Date • 2020-06-26
Summary • 9-to-5 ignores common sense to heed an Obsession.
Patterns with a lowercase p. Finding them when it comes to the Mists is worse than trying to predict tornadoes before Christian Doppler changed things forever with his theories of observed versus emitted frequencies. Opportunities to study the Mists are, therefore, rare. Their frequency of appearance being low exacerbates this as much as the lack of pattern, but to hear an OMSI alert come across the USS Blackbird's public radio frequency under obvious coverterms? It's an opportunity. A dangerous, foolish opportunity that no one should run to.
Which is why 9-to-5 didn't run there. No more than five minutes later, he's looking down at OMSI from the Marquam Bridge and he can't make out anything more than the red smokestack sticking out over the fog; non-producing as always. It could linger for hours. It could vanish in an instant.
9-to-5 is suffering under the full affects of his Obsession, and it shows. You know he's the type of guy who watches someone about to do something, goes 'I wouldn't do that', but doesn't actually stop anyone? That's 9. Yet here he is walking his way towards OMSI.
From a distance, he pauses to check his surroundings and make sure that there's. Y'know. Nobody actually staring at him while he gets ready to do his thing. From a distance. He even goes back to his vehicle to get his tools ready, and grabs a piece of chalk.
The Mists are shifting. Moving. Dozens of cars are passing by with the driver maybe noticing this and maybe glancing over, but even then not caring. They aren't watching it like 9-to-5 is. They don't see the way it that patch of fog that isn't fog squirms its way south; blanking the river beneath the bridge lightly as it is thick and heavy over OMSI; creeping and spreading over it in a southern-dominant direction even as the wind breezes in steadily from the northwest. It defies its natural path and what fog or mist should do not just by twenty degrees or so, as a compass would measure it, but by thickening even in that steady breeze. A breeze that will lessen to complete stillness as he approaches that blanketing opacity; that white, blinding fog. With a stillness comes a quietness. An eeriness. A sense of danger and wonder. Determining what is caused by the Mists and what's caused by his excitement, however, immediately proves to be difficult. There's something that isn't a barrier, but rather an dissonance. The attempt to co-locate just outiside the Mists is successful, but there is a layer of something non-Supernal, non-familiar, and invisible between he and those Mists. It's might remind one of scrying on a location in which someone is scrying and looking through both foldings of space, only this space isn't folded, wrinkled, or mangled as things often get when manipulations of space, time, and dimensions are done poorly.
His attempts to find those connections yield nothing, at first, which makes no sense. It takes time for the connection to begin to form between himself, his other location, and that reflection, however. It's as he sees his reflected Correspondence (recently wiped) that he sees that the only way to really examine the Mists--at least with Space--is from inside them.
There's a swing and a flash of chalk as if he were an absolute artist.
He isn't an artist. But he does magical runes in chalk good enough that his brain can hook on to it as a stepping stone to the Supernal. His coin is rubbed raw inbetween his finger and thumb as he takes his time and chants..
.. And is reflected..
.. And chants...
... And it bounces..
And irritation and frustration grow and grow and feed on an Obsession. He sucks on his teeth, pacing for a moment before pausing. Calm down. He takes a twinkie from his coat pocket, unwraps it and eats it before putting the wrapper back into his pocket. After a moment, he walks back to his ritual circle and stands there, staring through the Co-Location window. He sniffs. An errant crumb of sugar almost escales his bottom lip.
The way Space is bouncing off the Mists could be fun if one is completely irresponsible. It's hard to guess where the effect ends up, but there's definitely something here that defies the very rules of the Tapestry. Likely, many Awakened made aware of this would do the same. It's in their natures to experiment, but casting a spell with results that do not equate the Imago can be dangerous in more ways than simply drawing attention. As he makes his attempts, he can see the Mists churn in places as it pushes further south; the northern buildings of OMSI beginning to come back into view; the red smokestack clearing down towards the roof as it seems the Mists are about to either move or, perhaps, vanish entirely.
Peering into the eye of the Mists is like trying to focus on the inside of a cloud, but 9-to-5 finds his gaze is reacted to. Not by eyes forming to meet his own. By something. Something that is no more than a feeling blooming out of his pre-born instincts. Being frozen in terror can be a thing of muscles clenching and the body betraying itself, but it can also be caused by the very will not to move; to be as still as the corpse it wants not to become as eyes sweep over it. 9-to-5 may never know whether he couldn't or wouldn't move in that instant, but by the time he has even registered that the Mists are backdrafting towards him, he's consumed by them.
