26,803 / 50,000
Yes, that's right. I did 800 extra words than I needed to for today. I sadly did not get to the Big Event before 25k, or even 26k, but I was not going to stop writing tonight until it did happen. I figured if I didn't get to it, again tomorrow it would be delayed, and again. I was getting too caught up in minutiae, so ploughed ahead until Chapter Two was finished.
Aside from the one nightmare, and while the sleep may have not been the best afterwards, it was better than nothing for the next four hours, and I did manage to sneak in something resembling sleep between the shadows and daylight poking around the edges of the large curtains covering the glass wall.
Chris was still sleeping, curled up in his covers. He'd never even stirred when I woke up, at least not that he made me aware of it. He remained where he lay even then, still sleeping at peace, unlike myself.
I made my way back into the bathroom, feeling as if I'd just left there not more than mere moments before. The early morning light that was just touching the darkness inside our room and casting everything in a shade of grey. The bright orange of the chair, now faded to a dull mirror of it's former self. The paintings lost what little life they had, even the bland landscape I looked at on the wall as I passed it to the bathroom had somehow managed to become even blander in this light.
The light inside the bathroom as I flicked the switch made me back up and blink. Colour returned to the world around me, and my eyes were not pleased about it. It was worse than when I'd come in from total blackness, for whatever reason.
I splashed some water on my face, trapped in a loop from last night, and looked at my face in the mirror. Somehow, I managed to not look like hell.
Turning towards the shower, I was about to climb in and get ready to face the day, and remembered in my haste to get away from my bed, I'd left everything I needed in my suitcase.
I made my way back from the light into the dreary dank of the rest of the room. I gathered up a change of clothes and my things, and returned to the bathroom, closing the door behind me with as little sound as I could.
With myself cleaned and refreshed, the previous day's scares of reality and dreams faded away in my mind. A shower can do wonders for the spirit. Water was almost as much a part of rebirth myths and beliefs as fire was, and with good reason.
I got dried off and dressed. I kept things simple for these sorts of things. Comfort over style, for the most part. A nice pair of well worn jeans, starting to be in need of replacement if I'm being honest, and a red t-shirt with a homemade iron-on logo of a stylised yellow bird. Familiar to any comicbook fan worth their salt as the Phoenix logo worn by Jean Grey (And a few others) when empowered by the cosmic Phoenix Force. Everyone had their favourite characters, and the Phoenix was mine. Speaking of rebirths. There had yet to be an official one made, so I made my own. Since it was homemade, I kept it reserved for special occasions like conventions where I'd be buried in comic geeks. I can get away with a badly made shirt here, but it looked a little off to wander around the city with a crap iron-on decal.
My hair got combed out as best my mess of brown locks could. It tended to be disagreeable most of the time, so I just let it be. I stroked my goatee and leaned closer to the mirror. It was closing in on time to get it trimmed, but it looked good enough for the time being.
I gathered up my stuff back into my arms, much like I had when I entered, but now it was a bit more of a mess, and less folded than before. I carried it off to my corner of stuff and took care of it, as I heard Chris beginning to stir.
While he fell out of bed, I booted up the laptop. Chris ducked into the bathroom himself for a shower, and I opened up the curtains a little to bring more light and colour into the room. I still let out a groan seeing the daylight, wishing I could have gotten even just another hour of sleep, but it was not to be.
I checked my e-mail and saw Cami had sent me a message over the night about the photos, giving me some comments, and said she loved the Spike one especially. She made note to try and get some good crowd shots, and any interesting celebrities while I was there. I figured off a response, and told her about the encounter with the crazy person yesterday, as well as some details of the nightmare, and letting her know I was off soon to find some breakfast and then gone for most of the day.
Leaning back in the chair, I spun around at a slow pace and flipped through the events guide, to see where I'd head first, and when. While I was nose deep in newsprint, Chris came out, dressed in his usual red shirt, a lighter shade than mine, and with a collar and a few buttons, instead of my casual t-shirt.
