Chapter 1

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"Fuck or be fucked," Damien said. "There is nothing else." He was turned away in bed, the swill of ketamine and marijuana guiding his thoughts and words. He knew he was being a dick, but he was compelled to say things he thought were clever, despite his better judgment.

"Really? There's nothing more?" From Alex's tone, Damien could tell they were trying to keep their calm. They looked up at him from behind their swoop of dark hair, scowling.

"Not for me," Damien said. There was a pause. "So which one are you?"

Alex said nothing. They grabbed their black hoodie, got up from the bed, and left the room.

After a few minutes alone in the dark, guilt started to nag at Damien. His friend, after all, was asexual. The two of them had many conversations about it. He tried his best to ignore his conscience, closing his eyes tight and crossing his arms. It wasn't going to work.

He got up, pulling on his black skinny jeans. He stopped at the mirror, running his fingers through his dark brown, luxurious hair.

In the dark, his footsteps echoed off the vaulted wood ceiling of the cavernous landing, making him aware of his slight frame. The floors creaked with each step. He knocked on the bedroom door. "Alex?"

No answer. He turned and headed towards the stairs and down into the living quarters, expecting to find them at the kitchen table. No luck. He decided to look out on the porch, where they often sat writing poetry, listening to music, and talking. The orange porch lights, surrounded by swirling moths and mosquitos, illuminated the black leather couch. Empty.

Damien whistled into the darkness across the large field. He and Alex often whistled in this way to locate one another on the property. He heard a distant, indecipherable shout from the dock of the lake.

He felt his pocket, searching for his phone. He had left it upstairs. No light then. He hurried down the porch steps and into the field. As he neared the water, tall grasses caught at his bare feet and obscured his vision. He was disoriented. The drugs were still hitting him hard. He was scared.

"Alex?!"

"Are you lost?" The voice was deep.

The sound helped Damien to reorient himself. He battled through the weeds and eventually reached the dock.

It was very dark, but he could still see that the person before him was not Alex. This was a tall man with more bulk. He stood faced away at the edge of the dock, overlooking the water. The way he held himself had a menacing effect.

"Damien, where are we standing?"

"What?" Damien said. This definitely wasn't anyone who lived on the property. But he knew Damien's name. "I took hallucinogens," Damien reminded himself.

Despite misgivings, Damien stepped towards the figure until he stood beside him. The man was looking down at the water. Damien got a better look at him as his eyes adjusted to the dark. He had nearly shoulder length, dark hair and a goatee. He was handsome. Wolfish. Sullen. He was dressed in a cloak, despite that it was a warm summer's night.

"What manner of creature are we?" the man asked, still staring at the black water.


"What?" Damien said. He was almost amused but mostly nervous.

"What manner of creature are we, Damien, that we should look down upon the stars?"

Damien looked down at the black water and saw that the entire sky was perfectly reflected. He felt dizzy as he looked into the abyss.

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"What. Manner. Of creature. Are we?" The man repeated. Then silence.

"Who are you?" Damien asked.

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