eimi_icon.gif hailey_icon.gif

Scene Title Monkeyshines
Synopsis A little troublemaker makes trouble for a trespasser.
Date February 18, 2019

The Bronx Zoo

Beyond the wastelands of the Bronx, there's a place that's overgrown with greenery, almost as thick as the vegetation in Park Slope. Untrimmed ivy, blanketed in snow, covers a majority of a wrought iron fence and if it's followed, two pillars of stone can be seen. The sign arched between the pillars is explanation enough for why it's been left alone, The Bronx Zoo.

Once upon a time, before nuclear blasts hit midtown again and again, this place held the largest collection of wildlife in New York City. Word has it, it never officially closed, people just stopped showing up for work.

Beyond the pillars there's the chatter of birds and rustle of dry leaves. To the curious, it's an inviting place, mostly because it's not dead. Not yet.

It's peaceful, if any place outside the safe zone can truly be called that. That's why Eimi's kept coming back to the ruined zoo since she got to New York. Right now, the young woman sits balanced precariously on top of one of those pillars, turning something over in her hand again and again before tucking it deep back into some interior pocket of her jacket.

From her vantage point, Eimi can see something a little peculiar, something she's never seen before. Not in the areas she's explored at least. Walking down on the ground is a young woman, trailed by a roan horse that's laden with two full bags, one on each side.

She stops and shades her eyes from the sun with a hand, then she looks up into the trees. "Jim!" she calls, "Where are you? You little jerk, I need my glasses back!" Frowning, she drops her hand and shakes her head. "Come on Dayton, let's get back home. It's going to be dark soon."

Right now, Eimi can feel something watching her and the birds that used to be peeping and talking to each other, have stopped.

One knee gets drawn up to her chest as Eimi glances about. Out comes the small scope from her pocket, though just to hold for now, no new destination picked out although her eyes flit to the top of the dome of what used to be a building. The other leg still braces against the pillar, but the position is awfully exposed. More so than she'd do anywhere else, and the sound of a voice has the girl startled somewhat. Finally, her gaze jerks away, back to the ground. To the horse, which just gets stared at, open-mouthed and ooops, there's a sound made there, too. She's never seen a horse before.

At least, not recently. It's familiar in that aching way that things that might have been in her childhood before the war are, but Eimi just can't quite put her finger on it, and so instead, she stares.

The young woman looks around into the trees again, the frown still on her face, "Jim!"

And suddenly a weight lands on Eimi's shoulder, there's a loud shriek, and the scope is yanked out of her hands. The weight gets heavier for just a moment and she can see her scope, in the paw of a golden monkey, and it's leaping toward another tree. The path it takes from tree to tree, follows the blonde woman on the ground. When it finally reaches her, it places the scope into one of the already full saddle bags.

"There you are, you little jerk," the young woman greets the animal with a smile. It climbs up onto her back and hangs there, like a living backpack, or Yoda. "You almost made us late." The duo turned trio, starts moving again, along the dilapidated cement road.

It's enough to knock Eimi's precarious balance and then she loses her balance, and then it has her scope and she just screams. "No no no no no no no no," it's louder than it needs to be but Eimi clutches at the empty air for it anyway, "damn it." But there are more immediate things than the scope — she has others, although none of them are with her — and without it her options as she loses her perch on top of the pillar and falls are a lot more limited.

The young woman in the black leather jacket falls off of where she'd been on the top of the pillar, and instead of continuing to fall, simply disappears with a soft almost pop of displaced air. She reappears on the path near the other woman, but it's not quite a perfect jump, she's still falling when she reappears and there's a bit of a thud as she hits the ground and rolls to her feet, and then takes a few quick steps towards the monkey. "Give it back it's MINE!"

The sudden appearance of the woman in the black leather jacket spooks the horse and it screams loudly, rearing up in fright. Again and again, it rears up on its hind legs, using its front ones in an attempt to ward off the stranger.