He asked me how I slept, and I gave a shrug, and told him about the nightmare, while still looking through the book.
"Sounds like that lady really rattled you," he said.
I gave a nod, "It did. It was just weird. I know there's always a chance of that stuff being dead on, and it's no better than randomness, but still. That was very weird. I'm doing better now though, and can't wait to forget my troubles while hunting down redheads in costume."
Then it occurred to me that something was wrong. I tossed the pocket guide aside onto my laptop's keyboard, and leaned forward in the chair. My hands clasped in front of me as my elbows rested upon my legs.
"Speaking of costumes, I thought you said you had one? I was looking forward to seeing it."
Chris' cheeks grew red, and he nodded. "I don't plan to wear it until this afternoon. I wanted to just wander the place first, check out the comics for sale, then get dressed up after lunch."
"Aww, but that's when I'm stuck hunting down the Marvel Zombies to get some photos."
He gave me a grin and started flipping through his own pocket guide to make sure there wasn't anything he wanted to do that morning that would interfere with his plans.
"Oh, I know. I wanted to be sure you would be good and busy, so you wouldn't see me until later. I want my costume to be a totaly surprise."
"You do realise that there is no way it can live up to this sort of hype, don't you?"
"Don't worry, I think you will be pleasantly surprised." He folded up the guide over twice, which rather than make a small rectangle, with all the pages it had, ended up being more of a roll, and stuffed it in his pocket as he stood up. "Now, enough about costumes. I am hungry. Let's find pancakes."
I shut down the laptop, and followed my friend's lead with the guidebook, and stuffed that into my pocket as well. I grabbed my wallet and camera, leaving the coat behind, and went with him out the door.
Once we made it down to what I referred to as the dining level, we made our way around back of the elevators and found the restaraunt with the breakfast buffet tucked away in the corner.
We had our meals and headed further downstairs to see if anything interesting had begun. The crowds were thick, for the most part it looked like arrivals. People and luggage carts were moving around in an ill choreographed motion, as everyone just wanted to get where they were going.
The numbers of people in costumes were increasing. I could already see multiple Supermen, even a Bizarro Superman with chalk white skin and chiselled, squared features created with black lines over the white.
There were several Batmen too, and assorted sidekicks milling around. As I looked down over the glass railing and into the lowest level of the hotel, it was even more filled. No one down there was checking in, or going to their rooms. That was purely conventnion related activity on that floor.
Down there I could make out still more costumes, of all sorts. Marvel characters, DCs, the red capes and bare chests of Spartan warriors from the summer hit movie 300, a handful of anime characters I knew by sight, but not who they were, various people dressed in army gear from Stargate, Battlestar Galactica, Aliens, and even a Xenomorph from the same series of films for them to fight. Not to mention a Predator. It was like every fandom laid out before me in a pot.
Chris said he was heading deep into that pot to go find out where they were hiding the comic retailers, and I said I was going to head over to the Hyatt for a music performance to kick off my day.
We parted ways and I left the hotel, exiting out into the early morning Boston air. It wasn't quite cool, but it had yet to reach levels of hot. I followed a group of people, most in costumes I didn't recognise in the slightest, and stuck with the mob across the street, not yet having the police officer there to guide traffic whom I knew would be there soon enough.
I made my way up the concrete stairs in front of me to the first of the lower lobbies of the Hyatt, just beneath the restaraunt level and check-in desks. I moved past the people outside as they smoked and chatted, grabbing a few photos of some X-Men characters, including a decent Cyclops with excellent visor - I think it was purchased, but whatever works - and a leather jacket, and a Shadowcat, wearing a black and yellow outfit with a skirt, and yellow boots and gloves. Both of them filled their characters very well, and it was easy to see why they went with those costumes. They were spitting images of them. I always enjoyed seeing people who picked characters they were so perfect for, it was truly like seeing those people had leapt off the comicbook page and into the real world.
