Monsters in the Fog


barbara_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif lucille2_icon.gif shannon_icon.gif

Scene Title Monsters in the Fog
Synopsis Although never quite complacent, the Ferrymen on Pollepel Island are caught off-guard by an unpleasant reminder of what awaits them back home in New York City.
Date November 17, 2010

Pollepel Island

In winter, midday is not much different in appearance than dusk or dawn. Sunlight has difficulty penetrating the gloom, and what little of it reaches the earth doesn't carry enough heat to melt the frost. Some days, like today, it fails to even burn away the fog rolling off the Hudson's choppy waters, blanketing the island in a silvery-gray mist that makes it impossible to see from the shore, which is good news for those holed up in the castle fortress.

Allowed outside for the first time since their arrival, a small group of children play on the rocky shoreline and make a game of who can find the smoothest stone, their shrill voices echoing across the island and occasionally punctuated with squeals of laughter or fright. Not far off, the silhouette of a woman in a heavy wool coat winds leather reins around her fingers and leads an old gray mare across the wooden planks that bridge the gap between the docks and the boat moored there.

On the deck, a fatter bay waits its turn, breath leaving its nostrils in a thin white stream and tosses its head, black mane rippling in the breeze.

Though Shannon doesn't seem to have much use for the adults stuck on the island, she seems to enjoy children. She's wandered away from the kitchen and her sleeping hideyhole, to make her way to the shore and the kids. She sits nearby on a stone, a little awkwardly given its shape, and watches them with, shock, a smile on her face.

You would think after watching Wilhelmina and Kendall horse around that Lucille had enough of kids for one day. But she hasn't apparently, or she was just trying to get out again. I mean, she hates being locked inside. You would think she's a wild animal or something, the way she paces in that castle.

Dressed in a pair of dark jeans and thick calf high boots, along with a dark red tank top and dark grey long sleeved shirt underneath. She's wrapped in a thigh long peacoat, it's not too thick but it keeps her warm enough. Dark hair is ruffled by the gentle breeze and gloves can be seen as she swings her arms lightly as she walks down the rocky shoreline and stops not to far away from the woman in the wool coat.

Light grey eyes study the children playing and she smiles softly and then frowns. "I wonder if any of them really know what's going on." She states and one gloved hand in a pocket of her coat.

Much like the children, Barbara hasn't been out much herself over the last few days, at least not during the day time. But with the children out to play, she has chosen to accompany them out to the shoreline, both to keep an eye on them, and to engage in something she's had little time to do over the many busy days - draw. With her sketchbook flipped open and resting against her knees, she sits up a bit from the shore, a black oil pastel stick in a stiff, lukewarm hand as she makes a deep, black sketch of the scene in front of her, or something approximating it.

Flexed fingers herald a break in her loosely detailed drawing, the dark pastel set aside as she leans back, sighing. It's not too cold, but enough that her hand needs a bit of a rest, gloves pulled over hands as she rises her feet, looking about to make sure everyone is alright.

The water is shallow in the cove where the children are picking through the rocks, and too cold for any of the adults standing vigil to worry about someone's son or daughter being swept away by the current after splashing out into it. In another month, ice will be crowding in around the island from all sides, making it possible to walk from one shore to the other, but for now there's only the frost in the trees and a very fine dusting of snow that fell sometime during the night, its texture like wisping sand.

Although the tea and coffee down in the kitchen holds no interest for them, there are rumours that this morning's supply shipment contained a box packed with tins of hot cocoa mix in addition to the loose leaves and grounds that their parents take with their breakfast and dinner. They're looking forward to supper.

The woman leading the mare follows the shore, its hooves crunching over loose rocks and gravel, and as she passes Lucille the raven perched on the horn of its saddle lets out a low croak of greeting. Eileen herself does not.

"I sincerely hope not. What's the point of being a kid if you can't be innocent for a little while?" Shannon says to Lucille without looking towards the woman. She doesn't look towards Eileen either, her gaze too focused on the kids. "Let them think it's just a vacation. Like a camping trip. It's best for them, I think," she says, her head tilting to one side as she continues smiling. Oh yes, she's fond of the rugrats.

As Shannon speaks, the younger woman nods her head in agreement. "I'd have to agree." She's just on the lookout for the sharper of the kids. There is always one that's ahead of the rest and knows when something is seriously wrong. "Hopefully, we can make sure that they don't encounter anything here that will change that thinking."

