the bone.
Sirens began to sound and the gremlins ran about frantically. They began to twist knobs and pull levers, pipes began to spew the purple fog in all directions. Thankfully, the gas was heavier than air and sank down flooding the hallway and rooms and leaving the maintenance area clear, a fatal flaw in their defense mechanisms. Angrily and hungrily, the woman climbed up the vent in pursuit of me. She was frantically licking the blood off her claws, saying as if in a trance, “So good, you taste so good, you are so special…” Despite my lead, she was quickly gaining on me as I stumbled around the pipes trying to not further open the wounds on my leg. Looking back, I noticed her tongue had extended and as she crawled after me, it slurped up my blood. She completely ignored the trail left by the blob but voraciously went after any drops left by my leg; I really was delicious it would appear.
Caution and critical thinking were not bearing any fruits and the woman was gaining on me. Drastic action was needed. I yanked out the bone from the blob with my right hand and then turned to face the woman. I charged back at her and shoved my left arm through her surgical mask and into her maw. She cried out in ecstasy as her rows upon rows of sharp teeth grinded away at my fingers and hand. I Tried to stab the bone into her back, but her flesh was as hard as I rock. I feared I made a grave mistake as I was nearly fainting from the pain of having my arm grinded away, whatever anaesthetic power her saliva had, it was not enough to make the pain disappear completely. Then, beside me I noticed the tube was pumping purple gas. I held my breath and stabbed into it, covering the both of us. She was too lost in her frenzy to hold her breath and slowly I felt her jaw loosening.
I slipped what was left of my arm out; everything below the elbow looked as though it had been through a blender and there were just small strips of flesh dangling off the bone. I suppressed the bleeding with the cloth of the curtain and continued to explore. I was nauseated and vomiting from pain that grew more severe as her saliva dried off; some of the gremlins followed behind me like vultures waiting for the moment for me to keel over so that they could feast. Damning their hunger, I somehow managed to persevere. I found my way to the stairwell and dropped down a vent. Weary, I made my way back to my room and slept. I was safe for now. I would probably need medical attention for my wounds, but asking the staff was the last thing I wanted to do, fearing that they would bring me back up to the Third Floor Side A.
That is the story how I gained access to my own source of blood and why my head has two screws protruding from it. I left the manor for some time once morning came.