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Band (Worm/Scion)

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

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  1. Threadmarks: Origin 1.1
    BrotherMouse518

    BrotherMouse518 Know what you're doing yet?

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    Crossposting from SV and SB, first fic I've written in nearly a decade.

    Walt​

    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

    “Why?”

    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
    Hatt, DeAnno, LEGENDARYNOT and 15 others like this.
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    BrotherMouse518

    BrotherMouse518 Know what you're doing yet?

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    Taylor​

    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!

    Ugh!

    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.


    Walt​

    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.”

    Perfect.

    Taylor

    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

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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.
     
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  4. Gindjurra

    Gindjurra I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    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 Know what you're doing yet?

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    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.

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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.
     
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  7. BrotherMouse518

    BrotherMouse518 Know what you're doing yet?

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    That's next chapter!
     
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  8. Threadmarks: Interlude - Daniel Hebert - 12/17/2010
    BrotherMouse518

    BrotherMouse518 Know what you're doing yet?

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    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…​

    Stop.

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

    Thankfully​

    “-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…​

    Focus​

    “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.
     
  9. Threadmarks: Origin 1.3
    BrotherMouse518

    BrotherMouse518 Know what you're doing yet?

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    Walt

    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

    BrotherMouse518 Know what you're doing yet?

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    Taylor​

    12/24/2010 Morning​

    How!?​

    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​

    “Bu-wha?”​

    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”​

    “Oh?”​

    “Yeah.”​

    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. ​


    Walt​

    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.​

    ???

    Soon.

    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 Getting out there.

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    Interesting
     
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  12. QafianSage

    QafianSage Ascending Ape

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    Well, this looks like an interesting story. I'm curious as to why Walt reacted like that to the guy in the pawn shop - not so much being angry with them, but the 'It' stuff, mentally calling them a 'thing' and such. Were they some kind of entity of Legend or...?
     
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  13. BrotherMouse518

    BrotherMouse518 Know what you're doing yet?

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    Let's just say that there is something very wrong with that guy and he aint the only one. He's also just that disgusting.
     
  14. Gladiusone

    Gladiusone Experienced.

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    I still don’t see the Scion cross. Maybe the pawn shop guy is a Titanspawn, but honestly there’s buildup, and then there’s making the reader ragequit ;)
     
  15. BrotherMouse518

    BrotherMouse518 Know what you're doing yet?

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    Sorry. Will do better
     
  16. Threadmarks: Origin 1.5
    BrotherMouse518

    BrotherMouse518 Know what you're doing yet?

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    Walt


    12/28/2010, 2:00 PM​

    McCullough’s Music Shoppe & Instrument Repair is yet another surprising thing in the hellhole known as Brockton Bay. Finn and Saoirse clearly put their heart and soul into the store, they were not lying when they said it was their pride and joy. It was rather spacious, with a small testing area next to the left hand display window for people to try out the electric instruments and amps. More instruments then what I would think would be stocked in a mom n’ pop like this including your usual instruments; electric guitars, synths, drum sets, drum machines, standard brass, woodwinds, strings, percussion, etc. What really surprised me were the oddballs; I saw a set of bagpipes, a sitar, a koto, strange multi necked guitars, what was called a theramin, and more things that I could not rightly describe.

    One of the shops clients by the name of Donald Rhodes the Third, a repeat client according to Finn, was testing one of those strange instruments. He was about my age and was quick to “educate” me on the exact name of the instrument, “Sitaritar”, and its model, Danelectro Coral Electric, as he played the damn thing. To say that he played it well was an understatement but I would never admit it, especially with that smug look on his face. I would have loved nothing more than to use another customer as an excuse to walk away from this guy and his damn tailored three piece suit, how he would lovingly praise the brand, and how he’d appraise my look and criticize my fashion choices;

    “Cowboy chic’s a little passe around here, babe.”

    Good lord in heaven, grant me the strength not to offend one of my grandparents’ repeat and wealthy customers.

    “If you ever want some fashion tips, I can refer you to a good stylist, he may be out of your price range though.” He said with that damn smirk on his face “Of course I imagine he’d give you a discount just on principle of how challenging it would be to make you look good”

    Like I give a damn and like I need any fashion tips from a guy who smells like over-expensive perfume. Just pay for the damn guitar thing, pay for the damn strings in your bag, and get the fuck out.

    “Wally, my friend.”

    It’s Walt and I ain’t your friend

    “I think you and I are going to get along swimmingly, Finn and Saoirse must be glad to finally have an extra set of hands, shame they had to wait on out of town family to be that extra set though. Don’t see why they couldn’t have hired locally.”

    Mother, Father, if you can hear me; please grant me the strength not to take this idiot out back and rough up his tailored suit.

    I kept my mouth shut and rung him up, he didn’t get the sitaritar saying he’d rather get a vintage original and not the reissue. For someone who clearly had money judging by the mass of hundreds in his wallet and his oh so beloved tailored Pegaso suit, the guy went for the cheapest and shittiest strings we had. I guess even rich kids can be cheapskates.

    Luckily for my rising anger, Finn called me to the back of the store. He has a way about him that seems to calm me down. Even better, as soon as I grasp the back office doorknob I hear a very ungraceful yelp from someone sounding like Rhodes, something crashed too. To say I was smiling from ear to ear would be an understatement. Finn was working on some of the backlog of paperwork for the shop, and his brow was furrowed in concentration.

    “Walt, would you be able to go down to that market around the corner and pick up the things on this list?” he handed me a sheet of paper from a legal pad “Your grandma and I can still multitask, as much as we appreciate your help.”

    I still don’t know why they were surprised that I wanted to help at the shop. Mother clearly did if the little doodles on the break room pin board, the photos of her helping people at the shop, and her old work locker still being there were any indicator. Was it something to do with what Father was like? Is it not normal for kids in the city to help family?

    “Of course Grandfath-Granpa” I don’t like that, at all. “I appreciate being able to work.”

    There’s that concerned look on his face again. I enjoy working, the only leisure activities I enjoy are reading and riding Lily Bell and sadly the latter is never happening again.

    Calm. Down.

    Finn hands me an envelope with some money in it, enough for the run and then some

    “You can keep the change, consider it a Christmas bonus before your first check.”

    Godammit Finn. “Grandpa, I’m not doing this for money, you do not need to pay me anything”

    Finn just waves dismissively “Nonsense lad, you need some spending money of your own and with how much you’ve been doing for us it would be unfair to you if we didn’t pay you.”

    Its my duty as your grandson to help you.

    “Besides, I imagine you’ll be heading straight for the shop as opposed to home once school starts. If not that you’d find something that needed fixing and do it. May as well do it here with us and be paid for it, lad.”

    I grimaced but thanked him anyway. I’ll just hand the remainder back to Finn somehow. I made my way back to the front of the store, still wondering why Finn wouldn’t just let me help and not pay me. Family shouldn’t have to pay family for doing their damn duty. The door opened before I could reach the doorknob and I bumped into whoever came in.

    “I’m sorry-” I tried to say as I looked the person in the eye

    “It was my-” she said as she looked me in the eye.

    It was Taylor. I wonder what she was doing here. Was there something wrong with the flute? Did I need to fix it again?

    I moved out of the way to let her in, she thanked me and walked to one of the small chairs by the equipment test area. I followed and sat across from her on the old amp. Finn had said that this amp once fell off the truck it came in and still sounded fine, I figured that it could take the one-eighty pounder that I was and be used as a makeshift stool for a minute.

    “Didn’t expect to bump into you so literally.” she said

    “Sorry.” was all I could say

    “Don’t worry about it, not a big deal.” she sighed and rubbed her hands on her legs, looking around the shop before continuing. “I can see why Mom came here a lot.”

    “What brings you here if you don’t mind me asking, was there something you needed for the flute?”

    Best get to the point and hope she does not take that as me being rude. Still don’t understand why being direct is considered rude half the time.

    “No, it’s great. Thank you, by the way.”

    “It was no trouble”

    “Seriously, thank you. It’s one of the nicest thing anybody has done for me in a while.”

    Please do not open up to me.

    Please do not open up to me.

    Please do not open up to me.

    “Sorry to hear that.”

    and there's the pained concern, she looked like she wanted to say something to that but didn’t. She broke the silence, thankfully.

    “I came by to talk with your grandma. I forgot to ask her something when I was at your place the other day.”

    “She’s in the stock room, she should be out in a bit.” I say “I’m going out to the store to pick up some things for Finn and Saoirse. Would you like anything?”

    She shakes her head “I’m good, thanks. I’m actually not going to be here long.”

    I nodded, and tipped my hat to her. “Very well. Good afternoon, Taylor”

    “Bye, Walt”

    with that I left to do what Finn asked of me.

    McCullough’s Music Shoppe was in a part of town called The Champion’s District and it wasn’t on any maps of the city I had looked at, no matter how recent. I tried asking people around here the two days I had come here to restore the late Mrs. Hebert’s flute why that was and nobody seemed to give me a straight answer. When I tried looking into the history of the area I hit similar dead ends, nobody could give ma concrete answer of where it got its name, who named it, why it was built, or when. It all seemed like some story that people were told after a long game of telephone, and I gave up on figuring out why to focus on the flute. Even now that I come out here to help at the shop I do my best to avoid finding the answers to those questions, even if its a loose end that will gnaw at my mind for days to come. According to Finn, the design of the district was reminiscent of Japanese shopping arcades that led to a circular promenade or plaza, I could not recall which was the correct term, with benches, a tree in the center, and a few cafes and restaurants. There was an access street that ran parallel to the place where there was a loading dock for deliveries and a small parking lot for the shop owners and their employees. Finn had said that he had yet to see a shop close up or move since he and Saoirse set up there and the newest shop was tattoo parlor that had opened in the mid 80’s and was still going strong. McCullough’s was at the very end of the indoor shopping area and had quick access to the main entrance where the big sign saying “Welcome to The Champion’s District” stood, and even a quicker beeline to a small market around the corner by the name of M&M’s Market.

    I wasn’t aware if the store owners intended for the name to be identical to a candy coated chocolate treat and to be honest I was afraid to ask.

    I opened the door and was greeted with a very odd sight; the inside of M&M’s could best be described as if a Mexican restaurant and an Asian convenience store were sawed in half then glued together along the divides. The restaurant half had a small seating area with plastic lawn furniture for the tables and chairs atop red, white, and green ceramic tiles while the visible wall had various banners and framed photos of what I assumed to be churches in Mexico and various painted depictions of men and women in some manner of Mesoamerican dress, there were a few elderly Hispanic gentlemen conversing in their native tongue while they ate their food, and from where I stood I could see an antique stone statuette of a feathered serpent next to the cash register. The Asian market half had various snacks from east Asia and a good selection of domestic fare, the magazine rack held a large selection of some East Asian publication and an equally large local section, there was a hand carved box next to the magazine rack with a large stack of books and thick magazines in shrink wrap with a large hand written sign taped on saying “Used Books and Back Issues”.

