The Fall Of Man


boulle_icon.gif rouen_icon.gif

Scene Title The Fall of Man
Synopsis Peter and Deckard share an unusual dream.
Date September 1, 2009

The devil can possess a man in two ways, just as there are two classes of men:

A thunder of voices rise high into cloudy skies. Screaming curses lobbed across a wide open plaza between tall and rain-slicked stone buildings. The drizzling accumulation falling from those lofty clouds does little to dampen the tinder of hate that smolders hot in these streets. Drowning out the cries of the mob gathered in peripheral shadows and peering facelessly out from windows, the resounding chime of church bells begins a solemn toll.

Those who are in sin, and those who are in grace.

Leading the mob's cries and chants, a tall and gangly man with shoulder length hair the color of ink parades around a growing pile of kindling and planks, a leather-bound bok held aloft in one hand, his gravley and rough voice raised above the audience. "«It is in God's witness and Grace, that we the people of Louviers commit Sister Madeline Rouen to a fire of purification!»" The crowd circling the stand of wood and thickets throws cheers of their own, some stepping forth to spit upon the lumber as tired men labor to lay the stacks higher and higher upon the bales of hay beneath.

In the first way, we may say that, since a man is by any mortal sin brought into the devil's service…

Bound bodily to a wooden post rising up from the center of this great mountain of panks, trunks and tinders, a matronly woman stripped of her dignity stares out wide-eyed towards the crowd. Her lips part, back arches and arms struggle to break free of the restraints focedupon her. Only the tarnished copper of her cross dangles at collar level of a thin hemp strand. "«Stop this!»" Her voice is loud, piercing in its scream, "«Father Boulle stop!»" But her protests only egg the crowd on, some throwing stones that leave bloodied fissures in her skin, others throwing branches and logs on the already piled stacks of lumber.

In so far as the devil provides the outer suggestion of sin either to the senses or to the imagination…

"«Even when faced with death, she refuses to admit her penance!»" The tall and dark-haired preacher booms, waving the book held aloft in one hand around like a scepter. As he walks, his boots slip on the rain-slicked cobblestones beneath his feet, wind blowing through his hair as he turns to nod towards a pair of torch bearing gentlemen behind him. "«The //devil's tongue affixes her own in place, and no exorcisms have wrought the spirit from her! Nothing has wrenched that diabolical beast out from her head, and so to save her soul we are forced to purify! Do not fear, sister, do not fear!»"

To that extent he is said to inhabit the character of a man when he is moved by every stirring temptation…

Fingers curling tightly to scrape at the rope restraints, it is only the flickering glow of torchlight that stris the nun's attention to more pressing matters. Betrayal flashes across her features, blue eyes wide as she stares upon the dark haired preacher holding that book aloft, a matching copper cross around his neck. "«He's lying to you! He is possessed by a spirit as I! His gifts are not the work of God!//»" Hissing, shrieks and fitful laughter roil thorugh the crowd behind Father Boulle. None believe her piteous pleads for reason, or wrath.

…Like a ship in the sea without a rudder.

Malleus Maleficarum; Part II, Chapter X

When and where this all began is hard to commit to, the idea of tracing a memory or a dream back to its source is like trying to count grains of sand; possibly but unlikely. It is an ephemeral beginning, one entrenched in some strangely formed sense of dreaming logic where despite the cognitive dissonance that Flint Deckard feels, this seems right, seems correct. He cannot recall for the life of him why he is holding a bible, why he's dressed the way he is, or why he was just shouting in French or when he even learned the language. But the scene before him is evocative enough to be recognized merely at a glance for what it is.

The man called Father Boulle does stop, finally, if not for the reasons Sister Rouen might have hoped for. It's by virtue of reflex that he manages to grasp at the leather-bound bible pressed damp against his hand before it can tumble blankly from his fingers, the sweeping cut of proud cheek bones and sculpted jaw suddenly slackened out of their fire and brimstone bolt and clamp. Against a backdrop of teeth bared yellow in raucous laughter and wet stones slung slippery and sharp from grimy fingers, he's isolated in his temporary loss of direction, hesitation invisible to onlookers rabid and weary alike.

The rain water dripping sluggish off his brow is comfortably warm, at odds with the chill in his spine when he turns enough to take in the gathering of spectators and support in full. Black hair falls lank across his shoulder — tags in the wind across his line of sight while something in him filters through screaming and shouting with no time concessions made for translation. He understands what he's hearing and what he's been saying. Why he's here. But he isn't moving, and he isn't saying anything.

