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Band (Worm/Scion)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by BrotherMouse518, Jul 26, 2020.

  1. Threadmarks: Origin 1.1

    BrotherMouse518 Getting out there.

    Jun 12, 2020
    Likes Received:
    Crossposting from SV and SB, first fic I've written in nearly a decade.


    Friday, December 16th, 2010. Around 8pm​

    The Atlantic sea breeze is a much different cold then the winds of Wyoming, it carries salt and spray with it as opposed to the scent of pine. I am not sure if I like it or not yet to be honest. It’s only been three days since I was spirited away to this gods-forsaken pit in New Hampshire and already I’m already looking for reasons to despise it. My new home for the foreseeable future, the street I live on, the family I’ve neither met nor spoken to prior to these odd two months, or even the journey itself have all felt distant and left me strangely ambivalent. I was under the distinct impression that moving from one state to another would have been a much more jarring and traumatic experience, one with half cocked plans to return “home” or an attitude shift brought on by impotent rage and yet I am ultimately, ambivalent.

    My new room was rather spartan accommodation; a bed, a dresser, an office chair with casters, and an old roll top desk with a small lamp plugged into the wall. Beyond that there were no posters, photographs, or other accouterments found in the average American boy’s room, I was thankful that my maternal grandparents deigned not to presume my interests and decorate the room for me. As per grandfather’s instructions I had packed light; a week’s worth of clothing, toothbrush, toothpaste, and a Louis L'Amour book I had only recently begun to read, all of which had been put in their proper places.

    Grandma Saoirse had assured me that along with Grandpa Finn we would go shopping for clothes, some decor, and school supplies come the weekend, a prospect I would dread had it not been absolutely necessary. The most pressing of my concerns was this blasted window, my room being on the second floor and facing the east where the moonlight would shine in with greatest effect. I would need to get a good set of blackout curtains if I wanted proper rest, perhaps a cheap music player and comfortable headphones as well.

    Not being in a particular mood to continue my reading with this blasted natural light coming in I have taken to observing the view; the next door neighbor’s home in profile. According to Grandpa Finn our neighbors were a widowed man and his daughter, the girl being about my age was emphasized with a knowing look from Grandma Saoirse. That look in her eyes did not set me at ease in any capacity to be frank, and Grandpa Finn merely continued that the man of that house was a hardworking man who was big in some union or other. For the past three days I observed their comings and goings out of utter boredom and a morbid curiosity at catching a glimpse at this girl next door. I did nothing to obscure my actions, I merely moved the office chair to sit at the windowsill and passively observed, I did not expect my evening observations to be anything more than studying the features of this old house.

    Oh how I was proven wrong.

    The window on the second story facing my position had been thrown open, and there I finally saw the Hebert girl. My initial observation; she was rather plain barring her dark hair and height and she was currently angry in some capacity with her eyes meeting mine, I could only assume that she was tiring to bore through my head with her vision alone.

    “What is your problem!?” she shouted, she must have if I could hear her with my window still closed.

    It would have been rude not to respond so I pulled up my window and leaned out, my arms resting on the windowsill

    “What do you mean?”

    She scoffed and gestured to my direction with her arms outstretched towards me

    “You have been staring at my window for the past three days, just staring at it the whole time!”

    “Actually I’ve been looking at your whole house, not just your window.” I pointed from one end to her house to the other. This did not make her any less irritated and the scowl on her face grew deeper


    I shrugged, my eyes not leaving hers, eye contact is important according to Grandfather.

    “I haven’t felt the urge to continue reading my book further than 20 pages a night, it’s the only book I have with me and its only two hundred some odd pages.”

    The girl merely gave me a look of utter confusion “Seriously?”

    “Yes” my explanation does not appear to set her at ease or satisfy her curiosity

    “You have been staring at my house for the past three days because you’re bored and didn’t feel like reading more of your stupid book?”

    It occurred to me that this may be seen as odd behavior in these parts, I had never had neighbors so close to me before nor did I ever socialize with other people around my age in earnest, it was only now that I was horribly out of my depth yet again. I did not turn my eyes away from hers while I wracked my brain looking for something to say. Never was much of a conversationalist.

    “Yes” I finally replied, slowly and somewhat sheepishly, she crossed her arms and looked away, her long hair draping over one of her shoulders and muttering something I couldn't hear from the window.

    “Did Emma put you up to this?” she asked in a volume I could hear

    I tilt my head in confusion, looking back on the past three days to try and recall if I knew anybody by that name. Nobody came to mind.

    “I do not know anybody by that name, miss.” I replied truthfully. “Barring my grandparents, I haven’t met anybody from around here and you are the longest conversation I’ve had with anyone not living with me.”

    I adjusted my posture and gave her a smile “I’m Walt by the way, Walt Connolly”

    The girl said nothing for a solid ten seconds, her eyes darting around her room and occasionally to me. She broke the silence, though not by much.

    “Taylor…” I was fortunate there was no traffic down the street, I could barely hear her.

    I nodded to her, had I been wearing my cattleman I would have tipped it to her “Pleasure to meet you, Taylor.”

    I noticed a familiar pair of lights and engine sound coming down the road, it appeared that Mr Hebert was arriving home.

    “I imagine that’d be your father coming down the road. I apologize for disturbing your evenings, I’ll not make a habit of it in future. Have a good night then.” I shut my window then, I’d rather not have her father catch me conversing with her from the window. I did not need to leave another bad first impression.

    With that whole awkward mess out of the way, the only thing left for me to do tonight was to sleep. Hopefully tomorrow would bring fewer awkward conversations and this wouldn’t be the start of some minor feud between neighbors. I really did not need to make life for Saoirse and Finn more difficult then my presence no doubt has already made. Perhaps I’d ask if either of them knew of a suitable peace offering to give to this Taylor Hebert. Hopefully in a way that didn’t encourage Saoirse into a flight of fancy.

    Fixed the date. 2010 not 2011
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2020
  2. Threadmarks: Origin 1.2

    BrotherMouse518 Getting out there.

    Jun 12, 2020
    Likes Received:

    Friday, December 16th, 2010.​

    The boy next door, Walt he said his name was, shut his window before I could question how he knew that. Well, hearing dad’s truck coming down the road quickly answered the question. He’s home on time tonight, wonder if he’ll make dinner tonight. More than likely not, leftovers and takeout are most likely. I hear the door open and Dad lumber into the living room, my cue to come down, anything would be better than lingering at my window. There’s nothing on the kitchen table, Dad’s snoring clues me in; he must have fell asleep the second he sat down.

    I don’t really have an appetite and I’d rather not wake Dad up. So back upstairs I go, back to my room, and back to thinking about that downright bizarre conversation I just had. I know Dad is acquainted with the family that lives in the house next door, the McCullough family, I think that’s their name. Never seen any company over at their house, same two cars, whenever I look. I thought hard, he made no mention of when he got in, but I can safely assume that he got in the same day he started staring at my win-

    The house. He said he was staring at the whole house, as much as I don’t believe that. Today’s Friday, that means Tuesday he must have got in, probably in the early morning or while I was at school. He looks about my age, but nobody new was in my classes. He’s got the rugged look that a lot of The Trio and their hangers on would gossip about and he had that accent. Oh how those girls would sigh and swoon over that accent!


    What even is that accent?

    Better question; who in their right mind would willingly move to this hellhole? This is the kind of place people move away from not move to. Still, he must be in a bad way if he has to move here of all places. I should apologize for snapping at him, I really should. Tomorrow, tomorrow I’ll apologize, and then with any luck he doesn’t end up going to Winslow, and barring the awkward social courtesy of “Hey neighbor” we’ll never interact with each other ever again.


    Saturday, December 17th 2010, 1:20 PM​

    I thank any and all gods who would care to listen for the invention wool lined jackets, I thank my grandparents for shipping me to the east coast as opposed to some gods-forsaken hot and humid year round locale. My appearance catches the eyes of a few passersby, I imagine it’s rare in this part of the country and so far from anywhere rural for someone to be walking around with a black cattleman, aforementioned wool lined jacket, and honest-to-god cowboy boots with spurs that go jingle-jangle-jingle.

    Don’t judge me, I only had so much time to pack and I didn’t quite have the time to find my damn steel-toes. If I’m going out looking like I just came off the set of some western I’m committing to the look. Grandpa Finn and Grandma Saoirse didn’t seem to mind when I came downstairs this morning in the getup, if anything they seemed delighted.

