Bad Words



And NPC'd by Teo:


Scene Title Bad Words
Synopsis Deckard meets his match in the form of a tiny, talkative representative of the Ferrymen when she brings him a copy of the paper and some cigarettes. He learns that he's been implicated in an arson/robbery/homicide. She learns some new vocabulary words.
Date December 3, 2008


The House of Deckard is dark. What a surprise. A vertical bar of light cants into the austere room through the door cracked open to the hallway, falling across the narrow span between desk and bed. Also par for the course, the room's only occupant is on his back there, head at the foot and feet at the head, with a thick novel split open across the flat of his chest.

It's hard to tell if he's unconscious, dead, or just taking a break from reading. He's not snoring, and the dark smudges at any hint of a rise and fall about the region of Midnight's Children.

There is the pitter-patter of feet in the hallway. Quiet ones: more because they're small and carry a body that's practically featherweight than because they had been taught about anything about tactics or stealth. The pitter-patter takes pause at the threshold as its orchestrator presses her face to the gap in the doorway, cutting short the bar of light in the room. She looks to and fro, two or three times despite that she located the shape of the corpus on her first take, and proceeds into the room, pushing the door out of her way with a very precise grip.

"That's bad for your eyes," she says. Her voice is thickened by the lisp of incomplete dental growth, half an octave deeper than the tittering, golden children the television is often wont to show you. She stands with the door wide open, the knob clutched in one hand.

The change in light evokes movement — first in the form of a long drawn breath, and then in the lift of a watch-bearing wrist over Deckard's head. The corresponding hand flops down over the book, and holy shit someone is there at the door.

He jolts, eyes sparking a decidedly unhealthy shade of undead blue while he reaches for his — god damn it it's a little girl. His eyes squeeze shut again, followed quickly by the clap of his gun-searching hand over them. "Fuck."

"That's a bad word!" she lights on this second statement with more audacity than she had the former. "I know them all, but I don't say them." She's wearing overalls, or a dress styled after the template: straps buckled over her shoulders, the front panel filled out around the rotund circumference of her belly, her skirt lifted by the hem in her fingertips. There are things filling in the dip and hollow of it, because she had done this to carry them, for lack of baskets and other nice things in the building.

A rolled newspaper, a box of cigarettes, a Sim card. Wool protects the rest of her from the cold: long sleeves, long stockings. She may be nine years old. "What'd you do?" He'd said 'Fuck;' she knows what that usually means. No, really, she does.

"Nothing," grates Deckard, who continues to press at his eyes as if someone just spritzed him in the face with holy water. "Just one more terrible thing to add to a very long list," is offered as a sort of failure at actual elaboration. When his hand finally lifts away, his eyes are as dull and flat a grey as the ceiling overhead, and he pushes up into a slouching sit. The gun, blacker than everything else around it, was apparently underneath him. That must have been comfortable.

A reach for his collar dislodges the reading glasses stowed there. He slips them on without looking at her, and holds out his hand for the good tidings she has brought. News from the outside world, and all of that. "You work here?"

A smile turns up the corners of her mouth: into a V like victory. He isn't chasing her out! Her mind isn't large enough to circumscribe all the prospective reasons why not. Her attention moves briefly to the handgun he was lying on top of, before she raises her head, the movement of her attention across the room's geography about as subtle as a tractor beam.

"Yes. I carry things. I'm a courier," she says, with the same animation that a different child might have said vampire slayer, queen of Mabooie, "and I lead the other kids around here. There are six of us. We're a gang: we have a name." Although she steps further into the room, she makes no move to surrender her gifts to their proper recipient just yet. From the look of her, she recognizes the intent behind the glasses, but she does remember her one prior objection: "The light's bad."

The room's geography tends to change with fair frequency, but the lead cast is always the same. One chair, one desk, one bed. Gun cases. Sometimes the chair is across the room. Sometimes there are bottles of booze on the desk. From time to time a metal briefcase appears. Regardless, the placement is always a little haphazard. The atmosphere, skeletal. There is no color to speak of, or any attempt at warmth. Everything just is.