    After taking in the strange store I double checked the list, grabbed a basket, and got everything on it. Seeing the used books bin made me rethink returning the change to Finn, I would finish The Rider of Lost Creek soon and needed new literature. Digging through the box the selection was far more eclectic than I had initially assumed with the standout being a fairly large and hefty book titled Encyclopedia Fabula: An Annotated Guide to Creatures of Legend. I do not know why this book caught my attention, maybe it was finding it laying at the bottom of a used books box in some hybrid market, maybe it was how old and worn the cover was, but I knew I had to have this book. I looked over every inch of it searching for a price tag, but there wasn’t one. It appeared that, yet again, I have issues with finding the price tag of second hand items.

    I put the large book in the basket and made my way to the restaurant corner and ordered Finn’s super burrito. The man behind the counter, and apparent chef, seemed personable enough to ask a few of the question that was lingering in my head, I tried what little Spanish I knew when I asked him.

    “Con permiso señor, hablas ingles? Mi español es malo” I know how to order food and ask that question. That is the extent of my Spanish.

    “Yeah, man. I’ve got ‘chu.” he said in a barely accented English “What ‘chu need.”

    Great.

    “Just had a question about the place, sir.”

    “Okay, ask away man.”

    I took a deep breath before asking “The name and the interior design. There a story behind that?”

    The chef finished up cooking the pastor and got to making the burrito, facing me, when he answered.

    “Well, the owners are a husband and wife; Martín and Makoto. They both came to America with dreams of running their own businesses, a taqueria and a konbini. When they got married, they had just enough money to start a business and decided to try being both. To their surprise, it did well. Even in the days of Allfather, even now. Mexican food and Japanese snacks are fairly popular it seems.”

    “What does Odin have to do with the success or failure of a hybrid store?” I had to ask

    The chef just chuckled “No, as in the old leader of the Empire 88. The neo-nazis. Their leader called himself Allfather, their new leader calls himself Kaiser.”

    If I didn’t dislike them already, the further bastardization of Norse Paganism cemented it.

    “Hell, never been shook down by them once. Must be the gods’ will.” he gestured to the feathered serpent statuette and to the framed picture of Jesus as he handed me the foil wrapped burrito. “Makoto can ring up everything ‘chu got up front. I’m Martín by the way.”

    Huh.

    “Gracias señor” I said with a tip of the cattleman

    “De nada, your Sapanish aint bad man” he said with a laugh “Your pronunciation is top dog man.”

    I doubt it.

    I made my way to the front and brought my items on to the counter, I was greeted by a Japanese woman wearing a miniature sombrero and fake moustache.

    “Hola! Much gusto, soy Makoto!” she said with heavily Japanese accented Spanish and a mischief filled smile

    I get the strangest feeling that the area around The Champion District has some kind of effect making the women here particularly perky. Or perhaps it’s a feature of the Atlantic coast.

    “I’d like to buy these. Also, this book doesn’t have a price tag.” I said as neutrally and politely as I could muster, I did not want to come off flustered.

    The woman looked closely at the book and then looked me dead in the eye with all seriousness of a woman in a mini sombrero and fake mustache. “Five dollars.”

    She then rung up the book, burrito, the snacks, the drinks I grabbed from the fridge, and it all came out to about thirty five dollars. I walked out quickly, and tossed a five into the “Tip the Chef” tin. I would have to have words with Finn since I still had at least forty dollars in the envelope. My attention shifting to the book in the bag; I was eager to start looking through the hefty tome as soon as I had the chance to sit down. Something about it felt familiar, and right.

    When I got back to the shop, the out to lunch sign was flipped over and Finn and Saoirse were in the break room. Finn was reading some kind of catalog and Saoirse sipping on black tea, I knocked to get their attention.

    “Got everything on the list.” I said handing Finn his burrito and handing the various seafood snacks to Saoirse. “Do you want the drinks in the fridge?”

    Saoirse answered “No, dear. Just leave them on the table. What’s that bulky thing you got in the bag?”

    I showed her after I put the drinks on the table. “Found it in the used books bin over at that weird market Finn sent me to. Five bucks.”

    There was something in Saoirse's eyes I could not place as she looked at the book. Almost as if she had recognized it, the look vanished as quickly as I noticed it. As pointless as it was, I tried handing the envelope of money back to Finn. He waved it away and muttered something about being under the distinct impression that he told me to keep it. Saoirse gave me a pointed look when I tried handing it to her. Letting out a sigh, I tucked the book under my arm and made my way to the front desk to read my new purchase away from the awkward conversation involving one Taylor Hebert’s arrival at the shop earlier that was no doubt going to occur.

    I. Am. Not. Smitten. On. The. Girl. Next. Door.

    Sitting at the front desk, I tore the shrink wrapping off the book and got to reading. The Encyclopedia Fabula had no copyright information, no publishing information, and didn’t have any information on when it was written, or who the author was. Despite the worn leather cover and slightly frayed pages, the binding was in immaculate condition and from my flip through, no pages were damaged or missing. With every turn of the page, a faint hint of fresh grass and clover accompanied the scent of old book. When I began to read it from the beginning I noticed that there was no foreword or introduction, nor was there a table of contents. Already it was failing to live up to its name of “Annotated Guide”

    It was around the seventh page that I had noticed that this book was clearly someone’s idea of a prank. If a page wasn’t blank, or just lorem ipsum, then it was filled with nonsense pictograms and sigils. At least the cover looks nice and would make a good addition to a future collection of strange books to put on a bookshelf. Closing the book, I looked out the window to gaze at the few passersby, my eye catching something black with a streak of white appearing closer than my focus. I looked down to find the same damn cat I saw on the Hebert’s roof the other night. Sitting there, staring at me with those far too intelligent violet eyes. It almost looked like the damn thing was smirking at me. There was only so long I could stare at it before I had to blink, and when my eyes opened again the cat was gone.

    Due to some shakeups at work IRL, i've been mighty tired and have not been able to focus as much of my time on the. I know some people are concerned about the pacing and I am working on that, I'd like to thank my friend V for helping out and giving me advice. THANKS V YOU'RE RAD AS FUCK! Expect 1.6 to be out by tomorrow at the earliest and this coming Wednesday at the latest. Thanks to all the people still reading, have a good one. Also, expect to see more of Donnie and The Champion's District in future.
     
  17. Extras: How Scions are Made & A Quick Update
    BrotherMouse518

    BrotherMouse518 Know what you're doing yet?

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    So quick update; Expect the new chapter to be out Wexnesday at the earliest and this weekend at the latest. Woke up dead and i have to work early the next two days so I'm not going to have as much time to dedicate to writing it (that and i can't slam energy drinks safely when i have work in the morning.)

    But I would like to take the opportunity to talk about some of the intersting bits of Scion lore.

    Did you know that aesexual gods, virginal goddesses, gods lacking the necessary equipment, and gods that are forever devoted to a single partner can still make Scions?

    Yeah, there are a mutlitude of ways to make Scions other than the traditional "stick and poke" method [​IMG]

    In 1st edition Scions could only be made by traditional means and then if a deity that couldn't or wouldn't have children wanted a Scion they could "Adopt" a Scion and replace their original parent's powers with their adopted parent's. A scion could be born of two gods if both gods had an Avatar on Earth or "The World" as the gods call the mortal realms (this was detailed in Scion: Companion in the Hindu Pantheon/The Deva section)

    In 2nd Edition they expanded this by having Scions also being made through esoteric means (Think Snow Drop from Grimm's Fairy tales), being the newest mortal incarnation of a god (Think the Avatars of Hindu mythology), or being Chosen by a god and granted patronage (Like a Paladin or Cleric from D&D).


    Now you are probably asking yourself if any of that matters mechanically?

    It really doesn't. As far as being the Scion of two gods goes, you just chose one of your parents and take the traits from one of them. OR you take half from one, and half from the other. Discuss with your Game Master/Dungeon Master/Storyteller before doing so.

    Of course this was 1st edition and has yet to be addressed in 2nd edition.
     
    Hatt, Charles Flynn, Vuradux and 3 others like this.
  18. Threadmarks: Paralog - Taylor Hebert - 12/28/10
    BrotherMouse518

    BrotherMouse518 Know what you're doing yet?

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    Taylor

    12/28/2010, 5:30 PM
    To say that the office desktop at home was a dinosaur would be an insult to dinosaurs. It was a middle of the road machine for its day back in 1995 and it amazes me that it is still chugging along this far into the new millennium. Even if our internet was modern in that it was no longer dial up, the state of this machine meant that it would still take eons to load up all but the most basic HTML web pages and would load pages up bit by bit over the course of ten minutes at the fastest, making my what I was currently doing a much more tedious process. To pass the time, I’ve been reflecting on the list Saoirse gave me, on the music shop, and on that strange shopping area that I had never once heard of in all my life living here. Especially the latter, The Champion’s District is nowhere near the places that are one hundred percent “safe” in this town like the Financial District or near the PRT building, and yet it looks untouched. There’s nobody with gang colors running around, the place looks new, it isn’t crawling with homeless, there’s no graffiti, it isn’t like the boardwalk where there’s goons keeping the peace. It’s just a nice shopping center…

    ...in the middle of an area that is filled with graffiti, people walking in open gang colors, dilapidated buildings, homeless camps, and graffiti…

    Yeah, something is weird about that place. The last page I need to print is almost done loading at least.

    I decided to read the list that Saoirse gave me at the music shop for the umpteenth time;

    Tools, tool belt, any book about the Old West, company. That last one was circled and under it was a winking smiley face doodle. I get the strangest feeling that Saoirse’s trying to be a meddling grandmother and get her grandson to meet some nice girl. I should give Gran a call, I haven’t spoken to her since Mom’s funeral…

    Enough of that. I’ll give her a call one of these days, see how she’s been.

    Back to the subject of one Saoirse McCullough; It’d be adorable if it wasn’t so misplaced, I don’t think Walter would be into girls like me and I’m not completely sold on him either. Even if his attempts at helping are kind of endearing in hindsight. What he said at the music store didn’t sit right with me either.

    Who responds to someone opening up by saying “Sorry to hear that”?

