cardinal3_icon.gif winslow_icon.gif

Scene Title Amrita
Synopsis Amrita (Sanskrit: अमृत) is a Sanskrit word that literally means "that which is immortal."
Date March 1, 2010

Central Park

For much of New York City's history, Central Park had always been a dangerous place after dark. The New York Rennaisance instituted by Rudolph Julianni in the 1990s behan to beat back this unfortunate truth, that the heart of New York City was its most rotten core, and the revitlization of the city had in a way started to push back crime to the fringes of the city and away from the park at its heart. Unfortunately, yhe explosion in 2006 has undone much of the New York Rennaisance, and in many ways contributed to what has become a new Dark Age for the city.

Police patrols, especially on the southern end of the park nearing the tall concrete barricades that close off the ruins of Midtown are sparse. In a way it makes for a perfect inlet of approach for those looking to sneak into the Ruins after dark, or in many cases even during the middle of the day. This particularly frigid and starless night is one of convergence and in one very unfortunate circumstance, collision.

In these bleak hours where the air is most cold, New York City's homeless huddle for warmth in the arched underpasses of foot bridges through the southern portion of central park. These concrete shelters form makeshift communities in the dark of night, where fires burning in steel drums and cardboard shanty towns have become the norm. For Richard Cardinal, this route is the route home, a memorized path thorugh walkways, snow banks and trees into the homes of the homeless, the pauper kings of New York City.

Seeing an affluent white male in his fifties down here is so far out of the norm that even ghosts pay heed. It's not that Albert Winslow has no reason to be wandering these icy and serpentine paths late at night, but it's that it's not safe for him to. He has all the charm of someone's blue-collar grandfather, his tie straight and shirt pressed, heavy winter jacket over a pinstriped blazer and chestnut brown leather loafers seeming more Wall Street than Back Alley.

Yet here, the salt and pepper gray haired man seems confident and at home as he makes one of the most unexpected crossings of his life, treading on a shadow that just so happens to have once been a man.

He doesn't even notice when he steps on Richard Cardinal…

The park had become a refuge of late for the shadowman, a chance to bask in the greenery with his gardens denied to him, and he took longer than usual working his way through the route to his home, the ruins of knowledge where he and his people plotted to murder the future - one timeline at a time until they found one to their liking. Then a foot fell upon him.

It was almost comedic, in a sad way, and the shadow froze once that loafer had fallen down upon him. The fellow was a curious one indeed to be in this part of town, the shanties and burn-barrel strewn alleyways brushed with the deep chill of the lingering winter, and Richard Cardinal's curiosity was piqued.

It wasn't as if he had anything more pressing to be doing, after all. So he rode with the man's shadow, a tattered patchwork that drifted along after him as if a torn kite were being flown along with Albert Winslow.

Loafers crunch that frosted snow underfoot, where public works do not shovel, and only the regularly trodden path of the homeless has made any semblance of clear way to be found. The glow of those lit barrels beneath the arc of the foot bridge is a beacon to Winslow, and as he makes his way down the path, there's a pointed look offered to the haphazardly dressed homeless men huddled for warmth around the burning barrels. Some people are little more than legs covered with blankets sticking out from boxes. By the glow of a small fire burning in a circle of broken pieces of concrete, a young woman no older than her mid twenties sits in a ragged huddle with two children no older than five or six. Their ratty winter clothing and woolen gloves barely protect them from the cold.

Winslow pauses, spotting the young woman, and reaches into his jacket to withdraw a wallet. It's flipped open and unfolded, a pair of bills sifted out before being offered out to the mother. "S'all a'got…" Winslow offers with a warm southern drawl, and six hundred dollars held out in gloved fingers may as well be a gun from the way the woman protectively wraps her arms around her children and hunches back from the stranger.

Thick brows furrow, and Winslow's dark eyes look her up and down. Troubled, he move nearby, picking up a loose piece of broken concrete in one hand. The young mother's eyes follow the older man's movements as if he were a strange wild animal, until he lays the money down on an upturned and unoccupied milk crate nearby, and sets the broken piece of concrete atop it.

His brows crease, no words are exchanged, and as he moves to get up there are eyes on him from across the way. A pair of ragged looking young men watch the money being handed out, and Winslow seems to notice them in his periphery, but does nothing. When he stands up straight, offers a nod to the young mother and her children, he turns quietly and moves out the opposite side of the shanty town.

One of the young men breaks away from the other, and Cardinal can see the detailing of a knife slid out from the back of his pants. Winslow moves with a tortoise's pace, carefully and slowly departing the glow of the steel drums, while the younger mugger-in-waiting makes more hasty and rabbit-like steps through the snow with pronounced and strong footfalls, preparing to catch up to the older man.

