Paths Not To Take


simon_icon.gif monster_icon.gif

Scene Title Paths Not To Take
Synopsis A violent clash occurs in the isolation of Staten Island's Greenbelt.
Date April 29, 2009

Staten Island: The Greenbelt

It's never quiet in the Greenbelt. Not really. Not with the wind ruffling trees the way they do, clapping leaves together in a soft murmur. Insects click beneath damp tree bark, and sometimes there's even the sound of paws against the garden ground, wild stray dogs living out a short existence before eventually starving, bleeding to death, fighting for food. There's no sound of dog feet kicking up dirt and leaves this evening, though, in this area.

Instead, the steady trudge of feet falling on forest floor break up the soft murmur of wilder ambience. It's nighttime and not as impossibly cold as it has been, if damper. He carries the smell of old blood and fouler human scents in his clothing, hair that was once cropped now longer again, greasy and silver underneath vague moonlight. He keeps to shadows as if the trees had eyes, off beaten trails.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

It's a poem. It doesn't relate, exactly, to his purposes and quests, but it's true that what path you take does make all the difference. Sometimes between life and death and he thinks it is up to him to decide which goes where. You see, he's following someone, at a distance. He can sense them nearby. And so he walks, on and on, eating up the distance between them; an old man and someone far younger.

Simon has been on the mainland for the better part of the day, taking care of some business with one of his cousins, hitting the gym, and filing some paperwork at Columbia. It doesn't look like he'll be eligible for Summer enrollment, but he's still hoping to get for the Fall semester. Even with that hope, though, he couldn't help but wonder what the point of it all was. Things have changed a lot for him in the past couple of months. Hell, even in the past couple of weeks. It has all made school seem more and more like a dream.

Now, back on Staten and smelling rotten (he spent his time getting here on a less than clean cargo boat), Simon is heading for the Garden, where the first thing he hopes to do is grab a shower. Then maybe he can grab some of whatever Jezebel has cooked for dinner. He hopes its her spaghetti.

Conner Oberst wails a solemn song through the teenager's head, flooding his thoughts and keeping him from losing his cool in this less-than-friendly place. Simon does this a lot, get lost in a song. He doesn't even need an iPod to do it, memory being a fine substitute for modern technology. Therefore, the young boy is unaware of the old man treading in his wake. Perhaps it's for the best, though. It gives him more time to feel safe, before that feeling is likely stripped away for a while.

It's harder going when you don't keep to the dirt packed trail made by footsteps and footsteps alone through the Greenbelt. The man known as the Monster has to navigate over uneven ground, as broken up as flesh when it's been finished with, dips and hills and crags. Broken logs, rocks. But he's feeling strong tonight, at the expense of a dead bulldog cross half a mile away from here. The harsh wheeze of his breathing isn't even too loud, although it's starting to rattle through his throat with excitement. His pale, weathered hands, blue veins standing out amongst tendons and thin skin, grab at tree trunks and branches as he moves, as quiet as one can tred in the woods.

Simon might see it just out his periphery. A shadow amongst the trees. No, not a shadow, the place is already full of them. The flap of a coat, silver hair catching what little light there is, gone again behind a tree. As if maybe this were a game of hide and seek. He grins where no one can see him, all crooked teeth, and murmurs something for himself. In no language anyone might know.

"Aaah." There. A sound. It's uncertain, wavering and above all meaningless, and sounds as if maybe the man producing it can't actually hear it, but it's there. A twig snaps, as twigs do beneath feet, as he moves around the tree trunk, letting the light of a cloud-covered moon struggle down through the canopy and awash with him a dull grey that only gives Simon a little clarity. Darkness and dirt paint the lines in his face all the deeper, but his eyes, they're still an electric blue that could rival even Deckard's. There is no recognition in them when he appears just towards the left of Simon not a few feet away, hand sliding against the tree when he rounds it. "Aaah."

The Garden is a safe haven on Staten Island. One of two that Simon knows of. When it appears in the distance, beaming a few tendrils of yellow light in his direction, he cracks a smile. Home is only a hop, skip, and a jump away, so to speak. At the same time, though, he spots movement out of the corner of his eye and stops, dead in his tracks. The wind combs through the tree branches above him, rustling leaves and sending some of the weaker ones fluttering down around him. There, in the darkness! It's nothing.

The kid begins to move again, suddenly less optimistic as the dark gathers around him, smothering and cold. Soft hands that have yet to weather with age and hard work are lifted to pull Simon's jacket tighter around him. His head turns, gaze sweeping the wooded area, and he picks up the pace.

His own feet move effortlessly over the uneven ground. Roots and rocks, dips and holes are avoided as he steps with extreme precision across the earthen path he has come to know so well. The Garden gets nearer and larger as his paranoia sinks deeper in his gut. Then, there's a noise, and he stops again. His head turns to the left and - "Oh, shit!"

Simon stumbles back as the visage of the monster appears so close to him. Hands fling out to his sides as he tries to gain balance. For a moment, he just stares at the thing in front of him. Then he's turned around and running full speed away from his nightmare.

"Ahh— hhnn." They don't always run. Not right away. There's a moment to breathe, cold night air dragged into rasping lungs, taking a step forward when Simon staggers back, one weathered hand reaching out. His nails are still yellowed, too long, like claws on the ends of human hands. Reaching to nothing as Simon turns his back and does the smart thing, and in the same moment, the Monster is running after him, feet pounding the forest ground as they go, magnetically drawn to following the boy, to hunting him down.

