24,155 / 50,000
Ok, so I got distracted by a dream sequence.
Anna started to pout from the questioning, "Well, if you're going to make a big deal about it, maybe I won't bother dressing up."
For the first time in a long time, barring strange encounters with crazy people, I found myself at a loss for words. My mouth moved, sound came out, but it was nothing more than stammering as I tried to come up with anything that would resemble English.
"Yeahbuhwhat?" was the best I could come up with. A few moments later, "I mean, there's nothing wrong with the costume, I just, well, was wondering why. That's all. No big deal!"
She gave a little nod, and a small smile tugged at her lips, but it was still a ways from looking like she was messing with my head. "It's ok. I just get a little moody at times. And I worked really hard on the costume. I like frogs, that's all! All I wanted was to be something totally different, unique, and well...me!"
"Fair enough." I gave a nod, and led us back up to our comrades in line.
"What about you two? Any costume plans," Andy asked us once we'd caught up with them.
I shook my head and held up my camera. "This is my costume for the weekend. I am Cameraman. I see all, I know all!"
I looked over to Chris though, remembering the extra baggage he was carrying here earlier. He saw my look and nodded. "Yeah, I finally decided to try something this year. It took some nerve, and a lot of work, with some help from some friends into costuming I knew online to help me out."
My eyebrows raised inquisitively, urging him to continue.
"Oh no, I'm not telling you." I stuck my tongue out at him, and Lisa did the same. "I want it to be a complete surprise, especially to you," he said, pointing right at me.
"I can't believe you kept this from me. I'm your best friend!" I faked being hurt, putting the back of my hand to my forehead, and turned away.
We all had a laugh, and allowed Chris to keep his secret for the time being. We'd all find out what it was soon enough, at least within 24 hours.
The five of us kept together on our side of the curtains, making idle chatter about little things, such as where we were from, what we were looking forward to that weekend, those sorts of things. It was about another 45 minutes before they got to the end of the line and exited into the space and queued up to their respective booths.
We waited by a giant pillar in the corner of the ballroom, not far from the stairs I'd gone up earlier, as their info was looked over and printed up on their badges. We all had identical ones, but mine was the only one with a white press ribbon attached to it. Lisa tugged on it a bit before I swatted her hand away.
"Yes, it's real. I'm here to abuse my press prileges to meet redheads."
"And how's that working out for you, so far," she asked.
I answered with a simple gesture to Lisa and her sister.
With the other two returned to our group, we decided to plan our next move. "Have you girls eaten already? You said you were going before getting badges," I asked.
They nodded. "We did, but if you want the company, we'd gladly join you. Nothing else to do, and nothing on tv."
I replied, "Nah, we were just going to grab something from one of the places in the Herriott and head back to our room, no big plans."
Chris gave a nod, and looked at his badge for a moment, considering where to clip it, before just deciding to hang onto it. "I had a long flight or three from the Great White North, by way of Oklahoma City. I'd like to crash early and rest up before the craziness of tomorrow. And Martin had a long drive, and running around this place tires a person out. My feet are already killing me from line-standing. Catch you all tomorrow?"
The girls all said sure, they'd keep an eye out, and walked off, waving.
Left alone by the pillar, Chris walked along the piles of free crap, and grabbed a few posters and buttons, then his own copies of the essential tomes found their way into his hands.
The rest of the night was uneventful. We got our food, we went back to our rooms, and could hear the girls next door, making a bit of a ruckus already as they did whatever it was they were doing. I wagered it involved alcohol, at least.
We ate our dinner, talking about the people we'd already seen around the place, and I uploaded the few photos I'd already taken to the laptop. While we watched a bad movie on Scifi Channel, and had a few good laughs at the actor's expense, I did what little photo editing I could to the images and uploaded the choice pics to Cami back in Vermont. The first of many such uploads to her that would be made over the course of the event.
Almost none of them would be used, but Cami enjoyed seeing what was going on, and we kept in contact as friends, not just as co-workers while I was there. She'd pick out one or two of the photos to use, if any, once she saw what I had to write up Monday night after I returned.
With the pictures sent off, and the movie over, Chris and I both got ready for bed, which was early for both of us, since we were both generally night people. Like he had said earlier, long trips for both of us, and lots of running around. It worked well to exhaust us and keep to a more normal schedule for UniCon. Although the place could just as easily cause a person to get no sleep at all. I still tried to get in a normal amount, as tempting as some of the late night events and parties may be.
That night, my dreams were filled with weirdness. People dressed in costumes, heads floating around them, all cackling and chanting "The All-seeing eye sees nothing when it is blind".