"Well hello to you too." Lucille says softly to the raven and she dips her head towards the bird. Eileen is studied for a second but then she's back to looking at the kids. Her eyebrows raised, "I can't even remember having the feeling that these kids are having. Though I must have felt that way at some point, funny isn't it? When you're life is turned upside down so many times that you sometimes can't remember those moments? The carefree and innocent ones." She finishes and shakes her head. Being around the kids makes Lucille a little sad.

Lucille Ryans takes a hold of the silver locket hanging around her neck and she wrings it back and forth on the chain silently.

The sudden spark of adult conversation over the squeals and moments of laughter has Barbara's attention drawn over towards Shannon and Lucille, the postcognative slipping her hands into her jeans pockets. A rueful smile is on her face as she approaches the two - looking over towards Eileen as she catches sight of her, a nod and a wave offered in her direction.

"A lot of us have been there, at some point," she says to Lucille, kicking at the thin layer of snow as she reaches them. "I know I can… barely remember some of the batter times in life, unfortunately. All the more reason to let them play while we can, I guess."

"Eee!" comes the warbling scream from the water's edge. "Pony!"

Pebbles tinkle, rocks clatter together and the children stream up the riverbank, climbing over one another in a scramble to get closer to the mare. Eileen stops, a gloved hand resting on its neck and quiet words of reassurance murmured against the side of its long face. Ultimately, they're not needed; the mare's tenure at the Garden has exposed it to plenty of children, and while some animals get cranky in their old age — take the raven on the saddle, for instance — the years have mellowed this particular creature's disposition, and it dips head, allowing one of the older children to reach up and splay fingers across its nose with a low snort that ruffles the boy's hair and draws a collective sound of exhilaration from the others.

"Me next! Me next!"

"No! Me!"

"And that's why the kids need to be ignorant now. So they can remember," Shannon murmurs, glancing from the horse to the kids and again smiling. "You want some help with the kids, getting them on and off the horse?" she asks Eileen, but she doesn't move off of her rock just yet.

"They'll come back to me someday, I'm sure. I'm damn jealous of what they have right now." Lucille tilts her head and turns to look at the ocean. "Ignorance truly is bliss." She's not sure how many times she's thought of what life would be like if she never knew about her father's real job, or any of this mess. If she had just stayed in Europe.. she might have met a nice boy by now. Had an even more successful career than before and life might have been more simple than her current one.. but still nice.

"Hope they get to keep that feeling for as long as they can." She says softly and offers a tight lipped smile to the other two women. She doesn't have any memories of playing with horses when she was a kid. That's for sure. But there was one time in Spain.. it didn't end well. Luc rubs her elbow as phantom pain blossoms there and she chuckles, taking a gloved hand to ruffle her black hair. The inky color lightening now, so it now looks more really dark brown then straight black, she needs to go to a salon in the next month or so.

"I think that I thought horses were scary because of their smell, when I was a kid." She shrugs her shoulders lightly and waits for Eileen's word. She might as well help as well, if the bird woman needs it.

As the kids clamour over to mare, in excitement and anticipation, Barbara can't help but laugh, shaking her ehad as she diverts attention away from the other women - engaged as she is in their conversation - particularly sympathetic towards Lucille - the idea of tending to excited children feels far more appealing than dredging back up old memories, however unintentional it might be.

Turning and moving towards Eileen and the swarmed animal, Barbara shakes her head. "Don't worry! Everyone'll get a ride!" she announces mirthfully, a look given over to Eileen, as if to say sorry if that's not really what you had time for. She crouches down as she reaches the pack of youngsters, reaching over and ruffling one's hair. "If everyone remains calm, the faster your turn'll come, hmm? And the rest of us can play a game between rides, how's that sound?" A look back up to Shannon, seeing if this sits well with her.

"One at a time," concedes Eileen, "and no one too small, but she won't mind if the little ones need to be lifted up for a better look," which is exactly what a girl of no more than three or four with a tousled mop of dirty blonde hair is asking of Lucille by taking her sleeve in her grubby hands and giving it the sharpest tug her short arms can manage. On the saddle, Bran gives the youngsters a dubious look, then darts a pointed glance back at Eileen. I'm going to bite them if they try that with me, it says, and don't think I won't take off fingers.

If she planned on laying down any more rules, they're lost in the inundation of questions that bubble up like froth as soon as Barbara is making promises.

"Is it a boy horse or a girl horse?"

"What's his name?"

"Can we braid her hair? Please? Please?"

