Scene Title Decode
Synopsis How did we get here? / When I used to know you so well / How did we get here? / Well, I think I know.
Date June 10, 2010

Guiding Light Baptist Church

A long time ago, the Guiding Light Baptist Church used to be a place where people sought safety and shelter from the troubles of the world, it was a place where Colette Nichols met a man of God whom had the capacity to act as both a moral compass and also a founding figure in her maturation, a friend, a counsel, and someone she could depend on.

That the Guiding Light church now rests are a soot-stained and burned out shell is perhaps evocative of some sort of symbolism to Colette's own personal sense of security. Stone walls are still blackened from smoke and flames that destroyed this church nearly a year ago now, the smell of soot still hangs in the air, and not even the drizzling rain can do anything to suppress it.

Beyond the caution and crime scene tape that covers some entrances to the church, the distant sound of crying is almost drowned out by the drizzling patter of rain coming down inside those char-blackened walls. There's little left inside of the Guiding Light to mark it as a reminder of what it once was; stained glass windows blown out by heat, twisted metal framework bent and crooked, a cross that has fallen from its supports to rest like some crooked monolith against a backdrop of slate gray sky.

The tiny, slouched figure of one teenage girl curled up beside that cross on the wet floor is a splash of red in an otherwise dismal surrounding. The carnation color of her old and worn hoodie stands out sharply against the dark earth-tones of the burned church and gray skies, her red-clad arms drawn around the legs of loose-fitting jeans, knees pulled up to her chest.

Colette's shoulders shudder in a sob, the noise swallowed back by both humility and fear, and it's the fact that she is afraid that worries her the most. There's a certain grave quality to what just happened to her, what drove her here, that has her head spinning and eyes puffy, reddened and damp with both tears and the rain that has misted her hair and rolled down from her bangs.

Twenty minutes ago the world opened up before Colette's eyes, a realistic shot to her feelings of hope and happiness that had her peeling away from the apartment she calls home into far more desolate territories. Slouching her back up against the charred cross, Colette presses her forehead to her knees, letting out another ragged sob that breaks the silence of the church more soundly than the others she's been affording in careful measure.

The last thing she wants is a bystander to find her crying, the last thing she wants is to see anyone right now.


The shout seems to come from far away, the distant reaches of a long tunnel, timbre strained by tension and urgent fear. A recognized voice nonetheless, as familiar as the brown eyes and soot-stained short hair flying, unseen, behind the speaker as she runs. Rubber soles slap against black asphalt, but even as their approach grows louder the sounds seem to fade. The staticky crackle of fire explains the smoky haze darkening the sky — no, the buildings — above like some terrible, swift-winged storm; explains the gritty taste of ash on parted lips, inhaled with every labored breath.

Colette can still see the glow of fire burned into the back of her retinas, as if she were actually consciously there in the moment of whatever hit her almost a half an hour ago. The memory of what transpired — will transpire? — is still making her hands shake. It's hard time imagine that her first reaction was to run, to leave the comfort and security of people as close to her as family and instead run here, to a ruined house of an absentee father figure in God, something that she doesn't even really believe in.

Wiping the heel of her palm against one eye, Colette shakes her head from side to side, wordlessly parting her lips in silent question to a God that isn't listening in place of the Pastor she wants to go to for help and has no idea how to find. Swallowing the lump down in her throat, it's the smell of soot here in the church that seems to be so evocative of the memories of what she saw and can't explain, the flash of something happening before her eyes.

Fingers cradle the base of Colette Nichols' skull, support firm against its curve, adamantly forbidding the grace of laying down. Eyes even darker than the smoky air gaze steadily down from a face framed by short, unkempt hair, its blonde color considerably darkened by dirt and grime. Tamara fails to cast so much as a glance towards the girl running the same route her feet traced only a short time ago, the girl deliberately left behind so that the sybil could be kneeling in the street here and now.

The sounds of running feet, yelling voices, of feral fire consuming nearby buildings from the inside out, shattering glass and screaming children — none of it quite sounds real. A streak of soot meanders down the curve of Tamara's cheek, ashes adhering to the line of moisture left behind by a fallen tear. The blonde girl's lips pull up in a smile, shaky and wan, wilting almost immediately under the sorrow that attempted bravado, however well-meant, can't banish from her eyes.

A sputtered breath hisses from Colette as she hides her face against her palm, hunching forward as a sickening feeling wells up in the pit of her stomach and everything that she thought she understood about both herself and Tamara bleeds away faster than she apparently was in the vision. It's like a waking nightmare, one that — at the moment — she thinks is an isolated incident, just something she has to suffer from and hasn't quite equated the confusion she witnessed on the way here to line up with it like puzzle pieces.

Outside of the church, Colette's red and white dirt bike is parked in defiance of the police tape, and a few miles to the north outside of Gun Hill apartments there is a patch of black streaked across the pavement where she tore out from the curb, the lasting impression of her retreat to this place in search of a comfortable location to vent her emotional confusion and discord, one that she wrongly feels alone in having. There's a city full of scared and confused people out there she's so very unaware of.

Colette's hands press tight against cloth-covered ribs. The liquid warmth that spills out regardless around desperate fingers is the truly, inarguably real element of this tableau, puddling crimson-black on the street beneath them. Its stain will never come out of these clothes — and its loss, if it continues to flow, may never be replaced. Fingers clench harder still in the effort to make it stop, incipient panic stealing scant breath and the words it may otherwise have fueled.

"Wha— yh— you— Colette?"

Maybe in Colette's mind it was the decision to be with Tasha that warranted something like this happening to her, maybe it was some other infinitesimal choice that she could have made but didn't that elicits this moment in time. That she even saw it, saw something so brutal and violent from someone that she feels was a misguided hope at love makes her sick to her stomach. That she vomited on the front steps of the church is the only reason she isn't now.

Running her pale fingers through dark and damp hair, Colette stares down at her own reflection in the rippling puddle of water on the ground nearby, to the haunted look in her own mis-matched eyes and the way the cross situated behind her seems more monolithic and more looming than she imagined. She swallows back tears and the threat of a sob, covering her mouth with one hand as if that would somehow quiet the overwrought sounds she wants to make; it really can't.

The distance separating them gets smaller with each reaching stride, with each jarring lance of dull pain through her side; but not small enough. Not small enough that Tasha can do anything but look on in horror as bloody knife falls from red-daubed hand, steel ringing an incongruously musical chime against rough asphalt. Freed, those fingers close over Colette's shoulder, supporting and supported in turn. Tamara looks up, finally; the weight of her regret makes Tasha falter, slower, staggering steps postponing irrevocable revelation a few precious seconds more.

Closing her eyes, Tamara presses her cheek against Colette's temple, three softspoken words somehow completely overshadowing the chaotic destruction going on around them.

"I'm so sorry."

Colette is too, and those words echo over and over in her head.

She's just not sure what for yet.

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