Visit Blog
Explore Tumblr blogs with no restrictions, modern design and the best experience.
#faith and her hallucinogenic drugs
talkfastromance4 · 2 months ago
Text
4. Minefields--Ashton Irwin ‘Lovers in a Song’ series
Tumblr media
a/n: So while each ‘chapter’ is titled after a song it’s more of the mood and a few choice lyrics that really made the story. This story changed a lot as I wrote it but in the end it all flows really nicely together. I’m so excited to share this with you! Each part is 3,000 with the exception of the last part. Please don’t hesitate to send me messages, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Word count: 3k
warnings: PLEASE READ THIS FIRST, there is physical abuse in this, it is minimal/accidental and happens after drinking/drug usage please, please read with caution, drug use mentioned briefly but no particular drug named, aftermath of drugs, aftermath of hit, more angst
Masterlist
LIAS masterlist
***
1 Year Ago
Cressida is flipping through her magazine on the couch in her hotel suite in Italy. She’s here on a promotional trip for the newest Brandy she helped design. It has a hint of vanilla and is in a beautiful gold bottle. Ashton gave her the idea.
Ashton is also in the hotel across the street. She wonders if he’s thinking of her too. The last time they were together they got into a big fight about Gavin and Lucinda. Ashton’s heard rumors he’s a part of a large drug cartel involving opioids, hallucinogens, the whole nine yards. Cressida disagreed because that’s all just rumors to stir the pot.
She fired back that Lucinda is only after Ashton’s money and plans on taking it all in a large divorce battle where she’d play victim. Ashton told her she was insane and they both left the hotel in huffs of fury.
She flips past a page that has her and Gavin blown up on both pages while they were out walking for lunch. The small article claims there’s “trouble in paradise and alcohol might be at risk.” Gavin has been partying a lot more recently and doesn’t come home until five a.m. most days. Cressida checks the watch on her wrist that matches the bracelet Ashton gifted her.
It’s nearly 2 in the morning now, her jet lag is still a nuisance. She glances to the open window and sees movement in Ashton’s room behind the white curtain. The only way she knows it’s his room is because that’s where they stayed while they were here that wonderful summer.
Her lips are pursed as she contemplates and thinks, eyes glancing to the pink rotary phone and the short yet oh so far distance to where Ashton is. Giving in, she reaches for the phone and dials the hotel’s number asking for the room Mr. Irwin is staying it. When asked who they should say is calling she told them, “say it’s Miss Gold.”
The phone hums in her ear and she saunters over the window waiting to hear his voice and to hopefully see him in the window.
“It’s you,” his voice is soft and quiet. He almost sounds relieved.
“It’s me,” she smiles and begins to pace. “I know this might be a mistake calling you this late but…”
“But what angel?”
The use of her nickname is a sign that he misses her too. She moves in front of the window and sees his silhouette facing her.
“These dreams I have of you aren’t real enough.”
He’s silent for a beat.
“Is he there with you?”
“No, he’s at some club. He doesn’t get back until early in the morning anyway, I could come over and—”
Cressida stops short because she hears a woman’s voice behind Ashton asking if he ordered the turn down service yet. Her heart sinks as she watches in horror when Lucinda wraps her arms around Ashton, their silhouettes become one large shadow. There’s a lump in Cressida’s throat and her vision becomes blurred with tears.
“Is that them? Let me tell them there were used towels—hello? I’d like to complain—”
Cressida slams the pink phone in its cradle, the ringer tings loudly as her tears fall in rage and hurt. She shuts her curtain and falls into bed falling asleep by draining the sadness from her heart.
There’s a New Year’s Eve Party happening at The Golden Lion and Cressida is there with Gavin. When she spotted Ashton by himself at the bar with a friend of his, Luke she thinks is his name, she wants to put on a show for him since Lucinda is absent.
Cressida’s felt embarrassed ever since that phone call to him in Italy. Clearly there’s something going on between Ashton and Lucinda, right? More than just publicity? Cressida downed two lemon shots in a row, loving the sweet and sour taste of the lemon and sugar.