Suddenly surrounded by fog and silence, the first thought may be why he's no longer co-located. The sounds of traffic are gone. The presence of color is gone except for where he sees it on his own clothing and a touch of it in that red smokestack dead ahead; the crown of Turbine Hall. The second observation, however, is likely the vague silhouette he can see laying on the ground some sixty feet ahead of him; near the breezeway that leads to one of the secret Guardian elevators below that smokestack. The silence here is eery; the sound of the cars on the bridge nearby so constant that no one at OMSI notices it until it's gone.
9-to-5 expects many things from life. Twinkies are one of them. Being absorbed by Mists that you thought were far enough away from you that you think you were safe from? Not one of them. He takes a moment to check himself - a bodily pat just to make sure everything is still in the right location. You can't be too careful when it comes to teleportation.
Rather than pull out a gun, he takes a moment to breathe in deeply. In. out. In. Out. Let the Mists flow through you. Since you're stuck here anyway. He begins walking towards the silhouette, and as he is who he is, he speaks out loud - a test to see the limits of the silence. "Hello there! I'm a bit lost."
The air. It's nice. Not abnormal nice. Like... chill, foggy morning nice. Vaporous and steaming as his heavier exhales hit it. Definitely cooler than where he was on the bridge. Enough to cause a shudder even though that difference is maybe ten degrees. That can be a lot of change for an instant. The quiet and peace of this place might make his fear, panic, and cautioun seem unfounded.
That growing mote of ease, however, withers into the negatives as the silhouette proves not to be a person, but a body of a suited man or woman so desiccated as to be mummified in that attire that seems dusty rather than ancient. The mouth of the figure is gagged by their swollen tongue, and the entirety of their body seems sunken in; not dried up like at first clance, but as if everything was sucked right out of it and the tongue corked it to perfect seal before it could reinflate. The corpse is still on the ground; eyes bulging, red, dead, and yet staring up at the blanketed white sky.
"Well. That's fucking awful."
Nine comes to a summary exceptionally swiftly as he looks down at the horrifically mummified corpse. He kneels down for a second to look at the corked mouth with the swollen tongue sticking out of it. He feels his Twinkie daring to come back to mock him with all of its vile, vile vengeance.
He swallows hard to keep everything down before he begins to rifle through the suited corpses pockets - looking for a wallet. You know. For identification. Any spare change or personal momentos are merely a bonus to the Guardian, who upon seeing this corpse has decided that suddenly he's very thirsty. Thoughts of a 2L bottle of Orange Crush go through his mind. As do thoughts of making it to see a bottle of orange crush. "It's just a body, Nine. Get the details.."
The only real difference between this corpse and a mummified one is moisture. This corpse isn't dry. It's just... sunken as if it is. This makes things a little squishy beneath 9-to-5's hands as he starts to go through those pockets; the body being more like a sack of half-filled skin than a husk. As he is digging in those pockets, however, he can feel that feeling of being watched once more. On his right side, the head of the "corpse" has lifted and the bulging, dead, red-on-pink eyes are staring at him even though they can no longer focus on things. He notices the movement just in time to see that rictus grin of peeled back lips over too-white teeth bite down through that swollen, purple tongue to have it falling down to its lap just beside where his hand is digging around an empty pocket over an empty person.
The very instant that mouth is no longer corked by tongue, air begins to suck into that voided undead like with a force that pulls 9-to-5 towards it bodily; stealing his wrappers from his pockets, bits of hair from his head, dust and debris from all over his clothes, possessions looser than jewelry all, in the course of a handful of seconds, fly into the mouth of this now tongueless, uprightly sitting corpse.
There is a vocalization in that suction. Maybe not a word, but at least a noise. A deafeningly loud, "WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!"
You know Nine's brain promptly begins to break down at the sight of this horrific.. Thing.. Staring at him. Then it cuts its own tongue off with its teeth. Then the tongue lands on him. Engage Maximum Noper-drive.
Nine's brain snaps back to itself only with the training and dedication of the Guardians of the Vei--It's survival instinct. Absolute survival instinct. He can feel the world warp around him as it begins to inhale -- and doesn't stop. He feels himself starting to be yanked forwards and his brain ticks over once. Rather than bothering to Chant, he uses his hands still on the body as a guide.
Space momentarily breaks down as the tongue -- at least the thickest part of it -- is promptly sharing the same space with the things mouth. Not the tongue sticking out of the mouth, no. The mouth and tongue occupy the same space -- then with an additional push of force, they aren't snapped back in. Flesh is forced in to each other. Everything is momentarily superimposed before the magic then forces everything to be violently rejected as the laws of reality force themselves on the fallen world - except the hunk of tongue doesn't move. Reality is forced to accept that these two occupy the same space.
Hopefully that stops this thing from trying to ZUCC his body out of existence.