    That dejected look on his face as he said it was weird too. Was he going through some stuff back in wherever he came from? That scar on his chest, the one right where his heart should be, did that have something to do with it?

    I should just ask him to be honest, straight from the horse’s mouth. Oh, the page is done loading.

    Page number five of my research on the pricing of multi-tools. Rather than getting one tool I’ll just get him one that has a bunch. Saoirse had said there was a shop for every one of the items on the list in The Champion’s District, except for the last one of course. With the last page printing, I started to turn the computer off and organize the pages when Dad came in through the front door with a twenty four pack of PBR, looking paler and with dark circles around his eyes. At least he’s home more or less on time tonight.

    I don’t know what’s going on, but he has been looking significantly worse lately. He’s been drinking more, working later whenever he can, there is something really wrong with him. I want to say something to him, to tell him to please talk with someone about it, but that would be rich coming from me. Hell, even if I could say something to him, what would I say? What should I say?

    He goes to put the case of beer into the fridge, and comes back with an accordion folder filled with papers and sits on the couch with the folder on the coffee table.

    Bringing work home with you?” I don’t know why I asked that out loud, not like it isn’t obvious

    Dad didn’t even look up as he piled the papers all over the table and answered “I’ve been slipping at work, need to catch up.”

    I doubt that, he’s been working overtime every chance he gets. I know it wouldn’t help, but I have to ask him.

    Do you think that bringing work home with you will help all that much?”

    The dockworkers need me.”

    Wow. Without missing a beat. I have never heard him talk to me like that, never so bluntly, never so quick with an answer like that. No wonder he never told me about the McCullough’s finding the flute. He probably fucking forgot and threw himself back into his work!

    I took my research and went back up to my room. I was done down here.

    I didn’t slam the door to my room, I wasn’t that angry, but I was damn well getting there. I tried to focus on getting Walt’s gift, sifting through the pages trying to get a decent price range. Anything to take my mind of my dad getting worse. Anything to take my mind off of knowing that another reason why Dad probably didn’t say anything is because I didn’t say anything about the flute in the first place. I haven’t said anything to him about anything the past two years, why would he do the same?

    I got into bed and hugged mom’s flute till sleep took me…
    So this was a bit I cut from 1.5 that I couldn't really fit anywhere but still wanted to put out there. I'm debating weather or not to call interludes Paralogs, figured i'd start with this one. Lemme know if you guys like it or not and I'll edit the first one to be a Paralog instead of an Interlude and will continue with the naming convention. I'm still working on 1.6 but I should be done either by the end of today or early tomorrow. I welcome any and all advice, question, criticism, etc as it helps me improve as a writer. Until next update, have a good one.

    Fixed a text color issue. It was set to black for some reason, if visibility is still an issue switch QQ to a dark theme
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2020
  19. Threadmarks: Origin 1.6
    BrotherMouse518

    BrotherMouse518 Know what you're doing yet?

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    Walt​

    12/28/2010, 9:33 PM​


    To say that I was concerned over a cat would be an understatement. I had been looking out of the corner of my eyes every now and then thinking I’d catch a glimpse of that weird animal. Jumping at shadows, or someone in a dark shirt walking past the window. No one else came into the store since I arrived, Finn and Saoirse were still going over paperwork in the back room, occasionally laughing along with some joke I didn’t hear, while I was becoming a Paranoiac in the storefront. Nothing I had done, from trying to read the nonsense book I bought, organizing the inventory, counting the till, making sure whatever backstock could be moved up front got moved up front, nothing was able to fully draw my mind away from the cat. To say that this was uncharacteristic of me would be an understatement. Never would I have thought to be so troubled over the appearance of a strangely, colored in eye and in coat, cat. I have seen many strange animals, growing up on a fairly isolated ranch deep in rural Wyoming you see odd things. This cat, something in my instincts is telling me that this cat is very much Not Normal, possibly even Not Right. ​

    Make no mistake, what I was feeling was not fear. I have only ever been afraid once and that was under very extenuating circumstances. This was a state of heightened awareness, not like how some hippy on hallucinogens would describe it, but in the way of knowing that something was out of place and being aware of it for the first time. It didn’t help that I knew that both times I had seen this cat, that it was deliberately looking at me, it was looking into my eyes. I don’t know how I would explain it, I just knew it. ​

    Luckily, it was closing time. My grandparents showed me, yet again, the nightly routine of closing everything up. Turning the alarm on, cutting the lights, rolling down the shutters, locking them up. Going out to the loading bay to make sure the rear access is locked up. Proper work procedure had a way of easing my tensions, both physical and mental. Even something as low effort as closing up. Once everything was said and done, we piled into the family car and were on our way back home. ​

    Normally, I wouldn’t say anything on the car ride home. I had nothing to add to the majority of my grandparents’ conversations and was not comfortable asking any questions. Tonight, I decided it was time to ask about my parents. I did not want to, but anything else would just have me thinking about that damned cat. ​

    We were at a stoplight when I finally asked;​

    “What was Mother like?”​

    It took every ounce of my will to be able to utter those four words. It was not fear that held me back. It was simply, a reluctance to know. I figured, if I never knew what either of my parents were like then I’d never disappoint myself trying to live up to them or disappoint myself living them down. A foolish sentiment, but one that made sense to ten year old me who swore to himself that he would not ever need to know about them. Apparently all it took to go against that was moving to the east coast and seeing a strange cat. Who knew?​

    Saoirse turned her head towards me and smiled, Finn laughed warmly as he made sure his eyes were on the road ahead. Finn was the one to speak first.​

    “Well, Doreen was something else, that’s for sure. Ever since she was able to walk and talk, she’d been this precocious bundle of mirth. Always curious about people, always learning, always trying to help in her subtle way.”​

    Saoirse chimed in; “She especially lit up when she was pregnant with you, dear. It was one of the few times we had seen her smile so wide and laugh so loud. Your mother was under the impression that she would be unable to have children, your grandfather and I never understood why, she just had this certainty that she would never bear children. Finding out she was pregnant with you was the first time we had ever seen her that happy.”​

    On this I need elaboration. “Was she normally unhappy? Did something happen that changed her from this ‘mirth’ she had in her early childhood?”​

    Saoirse shook her head. “No, dear. It was just rare to see her brimming with joy. Normally she would just have this look about her as if she had seen it all and was amused at seeing it again. She was the same way when she introduced your father to us.”

    Finn chuckled. “That was a sight to behold. It was just after your mother graduated high school and was picking out some things for her college dorm room. She spots your father testing a chair right across from us, goes over and sits on his lap, wraps her arms around him and says; ‘You’re my man.’ and gave him a peck on the cheek.”​

    Saoirse continued. “Your father’s face went redder than a beet, he tried to cover it up by tipping his hat down and acting like he was John Wayne. He said to her-”​

    Saoirse took on what I assume was an approximation of his facial mannerisms and voice before continuing​

    “-he says to her ‘Well no shit darlin’ where have you been all this life of ours?’ and then she stole the hat off his head. Only time I recall your father ever being caught off guard. We asked your mother if she had met this young man before, and she shook her head. ‘Not in this life’ she said. He had introduced himself to us and her the first time ever in that store. They were together ever since. You would have thought they had known each other all their lives though with how they got on after.”​

    Odd. Very odd.​

    “Don’t get the wrong idea Walt.” Finn had said. “We thought it mighty strange that Doreen would just walk up to some random man and declare someone ‘her man’ and give him a kiss. We had even thought about bringing it to the authorities, thinking it had something to do with something unnatural. To our surprise, your mother was the one who wore the pants in that relationship. Eric Connolly did everything for your mother and later you when your mother was carrying you.”​

    At the further mention of Father, Finn and Saoirse’s joyful faces turned a bit sour. I needed to know why.​

    “Father? What was he like?” I legitimately dreaded the answer.​

    The pause and false starts my grandparents held did not help either. Two turns, three stop lights, and one detour due to a PRT traffic blockade was how long it would be before Finn finally answered my question.​

    “Your father was…” he started “Well, let’s just say if he didn’t treat your mother, grandmother, and myself with nothing but love and respect we would have not approved of him. Eric Connolly was as cuddly as a rabid cactus, more ornery than a mule, and six times as stubborn. He did not like people all that much, and would go out of his way to not speak if he could help it. He very rarely smiled and when he did it was always wrong. In fact, the only time your grandmother and I had ever seen him smile without any hint of cruelty or ire was when your mother was around. She had a way of bringing the best out of him, making sure that if he did fight someone they had it coming. Though, he was always quick to help out others in need. Just was a right jackass about it. I remember one time he helped a man who had been beaten up by three other men and left in an alley, the thugs who did it were still there further down the way. Your father walked over to the beaten man and he asked him a question-”​

    Finn paused, trying to recall it as if it were on the tip of his tongue.​

    “Those assholes took something of yours. You gonna just lay there and let them take it? Or are you gonna take back what’s yours?” Saoirse supplied, with a somewhat horrified look on her face as she said it. ​

    “Yes, that’s what he said.” Finn said with a deep sigh. “Then the man just got up, spat out the blood in his mouth, and your father walked with him to the men that left him lying in that alley and he watched as that beaten man cold clocked one of them, and then started beating the ever loving shit out of another. Before the third could do anything, your father put the last thug into a choke hold until the man was unconscious. After that, they got back the man’s wallet, left those thugs in the gutter, and dipped into the bar we had just walked out of to buy him a round.”​

    Finn scoffed and shook his head. “Soon as he paid for the beer, your father came out with that smirk of his and apologized for the delay. Seems he’d met his friends one of two ways; helping them fight back against bigger odds or in bar fights he would start. Anyone he didn’t consider friend or family was nothing to him, he did not believe in courtesy, respect, or civility to anyone not friend or family. Dare I say it, if your mother was a Beauty, then your father was most certainly a Beast.”​

    I do not think any boy wants to hear that his father was particularly abrasive and violent person. I shouldn’t be surprised, it seems like he took after Grandfather greatly with that description. I suppose I should focus on Mother being a positive influence on Father and thank god that the only things I inherited from Father were his looks, his lack of enthusiasm for speaking, and his need to right wrongs in front of him. That’s right Walter, think positively. ​

    Go from being almost paranoid about a strange cat to concerns over my Father. This day is just cutting out to be distressing for me isn’t it?​

    Only the sounds of the car going down the road could be heard in the car. I was at a loss for words, for once not by choice. Saoirse just reached her hand back to take mine. I obliged her, she gave my hand a comforting squeeze. Normally I’d be averse to physical contact, but for once I welcomed it. ​

    “You know-” she started “-a certain someone came by the store today~”​

    Oh god. No. Please no. Not now. I do not need this.​

    I looked up in horror to see, The Look.​

    “Taylor came by.”