Anytime she and Gavin were in eyesight of Ashton, she’d drape herself over Gavin and laughed extra loud. Sober, she’d hate herself for acting this petty, but being intoxicated made it all appear crystal clear. She could feel Ashton’s gaze on her the whole night until she ducked away to the bathroom.
When she exited she caught sight of Gavin with his hand up some woman’s dress and she’s giggling at something he’s saying in her ear. Cressida sees red, because not only is Ashton happy in his ‘relationship’ leaving her in the dust, but Gavin is also doing it for all the world to see.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Cressida shrieks making her way towards Gavin.
The girl he was hitting on gasps then quickly ducks away back into the main hall where the party is. Gavin sighs rolling his neck from side to side before facing Cressida.
“Please, don’t tell me you’re hurt about this,” he scoffs. “Why don’t you go run to Irwin?”
“What are you talking about? You can’t be seen making out with someone who isn’t me, not when our relationship is in the spotlight 24/7.”
“Oh, come on, you don’t need me to be in the spotlight. You don’t need anyone because you’re Cressida Leigh James, the princess of Brandy because your great grandaddy double-crossed his partner. Guess that does run in the family.”
Cressida felt like she got slapped. While her and Gavin’s relationship is merely for public eye, they always seemed to have gotten along pretty well. She thought they were somewhat friends, but she has been double-crossing him this whole time. She’s been double-crossing her entire family from three years ago.
“You really think I want to marry you?” Gavin stalks closer to her and she backs away, he’s never acted this way with her before. “You’re a selfish rich girl expecting that everyone loves you. I never did and I never will, so when it is announced that we are to be married, I’ll be as faithful as you’ve been to me. See you at midnight.”
He shoves past her and Cressida is left alone with her shame and guilt. It falls out of her from her tears that won’t seem to stop. She hobbles from the room to go back into the bathroom, she’ll stay there for the rest of the night. No one wants her. Ashton has Lucinda, Gavin has everyone else. While she’s swiping at her cheeks trying to dry her tears, she collides into someone and by the smell of his cologne she knows exactly who.
“Cressida? What happened?” Ashton asks steadying her by her shoulders.
“It’s not like you care,” she cries trying to continue her way past him.
“What are you talking about? Did Gavin hurt you? I’ll kill him, I swear I’ll—”
“I’ve hurt myself. I’m hurting other people, too. Leave me alone, Ash, you should be with Lucinda.”
“Angel—”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake, I should have known you’d be right here waiting in the wings for her to fall back into bed with you, Irwin,” Gavin’s voice strikes her like a whip. “I came to apologize but I was right. You are a slut for him.”
“Watch your mouth, de Poiters,” Ashton warns shifting Cressida behind him. He takes a step closer to Gavin, his fingers twitching. He’s wanted to punch Gavin ever since he saw he’s been linked with Cressida.
Gavin laughs and comes toe to toe with Ashton, Cressida sniffles watching what will happen. She’s thankful no one else is around, but at the same time she almost wishes there were people witnessing. Then this whole hidden façade could end.
“You hit me then everyone will know about you. Even her Daddy.”
Ashton clenches his jaw and Cressida gasps. Why would he say it like that?
“I know a lot more than you two think,” he jeers. “But I guess I owe you thanks, because I don’t ever have to fuck her.”
Ashton’s fist connects with Gavin’s nose in record speed. Cressida shouts in surprise and watches in horror as they tousle, fists colliding with flesh and snatching onto shirts trying to get more than one hit in.
“Stop! Stop! Please!” Cressida cries trying to break them up.
A defensive backhand meant for Ashton strikes Cressida’s cheek and she falls to the floor with a pained scream. Her vision turns black and spotty, and her ear is ringing from the commotion above her.
“You bastard!”
“I didn’t mean to! Cress, are you all right? I’m sorry, please, I didn’t mean to hit you. I took some pills to ease off tension and—”
“Shut the fuck up and get away from her,” Ashton seethes shoving Gavin against the wall. His face is centimeters away from Gavin’s. “If I hear you talk disrespectfully to her again or if you lay a hand on her, I will kill you with my own bare hands. If you have any drugs that are near her, you get rid of them, you hear me?”
