Out Of The Jaws Of Death

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Scene Title Out of the Jaws of Death
Synopsis When the shadow of death comes to claim five, one remains.
Date October 16, 2008

2112, 155th Street, Harlem


The morning brings light and life to the city, even amidst the shadow of death that looms on the southern horizon, a jagged and broken wasteland of ruined buildings, melted pavement and twisted metal. From Harlem, looking south is like standing on the edge of a graveyard, the tall concrete barricades that block access to the ruins of midtown like a cemetary's gate, and the tall, shattered remnants of skyscrapers the tombstones that mark the place where the world's innocence died.

Not long after nine in the morning, the chilly city streets are filled with life and activity. Harlem is recovering its pulse now two years after the bomb, and those that dwell within its boundaries are rising on the wave of financial aid and backing by private corporations and wealthy investors such as the Linderman Group. What could have been a borough that collapsed to ruin is one of the most hastily improving regions of the city.

Amidst this morning foot traffic, a single shadow passes amongst the life. Dressed in an understated black suit, the gray-haired old man walks with an even gait, despite his use of a black lacquered wooden cane in his stride. The click of the cane's steel tip against the sidewalk creates a meteronome-like rythm to his movement through the crowds, and the snarling lupine visage on the cane's head serves as a subtle warning of approaching danger.

To the average person walking the street though, this shadow poses them no threat. From the teenage girl pushing a stroller down the sidewalk, to the elderly woman trying to rein in her dog as it rises up on its hind legs, barking wildly as the old man passes. The animals, they sense the danger he represents, but in the end they have nothing to fear from him.

With a confident and calm stride, this specter finds his way up the concrete steps of a row house to the worn wooden door. He pauses, soft blue eyes inspecting an eviction notice taped to the front of the door, a frown creasing his mouth as his right hand draws his cane up, rapping on the door with the steel wolf's head. For a while, silence is his only response. He knocks again, three heavy thumps of the wolf's metal snout against the door, and only then is a muffled and tired reply heard from within the home.

When the door opens, it is only a crack. A security chain still barring entrance, and a middle-aged woman with stringy brown hair and a tired, sagging face peers out from the darkened living room wit weary hazel eyes, "What?" Her tone is curt, sharp and full of frustration. From behind her, the sound of noisy and rowdy children carries out onto the stoop.

"Theresa St.John?" His voice is deep and rough, spoken with the calm eloquence of a patient man. The woman's expression sours, and her eyes drift up and down the man's suit, he can see her hesitation to form an answer. "My name is Kazimir Volken," He tucks the cane under his right arm, affording the woman a warm, if not feigned, smile. "I represent an organization interested in giving special opportunities to Registered Evolved." His eyes divert to the notice on the door, then back again, "Financial aid, housing assistance…"

"Yeah." It changes her tone remarkably, "Yeah I'm Theresa. Hold on a second." The door closes, and in that moment Kazimir's smile turns more earnest. After but a second the chain slides with a muffled series of clicks, and the door opens more fully. "Yeah I'm Theresa. I didn't know that registering could do that, hell, if I'd known I would've done it sooner. What the — " Her words are muffled by a hand lashing out to grasp over her mouth. Her screams then too become muffled as the old man forces Theresa into her apartment, yanking the door shut behind him as he does.

She struggles, clawing and scraping at the old man's weathered face, leaving deep cuts from her manicured nails. To her horror, as the pain begins building up in her mouth and jaw, she sees the cuts beginning to seal shut as blood slithers back under his skin with serpentine fluidity. Her vision blurs and the living room begins to grow dark as tendrils of black smoke-like fog start to radiate outwards from the old man. His eyes grow darker, until they resemble pitch black pools of night, hollow and dark sockets of shadow.

As she struggles, one hand swings out wildly, knocking over a lamp, tearing a phone off of the wall. The cries and screams of children soon fill the room as four young girls break away from the dining room table, knocking over chairs and sending a glass of milk toppling to the floor. One of the girls, no older than six, falls to the floor screaming, writhing around wildly until falling limp as her skin turns an ashen gray. The sound, and the sight, causes Kazimir pause as his expression wrenches into something conflicted. That moment of weakness itself gives Theresa an opportunity.

Grabbing a snow-globe from atop her television, she bashes the old man across the side of the head, leaving glass sticking out of his hair and temple and sending him staggering to one side. She can barely breathe, let alone move, the pain in her face so intense it has turned to a numbing throb. Kazimir smashes up against an adjacent wall, sending a picture from where it hangs, shattering on the floor. The screams of children continue to sound out followed by footsteps rushing upstairs. By the time Kazimir can focus on Theresa again, she's charging up a flight of carpeted steps with a gray-skinned husk cradled in her arms, calling for help at the top of her lungs.

