The Fear Of Emptiness/The Fear Of Excess


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Scene Title The Fear of Emptiness/The Fear of Excess
Synopsis At a Ferrymen Commune in Mexico, two strangers meet under strained circumstances.
Date April 12, 2010

Ojas Amargos Commune

Just outside Ojas Amargos, Mexico

A dusty wind rolls across cracked earth. Four young children chasing after a ball are followed by an old golden retriever well past his prime. The children throw the ball around to one-another, laughing and smiling, taking turns playing with the dog who is merely happy to be included in everything. The post and beam fence penning in the play yard is adjacent to a much larger patch of land where three horses roam wild. Seated on that fence, a dark-haired woman possessed of bohemian fashion sense of a patterned fabric dress watches the children with a fond smile.

Afternoon sunlight plays in her wild, untamed hair as the wind catches it. She locks her ankles together, hands gripping the fence railing, as she looks out to the compound of smaller wooden lodges beyond the dirt courtyard ahead. It isn’t Alejandro that has come to see Joy today, but another of this safe-house’s caretakers, an elderly and weathered looking man named Carlos. Joy’s been told he’s a bloodhound, a sense of smell beyond that of any person she’s ever met. He was the first person to rescue her from the accident that brought her here, that destroyed her truck, that left her stranded in the desert.

But being stranded isn’t so bad, Joy muses. Not when there’s ample company under the warm sun, and conversation undoubtedly approaching. At Carlos’ side is an unfamiliar man, shorter and tanned, curly dark hair, stubble, a charming smile. He looks like the kind of person who could tell a story — spin a yarn — and Joy is overeager to hear from someone else who has lived here, will live here, whatever his preoccupation.

Raising one hand to thread a lock of hair behind an ear, Joy offers a warm smile to faces both familiar and not. There is always time in the world to meet someone new.

There’s a laugh from the shorter young man as they approach. Something the bloodhound said must have amused him. They’re speaking in Spanish back and forth, but as they get closer they politely stop until they’re right in front of her. Carlos offers her a hand, dark and rough from years of hard work. “Joy. A friend of ours from down south has finally made it back in. He’s been eager to meet you since we told him how you came to stay with us.”

Stories get spread, after all, and a newcomer who was found in a crashed car seemed to be a story worth telling. “Mateo,” the curly haired man responds with a nod and a smile. “I’ve worked with them for a while. Carlos saved my life more than once.” Possibly an exaggeration from the way he teasingly looks over at the older man. Unlike many of those here, he speaks English with less of an accent, sounding more as if he spent a lot of time up north as well as down south.

Once the old man has released her hands, who speaks a few words in Spanish before adding in rougher English, “I can not help it if you smell like trouble, joven.”

As an aside, with a grin that touches his eyes, Mateo adds on, “He doesn’t like my cologne.” And to that Carlos nods. It might have been a joke, but it is a true statement.

“It's strong”, Joy admits, one brow raised. She smiles fondly, sliding off the railing and running both of her hands through her hair to work out the kinks from the wind tousling it so. “Have you had it long?” Joy’s dark eyes sweep up and down Ruiz. “Your cologne.” There's a weighted quality to her words, something that sounds both duplicitous and welcoming all in one. She is both affable and inquisitive beneath a layer of fox-like mischief.

Carlos offers Joy a fixed look, both brows raised. “Don't be playing with him too much, Joy.” His eyes sweep from Mateo to Joy and back again. “She's got a whole host of abilities. Can sense them in others. Figured you two might do well to get acquainted, what with your situation.” Carlos’ brows raise in a wag of amusement, and he gently slaps a hand on Mateo’s shoulder. “An’ unless there's anything else you need from me. I'm going to go take a sit.”

As they’re left alone, Ruiz’s eyes follow the old man, his arm coming up to scratch at the curly dark hair on the back of his head. While he does a circular tattoo becomes noticeable on his left lower arm, on the wrist side. It looks like a stylized maze, with a partially eclipsed sun in the middle of it. “Sadly I don’t get to shower often during my travels, so sometimes I slap more than necessary.”

