Groping In The Dark

      Patricia De Montfort's Berkeley house was quiet. The lights were dim, as Trish currently found bright light quite uncomfortable and the mirrors throughout the house had also been covered, turned over or smashed and thrown away. The basement was empty, scrupulously clean and had been so for several weeks. All in all, it was an almost silent house on a quiet evening, and for that, Trish was grateful.
      Patricia herself sat on a battered sofa beneath a dim lamp and totally failed to relax. The makeup that she had carefully applied earlier that evening to present some semblance of a human face while she hunted had long since faded and rubbed off on her nervously fidgeting hands and her tightly restrained hair fell in brunette tangles into her face. At the moment, Trish didn't give a damn about her appearance. She was too busy trying to think while drug withdrawal drove needles into her brain.
      "Delphi's right." Patricia muttered to herself, thinking of a local Kindred cursed with accurate visions. "I've been taking the easy way out, looking for the obvious solution. But, damn it! How could Gammon be telling the truth? How could he?"
      In the privacy of her haven, Trish could admit to herself that the possibility that Gammon had told the truth was extremely galling - as well as alarming.
      Awakening late in December ninety-eight with a two year gap in her memory, Patricia had been quick to blame a number of factors for her state. Unfortunately, her preferred suspects refused to co-operate. Most of her fellow Anarchs of San Jose had disappeared during Trish's own amnesia, vanishing without a trace. She wondered if she had anything to do with that, but had decided that it was too late to care.
      When Gammon, a Settite with whom she had a long standing emnity during her time in San Jose, had appeared in Contra Costa shortly after her own arrival there, she had been more than ready to blame him not only for her missing memory, but for the hallucinations of her dead sire that had been bothering her since the turning of the new year. Unfortunately, things weren't that simple. Gammon himself claimed a similar amnesia and, much to Patricia's chagrin, her usually-reliable abilities verified the truth of his claim.
      "My supposedly-dead sire." Trish echoed bitterly. That was how she had taken to referring to him lately, and that worried her far more than the fact that Gammon had, for once, told her the truth. 'Supposedly dead' meant that she was willing to entertain the possibility that Michael Worthington was alive.
      Trish repressed a shudder at his memory. Who do you obey, Patricia? Who do you love? A smiling voice and a firm hand. She remembered something of seeing Michael out of place, out of time, but the details wavered, like a childhood memory, and she had convinced herself that it was just another opium dream.
      Opium. That was another thing that Patricia did not want to think about. The tablet of blank prescription forms sitting on her desk were a silent challenge. She was going to prove to herself that she could overcome the easy temptation to write another prescription, like she had so many times, and retreat from anger, fear and confusion into a hazy cloud of sedation.
      As time passed and she rode out the worst of her self-imposed detoxification, Patricia was increasingly aware of how much she had given up to her addiction. The ability to act freely, to think clearly or to even feel anything less than the grossest sensations had all been given up for the false security of drug-addled detachment.
      Patricia stood, intending to wash her face, wincing at the sound of her shoes on the hardwood floor. She quickly removed them and moved barefoot across the rugs that lay here and there, occasionally stretching to step across bare patches of floor. The last time she could remember feeling so sensitive was the last time she coped with withdrawal - shortly after her Embrace - twenty two years ago.
      Thoughts of that time were immediately followed by more thoughts of Michael and Patricia shook her head angrily, wincing at the pain that caused. Forget the face washing, she decided, she needed a hot bath to try to force some of the stress away.
      Patricia ran her bath slowly. She couldn't tolerate the loud gushing of the faucets full-on. Adding bath salts and lighting candles to substitute for harsher light, Patricia kept thinking as hard as she could. Still no solution came to her. Someone was whispering to her words in her sire's voice, whispering of secrets best kept and moments best forgotten - usually while she was trying to speak with others. The shattering effect this had on her public composure was doing serious damage to her already shaky reputation and Patricia was getting increasingly angry about the situation.
      Gammon claimed that he had nothing to do with it, that he had awoken two months ago in an empty temple with a picture of her and Michael, together, at his side. And that was where her worry came to a head. She had tested those photographs to the best of her ability and they were apparently valid - pictures of herself and a man she loathed beyond words standing together as old friends in a club last June.
      Of course, just when Patricia thought it couldn't get any worse, it did. Why does some damnfool Toreador, who I've told I'm on her side want to attack me? Trish wondered, thinking of Jade's attempt to Summon her that had only been thwarted by Trish's preference to take a stake to the chest rather than face Final Death. And was Jade the one who set the police after me while Julian's ghoul took me away? The possibility that she had made more enemies, without knowing it, was another aggravation that she didn't need. I guess I'll have kill her, then. Contemplation of deliberate murder didn't bother Patricia in the slightest. I'll have to deal with Julian, too. I can't be bothered to owe him a Major Boon for too long...Yes, I think Julian is going to need a timely rescue from Dr. DeMontfort. Doesn't he owe me for the vaccine I created for the blood disease?
      Patricia leaned back in the tub and closed her eyes as she thought. The warm water helped alleviate the occasional tremors that shook her, but did nothing to really relax her. No memory, no leads and nothing but enemies around me. Great time to get caught up in a three way civil war, Patty. She sighed heavily. Another night had come and gone, and she was still no closer to answers or safety.

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