“Y-yes. Please, I’m sorry. I need to make sure she’s—”
“She’s not your concern now because you’re on a trip. Sober up and get out of my sight,” Ashton threatens pushing him towards the door. “She’s going to be with me until you stop acting like a fucking teenager and if I hear you’re anywhere near this building, I’ll have you arrested to rot in prison for life.”
Gavin gives one last pleading look to Cressida who is rubbing at her cheek before leaving. Ashton rushes to her side, his fingers graze at the shine on her cheek. It’s already bruising, and she flinches at his touch, her eye clamped shut.
“It’s me. He’s gone and I’m right here,” he soothes keeping his hand hovering above her face. “Can I help you up?”
She nods sniffling, her hands reaching out for him. She’s off balance from drinking and her head is still spinning from the backhand. Ashton helps her walk but it’s hard for her, so he just lifts her into his arms. She cries out in pain when her cheek rubs against his shoulder.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he hushes, “I’ll take you up to our room and clean you up.”
“Okay,’’ she whimpers, lips trembling. She closes her eyes to blink and when she opens them again she’s staring at their room. Her ears are ringing and it’s hard to see through her puffy eyes, both from crying and the slap.
“I’m setting you on the bed and I’ll call Louisa to send up your clothes and a first aid kit,” Ashton tells her. When he sets her on the bed he removes his hands from her like a hot iron. “No one will know what happened, okay?”
Cressida sways in her spot on the bed, her head feels really heavy and all she wants to do is sleep. It seems like forever until Ashton is back in front of her with a pile of clothes she keeps here that the staff washes and a first aid.
“Do you want to change first or have me clean your cheek?” Ashton’s voice is so soft it reminds her of a feather.
“Change. My feet hurt,” she whispers.
He helps her change out of her dress and into the sleep shorts and t-shirt. She lets out a cry when the fabric touches her cheek, he quickly apologizes then opens the kit. His fingers are very cool and gentle as he splays them on her cheek inspecting it.
“You’re bruising already,” he breathes then dabs at it with an alcohol wipe.
“Ow!” she cries.
“I know, baby, I know,” he coos sympathizing with her pain. “I need to clean it and Louisa brought up an ice pack so we can bring down the swelling.”
Tears roll down her cheeks as he cleans her up, he comments on what he’s doing, how well she’s handling it, and when he’s almost finished. He places a small band-aid on the small cut that’s on the apple of her cheek.
“You’re all done,” he kisses her hand then rests the ice pack on her cheek. She winces again when he places her hand over it to keep it on the most swollen part of her bruise. “What can I have the front desk send up for you?”
“Water,” she croaks, “and bread.”
“I’ll be right back.”
He’s gone again and she feels oh so tired, so she lays down on her side letting the ice pack stay on its own. It’s hard to see because her eye is swollen shut, the pack feels good on her bruise. She wants Ashton.
“I’m here, I’m right here,” his voice soothes, and she’s being lifted to the center of the bed. Cressida crawls onto his chest, his arms wrap around her protectively. Hesitantly, and very carefully, he kisses the top of her head.
He helps her drink the water that’s sent up and feeds her the bread in small pieces, it hurts her to chew. And all the while he holds her, his heart aching for her yet also bursting in happiness by being with her. He lays the blanket over them and holds the ice pack on her cheek while she sleeps. It’s a restless night, whenever she turns she lets out a small cry and Ashton is quick to pacify her.
The next morning, she can only see him out of her left eye because her right is shut completely. Ashton smiles at her warmly but then memories of the night before come creeping back. Gavin’s words, his and Ashton’s fight that resulted with her on the floor. Ashton’s lip is cut but other than that he still looks perfect.
“I bet I look horrible,” she croaks trying to sit up then groans. Her body feels like cement and her head is pounding. She lays her head back down gingerly on Ashton’s chest.
“You’re always beautiful,” his fingers rub over her hair, “you’re just a little bruised up right now.”
