Crawling to a Close



Scene Title Crawling to a Close
Synopsis Gabriel returns to the abandoned funfair to reclaim what's his and then some.
Date September 25, 2009

Staten Island — Happy Hollow Park

The day is crawling to a close, the shadows thickening and lengthening, but none so black as the being that shifts like ink through water across the broken up rural Staten Island terrain. Behind it sprawls the overgrown, abandoned funfair, with the rotted remains of a Humanis First soldier, but curiously, no other body. Do Moab inmates bury their dead? Gabriel wouldn't know.

The facility he found at the end of his journey has been circled at least once by the wraith-being he's transformed into, checking for lookouts, for signs they are more than just a ragtag crew of Evolved fugitives, or signs that his tracking abilities had deceived him into thinking this place had any relevance. Any other time, he might have simply strode on inside, in this form or another, and taken exactly what he wanted if it was ever there to begin with.

He's not sure he can afford to be that confident anymore.

After some scouting, he finds a shadowed little corner against the exterior of the building, and it's there he transforms back into solidity, at a guarded crouch with his shoulder against aging brick. Sight instantly reduces into the pitiful dregs he's been left with— although, substantially more than the blank nothing he'd began with, and any little bit is substantial in comparison. The world is made up of blocky impression of light and shadow, fuzzy shapes, movement, zero colour. More focus towards the center, blurry darkness at his periphery.

But Gabriel doesn't really need his eyes right now. He shuts them against the ghostly world his eyes have turned his surroundings into, and, with a power that still needs to flex its muscles, he sends out what could be called a psychic pulse of awareness. How many minds, leapfrogging between them, seeing snatches of what they see and hearing snatches of what they hear.

The storage facility has been out of use for as long as Happy Hollow Park itself, and like the decrepit Ferris Wheel leaning sharply to one side on the other side of the property, it's covered in prickly growth that makes scaling its sides impossible. The dog master and his two companions chose well; apart from the double doors at the building's front and a shattered skylight that allows the sun's dying glow to filter down to the concrete floor through shards of broken glass, there are no other access points for Gabriel or any of his ilk to take advantage of.

Inside the facility, the contrast between light and dark is almost as extreme as what passes for his field of vision, and even through the eyes of one of the building's two solitary occupants, there is very little to see. "White doesn't know shit," a sandpaper rough voice is saying, feminine in spite of its inherent coarseness. Although the woman who took his sight never spoke loudly enough for Gabriel to hear it on the battlefield, there's no mistaking the shape of her silhouette or the convex curve of her hairless skull. "We were better off in L.A."

A pinprick of light at the tip of a joint glows orange in the shadows, and the woman blows smoke through her nostrils, running a tongue along her upper lip. She's flicking it away in the next instant and rising to her feet as a tarp crinkles noisily under her shoes. "I gotta piss. Don't even have a fucking shitter out here."

Like breaking elastic, the snap back into himself is abrupt. The feel of the ground beneath his feet solidifies, takes priority, and sight degenerates into vague shapes and impressions of light and dark. Not for long. Gabriel's form breaks apart, back into sinuous shadow, creeping along the edge of the building towards that singular entrance, and easing himself beneath the doors, going slowly as his mass constricts into the thinness of liquid. He spills out onto the gritty floor and goes seeking shadows to conceal himself within.

And then seeking voices, or rather, foot steps, tracking the woman who had moved to talk away. He scales a wall and keeps to the high, shadowed edges between it and ceiling, slithering and winding his way through. He mostly only knows a sense of duty and caution, a dangerous task that is as achievable as it is imperative. It will become fun, soon.

The woman is pulling on her jacket when she appears in what passes for Gabriel's field of view in this form. Her footsteps sing, reverberate against the storage facility's high walls and fill the space with the sound of her retreat. Outside, a breeze rustles through the tall grass and sets dead leaves quivering. Fun is such a subjective word, but of all the places he might be able to have it, why not an abandoned amusement park? Were these buildings not constructed with enjoyment in mind?

"You don't get to complain," her companion shouts down at her retreating back as he wraps a blanket around his shoulders and wipes a runny nose with the corner of his hoodie's knit sleeve. "Not when you can turn on and off. Don't pretend like you're uncomfortable."

