When All You Lack Is A Hammer



Scene Title When All You Lack is a Hammer
Synopsis …everything looks like a nail.
Date August 5, 2020

Isaac Faulkner climbs in darkness.

The stairwell is gloomy and ill-lit. Once, he would have been perfectly at home here; now, though, he trudges up the steps, his footfalls slow and sullen. One hand drags listlessly along the railing, the other is stuffed in the front pocket of the bland grey hoodie he's wearing. His head hangs low, his gaze on the stairs in front of him — stairs that he once wouldn't have had to even look at. A sense of heaviness hangs about him, lurking like an evil ghost. It feels like it takes an effort to move these days — to lift a foot up and put it down in front of the other. To get out of bed, even. That had been easy, once… hadn't it?

It had. Surely it had. He's sure it hadn't always been this hard.

Isaac realizes that he's slouching, and his mouth tightens in anger; he grits his teeth, forces himself to stand up straight and pick up his feet. Anger can drive that pall of gray heaviness back for a while, like the light of a match driving back the dark…

…but matches burn out. The gloom always comes back.

Isaac grits his teeth harder, reaching out and shoving the door in front of him open. He grimaces as light floods in, squinting for the handful of moments it takes for his eyes to adjust… then he strides out into the orangish evening light of sunset in the Safe Zone.

The shadows are growing long, but there's still plenty of light to see. This had been a starting point for one of his night runs… and now, standing here atop this familiar roof with the warm August breeze washing over him, he finds he feels… better. Less heavy; more like he's… awake, almost — as though he's finally starting to wake up from a nightmare that he's only now realizing he'd been having.

He lets out a long, slow breath… and he starts to stretch. Leg swings, wrist stretches, lunges; it's not a heavy workout, but it's enough to loosen him up. Enough for him to get ready. By the time he's finished, the sun has dropped a little lower; the sky is shading towards the darker hues that signal night's imminence, and the shadows cast from the buildings of the Safe Zone are growing long.

He takes one more breath, holds it for a moment… then he starts to run. His feet pound the rooftop in an easy rhythm, driving him full-speed towards the edge of the roof; his stride eats through the distance in seconds, but he doesn't hesitate, doesn't falter. He just runs…

…and leaps.

For a moment — just a moment — he is free from the ground, free of all earthly concern. As that moment stretches, he feels… elemental. Like the wind. Like the night.

Then he hits the next rooftop. His knees bend, absorbing the shock, and then he springs forward, using the rebound to drive himself back into motion, pushing into his run. The squat form of a rooftop air-conditioning unit lurks ahead, but he doesn't shift course; he vaults over it and hits the ground running. Can't stop, won't stop. Ahead, the next gap, the next roof. He vaults it with the same ease he'd leapt the last one and keeps moving. Eyes forward, looking to the next leap.

The building ahead is a story shorter than the one he's on — a two story instead of a three story — but he makes the leap and rolls as he lands. The impact is a bit harder, the roll a bit rougher than he's used to without his ability to help him… but he's trained for this. He can handle it. He springs back up, again launching himself into motion. He can feel his heart beating hard and steady in his chest, the wind rushing past him, the driving beat of his feet hitting the rooftop in time with the beat of his heart, and he almost, almost feels alive again.

Then, as Faulkner nears the edge of a rooftop, his foot slips.

He recovers; his instincts, honed over the years he's been running, drive him onward. He pushes forward another step, recovering some of the momentum he's lost, driving forward again. But now he's at the edge; too close, there's no turning back, so he leaps… but he's not quite going fast enough, doesn't make it quite far enough. He reaches —

— but instead of a bloom of shadow lashing out from the dark space between his sleeve and his arm, he finds himself reaching out merely, and only, with arms of flesh and bone.

Again, the moment he spends hanging in midair seems to stretch, but it is not joy that fills Isaac Faulkner this time; it is, instead, a slowly growing awareness of the fact that he has miscalculated. A sense of horror blooms, metastasizes, within him as awareness continues to grow, extending to touch upon the consequences of this particular error.

Instinctively, he tries again to reach out with the shadows, to grab and pull himself across the last few inches of the gap… but they aren't there. He tries to wrap shadow around himself to protect himself from the impact… but it refuses to answer.

He —

hits. Hard.

He feels something crunch in his nose, sees a hot flash of red, feels the wind driven out of him. He scrabbles, flails, trying to grab on, and for a moment he succeeds, arresting the initial momentum of his fall with a violent jerk of his arms that he feels in his shoulders… but the impact has dazed him and his grip's too precarious, try as he might his stupid fucking meat arms can't hold on. He slips and falls again. Instinct, muscle memory, makes the landing into an attempt at a roll, but it's a bad one, a sloppy one; he crumples, and when his head hits the ground —

Awareness creeps back in slowly, slinking in from the shadows like a beaten dog. The first thing he realizes is that he's laying on the ground in a shadowed alleyway, and he hurts. The second thing he becomes aware of is that the cause of this is that he fucked up. He fucked up at running, the thing he used to be best at… the thing he's not, anymore, because he can't trust his instincts anymore, because his instincts have gotten used to having his ability to bank on. And now…

It's gone.

He curls in on himself, shaking. That feeling of deadness he's been carrying around with him ever since the crash breaks open like a scab over an abscess, emotions washing over him like tidal waves of acid and poison. Rage. Hate, for the ones who did this to him. Pain. A sense of frustration that cuts him like a knife, makes him want to scream. Hate, again… this time for himself, and his own powerlessness.

"I wish…" he whispers… but he doesn't even know how to finish that sentence, so he doesn't. Even if he did know how to finish it… there's still the cold hard fact that it doesn't make one flying fuck's worth of difference what he wants or wishes, because right now all he's doing about it is lying curled up in a fucking alleyway.

To hell with that. He takes a deep breath, grimacing at the pain that causes, and starts to drag himself back up to his feet; his body protests this, pain flaring in a number of different places, but he does it anyway. It doesn't feel like he's broken anything, at least; a small blessing, but it's something. In a way, it's funny; the saying goes that when all you have is a hammer, everything is a nail, but for Isaac Faulkner, the reverse is true: now that he lacks his ability to command shadows, his world seems to be drowning in them. Everything, every place, everyone… gray, lifeless, lightless.

He sways dizzily as stars cloud his vision again, a sudden bout of nausea wracking him, threatening to take him back to the ground, but he fights it off; if he falls again, he might not have enough in the tank to drag himself back up a second time.

Gritting his teeth, Isaac Faulkner staggers out of the alleyway, and into the night.

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