Instead, he seems to register Rouen's presence for the first time, blue eyes ringed with all the startling clarity of intrinsic recognition upon a face he's never seen before. Deer in the headlights and mouth fallen open to the scent of damp wood and wet street, he searches her face with a baffled kind of soggy intensity while crazy French people cry out for blood at his back.

As fearful as Sister Rouen's reaction had been, it is that same look of dull dissonance and uncertainty in her features that mirrors that of Deckard's behind the eyes of Father Boulle. Slacking some where she is bound, her eyes drift over the crouwd, chest rising and falling in fever pitch before focus comes to the yellow-orange glow of men approaching the stand of tinders with a torch in each hand. "St— Stop!" English, not French rolls off of her tongue, causing the torch wielding men to hesitate in the rain, their brows furrowed in momentary confusion as if they were witnessing her overcome with a fit of glossolalia.

Panic sets in, and she begins to struggle again, harder now until her eyes divert down at herself with a look of confusion. A haunted look is given to the tarnished cross, even as her light eyes flick up to the dark-haired man across from her. "Who— what's— " the accent is clearly not the kind Deckard expects to hear out of some terrible Pride and Prejudice meets Witchcraft dream, the surreality of modern-day English is like a sudden budget cut in his hallucinations.

But only faltering for a moment, those two men approach the wooded stand, and begin alighting the torches to the hay and tinder below the logs and planks. "No! No stop! Stop! I didn't do anything! What— why're you— stop!"

English. Boulle's eyes widen, and in the space of fleeting eye contact, he's breathing harder too, heart rolling sick and unsteady in his chest while he watches her struggle in the orange underlight of her imminent demise. His free hand clutches automatically after his side, seeking a weapon that isn't there and never was there only to lift away empty into the rain.

The way the torch wielders paused at the sound of English didn't escape his attention, either. He keeps his jaw clamped and wired shut, runoff spilling off the end of his nose all in a rush when he whips his head around after the hiss and spit of rain into flames struggling to overtake the rainsoaked shell of tinder amassed at Rouen's feet.

But standing still is no longer an option.

His shoulders are moving again without his consent, left boot tracking slow across the right to center his silhouette ahead of the pyre with rehearsed precision. Step, cross and turn over slick stone — his grip on the Bible resecured in time for it to be raised heavenward to the gathered masses — and in the time it takes him to turn, licking firelight catches shame pale in the flash of his eyes.

At the first sign of movement from the priest — from Father Boulle — Sister Rouen's eyes showed the faintest hints of the most dangerous of emotions; hope. But when the bible is once more raised to the screaming and hissing masses as their fervor was ever so subtle sunken at the sight of the priest's hesitation, their cheers and cries of victory rise up once more into the clouded skies. "Why are you doing this to me!? I— I didn't do anything! Stop! Stop!" But it's too late for words, too late for pleading as the flames catch the tinders and licking tongues of hungry fire rise up between the spaces of grayed wood mixed with wisps of ashen smoke.

"I didn't— I haven't done anything, stop! Stop! St— " The sudden crack of a stone against Rouen's brow sends a drooling line of blood running from her forehead in a diagonal line across the bridge of her nose and down her cheek, dripping off of her chin. She goes limp, eyes rolling up in the back of her head as a hissed cry of profanity from the crowd seems to feed the hunger of the flames.

Eyelids fluttering open again, Rouen hisses a sharp breath thorugh her lips, swallowing her breath awkwardly before lurching up and staring at Boulle and the raised book. As a jet of flame rises up between the planks of wood, the scene changes in its finer details. gone is the woman bound to the stake with a cross at her collar, instead there stands a young man in an ink black suit, hands tied behind his back, braced up against the board with fear in his blue eyes — Madeline Rouen's eyes — and a scar running down the length of his face in the same place a dribbled trail of blood was on Rouen's.

The man he stares at, holding up the bible aloft, is not Father Boulle. No longer a chiseled looking man with long, dark hair. Older looking, if only in appearance of the gray in his stubble and hair. But those eyes, ice blue, they're Boulle's piercing back at him even if the dusty color of his business suit looks markedly out of place against the backdrop of 17th century France.

Silent, stunned confusion paints itself over Peter Petrelli's face as he watches this unfamiliar figure, fingers of fire grasping up between planks of wood, clawing at his feet and pant legs, rising on tendrils of smoke.

