Tainted Memories


kain_icon.gif zoe_icon.gif

Scene Title Tainted Memories
Synopsis Kain and Manny give Zoe a hand. No, really.
Date November 18, 2008

Linderman Building - Archive

It's business time. And in the sense that it's actually business time, and not the metaphorical business time of a Flight of the Conchords song. Zoe is where she's supposed to be, which is to say, in the archive. She's standing on top of one of the ladder-platforms, state of the art automated machines of wonder that can move on tracks along each row of stored pieces of art and culture. Presently she's sliding in a series of paintings into slots, pausing a moment to wipe at her brow and push her glasses up her nose.

The last few weeks in the Linderman Building have been strange. There was a remarkable heightening of security after the Halloween party, amounting to taking nearly fifteen minutes to get into the building, coupled with a noticable increase in armed security guards. Word around the company is that it's because of the rising political tensions, though some people aren't entirely buying that. Daniel's presence since the Halloween party has been sparse as well, ever since those five paintings were shipped up to his office, he's been more reclusive than ever.

It's thoughts about the state of affairs in the Linderman Group that Zoe is roused from by the sounds of the double doors leading into the archive sliding open, spilling forth with conversation. "…if I knew what it was, Juggernaut, Ah wouldn't be in such a hurry t'get Spooky t'look at it, now would Ah?" Wonderful. It's Kain Zarek.

"Look, all's m'sayin' is maybe Mista' Linderman dudn't want you lookin' at what's inside?" And right behind him is his seven foot tall mountain of muscle, Manny. The pair walk in to the archives together, with Kain carrying a small black box in his hands, just about a foot long. He pauses once inside, looking towards the desk and the computer, then over to the ladder, and up to Zoe — Or at least her lower half.

"Well hey there Spooky, what's got you climbin' the bell towers?" He cracks a smile, wandering over to her direction. "Ah got a present for ya," and he hefts the box up, as if it were proof.

Zoe lifts a brow and leans against the platform rail. "A present for me, or something that needs examining?" she asks, and then straightening, begins to make her way down. Her hand smoothes down her ankle length skirt as she descends, and she does something vaguely resembling the nose twitch from Bewitched as she gets near the two men. She flashes the larger of the pair a smile. "Hi, Manny." she says warmly. She gestures them both over to her work table, and indicates a free spot where the package can be set down. "What do you need?"

"A little from column A, an' a little from column B, darlin'." Kain swaggers past Zoe once she indicates the free spot on the work table, while Manny merely raises one ring-laden hand in a silent and plaintive wave. "Danny sent this little thing up to mah office an' told me he wanted you to take a look at the contents. He also said for you not to be freaked out when you opened it either, whatever the hell that means." He sets the black metal case down on the table with a soft click, then spins it around to reveal a pair of latches on the front that can flip open to unlock the case's top.

"Now, he didn't say one way or th'other if Ah' was allowed t'watch. So in the interests of easin' mah curiosity as to what's inside the box, Ah'm gonna hang around." His eyes drift up and down the archivist, "If'n y'don' mind?"
Zoe nods. "Please do. Of course, that means you'll be sitting there watching me trance." She knows it freaks him out, so the warning is actually kindly meant. "Open it for me? That way I can prepare to touch it." She frowns. "He normally would send items straight to me, which would mean he wants you to sit through this anyway, I think."

Kain furrows his brows a little at Zoe's assumption, "Manipulative bugger." He mutters, likely agreeing with her sentiment. Two fingers quickly flip the latches open, and then slide the top back with a hissing release of pressurized gasses. Kain takes a step back and away from the box when it makes that sound, hands pulling away with his head tilted to the side and eyes wide, "What in the hell is //that!?"

In the plastic interior of the box is what was once clearly a human hand. It is withered, with the skin parchment thin and flaky with dryness. The hand's ring and pinkie finger are crumbling, leaving fragments of blackened bone and ashen skin on the interior of the box. Down by the wrist, there's a portion of the forearm that once belonged to the hand, two black stubs of bone from the radius and ulna poking out with jagged, black edges.

"Told'ja you shouldn't look inside." Manny mumbles, idly peering down at his nails with a disappointed expression from several feet back. He has no interest in seeing whatever made Kain squirm.