The one that Hailey ignores in favor of her more immediate problem. "Dayton ssshhhh ssshhhh it's okay," really, that's just a hope. So far, the woman in the leather jacket hasn't posed much of a threat and that's how the willowy blonde is counting on staying. Her hands are raised to the horse and she approaches it slowly, with each step the height of the horse's rearing lessens. Once her hands are on its nose and neck, it seems to calm, its screams turning to soft, irritated knickers. The large animal's ears are twisted back, displaying its irritation.

All the while, the monkey's head it turned, eyeing Eimi carefully. Its lips are pulled back to reveal its mouth full of teeth and it opens its mouth, silently threatening the woman on the ground…

Or smiling, it could really be either one.

Once she's on her feet, the few steps are all she takes, an equal amount of backpedaling away from the rearing horse following the steps towards the monkey. She glances from the woman to the monkey to the woman again and her hands jam into her pockets. "It took my scope," she repeats, though this time she's neither screaming nor yelling, and in fact she seems rather perturbed, "And I want it back." By now her voice is level, almost flatly intoned, and Eimi glares right back at the monkey and takes one step back forward.

Finally, Hailey turns around and faces Eimi, her eyebrows furrowed together in concern at the other woman. "What is a scope?"

"And are you okay?"

It's the first question that the blonde should have asked, not the second. Oh well, too late to make a better first impression. What Hailey does do is gently pull the monkey off of her back and lower it to a stand in front of her.

"Jim, what did you do?"

It's a gentle admonishing that she gives the adolescent that's already lowered its head in submission. It chitters and lopes to the horse and jumps up onto the pack on one side. Then it digs into the pack and pulls out a pair of sunglasses, holding them with an extended hand and offering them up in peace.

There's still a flat tone to her voice when Eimi nods and then responds. "I will be if I get it back." There's a slight breeze of displaced air, as for a moment, her ability betrays how very much not okay she is without the object in question, and she teleports, back and forth less than an inch in distance. At that pace, it's almost like she is vibrating, that small of a movement is nearly instantaneous and wouldn't look odd except for the part where she disappears in between, until she takes a deep breath and calms it, remains in one place. "It's… it's like binoculars only half of it," Eimi responds. "I was," she pauses, and points up to the pillar, "up there, turning it in my hand for a moment, when it," pause, course correction, "when he took it." There's a further slight silence before Eimi adds, "I'm sorry for scaring your horse."

"We don't get much company here," the blonde says with a hint of suspicion. More apparent, the monkey bristles and shrieks at Eimi climbing further onto the horse's back and raising himself to his hind legs. "Only raiders."

The horse's ears flatten backward and it snorts, pawing the ground uneasily. Hailey takes a step back, toward the large beast seemingly using it for protection. "Ssshhh Dayton," she murmurs, attempting to calm it. She doesn't work on the monkey, Jim, who is now jumping up and down on Dayton's back, obviously as agitated as the horse is.

Eimi takes another breath and a step backwards, and shakes her head a moment, and pulls her jacket back around her. "I was just exploring," she says, this time quietly, and the flat affect is mostly gone, as though she's remembering how to interact with people. "It's nice up there." She pauses, and adds, "I don't run into… people very often either."

They don't either, apparently.

Hailey moves behind the horse and to its other side, the side that Jim put the spyglass in. She reaches into the pack, blindly fumbling around until she pulls out the item in question. "This is what he took?" She doesn't hand it over though, turning the item over in her hand to inspect it instead. "What do you use it for? To look at other people's places for stuff?" By the looks of the packs on the horses, the blonde might have a lot of stuff.

The scope is a good one, either military surplus or scavenged from a hunting and sporting goods store at some point, and there are smooth grooves in the plastic where fingers have worn it smooth with worry, where the paint is gone. Eimi takes a breath and looks at it, and turns one hand up to await the item's return. "I use it for my…" she points up at the pillar where she was, "ability," she says. "I need to be able to see where I'm going." The last word is given a weight and a significance. "I use it to get away when others want to bother where I'm sleeping, or… Make sure there's no one in my places before I go back inside." That trails off. "I'd like it back." Another moment, and she adds, slowly, "Please."