They lay in silence as the sun starts to rise, the light lifting higher and higher on the wall facing the window. The steady beat of his heart is a familiar tune to her ears. She’s been graced to be in his presence five months earlier than they planned and from what she remembers from last night, she’ll be here with him until Gavin’s sober.
That could take months.
“He’s never hit me before,” she tells him quietly. His fingers pause on her back. “And I know it was an accident. He’s also never talked to me how he did.”
“He was on something, Cressida. That’s why he was acting the way he was. I know it’s fake between you two, but I thought he had respect for you. I want to make sure you’re taken care of when I’m not with you. I meant what I said, you know.”
She shifts her head so she can look at him properly. He’s a little blurry from her distorted vision, there’s some scruff on his chin. The cut on his lip is dry and she’s confused.
“You were hit more than me and I’m the one who looks worse. And I know you did, thank you for helping me.”
“It’s always the beautiful things that suffer the most damage,” he kisses her head giving her a sad look. “I’ve missed you.”
“Lucinda wouldn’t like to hear that.”
“She’s not here.”
“She was with you in Italy.”
“Is that what has you so upset? I had to accompany her for fashion week, my whisky was the premiered drink. You honestly think I wouldn’t have called you over to my hotel room if she weren’t there?”
“Really?” she smiles but it’s more of a grimace. Even her lips hurt.
“Try and relax your face, angel.”
“It’s hard. I’m so happy to be with you. Is that twisted?”
“A little,” he grins, “but that’s part of your charm. You’re a twisted woman.”
She frowns remembering what Gavin had said, she really is a twisted woman.
“Hey, what he said to you wasn’t true. All four of us are guilty of pretending with each other and lying to everyone else.”
“So, you don’t have feelings for Lucinda?”
“I respect her business, she’s great at branding and marketing. She’s a friend, and she asks about you.”
“She knows about me?”
“It’s no surprise they both caught on eventually,” he smiles, “we’ve been doing this for a long time, angel, and always in the first week of May.”
She touches her cheek carefully; her head hurts from all the thoughts coursing through it and from the throbbing pain in her cheek. She’ll call Gavin later to make sure he’s all right and to let him know she’s okay. Maybe the four of them could come up with a plan where they could all be happy.
“Ashton?”
“Hm? Are you hungry? I told Louisa to have breakfast delivered by ten. I figured you’d sleep later.”
“No, I’m not—” she stares at him.
Memories of their past push away the dark parts that have occurred. This situation isn’t fair to any of them. Even this, her staying with him now might be a mistake, it’s all broken in so many ways. Ashton always puts her back together again, much like last night. They’re in a constant minefield waiting for a bomb to go off. Last night was explosive but it wasn’t the nuclear bomb ticking away like the time they share.
She’d walk through a hundred minefields to be close to him.
“Kiss me, please?” her request is so soft he barely hears her.
“What I risk to be close to you,” he sighs with a teasing grin before pressing his lips ever so carefully on hers in a tender kiss, and she smiles in contentment. She doesn’t know how long they have, but any amount of time is worth it. Ashton is worth it.
“I still belong with you.”
Taglist: @calpalirwin​​ @myloverboyash​​ @loveroflrh​​ @cxddlyash​​ @princesslrh​​ @spicylftv​​ @notinthesameguey​​ @itjustkindahappenedreally​​ @calumance​​ @thew0rldneedsmcreycghurt​​ @sarcastically-defensive17​​ @another-lonely-heart​​ @devilatmydoor​​ @thatscooibaby​​ @suchalonelysunflower​​ @dead-and-golden​​ @mymindwide​​ @blackbutterfliescal​​ @redrattlers​​ @karajaynetoday​​ @quasighost​​ @i-like-5sos​​ @creampiecashton​​ @calpops​​ @littledrummeraussie​​ @sexgodashton​​ @f-mu​​ @mystic-232
43 notes · View notes
terryballs · 2 months ago
Text
What I Did In My Midlife Crisis by Sally Sparrow, Chapter 7
“So,” asked Sally. They were back in the TARDIS, and the Doctor was rooting around in his book case. “How are you going to infiltrate the Kerblam! depot? We can’t exactly use the psychic paper again. They’ll recognise us.”