    The morning routine in the McCullough house seemed to be as follows; Finn and Saoirse get up at the same time around 5am, they have their morning shower soon after. Once their morning grooming is done, Finn comes down to brew coffee around 5:30 while Saoirse is finishing up her shower. While coffee is brewing he gets started on breakfast, Finn has a list of meals written down on a calendar sticking to the fridge by a magnet by day and meal, on further inspection breakfast is usually some hearty affair fitting for a full family of four rather than just a husband and wife. Finn and Saoirse seem to be in relatively good health for people their age but I do not know when, where, or how they exercise. Maybe it’s good genes? Breakfast is served at 6am sharp just in time for Saoirse to head down with a large smile and a skip in her step, befitting a woman a few decades her junior rather than the kindly old woman she appeared to be. After food is plated and the table set, breakfast begins. In stark contrast to the morning meals held with Grandfather, Finn and Saoirse engage each other with loving and warm banter and attempt to include me into the conversation. Breakfast at the Connolly family ranch was always a cold and quiet procession, Grandfather didn’t believe in spoiling breakfast with conversation. I’ve done my best to oblige Grandpa Finn and Grandma Saoirse, but I have always had little to say and was never one for small talk. This morning’s conversation topic did not seem to follow the pattern the past two days held when Finn and Saoirse were sharing knowing glances before staring at me with mirth and mischief in their eyes. I waited a solid three minutes before breaking the silence, I really don’t enjoy doing that.

    “Is there something wrong?” I ask with as much respect and as polite as I can manage. I’ve been told I have an issue with tone when I speak. Personally never understood that

    Finn merely chuckled into his coffee as Saoirse got up and gave me a hug. Another change I am not used to. I stiffen a little at the physical contact but do nothing to get out of it, it’d be rude.

    “Aw wee lamb…” she said with an Irish accent before resuming in that vague New England accent “Not even three days in town and already courting the girl next door…”

    Finn put on a faux stern expression and pointed his coffee mug towards me “Now listen here lad, we will have no shenanigans in this house. No going off at all hours of the night trying to woo the fair maidens of Brockton Bay, y’hear?”

    His grin returned as he took a sip of his coffee, cream and seven sugars, while Saoirse began patting my back. I sighed and slumped into my seat as I replied.

    “I take it you heard me last night?”

    Saoirse returned to her seat to the left side of the circular table. “Of course, dear. Walls aren’t that thick and the both of you were speaking rather loudly.”

    I resisted the urge to slam my head into the nice table. “I don’t suppose either of you know a suitable peace offering to a teenage girl you have been unknowingly staring at her bedroom window this whole time?”

    I immediately regretted my choice of words as my grandparents gave each other that damn look to each other, a look that seemed to say “This is something you will have to figure out on your own, kid”

    If I could have slunk further into my chair without falling to the floor I would have. Luckily the conversation soon shifted to what we’d be doing today.

    Which brings us back to the present, I already knew what was needed for the future semester and getting those supplies was quick. The most rugged backpack I could find, notebooks, binder, paper, and finally pens. I refuse to get pencils, they are suited only for drawing, not turning in work. Anybody man who says otherwise is a coward. Checkout was quick, which left ample time for my grandparents and I to head to a thrift store Saoirse said she swore by.

    I took in the city streets as we drove. While the largest city I’d ever been too was Cheyenne back in Wyoming, this place was nothing like it beyond the architectural style a few buildings had. Cheyenne had it’s seedy areas, this whole cesspit seemed a seedy area. Even the “nice” part of town. I tuned out Grandma Saoirse’s explanation of where we were and what could be found, I had no intention of lingering anywhere. I may just try my hand at online shopping if it’ll keep me from wandering about this shit-hole. How the hell did people live like this? How the hell could people let a city fall apart then act as if there was nothing wrong? I doubt I’d ever get the answer to those questions, or at the very least satisfying ones. The car was slowing down, and Finn pulled us into a parking spot under a tree. I guess we’re here.

    When I got out of the car and looked around I did not spot any thrift store, what I did see was a welcome surprise. Something I did not think I’d see in a city like this; a hand carved sign hanging off a rather sturdy looking awning “Wayland’s Western Wear and Leather-working” was carved into it.

    Finn clapped his hand on my shoulder as he gestured to it “I figured you’d like it. Saoirse found it on her way home from the thrift store the other night, she had to make a detour after some road work was being done on that road.”

    Grandma Saoirse went on ahead to hit the crossing signal, I looked to Grandpa Finn and gave my thanks. When we finally got into the store we were greeted by an old man manning the counter, he had a name-tag on that said “Wayland”. My guess is he’s the owner. Taking in the store, the racks were neatly organized, the counters clean, and the fluorescent bright making the store very visible. The whole shop seemed to welcome any and all who set foot within its walls.

    The prices here were fair, and it seemed most of his revenue came from the leather-working and leather repair judging by the pricing chart on display behind the counter. Hefty pricing, too. He must be getting a lot of return customers if he’s still in business. Hell the man had everything I needed in this store; shirts, jeans, belts, and actual work boots, not just the kind I’d wear to a rodeo. I just may become a return customer myself.

    I came out with two tall paper bags with enough clothes to last me for the foreseeable future, and two pairs of boots; both steel-toed, both suitable for hard work, though I would still have to purchase a pair of sneakers for physical education and possibly suitable gym shorts or sweats. Either way, my shortage of clothes was all but rectified, my school supplies were bought, and all that was left was to head home.

    As we left the store, Finn stopped me and pointed at my face “You got something on your face their kiddo.”

    I don’t feel anything. Wonder what he’s going on about, I walked a bit to the next-door shop’s window to check myself in its reflection. Nothing out of the ordinary, hair was still short and light brown, still clean shaven, eyes are still blue, my mouth wasn’t open, so I doubt it was something in my teeth. Ah!

    I was smiling, for the first time since coming here I had a genuine smile on my face. Hmm, guess that was Finn’s idea of a jape or a jest. It was then I noticed what was in the shop window; a very tarnished flute and almost destroyed case.

    I took in the sad state of the instrument, it seemed to still be in one piece but was covered in rust and stained with some old filth. Yet another thing I hated; people mistreating tools of any kind. What kind of scum would mistreat such a precision crafted object and then sell it to some secondhand store for a pittance? All the love and craftsmanship undone by the foolish and shortsighted. Hell, the inside of the case even had a name embroidered on the inside, Annette Rose-Hebert…

    Could be a coincidence, a common name, could be completely unrelated. The embroidery of the hyphen and Hebert were an off color, more than likely a different brand or even different color shade than the original, a later addition.

    “What’cha looking at Walt?” Saoirse’s voice broke my stare with the embroidery, and I took a breath before answering.

    “The flute in the window, the person who used to own it’s name was Annette Rose-Hebert. Any relation to the Heberts from next door?”

    Her silence did not alleviate my concerns. I turned my head to look at her, and the grimace on her face gave me the answer I was dreading. Finn walked over to her and embraced her with one arm.

    “Annette was Daniel’s wife, Taylor’s mother. She passed away two years ago, hit and run. That is most definitely her flute, Saoirse here did the embroidery herself back at the shop.” he said, this was the first time I had heard him without a voice full of mirth. “Daniel never really recovered and Taylor took it especially hard. She used to talk the ear off of anyone who would listen, and was filled with so much life. You’d never know it by looking at her now.”

    Shame. One of them must have lashed out at the flute and sold it then.

    “But what on earth is it doing in a pawnshop window of all places? Daniel and Taylor would never toss something of Annette’s away like that nor would they mistreat one of her most prized possessions.” Saoirse said with mournful curiosity.

    And I am instantly proven wrong, I hope so anyway. I don’t know how this flute got here, but I cannot just leave it here to rot. This wrong must be righted. The price tag was faced away from any angle I could see into the store from, I’d have to ask the clerk within for a price. I made for the door, but stopped when I read the sign. I turned to Finn and Saoirse, their expressions cluing me in on their understanding my intentions

    “Cash only?” he pointed out the sign in the door “Come on honey, let’s find an ATM”

    I nodded my thanks to them before they went off and with my resolve steeled and ready I walked into the pawnshop. Whereas Wayland’s store was well kept, welcoming, and friendly this pawnshop was in every aspect its opposite. The inventory was all in various states of disheveled or disrepair, the floors were caked in ages old stains and filth, and the stench of cheap menthol cigarettes and ammonia filled the air. The man behind the counter was watching something on a small TV, I did not care enough to note what it was. I say man, but he could be better described as a thing; rail thin to the point of almost being able to see the outline of its bone structure, a pallid and diseased complexion filled with grotesque blackheads and acne, hair that seemed to perspire with grease and a general odor wafted from the creature.

