Paragon City Stories: Meanwhile at the Superbase




NARRATOR: Nyghtshade

  Place: A brownstone on Talos Island


A page from Fen Monique’s diary.
  Over the years, my nights have settled into a near predictable pattern: rising at sunset, dressing and tending to the cats, seeing to my tenants’ needs, attending an early evening Mass, catching up on TV or a movie, taking a walk or sitting in the tram station with my sketchpad, studying people as they come and go, capturing a likeness here and there and just appreciating being around them.
  Despite no longer having a need for it, I still enjoy cooking- one more way to hold on to my humanity - and occasionally early in the evening I may have guests over to dinner, although I have fewer friends these days. Many I knew have resolved their reasons for coming here and moved on, or have been called away to pursuits in other places, other dimensions, other planes of existence. Or have simply left, and not returned.
  But always, at some point each evening I patrol the streets, watching over those who cannot protect themselves, and intervening with those who prey on others. There are always predators in the shadows, and by hunting them, I tell myself I stave off for another night the risk of becoming one of them. But that’s a fiction, of course. I hunt them, just as they hunt others, and in subduing them I take my due, satisfy my need, purchase at their expense one more night of control.
  I cannot risk taking too much from any one person, and I can never risk taking anything from an innocent. It’s a delicate balance, draining a bit here, a bit there, enough to hold my hunger at bay without taking too much from any single predator. It’s like walking through an endless savage buffet, terribly hungry but never allowed to take more than a taste of any of the things on the table. Some nights I must patrol longer than others, but I tell myself that by stopping them, by ‘arresting’ them and sending them off to incarceration, I am helping those they would prey upon. Most of the time, I am content to believe that.
  And then, finally, in the last small hours of the night, I return home. I shower and change, then curl up on the couch before the blessed warmth of a flickering fire, with my cats and my books, to while away what little time is left.
  As darkness gives way to the faint pre-dawn glow, I shut off the fireplace, set all the alarms that must guard me while I ‘sleep’, put on my silken nightgown and slip into my bed, under the fat fleecy blanket that provides at least an illusion of warmth.
  I turn onto my side, facing always away from the empty side of the bed behind me…. because to face toward it in those last moments of consciousness is to face what it represents - that despite convictions of my acceptance, claims of benevolent forgiveness, despite protestations of moving on… the truth is that the empty side of the bed is a nightly reminder I am abandoned, untouched, and so very lonely.
  So I resolutely turn away from it. I lie there in the darkness, curled beneath the blanket like any living person, sheltered behind my locks and alarms and heavy shutters. I close my eyes and await the moment the sun drags its rim above the horizon, the moment I am stilled and plunged gratefully into oblivion.
  Until the sun sets, I rise, and another night begins.