"It's rather like a Hand of Glory." Zoe says, once she's peered into the box. "Except without a candle. I wonder how it's been preserved, with the interior exposed like that. Sprayed with a fixative, maybe." She doesn't sound excited precisely, but she does sound interested, and a lot more clinical than the two squeamish men. Figures, the mousey librarian would man up when the two goodfellas would freak out. She grabs her work chair, rolling it over and settling in comfortably. "Alright, let's see your story." she murmurs, and reaches into the box, picking up the hand and curling her fingers around it. Almost abruptly, her spine straightens, chin going up. Her eyelids close, and when they open again…they're pure silver. It plays like something akin to a movie, combined with live theater, combined with a live action choose your own adventure. And at first, the faint quirk of her brow is inquisitive.

What comes next is a barrage of disjointed imagery that assails Zoe's senses. She is used to the experience of psychometry, but the fragments of confusing and sometimes contradictory experiences and sensations connected to this object come at a rapid-fire pace. First it's more recent events, there's glimpsed images of the Halloween ball, of Linderman in costume, horrified depictions of a hand turning ashen gray at Linderman's touch, and then snapping off at the forearm.

Then the imagery and history leaps backwards, showing quick flashes of many industrial buildings interiors, racks of firearms and boxes of explosives. There's a flickering glimpse of a tall, bald-headed man with a grim countenance loading a pistol. A brief glimmer of a black cane with a steel wolf's head. More faces, all of them unfamiliar to Zoe — A young girl with dark hair and pale eyes surrounded by ravens, a tall and thin blonde man holding a rosary in one hand, disjointed flickers of a woman Zoe's age with black hair — she was at the Halloween party. More half-shadowed faces, soldiers frm the looks of their slate-gray uniforms.

Everything seems fragmented and peacemeal, the whole history unable to be obtained from a fragment in such condition as it is in. Images of famous european landmarks juxtaposed against images of violence and bloodshed. The images begin to slow down towards the end, approaching a strangely coherent depiction of several men in black suits standing in a dry lakebed desert near some sort of facility surrounded by tall chain-link fencing. They draw firearms as another man comes running out of the building, followed by a rolling wave of shadows. As the tendrils of darkness strike him, his legs break off at the shins, crumbling to ash. He falls forward, turning around with a horrified look in his eyes as the darkness envelops him. Gunfire rings out, flashes of muzzle flares.

The imagery becomes disjointed again, and terminates with the gaunt visage of a nearly bald old man reaching down with a weathered hand towards the perspective of the hand's owner…

"…think she'd notice if I poked her nose while she was all zoned out?" Kain's voice is the first thing Zoe hears as she starts to come back to her senses.

Touching Zoe can potentially snap her out of her trance, and Kain would know that. The process of the trance involves visible reactions that the two men can see. Normally Zoe's not so good with more recent events, but for some reason those initial images are clear. As she delves further into the past, she relaxes at first - this is what she's used to. But the images? Not so much. Of course, Zoe's been witness to some of the most bloody and horrible events in history. That one time she held the shoes of a Halocaust victim, she'd been a wreck for nearly a week. And the sari of a widow who'd been immolated in India circa 19th century…or even a shard from a pot that had been found at Masada. The horror shows on her face, her mouth opening and closing like she's going to say something but doesn't, and her last act before coming out of trance is what is perhaps an unexpected flinch and a whimpered, "No…"

Eyelashes flutter, and on the last raising, her eyes are normal again. She's still clutching her hand, but is quick to put it back in the box, staring at it.

The reactions are what seems to un-nerve Kain and Manny the most, and that last little whimper seals it. Not normally one to show concern, even Kain seems a bit shaken by what the dessicated hand had to say to her. The entire affair was just a bit unnerving for Kain to witness. "So…" He tries to play it cool, but the nervous tone of his voice makes his anxiety all the more evident. "So what'd you see?" No nicknames, no joking around, no after that reaction.

Manny is affirmed in his stance of not approaching. He even turns his head away from the box, not wanting to consider the implications of whatever horrible fate that hand experienced or was otherwise a part of. Kain's query, though, causes the bodyguard's focus to shift back, if not somewhat ruefully.

Zoe rises and immediately goes to her sink, where she begins to wash her hands. 'Scrub til red' seems a good description for what she's doing. "The most recent items involved warehouses full of weapons. There was a man, tall and bald. He had a gun, and there was a cane with a wolf's head. A girl surrounded by ravens, a tall blonde man with a rosary - maybe a priest? A woman…soldiers in grey uniforms." She pauses, looking over her shoulder. "I think the woman has been here. I might know her if I saw her again. Usually the recent past isn't as clear as that was for me. There was more. Still working on her hands, she speaks of what she saw, trying to recall as much detail as possible. Then faintly, "I think I need a drink…but water will have to do. Manny, could you grab one from the fridge? It's to your left."

