The Devil Inside



Scene Title The Devil Inside
Synopsis Devil inside / The devil inside / Every single one of us / The devil inside
Date August 27, 2019

A long time ago there was a campsite located just off of Reed Road on the northern edge of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Families would come here, bringing their trailers and their plastic frisbees, their dogs and cooking grills, and they'd settle up by Timberland Lake under the summer sun. That was before the bomb, before the fallout spread southwest from Manhattan, before the evacuation of Jersey City, before the riots, the camps, the war.

That was then.

Tall and old pine trees grow up close to the shore of Timberland Lake where the gutted remains of campers have sat in decay for close to a decade. The rusting frames of these mobile homes are covered in deadfallen branches and buried in pine needles and sticky pitch. Cinderblocks form a mostly intact ring around a small firepit, the only source of light in the summer night. The flames and smoke of the pine boughs keep the mosquitoes at bay.


Most of them.

"Sit closer to the fire." Noah Bennet never took Claire camping, he has no experience with it. The man behind those horn-rimmed glasses has no such experiences either, just the memory of expensive trips out to Cape Cod in the height of summer. Firelight reflects in Noah's glasses, drawing the attention of gold eyes that match the firelight. They move to inspect the flame, then, small hands grab the metal frame of an old camping chair and scoot it forward, closer to the fire. "Not too close," Noah warns, and she hesitates, cautiously reaching out a hand toward the fire as if to touch it, but then slowly recoils.


"No one is watching," the gold-eyed young woman says in a small voice, scratching at the side of her neck where the mosquito was buzzing, "why are you still in there?" Her brows furrow, one rising in inquiry. Noah exhales a sigh, shoulders rising into a shrug before falling slowly. He doesn't have a good answer, not when he can stare into the fire and think about anything else.

That silence is only afforded for a moment. "You forgot to answer," the girl says, leaning in closer to him with her eyes somewhat wider. Noah snorts a laugh and looks over at her, really looks at her. Coppery hair hangs in disarray around her face decked in freckles. She can't be much older than fifteen, if even that. Her bare feet scuff the dirt, she's forsaken shoes no matter how many times he's tried to give them to her. Even now, after all this time, he still doesn't understand her well.

"I know," Noah says thoughtfully, returning his attention to the fire. "I guess, it's practice."

"You don't need it," she replies.

"I— " Noah doesn't have a good response. He exhales an exasperated sigh and rubs a hand over the back of his neck, then shakes his head. "It feels better than being me," comes out when he doesn't expect honesty to. She understands. Or at least that's how he reads her expression. Slowly, the girl pulls one leg up into the chair at a time, hugging them to her chest and resting her mouth against the back of her knees. She stares over them into the fire too, gold eyes partway lidded.

"What'd Adam do?" Noah asks to fill the silence. Her brows scrunch up, eyes narrow, and she levels a wounded look over at Noah. "Sorry, I just… I've been taking a lot on faith. Adam's dangerous, and I know you're… special." He'd never met anyone in his entire life as gifted as her. "But this — revenge?" If that's what it is. He only has his inferences to go on. "It never ends well."

She understands. The sharpness in her eyes fades, attention gone back to the fire. "He hurt me," is her simple answer, and Noah grapples with the implications of that from his perspective and understanding.

"Okay," is all Noah says in return, letting her end that discussion there. "I'm worried he'll hurt other people too," directs the attention away from her own traumas, whatever form they've taken. She doesn't respond, listening to the chirp of crickets and the pop of the campfire. Slowly, she unwinds one leg, extending toes toward the fire as she keeps the other leg cradled in her arms.

"Who hurt you?" She asks, innocently, turning those gold eyes back to him. The campfire is reflected in the whites of her eyes, her voice reflects an earnest compassion he hasn't experienced in too many years. The innocence of children. Once more, Noah doesn't have an answer. Exhaling a sigh, he takes the horn-rimmed glasses off of his face and stares at them silhouette by the flames.

The fire pops, the crickets chirp.


The glasses disappear in Peter's hands, dark eyes locked on the girl's unmoving expression. She is neither surprised nor mystified by his illusions, like he would expect a child to be. Instead, she just smiles across the space between her rickety chair and where Peter sits on the ground with his back against an old log. "Being yourself isn't so bad," she softly offers, turning her smile to the fire, "so long as you can find it."

Peter understands.

The fire pops, the crickets chirp. She extends her other leg, standing up beside the fire. Peter watches her in silhouette, then turns his eyes up to the star-filled sky in silence. "Why don't you go see them?" She asks, not looking away from the fire. Peter slouches lower against the log, deflating with a soft sigh. "They'd accept you," she adds, "I've seen it. Truth." She looks over her shoulder to Peter, but all he can see of her face is the glow of her eyes matching that of the fire.

"Yeah," means Peter doesn't believe her, it's his non-committal response that leaves his mouth on a sigh. She turns her back to the fire, the old camping chair folds itself up, lifts into the air and sets down in the darkness somewhere to give her a path over to where Peter is sitting. He watches her approach, then looks away into the dark of the forest.

Wordlessly, the gold-eyed girl comes to sit down beside him, extending her legs as she does. With a shift of her hips she scoots to the side, closing the distance so there is no space between herself and Peter. Then, resting her head on his shoulder, she closes her eyes. "I had a family once too…" she says in a small voice against his shoulder. Peter doesn't ask what happened to them, but she volunteers it nevertheless. "They all died," she says with a furrow of her brows, pressing her nose into the soft flannel of Peter's shirt.

Making a soft, disconcerted noise in the back of his throat, Peter slowly winds an arm around the girl to give her a sense of safety. Protection. "Mine too," Peter says in a small, tired voice.

"Do you miss them?" She asks against his reassuring embrace. Peter swallows, audibly. He shuts his eyes, listening to the noises of the woods.

The fire pops.

The crickets chirp.

Life goes on.

"I do."

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