    I am aware Saoirse, I spoke with her on the way out. Finn helpfully, spoke up ​

    “You know, the Hebert’s front step is in dire need of a replacement…”​

    Thank you Finn, the prospect of work will ease my mind and the prospect of me helping out the Hebert’s will feed Saoirse’s flight of fancy. Now all I had to do was get the things I’d need to replace said step.​


    Taylor​

    12/29/2010, 10:34 AM​

    Once again, I find myself at the entrance to this strange shopping center, this time about to go further in then I have ever gone before. I don’t know why I’m thinking of this as if I’m about to go into the mines of Moria but it seems appropriate. ​

    I walked past McCullough’s Music Shoppe and Instrument Repair, as quickly and inconspicuously as possible. I didn’t want to see Walt just yet, best to get his gift then give it to him, then we can go on to just have awkward morning conversations and not talk about our school lives. Sounds like a plan.​

    The storefronts I looked at as I wandered further into The Champion’s District were rather eclectic and not a single chain or franchise among them with names like Bachman’s Book Shop, Jamieson Apothecary, Wyrd Science Supply, Diggin’ It Oddities & Antiquities, Gunnar the Gumshoe’s Shoes and Gum, the names seemed to be deliberately trying to one up each other in how strange or specific they were. Luckily that stopped as soon as I stepped out into the big courtyard, there was a big tree in the center with benches all around it, a few lamp posts here and there, and plenty of far more mundane storefronts along with a few eateries and cafes. Right by the main shopping hall exit was a large map, with a list of the stores in the area. According to the map there were a couple of branching paths that led from this courtyard out to some out of the way stores, one of which held the only thing under the “Hardware and Smithing” section of the index. I committed the route to memory and made my way into the somewhat crooked pathway deeper in to The Champion’s district. ​

    The path took odd turns and curves here and there, and the daylight seemed to struggle to reach into the pathway with the only light really keeping the cobblestone pavers visible being the store lights coming from the odd shops that dotted the alley. Finally, after what seemed like an hour, I had reached it.​

    Stuck into a strange dip of the ground, stacked on top of each other were two stores; On the ground floor was a tattoo parlor with a sign simply saying “Reeve’s” and with a smaller neon sign with an arrow pointing to a staircase leading down into a basement shop saying “Nuts N’ Bolts”​

    This was the place. I walked down the steps and opened the door, hearing a small bell chime as I walked in. The store is darker than I thought it’d be, with no windows and nothing but hanging incandescent bulbs that seemed days from going out to light the store poorly casting shadows that made the store seem bigger than it more than likely was. Looking further in to the store, there were tall shelves that reached the ceiling that just seemed to go on forever, blocking the view of anyone trying to get a fell for how big the store was. To my right was a counter and old register, the kind you’d have seen in the 50’s rather than anything closely resembling anything modern. No bell, no sign saying “Out to lunch” nothing. ​

    I heard accented muttering down the hall in front of me, heavily accented. As the voice got closer, I saw its source; a really short man with a thick beard, rubbing his bald head and looking over something on a clipboard. ​

    “Um, hello?” I said, trying to get the man’s attention. ​

    The man’s head shot up and he gave me a scowl, his voice was filled with grit and growl “Watcha’ wan’ girlie? I ain’t got all day.”​

    I let out a sigh before speaking. “I was wondering if you carried multi-tools? I have this list here. I was wondering if you carried any of them?”​

    I tried handing him the list and he just snatched it out of my hand, I got a look at the name tag pinned to his overalls, it read “Nabbi”​

    Nabbi crumpled up my list and tossed it behind him, landing dead center into an open trash bin by the counter. Before I could tell him off for that he held up a hand and spoke​

    “You don’t wan’ any of that shit, I have far better.” he waved me over as he hobbled down the hall.​

    I followed the grumpy bastard to further in to the store, the wood paneled floors seemed to have a slight incline and the store itself just seemed to keep going. Eventually we came to a stop in front of a display case with some really nice looking multi-tools, with some kind of cubbie set up, each filled with boxes.​

    Nabbi cleared his throat and spoke “Made everythin’ in this shop with my own two fuckin’ hands. Got me a little foundry and forge in the backyard to do it. You won’t find anything in this store that I didn’ make meself.”

    I looked at the case and then to the boxes. There wasn’t any price tags. “How much for this middle one here?”​

    Nabbi scoffed and crossed his arms “Nothin’ here gotta set price. You wants it. You gotta haggle for it.”​

    That sounded ridiculous, and I told him. He just scoffed and rolled his eyes.​

    “Take it or fuckin’ leave it stelpa.”​

    What the hell is a stelpa?​

    Either way, if this is how the grumpy bastard wanted to play then I may as well play along.

    “Twenty bucks” I started, he just scoffed

    “Eighty.”​

    “Thirty four”​

    “Seventy nine” he countered, looking at his nails​

    “Fourty and you gift wrap it, you bald bastard”​

    My eyes widened as I said that, I do not know why, but I said it. Nabbi looked like he was surprised I insulted him to his face.​

    “Well, stelpa’s got bite. Fifty and you can have your gift wrap.”​

    I took a quick breath and tried to stand as straight as possible as I looked Nabbi in the eye​

    “Fourty and I’ll wrap the damn thing myself.”​

    Nabbi tossed his clipboard behind him and clapped his hands “Sold! To the bespectacled stelpa with the attitude!”​

    He chuckled and grabbed a box from the middle row​

    “Come on kid, let me ring you up.”​

    The trip back to the front of the store was a hell of a lot quicker than the trip to the mutli-tool display, that’s for sure. While he rung me up, his rotary phone next to the register was ringing and there was a loud stamping noise coming from the ceiling. Nabbi angrily grabbed the receiver and shouted into it​

    “helvíti af þér helvítis álfur, I’m fuckin’ busy!” He ended the call with a slam.

    Curiosity got the better of me and I asked him “What was that all about.”​

    Nabbi scoffed, continued bagging the box, and shot his thumb to the ceiling “Neighbor’s probly wanting me to unfuck his ‘prentice’s mistakes. As usual.”​

    I didn’t have anything to say to that, I just thanked him, took the bag, and walked out of the store. As I got back up to ground level, the door to Reeve’s shot open. A frantic looking guy and a cloud of wispy smoke following him as he ran downstairs to Nuts N’ Bolts. I heard someone from the tattoo parlor shout after him​

    “Make sure that stunty answers his fucking phone!” with the frantic guy shouting “Yes sir!” in reply.

    Yeah, I didn’t want any of that right now and I just kept walking faster. I slowed down as I got towards McCullough’s and looked down at the bag. I hoped that Walt would appreciate it, It wouldn’t be really all that close to what the flute meant to me, but I hoped it’d be enough.​

    Without any warning, a loud screech of tires and a black blur in front of me made me drop the bag and flinch in surprise. My heart was pounding in my chest as I looked up and saw some guy around my age in a three piece suit that looked more expensive then anything I’ve ever seen in my life, he was riding around some carbon fiber single gear bike and fretting over it and his watch.​

    “Oh my sweet Pegaso, oh my dear fixie. It’s ok, papa is here to make sure you are still stylish and slick!” he paused and looked up at me “Oh yeah, you alright? Almost hit you, that would have sucked a bit. Would have gotten my suit scuffed or my watch-face scratched, and you’d have gotten hurt too. Probably.”​

    Oh great, one of those types. Black hair all shiny and slick with over-expensive hair product, brown eyes filled with arrogance, a physique that makes the shallow bimbos swoon, a suit that costs more than what dad makes in a year, a flashy designer watch, and an overpriced bike designed to cater to the idle rich. Pompous, arrogant, asshole.​

    Couldn’t forget the smile he was giving me, the kind that’d drive all the girls crazy I imagine. ​

    “Look as long as you want.” he said as he struck a pose “It is rare to see a fine and true specimen of masculine beauty like me.”​

    Ugh, as if. “What the hell are you doing riding your bike so damn fast into a shopping center anyway? Didn’t feel like getting your valet to take it to the bike rack?”​

    The jerk just chuckled and got back onto his bike, him facing me while leaning on the handlebars “Nope, took a wrong turn and this baby aint got brakes! Allow mine august self to make it up to you.”​

    What the hell is this idiot on?​

    He pulled his wallet out of his coat and thumbed out four hundred dollar bills and a slip of laminated paper that had McCullough’s Music’s logo on it.

    “I think this should cover the damages. Si?” he said with a smile.​

    “What the-”

    He shoved the bills and laminated slip into my hand before replying​

    “No. I’d love to stick around and slum it some more, but I have a… thing I’m running a bit late for. Keep the change kopelia. Arrivederci baby!”​

    Before I could hand him his money back he took off on that bike of his, back out onto the sidewalk and off to god knows where. Nothing I could do about it then, I just put the money and what I could see now is a hundred dollar slip for store credit into my wallet, recovered the bag, and made my way to the music shop door.​

    I opened it, and was greeted with Saoirse’s smiling face behind the counter.​


    Donnie Rhodes​

    12:40 PM​

    Ha! I lied to that plain, but leggy girl back at the good old CD! I wasn’t late for a thing, I was gonna be early!

