“Loneliness has followed me my whole life, everywhere. In bars, in cars, sidewalks, stores, everywhere. There’s no escape. I’m God’s lonely man.”
- Travis Bickle, Taxi Driver
Once a thriving industrial district, Glassworks boasted dozens of factories and studios producing everything from architectural glazing, milk bottles, jars and scientific lab equipment to crystal ware and hand-blown art. Now, only broken crack pipes litter the floors of the abandoned buildings stained by pollution and mold. Vermin skitter across heaps of sand and soda lime to nest in broken furnaces. Lurid graffiti and the yellow remnants of crime scene tape decorate bus stop shelters. The neighborhood of Glassworks boasts the highest concentration of convicted felons per square mile in the United States. Check-cashing stores, peepshows and seedy dives have replaced neighborhood shops. Drug dealers and prostitutes catering to all tastes brazenly walk the streets without fear or reprisal from a corrupt and demoralized police force. Masked robbers target liquor stores and gas stations; purse snatchers terrorize the elderly and weak. Predators lie in wait, striking from the growing shadows.
God’s Lonely Man
In a restricted wing of the Massaqua Free Clinic, unscrupulous medical workers operate OSIRIS, an illicit organ transplant ring preying on the poor and destitute. These volunteers sell kidneys and other organs to OSIRIS where they are removed and shipped across the globe for a wealthy clientele. Though demand has diminished due to the increased supply from war torn nations, the need has emerged for fetal tissue for use in stem-cell research has increased tenfold, a market OSIRIS intends to exploit. Legendary beat cop Denny “Toe Tag” O’Brien is one of the few police officers with the ability and desire to shut OSIRIS down. Pronounced DOA during the pursuit of a suspect, Toe Tag regained consciousness on an autopsy table in the morgue. This is the story the new recruits tell, anyway. O’Brien laughs and says nothing, not wanting to show them the morgue ID tag he still wears in his shoe as a good luck charm.
Meanwhile, across town, an uneasy alliance has arisen within St. Luke’s, a deconsecrated Catholic church. While the church itself has been converted into a trendy nightclub, the upper floors cater to an exclusive audience of undead patrons and their unwitting human victims. A Nigerian ex-mercenary named Josef Talon keeps an eye on the VIP room and tags breathing guests with ultraviolet bracelets indicating blood type and health conditions. Down below, in the basements, an elderly priest and his teenage apprentice live and work. The church rectory is lined with newspaper clippings and police reports while a black and white suit of body armor hangs on a stand. Beside it, ninja weapons and firearms line the wall. Training dummies and free-weights compete with wooden crosses and stained glass as the only decorations.
In 1921, minor seismic activity shifted the earth near the Hutchins & Sons crystal factory, demolishing it in seconds. For the past eighty years, civil engineers have labored on the Reinforcements (a.k.a. the ‘Forcements), an elaborate maze of support structures that shore up the local bedrock to prevent sinkholes from causing further damage. Constructed of steel and concrete, the Reinforcements do not follow a regular plan; monolithic arches and tunnels snake out in random directions. Flickering fluorescent lights illuminate a jumble of electric cables, gas lines, water mains and sewage pipes. Industrial fans slowly turn to circulate air through a network of grates and tubes. During the Cold War, the Reinforcements also served as the city’s primary fallout shelter. Although these civil defense installations were decommissioned in the 1980s, police have found canned fruit and vegetables dating from the 1950s in the possession of the local homeless population. The Menagerie, an extended family of freaks and runaways, inhabit the ‘Forcements. To survive, they share supplies and information, but despite their good intentions they’re not always able to provide a safe haven for everyone.
The wraith-like figure called Corpselight refuses their aid, preferring to haunt the industrial dumps and condemned factories where it burns eternally with toxic green flame. The man known only as the Dark keeps to himself as well, sleeping in a custom fortified hotel room that only just contains the ancient horror that emerges when he drifts off to sleep. Another story tells of an angel that fell to earth, landing in an ashen, broken heap deep inside Glassworks’ nest of crack dens and flophouses. The Menagerie scouting party arrived too late, finding only a burnished skull and charred remains. Sometimes, the ones most in need choose not to be saved.