Including Deckard, who furrows his brow and squints at the girl rather than the paper she's holding hostage. She's a talker, and apparently covered in that invisible velcro that children seem prone to encasing themselves in when faced with people who don't want to have anything to do with them. Thusly defeated, he slumps up onto his feet so that he can pace his way over to pull the string on the light.

Tink. Flump. His arm flops back to his side. The light yellows and warms the room effectively enough to make Deckard wince, and then it's back to eyeing the little girl. "Gang members are sixty times more likely to die from a homicide than the general population."

It takes two to velcro. Deckard had consigned himself to this inevitability the instant he chose not to bull across the room, swipe what was his, and pushed her out with a hand on her arm. Or something. Children aren't impossible to terrorize: not even the talkative ones. She's getting into her groove now, as well as getting into his space; unabashedly pleased with his compliance, she comes right up and offers him the contents of her skirt. Except, you know, not like that. The Sim card sits atop a crease of denim, chip of orange plastic and thin gold teeth, the newspaper bridged harmlessly above it, cigarettes peeking out from underneath the ribbons of newsprint.

"What's a general population?" she asks, beatifically. In the steep yellow light, her eyes look dark.

The card is taken first, glanced over, and tucked into a trouser pocket for him to mess with later. When he withdraws that hand and reaches for the cigarettes with the other, it's curled around a lighter instead. It's like a magic trick, only with lung cancer instead of bunnies. One stick is tapped out and lifted to his mouth. The rest of the box is tossed back onto the desk. Then he reaches for the paper, turning to pad back for the bed even as he drags it from her smaller hands.

"Everyone not in a gang," is the answer, now muffled. He resumes his seat, and the screachy bed protests his return with greater gusto than it did his departure. "So. Me, up until a couple of weeks ago."

She knows some people who can talk with cigarettes in their mouths. Never understands why those self-same people bitch when she chews with her mouth open, even though it simultaneously ventilates the hot stuff and gets the job done. Never been able to explain that to them, either. As Deckard leaves her behind, he is trailed by a sound. Scrape. Scraaaape. Sccrape. Scrick. She drags the chair over to his bed, closer to the light, settling its four legs inside the pool of yellow incandescence it leaves on the ground.

"You joined a gang?" she asks, as she pulls herself up onto the chair with a haphazard hop of stockinged legs. "Do they have a name too?" She closes her hands on the edge of her seat and tries to read through the back of the paper. Finds the comics instead, which is probably better than the alternative. "Mine is called The Big Ladies." She refrains, for the moment, from clapping her shoes together while his eyes scale the page. Forensics fail at this, forensics are inconclusive of this, stock market failed at that, homicide over there, judge ruled not guilty

"I don't know." Flat honesty precedes the flip of his lighter in front of his cigarette. Then that too is tossed onto the desk, to be messed with later. For now, he has the paper and the relief of warm smoke coating back through is mouth to char at his breath when he releases it in a steady stream. Doesn't take long for it to haze around the light.

Deckard skims. Headlines, headlines. Things on fire, things being stolen, people dying, people going to prison. Flint Deckard. Corrupt people, stupid people, drunk people. "The Big Ladies," he echoes, drenched in disinterest. Colorless in the sallow light, his eyes narrow and begin to retrace their path. Back to dead people and fire.

Page four. That's respectable in a city like Manhattan. Probably have something to do with the respectability of the associated neighborhood.

"There are seven of us," she says. Her voice is a little louder now, subconsciously realizing that she's losing his interest, even as her other resources, shrewd for a child her age, are allocated toward examining the fresh dent in his brow. The newspaper put it there. "We're called the Big Ladies because we're bigger than other kids. Stronger, too." She jostles forward a few inches on the seat of her skirt, tilting her head forward to try and see over the zigzaggy top edge of gray paper, and make sense of the all those little big words upside-down. "I know what homicide is."