    I’d be even earlier if it weren’t for force of habit having me do my sick slide break into the CD. Ah well, I got to give a girl a handout for her undoubtedly wonderful transformative shopping trip and I got to strut my stuff for someone who’s been deprived of witnessing my beauty. ​

    Truly I am magnanimous!​

    Still, riding my brake-less fixie through the sparse crowds of people meandering about the oh so fair city of Brockton by the Bay is such a glorious thrill!​

    The shocked look on the passersby, the wind blowing through my hair, the sharp drifts I perform on the turns, its all so…​

    ...divine.​

    Sadly its a short thrill today, with a mighty flourish a skid my bike sideways just in front of my destination; a set of lofts that we’ll be doing the shoot at. Taking my bike inside with me, a quick glance at my wonderful Pegaso watch tells me I have more then enough time to spare. Which means I can fully prepare for today’s shoot. Modeling is definitely more than just standing around looking pretty for the camera’s. ​

    You have to be on your photographer’s wavelength, the wardrobe must be perfectly chosen, and the makeup must be on point! Not to mention working with the location, luckily the location was this shabby looking loft, apropos for the line we’ll be showcasing but still shabby looking.​

    Taking the freight elevator up to the top floor, I made sure to text the team upstairs that I had arrived. Helps to not interrupt anything going on up there from my personal experience. The modeling scene is a strange and silly place at times I tell you.​

    Dolly would be the photographer on this shoot, loved working with him. He was one of the few people in this biz that I knew was as he presented himself (a rare occurrence I assure you) and he always knew how to direct models and the set dressers to make the best shots!​

    He also did not put up with anyone’s shit, not even mine. ​

    As the doors opened, I was greeted with the sight of him going over the models for tonight's shoot with what I assume is Wardrobe. Didn’t know him and until the shoot was done I wouldn’t bother remembering his name or face. I decided to eavesdrop on them, see if I could glean anything juicy​

    “Our main draw is gonna be Donnie Rhodes the Third. He’s got an Earth-Aleph Brad Pitt thing going on sans the frosted tips.” said Dolly.​

    Like I would be caught dead with frosted tips.​

    “I’m getting a bit of Anne Hesche there too.” Wardrobe paused before continuing “Ok did that sound gay?”​

    Ugh! One of these morons. I haven’t heard anyone say insecure shit like that since ‘02.​

    Clearing my throat got their attention, and the look on Wardrobe’s fave was priceless. He looked like I was about to smack him.​

    “Dunno why you’re worried, babe.” I said with a smirk “I don’t think anyone barring those empire boys even care if you’re into sausage or snatch. None of us do.”​

    I turned my head to Dolly “He new to the scene?”​

    Dolly chuckled “Yeah, his first gig.”​

    Wardrobe tried to laugh it off. “Yeah, I was surprised when they told me to bring my best pieces for the shoot. Even more surprised when they called me up and said they’d be using my designs.”​

    Well we’ll pop your cherry soon babe.​

    I set my fixie in a corner and left Dolly to it. I grabbed one of the copies of the design sketches for the shoot as I sat in make-up, making sure to greet everyone before I sat of course. To be honest, with all of the excitement over the past few days and with Pops flying in to buy a more permanent residence out here, I needed a refresher on what the shoot was about. I know we were doing urban streetwear from the design sheets but Dolly always had a way of cutting the bull with me.​

    I got one of the assistants to flag him down and bring him over​

    “Dolly, remind me why we’re doing this shoot in this shabby loft?”

    Dolly leaned against the makeup table and rubbed his temples​

    “Local style mag that set up this whole thing wants to showcase local talent and go for a more urban feel. Say they want to switch things up and feel out the waters for a new ‘zine.”​

    Well, I make anything look good. Hell I bet I could make the Derelicte line look good if I felt like it. I could damn well make this DIESEL wannabe stuff look good as well.

    “Well, Dolly.” I said to him “It’s at least good to be working with Nessa again.”​

    Another natural born beauty, both inside and out. Even if her boyfriend is a colossal moron.​

    When I looked over to Dolly, I saw a look I have come to dread in this biz. The look of a photographer pissed that his carefully constructed shoot was being fucked with.​

    “Nessa had to cancel on me, which is fair, this is kinda last minute seat of the pants shit.” he started “Apparently her boyfriend finally proposed and they’ve eloped to Hawaii to have their honeymoon.”​

    Oh. Well good for them. The idiot finally took my advice and popped the damn question, he’s good for her and she is way out of his league. She genuinely loves that dumb bastard too. Still! Nessa is one of the few models in the biz that gets me and I can work with without issue!​

    “Who’s the replacement?” I ask​

    Dolly shook his head and rolled his eyes. “Local girl, up and comer. About your age, ginger, got a nice body if you’re into that kind of shit. Emma Barnes.”​

    Oh great. Gingers.​

    “Gingers rarely make for smooth shoots, Dolly.” I told him a thousand times before and I have yet to be proven wrong. ​

    It would be another hour or so before this Barnes girl shows up. I was as dissapointed as I thought I would be. Though not for the reasons I thought I would.​

    Dolly was right, she was in fact a ginger and had a nice body if you were into busty redheads. That beauty was indeed skin deep, if I had to put it into words it would be​


    As beautiful as the finest china doll and twice as hollow.​

    To be honest, with that assessment I just tuned out the girl and went along with the shoot as well as I could with such a horrendous partner. No doubt, between my perfect body and her above average looks, Dolly and his post team would make something worthy of being framed and put in an exhibition. I was fairly certain the girl was trying to either seduce me or converse with me, which I ignored and focused on the shoot. ​

    Everything this girl may as well have been nonsense to me, I have no time for such twisted and irreparably broken things. No matter how pretty they are on the surface.​

    When Mama was still with us, she had noted that I was rather good at reading people and assessing them. Said I would be good in any field I set my mind to. She was right, although I could never read her or Pops. ​

    Praise thee Aphrodite, for the shoot is over and I can be rid of this loathsome girl.​

    I grabbed my fixie and walked past Ginger as I got on the elevator, sadly the doors close slowly and she managed to board, being sure to fill the beautiful silence with her foul jabbering. ​

    I could not believe that she actually was continuing on with this while I was actively ignoring her. ​

    Even when we reached the ground floor, the damn thing tried to hang off my free arm. Begone vile thing, we have no need of you here!​

    “Vaffanculo.” I muttered as I wrenched my arm away from her​

    “That mean beautiful in whatever language you’re speaking, hot stuff?” she babbled​

    I got on my bike and looked her dead in those dim eyes of hers. “It means fuck you, and it’s Italian.”​

    I relished the look of utter shock that her feminine wiles had failed her and sped off towards the penthouse, thinking to more positive things such as Pops’ near arrival.

    Walt​

    6:19 PM​

    With one final brushstroke, the wood stain is finally done. Took me all day to do it, but the Hebert’s now no longer need to skip a step when walking into their home. It took me some trial and error, but I somehow managed to match the stain with the rest of the wood on the porch. A fine job if I say so.​

    Nobody was home when I had started around ten, I figured that Mr Hebert would be at work since it was the middle of the week, but I hadn’t seen Taylor around. I doubt it’d be for school, winter break is still on. Ah well, guess it’ll be yet another surprise for her. Might be for Mr Hebert now that I think on it, Finn did say he gave Mr Hebert a call…​

    Neither here nor there and nothing to do but wait on the stain to dry.​

    Seeing Finn and Saoirse coming down the road was a sure surprise, guess they must have closed up early. Even bigger surprise was seeing someone in their backseat. When they pulled into the driveway, I saw that it was Taylor. She came out of the car and her eyes went a little wide when she saw me, she had a plastic bag with something bulky in it.​

    Finn waved at me and announced “Look who we found on our way back from work!”​

    Taylor looked a bit bashful at the attention, it was cute.​

    I just waved, I guess I looked a bit foolish. Finn and Taylor walked towards me and I met them at the Hebert’s driveway, Finn walked past me to get the tools I was going to recover and leaving Taylor to talk. Finn, if it weren’t for the rules of hospitality I would neglect to put sugar in your coffee. ​

    “Hey.” she said​

    “Hey, yourself.” I replied.​

    Finn stopped to speak with the bucket full of tools and supplies in one hand “Taylor came by looking for you and we figured we’d give her a ride home before your grandmother and I went out to catch the picture show.”​

    OK? You closed up early to give our neighbor a ride and for you and Saoirse to go on a date? I smell shenanigans. ​

    Finn patted me on the shoulder and went on to put the tools in the garage and hop back into the car with Saoirse. “You kids have fun now!” he shouted as he and Saoirse waved.​

    With that, they went off to catch that “picture show” leaving Taylor and I standing in her driveway. ​

    Awkward silences, truly you are a constant companion in this city. I thank you for your companionship.​

    Taylor looked over to the still drying porch step​

    “Finn told me you were replacing the rotten step, I honestly didn’t believe it when he told me”​

    “Yeah, noticed the state of it when I delivered that flute of yours. Figured if I had the means to, I’d replace it. Felt right.”​

    Taylor sighed wistfully and looked back to me “I honestly thought it would stay like that forever.”​

    “So.” Taylor finally said after a beat or so “I got you this.”​

    she handed me the box within the bag before continuing. ​

    “I figured, since you got me something for Christmas I should return the favor. It’s not much but I figured you’d like it.”​

    Curiosity gripped me as I opened the plain box, the contents; a beautifully made multi-tool. I tested it out, pulling the components out, the knife was a useful length for damn near any occasion and was the best made bit in my opinion. I tested the sharpness against the sparse hair on my arm, it was sharp enough. Little things like exploring a new tool made life worth living, simple pleasures always meant so much to me. Closing the tool and pocketing it, she giggled when I looked up to thank her.​

    “You looked like a kid who just got the best toy ever for Christmas.”​

    I tipped my hat down to hide my face, trying to ignore the sudden heat.​

    A sudden screech of tires and door slam got me to look back up, Mr Hebert had arrived home.​

    Taylor gasped out “Dad?”​

    He was rather angry from the look of things, he had an accordion folder stuffed to the brim haphazardly with papers and rather foul look on his face. He looked paler than the last time I saw him, he stopped at the porch and looked rather angry at my handiwork.​

    “What the hell is this?”​

    I guess Finn neglected to call him, or he had forgotten the call in his angered state. Taylor walked over to him.​

    “Walt came by and replaced the step.” She paused for a bit taking in the state of him “What happened, why are you home so early?”​

    Mr Hebert growled and bristled before replying “Kurt told me to go home, said I was working too damn hard. Like he can tell me a damn thing…”​

    Mr. Hebert stopped and looked at me, his eyes filled with recognition and hatred.​

    “Taylor.” he said. “Get in the damn house.”​

    Taylor’s face went through emotions ranging from shock, anger, and then finally, grim acceptance. She gave me a look and a wave before going inside, looking defeated. Mr. Hebert marched up to me, I smelt a little bit of alcohol on his breath as he got close.​

    “I’m gonna ask you this one time.” he said “What the fuck are you thinking, being alone with my daughter, fixing my porch step?”​

    I steeled myself before speaking, I don’t know why but I knew that Mr Hebert was not acting himself. ​

    “Sir, I noticed one of your porch steps was nearly rotten through, last I was over. I felt like helping a neighbor out and replacing it. My grandfather said he called you.”​

    Something inky and black darted out of the corner of my eye, I dared not break focus on Mr Hebert’s face to see it. Mr Hebert got closer, the scent of cheap beer on his breath.​

    “What the hell are you doing coming to my house, boy?”​

    What? He should know, Finn talked to him. ​

    “I was delivering the flute sir.” I said to him, hopefully getting the tone right for polite acquiescence​

    The inky black thing darted around some more and Mr. Hebert’s face became wracked with confusion.​