The look from Barbara has Shannon shrugging. She's clearly not too picky. "Yeah, we can play a game. What game would you guys like to play when you're not getting your turn?" she asks, smiling warmly at the kids. "Just not hide and seek, because we'd never find you guys in time for you to have your ride on the horse!"

"Come here you." Lucille says and she picks the girl up before walking closer to the mare and allowing the little girl time to pet the animal. While supporting the child on her hip, Lucille smiles softly and looks over towards the other kids getting ready to play a game. "Don't worry," she whispers to the little blonde girl. "You're be big enough to ride the horse one day, promise." She says and tickles the little girl for a brief moment before turning her gaze onto to Eileen and nodding in Bran's direction.

"How old is your friend?" He's pretty calm too, but she'd be a fool to not think that Bran's demeanor is something natural. Plus, people talk on the island, apparently Eileen has a way with birds. "I've been envious of other people's abilities lately." She says softly and looks down at her hands. "Guess I view mine as a curse, but.. everyone does in the beginning right? Every ability soon becomes something more than a curse, or something you hate to think about?"

Apparently, Lucille hasn't ever heard of people like Julian Kuhr or Kazimir Volken. All for the better some would say. Maybe even Eileen.

"You're far from the only one," Barbara responds, even as she stands her self back upright, hands on hips as she looks over the kids.. "We had several at Thompson. We did our best to help people cope, realise it's not so bad, really. Sometimes… it just takes some time and patience, if you're willing to afford yourself such things." She speaks softly, almost motherly - perhaps a symptom of the child she now carries.

"Now, as for how to play between turns… Hide and Seek is out of the question, I'm afraid. And it would be best not to play something too rough. And there's not enough people for Red Rover." And then Barbara snaps, smiling down at the kids. "How about a few quick games of Red Light, Green Light to start?"

"Twenty winters," Eileen answers Lucille, and Bran must realize that he's the subject of their dicussion because he pretends not to be listening and makes a show of combing through his inky feathers with the edge of his beak. The blonde girl's mittened hand comes dangerously close to the tip of his wing when Lucille hoists her up to stroke along the mare's mane, but he either doesn't notice or is more tolerant than his quiet blustering lets on.

"What's the horse's name?" One of the children on the ground asks again, more insistently this time, and the Englishwoman is forced to respond with a curt (but not unkind), "Copenhagen."

"Does he mind if we call him Copie?" asks another.

Then: "It's a she, stupid. There's no penis, and I don't wanna play Red Light, Green Light. That's for kids. I'm twelve."

For the first time since reaching the island, and the first time that any of the Ferry have witnessed, Shannon laughs. It's a good laugh, full of humor, and she shakes her head, grinning at the one who spoke. "Can't fault logic like that. A lack of a penis does make her a girl. And no Red Light Green Light then. Do you have a suggestion though, sweetie? A game that's cool enough for a grown up like you but easy enough for the rest of the kids?"

Lucille nods towards Barbara and looks down at her hands again. Waiting.. maybe she'll accept what she is now one day.

Blinking at the Englishwoman, Lucille looks closely at Bran. "Wow, he's pretty.. mature. She says after a pause, she has a sinking feeling that Bran understands exactly what their talking about. Probably because of the telepathic connection that Eileen has with the bird. Or do all animals understand what people say but they just can't talk back. The former know it all, bookworm has been creeping out at Lucille ever since she's been studying about different abilities and the human body. She has so many questions for Eileen and how her ability works, does she feel what the bird feels? Can she see from it's eyes, can Bran see from hers?

As she opens her mouth in order to start the sleuth of questions, she mentally kicks herself and looks away back towards the horse. She doesn't want to embarrass herself. Plus, people might think she's weird.

The bio manipulator blinks and then laughs before she coughs and sets the kid down, patting her chest. "Sorry. That was really funny." She says with a light grin towards the kids and then the other women stand with her. "But, yes. She is right." No matter how crude it might have sounded. "Copenhagen?" she tilts her head with a hint of a smile. "Did the mare come from Denmark?" Yes, Lucille is smarter than she looks.. or maybe she just thinks people think she's dumber than she is, when it's actually just her younger sister. Who knows.

Like the others, Barbara can't hold back a reaction, a hand moving over her mouth as she snorts, then laughs amusedly. "Oh, my. Well, yes, it doesn't seem he's wrong." Shaking her head, a wide grin on her face, she looks over at Shannon and nods, crouching back down so she's level with the twelve year old. "That's only fair! Alright, then, what would you like to play? The only rules are that it has to be something everyone can play, and that keeps us right around here. No running odd into the castle for hide and seek or anything like that."