    I did not bother hiding my disdain and contempt in my expression or voice when I finally spoke to The-Thing-Behind-The-Counter.

    “The flute and case in your window, how much?”

    The-Thing-Behind-The-Counter made no noise or motion acknowledging my existence, its eyes were transfixed on the small television as if in a daze. I could even see the stained and misaligned teeth in its mouth as it almost drooled. I waited ten whole seconds before asking again.

    “The flute and case in your window. I’m asking you again; how much?”

    This time The-Thing-Behind-The-Counter replied with dismissive wave “You can wait till I’m done man, fuck off.”

    This is ridiculous. I eyed the small TV, it’s power cord was plugged into a socket in the end of the counter-tops. I yanked out the chord and pulled the TV further down the counter before staring at The-Thing-Behind-The-Counter. It seemed quite irate

    “What the fuck is your problem pal?” it even spat a little, quaint “The fuck you want?”

    Without breaking eye contact, I pointed to the display window “The flute and case. How. Much?”

    The-Thing-Behind-The-Counter scoffed and gave me a look of utter scorn “Nine hun-dred dolla.”

    It chuckled, I imagine it was expecting me to leave it at that. It obviously never met someone like me.

    I lashed out with my right hand, grabbing it by the shirt collar and dragging him halfway across the counter-top, with my other hand I kept it from going for what was more than likely a loaded gun or silent alarm. The creature’s odor was closer and quire potently filling my nostrils. I didn’t have time for this crap

    “I want the real price, the one on the tag, the tag that's facing away from foot traffic. You’re running this store aren’t you? How do you expect to sell something with this kind of customer service and with poorly faced inventory?”

    The-Thing-Behind-The-Counter began to sweat bullets, and stammer. Babbling nonsense out of fear.

    “W-who the fuck are you with?”

    Did he think this was a shakedown? Before I could ask, for the fifth time, how much for the flute and case I heard a door opening, a squeal came form the hinges as if they had never been oiled since manufacture. I turned towards the noise, The-Thing-Behind-The-Counter still in my grasp and looking towards the open door, perhaps for a savior.

    Out of the door came some skinhead, maybe twenty years old, covered in poorly done stick-and-poke tattoos. The tattoos ran the gamut of Neo-nazi iconography, the skinhead seemed to favor their bastardization of Norse Pagan symbols. Skinhead was trying to stuff an 8-ball of something white and powdered in his too tight jeans, I had heard that it was some fashion trend in the coastal cities to wear jeans that damn near choked the balls of any “man” who wore them. Why he’d wear them in the middle of winter is beyond me. Looking past the skinhead into the back room, I saw what could only be described as a drug stash. Skinhead finally managed to get the 8 ball in his pocket and looked up, his eyes met mine. I didn’t blink, he did.

    The-Thing-Behind-The-Counter spoke up after a second of silence, his voice shaking with fear “Dude, I thought I told you to go out the back door?”

    Skinhead was starting to shake, there was no fight in his eyes, just the look of a boy about to run the first chance he could. “Oh. OK.” was all he managed to say, with all the confidence of a small child caught doing something stupid. My eyes did not leave the skinhead even when he looked down to the floor and closed the back room door. When the door was closed, there was a small clatter and the sound of a door opening with haste and slamming. I turned my gaze back to The-Thing-Behind-The-Counter. It was still looking at the back room door, its mouth agape in shock. Eventually it slowly turned back to me.
    “Wha-wha-what d-d-do you want fr-fro-from m-me?” it stammered out

    My scowl deepened, I quickly glanced out the window, thankful for the glare, streaks, and signs obscuring the view in to the store. I could see Finn and Saoirse at the crosswalk, waiting for the light to change. I turned back to the pathetic waste I was holding and finally spoke.

    “Listen up and listen close, I do not enjoy repeating myself. An old couple is going to be walking in here any second, you are not going to utter a word about what has happened, I won’t tell anyone you’ve got drugs stashed in your back room, you’re not going to go after whatever you were reaching for under your counter, and once you have your money and I have the flute we will never see each other again. You understand me?”

    The creature bobs his head up and down with so much speed that the grease in his hair may have started being flung everywhere.

    “Good.” I let go of its collar and wiped the sweat on my pants. I heard the front door open, and heard both Finn and Saoirse cringe at the stench of the store. “How much for the flute and case?”

    The clerk, with fear in his eyes gulped as sweat dripped down his face. “Lemme check man”

    He walked over to the window and brought it over, he looked at the tag, put the flute inside the case and closed it. “T-t-ten bucks, dude”

    Well what do you know, I had the cash for that, imagine if this idiot would have answered me sooner. This whole transaction would have gone painlessly. Finn hummed and nodded his headphones

    “Would you look at that, dear.” he said to Saoirse “Looks like we didn’t have to hit the ATM after all. Got worried over nothing.”

    Saoirse chuckled at that, I reached into my jacket pocket for my wallet. The-Thing-Behind-The-Counter went rigid with fear as I pulled out the old leather thing. I opened it up and gave the greasy thing its gold. It went to ring up the purchase, its hands quaking with fear, he even double bagged it. I thanked the creature for the purchase and made for the door, Finn and Saoirse followed me out. The thing spoke out with a tense “Thank you” as we left. With any luck, I’d never have to see its ugly face ever again.

    For the first time since I arrived, I welcomed the coastal air as we exited the seedy pawnshop, my grandparents were equally as glad to smell something far less unpleasant. I thought about the flute, I obviously couldn’t give this to Taylor in this state. Didn’t Finn mention something about the late Mrs. Hebert getting the case’s embroidery done at “The Shop”?

    “Grandpa Finn?”

    “Yes, Walt?”

    “You mentioned Grandma Saoirse did the embroidery of the name at ‘The Shop’, what did you mean by that?”

    Finn gave me a chuckle and nodded his head to his wife “I suppose with all the excitement we neglected to mention what we do for a living eh, Saoirse?”

    She spoke up “Your grandpa and I run a music shop, dear. ‘McCullough's Music & Instrument Repair Shoppe’ our pride and joy second only to your mother, god rest her soul.”

    Hmm, first time she’s mentioned mother. I suppose I should ask what she was like eventually. Getting back on the subject at hand I continued my line of questioning.

    “Instrument repair? Do you do flutes?” I asked in earnest

    Finn replied “We can fix damn near any musical instrument, kiddo. We’re the best in town!”

    Perfect. “Could you teach me how to restore the flute and case?”

    Finn and Saoirse share The Look. Saoirse gives me a hug as we cross the street “We should be done in time for Christmas.”



    December 23rd 2010, 8:52 PM

    Good god what is wrong with me…

    I don’t even know what I’m doing. I am stressing over how I acted with someone who is completely outside the hell that is high school over the suspicion that he was sent by The Bitches Three to make me miserable even at home. Hell I’d apologize to him if he was home!

    I was hoping I’d catch him before he left his house today, first day of winter break, but he must have left with his grandparents before I got up in the morning.

    Dad’s at some Christmas party for the DWA and here I am alone at home. No decorations, just like last year. Christmas was one of Mom’s things.

    Guess I could stare at the ceiling some more. Contemplate the sudden drop in Emma, Sophia, and Madison’s “pranks”. Wonder when the other shoe will drop. A knock at the door brings me out of my staring, wonder who that could be at this hour?

    Walking down the stairs wondering what sudden and horrifying thing will happen once I open that door. Just for the sake of it being over and done with quickly, I open the door.

    Much to my surprise, its the boy who has been on my mind for the past week. Dressed in a wool lined denim jacket, boot cut jeans, work books, and an actual cowboy hat, carrying a box wrapped with festive gift wrap. His eyes hesitated to meet mine, he seemed nervous.

    “Evening, Miss Hebert.” he said. I interrupted him before he could continued

    “Taylor’s fine.”

    “Right, Taylor, sorry.” He seemed even worse at talking then that first night. “I tried the doorbell, didn’t make any noise so I knocked.”

    He struggled with that one. Wonder why?

    He took a deep breath before continuing. “It was rude of me to stare at your house. I came here with a peace offering, took a week to finish it. I’d have preferred to just give it to you as soon as it was done, but Grandma Saoirse said with it being so close to Christmas that I may as well wrap it up and do it proper. So here.”