    “Wha? When? When did that…” He began to trail off and I tried to catch sight of the black thing ​

    As my gaze wandered, I felt Mr Hebert grab my chin and made sure I was looking at him.​

    “Look me in the eye when I’m talking to you boy.”​

    Now usually when someone tries to pull this with me I would be defiant and ready to come to blows. Something about this was concerning, and it was rather apparent on my face.​

    “Yes sir.” Was all I said​

    “Your dad was a violent and evil bastard, kid.” He said with a spit. “Anything he made is rotten, and better stay the fuck away from my daughter. You got that?”​

    “Sir. I have no ill or untoward intentions towards your daughter.” I answered truthfully “I just thought I’d help out a neighbor and saw a wrong that needed righting. No more, no less.”​

    I finally caught sight of the black thing! It looked like a faded mass of swirling ink, resembling the late Mrs. Hebert, it flowed around him leaning in to whisper in Mr Hebert’s ear. ​

    He lies…” I heard it whisper​

    Mr Hebert grabbed me by the throat and drew me close before speaking​

    “Listen here, you are never to set foot one fucking inch on my property line, you are not to speak or look at my daughter, you hear me?” The scent of cheap beer was getting stronger the more he spoke “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll crawl back to whatever hole your daddy crawled out of.”​

    As Mr Hebert’s grip tightened around me, I saw “Not Mrs. Hebert” caress Mr Hebert’s neck like a lover, whispering sweet nothings into his ear.​

    He let go of my neck, and I fell onto the sidewalk, Mr Hebert just walked away. I saw that damned black thing suck something bright out of his ear as he marched into the house. I could only stare in shock.​

    I gripped the multi-tool Taylor gave me and swore to myself that I would find out what that thing was, and what it was doing to Mr Hebert. I swore to myself that I would stop it, come hel or high-water.​

    I got up, dusted myself off and marched into my house, I needed to prepare, even if I didn’t know how. ​

    I reached my room and walked in, upon my bed was the Encyclopedia Fabula with that cat from the past couple days sitting on my bed, one paw resting on the book. ​

    It smiled and locked eyes with me before saying​

    “Well now, it looks like you’re going to need some help with this one, boyo.”​

    Well, it took me a bit. But here it is. This marks the moment were things are gonna get into the Scion side of things. Special thanks to coca-cola and Full Throttle Enegy drink for fueling my madness. I await your reactions with gusto, have a wonderful week.
     
  20. Gladiusone

    Gladiusone Experienced.

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    Well, I asked for Scion, and I got Scion, but I wasn’t expecting Adonis freaking Rhodes. Are we likely to see more of the Canon Band or their foes?

    Hmmmm, a Guide for the boy?
     
  21. BrotherMouse518

    BrotherMouse518 Know what you're doing yet?

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    Donnie Rhodes the Third. Thats his boy. Adonis Rhodos himself will be making frequent appearances, expect to see some of the "canon" characters here and there.
     
    Ack and Yeetboi like this.
  22. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    I honestly have no idea what's going on here, but i'm enjoying it so far.
     
  23. BrotherMouse518

    BrotherMouse518 Know what you're doing yet?

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    Oh? In what way? Did I fuck up?
     
    InsanexSilence and Ack like this.
  24. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    I'm not sure who half of these characters are, but it's an interesting read.
     
  25. BrotherMouse518

    BrotherMouse518 Know what you're doing yet?

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    Quick show of hands, would you all like a short (2.~ word) entry right here and now or a longer (3~5k) entry that will drop in a few hours at the earliest and monday evening at the latest?

    I still don't really have a schedule for this other than "Whenever I have time and the effort to give." which translates to the days I don't work. (NEVER WORK AT A GAS STATION IN A TOWN FULL OF TWEAKERS)

    I will continue writing in the meantime, but if enough people say they want that instant gratification, I will deliver.
     
  26. Miller At the Wash

    Miller At the Wash I trust you know where the happy button is?

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  27. Threadmarks: Origin 1.7
    BrotherMouse518

    BrotherMouse518 Know what you're doing yet?

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    Walt​

    12/29/2010, 6:39 PM​


    There is a cat on my bed speaking to me in English, with a Bostonian accent.​

    The cat. Just talked. To me. In a Bostonian accent.​

    The cat, that I was foolishly worrying about prior to this mess, is talking to me.​

    In a Bostonion. Accent.​

    Of all things.​

    …​

    OK. Let’s do this calmly and quietly, Walter.​

    I took a seat in my office chair, bringing my hand up to rub my temples.​

    “So, what is your name and why can you talk?” I did my best not to come off as rude, but I doubt that anyone would’ve taken it any other way.

    The cat tilted his head before answering, I couldn’t tell if he were amused or annoyed.​

    “I am Evian. I am one of the Sidhe.” he says “A Cait Sidhe to be precise.”​

    If I recall correctly, Sidhe is another word for fairy, can’t for the life of me say what a Cait Sidhe is.​

    “OK then, why are you here?” I ask​

    The cat, Evian, stretched out and scratched behind his ear before lazily answering “I believe I’ve already said that.”​

    Not what I meant, cat. “I’ll ask again; why are you here, cat?”​

    Evian hummed and leapt in to my lap “Scritches first, then explanation. More like your pa then I thought...”​

    This fairy cat knew my father? That’s another question he owes me. With no other choice, I pet this annoying talking cat and made sure to scratch his ears, all the while contemplating shaking him like a rag-doll and demanding he answer me. Eventually, the cat was sufficiently relaxed and spoke up from his position on my lap.​

    “Not bad for someone who’s never had a lap pet before. Now, to elaborate on why I’m here; I was sent here by your ma. Now before you start saying ‘She’s dead though’ the situation is a little more complicated then that and let’s leave it at that for now. Either way, I’m here to give you a kick in the right direction, seeing as how you got yourself into a situation a little above your weight class at the moment. What that entails; I’m here to put you on the right track and help you find the tools you will need to undertake this endeavor. I ain’t here to hold your hand, Nothing More.”​

    I stopped petting and scratching, the strange cat whined a bit at that.​

    “You know what’s making Mr. Hebert act that way?” I asked the cat​

    “I know how you can find out for yourself.” he replied coyly​

    That was it, I moved the cat to make it meet my eyes “Cut the shit. Speak plainly, none of this dancing around questions. Now, cat.”​

    The cat rolls his eyes before looking into mine and replying “That book. It chose you, and it will help you find the answers you seek. But, the book can’t be read without a certain something and you don’t quite have it yet.”​

    “How can that book help? It’s just empty pages and nonsense.” I asked​

    “The title should have clued you in, and don’t you know that things are rarely as they seem on the surface?”​

    The irony that a talking cat was saying this was not lost on me.​

    Evian wriggled out of my grasp and did something that would stick with me for the rest of my days, he contorted himself in an odd manner as to make himself bipedal and upright, his top paws growing some facsimile of opposable thumb. The cat reached behind himself and pulled a wax seal envelope from...somewhere.​

    “Here you go, open it up and read it wicked quick, alright kid?” he said as he handed me the envelope.

    On a closer inspection, the wax seal was that of a rose and crossing revolvers. Not wanting to ruin the seal, I took the multi-tool Taylor gave me and cut under the wax, I made sure to remove it from the envelope and slide it on to my desk. The contents of the envelope were a polaroid photo of an Airstream trailer, parked in the clearing of a dense wood, and a letter. I opened the letter and read it aloud​

    “The Atelier of Doreen McCullough is located within the Airstream trailer parked at-”​

    I had finished reading the letter in my head before reading it aloud and once I had done so, the photo, envelope, and letter burnt to nothing with smokeless fire. Only the wax seal I had left on the desk was left.​

    While I could not think of, speak, or if I had the materials to, write it. I knew exactly where this “Atelier” was.​

    “What just happened?” I demanded of the cat​

    The cat walked over to my closet and shushed me “No time for that kid, we gotta go to your mom’s trailer and do some prep-work. Make sure to bring the book.”​

    While I was loathe to admit it, the cat was right. No time for dawdling. I hadn’t filled my backpack with school supplies yet, and there was nothing impeding me from putting the book inside it. I slung the pack on and looked down at the cat.​

    “So how are we getting there, cat?” I asked “I don’t even think this trailer is in the state.”​

    Evian chuckled “Ain’t that the understatement of the century, either way the same way I got here from my place; shortcut!”​

    I watched the cat open up my closet and hop up to flick the light switch, and pointed a specific wood panel in the floor.​

    “Alright kid, you got that multi-tool, and you probably got a shim or something on it.”​

    I did.​

    “Stick it right here” he pointed out a crack “and lift it up”​

    I did so, and under the wood panel was a compartment. Inside the compartment was a palm sized smooth black stone with a swooping sigil carved in to it along with that odd text associated with the Old Norse curving under it.​

    “ᛊᚨᚠᛖ ᛏᚱᚨᚢᛖᛚᛊ”​

    Evian squatted down and pointed to the stone. “Alright, now listen close and listen good. Whilst touching the stone and thinking of the trailer from the photo, say ‘Taistel’. Got it?”​

    I nodded my head, he walked behind me and crawled up my back. “Go for it kid.”

    I hesitated. This could be me walking face first into something I can’t fight my way out of. From what little I have read, and even littler that I remembered, one should never trust fairies. They don’t think like normal folk do, but then again I ain’t exactly normal apparently. I held on to the multi-tool tightly, touched the stone and said it​

    “Taistel”​

    As soon as the word left my lips, I knew what it was like being able to fit through the eye of a needle and then regain my proper shape. As soon as I landed, I expelled the contents of the day’s sparse meals on to the grass of the grove, it continued till even my bile was emptied. That damned cat laughed the whole time​

    “Ah, you never forget your first time.”

