Something Sinister


eileen_icon.gif lucrezia_icon.gif

Scene Title Something Sinister
Synopsis Paths cross and diverge; there are no true coincidences.
Date January 8, 2009

Belvedere Castle

Constructed from the same stone as the Vista Point which supports it, Belvedere Castle seems to rise out of the earth itself. The miniature Gothic castle is easily visible from a distance, courtesy of both its height and the American flag fluttering from the turret's pinnacle. Its windows overlook views of Turtle Pond, the Delacorte Theater, and the Great Lawn. The interior, however, is anything but Gothic; the halls on both floors are filled with telescopes, microscopes, paper-mache birds, skeletons, and feathers, all laid out as parts of an interactive exhibit. In the Henry Luce Nature Observatory, visitors can borrow binoculars, notepads, maps, and guidebooks with which to study the wildlife of the park.

A brittle layer of ice covers the surface of the pond outside Central Park's Belvedere Castle. It isn't thick enough for a person to walk across without causing the surface to splinter and crack apart, but this doesn't stop the birds; hundreds of tiny-toed footprints are visible in the fine dusting of snow that coats the ice, so small and scratch-like they could easily be mistaken for natural variations in the ice. Eileen, however, knows better.

There are no birds flocking around the pond at this time of night — the grackles, blackbirds, warblers, and all the other usual suspects have retired to their roosts for the evening now that the sun has set and only the distant glow of streetlamps is left to warm the air and bring light to the castle's frosty surroundings. Eileen makes her way along the path running parallel to the edge of the pond, her gloved hands in her pockets and a scarf wrapped around her neck and the lower half of her face. She pays little mind to patterns out on the ice, instead focusing on the road ahead as it unwinds in front of her. Judging by her long and purposeful strides, she has someplace she needs to be.

Maybe it's the chill weather, but the number of stalkers left lurking in the shadows of Central Park have dwindled significantly. Before the bomb, a woman walking unescorted through the park at night would have been prime pickings for any number of heinous crimes but… now? Not so much. This is likely due in no small part to the inability to ensure the successful ensnaring of suitably pliant prey. That girl — the one walking by the frozen pond who seemingly has someplace better to be — might not be all that she seems. Forget the old definition of 'armed and dangerous'; she could set a potential assailant on fire or maybe pop open his skull between her thumbs like a zit. You know never know with people any more. There's no such thing as a safe bet.

And, so, Eileen proceeds along the path that winds beneath naked trees utterly unassaulted… as does the woman in white who appears to be following in the girl's footsteps not too far behind. The distance between them is kept to a strictly strangers only berth.

There are any number of reasons the woman in white might be walking the same path as Eileen. It isn't uncommon for people to take this route through the park, especially not in the winter when the trees are coated in silver and take on an almost unnatural appearance. This particular stretch provides plenty of interesting sights to see and even more to be discovered if only one would stop and take the time to explore and unveil them.

Eileen has neither the time nor the luxury. She chances a slight glance over her left shoulder when she realizes her booted feet aren't the only ones crunching through the snow and gravel beneath them. Although the woman in white isn't someone she recognizes, she's not sure she should be feeling any relief. Not yet.

Typical American trash. If Lucrezia Bennati were in Europe right now — Rome or Paris or even Berlin — she'd be followed by a bevy of flash-happy photogs and fawning fans. But, she's not, and as is evident by the profound lack of any hangers-on at all, no one recognizes the actress in New York. This is not a bad thing. Indeed, it's the sort of happy circumstance that most celebrities long for, Lucrezia included, especially given the circumstances that led to her little walk in the park tonight.

It is, you see, no coincidence at all that she just so happens to be a hundred steps behind little Eileen Ruskin — long lost Munin — and slowly but surely gaining ground.

There is only one way to know for sure whether or not Eileen's imagination has gotten the best of her. She comes to an abrupt stop, kicking up a sodden blend of slush and gravel under her boots as she turns on her heel and angles her body to face Lucrezia. With both a pistol and a knife of her person, her confidence is bolstered, stance self-assured with her feet a shoulder's width apart. Although tall and statuesque, the approaching woman doesn't inspire the same feelings of fear and apprehension that King did when he first revealed himself to her, Eileen cannot help but wear a slightly anxious expression on her gaunt face — gray-green eyes brimming with something between reverence and consternation.

She's bold, she'll give her that much.

Lucrezia makes a for a poor mimic and, instead of stopping in tandem with her tender target, she continues her mildly menacing approach undaunted. The snow does much to muffle the noise made by her high-heeled boots as she miraculously manages to navigate the slippery pathway through the park without any indication of faltering (yet). Her gait doesn't change, nor does her approach vector; she's coming in hot and direct, though she's still a ways off; far enough to leave the precise direction of her gaze in question. After all, if she isn't staring Eileen down, then maybe things aren't nearly so nefarious as they seem?

Eileen holds her ground, tracking Lucrezia's progress from beneath dark lashes brushed with errant flakes of frost. The closer the other woman comes, the more rigid and tense her body grows — it isn't long before Eileen standing so still, her spindly appearance so cool and austere that she resembles the skeletal trees surrounding them.

If Lucrezia will pass, then she'll pass. If not…

And so it is that in this moment the gears that turn the Earth 'round on its axis begin to gradually grind to a halt; the whole world succumbs to slow motion as Lucretia's unwavering approach brings her closer… and closer… and closer…

Every baited breath drawn from the cold night air is prolonged and expelled in ethereal tediousness. Every heartbeat struck with painful lethargy between aching ribs. Every unblinking moment seems to last an eternity. This is the brutality of paranoia; the agony of fear.

The instant Lucrezia passes Eileen, the younger of the two women turns her head just enough to glimpse her departure in her peripheral vision. And then, just like that, she deflates. Anxiety spills out her nostrils and mouth in the form of a fine but steamy mist, tension oozing from her muscles as posture gradually begins to relax.

A false alarm. Nothing more.

Eileen touches her chin to her shoulder, waiting for Lucrezia to disappear from her view entirely before she breathes in again, invigorated by the stinging sensation it awakens in her lungs.

All superficial accounts seem to suggest that the woman in white has very little, if any, actual interest in the girl waiting by the wayside for her to pass by. However, just before Lucrezia saunters completely out of sight, she pitches a sly and subtle look over her shoulder at Eileen; those dark eyes suddenly possessed of something sinister. It doesn't last for long and soon she's gone. Maybe — just maybe — it's all to blame on someone's overactive and persistently paranoid perception.

But, then again…

January 8th: From Emo To Absurd
January 8th: Dead Ends
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