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A Thistle among Roses: Part I: Omega Alpha

Introduction to A Thistle among Roses
The following text is meant to represent diary excerpts written by my character (Julie “Thistle” Simons) in our current Vampire: the Masquerade chronicle, but there are a few things I would like to say about this project before I set out. To start with, I am entirely new to Vampire and I have been miraculously avoiding the game until very recently. Therefore, it seemed fitting to play a character who knows about as much about the world as I do. She was embraced two weeks prior to play and therefore shares my own confusion and ignorance about what is so cool about vampires.

Furthermore, this is an experiment in writing fiction in English, something I have not done before to any great extent (I cannot remember a single instance, actually). The text is deliberately pretentious in style, which feels somewhat odd, because that is not a style I would ascribe to myself normally. However, I will do my best to capture the world of my character as I perceive it, whilst trying to keep at least some dignity. Any kind of feedback is welcome as long as it is contstrucive and I would like to say thank you to those of you who have already contributed.

Some problems will arise for those of you who are not fluent in Swedish, since I do not intend to reproduce material already existing in Swedish (like information about the other characters, for instance). Apart from that, I hope that the diary will speak for itself, so now the time has come for me to step aside and let Thistle in.

A Thistle among Roses so far
Part I: Omega Alpha
Part II: Dead in a City that Sleeps
Part III: Death and Deliverance

Some useful links
Wikipedia entry on Vampire: the Masquerade
Discussion thread on Rollspel.nu (in Swedish)
Thistle described in that thread (also in Swedish)

Part I: Omega Alpha
Where to begin? I truly don’t know, because the events of the last two weeks have totally shattered my world, and finding a stable point of reference seems beyond my capabilities. I write this because I think that perhaps it will help me reconstructing my world into something coherent and comprehensible, but deep down I know that if I can’t find something or someone stable, all my efforts will be in vain. Nevertheless, I will try, because I don’t have much choice, do I? I suppose it would make sense to start from the beginning, even if the beginning seems more like an ending to me. It is now Friday, 22nd October and it’s exactly two weeks since I fell asleep, died, or whatever happened to me.

It was a Friday like any other, although I had yet to establish routines in New York, having lived there for only two months. My studies in mathematics weren’t going very well, mainly because I didn’t attend enough lectures and spent too much time exploring New York’s streets by night rather than delving deeper into the mysterious world of abstract mathematics. This particular night something terrible happened. I guess I’ve only got myself to blame, but I can’t help projecting my anger and fear towards the man who did this to me. I met him at a party to which I’d been haphazardly invited the same evening, and to which I went because I didn’t have anything else planned for the evening and because I felt like relaxing with people I wouldn’t have to face the next day in class.

When I arrived, I was warmly greeted by the young man I’ve now come to view as the one who ruined my life and destroyed my world. He was cute, with blue eyes glittering with wit. I suppose I felt like being cared for, felt like trusting someone even if he was a complete stranger. He kept me mostly to himself during the evening and I let him do it. I’m pretty sure our emotions were mutual, albeit that his ultimate purpose proved utterly different from mine. I’ve never been hooked on drugs, but smoking joints and dropping various fairly lightweight narcotics has never scared me before. However, I should have known better than to do it with someone I’d only known for a few hours, even though he was the most charming young man I’ve ever met.

Hours later, I found myself lying on my side in the wet autumn leaves of Central Park. I felt miserable in all ways imaginable, cold to the bone and with a gnawing and inexorably growing feeling that something was terribly wrong. I must have passed out, because when next I regained consciousness, I was lying on a sofa, all wrapped up in blankets, still feeling more dead that alive, but somehow safe. Residues of the drug in my blood must account for the weird room I found myself in, because it was a place of nightmares. A man was standing by a narrow window, looking out at the moonlit city, and before my soul was recaptured by Morpheus, I felt gratitude towards this unknown man. I knew that I had been betrayed and left to die, and that for some unknown reason, I had been saved.

The following days (I had not yet begun to use nights to denote passage of time) were blurred into a continuous haze of eerie dreams and I was never sure when I was awake and when I was asleep. Afterwards, I’ve been able to figure out that I must have spent at least five days in that hellish place, assuming that the drugs didn’t take more than a few hours of my life. I learnt that the man’s name was Sam and I know that he was kind to me, but that’s something patched together from many fragments of conversations I only partly remember. I have no distinct memory of what he was like or why he treated me well. The dreams were driving me crazy and early one morning, I felt I had to escape, to drag my way back to whatever reality awaited me out there.

Don’t ask me how I managed it, but I somehow crawled my way out of the gloomy apartment and out into the waking world. The chill of night was still in the air, and revived by it, I forced myself to flag down a taxi and head for home. I remember the driver looking at me quizzically, but I was too exhausted to do anything but rasp the address and note that his eyebrows rose in surprise yet again. Obviously, he didn’t think that a dishevelled creature like me could live in such a posh part of the city. I arrived home just before the break of dawn, and with clothes and shoes still on, I lay down on the bed and…

…awoke. I can’t explain it any other way, but that’s how it felt. I was still ill, like I’d been down with a fever for several days and now was recovering. Sunlight fell through the half-drawn curtains, warming my stomach as I lay staring into the ceiling. I blinked a couple of times, trying to remember the fleeting nightmare, but the memories of lying on the ground, dead and fallen like the golden autumn leaves, were quickly fading. When I blinked again, I had forgotten the surreal apartment and its considerate tenant. I didn’t realise that something was wrong until I found that the milk in the fridge had gone sour. I found a heap of newspapers and letters inside the door, and looking at the date of the topmost issue of The Economist, I noticed that it was Thursday 15th. Whether I had been terribly ill or the nightmare was real, I had been away almost a week.

I spent the entire day trying to understand what had happened, and figured out that the drugs must have caused the nightmares and the definitive feeling of dying. By a miracle, I had somehow made my way to my apartment and survived the ordeal. My absence at the university had been noticed, but I was able to explain it away by telling them about my illness, leaving out the bit about drugs. During the day, I gradually felt better and when the sun began to approach the western horizon, I had dismissed the past few days as an exceptionally bad and bizarre trip. When I finally went to bed again and the coin of nightmare and reality was flipped again, I found that a naive notion.

For eight days now, the coin has been spinning, shifting me from one nightmare into another. When I wake up, I can’t rid myself of the feeling that the dream is real, but as time passes, the conviction fades. After that first morning in my apartment, I’ve never been sure of what is real. Perhaps nothing is, and even my writing these words is part of a complex labyrinth of delusion I can’t find my way out of. I stay up all night, and when I fall asleep before sunrise, I dream about waking up from a nightmare that lasted all night. Then, when the sun is about to set again and I go to bed, I wake up again, the dream of the day receding like the light of day. Which one is real? Am I only dreaming this weird existence of being dead in a city that sleeps, or am I indeed awake now and during the day merely dreaming that everything is all right?

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