I don’t know what is was that made me go out last night. I wish so dearly now that I hadn’t. I should have just said that I had something on that night, and went home to chill out and not get into trouble.

A friend of mine called and said that he, and a few other friends were out for a drink and I should join them. I met up with them at a bar and we just generally shot the breeze and had a few cold ones like usual. I kept looking at my watch, knowing that I should go home as I had work in the morning, but it looked like the boys were in for a long one, so I stayed on.

At about 10pm a large raucous bunch of guys and girls stumbled into the bar. Obviously a celebration of some kind. They were pretty weird looking, and some of my friends made a few comments. They noticed the attention we were paying them and decided to join our quiet group and pull us into their sordid bunch. We didn’t mind too much because it added to the fun. They kept going on about someone else that was joining them later. They didn’t seem too happy about that, and once or twice I caught hints that they were actually moving from bar to bar in an effort to lose them, but they weren’t too convinced that this would be of much use.

Before we knew it, we were in another bar, famous for it’s shooters, and throwing back tequilas, brown things that were foul, pink things that tasted like strawberry milkshake, green things that tasted like watermelon, and a number of other things I just don’t remember now. We were all written off. Big time. We were about the only ones in the bar, being late on a Wednesday.

I didn’t notice. I should have paid more attention. Normally my senses are alert, but the alcohol. The alcohol!

Somebody brushed against my back. I nearly fell over because my balance and eyes weren’t that good. I could barely see, and I just wavered there in a space of my own. Somewhere in the back of my dulled brain I was aware of people turning away, and distancing themselves. I didn’t give a shit. I couldn’t care less. I just wanted to lie down and sleep. There was another bump again at my back. I didn’t turn around. I’m not a violent type, so I ignore attempts to anger me. Besides, what was I going to do? Vomit on them? There was a rancid smell, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Suddenly there was a low grumbling voice behind me. It shook the bottles behind the bar, and I could feel the bones in my skull vibrating.

Tarquinious looks tasty.

All I remember after that are flashes of memory, nothing tangible. There was a feeling of being dragged down the street by my hair. The heals of my boots dragging on the ground and vibrating over the rough pavement.

My eyes flicked wide open. The dim light still streamed in and pierced my brain, reminding me of how much I had had to drink. My mind was foggy, and my mouth felt like it was full of cotton wool. My tongue was three times larger than normal. I was lying on a slab of cold, damp granite, barely covered in a hard leathery skin of some sort. A hot, rancid breath was on my naked back, making the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. Memories of the night before flashed back like a slow strobe going off in my head. I had no idea who, or what I had left with, but right then I had the clearest, most urgent thought that it was something I didn’t want to find out.

I slowly slipped onto the dirt floor, the thick, crinkley, pale pelt that was covering me scraped roughly on my naked skin as I slid out from under it. It was then that I saw on the covering, fine hairs and realised to my shock that this was a dried skin of a human! There was even a dull green/grey marking that resembled a tattoo on one corner of where the shoulder would be when it hung on the back of it’s owner. I faintly made out the letters: D.M.A.N.

In amongst a scattering of metal drums marked with biohazard and nuclear symbols I found my clothes in a pile. They were mostly torn and useless, but I draped them over me as best I could and ran.

I just ran. My head throbbed in protest, and my body creaked and groaned. The ragged breath from my tired lungs stank of alcohol, and the taste of tequila came back to me. I didn’t care. I had woken up, God only knew where. And whatever it was could be heard stirring.

I was no more than a hundred metres away when I heard a bellow of “Tarquinious is good food!”. I didn’t look back. I could feel the ground beneath me shake as whatever it was started crashing around in a rage.

I just ran. I couldn’t bring myself to look back. I just ran and ran and ran…

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