"Holy shit." Succinct. Deckard nearly loses his cigarette in the slack-jawed bafflement that follows. He has gone pale, eyes unfocused in their aimless wander over the rest of the rest of the article. Seeing without reading. When he looks up again, it's to the door rather than the girl. He reaches up to draw out his cigarette. The paper droops, unable to support itself in Flint's one-handed grip. And he just sits there, blue screening.

Widened despite the glare of the lamp incinerating a hole in the left side of her cornea, the girl watches him. Thinks, for a moment, that he might be ill. Her face swims out of the dark toward him, round as a wheel of cheese and roughly the same hue, her eyes big one moment, then little the next, confused whether he's trying to be funny or if he's only making fun. She lashes out with a small shoe, manages to catch her balance on a penduluming kick before falling onto his lap and crushing the last of the paper's structural integrity. Sighing irritably, she resecures her station. Star-shaped hands dive to and fro in front of his eyes, the next moment. "Hellooo. Hellooooo. Man? You have to blink. You have to blink," her bottom lip almost folds over under the brunt of her frown. "That's bad for your eyes too…"

A fatal exception of type 209 has occurred. Clearly.

He continues to stare at nothing, unphased by the girl's persistent interest in him until she's literally in his lap. Fortunately, his reflexes were paying more attention than the rest of him, and he manages to lift the cigarette out of the way before burnination and added charges of child abuse and molestation can be added to the already impressive list he seems to have accumulated for himself.

His scruffy chin dips after her, and relieved of the paper, his right hand stays far, far away, allowing her to pick up and remove herself while the paper is further ruined underfoot. Still shocky, he doesn't actually say anything at first, but the white flash of her hands in front of his eyes is more than enough to prompt a blink, followed by a harder squeeze shut while he attempts to wake up or whatever it is a person should do when a bucket of metaphorical poo is dumped on their head.

"Jesus. I just found out I'm a murderer. Give me a minute."

At this, the child frowns further. "What do you mean?" Finally, she waddles backward on her butt cheeks until she's actually ceded to him something that might be construed as personal space, her heels swinging erratically as she does so. At least, until one angles wrong and hits a chair leg with a painful thump of rubber on wood. Her eyes are small, then, shrunken with suspicion directed toward entirely the wrong area. "You didn't know?" She's too young for irony. She means it: she did know what homocide meant, if not with definitions in terms of biology or time. "That doesn't make any sense.

"You have to do that while you're awake," or at least naivete leads her to believe it is so. "You're awake right now, aren't you?" Suddenly, she isn't so sure. As far as being an awake man goes, Flint Deckard is doing a rather poor job of it. Her back meets the support panel of the chair and her sweater wrinkles as she chugs in place against it, anxious though not afraid. Then, as if drawing on some personal experience, "Are you going to cry?"

"The paper…" Deckard trails off early, there. HOW BEST to explain? "It says I killed people." He hooks a finger into his ear after an itch that has no place in his current state of bewilderment. The cigarette returns to thin line of his mouth just long enough for a drag, then its dropped down again. His other hand follows it. Then it's back to staring at nothing for the few seconds it takes him to zero back in on the little girl.

His eyes are not friendly. Very little about him is, but his glare is particularly pale and awful in its careful scrutiny of her face. Almost as if he's looking for something familiar. "Are you asking me if I'm awake because I'm not awake? Is that supposed to be a hint?" Then: "No. Shut up."

If she wasn't already cramped into the furthest region of his chair, she would have shrunk back further. As it is, her shoulders go round as she huddles in place, stares up at him. Uncertainty etches itself deep in her posture, if not mortal fear. "M-my mom says," her voice has shrunk. In size and apparently density: it's gone up a bit. "My mom says you can't always believe the paper." Her pink mouth finds a harder line, then. Grows white, while her eyelids rim a swelling shade of red. Apparently, she'd been under the ludicrous impression they'd had something good here. "I liked you more when you stopped talking." She has to bite the syllables out, unevenly.