Gabriel lingers enough for the boy's words to echo down the hallway, before, silently, Gabriel is following, a thickening of shadow before all of them simply revert to vague, grey, unmoving angles. The woman won't have any cause to look behind her as she makes her shuffling trek towards the front door, not until feet find themselves solid against the ground and scuff the concrete with just enough noise.

But her spine is rigid and unyielding, that same concrete feeling sinking down her legs, weighing her steps. There are a few moments, within there is time to look, or cry out a warning, but they pass by in silence and stillness, her jaw like a steel trapped triggered closed within her skull. Shadows descend over her eyes in the next moment, and as if electrocuted, her body jerks forward hard enough to bounce her skull off the door she can't see. It doesn't make a sound, and there isn't the gentle smack of her body collapsing against the ground as her legs abruptly fold beneath her.

No sound, no sight, though control over her limbs returns to her. But if she chooses to feel, there's heavy warm above her - limbs, weight, a masculine form bearing down on her, a knee pressing uncomfortably into her stomach, a hand over her face.

Bouncing the woman's head off the door doesn't produce quite the same effect as cracking an egg, and while she might not shatter into pieces, the chances of her getting back up again after hitting the floor aren't very good. Slight of build and narrow of frame, she resembles Eileen in smallness and frailty despite being several inches taller and at least ten pounds heavier. The knee at her stomach produces a low sound, an anguished moan breathed out through Gabriel's fingers as she struggles to pull a Humpty Dumpty and put herself back together again.

One hand clasps weakly at his wrist while the other reaches up, out, nails raking across concrete as she awkwardly gropes around the floor for a makeshift weapon with which to defend herself against the man on top of her, though all she manages to secure is a clump of dried mulch and twigs that crackle uselessly between her fingers.

Thighs pin on either side of her torso, that hand at her face moves to her throat, strength in his arm that combats the limper grasps of her fingers. All at once, sight returns, although audibly, the area is still deadened to their ears. Gabriel looms over with her, his eyes unspecific in their gaze but everything else about him brought into sharp focus. There's a knife in his hand, looking as though it has been carved from wax, a near-black red that settles a sharp edge beneath her chin.

The shhh can't be heard, but it can be seen. Rabbit quick, Gabriel casts his mind towards the other occupant in the house, checking, before it's dragged back to himself, and switched around. His head tilts, looking up at himself through her eyes. There's a vanity in this. He corrects the aim of his gaze.

All at once, the woman can hear herself breathing, the shift of fabric against flesh. The knife presses harder. Gabriel's voice is quiet, graveled and low; "Give it back."

You don't say no to the man with a knife at your carotid artery. You don't nod either, for much the same reasons. Instead, blue eyes widen a fraction and the woman's mouth splits into a gasp beneath Gabriel's hand. What he's requesting — demanding — of her requires more concentration than she has at her immediate disposal, so it takes several additional seconds before she grants it to him, blinking away tears.

The first thing that pops into focus is the shape of her neck arching swanlike as she lifts her chin in a desperate attempt to angle her head away from that knife, followed by curve of one exposed shoulder peeking out from the collar of the ratty cotton sweater she wears. The concrete floor is next, slate gray in some places, darker where grease and oil have stained the pavement. For the first time in days, he can see real colour through his own eyes.

Her lips purse into a soundless plea, mouthing a word. Please.

Gabriel's expression loses its severity and doggish focus for a moment, softening as vision comes flooding back in shapes, colours, definition. His eyes bat, eyelids shutter up and down, almost forgetting the knife in his hand and the teenager a few rooms over, knowing more relief that he'd care to admit to as he lifts his head, casts a renewed gaze about the room, then focuses back down on her wide, watery eyes.

The knife slices, the only warning showing in the gathering of tension in his shoulders, eyes brighter. The makeshift blade cuts easy through the skin of her throat, suffocating in its sharpness, seeking major arteries that are even deeper still. There is no sound, even if screaming was possible, sound sapped away with an ability far less specific and crippling than her's, but it will do.

Crimson pools across the concrete, is forced from her throat with an application of another power, enough to gush and splash and run warm over his palm. Silently, he holds his freer hand out towards the glistening red, and in unnatural tendrils that defy gravity, twisting up off the concrete, the blood is gathered to hover dark and shining, whirlpooling into shape.