It’s a self-deprecating humor, which he looks amused at when he looks back at her, meeting dark eyes with his own. “Never met anyone with multiple abilities. Guess that kind of makes you a jack of all trades.”

Carlos seems to think she could help him, with his situation. Which— might be the reason he’s constantly moving around, avoiding staying in one place too long. And why he might not even be staying with them long. Too many people. Too much chance of harm.

“Can you tell what I do?”

“Master of none,” Joy carefully reminds Ruiz the middle of that phrase, and leaving out the oft-forgotten conclusion for now. But then, coyly, she smiles and folds her hands behind her back, starting to walk parallel to the fence, a jerk of her head indicating for Ruiz to follow her.

“But yes, I can. It's proud, ah,” Joy wrinkles her nose, “evanescent? It's like when the bubbles in pop tickles at your nose. But,” Joy’s brows furrow, and she turns to walk backwards ahead of Ruiz. “It's also like that feeling when your sinuses clear after a cold? It's strong.” She was ever talking about the cologne.

A master of none had actually been where he’d been going with the comment, so it makes him grin when she finishes it. Helping out around the Commune meant many people learned a lot of small trades, but Ruiz would not consider himself a master of any of them, even when he didn’t stay for very long. He kept moving, these days, only stopping in when the itch of companionship struck. While it was safer for everyone, it was difficult being alone most the time.

As he follows, he squints off into the distance, perhaps thinking on his ability and the way she describes it. “Strong is a good word for it. And dangerous.” He always feels it in the back of his mind, like something that desires to be released, something pulling on him even when it’s not there. “I can’t really control it,” he admits.

“That’s probably why Carlos wanted me to meet you. Thought you could help me.” And it would be nice if he could figure out a way to not be a threat to everything and everyone.

Joy frowns at that assessment, that Carlos thought she could help. It’s a small expression, fleeting too, as she’s distracted by the proud frame of a chocolate brown palomino as it comes trotting past the fence. Joy makes a motion, the slightest incline of her chin in the horse’s direction, and it comes immediately to a stop. Then, she reaches out for it, but no amount of animal telepathy can keep it in place. When she gets close, the animal lets out a frightened noise and bucks backward, then gallops away from her.

Curling her fingers to her palm, Joy furrows her brows and looks down to the ground, then up to Ruiz. “Control is difficult,” she explains by that example. “I don’t think I can help you…” she trails off, teeth worrying at her bottom lip, dark eyes sweeping to the ground, then back to the horse, then to Ruiz. “Not in the way you want.” It implies something other, something less than.

As the horse runs away, Ruiz watches on, seeing that she seems disappointed when it does so, before he looks back at her again and nods. He’s a little disappointed too. Not that he probably expected the help when he walked in. It just had seemed like a possibility, that someone who had so many abilities might understand how his was supposed to work. “I tend to stay away from people. That’s my usual method of control.” Visit when he gets lonely, stay on the move, but it seems to work well enough for him.

“Animals don’t like you?” he asks, making a clicking sound with his tongue as if trying to call the horse back over— it doesn’t work, but it shows he possesses some familiarity with the animals. “I imagine you probably have enough troubles of your own, if you have more than one of these.”

There’s a bitterness to the way he says these. It’s not all abilities he dislikes.

Just his.

“Likewise,” Joy belatedly states. “This… is the most I've been around anyone in a long while. The nature of what it is I do isn't— it's not safe.” Shifting her weight to one foot, Joy leans against the fence. “Abilities like ours are all the same at their core,” she explains. “Even yours.

Angling a side-long look at Ruiz, Joy cracks a smile. “It's always about control. Emotional, physical, spiritual. If you have those three concepts aligned, if you're at peace with yourself,” she smiles, lifting a hand and creating a nimbus of blue fire around her hand, that quickly dissipated in steam and turns into a frosted coating of ice over her fingers. “You can do anything.”

