The Way to Dusty Death


cameron_icon.gif kazimir_icon.gif

Scene Title The Way to Dusty Death
Synopsis Cameron encounters Kazimir on his way home to the Hangar, and PARIAH loses its leader.
Date October 16, 2008

Greenwich Village

In a time that seems long ago, Greenwich Village was known for its bohemian vibe and culture, the supposed origin of the Beat movement, filled with apartment buildings, corner stores, pathways and even trees. There was a mix of upper class and lower, commercialism meeting a rich culture, and practically speaking, it was largely residential.

Now, it's a pale imitation of what it used to be. There is a sense of territory and foreboding, as if the streets aren't entirely safe to walk. It isn't taken care of, trash from past times and present littering the streets, cars that had been caught in the explosion lie like broken shells on the streets nearest the ground zero. Similarly, the buildings that took the brunt of the explosion are left in varying degrees of disarray. Some are entirely unusable, some have missing walls and partial roofs, and all of the abandoned complexes have been looted, home to squatters and poorer refugees.

As one walks through the Village, the damage becomes less and less obvious. There are stores and bars in service, and apartment buildings legitimately owned and run by landlords. People walk the streets a little freer, but like many places in this scarred city… anything can happen. Some of the damage done to buildings aren't all caused by the explosion from the past - bullet holes and bomb debris can be seen in some surfaces, and there is the distinct impression that Greenwich Village runs itself… whether people like it that way or not.

Darkness shrouds the streets of New York City's Greenwich Village, creating shadows that twist and turn to distort the shapes of the trees that line this particular stretch of pavement. A lone figure on his way back home after an arduous day of legwork walks along the curb, his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket as the toes of his combat boots scuff against the cement underfoot. Cameron Spalding's head is bowed, weighed down by exhaustion, but his eyes are bright and attentive — fixed to the road unfolding in front of him. He plods along, slow and determined, driven forward by the promise of the warm bed and the company of his people that awaits him back at the Hangar only a few blocks away.

Once the sun sets here, few people opt to come out into the areas of the neighborhood that lie in disrepair. Street lights that stopped working when the bomb hit still haven't been turned back on. Paper trash blows across the cracked street, and in some places grass grows up between fissures in the pavement. Along one of the nearby buildings, sprawling graffiti covers the entire facade of three row houses, mostly gang signs and tags, with one particular slogan prominently painted in bright red, "FORTIS ET LIBER."

On the stoop of that very building, one where no lights are on in the windows, where the front doors hangs silently open, an invitation to the black hallway within, sits a lone man. The single other soul on the street looks tired, shoulders slouched and head down. He's an old man, easily in his fifties, and the ambient light of the gibbous moon overhead casts his face in sagging shadows that make him look even more the wearier. Laid across his lap, two ends of a black cane reflect the moonlight, one metal end shaped like a wolf's head.

Cameron stops beneath a nearby streetlamp, his body illuminated by a pool of light, and wordlessly begins to eye the man, trying to determine whether or not his face is one that he's seen before. In the end, though, this is Noah Bennet's turf — not his. He has no say about who can use the safehouse and who can't. "Some moon tonight, huh?" he asks, trying to make conversation as he fishes around in his jacket pocket for the package of Camel cigarettes he keeps there. Just one smoke before he heads inside for the night won't hurt. Grace would kill him if she caught him lighting up at the kitchen table.

"Nearly a hunter's moon." The old man replies, his voice giving that simple sentence an added sense of gravity in the depth and texture of his tone. Blue eyes, tired and gentle turn up to look at Cameron, "But only nearly. It reminds me of a line from King Lear…" There's some hint of resentment in that, however fleeting. When Cameron lifts the pack of cigarettes out of his jacket, the gray-haired man holds out a hand towards Cameron, "Perhaps I could trouble you for one of those?" His expression softens some from the weariness it had, his tone reminiscent. He sounds like a heavy smoker, from the gravel-like voice he has, much the way Cameron would imagine Grace would sound were she a man.

After drawing a single cigarette from the package, Cameron slips it into the corner of his mouth and gently tosses the old man the rest. "Take your pick," he says. "Don't got a lighter or matches, though, so you'll gotta make do." He hasn't had a need for them, not for several years now. The reason becomes clear when he snaps his finger and tongue of red flame erupts from his thumb. Careful not to completely engulf his cigarette, he leans forward into it, waiting for its tip to catch and glow before he banishes the fire with a flick of his wrist. "You see me here, you gods, a poor old man, as full of grief as age; wretched in both."

Barely catching the pack as it's tossed into the air, Kazimir's eyes fall to the crinkle of the celophane exterior. But it is the flicker of firelight that catches his eyes, and those gentle blues lit again to watch the get of flame rising up from Cameron's extended finger. His head tilts to the side, listening to the young man's words as the light in his expression dies. He looks back down to the pack of cigarettes, setting them on the old and worn concrete steps. "You know Shakespeare…" He says in a quiet, reserved manner, "Lear is one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies." He considers the pack of cigarettes again, looking back up to Cameron, "I didn't think people your age read anymore."