    Be lucky I feel animals above physical abuse, cat.​

    Once my stomach had settled and regained the strength, I took in the sight before me. The trees that circled the clearing were oppressively tall, casting shadows straight from a child’s most frightening nightmare. Strangely, the tops of the trees were alight with a strange glow, I made out shapes within that light, the kind of things that I heard young children speak of when in the midst of an explosion of imagination. I could only say that this light was imagination made manifest. The clearing itself was lit as if the noonday sun was shining down on it, illuminating it completely. The grass of the clearing was soft to the point of feeling downy, and was littered with small patches of flowers of varying kinds, all of which had coloration and patterns that couldn’t ever occur naturally. The only flower I knew the name of were roses, and there were many there, the ones that stood out the most were a deep blue with petals that ended in a red the shade of freshly spilled blood.​

    I looked over to the walking cat, and looked him in his violet eyes. “What is this place?”​

    Evian walked over to me and smoothed out the wrinkles on my shoulders and spoke “This here is a Glade, kid. Your ma’s glade.”​

    I’d love it if you elaborated, cat.​

    I walked over to the Airstream, the aluminum siding still pristine and shining as if it had just came off the assembly line. The photo did not properly convey the size of this thing, I was not aware if Airstream made, what looked to me, triple and a half wide trailers but somehow Mother had gotten one and parked it in this odd place. I looked towards the cat before speaking​

    “This trailer looks pristine for something exposed to the elements for who knows how long.”​

    “Yeah.” He said shortly “If you’re wondering how long its been since anyone else has been here, the last people to set foot here were Doreen, Eric, and you. You just turned three weeks old at the time.”​

    I would say that almost fifteen years of being parked in a heavily wooded area exposed to the elements and not showing any sign of degradation of the aluminum was impossible, but I was about to say it to a talking and walking cat in a grove of impossibly colored flowers. Evian continued on;​

    “That stone that took you here, was a Journeystone. One of your mother’s creations, made it so practitioners of the craft could safely travel from place to place. She also came up with some charms to keep her trailer pristine.” He said with a genuine smile on his face​

    It didn’t take a genius to connect the dots, but best to get confirmation​

    “Was Mother a witch of some fashion?”​

    “Oh, no kid.” Evian replied while beaming with pride “She’s much more than that.”​

    What the hell does that mean, cat?​

    “Enough reminiscing.” he continued “Trailer should let you in no problem.”​

    I opened the trailer door and walked in, feeling the trailer welcome me as if I were family not seen in a long while, Evian following after. The cat walked in and opened his arms wide​

    “Your ma called this place her Atelier, everything she needed to work her craft was right here.”​

    He pointed to a section of the trailer where a large steamer trunk and a desk that looked like the lovechild of a hobbyist’s workbench and an altar of some sort.​

    “That’s where she made the magic happen.” the cat said. “The trunk is where she stored the fruits of her labor that didn’t need refrigeration or freezing.”

    Evian went further in to the trailer to grab a stool and dragged it over near the desk. “Alright, this will be the only time I hold your hand. After this is said and done, you’re on your own.”​

    “Alright, so what do I need to do?” I sighed and gave the driest look I could to the fairy cat and held out my hand “Hands there to hold.”​

    Evian rolled his eyes and crossed his “arms” before sarcastically laughing​

    “Easy there smartass.” he pointed to the desk “Place the book on the desk and turn on the light-”​

    I did so​

    “-now go over to the fridge and open it.”​

    Again, I did so​

    “Now, do you see the big clear decanter with a post-it note saying DO NOT DRINK?”​

    I did. The decanter was filled with a liquid that was shimmering and swirling black and green.​

    “Grab it”​

    I pulled it out and closed the fridge.​

    “Alright, now here’s the crucial part. Drink it.”​

    I stopped and shot him a look. The cat smiled and reiterated​

    “Just drink it.”​

    I didn’t break eye contact with the infuriating feline “You are aware that you are asking me to drink something that not only is clearly filled with some kind of metallic glitter, but is also clearly labeled ‘DO NOT DRINK’ in bold capital letters?”​

    Evian nodded “I am aware.”

    “You still want me to drink it”

    “Yup” little bastard even popped the p​

    “How is this going to help me find the answers I’m looking for?”​

    “Drink it and find out.”​

    Yet again, I must resist the urge to throttle this fucking cat. My ire getting the better of me, I stared into Evian’s eyes, my displeasure with his flippancy and lack of anything resembling help beyond getting me here. I didn’t blink, he did. When he did, he broke eye contact and looked at the floor of the trailer, a sigh escaping from his maw.​

    “Look, I’m not allowed to go into specifics of why. Only thing I can say is that there’s something keepin’ you from really seeing and drinking that stuff will fix it. You may want to do this over in the bedroom by the by.”​

    As good as an explanation as I am going to get, it seems. I took the decanter to the rear of the trailer, where the bedroom was separated by sheer curtains. I sat at the foot of the bed, silently praying that this would in fact lead me on the path to save Mr. Hebert from that creature. After steeling myself, I popped the top off the container and took a whiff of the liquid, there was no scent whatsoever. I took a deep breath and began to chug the liquid down. I don’t know how, but the liquid was somehow extremely smooth and very sticky going down my throat, its taste was that of sour, nothing specifically sour, just sour, and gunpowder or at least what the smell of gunpowder turned to taste. The taste wasn’t unbearable at first but became stronger and more disgusting as I kept drinking it. Once I was done, I set the empty decanter on a nightstand and looked over to Evian, still sitting on a stool.​

    “Vile to the last drop.” I told him “That wasn’t so bad.”​

    Evian shook his head and said, with a voice as dry as a desert “Wait for it”​

    I didn’t even get the chance to reply before I felt fire in my veins!​

    Pain, sudden and more intense than anything I had ever felt in my life, coursed throughout every inch of my body. In my frenzied state of panic, I threw off my coat and shirt thinking that I had caught fire, only to see my skin with intricate runes, circles, and sigls that were bubbling and boiling before sloughing off. It felt as though I were melting from the inside out, I flailed around before falling unconscious.

    I came to laying on the bed., surprisingly feeling more refreshed and lighter than I had ever felt in my whole life, it was as if I had been living up to this point with weights strapped to my limbs. I quickly sat up and looked for Evian, quickly finding him still sitting on the stool.​

    I asked him how long I was unconscious​

    He replied “Oh, only about five minutes. You were screaming your head off and rolling around like a spaz for fifteen.”​

    Luckily it didn’t feel all that long.​

    “What did that drink do to me? What were those black markings that melted off?”​

    “Those markings were a bit of protection from your ma and pa, they figured if something happened where they couldn’t take care of you this would keep you out of trouble from our end of things. Some of it was broken from what little I saw, right where that scar on your chest is. Explains how you were able to spot me spying on you and how you saw that thing in old Danny boy.”​

    The cat pointed towards my chest “What happened to make that scar anyway?”​

    “Got hurt.” All I would or wanted to say on the matter.​

    The cat shook his head and then nodded his head towards the desk “You should be able to read that book now, hop to it.”​

    Walking with a spring in my step I never knew I could have I sat at the desk and opened the book, relishing that scent of fresh grass and clover as I cracked the old book open. As the book opened I saw bookmarks, highlighted lines of text, dog eared pages, post-it notes, pen marks circling or crossing out lines of text, and many other annotations appear before my very eyes. As I flipped through the book trying to gauge the ratio of text per page, I realized that it had far too many pages for its size. Hell, I even tested it by grabbing the “last” pages and letting them flip downwards from my grip, I had to stop myself from staring at the seemingly unending cascade of paper.​

    Without turning to him, I asked Evian “How come I couldn’t see any of this before I drank that thing?”​

    “The runes and sigils that were tattooed into your skin, they had The Mists woven into them.”​

    “Elaborate, cat.” I needed to know more​

    I heard him sigh before replying “Reader’s Digest; magic, the gods, and monsters exist. At some point, the A-Lister gods got together and made The Mists to be a buffer between the mundane and the magical-slash-divine from intermingling too frequently. Nobody knows why, just that one day everything was free to interact and then one day – BOOM – mortals don’t get to interact anymore, many a horny bastard and desperate housewife were saddened by this, but what can you do? The Mists basically are one big force of shiny clouds that pop up and stop the bigger and meaner beasties from wrecking havoc across the world, keeps shit like fairies pulling a Maleficent (yes I watch movies and TV, there isn’t much to do when you’re disguised as a normal cat other than slam rails of catnip and lick your own nuts and ass), or preventing another Zeus from sowing his seed so freely. Thing is it ain’t foolproof and you get the smaller, wilier, and occasionally cuter, but more often sinister, thingies slipping through the cracks and to limit the damage-”​

    “The apparition bewitching Mr. Hebert is one of those smaller, wilier, and for sure sinister ‘thingies’, I take it?” I interjected​

    “-First off; rude but you got it in one. Anyway, The Mists basically keep regular mortals from seeing it or the damage it causes. It’s all until something or someone spots it and stops it, sadly the people who would normally do that are considered bat-shit insane by some and completely retarded by others.”

    I was amazed that he did that so quickly and all in one breath, the cat took another deep breath before resuming his explanation while I idly flipped through the book.​

    “So! You get situations like the one you have found yourself in, where someone who has never encountered the supernatural has to step in and solve the problem or Bad Things happen. The kind of shit scary campfire stories, urban legends, and unsolved mysteries are made of. Yeah, it ain’t a foolproof system and it’s bigger and meaner shit is coming out every day-”​

    “Is that where the Endbringers, Parahumans, and those monster capes come from?” I interrupted again, ceasing my page flipping.

    “-Again; rude, second; no. Nobody on our end seems to know, or at least nobody I’ve talked to. A lotta folk on our end of things blame ‘em for the state of the world and to be completely honest I am one of them. Shit was bad before, but those bastards managed to fuck all three holes at once my friend-”​

    Interesting, Parahumans do not come from a Paranormal source then. Or at least of the arcane variety.​

    “-Getting back on track; bigger and meaner shit is coming through lately and there’s a lot of noise coming from up top, the big dogs are barking, and this cat is worried. Hell, I work for a pair and they don’t tell me shit! I shouldn’t have admitted that last part…”​

    No, yet more things you’re hiding from me, cat. Be lucky that I still need your help.​

    “OK! Long story short; big shit is coming, a lot of us don’t know what, and the only reason why the rest of the world aint seein fairies, goblins (real ones, not what ever Nilly-bo-billy makes in Ellisburg), and oh so loveable Cait Sith on the nightly news or in a PRT lockup somewhere is The Mists. Which your ma and pa, for their own reasons, wove into magical protections, and then put those into your skin.”​

    I suppose to protect me from those things slipping through the cracks.​

    Evian continued “Alright, since the thing messing with Danny boy ain’t your average beastie that could be bested by ballistic, beating, or basic banishment, I have to step in and give you that kick in the right direction. That swig you took that let you read that book, me showing you how to get here, and finally what I am about to tell you are all that kick. No more babysitting, got it?”​

    “Yes.”​

    “Alright, so that book chose you, and before you even ask; yes it can do that, I’m fairly certain it is alive and sapient or whatever the term is. Your ma was the previous owner of that book and she had an eye out for it for…” Evian hummed and made an odd sound before continuing “...let’s just say a long ass time and leave it at that, but she was by no means the go-GIRL to have it fall in to their life and as evidence by you, will not be the last. The book is really damn old and has been in the hands of many a scholar, hunter, archivist, and any other ‘ist’ with an interest in the paranormal and it encourages it’s owners to add their own color commentary to its entries, nobody knows who wrote it, nobody knows why. I was around when your ma had it and she explained to me how the damn thing works; All you have to do is address the book vocally while tossing out keywords, like for instance-”​

    I looked down at the book and spoke “Inky and or swirling black, takes form of loved one, effects the mind”​

    I heard what I assumed was the cat’s attempt at clapping as the book snapped open and began flying through its own pages, alphabetized tabs appeared along the edge of the pages and the blank pages before me became filled with swirling inky lines before straightening into an arrow that would blink and bold text saying “Here you go, go nuts. Glad to meet you.”

