Fake Dead People


emily_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif

Scene Title Fake Dead People
Synopsis In her search for a dead guy who's not really dead, Emily finds the first person on her list of contacts to be missing … and learns Squeaks has a belonging from another dead person who's not really dead.
Date February 7, 2019

Gillian's Brownstone, Elmhurst

Bang bang bang.

It's not a gunshot, but it is a very intense knock at the Childs' front door.

Emily Epstein waits impatiently on the step of the brownstone, sternly eyeing the door. She'd taken a trip to Eve's establishment and found the normally-sassy bartender at Cat's Cradle to sob when she'd asked after the seer. He'd confessed he'd 'not seen her' and 'for weeks' when she'd blocked his way out from behind the bar, tearfully shouted 'who?!' when she asked if he knew anything about Magnes Varlane, then shoved her out of the way shouting obscenities at her.

Yeah, that boded well.

She hopes someone's home, at least for the front door's sake. Emily doesn't know Eve for shit, maybe, but she's realized on the trip over she's not heard from Squeaks who shares the same household. She's reminded herself repeatedly, with growing distress, that people up and vanishing for about a month is not a good thing.

The heel of her palm lands on it harder as she tries again. Bang bang bang.

Someone is home, even though it takes a couple of minutes before the door is answered.

The curtain beside the door twitches slightly, and a single blue eye, nervously wide, might be seen peeking out. The lock clicks and thumps as it’s turned, a rattly sound follows that’s probably the little chain being removed, and then the door opens far enough for Squeaks’ face to look up at Emily.

“Hi,” the younger girl offers. Her tone makes it a question instead of a real greeting, but that’s pretty normal. She tips her head to look to the street. “What’s wrong,” she asks as she drags the door open a little wider and steps out of the way so the blonde can come into the house.

Emily deflates a little at seeing Squeaks rather than Gillian, Lene, or even Eve herself in the doorway. Though, it just as well could have been nobody at all. "Hey, you." she sighs, arm swinging back down by her side before she slides inside. A glance is pushed down the hall to the kitchen, then upstairs.

"I don't know yet," she replies honestly enough before swinging her attention back down to the smaller girl. "I'm looking for Eve, has she been home recently?"

“No.” The answer is simple, and purely honest. Eve hasn’t been home in a while. Squeaks stares up at Emily for a whole three seconds, maybe waiting for a better explanation. No one just goes banging on doors so loudly. But she doesn’t ask the question that should usually be with the look, instead she turns to wander down the hall and into the kitchen. “Do you want a snack? I think there’s cookies still. Or probably crackers.”

Emily's disappointment is visible before she looks away, back toward the front door in a sign of distress as she tries to decide how truthful she wants to be about who she's inquiring after and why, knowing for sure that… that…

But Squeaks' endless inquiries never even start. When Emily turns back, the smaller girl is just staring. Her brow curls down in a slow furrow, but she assents to the suggestion of food with a nod. "That sounds good," she starts her reply, finding herself suddenly not knowing what to say otherwise. She'd half expected to be taken by the hand and lead on an adventure by now. Instead, she blinks rapidly and looks back down the hall, absently working her shoes off one at a time without using her hands.

"Something…" Emily pauses, carefully making sure of what she wants to say. "Something the matter? I thought you started school? Are they off today?" That sounded safer than jumping to asking why she'd not seen Squeaks in a while.

“I do school here.” Or usually at the library, but today at least Squeaks is at home and working. There’s evidence of that at the kitchen table, in the form of some textbooks and pencils. “Nothing is wrong, just your banging was loud and… and you look like something is wrong.” She follows that claim with a pointed look, she’s not being fooled by I don’t know.

But still questions don’t follow. Snacks do though. The young teen climbs onto a counter to reach a box of crackers that have been stashed away on a high shelf. Sitting on the counter, the snack is offered to Emily first.

"Guess I should have figured you'd be homeschooled," Emily airs the realization out loud as she follows after. "I was too, most of my growing up," she confesses in a quieter voice. "I moved a few times, and then the hospital happened." Before Emily can linger on that, she reaches out to slide a small number of crackers from the sleeve and cradle them in her palm. "It's probably better for you that way, anyway. Being in class with people again is… weird." The admission is only slightly less awkward for her than talking about more distant schooling.

