Where Am I?


boyce_icon.gif nora2_icon.gif

Scene Title Where Am I?
Synopsis Nora encounters someone in Central Park…
Date February 22, 2011

Central Park

The long winding path through Central Park is a place of convergence for many city goers. The stops and starts along the way yield large patches of sunlight peeking through the shadowy trees on an otherwise crisp morning. For a Tuesday the park is busier than usual, perhaps families enjoying minor celebrations at the collapse of one dome. So many celebrations so little time.

Noon brings lunchers as well as ordinary patrons to the trove of trees. Picnics are enjoyed by many. Hot dogs by many more. With so many stands littering the streets it’s no wonder New Yorkers enjoy lunch here. Parks are solaces away from cities, foresty areas designated for city dwellers to find some semblance of peace and respite from the buzz and hubub of the city itself. But the peace isn’t quite as peaceful as it ought to be.

A wide birth has been given a particular bench in the centre of the park. Mothers grasp children’s hands as they move around it while fathers instruct youngsters not to stare at the presumed spectacle dwelling upon it.

“Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen~”

The song from the bench in the middle of the park is actually quite on tune, sung by someone with some ample ability to carry such with a musical lilt to his very masculine voice.

“Nobody knows my sorrow~”

Lounging across the bench, dressed in a very loud red and yellow Hawaiian print t-shirt (which is not nearly warm enough for this weather), the blonde-haired man in question doesn’t seem concerned with making a skeptical of himself in his current position. In fact, he may even enjoy it. Or he might be wholly unaware of it. Crazies often gather in this park. Some more twisted and crazier than others.

“Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen~”

He twists on the bench, pushing his way up to a sitting position as his blue eyes attempt to bring the world into focus. Irony of all ironies, for whatever reason or purpose, he seems lost— in so central a place. The cigarette between his lips is left to hang precariously as his eyes trail up to the sky.

His song silences and his eyes trail to the passers-by. Swallowing hard, Boyce pushes off the bench to grasp the shoulders of one passer-by, a quick grip, merely to get time and attention. His hair is a mess atop his head and his eyes bloodshot from lack of sleep or cohesion. His fingers splay in front of him, a question not yet spoken, until his voice rasps around words quoted from a popular television program he’d been allowed to watch in lock-up, “Where are we?” Blue eyes widen considerably as he eyes the unlucky bystander, wholly expecting an answer to his very theatrical question.

The passerby in question is distracted enough; brows furrow as she seems to concentrate on something elsewhere, frustration toning the mutter that comes beneath her breath. “Come on, pick up.” There is no bluetooth headset in her ear and one might think she’s just another of the crazy Central Park denizens but for her clean appearance and obviously new clothes; the denim has yet to wear out in knees or backside, the white rubber of her Converse sneakers yet to be sullied by the grime and soot of the city. The stuffed backpack on her back suggests she might be a student — just another College freshman walking through the park for inspiration and a spot to study, maybe.

When Boyce’s hand grips her shoulder, however, Nora’s hand comes swiftly up at an angle, pushing up and outward to spin the man away from her despite his larger size; her dark eyes narrow as she scuttles backward, hands held in sharp planes, ready to defend herself or attack. Her eyes wary, she appraises his face at the question, and she tips her head curiously — Boyce’s seeming ignorance saving him from her wrath.

For now.

“Central Park,” Nora says cautiously, keeping her distance and watching him carefully, eyes darting here and there for anyone else who might be coming to her “rescue.”

“Are you lost?” she asks a moment later, dark eyes dropping to take in his strange attire, before darting back up to his face.

It’s easy enough to spin this incarnation of Boyce away. He makes no effort to struggle, nor does he fight back. His muscles don’t flex, evidently Sterling isn’t a fighter. Not right now, anyways. His hands reach out in front of him again as he begins to pace, muttering quietly under his breath, “E equals MC squared which is the formula for relativity… a body stays in motion unless a force acts against it…” the pacing stops and his rocks (and shakes) just shy of his toes. “…energy is neither created nor destroyed merely converted… which makes time travel possible in the realm of…” his words flicker in and out of Nora’s hearing.

It isn’t until he lets the question sink in that he truly notices her. “I don’t know where we are or how we got here!” We. The collective. His hands raise into the air with exasperation. “Veronica left us all alone and I,” he begins to tremble, “laid on the couch…” And now? He tilts his head expectantly at Nora like somehow she can make this leap as to what’s actually gone on, “She could be dead in a ditch and none of the others care!”

His head turns, nearly defeated, until several children enter into his sights. “Carter is gonna get it,” he mumbles defeatedly. “Where are we?!” Evidently among his mumbling he didn’t hear the first time.

Nora stands very still, listening, as if moving might upset him further. “Central Park,” she repeats. “It’s in the middle of the city. Where do you live? I can maybe help you get home, if you know your address or what neighborhood you live in.” Her voice is gentle, and her eyes flicker to the children he notices, and back.

“Is your name Carter? Who… who else is with you?” she asks, one Converse-clad foot shifting on the path to take a step toward him. Her backpack is slipped off, her hand slipped in, retreating once more with a granola bar that is offered to him.

“Central Park, Central Park, Central Park…” rocking back and forth slightly, Boyce’s blue eyes scan the park for anything recognizable. “How did I get here? Do you know where Veronica is?” his eyebrows knit together tightly and his head shakes. “I knew we should’ve stayed at the apartment. I knew we should have! Now I don’t even know where to go! My home was all Domed when I got shot and was in the hospital.” Beat. “Because I was shot.” He sighs heavily. “I don’t know where Veronica lives.”