It is with a tired exhalation that he finally stands, moving his cane with a click as the steel cap hits the steps to push himself up shakily to his feet. Despite the slow way in which he moves, there is still a strength to his frame, broad shoulders that implied that he may have been much stronger, much faster in his youth. All of that, though, worn down by the passage of time. "Do you know MacBeth?" He asks, taking a step down from the stoop, "There's a particular passage in it that I'm fond of."

Cameron takes a drag from his cigarette and then blows the smoke out through his nostrils, an expression of content easing its way onto his tired features. He runs his hand along his jaw where the calloused skin of his palm, covered in fleshy white scars, is smooth in comparison to the stubble on his cheek. "Witches, curses, bloody murder — what isn't there to like about MacBeth? Sure, I know it. I didn't spend six years dicking around Columbia for nothing."

"Witches, curses and bloody murder, yes…" Kazimir nods his head, his shoes making soft sounds as he steps towards Cameron, interspersed by the sound of the cane clinking on the sidewalk. "The most poetic of lines, I feel, is one often overshadowed by the mainstays, by the few lines the uneducated can spit back out from television." As he nears Cameron, the street light overhead begins to flicker, sputtering a few times as it crackles and zaps, then blacks out entirely.

"To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow…" As Kazimir begins the quote, there is something about the air around Cameron that changes, a subtle shift in humidity making the air feel thicker than normal. Even the old man's more gentle tone of voice seems to have changed, while it was once rough, it now has a more abrasive quality to it. "Creeps in this petty pace from day to day." Something isn't right, the tingling in Cameron's fingertips and toes comes like tickling pinpricks, and the air seems to get thicker, even as the pale light from the moon seems to be dimming.

Cameron slowly works the cigarette from one side of his mouth to the other, his breaths becoming more and more leaden with every passing moment. No, something isn't right. Knees suddenly beginning to feel very weak, he leans back against the streetlamp for support and loops one arm around it as though that might help him to remain standing. It doesn't work. He sinks down, down, down to his knees on the sidewalk until he's looking up at Kazimir with blue eyes, fuzzy and confused. When he speaks, his speech is thicker than it was a few moments ago. Slurred. "What— what are you—?"

"To the last syllable of recorded time…" As the old man continues his approach, the growing sensation of pain shoots up and down both of Cameron's arms. The sensation only grows more intense as the man draws closer, and the light around the lamp-post drows more dim. Kazimir's shoes click on the sidewalk as he comes to a pause in his stride, eyes following Cameron as he slumps down to the ground. "And all our yesterdays have lighted fools," It is but a brief respite from the metronome of the clack of his shoes and click of his cane. As Cameron slouches down in the midst of the growing pain, the rattling roar of an iron-beam bridge two streets down signals the coming of an elevated subway train. The iron beams continue to grow in loudness as they vibrate, followed by the shrieking squeal of the subway cars and the flash of lights from its windows in the distance.

"The way to dusty death," Kazimir stands beside Cameron, lifting up his cane to tuck beneath one arm, reciting the words from MacBeth from memory, "Out, out, brief candle…" Pain wracks Cameron's body again, as the veins in his skin begin to blacken, skin turning an ashen gray color. The old man crouches down to put himself at Cameron's level, head tilted to the side, his voice an urging whisper.

As Cameron gradually loses his grasp on consciousness, so too does he lose his grip on the post. He crumples, face down, to the pavement, each intake of breath marked by a shrill and ragged wheeze that contains more pain, more hurt and agony than any noise he's ever made or heard. When death finally does come, it isn't as swift or abrupt as the snuffing out of a candle — like a cocoon made of pins and needles, it envelops his body until there is nothing left except for a dry, lifeless husk so brittle that when the cigarette drops to the ground, it takes the lower half of his jaw with it.

"Life…" Kazimir says quietly, watching the body crumble within the rolling waves of umbral smoke, "…is but a walking shadow." The old man slowly rises, regarding for a moment the cigarette on the ground as the glowing ember on the tip struggles to stay lit. In the end, a single black shoe stepping down upon it, scuffing from side to side as it is snuffed out.

"What am I?" Kazimir echoes the earlier question to the corpse slouched before him, "I am just a man…" He moves his foot away from the crushed cigarette, looking down at the torn paper, blackened ashes and tobacco, then to the ashen gray skin and crumbling flesh of Cameron's dessicated corpse, "…saving the world."

October 16th: Harlem Hoops

Previously in this storyline…
Out of the Jaws of Death

Next in this storyline…
Then Pharaoh Called

October 16th: We're Going to Give them Miracles
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