Lambs are slaughtered in much the same way elsewhere in the world. Even if it isn't clean, it's at least quick, and the light in the woman's eyes dims within seconds of the blade carving into her neck, leaving them lifeless and glassy, a similar shade of blue as before but without any of the previous depth.

Fingertips twitch, and the hand at Gabriel's wrist goes slack before her grip loosens entirely, arm slumping to the floor at the same time her head rolls to the side — or would, if it weren't for the palm cupping her mouth and nose. No more breath escapes her nostrils on the gap between her front teeth. Stillness settles over the corpse.

It's familiar, the slippery hill that this power brings. Gabriel is slightly too wise to recognise it as anything but a gravitational pull that he could resist if he wanted to, but the longer he doesn't, the more he can convince himself that he can't. His hands curl, his palm becomes wet with blood from the hovering mass in the air. It gains weight around the same time it gains solidity, a solid block of deep red that shines as if it had been mined, a single sharp point in contrasts to its rounded base, a cone-like splay that his fingers grip on to.

No sound, still, as he brings it up in the air, then down again. The edge catches the woman's temple, snaps her head to the side where skin breaks, bone softens and bruises, and blood bleeds sluggish. He does it again.

And again. This is familiar on at least two levels.

The teenager could be gawping in the doorway for all Gabriel cares, only half a mind spared on keeping the area silent as his hand picks up the knife for finer work - sawing, levering, his movements becoming quicker, clumsier. There is no wet crack of the cap of a skull being insinuated off the top of the woman's head with a mass of skin and hair and, naturally, blood. Which is kind of a shame.

Gawping, no. Standing in the doorway, yes, if only for all the time it takes for his brain to process what his eyes are seeing. The company that the corpse under Gabriel's weight kept in life does nothing for her in death - whatever organization she and the teen belong to, it follows a different set of internal rules than the Remnant does.

The rubber soles of his trainers squeak against cement as he lurches forward, not in an attempt to throw Gabriel off the woman, but to slam all his weight into the facility's front door, leading with his shoulder. Running away isn't taking the coward's way out if you're obviously outmatched and outwitted, and in this case the teen is both.

Pinks and greys and reds, rivets and crannies. It looks like a mess to anyone else. Gabriel is transfixed, enough that he doesn't twitch a look up at the sound of sneakers squeaking against the ground. His hands a dripping crimson by the time he's done, it's the sound of the door being opened that causes him to whip a look over his shoulder, teeth bared in a dead-eyed kind of predatory way. Flowing to his feet, a kneejerk response to chasing the moving thing, he leaves the woman crumpled and broken on the floor as he pursues.

This time, the air doesn't thicken with suppressing shadows. Gabriel can see perfectly as he makes long strides of pursuit. But as effortlessly as she had, he can feel it— like plucking a feather from a bird, or tearing the wings off a butterfly, he steals the boy's sight.

Knowing he has it, Gabriel shows the unseeing world a smile, his loping footsteps slowing to a more casual pace.

There are no dogs. No smoke. No crackle of voices over a radio that Gabriel isn't carrying with him. It's a different drama being played out on the same stage as their last encounter, and the advantage is his. Trainers that had squeaked inside now grind and buff gravel under the teen's feet as he staggers, trips and buckles, skinning his palms when he thrusts out his arms to break his fall. He disappears under a wave of tall grass amidst a sea of green fading to gold and brown in the last days of summer, but only briefly. Up again in the next instant, disoriented, and with no one to shout direction or guide him to safety, he swims through the fescue like someone struggling to scissor in water, legs wild and arms flailing.

This is neither quick, clean, nor merciful. Someone might even call it a little cruel.

Gabriel's follows at a steady pace, watching the flailing, the windmill of limbs as the boy tries to reckon with this new disability, with fear driving to push past it. There's a considering tilt to the older man's head, before he vanishes once more into that black shadowing presence, favouring it for it's silence. He'll pursue. He'll pursue until, in the boy's mind, there is nothing chasing him but the oppressive darkness of blindness.

And then, they get to have a conversation.