    He handed me the box, I took it slowly. It was lighter than its size would make it. As soon as it was in my hands he continued

    “You don’t have to wait till Christmas to open it if you don’t want to.” He said sheepishly. There was an awkward silence that hung between us, he seemed to be waiting on me.

    “Thank you.” I said “I should apologize for snapping at you the other night.”

    He shook his head and held up his hands “Mea culpa

    He looked down to his boots and then back up to me, looking me in the eyes. His eyes were pretty intense but not so much I’d look away. He tipped his hat to me

    “Good night, Taylor”

    “Good night, Walt.”

    With that, he quickly walked back home. I closed the door as to not let what little warmth in the house has out.

    I took the gift back up to my room. Dad wouldn’t be home till late and I doubt he’d really appreciate a boy, a boy he doesn’t know no less, giving me gift. I sat down, the wrapped box in front of me. Debating whether or not I should open it, my instincts telling me to just throw it away and never think about this again. A small treacherous voice said to take a leap of faith and just open it. The small voice was far more convincing than my instincts.

    “This is stupid.” I muttered to nobody and set about tearing apart the wrapping, then opening up the blank cardboard box. The tape job had a convenient roll up to lift up the tape without having to tear into the cardboard.

    I couldn’t believe my eyes when I lifted the contents of the box out; a familiar black case. A flute case.

    There was no way in hell that he would know about this, there was no way in hell that this was what I thought it was. There was only one way to know for sure. I unlatched the case, and slowly opened it. My breath got caught in my throat, I had to fight back tears when I saw it.

    Mom’s flute, fully restored, looking even better then I remembered. No trace of the filth and scum that Emma and them destroyed it with. The case was cleaned, and there was embroidered filigree around the borders. Under Mom’s embroidered name was mine, in the same color thread. On the left of our names was an embroidered rose, on the right a barn owl. Tucked under the flute was a handwritten note, in neat calligraphy; “Always keep her close to your heart”

    I let the tears shed.

    I want to elaborate on what I'm going for with Walt. Walt's personality is an amalgamation of Walter Longmire from The Longmire Mysteries/the Longmire television series (It's also where he gets his first name from) and Wayne from the Youtube Red/Premium series Wayne with some Jotaru Kujo from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders for flavor. In essence a very laconic, very practical person with a very strong sense of justice, and whose first instinct when confronted with injustice or tragedy is to immediately step up and do something about it with all the grace of a raging bull. I do not know if I'm doing Taylor any justice so far either, nor do I know if she would tear up over the flute's restoration. Seemed right. I am so out of practice writing and I haven't read any traditional literature in earnest since high school. I blame my lack of creative drive on high school to be honest but that is neither here nor there. Again, I welcome any and all criticism or interaction. Helps feed my drive. I hope you are all doing well, have a good one. [ /spoiler]

    Changed the date from 2011 to 2010 as it should have been. Shoutout to Sanza26 on SV for pointing it out.
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2020
  3. MajorKO

    MajorKO Going forth into the tide of Content

    Jun 24, 2018
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    Ah I think I see what happened here. The remnants of the flute that Emma showed Taylor were a fake, weren't they. She probably sold the real one.

    Liking the story so far. Followed.
    Rahkeem likes this.
  4. Gindjurra

    Gindjurra Not too sore, are you?

    Aug 21, 2016
    Likes Received:
    And being the level of idiot who is capable of thinking it’s a good idea to spurn a best friend then torture that former friend until she snaps - in a world where trigger events are a thing - she naturally got nowhere near what it was worth from the pawn shop. You always get less than the shop sells for, and metal value alone for most flutes is a lot mire than $10!
  5. BrotherMouse518

    BrotherMouse518 Getting out there.

    Jun 12, 2020
    Likes Received:
    TY! I did not know that the flute was completely destroyed. Your explanation is great and thus canon. I thankle ye

    Funny story; in the outline and super rough draft to the chapter, Walt would have asked for half the asking price and the cashier would have just thrown out a lower number than that. When i got to writing out the chapter, it came off as Walt actually fleecing him. Which is something that goes against Walt's characterization in the notes/write up. I still intended to have the cashier give him a super low number, but i forgot to write Walt actually checking the price. On another note, this is the seediest, greasiest, and scummiest pawn broker in the entire eastern seaboard. We are talking Big Bill Hell's cars or Discount Dan's levels of scummy. Kudos if you know what those are.v
  6. Gladiusone

    Gladiusone Experienced.

    Sep 4, 2014
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    While I’m always interested in seeing Scion crossovers ... I really haven’t seen much of Scion so far (maybe a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ refrence?). So, interesting, but largely mundane thus far.
    BrotherMouse518 likes this.
  7. BrotherMouse518

    BrotherMouse518 Getting out there.

    Jun 12, 2020
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    That's next chapter!
  8. Threadmarks: Interlude - Daniel Hebert - 12/17/2010

    BrotherMouse518 Getting out there.

    Jun 12, 2020
    Likes Received:
    Daniel Hebert​

    12/17/2010 2:55 PM​

    Another day, another stack of paperwork all saying the same thing; Nothing. No work opportunities whatsoever for the Dockworkers. Even now so close to the holidays, no work for good men and women who worked their asses of for this city.

    What the hell am I even doing?​

    For every hundred people I find work, another two hundred go hungry. If I could just get that damn ferry back up and running then maybe…​

    Not now Danny, not now. Focus on the task at hand.​

    The office line starts ringing, direct line, local number but one I don’t recognize. I should let it go to voicemail, I don’t have time to answer calls from some prankster.​

    But what if it’s Taylor?​

    I groan before answering the phone on the fifth ring​

    “Daniel Hebert, DWA Hiring Manager speaking.” best get this over with​

    “Oh good, this number is still good. Daniel, its Finn McCullough.”​

    I gave Finn the first business cards I got printed after I got this position, must have been a little bit after Taylor was born. I’m surprised he still had it after all these years. No time for reminiscing, get to the point.​

    “How are you Finn?”​

    “Eh, doing good. Saoirse is good. We’re all good, got some shakeups at home, but welcome ones. How are you holding up Daniel? I know it’s been a while since we last spoke at length”​

    Why are you calling me in the middle of the day at work Finn? Why now?​

    “I’m fine. Taylor’s fine. We’re fine.” a lie.​

    Finn doesn’t reply. A dead silence hangs in the receiver. I don’t have anything to say to Finn, I haven’t borrowed anything from him, neither of us have spoken since Annette’s…​


    “Well, Daniel. I’m just get to the point-”​


    “-Saoirse and I were out shopping. We were coming out of the store when we spotted something in the display window of a pawnshop. Daniel, it was Annette’s flute. Was it stolen?”​

    “Are you sure it was Annette’s?”​

    “Yes I am. It was in the case, the case was open. I saw the embroidery. It was definitely Annette’s”​

    What? That’s impossible. It’s…​

    It wasn’t stolen and in some pawnshop window. Taylor has it.​

    Unless. Someone stole it from Taylor and she didn’t tell me. Why wouldn’t she tell me if it was? When did it happen? I know she and I have been distant lately, but…​


    “Yeah. Stolen a while back. Didn’t expect to see it again.”

    Finn breathes out a sigh of relief and lets out a chuckle.​

    “That’s a relief. I knew neither you, nor Taylor would ever sell anything of Annette’s on a whim. Let alone something so valuable as her flute. We were out with our grandson Walter. He was the one who spotted it, I made some quip about something on his face and he checked in the pawnshop window. Went right in to go buy it.”​

    Grandson? Finn and Saoirse have grandchildren? It couldn’t be…​

    “Finn, this grandson of yours. Is he Eric and Doreen’s boy?​

    He lets out a chuckle “Yup, he looks just like his father, ‘cept the nose and eyes. That’s all McCullough. Quiet like Eric too.”​

    Eric Connolly and Doreen McCullough. They were more Annette’s friends than mine. To be honest, never liked Eric. Always seemed like he was three steps away from knocking someone’s lights out for looking at him, or Doreen when she was nearby, funny. He gave me a black eye in a bar fight he started all because he wanted to see what I would do. Gave him one too now that I think about it. Never talked to him at length after, he wasn’t a big talker and I was only around when Annette invited Doreen to the house after they visited Finn and Saoirse. Them visiting, or us visiting them was Annette’s thing. Talking with Finn and Saoirse was Annette’s thing, so was Christmas, Thanksgiving, movies, books, and so much more. It’s not right without her, nothing is.​

    Finn breaks me out my thoughts with a cough and another chuckle “Saoirse’s teaching Walt the process of restoring the flute. He’s taking to it a bit faster than I’d thought he would. It ain’t rocket science, but not many have the patience for it. At this rate it’ll be good and back to it’s beautiful self by the 23rd. I’ll be sure to send Walt over when it’s all wrapped up and ready to be under the tree. Be sure to tell Taylor the story when she gets it, OK?”​

    I’ll probably be at the DWA Christmas Party. If only to try and find some job I can give the crew after I slip away from Kurt and Lacey. Taylor will be fine.​

    “Danny.” Finn is putting on his best concerned father voice, as if I need that right now “Don’t be a stranger, if you need anything or just want some company. We’re right next door, with a cup of coffee and some of Saoirse’s food ready in a jiff. Have a good one Danny.”​

    “You too”​

    Finn hangs up first. I push the phone call out of my head. I don’t have time to think on any of it. I need to get back to work.