Popping a cracker into her mouth, she buys herself a few moments chewing on it. "I was just worried," she finally admits, brow burrowing as she turns to lean into the counter beside Squeaks. "That guy who runs with Eve was all… distraught. And then I realized I'd not seen any of you in a long time," even though Squeaks was the only one she saw with any semblance of regularity, "and I just got worried. Didn't know what to do, what I would do if something had happened. Felt like a terrible friend."

She pauses at that, biting into another cracker. "… Sorry. I know we normally see each other more than we have." Emily looks down at the floor for a moment, head shaking. "Just been through a lot lately."

Once Emily has taken a share of crackers, Squeaks helps herself to some also. She nibbles on the corner of one while listening to the older girl talk. Her heels tap lightly against the lower cabinet in an absent, unnoticed sort of habit.

“I didn’t go to school a lot after Doctor Ford died, and I tried running away because… Because of Carolyn.” It’s safe to assume that there was no school once she did actually run away either. Not until Gillian said she wanted to be her mom. “I’m catching up fast. I have lots still, I have to… take that same test you did?” It’s a lot of work, and the look she directs at the books and supplies on the table is determined but also a little bit unsure.

“Which guy?” Squeaks asks, taking the chance to not think about schoolwork. “I was helping Raytech and… it just took a long time. I couldn’t even call anyone.” She pauses, to let her feet tap-tap-tap quietly and take a real bite of cracker. Then, “What happened?”

"You'll smash it out of the ballpark, hon." is Emily's firm assertion about the test. She glances sidelong at Squeaks to back the statement up. "And knowing how much you love reading, I'm sure you'll catch up quick. Sure, you'll have to deal with some stupid stuff… But you'll power through."

The last cracker in her hand is popped away, though she stops chewing when Raytech is mentioned. Her head turns, searching Squeaks' expression more thoroughly than before. "I don't know his name," she answers about the guy. "He's a fucking weirdo who sells fried squirrel when not tending bar, as far as I know."

As for the rest, Emily swallows hard. It's not something she wants to talk about. But sometimes, you make exceptions. "You tell me yours, and I'll tell you mine? What happened with Raytech, Squeaks?"

What did Richard Ray do? is a question that's been bothering her since she saw Eileen.

“His name is Sassy.” At least as far as Squeaks knows. She usually goes by her nickname, and only a few people know her real one, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if Sassy had another name too that she didn’t know.

Pushing a shoulder up, the younger girl shrugs first. What happened is too hard to explain, even if she were allowed to. “Raytech got asked to help with government stuff,” she supplies when her shoulder drops again. “I don’t know what else. There was an attack or something, I don’t remember, and we had to stay to make sure we weren’t going to be sick or anything.”

Lifting her eyes, Squeaks looks at Emily as if to say it’s her turn.

Emily's brow furrows at the explanation, getting the sense there's more than that. Squeaks' demeanor seemed to say there was. She finds herself lifting her arm to wrap it around the younger girl's shoulders in a gesture of support. As far as she knows, neither of them are really huggers. But it feels right; maybe even needed.

"I'm glad you're back now." she says in a softer voice. Not 'fine' or 'okay', because she doesn't trust that she actually is. Being home is something, though.

It being her turn isn't lost on her, but she doesn't make eye contact. Emily's not sure what item to pick out from it all. "I was really worried about Geneva. I was visiting her a lot, hoping for the best. She'd been in a coma for so long." A short breath escapes her and she shakes her head. "She woke up though, little over a week ago. Thank god." Eyes closing, Emily lets that sit for a moment.

"I'd…" she starts again, then hesitates. "I don't know, I kind of started looking into some other stuff, too. It's why I came looking for Eve. She knew some Ferry people, and I wanted to ask her questions."

"About Eileen Ruskin and Magnes Varlane," she admits, the latter name still sounding foreign in her mouth.

It's a fact that hugs are sometimes weird, but Squeaks at least seems okay with the one from Emily. There's a little bit of relief that comes from it, that a million questions don't follow the answer for Raytech’s project. She's very not sure she even knows answers for what that was all about, not that she can talk about what happened anyway.

The first name isn't one she knows, but it sparks some of her normal curiosity. The last two she definitely recognizes, and even though she's holding back questions by munching on a cracker, her eyes get all wide and wondering, like seeing the fireworks all over again.