The vacuum stops, however, the silence does not fully return. There's something in it. A ticking not like a clock, but like a metronome. Instead of that distinct click, the noise is distorted as something hitting a microphone instead of a bell. It's so subtle a force that one might not hear it the first few beats. During the focus of carefully taking a sample (Will the void suck once more if a digit is removed?), however, that sound will hit the attentive ear like a gunshot in the night. Pfkt. Pfkt. Pfkt. It isn't getting so much closer as it is louder. As it does so, it beckons the attention more and more to the elevator. The elevator shaft that leads up from the Guardian Sanctum if not directly down into it. So many tricks they have. None of them explain the pfkt from the elevator, however. The shaft dings with the arrival of the lift, and it's high time for any reasonable person to get out of there. However, a reasonable person would not be here to begin with. Furthermore, anyone concerned with a fellow Guardian stumbling out of the elevator and upon the half-filled corpse might want to wait a moment. There's that moment of hesitation before the door opens.
The corpse is silent. This is good - at least for Nine. Because he's pretty sure that spawned a whole new series of nightmares that'll make everything a thousand times worse when he finally decides to sleep off this sugar/adrenaline rush. Of course, there's gunshots.
Nine gets to his feet and reaches in to his coat, unholstering and pulling the small snub-nosed revolver that he keeps on his person. He steps away from the corpse - keeping it in his line of sight as he steps back a few long strides, then lowers himself on to a knee.
Yes. It's a silly sight, a revolver being held as if it's a heavier weapon, but he's taking the time to aim towards the elevator doors. Sure, it's not magic, but you know.. There's something about shooting something that helps alleviate any futility in the action.
Silly can be effective especially given what shakes do to accuracy. As he settles on that cement, however, he can feel his knee and shin almost simultaneously sink into it. It's not hard pavement at all, but tar. Sticky, thick, deep tar. Before he can pull away, more tar sloshes over his leg and seals fast; pinning it there with painful heat even as the still forming hand of that figure comes down over his hatless head and settles seering, stinking fingers over his forehead; shoving down with a force that pins him thoroughly in place but leaves his arms free to move within the framework of the rest of his body. The molten hand can be felt burning through his hair and overheating his scalp; tiny blisters already beginning to form but they are in no way a reflection of the level of pain.
The head that forms to the left--on his peripheral in a way that doesn't allow him to focus on it given that he can't turn an inch or face anywhere but that elevator he was preparing to shoot at--is featureless until bubbles burst out to leave pitted eyes and a lips from from that uneven black surface. "Shhhhhhhhh." The thing's gurgling tone doesn't seem to recognize the pain it is causing. It slowly points its left arm ahead as if 9-to-5 can look any other way, and then, at that instant, the door opens.
There is no elevator revealed within. Just an empty shaft. Black. Unlit. It gapes; as much a void as the disturbed corpse that ate his pocket trash. Nothing comes from it. No enlightenment. No answers. No screaming epiphany delivered on wings of death. There is nothing but emptiness and pain. Searing, scorching, worsening pain. And then it can be heard. Not one little beat of metronome--Pfkt--but dozens. Then hundreds. Then thousands. Then billions. Billions, as one, come up over the lip of the open elevator shaft and begin to pour towards 9-to-5 in the form of ants. Normal eyes might see them as brown in such a sea, but each one is black with the soft red glow of the blood that fills them. Some a quarter inch, some the size of his thumb, their horde spreads as outliers take the lead and come crawling towards him on ten legs--not ants at all, but something else entirely.
Don't scream Nine.
Fear. Fear is the little death.
There's a quote there somewhere, Nine usually has one, but right now it's currently sucked deep into the realm known as 'absolute mental horror' at the fact that A) His scalp is being turned into a slab of ham. B) He does not know what the fuck those things are. But that leads into C) They're rapidly advancing towards him with a look that reminds Nine of every monster horror movie he's ever watched.
He lets out a scream before he tries to bring his arms up to cover himself - even as he focuses and casts a spell in desperation to save his own skin.
He's still letting out a scream as he comes back in time -- literally in this case as he's dropped back into the timestream. "FUCK!"
He shakes himself. Once. Then touches his scalp. "Fuck this. I'm getting a Pizza Hut Cookie thing to make up for this shit. Fuck. Agh."
MWWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP! A truck that didn't see the pedestrian on the side of the bridge a moment before veers and lays on a horn; the first noise after that horrifying silence of his escape, but he's in no danger of being hit by it; just given yet more trauma.
Below, the Mists are fading. Not fast enough to have saved him from whatever was about to happen, most likely, but fast enough that it seems the wind is actually having some effect now, like it should. The fog under the bridge billows and thins; rolling away in waves in a manner most incredible. In a half hour it'll all be burned off entirely.
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