With One Eye Open


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Scene Title With One Eye Open
Synopsis After the events of Moab Penitentiary, a marginally younger Melissa finds herself in an alternative history that threatens to redirect the course of her life.
Date April 14, 2009

April 7, 2009

Moab, Utah

A storm has broken out. Its lightning and thunder warnings came, however, in the form of wailing klaxons, banshee cries of purposelessness that spiral out of control to celebrate the jailbreak of Moab Penitentiary. Bullets spraying as free and careless as water from a hose as orange jump suits puppeted by desperation have prisoners running for an unknown horizon. Something hits between Melissa's shoulderblades, because one moment, she's moving with the rest of them, and the next, she's on her stomach with the air driven from her lungs. Maybe she's been shot. For a second, it almost seems that way.

In her tilted gaze angle, she sees one woman glance back at her — pale faced with straw blonde hair chopped above her shoulders, one of the weirder additions, an older woman as told in the creases and lines around her mouth. Blinks bright sea-green eyes, keeps running.

There's a helicopter in the air, churning desert dust.

But this isn't the storm.

As Melissa gets to her feet and pursues her jailbreak with the rest of them, light hair whipping in a maelstrom, that's when the real storm hits. It's one that is ground-level and unseen, an explosion, an unfurling of space and time that invisibly Rayleighs out and collides with the solid shapes of the present, dashes them to pieces and blows them to the four-corners. A howling gail that is silent, sightless, and leaves nothing untouched.

When Melissa is swept up in it, it's along with everyone else.

April 14, 2009

Moab, Utah

Grazes sting Melissa's palms from where she had fallen what— feels like to her to be a few seconds ago. Wind gently blows in a different direction, teases her danger orange jumpsuit and loose tendrils of hair. It's so quiet that the change is almost painful to her ears, silence shrill and whining in her skull. The horizon in front of her has expanded, pushed aside the fences, plucked the helicopter out of the sky, shoved aside every other living creature and, to her surprise upon, a glance—

The prison is gone.

Everything is gone, and changed in that one patch of desert isn't so different to another. Quiet save for the lone growl of an engine in the distance, the sun bouncing a sheen off a car a ways down the distance of a long, long highway.

For a long moment Melissa just lays there. Then slowly she lifts her head, then pushes herself to all fours as she looks around. When she doesn't see the hellhole that's been her home for the recent past, she frowns and moves up onto her knees, then to her feet. "What the hell?" she murmurs to herself. She turns in a slow circle, eyes searching out any sign of the prison. She has yet to become as jaded about abilities as she will, so something like this? It's seriously freaking her out.

She looks down at her clothes and grimaces. No way can she look anything like an escaped con in this outfit. Nevermind that that's exactly what she is. The desert though. She's seen enough movies to know what happens to people lost in the desert. Without a handy plot hook available to bail them out, anyway. So she begins to make her way towards the road spotted in the distance, expression wary, and she's extremely jumpy. Even the smallest sound makes her try to lash out with her ability. Nevermind the injections that ensure that she won't be doing any of that until the drugs wear off.

Negation runs sluggish in her bloodstream. A lot of the inmates talked about how they could sense it, stunting them, blinding them, crippling them. Others kept their mouths shut or claimed to feel nothing at all. Whether Melissa senses her own suppressed power or not doesn't matter much — intellectually, she'll know.

The sun glares down upon the road and raises heatwaves. Heat beats down against the blonde crown of her head, wind whispering over sand and occasionally spraying her calves with fine particles of grit that she will probably be finding in improbable places a week from now. Hoping that a week from now, she won't be in the desert. Hoping that a week from now, she'll still be alive.

And free.

The growl of the car comes closer now, and she can see it, a powderblue pick up truck with an unknown driver showing through the windshield. And there is really no where to run out of sight if that were her first instinct. There are some rocky formations here and there, but too far away, if desert-distance really does make things seem closer than they are.

There's obvious hesitation as Melissa spots the truck. It's a gamble, she knows it. There's no way that she can pretend to be anything but what she is. If it were October, maybe, but April? There's no chance of pretending that her lovely orange clothes are a costume. She glances around, eyeing one of the formations, then decides against hiding.

She wants to be free, but more than that, she wants to be free and alive.

She takes a deep breath and continues forward, slowly, her movements skittish. Maybe it'll be a nice old man too blind to figure out what she's wearing. Or color-blind. It's a long shot, but the whole damn thing is a long shot.

It gets to that point where the truck is no longer zooming by at careless speed. At first it could well be optical illusion, that it's slowing — but after a while, Melissa will be able to tell that its easing off its tear through the desert. Bouncing light across the windshield is almost difficult to see through, but eventually, she'll see the pale, heart-shaped face beyond the glass, black sunglasses hiding eyes, a small mouth, an androgyny to the figure inside that it's difficult to pick out man or woman.

The pick up parks maybe thirty feet away, the drivers' door winging open in a skree of metal, and the lanky figure within steps outside. Clinging jeans, boots, a loose T-shirt partially obscured by a light, if volumous denim jacket, almost eighties in its style. Chopped blonde hair whips around in the wind, as Maeve takes off her sunglasses, perches them on her skull.