“I have something I’ve been saving,” said the Doctor. “Extremely dangerous stuff. Bit of a nuclear option. Ah! Here we go.” He pulled a dusty glass vial sealed with a rubber stopper out of the gap between book and shelf.
“There’s nothing in there,” said Sally. Then the Doctor moved slightly and the vial caught the light. “Wait… no, it’s just dust.”
“That’s not dust, Sally Sparrow,” said the Doctor. “Those are suggestibility mites. Horrible creatures. Cousins of the Vashta Nerada, actually. Or I might have made that up. Maybe they are from the same planet as Memory Worms. It doesn’t matter. Point is, in their natural form, they release a signalling chemical that, by sheer coincidence, makes human beings less aggressive when you breathe it in.”
“That doesn’t sound so bad.”
“No, you’re right. And the human scientists who discovered them didn’t think they were bad either. But these aren’t the natural form. These have been bioengineered to release extremely high concentrations of the signalling chemicals. They don’t just calm you down, they make you extremely suggestible. You do whatever you’re told. You believe whatever you’re told. You might even start to hallucinate. They shape your very perception of reality. They’re classed as a Category 5 Biological Agent by the Shadow Proclamation – illegal to manufacture.”
“Why would anyone manufacture them in the first place?”
“Well, at first politicians thought that making people a little more docile and suggestible would help their election chances, but of course the politicians themselves ended up being the ones who got the highest doses – nearly collapsed multiple governments. Then… well, you might find this hard to believe, but there are some people who are even worse than politicians. People would use them… well…” the Doctor looked away from Sally, “…late at night.”
“Oh god,” Sally’s stomach churned.
“I’m afraid so. That was when I got involved. Put a stop to the whole affair, made sure those responsible were punished. So, like I said, I kept these for dire emergencies. These days I think people mostly use them on themselves. Recreational hallucinogens. I don’t support drug control usually, but, well, this was a necessary exception.”
“Right,” said Sally. “So you’ll use this to clear out the Kerblam! security?”
“Well, not just the security, everyone on site,” said the Doctor.
“You’re going to roofie a bunch of low-paid workers and leave them to their fates?”
“OK, I see the flaw now. Fine, we will need to take care of them. That will use up a lot of time. But the effects don’t last long. We should be able to stop anyone coming to harm.”
“Assuming the Angels don’t double cross us.”
“Don’t worry, I am prepared for that eventuality. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that.”
***
They waited until night time and crept up to the staff entrance of the perimeter fence at the Kerblam! Depot. The two Angels waited just out of eyeshot.
“Passes, please,” said the security guard by the entrance. He was a middle-aged Asian man, with a narrow face, fine cheekbones, and a black goatee. “Hang on a second, aren’t you…”
“Think fast!” said the Doctor, unstoppering the Suggestibility Mites and throwing them over the guard. A contented smile spread across the guard’s face.
“What’s your name?” asked the Doctor.
“Virat Patel,” he said.
“Well, Virat,” said the Doctor. “Won’t you help us get inside?”
“Hmm… yeah, sure, I’ve got nothing else to do.”
“Doctor,” hissed Sally, “did you waste our whole supply on this guy?”
“He’s the one we need to keep under the longest,” said the Doctor. “And he can approach the others without them getting suspicious. Spread the mites onto them.” There was a draught of wind and the Angels appeared just behind them. “You two keep to the shadows until we give you the all clear. We don’t want to cause a panic.”
They approached the warehouse itself over the parking lot, using the cover of darkness. A couple of security guards stood by the entrance. Kerblam! was a 24/7 company, and the night shift was busily fulfilling orders so they could be shipped first thing in the morning.
“You know those security guards, Virat?” asked the Doctor.
“Emma and Janava.”
“Great. You go and tell Emma and Janava that, for security reasons, they need to tell everyone to stop what they’re doing and immediately stand facing the nearest wall.” He glanced at Sally. “Unless they need to go to the toilet, or get something to eat or drink, or experience a medical emergency. Then they should do that as quickly as possible, without paying attention to anything unusual, like aliens or unauthorised intruders. Can you remember all of that?”