In the centre of it all was the crazy train person, pointing and leading the chant. She sounded far from crazy, and in the land of dreams, was actually making perfect sense.
Flanking her were Chris and the girls next door. They all stood there not saying a word, not joining in on the chant, but looking ahead with an empty, unblinking stare. Their hands were clasped in front of themselves as they watched, all eyes upon me as the crazy train person inched ever closer.
As the procession moved closer and closer to me, swirling mists and glimpses of other people in them all around us in the darkness, I tried backing away, but soon found myself stopped by an invisible wall. I turned and could see beyond where I was standing, as much as could be seen in the darkness, but there were things moving out there, and the ever-present smoky trails of fog.
I pressed my hands against whatever it was stopping me, pushing against it, but still could see nothing. It was as if the air itself held me in place.
Turning back to my pursuers, they had gained on me, as I had expected, even if this wasn't a dream. The shadows of those once my friends were smiling evil grins, white teeth gleaming in the light that came from everywhere and nowhere at the same time. It seemed as if the light was being drawn from their very forms, as they grew darker and darker, all colour melting away to black. The only features that remained were those hungry, gleaming teeth, and their eyes. Not even pupils or irises were visible inside the glowing, pearlescent orbs.
The woman elading them remained the only figure with any definition, as her visage was still sharp amidst everything else. Her hand remained outstretched and finger pointing straight at me, not even a foot away now. The stench I could recall from earlier was gone, replaced by something far worse. It was the smell of rotting meat, of the dead. Flies buzzed around her head without a sound. A spider crawled over her cheek and into her ear. I could see her teeth had become fangs in this world of darkness, and realm of dead things.
Her voice was calm, clear, and she spoke with deliberate cadence, enunciating every word with care. "If the eye offends thee, then you must pluck it out."
Everything froze for that moment, as everyone seemed to consider their next move. I was stuck to where I was, unable to go forward, and surrounded on all sides by friends I no longer recognised as such. I don't think my feet would have moved even if I had tried.
"And you," she continued, leaning closer, and the wave of stench off of her made me sick even in the dream. "You offend me very much, All-Seeing Eye. You know what that means."
I tried to open my mouth to plead for mercy, but not even my mouth would open. Nothing moved, nothing worked. All I could do was stand and stare, unable to even blink as the creature that was the crazy train person pulled her hand away, and snapped her fingers.
At the signal, the shadows that were once the forms of those closest to me, literally and figuratively at the moment, They outstretched raven black hands, and clawed at their own faces, peeling off layers of skin, or layers of darkness, I couldn't be sure, and revealed other things underneath.
They still appeared to be human, but were rotting, with tears in their flesh, with blood and pus still oozing forth from the fresh wounds. Were those there before, or caused trying to free themselves from the darkness they were encased in? I couldn't tell, nor did I care at the time, as the four transformed people, now looking like horrible, zombified versions of a number of comic characters, and not even resembling my friends, lunged at me with long sharp claws, and equally sharp teeth, howling as they leapt upon my immobile form.
I could feel the claws and teeth sinking into my flesh. My frozen limbs wouldn't even let me fall to the ground as chunks were torn out of me, nor could I scream. Just staring, staring as these monsters tore into me, picking me apart piece by piece, until one stood back up, its nose almost touching my own. That same stench of rotting death eminated from what would have been a pretty face, if not for being a zombie. She appeared to be a version of Batgirl, long red hair sneaking out from underneath her cowl, and even that appeared to be ratty and torn. I couldn't tell just what she was, unable to look very far down, and too distracted from my body being torn apart by her friends.
She considered me for a moment, before reaching up a yellow-gloved hand, claws shredded through the tips of the fingers, and other bits of it torn away. The zombie Batgirl's hand reached out and dug two of her fingers into my eyes, and finally I was allowed to let out a scream as I could feel them puncturing the fleshy orbs and into my head.
As I screamed within the dream, I shot upright in the bed with a gasp, finding myself unable to make the same noise once I had returned to the waking world.
I was winded and panting for breath, sweating and exhausted. Throwing the sheets back, I made my way through the darkness of the hotel room, shaking from the dream, and made my way into the bathroom, closing the door before I turned on the light.
I almost screamed again when I saw the reflection. My head was lowered, and the shadows for a moment looked like where my eyes should be, were instead empty sockets. The moment I moved my head, or even just looked closer at all, the shadows faded away and everything was back to normal.
Splashing water on my face and catching my breath, I did some calming breathing exercises to bring my heart rate down, and refocus my thoughts. Once I had managed to get myself back under control, I turned off the lights and headed back to my bed, but my sleep was restless until Friday morning.