What’s Been Keeping Hank Awake?
Two weeks ago Hank woke from a terrible dream, leaving him with snatched images of being a child, sitting on a school bus with his friends, singing songs, then a looming dark shadow, screams of terror, the squeal of brakes and a sickening rolling sensation as the bus overturns. A horrible painted face filled with yellow fangs leers over him, blood everywhere and strange half pig, half man figures ranging through the bus wreckage, snuffling out the children one by one and beating them to a pulp with rough wooden clubs.

Hank woke screaming. He lay on a bed in an unremarkable motel room wearing a battered suit with a small sticker with “Introducing… Hank” printed on it. He found a small suitcase filled with more of the same clothes, a large and battered revolver, a brand-new stack of business cards with “Sterner & Son Investigations” printed on them and a phone number, nothing else. He also has $40,000 in crumpled and blood-stained bills stuffed into the case’s lining.

Other than that, Hank has no idea who he is. But since that wakening two weeks ago Hank hasn’t slept, because every time he gets close those images of slaughter and the stench of spilt diesel fill his head and he cannot bear it. He drinks a lot of coffee now.

What Just Happened to Hank?
After the first few days, Hank realised he has allies in the battle against sleep. When things get too much, the coffee doesn’t work anymore, and sleep opens its hairy maw for him, voices wake him up before the dream returns: a man’s and a woman’s, belonging to three strangers Hank thinks he’s never seen before: a talkative dwarf, the lady in red, and the thin man, who never speaks and whose face is always wreathed in obscuring smoke. They sit in his motel room with him, talking about nothing, helping him through ‘til the need to sleep relents once more.

Just now, delirious from lack of sleep, Hank stumbled into the restroom of his favourite coffee haunt to find it completely changed. Instead of the usual taps and urinals, he’s in a small office filled with a couple of battered desks and chairs, old-fashioned rotary telephones on the desks with notepads and other debris. The glass window on the door behind Hanks says “Sterner & Son Investigations” and three people lounge about the office: the lady in red, the voluble dwarf and the thin man, still smoking. Behind them is an adjoining door, the glass frosted and the room beyond a mystery.

The dwarf smiles kindly at Hank. “We got a big problem, old buddy.”

What’s on the Surface?
Hank always wears the same battered brown suit, hanging loosely off him and shiny at the elbows. He wears a stringy tie that looks like it’s been chewed by a cat and his face is creased and worn, with hangdog eyes. Lanky and bony, Hank walks with a stoop and tends to mumble when he speaks, lacking confidence. His dark eyes dart left and right constantly, always taking in his surroundings and peering beneath untidy dark hair, greasy from little care.

Sort of like a younger, bonier, lankier Columbo

What Lies Beneath?
Despite appearances, Hank has a core of iron. When the need arises, he takes a beating and keeps on kicking, able to draw on deep reserves of will and courage when necessary. Usually, this part of his personality kicks in when he sees someone being picked on by someone more powerful than the victim. Hank has an innate moral compass, he just doesn’t look at it all that often. Most of the time he’s too busy trying to stay awake and figure out what the Hell happened to him.

What’s Hank’s Path?
Hank’s Path leads him to find out who he was, what sort of person he is now, and whether the horrific dream has any basis in fact. Hank has a big wrong to right, if only he could remember what it was.

Responses: flight; flight; fight

Exhaustion Talent: Compelling Bluff
When he’s very tired, Hank has the ability to ramble on with just the right mixture of fact, plausible banter and outright tosh to blather his way through, able to confuse the listener long enough with half-crazy gibberish that they end up just nodding their head and acquiescing.

Madness Talent: Hank’s Buddies
Hank’s Madness Talent has created three companions for him: the one-eyed dwarf who talks all the time in a gravelly Brooklyn accent; the lady in red, a femme fatale, her husky-voiced beauty marred only by a prosthetic arm with mechanical claw; and the thin man, a stoop-shouldered stranger who never speaks and whose face is always hidden behind a pall of thick tobacco smoke.

These figures are from Hank’s psyche, although he doesn’t know that – in fact the thin man could well be Hank’s true self, currently unreadable and often unreachable except in times of dire need. When under stress, they sometimes appear to aid Hank, perhaps to assist in a diversion, to provide back-up in an intimidation attempt, or just to provide weight of numbers in a scrap. The greater their involvement in the situation, the more Madness dice Hank has to roll.

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