"Fridge?" He seems baffled that there's one down here. All of the smooth square plates on the walls look identical. He takes a step to the left, eyeing the wall, then presses on one of the drawers to no effect. He seems to expect the refrigerator will be just as remarkably high-tech as the archive storage bins, but that's about the time Kain whacks him on the shoulder.

"Numbskull." He points towards a mini-fridge near the desk, and Manny grimaces, rubbing at the back of his head. The thug meanders over, crouching down and removing a bottle of water before rising up and bringing it over to Zoe quietly, and a bit sheepishly.

"Ah can't make heads or tails outta' any of that nonsense." Kain murmurs, watching the way Zoe scrubs at her hands. "Ah mean…" He strains out a sigh, running his fingers thorugh his hair. "That hand looks like it's, you know, been 'round the block. But you're tellin' me it's been around here recently? On somebody? And that Danny turned it all Curse of the Mummy on 'em?"

Zoe shakes her head. "I don't know about that. But there was a woman in my vision who was here the night of the masquerade. I could probably spot the others out of a line up, too. But that man…what he did with his hands!" She shakes her head again, as if to clear her vision, and uncaps the water bottle. She takes a healthy swig, and kind of wishes it was vodka. "He touched someone and they turned to dust."

Kain and Manny share a very disconcerted look at each other, then look back to Zoe at the same time, "Dust?" Kain grumbles as he folds his arms, "You… That sounds a heck of a lot like the whack-job that was killin' people up and down the city in October." Kain's eyes flick over to Manny for a moment, then back to Zoe. "You read anythin' about that in the papers? I mean, damn, there can't be too many whackos that can do something like that…"

"I've been in here." she says a bit defensively. As if she comes up for air to read current events. Zoe's expertise lies in the past, not the present. "There were people…those people he's connected to. A priest, or at least a man who's very religious. And the girl with the ravens." She frowns. "I need to speak to Uncle Daniel."

"Good luck with that." Kain says with a snort, "Danny's been locked up tighter than a nun's chastity belt lately." Slipping his hands into the pockets o fhis slacks, Kain tilts hsi head to the side, inclined towards Zoe as one dark brow raises. "Maybe you'll have a wholt lot better luck than Ah've had, but it's like he's got somethin' goin' on. M'not sure what it is, but Ah ain't never seen him actin' like this before."

"Maybe he's a bit worried about them bombin's going on? That was right 'round the block from us." Manny chimes in, motioning with one manicured hand towards Kain. The cajun shrugs, helplessly, in tesponse and wanders towards the archive door.

"Beats the heck out of me. All Ah' know is that he ain't been tellin' me shit lately." There's a pause, and Kain turns to look over his shoulder at Zoe. "If'n you do get to talk to ol' Danny-Boy face t'face, tell 'em Ah'm thrilled t'be the courier of mummified hands." The sarcasm in his voice is so thick it's suffocating.

Zoe gives Kain a reproachful look. "He might see me." She is after all, family. "I don't know." Taking another swig of water, she sets it down and carefully reseals the box, moving over to the computer to being cataloguing it. "I saw some kind of facility as well. Near a lakebed desert. It had a chain link fence. And that horrible old man…" she frowns. "If that's all you needed, you can go."

Kain frowns slightly, then nods his head with a slight slouch of his shoulders. "Yeah… yeah that's — " He watches the archivist for a moment, then looks over to Manny who is entertaining himself by peering down at a string of colorful turquoise stones threaded through by silvery wire in one of the glass display cases. " — Lug-nut, come on. We're burnin' daylight, Ah' still gotta go pay Deckard a little house call."

"Er, right Mista' Zarek." Manny glances up at Zoe, managing an awkward smile, "You's have a nice afta'noon, okay Zoe?" Manny straightens his jacket out, and follows in step with Kain as they make their way for the door. When Kain steps out without saying goodbye, Manny pauses by the door in hesitation, looking from the box to the woman, "You don' worry about that, alright?" It's as best of a reassurance as he can give, and soon after he's following on Kain's heels out of the archive, leaving Zoe with her memories of contact with that withered hand.

Any additional notes fall to the bottom.

November 18th: The Return Of Xerxes

Previously in this storyline…

Next in this storyline…

November 18th: Doubt
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