Dark Beach is the only place in Dark City that’s ever remained clean. The smell of saltwater and possibility fill the air as Drake tries to adjust to this unfamiliar fragrance. It fills him with a naive excitement he never got to express as a child and when he takes his first step upon the black sand, a sense of liberation courses through his veins.
He looks back at the road and a black gate he didn’t notice closes behind him without a sound; somehow, the silence with which it closed is scarier than the grating, creaking sound the first gate made. Drake spots the little rowboat docked on the shore and walks to it then pushes it into the water and hops in, he grabs the oars and rows out to sea to face the unknown.
Drake rows for what feels like hours. He loses all sense of time. The moon shines in the eternal night as it always does and Dark City—his heinous and sadistic home—fades in the distance, glad to be rid of him. The place where his parents’ corpses will be dumped into the sea for whatever animal wants it, the place where he committed his first murder, his first robbery, his first rape, his first act of arson, his first burglary.
All of it will be left behind as part of a former existence expunged from the world’s record book—or at least Dark City’s record book. Danny Doucette—troublemaker, murderer, rapist, cold-blooded killer—is no more and now, only the monster—the force—Drake Devereaux remains.
He looks into the moonlight with soulless eyes—a cold and listless gaze, hypnotic as it is terrifying—then decides to get comfortable and lays back, looking into the black sky that reminds him of every tortuous morning since he was five when he goes to sleep and greets those nightmares with open arms.
Something strange happens the next time Drake awakens, the moon is gone, and the sky takes on a mixture of blue, purple, and orange. There are stars that gleam yet fade in the same breath and something bright over the horizon. Drake looks on with that childish wonder again and he feels the heat of this new phenomena washing over him. His palms get sweaty, a calm breeze washes over his wooly hair, and his eyes are a bitter brown as he looks on.
The smell of saltwater has become normal to him in just a short time, the sounds of crashing waves have become therapeutic to his ears, the smell of sharks searching for prey a delicacy he wishes to bottle up and get drunk off of, and the heat of this orange ball ascending to the skies which have taken on a more pronounced blue. So, this is what the sun looks like, Drake thinks, a ball of orange fury burning in the sky.
Drake looks around and takes in the sea, the deep blue sky, the white clouds that float overhead, and the sense of hopelessness that comes with being in the middle of an ocean with rapt pleasure. A smile comes over his face that is for once not sadistic or sinister but rather pleasant, like a child eating dessert. So, the sky and sea are actually blue, Drake absorbs the sights in astonishment, interesting. He stretches as much as he can without rocking the boat and sits down, picks up the oars, and rows with a vitality only attributed to youth—watching the sunrise over the horizon.
When the sun goes down and the familiar darkness returns, something feels different to Drake; he looks in the night sky and sees tinges of blue that permeate throughout and stars gleaming like the specks of light on Dark Road Seven, millions of them spread throughout the sky and the moon in the center of them all like a king amongst the subjects.
So, Drake thinks, this is what ordinary night looks like. Drake supposes he will have to get used to this and grimaces, the eternal night looks so much better. He looks into the sea and even that is tinged with midnight blue—a distinction only monsters born in darkness can catch—and shakes his head in disappointment, the sense of hopelessness he received from the black sea is much stronger than the one he’s receiving now—especially since he’s beginning to catch the scent of a shoreline not too far ahead. A new city, Drake thinks, it must be.
He rows on, his shoulders flexing and becoming stronger with each stroke. The next time he looks back, he sees skyscrapers surrounded with shorter buildings and structures in the distance. As he gets closer, a large gate slowly reveals itself along with a stream of rowboats and small ships entering the harbor.
He takes an exasperated breath and rows with sheer force and reaches another rowboat within minutes to get a look at the scene. Guards posted on light towers with weapons, people getting searched at checkpoints and presenting papers of some kind, rowboats and small ships going in through separate lanes, cargo ships coming into port and unloading goods from all four corners. I must be in Middle World, Drake thinks when he hears someone call to him from another rowboat.
“Hey there!” the person calls, and Drake looks over, “Do you know how to get to the embassy from the checkpoint?”
Drake shakes his head, “not from Middle World.”
“Alright, thanks!” the person says and rows on.
Drake rows behind the person then to the right and then past them, getting deep into the rowboat lane of the gate. Drake is well aware he has no papers to legally get into the city—luckily, he’s a natural born monster with basic criminal skills and stealth. He sees a large cargo ship parked along a large pier and breaks away from the herd, rowing toward it. It takes him ten minutes to get there—rowing with all his strength—and he boards the ship through a low-hanging window he can barely reach.
Once on the ship, he makes his way to the top, using the shadows as his ally. He travels from the hull to the deck in record time and sneaks out of the ship onto the pier without being seen.
He sticks to the crowd of tourists visiting the city and gets on a red and white trolley for sightseeing. Once upon the trolley, he takes a map from the tour guides’ pocket and begins memorizing all the landmarks—while the tour guide blathers on about nothing important—and comes upon a rectangular city that seems promising. Sloathwood, Drake thinks and smiles, I’ll start there.
The trolley gets him into the city without a hitch and he hops off at the first opportunity—as far from the gate as possible. When he gets off, he walks into the crowd of people and catches a boat ride at the canal when the ferryman shows up upon his arrival. The ride takes forty-five minutes and Drake hops off—before the ferryman stops and asks for his pay—and ducks into another crowd of people, not bothering to look at the sights and check his surroundings.
Drake spots a horse and carriage in the distance and times it perfectly, grabbing onto the back and stowing away along with the goods. He keeps a vigilant eye for when things become darker and less hectic—luckily for him, that doesn’t take long. The smell of fear tinged with debauchery, sex, lust, and greed fill the air and Drake knows he’s getting close.
That’s my cue, Drake thinks and jumps from the carriage before anyone gets suspicious and lands just at the entrance that says Sloathwood. Drake looks into the distance and sees thick, gray smoke filling the air, specks of light emanating from various buildings, dark alleys where all sort of heinous deeds take place, hooded people in groups of five to seven walking around like they own the streets. A sinister grin pulls his lips as he nods approvingly. Sloathwood, Drake thinks, my new home.
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