Simon will hear his own heart beating, along with the sounds of the Monster's wheezes from not too far away. A hand snags at his clothing.

Simon's feet hit the ground softer than the monster, he being a much smaller, lighter variety of person. Still, the ground, leaves and twigs all snap and crackle in harmony as he sprints to safety. His right hand fumbles inside of his jacket, reaching for something. "Come on," Simon mutters as he braves a glance behind him. The monster is right there. Too close!

He can feel a clawed hand swipe against his jacket just as he finds what he's looking for: A hunting knife, purchased today to replace the one he lost when the Company took him and his sister. The partly-serrated blade is forced up and out of its hilt, snapping into place. It's now or never, Simon thinks, and with all his might he turns, eyes locking onto the monster. They beam in and target his jugular, and the kid sacrifices his forward momentum to take a well-aimed slice at the neck of the beast.

The monster's mouth parts in a snarl when the blade goes whipping around, barely enough time to jerk out of the way. He doesn't, even, only escaping lucky enough to the blade to avoid the jugular by barely a fraction, even as it slices skin, a wild snarl escaping the man as he ducks away, a hand coming up to grip his own throat.

Not a moment too late, Simon will feel the injury he dealt, a suddenly slash at his throat, nerves tingling with vivid mimicked sensation, as if perhaps he'd tried to cut his own throat with his knife. In the hazy moonlight, the wound at the monster's throat gapes blackly, but barely a trickle of blood has escaped. Despite the knife in Simon's hand, as this doesn't even seem to register for the old man, he launches himself at the boy with a high pitched whine.

A miss! If there wasn't so much else going on, Simon would kick himself not hitting the intended spot. Instead, a sharp and searing pain tears across his own throat, causing him to let out a yipe, drop his weapon, and fall to the ground on hands and knees. What was going on? The monster has, somehow, hit him. But where is the blood? One of Simon's hands touches his neck and draws away, clean as can be.

There isn't much time to think things over, though, because the monster is after him, as fast as before. The internal targeting system that lies somewhere inside of Simon paints a bright, red target onwell, the monster's testicles of course. Even creatures of the night have those, Simon thinks, as his leg kicks out. It's his heel versus monster balls. The outcome will probably be bad for them both.

Momentum dictates that both men go crumpling to the ground as the monster flings himself forward, even as the kick finds purchase. It gets a gruff, chest-deep grunt from the older man but doesn't actually seem to hurt him, if such a thing is possible. In the same way he'd nearly broken a hand cracking Simon's jaw, or thrown himself now into this brawl, the damage may be responded to but the pain itself it left at the door.

The struggle is desperate, on the forest floor, the monster's hands seeking purchase on Simon's limbs, his clothing, trying to find a place to bite, to tear and rend apart. But this one's a fighter. And somewhere in his delusions, he recognises the boy's face for what it is, someone familiar, and it makes the attack falter for a second, blue eyes narrowed, lips curled back still.

A desperate struggle it certainly is. Simon flops onto the ground with the monster soon following. The wind is knocked out from him for a moment, causing him to cough once before drawing in a deep breath. Back on the floor, he turns his head to see the downed creature. Arms flail in front of him as his own are brought u in defense. He can feel the claws tear at his skin and clothing. It stings and burns and brings tears to the teenager's eyes.

Still, he's fighting for his life, which means the pain can be sucked back for a moment while he tries to get away. Like all prey, he's just looking for his chance to escape. All he needs is one opening, however small.

One slash from the monster ruins any chance that Simon will ever wear his jacket again A tear now separates the cloth of one sleeve into two halves, flapping away from his arm lengthwise. It's then that Simon lunges for that opening he's desperately seeking. His thumbs are stretched out, each one aimed for one of the monster's fierce, blue eyes. It's a quick attack that's not meant to leave permanent damage, just to blind or confuse the monster long enough for Simon to get up and run again.

The monster's head jerks up when Simon's thumbs dig into his eyes, a biologically deep reaction that had nothing to do with pain and everything to do with avoiding his eyes being gouged. It tremors through his body, bucking up off Simon for a moment as he brings scarred, dirty hands up to his own face, foot digging a trench in the earth when he levers and stumbles his self away. Like a dog, the monster shakes his head with a shimmy of greasy, dark hair. A low, disgruntled murmur tumbles from his mouth, wordless and unheard by the man saying it.

When his fingers press against the squishy grape-like texture of the monster's eyes, Simon feels a rush of adrenaline surge through his body. This is it, his chance to get the hell out of here. He pulls back and rolls away from the monster as it thrashes, wounded and murmuring. The kid's hands press into the ground, leaving deep prints as he pushes himself to his feet. He reaches for his knife, fingers curling tight around its hilt as his eyes look over the monster one last time.

Then he's off and running again, this time with a slight limp. It appears the monster's fingernails managed to tear away some flesh from his leg. He'll have to get that bandaged soon. For the time being, though, Simon is only thinking about getting to the Garden as fast as he can.

Fingers rub at injured eyes as if the monster were trying to clear them of something, and only when he thinks to peek through digits, he finds himself only blurrily watching Simon gain too much ground, leaves and dirt kicking up in the boy's wake as he flees. With a show of human anger, the monster swipes at the ground, letting forest floor debris go flying as he screams wordless abuse after Simon's fleeing form, who is disappearing quickly into the darkness of the forest.

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

The monster struggles to his feet, and makes his broken lope back into the thick of the Greenbelt. Another day, another night. Pretty soon the only thing following Simon is the sound of his own footfalls and breathing, the path clear, and the night still stretching on.

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