After barely surviving a bloody attack in a San Francisco alley on December 31, 1999, former police officer Chase is driven to the brink of madness by his mentor in evil, Dominic.

From Interitas Volume 2: False Prophets

He had that moment of unease when you wake up from a particularly disturbing nightmare and you aren’t quite sure where the boundaries between reality and fantasy lie. Then the pain arrived. Hot. Heavy. Impossible in its size and scope.

His eyes struggled to focus, but when they did, it was the picture of the villa that he saw, and again it calmed him. Then it perplexed him. Was that a light in the window next to the front door? Yes. It was a glowing pinpoint, a candle perhaps, beckoning, or maybe warning, like a lighthouse on a particularly treacherous seaside. It hadn’t been there the first time he’d seen the photograph. He was sure of it. All the windows had been dark, like gaping sockets in a mask. But where there had been dark, now there was a light. It chilled him, but at that point, the morphine was winning the battle with the pain, and he dismissed it as a hallucination.

The next time he woke up, there was a man in the photo. He was standing on the balcony, wearing the white tie and tails of a formal tuxedo complete with white gloves to complete the package. Chase thought the man was young—probably mid-thirties—but a mask covered his face, so he was basing that only on instinct. It was a Venetian carnival mask with intricate etching around the hollow eyes and a long nose that arced downward obscenely, like a phallus.

The one thing he could be sure of was that the man was looking at him. There was no movement—it was still just a photograph, after all, not a movie. But although he couldn’t see the man’s eyes behind the blank sockets of the mask—as blank as the windows of the house had been when he had first seen the photo—Chase was certain he was being watched. Intently. Curiously, like a botanist encountering a heretofore undiscovered plant species.

Was it the pain killers—or the pain itself—causing him to see the man? Of course. And yet of course not. It was real. Chase knew it was real. He believed it. He believed in it.

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