Annoyance creeps in to occupy some of the space manic paranoia was attempting to root itself into, and Deckard sits back a little, crows feet clenched tight at the corners of his eyes. "I liked you more before you started talking," conveyed at a mutter, he parks his smoke back in the corner of his mouth and draws his glasses away from his face. "I'll pass your mother's advice on to the police. I'm sure they'll understand," muffled after it, he pushes back to his feet and crosses the length of the room, where he stands in much he same state he was sitting in before. It's just further away from her, mainly.

Fiercely, the girl blinks. Once, twice. Third time's the charm. She takes a breath, one that's big enough to inflate her small lungs to full capacity, while she watches him rise with the torpidity of a recently-surfaced corpse through water. It doesn't take her long to calm down.

When that is accomplished, she turns her head around to see where he goes, her heart-shaped face perching the point of her chin on the denim that bridges her collar-bone. He still doesn't look quite right. It makes sense, if they're lying about him. If it says something that isn't true. "I thought you were already hiding from the police," she says, at length, watching the glints slide and disappear from the glasses lenses as he takes them away. Adds, "I came in here talking. It was the first thing I did." He can't have not liked her less ever, then. No.

"I can't stay here." It would be easy to tack on a leading observation, there. He doesn't know who she is. He doesn't know who they are. They don't know who he is. But he doesn't. He smokes and looks sideways at the desk, which is currently cluttered with his holster, cigarettes, 100 Years and a bottle of whiskey. "You probably had to take a breath before you could speak. So maybe it was the second thing you did."

She takes no interest in his desk. Instead, she spins her head back around so she's facing forward, albeit away from him, hunching irritably for a moment. The next, his chair is squeaking in pitchy, cantankerous protest at further abuse, as she gracelessly clambers off it and drops onto the floor. Well, technically, onto the newspaper, but that's what she was getting at. Going for. A kick of her shoe slides the thing out from under her, and she stoops to seize it both-handed. Photographed in black-and-white and oversized clothes, his old face nevertheless reminds her a lot of his new one.

Blank-stiff-stunned. "Why not?" she asks. "You're safe here. You don't have to go away. You're thinking about going to Canada, aren't you?" her voice swoops up and down with brassy annoyance, before grating into a lower, distinctly resentful register. An old wound, apparently. "Breathing doesn't count. Everyone breathes all the time."

"Because now," explains Deckard, in his best pretending-to-be-patient voice, "not only are you hiding me from a bunch of guys trying to end the world, you're aiding and abetting a fugitive from justice. A murderer, Princess. Nevermind the fact that some of you assholes are inevitably going to be believe that it's true. …Holy shit," he says again, and chuckles smokily through his teeth, like he hadn't even really considered that little bonus yet. "It only takes one rat to really fuck things up for everyone. Trust me, I have some experience in the area. And you're obnoxious."

The retort is fairly instantaneous: "You're 'n obnoxious." She exhales heavily, and the air that leaves her is dense with emotion. With the apparent exception of her mother, most adults aren't generally wont to explain what's going on to her. Granted, this part could use a lot more explaining, as the distinctions between 'fugitive from justice' and the other categories of chattel that the so-dubbed cattle-rustlers are not entirely clear to her. "You didn't do it, right? You're… you're one of the good guys. You're already hiding from the police… and the—

"The other bad guys. The ending the world guys." Ending the world. Failing to grasp the enormity or to extrapolate to unavailable details, she leaves it at that. Throws the newspaper onto the bed, awkwardly. "They won't believe that! That's stupid. I'll tell everybody you were with me." She jerks a small thumb at her chest in unconscious mimicry of some televised character or other and roves across the floor to his side.

"I'm not good or bad. I'm nobody. The only reason I'm here is that a gaggle of insane people decided to make me their bitch and I was stupid enough to try to do something about it." Bitter frustration bleeds more venom into his voice than he might strictly intend. His increasingly stubby cigarette is curled into his fist, ember and all, and flicked away after a wince. Hopefully not to set the whole place on fire. That would be ironic.

"Get out. And tell whoever sent you they shouldn't be keeping fucking kids here anyway."

December 3rd: Real Friends Help You To
December 4th: None Escape
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