She rounds the stairs, hitting the landing, "Go! Go! Fire escape! Just like mommy taught you! Angela, Angela take Jill's hand!" Her children's lives depend on her, on them having learned what to do in the instance of an emergency. But the stairwell darkens, light devoured by a pitch black shadow that grows at the base of the steps, rising up towards the landing.

"Suffer the little children," A voice calls out, low and coarse, "My Consciense said those words once to me." theresa can barely hear the words being spoken, the blinding pain in her mouth and face making talking both difficult and excruciating, on top of the screams of her three other children. The five pile into the bathroom, slamming the white-painted door shut, clicking locked. "I have since forgotten the passage, or the meaning."

The sound of a rattling window carries through the door, along with the sounds of crying, sobbing children and screams of profanity as the exit to the fire escape refuses to budge. Kazimir comes up to the bathroom door, raising his cane to knock twice on the peeling white paint. "Theresa… It doesn't have to end like this."

In the bathroom, Theresa smashes open the window with her bare hands, blood staining the glass and sending shards raining down to the street below. Her three children are huddled in the tub, curled up around one another, crying and shaking. In her arms, the smallest and youngest looks little more like a paper-mache replica of a child, gray and withered. A knocking on the door causes the woman to jump, turning with wild eyes to the sound. "It is your kind that is to blame for all of this, Theresa. If only I could be sure that your children weren't like you… They could live on."

A black vapor pools under the bathroom door, snaking tendrils of shadow that comes with a tingling sensation of pain. Theresa's words come out as a strangled choking sound as she tries to spit out a reply to Kazimir. Pain numbs her legs, sending her to the ground and from the impact the ashen husk of her youngest daughter's body crumbles in her arms. The body breaks apart, brittle limbs simply unable to withstand the jostling as they flake into pieces like a burnt log of wood. She screams, horsely, blurred vision focusing on her children clinging to one another in the tub, their veins blackened and skin paling. So small, and so young, so unable to resist what comes.

Not like Theresa.

By the time the knocking on the door turns into a slamming, trying to bust the lock. Theresa struggles up to her feet, one hand covering her mouth as she looks down at the broken and ashen form of her youngest daughter at her feet, streaks of gray dust and ash still clinging to her black sweater as she stands. Her heart lurches in her chest, and she can feel herself losing consciousness. But before death's grasp can tighten around her, she closes her eyes and whispers out a rasping plea, "Forgive me."

As those words slip through her lips, Theresa's body becomes somewhat transparent, phasing through the brick wall and open window to the fire-escape, then like a ghost down through the metal grating to the alley below. Just as she disappears from the bathroom, the door smashes open, striking the wall and cracking the porcelain sink. Kazimir strides in with a billowing wave of smoky shadows, the gleaming steel head of his cane snarling from within the darkness. His blackened eyes turn to the tub, to the three huddles corpses within, then to the broken and crumbling remains on the floor.

"…Snatched out of the jaws of death." Kazimir's quote comes with a hushed tone, looking to the broken window, the blood, and the lack of a fleeing form in the distant alley. He turns once more to the bodies, his hand gripping the haft of his cane tightly. Without another word, he turns from the doorway, stepping back out into the hall as the shadows around his body receed back within, footsteps quieting as his distance from the bathroom grows, leaving four lives snuffed out.

And none of them his quarry.


HARLEM — Thursday morning, New York County Police responded to what they thought was a domestic violence report on 155th Street around 10 a.m. After the woman who answered the door let the Marshals inside, they discovered four dead children, between the ages of 5 and 17, on the upper floor of the house.

The woman who answered the door, who wishes to remain anonymous, claimed to have heard the sounds of screaming and shouting coming from an adjacent apartment. New York Police Comissioner Karen Lau says the woman is being detained and questioned, but she is not considered a suspect in the killings. The cause of death has not yet been released, however a missing persons bulletin has been issued for the mother of the children, one Theresa St.John, 47, who was not found at the apartment and according to police has not shown up for work for several days.

The four juveniles were all related and were not enrolled in any District public or chartered schools. They were apparently being home schooled, all four of the children have been identified as Theresa St.John's daughters. Amanda Goodwin, a spokeswoman for Child and Family Services, told the Post that the agency had received one report about the family, in April, after undisclosed reports of concern and "attempted to investigate."

A trusted source within the NYPD claims that this case is being handled in connection with the string of Evolved murders that has rocked the city over the last month.


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October 15th: Are You...?
Previously in this storyline…
Not Ever

Next in this storyline…

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October 16th: Assignment
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