It seems like almost immediately, that the horse and monkey slow and then stop their pawing/snorting and screaming. Once they have, Hailey walks right to Eimi and holds out the scope. Once taken, she retreats back to the horse and places a hand on its muzzle. "Where are you from that people bother where you sleep?" The question is posed in such a way that implies the blonde doesn't have that problem, at all. By the looks of her, it seems unlikely that she has the wherewithal to fend off whatever property she has.

There's a deep breath once Eimi has her scope back, and she brushes her thumb along the groove, tucks it into her pocket, and gestures in the vague direction of the further ruins. "Out there. I don't know, there's not… street signs, or anything, mostly." And then there's a bright smile, as if the panic and near tantrum at the loss of the item had never happened. "Here an' there," she says, and shrugs. "Sometimes other people decide they want where I've found, because it's kinda intact, or whatever. I just move on and get out."

An eyebrow is arched as Hailey levels a look at Eimi. "So, you're homeless," it's a statement and not a question. With a deep sigh, she waves further on down the road. "People won't bother you down there… but you have to be careful. There's dangerous animals all over." She begins to move and when she does, the horse follows without prompting.

The monkey, though, is now sitting calmly on the horse's rear and still staring at Eimi. It holds out its paw and waves toward itself, beckoning Eimi. "It's going to be dark soon and you don't want to be here after dark. I hate to say it but.." she pauses and then turns toward the other woman, ".. if you want to live, you should come with us."

Eimi tilts her head to one side, and finally nods. "I mean I can get out of here pretty quickly with my ability and out-run anything," she says, "and back to one of wherever… you don't… you don't have to," she adds, and then takes a few quick steps forward, "but alright." There's a pause, and then she takes a few steps over towards Hailey.

"I'm Eimi," she says, adding a rather belated introduction.

"Hailey— Gerken," the blonde replies without looking back, though she does slow enough for Eimi to catch up. "Problem is, by the time you know something around here is hunting you, it's usually too late. I mean, Jim got your scope and he's not exactly the quietest thing on four legs." In response the monkey chitters agitatedly. It takes a few minutes but before the sun sinks low on the horizon, they come to an iron enclosure. It's partially obscured, as are most of the places here, with ivy, keeping it hidden. Once she reaches the gates, the blonde begins unwinding a chain that keeps them together.

"There's a few other buildings around, but they're not as safe as this one," she intones as she swings the guards open wide enough for the horse to pass through. Inside, there's two outbuildings, what seems to be a cave enclosure, and a pasture.. containing some antlered creatures.

To her benefit, Eimi goes along and follows without teleporting to catch up. "I was daydreaming when I was sitting up on the pillar," she admits, "and lost track of time a… a bit." She shrugs. "I mean, I can use my ability without it," she adds, kind of hurriedly and a slight bit defensive, "I just can't go as far or cover as much distance."

As Eimi explains, Hailey is hurriedly closing the gate after them and making sure the chain is secure. Then she meets the horse at one of the outbuildings and begins unloading the saddlebags from its back.

Jim is helping too.

Once the bags are on the ground, he jumps into one and starts throwing its contents all over the ground. One piece smashes, causing Hailey to let out a strangled wail, "Jiiiiiiim nooooooooooooo!" The item in question was a porcelain teapot.

Eimi glances at the gate, clearly not bothered by it being closed, and follows after once more, but when the items start being thrown the younger woman stops with the whole conventional means of walking and just disappears, reappears right next to the bag, hands closing around air where the teapot just passed through. There's a soft displacement of air on either side, and the entire movement takes less than the time of a blink.

It's a valiant effort. But it's seconds too late to actually be of any real help. Instead, the teen picks up the shattered pieces and gathers them, lest they be stepped on, and sets them in a careful pile — away from Jim.

Jim scampers off, away from Eimi and up a nearby tree. Once there, he grabs one of the bare branches and begins gnawing on it, always staring at Eimi.