Maybe she'll be recognised, maybe not. But she is— was a fellow inmate, a little Southern and a little older. She offers a thin-lipped smile.

The truck heading towards her has Melissa stopping dead in her tracks and looking around for hiding places. Not that she'll find any in time, but she just got popped miles away and a week ahead of where she was. Thinking clearly is no longer a necessity. It might not even be adviseable.

When the truck parks, she eyes it warily, her body tensed to bolt at the least provocation. Bolt or grab a rock as a weapon. Whichever seems like the best idea at the time. So when she instead sees a face that tries to spark some sort of memory, she's surprised, but not pleased. "Who are you?"

"Name's Maeve," the woman says, with a nod of her head, sunlight knifing across the black glass of spectacles balanced above her brow. "Or number 912, with a whole lot of zeroes in front of it. Makes you think they were preparing for something, huh?" Her smile widens enough to show teeth, now, in her alienesque face, and doesn't approach Melissa in the way you don't approach a wary animal. She rests a hand on the edge of the opens drivers' door, looking Melissa's orange clad form over from head to toe.

Sniffs, shrugs. "I figured you could use a hand. Melissa, right?"

The woman is studied for a long moment while Melissa tries to place the face. The number, it helps, and finally Mel nods slowly. "Yeah…I'm Melissa," she says, the words slow, the tone cautious. She remembers the woman now, the general shape of her features, but Maeve isn't quite the same as Mel remembers, and that is a cause for concern. No one changes this much in such a short span of time.

"You look different, Maeve." She glances over the other woman's clothing briefly, before looking back to her face. "What's going on? Not just you. Moab. It's gone." Which, while true, isn't technically true in the sense that Melissa means. It's gone, but it's gone elsewhere. Ignorance isn't always bliss.

"I know," Maeve agrees, almost kindly, before stepping away from the drivers' door and moving around the nose of the truck, popping open the passenger door and winging it open in turn. Not to get in, obviously, simply stands next to it with a steadying hand, pale fingers making claws over the edge. "Something happened. We all got teleported at the moment of the raid — and not just geographically. It's the 14th of April. That's— "

A brief, somewhat genuine smile, tucking a lock of blonde behind a pale shell of ear. "Probably why I look a little different." She backs up, tilts her head in invitation. "Hop in. DHS is combing around the place — we can't afford to stay in one spot for long."

April 14th? Melissa squints at Maeve. "There's no way." But the magic words have been said. If her choices are between a fellow inmate who looks different or DHS, she'll choose the fellow inmate any day of the week. "You're gonna have to explain a little more," she says as she moves towards the truck, hesitating for the barest of moments when she nears Maeve, then climbing into the truck. For the moment, it's safety. And that is more than the desert can promise.

The door closes after Melissa like a gunshot. Upon the glass, barely visible, are smeary fingerprints of white powder where Maeve had touched.

Maeve is climbing through the other side a few moments later, shutting the door after herself and replacing her glasses over her eyes, as black as the visors of the FRONTLINE soldiers. The cab of the truck has a chemical smell to it, likely nothing to do with the little pine tree shape dangling from the rearview mirror. The engine sputters to start, choking and stalling, before finally pushed into that warm growl of ignition.

Looking to Melissa, Maeve doesn't say a word before she's suddenly clapping her bare palm over the lower half of Melissa's face, a sting in the connection of it and long fingers pinching around her nose, forcing an inhale of— choking, fine powder that lines down the pain manipulator's throat.

While not relaxed, Melissa is perhaps a touch less worried once in the truck. Right up until she gets a hand full of poison in the face. Unfortunately her first reaction — besides the failed attempt to blast the bitch with pain — is to try to yell some sort of obscenity at the woman. Which requires breath. Pity that just puts the poison in her lungs, leaving her paralyzed all too quickly. Unable to scream, unable to fight back, unable to even turn her head and glare at the woman.

And unable to ask why.

Once the poison's taken effect, Maeve smiles broadly, runs a powdery fingertip down Melissa's cheek before she's reaching to secure the seatbelt across the woman's torso. "Don't worry," she says, breath making whorl patterns of the fine dust that's come free to float in the air. As if she knew what Melissa might have asked. "I'm gonna explain everything. Then when I'm done, I'll let you talk. And you get to make a choice." The tinny radio is an undercurrent of sound, Maeve pausing to glance at is as if she recognises the tune.

And she does. Metallica's Enter Sandman blares thinly out from aged speakers, and she chuckles throatily. "After this song," she apologises, reaching to twist the volume higher. A moment later, the truck is rolling down the street, Melissa helplessly jostled by its worn out shock absorbers and Maeve's own driving.

There is another history. One where a dead man isn't dead, nor stuffed into the dumpster of a roadside diner, who was polite enough to look past Melissa's prisoner garb for as long as it took for her to skip to the next town from his powderblue pick up. Like so much dust in the Utah desert, the story is sensitive to change.

The wheels of history turn, begin a new and slower storm.

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