    Just a quick interlude inspired by Aurora Moon over on SV commenting in the thread there. The outline for 1.3 is done and this really didn't fit as a part of 1.3, but I figured "hey why not an interlude?" not sure if it's an appropriate word for this and couldn't come up with another name for it. 1.3 should be done by the night of this post at the earliest or this coming Sunday evening at the latest. Again, first time writing this canon character, and It's odd putting myself into the shoes of a character I didn't make (again). Again, any and all input on his portrayal or how the story is set up help me write better and I appreciate it all.
    Assblaster5000 and Yeetboi like this.
  9. Threadmarks: Origin 1.3

    BrotherMouse518 Getting out there.

    Jun 12, 2020
    Likes Received:

    Friday, December 24th, 2010.​

    The morning of Christmas Eve in the McCullough household is much different from the Connolly household. Grandfather was not one for celebrating any occasion with decoration or festive attire, he preferred to treat holidays like any other day of rest and had a glass of Jim Beam as he got ahead of the Connolly Ranch paperwork. I was to tend to the horses, check the feed stock, and then patrol the ranch’s fencing for any signs of wolves, coyotes, or other miscreants. I often chose the last horse my father raised, Lily Bell, when I did those patrols and would often check the fence thrice just to stay with her longer. The closest thing to proper Christmas festivities I had with Grandfather was sharing some spiked eggnog with him as he told me stories of his time as the county sheriff and how he’d “Whup every sumbitch who tried to do something stupid and hide it from me”. Only times I ever recall him smiling ear to ear now that I think about it.

    Finn and Saoirse are nothing like Grandfather in that regard. The house is warm and filled with festive cheer, the scent of food reaches even my room with the door closed, and Saoirse hums every Christmas song I know of and many more I don’t. Finn helps her cook and sings the actual lyrics to the tunes she hums, and when there’s nothing to do but wait on food to finish a step they dance along. The joy and love in this home almost feels as if it could keep one warm even in the deepest blizzard. It’s, dare I say, a welcome experience. Almost makes me wish I’d be out here indefinitely. Almost.

    The stairwell has many a framed photo of what I could rightfully assume to be my mother and grandparents throughout the years, ranging from precious candid moments to more measured captures of milestones such as birthdays or graduation. I’ve picked up the habit to take my time coming down the stairs as to better see the photos that have my mother in them. It’s odd that the first time I actually see what my mother looks like is in the hallway of my maternal grandparents, at the age of fifteen. Wavy red hair from Finn, vivid blue eyes from Saoirse, a small almost naturally pouting mouth that when not widened with a joyful smile is filled with mischief. I do not resemble Mother much, now that I finally know what she looks like. Aside from my nose which evidently comes from Finn’s side of the family and my eye color which comes from Saoirse’s. The photo I’m most interested in today is a candid photo of Mother talking with a woman that greatly resembles Miss Hebert – Taylor, not Miss Hebert – from next door. They’re sitting on the break room couch in the back of the store and both girls are laughing.

    I didn’t bother taking more than two minutes to look at the photo, any more time and it would be weird.

    Another thing the McCullough house has going for it as opposed to the Connolly house is the carpet throughout the house, allowing me to walk about the house barefoot. Grandfather would probably have shook his head and called me a dirty hippy and insinuate that I’d grow out my hair and stop bathing. As if enjoying the feeling of carpeting between ones toes means I’d become a degenerate. The sight of Saoirse and Finn taking food out of the oven while laughing at some inside joke is a well enough break from imagining what Grandfather would think of my lack of footwear. Finn is the one to first notice me and has already got a cup of coffee ready for me, black as night too. Just the way I like it, no sweetener to get in the way of the french roast’s full flavor profile.

    “Glad to see you finally come downstairs, lad.” Finn’s wearing a turtleneck festive sweater today, looking like he’d come out of a Rockwell painting. “Heard from Saoirse you gave Taylor her gift yesterday evening, how’d it go?”

    What was there to say? I went next door, I handed her the gift, I left. That’s it. Not much more to it than that. Why do people insist on elaborating on something that doesn’t need any?

    “Fine.” Is all I can say really.

    Finn cocks his brow in a questioning look, a smirk on his face. Saoirse came to his side and leaned on his shoulder before giving me The Look

    “Walter Connolly, you came home as red as a beet last night and with the most adorable smile on your face. I doubt ‘fine’ is all you can say about it.”

    It was cold, and I had came in from said cold. Nothing to read into, Saoirse.

    “So Walt, mind telling us what you said to young Miss Hebert as you handed a gift wrapped present to her?”

    Why must I elaborate?

    “I greeted her, she returned it, I handed her the package, told her she didn’t have to wait for Christmas to open it. I said good night, she said good night. That was it.”

    I have no clue why, but Finn and Saoirse dropped what they were doing to give me a look I received plenty back home in rural Wyoming; pained concern. Even when someone explains to me in detail why they have that look on their face, I still do not understand it. Saoirse holds up a hand and asks me;

    “Walter, are you aware of the implications of your actions the past week?” It is very odd to see such a naturally joyful woman attempt to match my stoicism.

    “I don’t follow.” Really I don’t

    She motioned me to sit down and took a seat next to my rightfully

    “Walt, you’re aware that Brockton Bay isn’t as quiet as Wyoming right?”

    No, Saoirse. A bay full of half sunken ships, Neo Nazis play acting like they’re actual Norse neopagans, and tweakers running around everywhere is a common staple of rural Wyoming. I shouldn’t have thought that, it’s unfair, and if Grandfather were to hear that he’d have gave me a good thrashing for that.

    “Yes ma’am” is really all I can say

    “To say this is a dangerous town would be an understatement, dear. Your grandpa and I are well and truly blessed to have not gone through the misfortunes of our neighbors and even some of our friends. Even with the PRT here and many of those ‘Rogues’ to face those super powered criminals, this city is a rough place to grow up. Especially for girls.”

    I could think of a few things to change that. All involving those stories of Grandfather.

    “Walt, you were staring at a girl’s window for three nights. I believe you when you say that you were looking at the whole house, but that doesn’t make it any better. That makes all but a…”

    Saoirse pauses to think of a polite way to say, as Grandfather would, “a few crazy bitches”

    “...special few girls extremely uncomfortable. Taylor’s especially vulnerable and has been in a bad way for a while since her mother’s passing. Judging by how irate she was at you the other night I’d say you aren’t the only person who’s been distressing her.”

    If it happens in front of me I’ll stop it.

    “Then a week later, on the eve of Christmas Eve, this odd boy staring at her window knocks on her door and hands her a package. No explanation, just dropping it off and that ‘you didn’t need to wait for Christmas to open it’. Now, if I were in her position I’d be debating whether or not to just toss it in the trash, with how bulky the box was I doubt we wouldn’t have seen it in their tote by now. If she did keep it, she would want to get the suspense out of the way and open up this mysterious package from the strange neighbor boy.”

    This is starting to sound like the start of some Koontz novel. I may have made a mistake, or several.

    “She goes up to her room, or to the kitchen. She opens up the box and finds a lost treasure; her mother’s flute. She opens the case and finds it better than new. With new embroidery in the liner, a rose, an owl, and her name. How could this boy possibly know that Annette called her daughter ‘My Little Owl’?”

    Oh god.

    “And tucked under the flute, is a handwritten note. Telling her to always keep her mother in her heart”
    Oh lord.

    “Given those circumstances Walt, would you say that she may in fact be a bit concerned regarding her new neighbor; a strange boy that knows more than he should who has a sight line into her bedroom window and lives directly next door?”

    Oh Jesus.