Hailey, on the other hand, has gotten over the loss of the teapot. “Stuff like this happens all the time, it’s okay, he’s just trying to help.” She explains as she picks the pieces up and places them into a small burlap bag. “I can try to glue it back together maybe, the pattern is still nice… besides, people aren’t so picky nowadays.” She drags the packs into the shed and closes it up, probably meaning to go through it later. “I have to put the reindeer in for the night, before the wolves come out. If you want to sleep here, you can start a fire in the cave. There’s a bin with some vegetables on the far side of the pit, and some cheese in the cupboard.”

"The pattern is nice," Eimi agrees as she helps pick up the last few pieces. It's an awkward attempt at small talk, but there's a grateful smile, and a nod. "What do you do with the stuff?" Slightly better of an attempt, and Eimi glances over towards the cave, and disappears, reappears at the mouth of it and steps in and over to the fire pit. The small teleportation jumps Eimi doesn't even seem to notice or think about, and they happen without so much as a disturbance in her walking, unlike the fall earlier.

After a few minutes of quietly setting up sticks and small pieces of wood — building a fire is something Eimi knows how to do and apparently does well — the girl steps to the door of the cave again. She's sans jacket, and unzipped her sweatshirt, from moving about and doing and maybe, maybe feeling halfway comfortable for a moment. Then she asks, "Reindeer?"

Hailey can’t hear her, at present, she’s ushering a small heard that include a stag, doe, and fawn toward an enclosure. The entire process takes quite a while, and as she’s ushering them into the paddock, Jim is running behind her with an arm full of hay and leaves. When she closes the gate, he dumps the hay and leaves between the fence rails and scampers on all fours toward the cave and by default, toward Eimi.

The blonde takes a little longer. When she finally reaches the cave, Hailey pulls a small crock from the shelf and pours a glass of milk. “Sorry, night time is when the wolves come out and I can’t risk my herd.”

Eimi finishes starting the fire without much further fuss, and crouches near it once it's done, feeding it sticks and increasingly bigger pieces of firewood until it's big enough to sustain itself for a little bit, and there's a half a nod of acknowledgement when Hailey returns. "Reindeer?" she asks again, curiosity showing through. A pause, and she says, "So you live here with a herd of reindeer, and Jim the monkey, and the horse?"

There's a glance towards the outside, and a moment, and then Eimi sits down cross legged and arranges her jacket over her shoulders.

“There’s a fox that hangs around too,” Hailey says matter of factly, “and a flock of birds.” Well more than one flock. She pours the contents of the crock into one more cloudy glass and offers it to Eimi, “Milk?” It’s february, so it’s cold, most everywhere is cold right now. The cave is warming up though, that’s something. As the heat from the fire builds inside, Jim eventually scampers inside and hops up on a pile of fur that’s presumably a bed.

From inside a cupboard, the young blonde woman pulls a half loaf of crusty bread wrapped in a waxed cloth. She pulls a bit of it off and crumbles it between her fingers, then sprinkles it on the floor near a small nook. As she turns and joins Eimi by the fire, a small family of mice peek out and begin to gather the meal left for them.

There's a moment of hesitation but Eimi does take the glass of milk, and although she hides it well, the careful way in which she drinks it is enough sign that she doesn't eat enough. When the glass is empty, it's carefully set down in order that Eimi can add another log to the fire, and there's a glance towards Hailey. "Thanks," she says, awkwardly. "For letting me stay here tonight."

There's a pause, and then she asks, "How… early do the wolves stop being out? I don't want to… impose, longer than I have to." A glance in the direction of the gate that Hailey had earlier chained shut and a little bit of fidgeting accompany the silence that follows the question.

"When the light comes out, they usually go to den." Usually isn't a very comforting word. "You're a new scent though, so they'll be on edge and probably roaming around to find you." The other things that hunt, Hailey doesn't mention them. Once the cave warms enough to stop showing their breath, Hailey sheds her coat and ratty gloves. Eimi's empty glass is spotted and refilled, like a proper hostess would.