Cardinal knows when someone is luring prey out into the open; It's like going fishing.

It's a ploy that Cardinal's seen before; he spent plenty of time on his streets and learned to keep clear of the real predators. The cash shown off, the nice clothes, all of it screams trap. The young tough clearly isn't as experienced, but at least it should make for an interesting show.

The torn shadow watches, listens, observes in morbid interest.

It takes a certain detatchment from morality and humanity to allow something like this to happen, to watch and observe the outcome of an obvious trap like this with a scientist's distance. When Winslow comes to stop just out of the light of the shanty town to draw a cigarette out of his jacket, the younger man unfolds the blade of his knife from inside the faux woodgrain handle, his approach couldn't be more obvious. "Hey…" He calls out to Winslow across the cold walkway, "hey buddy whats' up?" It's the problem with any mugger without experience, they always seem so fake, like they're wearing wax masks.

Albert turns his dark eyes up from the unlit cigarette. "Y'all got a light?" He asks in grumbling cadence, one thick brow raised as he watches the young man come close. The knife-wielding man hesitates, for just a moment, brows furrowed and tongue wetting his lips.

"No man, I ain't got no light. Just gimme your wallet," he brandishes the knife point towards Winslow, "an' get the fuck outta' here." The wallet is empty, Cardinal saw and much, but the man accosting Winslow had no such revelations. It makes the agreement that comes next seem strange.

"Whatever you say, son." Cigarette tucked behind one ear, Winslow holds out one hand, then carefully reaches in to the front pocket of his jacket to reveal the wallet, folded shut. He holds it out, close enough that the young man has to step in to snatch it. The motion is predictable, lunging knife first for Winslow and the wallet. The old man leans away from the knife and wrenches his grasp around the young man's wrist. There's a shove, a push that brings the young man up against the tree Winslow had been standing at, and a furrowing of the old man's brows.

"You'll do." Winslow breathes out, before leaning his head in and pressing his mouth to the young man's. The mugger struggles in confusion, body strashing, pinned wrist trying to manipulate his knife. But the moment Winslow's mouth touches the young man's, it muffles a scream. When Winslow pulls his mouth away, the young man's jaws open in a cry and a deep exhalation of breath, along with a luminous evacuation of green-white light from inside of his body that flows like a vapor, drawn up into Winslow's nostrils and thorugh his lips. The old man's eyes glow a vibrant emerald green like John Logan's, a haunting memory for Cardinal, before an even more haunting appearance is brought forth.

As the breathis drawn out, Winslow's hair begins to darken at the root and elongate. His hair thickens, fills in and starts growing shaggy and unkempt. A full bears sprouts up in dark, coarse hair across his mouth and jaw and the gray in his hair fades entirely. In the dark it's hard to tell exactly what is happening.

The mugger's violent, hcoking scream comes as his flesh putrifies, turns blue-black and mottled yellow purple, wrinkles form on his flesh as skin tightens and eyes go white with cataracts, hair turns gray and lips pull back from his teeth like an Egyptian mummy in New York City.

When the young man falls limp and away from Winslow, the gray haired old man stares down at the thug, then slowly drops into a crouch, fishing around in his pockets before finding a lighter. Withdrawing the cigarette from behind his ear, Winslow tucks it into his mouth and lights the tip, an orange glow of fire reveals what was not evident earlier; That Albert Winslow now looks like a young man.

It's a horrific scene by any standards, but Cardinal's begun to become jaded to horrific scenes… and he no longer has a stomach to roil at such, nor a heart to beat too swiftly in his veins. The shadow's passions are dulled without biology to sharpen them, so he merely observes the theft of life and vitality with silent watchfulness as it occurs.

Well, well. This is an interesting fellow that stepped on him this evening, isn't it?

Smoke rises out of Winslow's nostrils from his cigarette, and he looks down on the young thug with mild disconcertion. Brown eyes elevate up towards the glow of the shanty town nearby, and dark silhouettes of someone making their way towards the scream that erupted in the dark. Winslow draws in a deep breath, sucking on the end of that cigarette and casting a brilliant orange glow to the ember at the tip, before exhaling a breath full of it from freshly rejuvinated lungs.

He turns the cigarette around, coughing at the end, and throws it down tip first into the snow with disapproval; It's always hard to pick up the habit again. He views the corpse one last time, eyes narrowed and the green glow of his irises fading to their normal brown shade, then turns to walk behind the tree and slip out across the snow in the dark of night with a shadow flagging at his heels.

The rest would have to wait, but he has all the time in the world.

In that, the ghost at his heels can sympathize.

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