“Grayer. Grayer Merck.” He glances down at his clothes, “This isn’t my shirt.” Which nearly immediately has him muttering, “Charles!” It’s a near internal scold. He’s still putting two and two together. “I haven’t been hungover in ages. I swear… years. I looked different back then. I used to have dark hair. It was luscious.” A finger lifts as he contemplates who is with him, “Carter, Charles, Dwayne, Jack, Melody.. Sterling..” His lips purse slightly. “And me.”

“Oh,” Nora says quietly, pieces clicking together for her as well. “If you live on Roosevelt Island, I can’t help you get there, but maybe I can help you get close to it. I don’t know Veronica. Do you have someone to call? A cell phone with you?” Don’t some people have emergency numbers labeled in their address books?

A couple of businessmen nearby watch the pair with curiosity, and Nora glances toward them, her brow knitting as she pulls her backpack on again. Too much attention. She’s nervous but trying not to look it as she pushes a lock of dark hair out of her eyes, peering back up at Grayer.

A toothy, albeit moderately neurotic, smile cracks across his lips, “Ha! That’s not a home! It’s a fucking prison! I’m never going back to that hole. Not willingly. Or.. easily. Jack would have to make that choice.” There’s a short pause as his eyes glance upwards, “Although.. I grew the good stuff in the vents. You’ve never smelled pot that delicious. The smell. The flavour…” His smile eases some at the memory, only to vanish. “But one of the others ruined it. They’ll never let us out again. If it wasn’t a prison before…”

His chin drops to his chest. “I— “ his hands trail to his pockets as he pats them down, only to turn up with a headshake. “I wasn’t… these aren’t my clothes. I’d be in blue jeans, a sweater, and a jacket if I’d had my way. I don’t know.. I don’t know how this happened. We were there in the apartment. I laid on the couch— “ the heel of his hand presses to his forehead “— I remember sock puppets… Carter was playing… Jack got a knife…” he frowns deeply. “What day is it?” his gaze snaps back to her.

The word prison earns a fierce scowl from Nora, and she shakes her head. “You don’t have to go back — I might be able to -” but then there’s talk of a knife and she steps back again. ‘Don’t talk to crazy people in Central Park’ is common advice given to children in New York City, and she’s fairly certain her parents, if she had them, would chastise her on forgetting the Commandment.

But then, apparently, she’s living with a crazy person.

Central Park is just a change of setting.

“I should go,” she says. “I… there’s a police precinct house in the park. You can ask them for help.” She points in the general direction of the police substation, far from this corner of the park. “I don’t know how to help you, mister, I’m sorry.”

A granola bar will have to be it — the only shelter she can offer him is not hers to give.

“I…” Boyce’s eyes clamp shut and Grayer releases a slow laboured breath of air. “…can’t. Go to the police. You don’t what it’s like in there… “ in here, he nearly adds, but thinks better of it. Grayer is bright at the best of times. “…if they catch me… we’ll never get out. Not after this. I didn’t even do anything, you know? Aside from smoke pot and waste my talent.” He shoots her a light frown as his hands tuck into his pockets, deeper than before. “It was all Sterling’s fault. He put us in this prison.”

His shoulders slump and he lowers himself onto the bench again. “I just.. “ his chin lifts so his blue eyes can find her again, “I’m not even from here. I’ve been here, but I had Veronica take me to Lady Liberty— that’s how much I’m not from here! Isn’t that just for tourists?” His face wrinkles into a frown.

His head tilts slightly, “I.. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bother you,” his chin drops again as his lips curl into a small frown. “I just.. need to figure out where I should go from here. So close to.. so close.. I thought maybe.. maybe I’d be allowed to leave.. not live there, you know?”

“Are you…” Nora hedges, one Conversed foot bringing her back toward him a step. She half expects a clod of asphalt to hit her for being foolish again. “Are you Evolved? Did the Company or Institute have you?”

She chews her lower lip, dark eyes flicking out to keep an eye on the people surrounding her, a glance cast over her shoulder to a thicket of bushes.

There’s a swift shake of his head. “N-no. Not evolved.” He leans forward, resting his elbows on his knees as he shakes again. “The Institute,” he nearly whispers in acknowledgment. “I’m..” his eyebrows furrow tighter as Grayer considers how to phrase what he has to say. “I’m..” his voice waivers, a shakiness about it as his head shakes, “..an experiment. I..” he just frowns. “You can’t tell anyone. You just.. can’t. Okay? I don’t.. Frankenstein will know soon enough his monster has escaped… it’s just a matter of time.” There’s a pause as his eyes narrow, “And Jack will make us go back…” the frown deepens.

The words experiment and Frankenstein get an angry furrow of her brow and shake of her head. “They shouldn’t have ever been allowed to do this to people,” she says fiercely. But suddenly around the corner come two of the park’s police on their ten speeds, and her head turns, eyes tracking their motion toward the bench with the businessmen, who stand up as if to address the two cops.

“Shit,” Nora breathes out and she takes another step back. “I’m sorry. I … I’d help you but…”

…but it sounds like he might be dangerous, an experiment at the hands of the Institute or not, and she doesn’t have the resources to offer him anything other than a few bites of rolled oats and chocolate chips.

“I gotta go.”

She casts one more glance at the men now talking to the police — all four sets of eyes away from her for the moment, and takes her opportunity, darting past Boyce and into that thicket of bushes and trees, her goal to move through it and be out of sight before anyone turns around.

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