After setting the glass back down for Eimi, Hailey shrugs her shoulders. "If you don't want to be an imposition, there's chores around that need to be done. After milking, I need to turn the reindeer out so they can forage. Then I have to go through all the stuff I found yesterday, to see if there's something I can sell. You slip into the Safe Zone much?"

"Only a few times," Eimi says, picking up the glass and cradling it in her hands for a moment before taking slower, more careful sips this time, "but it wasn't hard. There's a few spots where I can see to the tops of some buildings inside. From there I can jump down to an alley and slip out into the crowd, but it's a lot of people," she finishes. A nod. "Alright," the chores are agreed to easily enough. "I've only been around New York about…"

Eimi pauses, counts on her fingers for a moment. "Two weeks, now, give or take."

"There's a spot along the fence that I know, someone I know showed it to me. The fence isn't really patrolled that well, they don't have the people for it," Hailey says as she takes a pot, then disappears outside without her coat on. When she gets back, the pot is full of snow. It's placed on the fire and begins hissing as the contents melt into water. Now, she's busy cutting up a couple of root vegetables.

She's silent for the time it takes, concentrating on not cutting her fingers off in the process of cooking. "I've been here for a while now, I can't handle inside the safe zone, too many people. I can't do that all the time." The top and bottom ends of the carrot are tossed to Jim, who turns them around in his tiny paws before taking a few bites. "If you're not going into the safe zone, you're going to need somewhere that isn't visited by raiders. Out here, in the Bronx, it's mostly Mitchell holdouts. If they find you, it's lights out."

Another nod. "Mostly I've found places that other people can't get to," Eimi says. "Buildings where the top floor has a few rooms, but the middle and bottom are burned out, ruined. Rooftops with no other access left. No one else ever gets to those. They're…" she lifts her shoulders in a shrug. Silence follows, and she admits, "I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet, in the long term."

"Where do you sell the stuff you find?" Eimi asks. "I've come across stuff, in the abandoned buildings I… explore. Closets with clothing, other stuff. I just…" she shrugs, and that slight flatness is coming back to her voice unbidden this time. "I could bring them to you, sometimes?"

"The good stuff goes to a place called the Vault. The junky stuff, well sometimes people like to pick it up at the market. I usually trade it for things I can't get around here." Hailey looks up from stirring the pot and toward the pieced together leather flap she calls a door. "They know you're here now."

What knows Eimi is here is made perfectly clear in a few seconds when both women can hear a very clear howl. It's joined by another, and another, until a dozen or so voices have come together in lupine song. "Don't worry, they can't get in here. I fixed the bars myself."

Eimi shivers slightly, pulls her jacket around her shoulders, and finally nods, although it's hard to tell how reassured she is. There's a moment where she might say something, but instead just shuts her mouth again and picks up another piece of firewood to carefully set on the edge of the fire, then rests her hands at the edge of the heat. It's not an easy silence for Eimi, with the wolves howling in the background, but there's less tension than there was. She takes another sip of the milk, and glances over to the other girl. "Thanks," she murmurs once again, and then falls silent.

Thin potato soup is likely the best thing Hailey has to offer, except for the reindeer milk. It's split equally, served in a chipped bowl with a hunk of bread and a bit of cheese (probably made from reindeer milk). She's quiet while they eat, staring at the door instead of conversing with her guest. When the last bit of liquid is scooped out of her bowl with the last bite of bread, she prods the fire down to just coals and makes her way to the bed.

Jim is already there, eating sticks.

She doesn't complain though, brushing the slivers of wood off the furs before rolling one of them up and carrying it over to Eimi. "Might as well stay warm, it's going to get cold tonight." Because it's February, and Hailey has no intention of keeping a blazing fire all night. Coals are just fine. She doesn't offer to share the pile of straw she sleeps on, with a monkey and some mice. But there are other soft places to sleep and her invitation is much better than the one that can be heard through the flap right now. One that's voiced with a series of eager snarls, yips, barks, and howls.

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