“Eileen died at Pollepel. We are trying to prove she wasn't the traitor.” Squeaks’ words have the sound of thinking out loud, probably curious for why Emily is looking for her. “I have her journal. I found it. Magnes?” Her face scrunches a little trying to decide what she remembers. “He helped the Raytech project? I saw him some but… I didn't really meet him.”

"Yeah, she did die at Pollepel—" Emily winces at the description she has of how exactly it happened, and is thankfully rescued from lingering on it when the journal is brought up. "Wait, really? You do? When is it from?" The intention to give Squeaks her space and not bombard her with questions is whittled away quickly when her curiosity surges.

Doubly, when she brings up she's seen Magnes. She blinks hard. "He was there? He—"

Emily blanches, wondering how to even put it. They're rapidly reapproaching phrases that are very uncomfortable to say out loud. Like 'alternate reality'. It might be second-nature for any of the Lighthouse, but it still is an odd thing for her to discuss even if it's something she accepts as an unavoidable truth.

"Last people knew, he was like… dead. Or sucked into an alternate reality." There. She said it. "Joe said something about the creepy video when I saw him, said that it had showed him, uh, someplace else not here. Somewhere where other people were still alive." A frown starts to tug at the corner of her mouth. "What the hell was he doing out there?" Her eyes are wandering as she tries to piece things together, even without the question being answered. "Squeaks, what were they trying to do?" Emily doesn't stare her down as she asks, looking across the kitchen. The question is more or less spoken into the air.

“From a long time ago,” Squeaks answers, entirely like it’s no big deal that she’s got Eileen Ruskin’s journal. “Like before the war. And after, but I think someone else was writing in it? I found it in a tower on the island.” Because that sort of thing happens all the time, it’s really not that exciting.

She shrugs to answer the question about what was happening with Raytech, and for the video. “I don’t know. I found a video and it was really super weird and… but I don’t know what was going on. Maybe someone stole the camera I found and that’s how I found it.” Looking up at Emily, the younger teen shrugs again and looks helpless. She can’t answer those questions.


Emily is patient, or at least tries to be. She bites off the rest of the thought, tying her own tongue and resisting any exasperated movements. She squeezes Squeaks' shoulder reassuringly before swinging her arm down, it visible in her eyes that she's not going to let the matter go. Nonetheless, she smiles quickly and faintly when she turns to the younger girl.

"You mind if I see it, the journal?" Reactions are again carefully quashed as she figures 'the island' must be Pollepel. Haranguing about that being unsafe can come way later.

“Okay,” Squeaks answers as she drops off the counter. She hurries from the kitchen, into the hall on the balls of her feet and then around and up the stairs. Her tippy-toed running can be heard faintly crossing the ceiling and stopping for a handful of seconds. Then it starts again, with louder thumps as she jumps down the stairs.

“It was in a tower, like an old tower by itself,” the younger teen explains as she wanders down the hall. “Maybe a part of a lighthouse? It had only one way in and out and stairs circling all the way up. Someone used to live there.” She remembers that detail, the bed and belongings, but all the dust meant probably no one lived there for a while.

Returning to the counter, the journal is placed between herself and Emily. Squeaks flips through the pages with a familiarity, obviously she’s read it a few times. “It’s got codes and secret thoughts. Lance and I are trying to clear Eileen’s name, because she wasn’t the traitor. This journal can maybe help prove that.”

When Emily turns away from the counter, she leans harder against it than she needs to, her brow furrowing as she stands away from it entirely to avoid falling back onto that habit. Hands shove themselves into the pockets of her coat as she leans over the journal while it's thumbed through. "Codes? Right up our alley," she voices aloud with distant interest, too focused on skimming what she's able to see to show anything more earnest.

"I had no idea you and Lance were trying to do that," Emily admits, glancing at the younger girl for just a moment. She doesn't reach for the journal just yet, nodding to it instead. "Is the part with the new writing right at the end? And is it dated at all?"

“We don't talk about it very much because people think Eileen was a traitor.” Squeaks looks up at Emily, all of a sudden squinty with suspicion. Her hands cover the pages of the journal, even though there's nothing really interesting to see. “How come you're asking about Eileen? And Magnes? And Geneva, why was she in a coma? What's going on with all the banging and asking things?”

Emily lets out a carefully measured breath as the pages are covered up, trying to be patient. "I'm looking for Magnes," she admits easily enough. "I found something out and I'm trying to find him and tell him. And I already told you, I just got worried." Her brow furrows for just a moment as she adds, "You're really sure Eve's not been here recently? You guys wouldn't have any idea where she might be?"