Grinning, she lets out a contented sigh. In truth, even if she doesn't have much experience with kids, it's the things like this that make her feel like she's back at Thompson, almost. Which brings with it a strained sense of sadness, but not one overpowering enough to keep her from enjoying the moment. "I think Copie is a great name. Copenhagen's too much of a mouthful anyway." She tips her head back up to Eileen, nodding. "Fine name it is, though."

Without warning, the mare's head snaps up and its ears flag forward, swiveling out like twin satellites toward the river. On the saddle's horn, Bran opens his wings and parts his beak around a thin hiss of alarm. Eileen's grip on the reins tightens, the lambskin of her gloves pulled taut over her slender fingers, and she too looks in that direction even though her eyes are glassy, unseeing. "Shannon," she says—

Through the fog, the bow of a boat painted matte gray with a hint of olive appears, gliding smoothly through the Hudson's churning waters no more than three hundred yards from the island's shore. The soldier leaning against the rail, a lit cigarette dangling between his fingers, rifle slung haphazardly across his shoulder, hasn't spotted the figures on the rocky embankment yet.

Even the children go still when the patrol comes into view. They recognize its colours if nothing else, and those who were present at the massacre on the Red Hook waterfront are suddenly holding their breath except for the little girl in Lucille's arms, who lets out a quiet bleat of fear.

The reaction of the animals has Shannon looking around even before Eileen says a word. She nods slightly at her name, motions the kids closer, then…they all disappear. They can all see one another, but to anyone not in their little bubble of the world, they simply don't exist. "Just be quiet, and they'll go away. They can't see us," she assures the others in a hushed voice, though she doesn't seem the least bit concerned or tense.

Watching Shannon and Barbara interact with the kids brings a light smile to Lucille's face. She's been smiling this whole day. A pang of guilt hits her, she's been smiling and her sister is comatose and roaming around loose from her body. Shaking her head with a brief frown, she shakes the sadness away too. No help in thinking of her sister that way, it only makes things worst.

As the small group all freezes in fear and the animals react the way they do, Lucille gripes the little kid tighter and rubs her back. Lucille blinks as she is staring at Eileen when the woman's eyes go unfocused and glassy. Her head swivels to an angle that she can see what everyone else is looking at. Her Sig Sauer in her waistband isn't going to help in this situation but apparently Shannon has it covered.

Her gaze one moment on the boat and the solider and the next on Eileen and then the kids. She just stands still, barely breathing. Eyebrows raised towards Shannon and nodding her head. Whatever the other woman is doing, it's keeping them hidden. Caressing the little girl's hair, she tries her best to comfort her. The last thing they need is a panicked kid to give them away.

Barbara's eyes narrow at the sight of the boat, the redhead remaining crouched as she reaches over to the twelve year old, a reassuring hand on his shoulder and her finger over her lips in a silent shushing motion. She stares ahead, watches and tries not to let on that a large part of her just became scared as hell. A deep breath is taken, silently as possible. It's going to be okay she mouths out to everyone who can see her, hoping that the kids catch view of it more than the adults. A look is given up to Shannon, a grimace as she tries to assess exact what the other woman is doing. Whatever it is, she couldn't be more grateful.

A searchlight spills across the shore — empty, as far as those aboard the patrol boat are concerned — sweeping along the reeds before the man behind it rotates the lamp away and the fog curtains close again, leaving only the boat's wake as evidence it was ever there at all. A few moments later, the sound of an engine rumbling to life can be heard, but it's not long before the gloom swallows that, too.

"It's not the first," Eileen confides in the other women once she's sure that it's safe to speak. The mare stamps its feet and gives an anxious flick of its long, silky tail. "Although they've never come quite that close before."

In Lucille's arms, the little girl buries a warm, wet face against her neck and clutches fistfuls of her coat in her hands.

"Are you sure they didn't see us?" someone asks in a tiny voice, and that someone speaks for all of them. The twelve-year-old is tense beneath Barbara's hand, and although he puts on his brave face his eyes are on Shannon, pleading.

For the moment Shannon leaves the illusion up, just in case. But she smiles down at the kid who spoke and nods, reaching out to ruffle his hair. "I'm sure. You see, I'm special, like I know some of you guys are. I can make him see whatever I want, and I didn't want him to see us. We couldn't have our game if he saw us, and I really want us to have that game, don't you?" She's not looking at the adults. She's very deliberately not looking at the adults.