    The cat neglected to mention the book being able to converse. I thanked the book as I turned the page and “don’t mention it” appeared along the margins. It didn’t take long to find what I was looking for, almost every entry prior to it did not fit in anything but the vaguest sense. The particular creature I was looking for was an Algean. The “official” text of the book went as follows;

    Named for the Greek daimones of pain and suffering, an Algean is a type of Dream Eater that invades the sleeping minds of those who have recently gone through physical or emotional trauma, torments them in their dreams over a period of years to drain the life essence from their victims. Algeans can influence their hosts through this process and push them to isolate themselves from friends and family, focus on tasks that would accomplish nothing but inflict more stress and self isolation of the host, and once the victim is drained low enough, push the host to commit horrendous acts upon their closest friends and family so that the Algean can find a new host, this process leaves its hosts almost completely drained of their soul, and the weight of all the acts they have committed while under the creature’s influence leaves the now former host with only thoughts of suicide to end their own suffering.

    The annotations left by previous owners of the book were varied, written in various languages that the book translated as I read them, and those that deigned to sign their annotations dated as far back as 1203. The ones that stood out me, were the following;​

    These bastards can’t be hurt in the physical world. I tried to reach out and grab it’s throat while tailing its host, and my hand just went right through it. Don’t matter what you put on your hand; silver, iron, lead, obsidian, nothing works. They can only be harmed inside the host’s dream.
    - Garret of Bamburgh 13
    th of March, the Sixteen-hundred-and-tenth year of our lord.

    They will take the form of their current host’s source of anguish, it need not be a loved one but the beasts favor those forms. Especially if the host’s anguish was caused by the death of such folk.
    - Tomás de Torquemada, Grand Inquisitor of His Majesty King Ferdinand and His Holiness’ Inquisition, 5
    th of August, 1489

    If the friends, family, or co-workers of the victim attempt to help ease their torment in any fashion, the beast will use whatever power it has over the poor bastard’s mind to influence them into being more irritable, angry, or if the beast has drained enough of the host; violent.
    - Sgt. First Class, Carl J. Russel, US Army. 05/22/1917

    These were the ones among those that felt the need to sign and date their entries, and they were the most insightful among them. However, there was one anonymous annotation that will haunt me for the rest of my life;​

    If threatened, the creature will accelerate the process of consuming the soul of its current host. The only things that it will feel legitimately threatened by are things that can face it within The Dreaming; certain faeries, sorcerers, Gods of the night and of dreams, tulpas that have yet to materialize into the material, guardian spirits, and lucid dreamers are feared by all Algeans. Once the Algean knows that something is on to it and can face it within The Dreaming, it will do everything in its power to finish off the current host and find a new one in one last big act of Evil. I recall the tale of a recently widowed father who did all manner of violence upon his daughter when an apprentice Witch had attempted to save the man within his dreams without the aid of her Mistress and had failed. During my interrogation of the apprentice, she had confessed that since one could not die within a dream, she could attempt again another night. Showing her the aftermath of her folly was enough to show her the folly of her actions, and the apprentice had thrown herself into the nearby loch in penance. This has proven the theory held by the previous owners of this tome that there is only one chance at defeating the beast, lest it continue to spread suffering and corruption wherever they go. If you fail, you must immediately kill the host before it can commit its final act before passing itself on to another. This will kill the creature. I know this. I have seen it done by my own hand.

    I swear, neither Taylor nor her father will fall victim to this monster any longer. I looked to Evian, still lounging on the stool but now in his normal feline guise.​

    “How do I enter The Dreaming?” I asked him​

    The cat snorted “Sleep.”​

    “How do I enter Mr. Hebert’s dream?” I asked, slowly losing my patience​

    “Lot’s of ways.” He replied “If you want to be lucid and worth a damn while doing it, you’re gonna need a Paired Dreamer’s Charm. Put one inside his pillow case and one inside your own and BAM, you’re both lucid dreaming! Should be a set in your Ma’s trunk.”​

    With a careful haste, I got out of my chair and knelt down in front of the trunk. Opening it up revealed a meticulously organized setup reminiscent of an over-sized tackle box. Each item was in a plastic baggie and clearly labeled with black marker, each tray had a label denoting an item’s category, Charms were towards the bottom of the trunk and to the rear and there was only one still there; The Paired Dreamer’s charms.​

    The charms themselves were little larger than a silver dollar coin and consisted of a triangular stone with an almost perfect circle naturally eroded through with a braided string tied through the hole. On further inspection, the string was made of human hair from two people; hair similar in color to mine and a vibrant red, it was a safe assumption that it was made from the hair of my parents.​

    With all that I needed in hand, I walked back to the spot where the cat and I landed and found a matching stone to the one in my closet. I knelt down and felt the cat jump on to my back, with that I uttered “Taistel” and once again was threaded through a needle. This time however, my insides did not feel it necessary to eject their contents on to my floor.​

    Still in the same position I had left Mother’s Grove in, I returned the floorboard to its proper place and looked over to my alarm clock, the digital numbers reading six-fifty PM, despite knowing I had spent at least two hours in the grove only eleven minutes had past.​

    I looked behind me, searching for Evian, hoping he would provide an answer. I saw nothing, and heard the rustle of a sheet of paper on my backpack.​

    You’re on your own from here kid
    -E

    I crumpled the paper in my hand before dropping it into my garbage bin. Guess the cat wasn’t lying, I’m on my own from here.​

    I heard Mr. Hebert’s truck pull out in to the street with a screech, off to god knows where.​

    I barely had a plan, and it was a long shot, but I had to try lest I need to attempt more drastic measures.​


    Taylor​


    12/30/10, 6:56 PM​


    Dad went off to get another case of beer.​

    Apparently he finally got to the case he bought the other day and found out he grabbed a case full of bad ones.​

    He said he’d “Deal with me later” and to “Stay the fuck away from that punk-ass next door” last night and hasn’t said a word to me since. He just acts as if I wasn’t even there, just muttering to himself about “work needing to be done” like he was possessed or something. Hell, the only reason I even know where he’s going now was because he kept muttering on about it before he left.​

    What happened to dad? Why is he like this? Why did he look like he was going to kill Walt?​

    I need to know why, and I doubt I’ll get an answer.​

    A frantic knock at my front door breaks me from my brooding and I walked down to answer it.​

    To my surprise, it was Walt, looking very nervous and checking both ends of the street for obvious reasons.

    “You shouldn’t be here.” I told him

    “I know.” he said “I had to see you, make sure you were OK.”​

    “I’m fine.”​

    No I’m not.

    I can tell from the look in his eyes that he knows it too but he doesn’t call me on my bullshit. He took a deep breath and looked me in the eye​

    “I know what’s making your father act this way. I know how to stop it.”​

    Really now? I sincerely doubt that, cowboy.​

    “I know it sounds strange, but I cannot say exactly what it is. Only that I can stop it.”​

    He held out a strange triangular stone with a hole in the middle and a braided string made of what looked like human hair tied to it.​

    “Take this stone, put it in your father’s pillowcase and make sure he sleeps tonight with that pillow.”​

    “I didn’t peg you for the superstitious type, Walter. What, if anything, would doing something so damn stupid accomplish anything.”

    Walt let out an exasperated sigh before answering “I can’t say. You just have to trust me.”

    I tried to find anything in his body language or the look in his eyes that would show me he that he was lying to me. My instincts were telling me that this was a trick, just someone else who tried to get in close and then pull the rug under me at the worst possible moment for some sick kick.​

    But.​

    There was that small treacherous voice in my head, begging me to trust this boy. The last bit of hope that school, dad becoming this unrecognizable monster, or this fucked up city hadn’t snuffed out yet.​

    It was telling me to take a leap of faith, that even if I fell, Walt would catch me.​

    The moment felt like an eternity and I took the stone.​

    “OK. You better explain yourself once this is all said and done. You hear me?”​

    He looked me in the eyes with unwavering determination and said “I will, I promise.” before quickly returning to his home.​

    As soon as he was gone, I closed the door and went up to the pillow on the couch that Dad brought down and shoved the weird stone and string as snugly inside the pillow case as I could. With the deed done, I went up to my room and held Mom’s flute close, just in time to hear dad come inside.​

    As I heard him stomp around downstairs, I thought to myself. Not quite a prayer, not quite a wish, that Walt will come through and whatever weird voodoo horseshit he’s trying actually works, that this would be the night where things get better.​

    Yet again, I held the flute close as I drifted off to sleep.

    Alright, that took a bit longer than I expected. Shout out to my friend V who I bounce Ideas off of and consult on the finer details of witchcraft and paganism as to not get things offensively wrong. I welcome any and all criticism, and appreciate pointing out any and all typos. Thank you have a good one. [\spoiler]
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2020
  28. BrotherMouse518

    BrotherMouse518 Know what you're doing yet?

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    Well, it aint short but there it iz.
     
  29. Miller At the Wash

    Miller At the Wash I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Hey don't let anyone tell you bigger ain't better.

    If you know what I mean.

    Nudge nudge, wink wink. Say no more.
     
  30. BrotherMouse518

    BrotherMouse518 Know what you're doing yet?

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    Wanna know the worst part of posting it here of all places? I know damn well I cannot write erotica. Ita a type of action I cannot describe as it is something better when experienced imo. Although, if any of you bastards wanted to take a crack at writing a lewd scene for this I would not mind ao long as you plugged the regular story. Fick man 2e Scion added the Lover Calling and knacks and those are rife to be abused for making the ultimate horndog. One of them is "you are in perfect sync with your chosen partner in all things". another is just flat out knowing what turns them on.

    Make yourself a Scion of Zeus and follow in Daddy's footsteps
     
    Yeetboi, Mr Zoat and ArcaneReader like this.
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