It takes some time, but perhaps not much. Without the sounds of foot steps behind him to drive him on, without the ability to see where he's going, eventually, all the boy can do is cling to something solid and try to map out directions in his mind. The ground is rough beneath his shoes, graven and dirt, tree roots, bramble, broken glass of littered trash scattered through the Greenbelt.

It's getting colder. The air has taken on a certain cold, wet quality when abruptly, a voice breaks through his silence, from somewhere towards the left; "I want to talk."

The teen's head snaps to the left in the direction of the voice he does not recognize. In spite of his blindness, his eyes narrow as though this might help him to better see. One hand whips out, groping for something to steady himself in a way that might remind Gabriel of the woman on the floor when she was digging her fingernails through the dirt and debris on the facility's mottled floor.

He has more luck than his companion did, seizing hold of a twisted piece of corkscrew rebar sticking out of the grass like a piece of modern art that belongs in a museum rather than an abandoned funfair.

When he speaks, his voice is shrill and uneven. All signs point to him being younger than he looks. "You killed her!"

"I did." That voice comes from only a fractionally distant place from before— pacing. He's pacing, through the overgrown ground, a cautious tread of boots through the grass, allowing for some distance between he and the boy. "And I could let you live." In the dying light, Gabriel is watching him, with all the sharpness in direct opposite to the glassy stare of his past week. "What happened to your friend? The man with the dogs. Did he live, or did you bury him?"

He doesn't ask, did you mourn him? There are better questions, better taunts. He adds, "And if there are more of you, Moab runaways, you might want to start thinking about telling me all about them."

The teen's knuckles go white, the blood draining from his face and hands as Gabriel speaks. He has the luxury of keeping it inside of him, at least. "I don't know where he is," he says, tone terse and wavering. "Probably with White. Norman White. Maybe McRae. I don't know how many of us there are, either." Which really means: a lot.

"Some are staying with the Ferry here on the Island. Most have fucked off. I couldn't tell you where they're staying - we keep to ourselves." He edges around the rebar, putting the twisted piece of metal between himself and where he thinks Gabriel is, though the sound of the breeze tickling the grass makes it impossible for him to pinpoint the killer's exact position, even if he wasn't moving.

There's a silence, considering and speculative. The dawning night makes the breezes that blow through the space cold, rustling grass, leaves above them. Unknown to the boy, Gabriel lifts a blood smeared hand— and there's hesitation, for a moment, indecision before a conclusion is reached— and suddenly, the boy's body works on its own. He reels back, slams his own back into the trunk of a thick tree, his hand grasping tight the rebar, before his other hand joins it like a sword.

"That's too bad," are dull words beneath the roar of blood in his ears as he feels, rather than sees, his arms move without his consent. It feels like bruising pressure at first, then splitting sharpness, impossible in its pain, and then a certain kind of sting deep inside.

The Samurai is mythologised to kill themselves in a similar way. It's a painful, merciless, and putrid death, though the boy's hands don't loosen their hold on the rebar. Not until he's dead, and control is slipped from both he and Gabriel altogether.

When it's over, the funfair's overgrown parking lot is quiet. Cathedral quiet. Apart from the corpse slumped against the tree and the dark fluid dripping down the rebar's length, over the teen's gnarled fingers — still clenched in death — there's little outward evidence that two lives have been abruptly snuffed out here today. The birds will notice first and then the dogs, though it's a toss-up over which will be bold enough to move in the kill, knowing it belongs to a much larger, more fearsome predator than the Island's unique circumstances could have ever designed.

A large black bird with a red scalp and eyes like flecks of polished obsidian alights on the chain-link fence nearby and curls talons the metal. For now, the scavengers content themselves with watching.

There is something familiar about this. A paler shade of what he knew when he'd murdered the first time. Gabriel stands stock still as the boy collapses completely, the rebar from his gut jutting awkward, his head slack on the end of his neck. No acknowledgment is given to the scavengers milling around at their distance; not even suspicious half-glances. His focus remains on his kill, as he stalks forward, crouches down, pushing the younger man's head so as to let his face turn up towards the sky.

Steadies it, there, as blood is drawn again from the body, designed into shape — more of a cleaver, this time — and now, there is the satisfying sound of bone splitting when it comes down in a butcher's arc. It smacks through the silent, wet sounding, obscene. And repeats as necessary.

This used to be cleaner.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License