They've been around here before.

That statement stops Lucille cold and she looks at Eileen closely. "For how much longer do you think this place will remain safe?" she asks the Ferrymen councilwoman softly. She holds the three year old in her arms and looks her over to make sure she's okay before her gaze flints back to Eileen. She didn't know that the government would be so close. But why wouldn't they? Of course they would.

Light grey eyes watch flick to the water and where the boat just was and she shivers. That was close. She frowns a bit as she thinks about why she's so worried about everyone else. When she got here, Delia and her father were her only priorities. But.. it seems she's grown to care about some other people on this island..

At Shannon's explanation of her ability, Lucille's eyebrows raise and she nods her head. A second illusionist in one day, well there are a few those. She guesses before she gently sets the three year old back to on her feet on the crowd. Ruffling her hair, she stands and places gloved hands in her pocket. Waiting for Eileen to respond.

The news that they've been around before isn't something that surprises Barbara, it only prompts her to shake her head and sigh. Her hand still resting on the twelve year old's should, she shifts from a kneel into a sitting position. 'I'm sure we'd know if they did. We're fine, for now." A nod up to Shannon, and then over to Lucille. "We'll be fine, for the time being. It'll take actual boots on the ground or someone being monumentally stupid for them to realise we're here."

No substitute for Eileen's answer, and deliberately chosen words given how malleable a timeframe "for the time being" is, but as far as Barbara is aware, it's the general truth. If nothing else, it's hopefully a reassuring measure until the exact nature of things can be revaluated.

"There's nothing connecting Pollepel to the Ferrymen," says Eileen, and she says it with the kind of quiet confidence that borders on arrogance, unfaltering. "We're safer here than we are anywhere in New York City, and the patrols will thin out soon, turn back. It's too far north."

The twelve-year-old steers his gaze past Shannon to the empty space into which the boat disappeared, then holds out his hand for the little girl Lucille set down to take. Maybe he's her brother, or maybe he isn't. Out here, it's hard to tell; young or old, everyone is looking out for each other.

At least for now. Susan Ball's betrayal is a stinging reminder that such things do not always last. "I want to go inside," he announces, and while his companions might not lend him their voices in agreement, their faces are still pale and scared. They want to be with their parents — those who still have them.

Eileen's words do make Shannon look at her, just a glance, and she doesn't meet the other woman's eyes. "Yet they're here," she murmurs softly before smiling at the kids again and nodding. "Of course, sweetie. It's getting a bit chilly out here anyway. And we gotta get dinner started anyway. I heard that we've got something special tonight."

A stiff nod is given to Eileen but Lucille inside is shaking her head. You should never be that confident, especially after what happened earlier within the Ferrymen ranks. "I hope you guys are right." She offers with a grimace out towards the water again before she places a hand on the mare and stands there. Deep in thought.

The thought that this place, which was suppose to be a haven. Potentially not being as safe as Lucille thought, doesn't sit right in her stomach. All the former model can do though.. is trust the leadership of this faction. They've led these people this far, she's sure they won't let anyone down now.

"I agree with the kid." She says softly and she watches as the kids begin to walk away, not moving yet. Looking at Barbara and Eileen. The wind ruffles her hair a bit again and she brushes a strand out of her eyes and mouth.

Barbara smiles, somewhat weakly, as the boy takes the younger girl's hand, standing back up straight. A nod is offered over to Eileen, rolling her shoulders as she looks over the small crowd. "We'll be fine. Don't worry youself over it." She reaches down again to ruffle the young boy's hair, before looking around at the adults. "Why don't you two," she says, nodding to Lucille and Shannon, help get the kids inside and find something for them to do until dinner. I'm sure someone can scrounge up some light and a makeshift game to kill some time. Looking back to Eileen, the redhead gives a bit of a shallow nod, before turning to the kids with a smile.

Like sheep led by their shepherds, the children allow themselves to be corralled toward the great stone archway leading back into the fortress, and only the boldest among them glance back over their shoulders where Barbara and Eileen are still standing. The further away from the shore they get, the more difficult it becomes to pick the two council members out of the fog or the tall shadow that is Copenhagen, Bran hunched like a sooty gargoyle on the mare's saddle.

Eileen waits for the creaking of hinges to subside, then lifts her chin as if to meet Barbara's gaze. She stares through her rather than at.

"I want to tell you what we're going to do with this horse."

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