The ice sloughs off, falls to the ground, and Joy’a smile starts to fade a little. “Lose control, and you risk everything you have.” Dark eyes alight to Ruiz’s, “but you know that part already.”

At her display, Ruiz looks impressed. So many abilities in one person— and all it takes is one. One to destroy things, kill people. One to rip away everything that you love in the world. All it takes is one. The wrong one.

Looking off into the distance, he motions his left hand toward a dead tree. No leaves grow on it anymore, it once produced fruit. But no more. It’s wood wouldn’t even be suitable for burning. It’s a sweet gum. As long as they had other trees around, it would be one of the last ones cut down for firewood. Too low of heat output. With the gesture, there’s a strange sensation of the air suddenly losing static, like all of the energy just got pulled out into one, single spot.

Which opens up into a hole, a sickly dark colored hole, surrounded by a kind of crackling dark light, like lightning. A hole that uproots the small dead tree, causing it to spin and twist and crack and break. Until it gets pulled into that small hole, no bigger than one of its limbs. The wind starts to pull in that direction, they can almost feel it from where they are, before he lowers his hand and the hole… dissipates.

“I can make it happen, but sometimes it happens on its own.” And that happened enough that he avoids people, avoids being places where it might destroy… more than a tiny dead tree. “How did you learn to control… all that,” he nods to her hand.

Joy watches without horror, without fear, but with both fascination and — if the subtle part of her lips is any indication — awe. Her dark eyes sweep from the diminutive vortex on closure, to Ruiz. There’s one thing in knowing an ability, there’s another in knowing an ability. Leaning away from the fence, Joy closes the distance to Ruiz and looks at him as a wholly different person now. Dark brows press together, lift, and stare in wonder. She raises a hand, pressing it to his cheek and there’s a prickly tingle to her touch like a live battery.

“You are a marvelous creation,” Joy whispers practically breathlessly. “But you have to be so careful,” her voice becomes a whisper, expression shifting from wonderment to fear. “If s —” Whatever it is Joy was going to say never comes. She crumples to her side, slouching against the fence beside Mateo. Blood is darkening the ground beneath her. Shouts come in the distance, and when he looks toward the noise, there is a boxy white van parked in the middle of the courtyard between buildings and fever-pitched gunfire.

No one is aiming Mateo’s way. No one meant to shoot Joy, whoever they are, but a panicked child is running in his direction. Short, black hair swishes across her brow, eyes reddened and tears streaming down her cheeks. She’s running away from the carnage, from what looks like a massacre in the making.

Mateo,” Joy gurgles, “run,” her eyes grow wide as she stares at him. “Quickly, run.” She’s afraid. For him.

That brief touch, the way she looks at him. Ruiz isn’t used to that. Most people who see his ability in action, even when he means it to happen, move away. No one’s ever, not even him, called him marvelous after seeing it. Even the Commune, the ones who lived upon it, sometimes looked at him with fear.

The ones who didn’t were the ones who didn’t know exactly what he could do. Had never seen it uproot a tree.

He nods against her hand at the first part of her words, but freezes at the sudden crumpling. He starts to kneel, as if trying to catch her, to help her up, but then he spots the girl running. A girl he knows from his visits. A girl who likes to listen to him play the guitar.

And a van. And gunfire.


He lets out a curse, even as he looks down at her, looks back at the commune. That van shouldn’t be there. If he could open the threshold… he could kill everyone in the commune, even if he did destroy the van.

There’s another curse and he looks down at Joy, “I’m sorry.”

It’s a simple phrase, one echoed in his eyes, before he’s standing and running. Away from the danger instead of to it.

Joy pushes herself up to her feet, sucking in a deep breath as she watches Mateo fleeing from the gunfire. She turns towards the white-clad men storming through the compound in the distance, the child running toward her.

LeRoux, no.

Then the sound of gunfire.

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