Bone bared electric blue over hazy black murmers like heat lightning tell-tale through the flat of Flint's back and across one shoulder, rolling in and out at a thundercloud fade that echoes itself through his opposite shank down and out again past the ankle. Rain finds fresh purchase in the buzzed down bristle of grizzled hair and level beard growth; sinks in dark through the shoulders of his suit coat and douses hands that suddenly have tendon and vein knotted into all the right places.

His raised sleeve peels away from skeleton fingers clawed taut around the Bible's binding, catching Deckard's focus in time for him to turn the black-pitted lambence of his skull back to Rouen, who is no longer Rouen. Flesh is slow to overtake spectral showings of bone, filling in the empty socket around one halcyon blue eye scanning rapt over black suit and slashed scar like rot in reverse. Tangibility gains ground only when transparency overtakes the length of his far arm, leaving him in a state of skeletal flux while the fire gains ground and guilt fills in whatever blank space stark fear leaves in the lines carved in harsh around his face.

He's exposed and he knows it, Bible hefted with less force until it finally trips wet-paged and raggedy through his fingers.

Their silence is mirrored in their expressions, eyes locked in the strange way opposite ends of a magnet attract. Peter's breath hitches in his throat, focus broken and personal silence shattered by a scream of horror and pain as the feeling of the flames lapping at his ankles finally reach his mind. The pain of being burned alive is indescribable, it shows in Peter's face, in the way his eyes wrench shut and his voice turns into little more than animalistic howls.

The pant legs of his suit catches fire, even as the howling cries of "Witch, Witch, Witch" boom from behind where Deckard stands. Polyester, rayon and cotton all catch with different reactions; some turning molten and adhering to skin like napalm, others serving as an accelerant to let the flames jump and rise higher. Thrashing wildly against his bindings, Peter's screams grow more and more pronounced as his jaw clenches, teeth gritting together and smoke rising up from blisters forming on his forehead and cheeks.

Hair begins to smolder and curl up towards his scalp. Flesh reddens, becomes moist with sweat and then bubbles and ruptures.

Smoke, a great and terrible column of it rises up with the screams, and dozens of voices are added to the choir. In the smoke issuing forth from Peter's body, faces of countless others are pressed into that ashen, black filth. Their voices, their screams, join his as the black plume rises up towards those lofty clouds as the crowd recoils from the sight, hisses of Devil and Demon and Witch all barbed on their pitted tongues.

Peter's body goes limp, flames engulfing it now, leaving only that trailing column of pitch black smoke twisting up like a snake into the clouds above.

Flop, plop. The bible lands open in a puddle, wrinkled pages gone soft against the scaly sheen of an alligator hide boot lit gold by the building blaze. Shadows strike wild at hungry faces, thrashing in wide arcs across the gathered crowd with every desperate wrest of Peter's body against his bindings.

"Witch, Witch, Witch — "

Deckard can't move, can't blink, can't look away. When the flame finally rallies enough to toil at Peter's trouser leg, he reaches without seeing, left hand grasping at a torch thrust into it without conscious direction. The fire kicks up orange against the clavicle and slatted ribs searing blue through his side, muscle a ghostly presence corded into knots beneath the invisible crease of his lapel when he steps forward. Slow at first, then with more deliberate purpose once the oily stench of burning human has snared into flared nostrils and caught there thick in his sinuses.

The last torch to be cast into the blaze is his own, at close enough range that soot and ash and a litter of sparks billow across the grey of his suit with the sweep of his arm. Peter's screams buzz shrill in his ears, and still the other man's face is all he can see, bubbling and sinking in on itself too gradually around eyes that can't break from his own until there's nothing left but black smoke and a vacant shell for him to turn his back on when he recalls the book he lost somewhere along the way.

The screaming continues as it turns to cheers, raucous and feeding off of each other, the seething delight of the crowd in watching something die. The bones and remains within the smoldering pile have not a touch of black cloth on them; molten or otherwise. There is only a melting copper cross affixed to a bubbling sternum; the same cross mirrored on the clothing of Father Boulle.

The crowd's cheers rise with the smoke, with the flames, and as perception dulls away into gathering shadow that clouds vision and dims the world around them, the disperate sleeping forms of Peter Petrelli and Flint Deckard awaken to wholly different feelings when this nightmare rouses them from their resltess sleep.

For two who have never laid eyes on one another, an enmity of ages past has sunk into their bones.

It wasn't how it started, and it isn't how it will end.

But for them, it is their beginning.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License