Getting past the smokers and into the cool interior of the Hyatt was a relief on my lungs. I coughed a little and looked around. The lobby stretched down a relatively thin hallway to the left of me towards several ballrooms where I knew I'd be ending up in later at the convention.
In front of me where the familiar escalators going up and down, and the right was a large room with access to more ballrooms, and in the back, near the elevators, was a small stage setup. By stage, I meant they had a spot of bare wood floor as opposed to the carpetting around the rest of the area.
Two large speakers were raised on poles at the frontmost corners of the stage, and a chair was set up in the center, more or less. A crew was checking the equipment, and setting up a microphone as I came over and joined a few others sitting around the empty space already.
I made idle chatter with the people around me, and snapped a few pictures of the crowd, and a few other superheroes as they passed through, while I waited.
The musician was Luke Ski, a favourite 'demented' musician, a self-styled Weird Al Yankovic for the 21st Century. He did a handful of songs, mixing old and newer stuff, with a few I hadn't even heard yet.
After his set, going a little longer than planned to 45 minutes, I introduced myself, or I should say reintroduced since we'd met in years prior as well, but he had forgotten about me, I suspected. With all the people he saw on those weekends alone, I was just another face in the crowd. We chatted for a bit about the lat year, and he seemed to remember me, but it was hard to tell. After buying his new cd, I thanked him for the show and said I'd see him again that weekend, and headed upstairs.
In the time it had taken Luke to sing his songs, the convention had really kicked into high gear. The lobby was packed with people of all kinds, and the costumes were even more numerous than earlier in the Herriott. It was like I had stepped out of the real world and into a comicbook there were so many characters surrounding me.
I knew from a friend online that this was about the time and place they were meeting, so I started looking for the Marvel Zombies, a group of Marvel Comics superheroes with makeup to make them look like the undead, and torn costumes, if the costumer didn't mind a few rips in their hard work.
I saw my friend with a few other people in costumes, and waved to her. She was dressed as Ms. Marvel, wearing a snug blue top and matching boots and gloves, with a red sash, and blue mask. Her hair was covered with a pretty convincing blonde wig, and I almost didn't recognise her at all. If I hadn't known what to look for, I never would have guessed.
We chatted for a bit, and saw some of the Marvel Zombies come out of hiding, including a Wolverine, an Elektra, and a Spider-Man in his more recent red and gold costume. The makeup jobs were supber, and I believe they were done by semi-professionals, or someone who aspired to be. The effects of missing noses, bloody, torn cheeks, and exposed teeth were amazing.
I had my camera in hand at a moment's notice, and was already snapping pictures before it had even registered in my head I was doing so.
They loved posing for photos as much as anyone I'd ever seen, and loved to play at attacking the random passer-by, and they loved to be attacked. For the most part. A few were spooked, but not many. They even did a few poses with the superheroes like Ms. Marvel who had yet to go and get their makeup done.
I spent a good hour with that group taking photos of almost nothing but them, with a few others that caught my eye as they came through. I had a good mix of zombies, zombies attacking others in costume, and assorted other folks without zombies.
While I was snapping the photos, I started to hear some yelling behind the group, off against the back of the lobby. I didn't pay it any mind, however. Arguments were common amidst this many people, with a little bit of alcohol and a little too much role playing. I figured it would die down soon enough.
I kept at my photos, and didn't notice something else. Amidst all the flashes of cameras going off, I missed a sight I should have seen, if I had not been so engrossed, if I can pun, by the zombies.
Before I knew it, the entire lobby was bathed in light. I blinked more than I had that morning in the bathroom as the bulbs came to life.
I couldn't see a thing for a good minute as I waited for my vision to return. I could tell from what I could hear around me that I wasnt alone in their lack of sight. And the people stumbling into me clued me in as well.
The bright, blinding flare gave way to darkness, and after awhile that gave way to colours and dull shapes.
And that's when the screams began.