The Dying Warm


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Scene Title The Dying Warm
Synopsis You can't outrun memory, but can you run towards it? A monster is almost unleashed.
Date February 8, 2009

Staten Island: The Greenbelt

The Greenbelt is 2800 acres of mixed urban parkland and natural preserves, winding around and between several major communities. The more natural areas are primarily a succession of ridges and boulder-littered moraines beneath the canopy of a hardwood forest - beech, hickory, maples, and oaks in the main, with a variety of less common trees mixed in. At the lower points of the parkland, this forest gives way to wetland, overgrown with ferns, skunk cabbage, lady slipper, and trout lilies. The park's boundaries include a golf course, a cemetary, a friary, a boy scout camp, and a carousel, as well as the more stereotypical nature center and a native plant demonstration garden.

The cold of Staten Island's greenbelt is something different to the truth of his memories. What he remembers is insects beating miniscule wings and clinging to dirty, sweaty skin, legs picking at wounds and the corners of eyes. Slapping, smacking them away, hand returning to the automatic rifle he wields.

No gun in his hands today. No bugs that searching for sweat and blood to feast on. The snow stings his feet as he stumbles through the rural patch of land, roots and rocks and other things jutting out painfully through dirt and ice. They think he's hunting them. They're wrong.

He remembers the heat most of all, a clinging blanket of humidity that threatened to suffocate the life from everyone left behind in the godforsaken jungle. You can't escape it. Here, it's the cold he can't escape, and he wraps his dirty, ragged clothing around him tighter as he moves on and on. They're not far behind him now. But he can sense his prey not far away now, not far away at all, like a moth to a flame or maybe some abstract magnetic pull or just another bug searching for sweat and blood—

A gunshot. A warning. He runs faster, as fast as old legs can carry him.

A little Vietnamese boy stood in front of the platoon, still some distance away, and his mother right behind him. Both held things in their arms, watching the soldiers warily, knowing they were away from their village, away from safety of numbers. A man calls out to him— he calls out to them, a warning. They heed it. The woman starts to run. The boys withdraws an old fashioned shotgun from the load he was carrying, the breaking sound of the pump sliding down the barrel audible even from there, and he was gunned down before he could even take aim. He remembers the vibrations his weapon made as it put bullets in a kid who could not be older than ten.

He falls to his knees, unhealthy coughing racking his body, blood spattering onto the snow. He's not wounded, just sick, so very sick, and weak. But he can see him now. The little boy. No mother and no bundle, he stands with the tension of a hunted deer. Wiping blood from his mouth, the old man gets to his feet. Time to take things apart— his arms out stretch, he lets out a moan in the hopes it will communicate more than what words ever could— and put them back together again.

The butt of a gun smacks into the back of his head, dropping the old man to the ground. The boy is nothing, now, but footsteps in the snow imprinted by new boots, tracking towards an old lighthouse, but this goes ignored. Except to the old man, lying in the snow, head pounding and feeling that warmth of the boy leave the area. He can only just make out the words of the men that hunted down the hunter.

"Jesus. How'd he get out?"

"Someone fucked up on feeding time I guess. Found bits of him back at the warehouse."

"Second time this month. Let's get him back before Muldoon gets suspicious."

"Pick him up then."

"I'm not touching him."

His ankle is caught. He's dragged back to the truck, through snow whose cold kills the insects that might have otherwise swarmed this place. He thinks, that maybe, he prefers the heat.

February 7th: Do-Gooder

Previously in this storyline…
Where's Sergei?

Next in this storyline…
Before Dishonor

February 8th: Dead Men Tell No Tales
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