“What does Eileen have to do with Magnes? Why is it making you worry?” Squeaks’ hands stay pressed to the pages, but not with the intent of keeping the contents hidden now. Not as much hidden anyway. “Eve isn't here and I don't know where she is. Why's she making you worry too? How come you don't just say what you need and you try to hide it? We're friends, and friends help, but I can't help if you're just worried.” Gosh.

There's a two-second pause that feels like it lasts an eternity as Emily tries to process the sudden shift in tone. Deciding what to do with it takes longer. Sure, there's validity in the press for details, but…

"They were both Ferry." she explains calmly before starting to shake her head. "And I was looking for Eve, because she knew them, and Elaine thought Eve might know where Magnes—" She cuts herself off, realizing she was just tying even more names into it, making the knot worse, and explaining nothing at the same time.

The look in her eye sharpens as she stares at Squeaks. "Hey, you have things you're hiding too, but I'm trying to give you your space with it. I'm worried as shit about whatever awful thing happened with Raytech, but you don't see me grilling you twenty questions-style over it." If her hands weren't already in her pockets, she might have them perched on her hips at this point.

“I don’t know what happened with Raytech,” Squeaks points out. “You could ask twenty questions style or a million questions style and I still don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.” That last group, she drops her voice to a fake baritone sound, because the lower octave totally makes it all the more true. “I don’t even know what, but they had to keep us there and make sure the attack didn’t make us sick. That’s all I know about it.” She crosses her heart then holds out her pinky.

It isn't taken.

Emily's expression is solemn as she looks down at Squeaks, letting out a slow sigh. "I'm not going to put that on you anyway, Squeaks." she says on the tail end of it. "That's not fair. And it's honestly fucked up that they got you wrapped up in it to begin with." There's concern that flickers in her gaze before she looks back toward the partially-covered book.

"My dad knew Eileen," she admits. "They were both good friends. I know she died on Pollepel protecting other people … and I also know she was in the Vanguard, from what I read in the Wolves book. But I don't know much else about her." Emily pauses for a moment before she turns back to the younger girl. "Do you mind if I take a look at it?"

That pinky stays held out, and Squeaks’ face is very serious. Pinky swears and heart crossing is the strongest of all promises and she doesn’t drop her hand until Emily is asking about the journal again. “She wasn’t a traitor,” she points out again, even as she slides the journal closer for the older girl to look at. She’s sticking strong to that point. “Why are you interested in her and the Ferry thing?”

"I just said, though." Emily supplies, reaching for the journal now to go over it, thumbing straight to the end. She sticks with that interest of whoever was writing in it after Eileen would have died. She shakes her head as she tags on for Squeaks' sake, "She wasn't a traitor."

While she skims, she asks offhandedly, "Has anything happened with the ink lady?"

“Not really,” Squeaks answers as she leans over to also look at the pages. Those words are probably close to being memorized by now. She even starts whispering the words as the last entry — the most recent entry — is shown.

March 28, 2018

Your handwriting matches my handwriting.

I don’t understand except that I do.

I feel—

The colour grey. Warm, not cold. Abrasive like wool. Protective like wool. Heavy like wool. What should be the loudest voice is the quietest voice, so I have to strain to listen.

I don’t understand except that I do. I think.

I want my ring back.

“That part confuses me. It’s like she’s talking to herself, not like the other entries.” It goes unsaid that it’s dated well after the war ended, but it’s probably not something the young teen missed. She tilts her head and looks up at Emily, to guess at what the older girl’s thoughts are and still wondering about the wondering.

Emily's brow is furrowed as she reads, fingers skimming down the page as she goes line by line. She blinks slowly as she wonders at the context, glancing back to the date. Was this … Sibyl, maybe? she wonders, then flushes back through the pages looking for earlier, more easily anticipated dates. Something less close to her. "That's weird," she voices out loud while turning the pages a bit more carefully than she first had. "That's this year, too."

“Very weird.” As Squeaks voices her agreement, she leans on the counter with her elbows, chin cradled in her hands. “Especially since she’s supposed to be dead. If she isn’t… if she’s alive? She probably would want her journal back, but how do you find a fake-dead-alive person?” She does all her thinking out loud, watching Emily turn through the pages. “There’s some gross ones in there, too. She talks about S - E - X.” That bit is added in a hushed voice, like it’s something she shouldn’t talk about.