    Finn took the opportunity to sit to my left and give me a presumably consoling pat on the shoulder. I took the opportunity to start banging my head against the table. I knew I was bad at socializing, I didn’t realize this bad. Finn’s commentary did not help

    “Walt, I’d say you made your bad first impression far worse.”

    I have to make this right. I cannot let this stand. I try to get out of the table but Finn and Saoirse are already gently keeping me from getting out of the chair. Saoirse is rubbing my back, again with more physical contact, and Finn is leaning in to look me in the eye.

    “What are you trying to do Walt?”

    I try to explain that I need to make this right. That I need to go over and talk to her and explain the situation. I do not enjoy leaving things like this to fester, best to nip it in the bud and let the other go from there.

    “Walt that is a terrible idea” I’d have never expected Saoirse to be able to speak so bluntly “You would only be making things worse, in fact it’d be a miracle if you didn’t come out of that uninjured”

    That would be completely fair and Miss Heb- Taylor’s – right. I have wronged her, it needs to be righted.

    “You don’t need to do anything dear.”

    How so Saoirse? How so?

    “Finn had called Taylor’s father the day you found the flute, got the details from him, and told him you’d be coming by. Finn told him to wait till after Taylor opened it on Christmas, but if she opened it early I wouldn’t be surprised if he explained the situation to her then and there.”

    Well, that kind of helps. Nothing more to do then. Still feel like the backside of a mule right now. Guess I should hang those blackout curtains then, that’d get my mind off things. Later, first I should help Finn and Saoirse with the dishes.

    I let out a sigh and thanked my grandparents for explaining the situation, saying I’d help out with dishes before getting what I needed to hang up the curtains in my room. Finn offered to help me with that, but I’ve done it before. Grandfather made sure I knew how to hang curtains at the age of eight, he had me replace the curtains of every window in the house after I complained about the moonlight coming in to my room and keeping me awake. He stuck a floodlight outside my window until I “hung my own damn blackout curtains” for good measure. He then had me replace the curtains over at the Sheriff's Office while he talked to that “Useless Replacement of a Sheriff”. I got cookies from the receptionist while I worked. Wonder how she’s doing these days, can’t have been completely calm given the circumstances of why I’m even here.

    Before Finn showed me where the tools were, Saoirse had me load up her car with all the excess food she cooked. She said she’d be delivering it to a church here in town, a surprise to me seeing as how I doubt many people in this city would even know what a church was if it bit them. After that, I had what I needed and took the supplies I needed up to my room, the box was a bit heavier than I’d have thought but I did ask for the sturdiest set available for the value and Finn delivered.

    Despite all of that, I was still worried about this whole Taylor situation. Between Saoirse thinking I’m smitten with her, Taylor thinking I’m some sort of malcontent, and my own damn need to solve problems in front of me, I had a very unquiet mind. It was probably for nothing too, Taylor seems a smart girl and I don’t say that because of the glasses. She’s probably fine, she probably thinks I’m odd but non threatening and with any luck she doesn’t go to Winslow. Which means the odds of us seeing each other beyond the awkward social courtesy of greeting ones immediate neighbor we’ll rarely see each other.

    Yes. That’s it. Now nothing to do but hang these, slightly heavier than average, curtains.

    Quick thing; this chapter, the previous interlude, and the next two chapters I have, were all supposed to be 1.3 but as I read my outline and typed up this chapter I realized that they should really be separated into their own things. Sadly that means the more overt supernatural stuff will be put off till then. Rest assured it is coming and Origin is almost over. Which means I have the arduous task ahead of me to start writing magic and fight scenes better than I did back in High School. Still expect 1.4 and an Interlude in the coming week or so. I thank you all for your continued reading and input, it means a lot and it helps keep me going. Have a good one.
  10. Threadmarks: Origin 1.4

    BrotherMouse518 Getting out there.

    Jun 12, 2020
    Likes Received:

    12/24/2010 Morning​


    How the hell did he know about any of it?​

    Little Owl? The Flute? Mom?​

    Emma destroyed the flute completely, how could it be all in one piece?​

    Where was it?​

    Why did he pick it up?

    Too many questions and the only way to get direct answers is out of the question. I’ve been watching Walt’s window off and on since that first night we “spoke” initially to make sure he wasn’t keeping up his house watching thing, peeking through a gap in my curtains. He was true to his word he hadn’t been staring at the house since then, the few times I’ve caught glimpses of him in his room or in his driveway he’d been either reading his book, The Rider of Lost Creek by Louis L’Amour, or taking measurements of the window frame. Sometimes he would look up to the sky, his feet up on something out of view. He looked more at ease with himself when he did that, his gaze looked less intense, and that almost scowl on his face gave way to an almost perfect calm. Today he’s…​

    ...Having trouble hanging black out curtains. I don’t know if he saw me looking at him, or if he just needed curtains but he was hanging them. Or at least trying to, they looked a little off balance and he was not having a good time of it. He almost got them up on the hooks before the curtain rod seperated and beaned him right in the forehead. I almost laughed at that, I chuckled lightly when he fell.​

    Enough of that Taylor, no laughing at the strange boy next door.

    I closed the gap of my curtains before deciding to head downstairs for breakfast, trying and failing to not think about how the stone-faced boy hurting himself doing something stupid. ​

    Dad is already downstairs, sitting on the couch with a beer in his hand and three empties on the end table. He has an extremely concerned look on his face, and it doesn’t leave when he looks at me.​

    I want to say something more than “Good morning” but I can’t​

    He sounds like wants to say more than “Morning” but can’t​

    Same shit, different day I guess. The heavy silence between us is broken by a knock at the door. Dad finishes the last swig of his PBR and gets up to answer it, I just stay leaning against the stairwell wall and look towards the door, not like I would be able to see who it was from where I was standing but I could still eavesdrop.​

    “Merry Christmas Daniel.” its an older woman’s voice that comes from the door. ​

    “Hello, Saoirse.” It must be this “Grandma Saoirse” that Walt mentioned “Would you like to come in?”​

    “Oh, I just came to drop off some food for you and Taylor so I won’t be staying long. Apple pie, meatloaf, some ham, turkey, stuffing, the works.” ​

    Dad looks a little irritated at that, I don’t know why. He never seemed to turn down food from people he knew before today. What about Saoirse puts him on edge?​

    Dad looks to me and waves me over “Taylor, can you help bring in some of the food?”​

    I nod and come over, getting a look at this Saoirse.​

    Saoirse McCullough was not what I would have expected, especially here in Brockton Bay; Her hair was a dark brown that was almost black, with some streaks of gray, her blue eyes reminded me of Walt’s but they felt warm and filled with joy rather than intensity, she was a head shorter than I was and of average build, finally she was wearing a very festive looking sweater underneath a parka. Her smile became wider, but her eyes didn’t change from the look of concern she was giving Dad.

    “Hello dear.” she said with warmth.​

    “Hello Mrs. McCullough.” I replied, she held up a hand​

    “None of that, dear. Just call me Saoirse.” she gestured to a cooler next to the steps “Foods in the icebox.”​

    Dad, Saoirse and I brought the tupperware containers in to the kitchen. Saoirse looked like she wanted to say something to either of us but didn’t and once the food was on the table, she left. Just said “goodbye” and “Merry Christmas”​

    As Dad and I put the food in the fridge, I noticed the post-it note labels. The handwriting was neat cursive caligraphy. ​

    It couldn’t be. ​

    Once all the food was in the fridge, I excused myself and went back up to my room. I opened up my closet, and pulled out the flute case and set it on my desk. I opened it up and looked at the note, still tucked under the flute​

    “Always keep her close to your heart.” written neatly, precisely, and with flourish.​

    I’d have to bring up one of the notes to be sure, but it was looking close enough. I’d have to wait till Dad falls asleep tonight to not make a fuss of it. ​

    12/25/2010 3:30 AM​

    Dad’s in bed in his room, he’s had the rest of the twelve pack of PBR too so he won’t be waking up anytime soon. Even with the creaky floors, it doesn’t take much effort to go down to the kitchen and take a few of the post-its then bring it back to my room. ​

    Turning on my lamp, and holding the note card and post-its up to the light and lining up the lettering. I made sure to check twice for each letter but my suspicions were confirmed. They were the same handwriting; Saoirse’s handwriting. If Saoirse wrote the note, then that means she must have told Walt about all of it…​

    I would have to ask her then., preferably without Walt around. That’s it then, as soon as Walt is out of the house for whatever reason. Which means; more staring at the McCullough house. ​

