I walk up to the main entrance, the glass doors slide open and I'm greeted by a male nurse sitting at a reception desk.
“Hello sir, can I help you?”
“You can. I'm Cow, official moderator.” I flash him my wrist device and briefly feel extremely cool. “I'm looking for a girl named Kiett. She was brought in here recently. Trolling victim. I need to ask her some questions.”
“Certainly, sir. One second please, let me look her up.” He swivels his chair towards an old computer on his desk, taps a few keys and momentarily squints at the screen. “Ah, yes. She's in the burn ward, third floor. Just take that elevator and you can't miss it.”
I thank him and get up to the third floor. As I leave the elevator and cross a hallway into a large, darkened room, I am overwhelmed by a heavy, bacon-like smell. My stomach turns as I realize this is the smell of burned human flesh. I can make out dozens of beds, placed in rows on either side of the room, filled with woeful silhouettes. A soft, pitiful moaning pervades the air, seemingly coming from every corner. All in all, it's one of the more depressing places I've visited in my life, ranking a close second to my late grandmother's old retirement home.
I spot Kiett's bed and crouch down next to it to get her attention. She's tucked in under some bed sheets, but I can tell that most of her body is covered in bandages. She stares at me in a silent confusion for a few seconds until she recognizes me, and then her face lights up a little bit.
“Hi, Kiett. Burn ward, huh? I always said you were too hot for your own good.”
She cracks a wry smile and lets out a small cough. “What a terrible joke.”
“Well, you still smiled,” I reply. “I'm here to ask you some questions, Kiett. What happened to you? Who did this?”
She looks at her wrapped-up arms and softly says, “I don't know who did this. A guy, someone I'd never seen before. Around twenty-five, maybe thirty years old. He was wearing a hoodie. It was hard to see his face. Sorry...”
“It's okay, don't worry about it,” I tell her. “If this guy is the troll we're looking for, then it doesn't matter what he looked like. He has switched bodies a bunch of times. Probably looks completely different by now. Can you tell me what happened?”
“The weather was nice, so I figured I'd find myself a nice spot in the park to make my daily Bisu drawing. This guy was suddenly standing in front of me, blocking my sun. I didn't even notice him coming, must have been too focused on my work. He complimented my drawing, but then started talking about how it was too bad that Bisu's performance had been so terrible lately and that it was probably because of all the stress he was under as a closet homosexual. I was confused and annoyed but every time I tried to talk back and tell him how wrong he was, he'd instantly reply with something that was even more mean and untrue. He stayed so calm, too... I just couldn't help myself. I felt my face get red and tears come up and it just... It felt like my blood was boiling, like I was just burning up. That guy just...”
I look at her face. She's teary-eyed and clenching her trembling hands into little fists. This troll really played a number on her. I put my hand on her shoulder. It seems appropriate.
“It's okay, Kiett. You got through it, that's what counts. We'll get this son of a bitch. Thanks for your help.”
“Wait,” she says, “there's more. He knew me, he knew who I am. When he saw how much pain I was in, he looked at me and laughed and said my brother would be next. He said my brother was going to pay. That's when he left and I passed out.”
“Your brother? Shit... Do you have any idea where I could find him?”
“He's at the new Dota District, I think... Last time we talked, he mentioned he'd been spending a lot of time there lately to make sure everything went well. He sleeps there sometimes when he works late, in an unused room of the new apartment complex they built there.”
I know that place. Most of the new District is already inhabited, but the apartment complex is still empty while the construction crews put on the finishing touches. Plexa hadn't seen Hot Bid in a couple of days. Maybe he was just really busy there... or maybe I'm already too late. I need to get my ass in gear.
“Okay, Kiett, I'm going there right now, just to be safe. He was probably just bluffing, but you never know. You've been a really big help, thanks again. Hang in there, kid.”
“Bye,” she replies, “please find this guy, and make sure he never comes back.”
As I leave the hospital, my mind is racing. Who the hell is this guy? Some PBU with a personal grudge? He seemed to know Kiett pretty well... Would he know where to find Hot Bid? Was he even being serious, or just trying to freak Kiett out? At any rate, I have to find Hot Bid. We can't risk losing an administrator. Dota District, please don't let me down.
– TO BE CONTINUED –