"Come on," Emily laments, though at the subject's existence in the reading material, or at Squeaks' reaction to it is anyone's guess. With some exasperation, she looks up for a moment to recenter before resuming the read, eyes skipping around without processing anything fully.

"How to find…" she mutters, that thought being the one that really skips her off track now. She lifts one hand to rub at her face. "I mean, I'm already looking for one in Magnes. But Eileen died. Like, definitely died. To birds. On Pollepel." There's agitation still running in her even as she pauses to look back down at the pages. When she finds her eyes won't focus, she closes the journal to save herself having too-split a focus on their conversation. "So…"

She's tempted to lie, spin up a story, but she can't bring herself to actually do it. She's always managed to avoid lying by just avoiding talking about things like this. It's even more complicated than it was before, now, too. Eileen-who's-not-Eileen-who's-actually-Eileen-again … Emily bites her bottom lip, just shaking her head. "I don't know," she confesses, not knowing at all what else to say about the topic. Not now. Not yet. She has a feeling that time is rapidly coming, though.

“How to find what?” If anyone knows what’s in that journal half as good as Eileen did, it would be Squeaks, and she’s even alive enough to help. She leans over, head almost touching Emily’s shoulder as she tries to decide what words the older girl is actually looking at. Maybe that will answer the question. “She died and now there’s birds protecting Pollepel from bad people.” That much she agrees on.

“I want to see Pollepel sometime. Like really see it and explore it.” It’s another out-loud thought. And there’s no expectation for an answer. “Maybe find the things that belonged to Ferry people from before the fighting and bring it back for them.”

When the older girl shifts gears again and hesitates over what to say next, Squeaks’ eyes lift and her head turns so she can look. “You could start at the beginning of the problem, and tell the story. And then when you get lost I could probably know enough to help you.” It’s a logical suggestion, offered with wide, searching eyes. “Is someone in trouble? Are you in trouble?”

Emily shifts the angle of her head just slightly to look at Squeaks with a small smile, leaning into the other girl's side in a silent sign of thanks for her worry and support. "No, I'm not in trouble," she murmurs as she looks down to the closed journal. "And nobody else is right now, either."

Her brow ticks with interest as she wonders about the state of the island with Eileen being herself again. Was there still a scar on the place? She remembers the war-torn shore she'd seen in the vision Sibyl had shared with her and Geneva for a moment, but puts that aside. She instead tries to hold in mind the noble goal Squeaks puts forth. "Maybe," she concedes without confidence. "Maybe we could do that."

Turning away from the counter, Emily lifts her shoulders and holds like that. "For now, the fake-dead-alive-person I'm going to worry about is Magnes Varlane. Joe put me in touch with Elaine Darrow, who gave me this list of people to go through…" Her shoulders fall back down as she muses, "I guess I just keep following that." She looks instantly wearied as she adds, "But first, I've gotta head home and finish an assignment due tomorrow." A conspiratorial look is cast Squeaks way as she asks, "How about you?" She's seen the books on the table, after all.

“I’m going to help.” Because of course she is. Now that Squeaks knows there’s something to be done, something that could make trouble for her friend, she’s going to be there to make sure Emily gets out of trouble. Even if she doesn’t know very much about what’s happening. She looks up at the older teen for a long couple of minutes, to show she means it that she’s going to help.

After that, especially since homework is mentioned, the younger girl relents with a flat look at the books she’s got on the table. “I guess,” she sighs. Then, pushing off the counter, she looks up at Emily and leads the way to the door.

It's hard to avoid directly addressing Squeaks' desire to help, knowing it would be another impossible clash of wills. Somehow, Emily does it by keeping quiet throughout the stare, waiting until she finally relents and starts heading for the door.

A tightness slowly starts to release from her chest at that. She wasn't sure she could bear to have anyone else dragged into a position where they might get hurt again. Not because of her.

"We'll catch up soon," Emily promises in the doorway, hand lifting to extend her pinky out. She can't do half of what Squeaks might want, but she can at least assure her of that.

The offered pinky is looked at, but Squeaks hesitates in hooking her own with it. She looks up at Emily, still searching for those answers that the older girl is hiding. She knows there’s secrets, and possibly something making her friend in trouble.

After a few seconds, she hooks her pinky with Em’s, there’s isn’t a lot of heart behind it, but the younger teen takes the promise before the older one leaves.

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