    What the fuck is wrong with me?​

    12/26/2010 7:30 AM​

    I shouldn’t be surprised that Dad hasn’t come in to check on me at all for the past day, but I am. Even if I’m glad he hasn’t popped in and seen me spying on the boy next door’s bedroom window. That’d make for an extremely awkward conversation, and I’d rather not get The Talk again from Dad. ​

    Either way, I haven’t really moved out of my room all that much other than to get food and drink. Saoirse’s apple pie is very good, and the sugar has been keeping me wired enough to keep on my spying and allows me to refine my plan to go next door;​

    If Walt and Mr. McCullough leave the house and Saoirse stays behind, I’ll go over to return the empty tupperware (thanks to my transferring it to our own underutilized containers) and come by and then I just ask her about the flute. Dead simple.​

    To my surprise, I saw Walt and Mr. McCullough leave this morning. Mr McCullough was wearing a sport coat and slacks with some shined dress shoe, while Walt was dressed in what probably passed as formal western wear. They got in one of the family cars and drove off. Formal wear means a long running errand, perfect timing. ​

    I got dressed in something clean and warm, and made my way downstairs. Dad had gone to work earlier so I didn’t need to explain why I was leaving the house or why I was returning the tupperware of food we barely gotten into. Once he got home, tonight he’d probably not even notice the different containers if they had the post it notes on. I made sure to wash and dry Saoirse’s containers before I set out, didn’t want to be rude. I took a deep breath as I stepped outside and locked up, already having second thoughts. With every step I took, I rationalized that nothing bad was going to happen and tried listen to that small treacherous voice telling me that it was going to be ok rather than listen to my instincts. Saoirse wasn’t like Walt, she was just a very friendly and kind old woman. She wasn’t going to eat me or bake me into a pie. She wasn’t some witch from some Grimm’s Fairy Tale. Every rationalization did not help calm my nerves when I finally rung their doorbell.​

    Before I could even think of taking a step back, the door had opened. Saoirse beamed at me with nothing but love and warmth.

    When was the last time anyone looked at me like that?​

    “Taylor!” she beckoned me to come in “Come on in, you’ll catch a death of cold.”​

    I nodded and walked inside as she closed the front door. The house smelled of cinnamon and gingerbread, I wondered if that was what she had in the oven. I handed Saoirse the empty containers and spoke up​

    “I just came by to drop off the containers, Mrs. McCullough. Thank you for the food, my dad and I really appreciated it.”​

    Saoirse took the containers and led me to the living room “Oh it was no trouble, dear and please, call me Saoirse. Have a sit down while I put these away.”​

    I tried to protest, but she stopped me before I could say anything.​

    “Now, now. I just took the kettle off the stove and I always boil enough for two cups by habit. Would you like some tea, dear? If you’re worried about Finn and Walter interrupting us, they’ve gone to help Father Ramirez with the St. Nicholas Church canned food bank.”​

    She spotted the confused look on my face immediately, seemingly reading my mind

    “St. Nicholas of Myra not Father Christmas.” she said with a nod “Forgive me, Santa Claus. Not Father Christmas. I’m not in Ireland anymore.”​

    She’s Irish? Never would have guessed without the-​

    “-lack of accent?” ​

    OK is she reading my mind?​

    “I’m not psychic dear, I’ve just gone through this many a time in my years living here.”

    OK, then. I let out a sigh before saying “Tea would be great, thanks.”​

    She gave me another warm smile as I took a seat on the couch, it was perfectly comfortable and almost seemed to cradle you. I could see myself passing out on this couch if I didn’t have to do anything else. ​

    “Before I go dear, what kind of tea would you like? I have white tea, green tea, black tea…”​

    I answered before she went further down the list “Green tea, please.” I tried to give her a smile when I said that, I don’t think it was convincing. Saoirse went into the kitchen and left me alone in the McCullough living room. To pass the time I took in the living room and its feel.​

    The McCullough's home was filled with photographs of themselves and what I can assume is their friends and extended family from years past, a couple of shelves with old books on varying subjects with the majority being about the history of the British Isles and its mythology, another shelf of scrapbooks and photo albums, statuettes and various nick-knacks depicting seals or sea lions, and the only thing that seemed out of place among the old and well loved items; a relatively new entertainment center with a flatscreen, the glass panes of the shelving revealed a vast collection of old movies on DVD and Betamax tapes with dates, locations, and the subject written on the formerly blank labels.​

    All in all, this house seemed filled with love and life. A far cry from my own home. Saoirse came in just in time to distract me from that train of thought with a steaming cup of tea in both hands, she set both down on coasters before sitting by my side in a large sofa chair.​

    Saoirse took a sip of her tea, waiting for me to take a sip of mine as well before she spoke​

    “I take it you were wondering how Walt knew about your mother and the flute?”

    I couldn’t stop the shocked look on my face, Saoise continued with a hand held up trying to calm me down.​

    "Finn and I told him when we came upon it. As to how Finn and I knew we had sold that flute to your mother when she was ten years old back in ‘79. She was one of our first regular customers, the first person we made a custom case for, and the first to have an embroidered liner. She often came in to have the flute tuned up or fixed throughout her school days.”

    I never knew…​

    “We came upon the flute when we went to get school clothes and supplies for Walt on the 17th. We were coming out of a store when Finn made a joke about something on Walt’s face. We hadn’t seen him smile genuinely since he got in to town, see and Finn loves to see people smile. Walt saw the flute in the window after checking himself in the reflection and called Finn and I over. We told him that it was your late mother’s and he instantly went inside to buy the flute to return it to you. Whoever stole it from you dear didn’t get much for it, the shop-keep sold it to us for ten dollars which meant the thief only got five at most. Neither party seemed to know what the silver alone was worth, serves them right.”​

    Saoirse, the thief is still out there. She still goes after me. Every day at school. Not so much the last few days of school, but I imagine they’re trying to lull me into a false sense of security before doing something really bad. I don’t know if she’ll ever stop, or if she’ll get her comeuppance.​

    “It surprised me when Walt told us exactly what he told you when he delivered the flute. I had an inkling that Walt would be a bit on the quiet side like his father, but I didn’t think he’d be so averse to speaking or so blunt. Nor did Finn and I expect him to be so eager to help around the house or do things himself. He put up his own curtains, offered to oil the hinges of all the doors, always offers to clean and put away the dishes whenever we’re done with them. Finn and I have to actively tell him not to help out half the time, we’re old but not invalid.”

    She stopped to take a sip of tea and gave me a wink

    “Which is why I made sure that Walt was in the room and spun a yarn about my back aching when Finn and I discussed helping out Father Ramriez.”​

    I took another sip of the tea before speaking​

    “How did you know I would come and ask about the flute?”​

    She put a hand on my shoulder and gave a gentle squeeze

    “I may be old, but I am not blind, dear. It may have only been a few times we saw you coming home from school, but you were clearly distressed every time. Something is going on at that school and clearly nobody is helping you. Then some strange boy moves in next door, in a room that directly peers into yours and does nothing but gaze out towards your house for three nights. You yell at him and he stops, but arrives a week late with a gift. Not just any run of the mill gift, but a lost treasure restored to its true beauty. With embroidery that only someone who knew your mother and her nickname for you would think to put in. It wouldn’t have mattered if this happened in mine and Finn’s day or even in olden times, any young woman would be right to be suspicious and seek answers where she could.”​

    Saoirse took another sip of her tea and then went on a long tangent about her love life, I wasn’t completely listening and was trying to find an ulterior motive for these people to care. This all sounded too good to be true, nobody in this town did something for nothing. Even the PRT get paid. I noticed one of the clocks, I was legitimately surprised I had been here for almost an hour and a half.​

    I tried to listen to Saoirse’s story and then just ask “Why?” but she threw a curve-ball at me as I faded back in to the conversation​

    “…after that, I gave Finn my coat and he got down on one knee, gave me his ring, and proposed. We've been married a glorious 60 years since and I wouldn't trade those years for anything. Oh, but enough about this old woman's love life, how about you dear? There a strapping young man you have your eye on?”

    Naturally I replied with all the grace and poise of a proper lady​


    Saoirse laughed a little at that, but there was no malice to it. ​

    “Oh, I’m just teasing you dear. Nevertheless, it won’t be long before you fill out just like your mother did and your father will be having a very difficult time fending off all the suitors that will be lining up outside your door.”​

    Fat chance of that, I look like a Muppet at best and an upright frog at worst. I’d have to find someone who had low standards and was really desperate to want to be with me in any regard. Kind of like Greg from school now that I think about it, and I really wish I didn’t. I’d rather be a cat lady then have to live with someone like Greg for the rest of my life.

    “Thank you for the tea, Saoirse.” is all I can say to her. I don’t think there was any hiding my discomfort at what she said though.​

    “No trouble at all, dear.” She says, leaning over to a seal shaped cup with a lot of pencils and pens and grabbing a note card out of the end table drawer to write down her phone numbers, one for the house and one for her store, handing it to me “Should you need someone to talk to dear, for whatever reason, just give me a ring and I’ll make sure the boys are out of the house.”​

    I may just take you up on that offer Saoirse, this was the longest and friendliest conversation I’ve had in quite a while. Even if it was one sided. ​

    Saoirse got out of the chair and I came up with her, her gently guiding me to the front door and giving me a friendly pat on the shoulder as she walked me out. Before we could reach the front door, in came Mr. McCullough, with a determined and concerned look on his face.​

    “Saoirse, do you remember where I left that first aid kit I bought a month ago?”

    “Finn? What’s wrong, why do you need it?”​

    Saoirse left my side to follow Mr. McCullough, Walt coming in to the house soon after.​

    “Grandpa, I told you I’m fine.” his voice was muffled by a bloodied rag pressed against his nose. I could see the knuckles on both of his hands were bruised and split, and his right eye was turning black from bruising.​

    His normally calm and intense gaze turned to shock when he saw me, he turned away and put his hat back on, trying to hide the damage.​

    “Hey Walt.” was all I said​

    “Hello, Taylor.” his voice was filled with embarrassment​

    I could still see his knuckles, I had to ask “What happened to your hands?”​

    He looked them over before answering “Hurt ‘em”​



    A small and awkward silence yet again hung between us, I don’t think either of us know how to talk to others all that well. Finn had found the first aid kit and came out with Saoirse still asking him what had happened.​

    “While we were loading up the trucks at the St Nicolas’ some idiot thought that it’d be a good idea to hold the congregation up with some Saturday night special, thinking that he was going to get money and jewelry at a food bank delivery. Idiot shot the gun in the air twice and Walt wrestled him to the ground to get the gun away form him. He got hurt subduing him, we would have patched him up at the church but their first aid kit was stolen Christmas day of all times.”

    “Oh lord.” Soairse went over to help tend to Walt’s wounds, which he assured her were not that bad saying he had had worse. Finn had continued the story.​

    “The guy is on his way to Brockton Bay General to get looked at for the beating Walt gave him after he tried to go for the gun again, they sent two ambulances and none of the EMTs would even look at Walt for a second, saying his injuries were nothing serious and could be fixed with rubbing alcohol and a first aid kit and to stop wasting their time.”​

    Mr. McCullough swore under his breath as he tried to get some cotton balls soaked in rubbing alcohol against a nasty looking gash against Walt’s cheek.​

    Walt stepped back and held his free hand up to us “I’m telling you, I’m fine. The bleeding stopped a while back and it just looks bad. I just need to rinse off, sleep it off, no bandaging or ice-pack necessary. I’m telling you, I have had worse, this is nothing.”

    “It was nice speaking with you Saoirse.” I spoke up as she tried to stop Walt from walking up the stairs. ​

    “Oh, it’s always a pleasure to have company over, dear.” she gave me a quick hug before opening the door for me, leaving me to walk home.​

    On my way home, my thoughts turned to Walt Connolly and the crazy tale of him going after someone with a gun on instinct. I didn’t really believe that anybody, let alone a normal person, would just dive in and help someone for nothing and just for the sake if it being the right thing to do. As soon as I got home, I turned on the TV and tried to find a channel with the news on, it was a quick search and they were in the middle of their coverage already talking about it.

    “Eyewitness reports say that a lone gunman attempted to hold up the congregation of St. Nicolas’ Church on the corner of 9th street and Hope avenue during their post-Christmas delivery of canned goods to a local food bank. It was foiled by a young man in the congregation who wrestled the assailant to the ground and subdued him before emergency services and the BBPD came to get a hold of the situation. By the time they had arrived, the suspect was tied up with some rope meant for loading the food bank donations, and his weapon disassembled. BB News 10 tried to find the young man for comment, but Father Rodriguez the church’s head priest said he had already left the premises to seek medical attention. I guess that just goes to show; not all heroes wear capes. Back to you-”

    I shut the TV off, the story seemed to match up but there wasn’t a photo or even a name. Still, that small and treacherous voice in the back of her mind was telling her to believe what she was seeing. Walt Connolly was the kind of boy who would go out of his way to right a wrong he came across or to save people he doesn’t know on pure instinct. The whys would have to wait until she had the time to speak with him directly. ​

    I went up to my room, ready to close my blinds completely and then figure out a belated Christmas gift for him when I saw him. He was shirtless giving me a view I didn’t expect to find getting an eyeful of his above average physique and a good look at a circular scar above his heart. I got a good look at his face and he wasn’t lying to Finn, his wounds looked a lot worse then they were and just needed the dried blood wiped off. ​

    He walked out of view, presumably to “sleep it off”, and I closed my blinds.​

    After wards I lied down on my bed, holding Mom’s flute to my chest, and was alone with my thoughts. ​


    Sometime, Someplace​

    It was colder than any place I had ever been too.

    The wind was howling so loud, and the snow was blowing so hard it seemed like the blizzard was alive, clawing at my bare chest and feet.

    I looked around frantically, searching for any kind of shelter. There was a warm light in the distance, and I walked towards it. I did my best to ignore winter’s bite and attempted to keep my torso warm by rubbing my hands on my sides hoping and praying that I wouldn’t freeze before I reached that light.

    As I walked closer, the endless darkness around me parted to reveal a stark and grim hall, like something Tolkien would have written about, lit up with sconces of blue fire that didn’t give off heat, but gave off more cold.

    I pressed on, I would not die here, not like this. Not after what I’ve been through. Not after…

    The light grew brighter as I pressed on, its warmth eluding me as the bitter cold gnawed at my bones. It felt like an eternity before I made it to a tall pair of doors attempting to bar me from my destination.

    With the last of my strength, I stumbled into the doors and fell into the room of the warm light, furtively crawling to warm myself.

    When I looked around as I warmed myself, I saw the room was some kind of throne room or dining hall, the warm light was a large bowl in the center with a flame that had no source. I looked around the walls and saw various battle standards and shields, all from different cultures, nations, and armies.

    I looked past the fire, and saw the two thrones within the grand room held two figures sitting upon them; one of them a man in an old duster, with boots as black as night, and instead of a face was a bare skull with the eye sockets seeming to absorb any and all light within them. On his brow was a crown of shattered bone bound with thorns

    To the man’s right was a woman in a dress more apropos of spring or summer and not the dead cold of this frost. Unlike the man next to her, I could see her face and body were that of a living woman, though her eyes were obscured by what I could only describe as a mourning or wedding veil and her vibrant red hair.

    The man spoke with a dark voice, filled with purpose and authority “He is not yet ready”

    The woman spoke with a voice as smooth as silk and with a hint of mischief “It is still good to see him in the flesh, so to speak.”

    The man placed a hand on the woman’s and spoke “So it is, my love”

    Before I could ask who these people were, the doors behind me were thrown open by a sudden and constant burst of wind, and shortly after the wind whipped me off my feet and flew me back into the frozen wastes, slamming me into the ground…

    I awoke on the floor in a cold sweat, my face still sore from the tweaker’s haymakers from the church. I looked up to my desk to see the new alarm clock I had gotten for Christmas from Finn the red lights reading 3:33 AM.​

    I got off the floor, to get back in my bed when I noticed my curtains were still open. Knowing I wouldn’t get to sleep if I left them open, I moved to close them when I saw something strange atop the Hebert’s house.

    Standing perfectly still, without disturbing the freshly fallen snow on the roof, was a black cat with a white spot on its chest and violet eyes that held an uncharacteristic intelligence and mischief.​

    I rubbed my eyes to make sure I was seeing what I was seeing, and when I looked again the cat was gone.

    I must be still tired from sleeping off the wallop, I closed the blinds and hopped into bed. Trying not to think on the strange dream or the strange cat.​



    Ok, i wanted to split that last part as a seperate interlude but I got into the groove of things and my fingers wouldn't stop flying across my keyboard. Some hints of the supernatural and more to come in future. I did not intend this to be a particularly slow fic but I wanted to ease people in and ease myelf back into writing. I thank you all for reading. Have a good one.
  11. Shiro345

    Shiro345 Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

    May 26, 2019
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