“I can. Not sure everyone else will, but let’s give it a try.”
Sally stuck her head into the warehouse a few minutes later. Everyone was stood happily facing a wall, chatting to the people next to them or looking at their phones. “All clear,” she said.
“Great. Where’s Virat? VIRAT?”
“Yes?” came a voice from the far wall. The Doctor and Sally ran over. “Virat, we would greatly appreciate it if you could let us downstairs to the prisoners.”
“I’d love to,” said Virat, not turning around to look at them, “but for security reasons I have to stand still facing this wall.”
“Er…” said Sally. “Virat, right now, you really need to go to the toilet.”
A panicked look came across Virat’s face. “You’re right, I do. That means…”
“That means you don’t have to keep facing the wall. It makes sense to let us downstairs and then go to the toilet.”
“I suppose you’re right,” said Virat. “Let’s go.”
Virat power-walked over to the door to the staircase. “I’m beginning to understand how the Master feels,” muttered the Doctor. The Angels trailed them. Sally didn’t feel entirely comfortable with their alliance, but the Doctor had proven that he could outthink them. She had to put her faith in him.
Virat unlocked the door and made to dash off to the toilet. “Come on, Virat, we need you down here,” said the Doctor. Virat spun around on the spot and followed them down. He didn’t pay any attention to the Angels as he passed them.
“Right, Virat, when I open this door, you go in there and tell all the scientists to face the wall as a security measure.”
“And then I can go to the toilet?”
“Yes, then you can go to the toilet.”
Virat scanned his retina on the door, and it clicked unlocked.
That’s weird, Sally thought, but she couldn’t pin down why. Virat pushed the door open.
“Hello, Virat,” said Mr Blamley. “We’ve been expecting you. Would you go and introduce yourself to our prisoners, please?”
0 notes
arcanakiller · 4 months ago
Text
LFRP - Jun Morne
Tumblr media
Junko Morne
The Basics ––– –  
Age: 30
Birthday: Fourth Astral Moon, 23
Race: Hingan Hyur
Gender: Female
Sexuality: Pansexual
Marital Status: Widowed
Server: Coeurl
Physical Appearance ––– –  
Hair: Typically raven black, often dyed blonde in the summer months.
Eyes: Hazel
Height: 5′4″
Build: Athletic/Muscular
Distinguishing Marks: Her back is tattooed in black and blue ink depicting a mythical raiju. Various scrawls from elder Hingan literature and folklore continue over her shoulders and down the lengths of her arms. Her left eye is a near-perfect false, cut and crafted with a few native stones.
Common Accessories: A single tantō, its calcified coral handle etched with an old-era motif. A pair of simple six-sided dice. A tin packed with hand-crafted cigarettes. Enough space is left within to house a box of matches.
Personal ––– –
Profession: Retainer for the Oda Family
Hobbies: Physical fitness and close quarters combat training. Eating at all manner of restaurant/enjoying the nightlife of various cultures. Reading philosophical primers and waxing poetic to anyone, willing or otherwise.
Languages: Commonspeak, Hingan, Old-era Hingan (written)
Residence: An apartment suite above the Golden Oni, Bukyo (Oda turf)
Birthplace: Bukyo
Religion: None
Patron Deity: None
Fears: Losing her recently-regained freedom. Father. Leading what she deems an unsuccessful life, inability to leave a mark on the world. The vast deepness of the ocean.
Relationships ––– -
Spouse: None; various flings and one-night stands.
Children: None
Parents: Father (Ijima Oda, Lord), Mother (Misuka Oda)
Siblings: Six brothers (Kiyon, Shoji, Nikitaka, Ino, Kichibo, and Junte Oda), she is the youngest.
Other Relatives: Kuze Oda (uncle)
Pets:None
Traits ––– -
Extroverted / In Between / Introverted
Disorganized / In Between / Organized
Close Minded / In Between / Open Minded
Calm / In Between / Anxious
Disagreeable / In Between / Agreeable
Cautious / In Between / Reckless
Patient / In Between /  Impatient
Outspoken / In Between / Reserved
Leader / In Between / Follower
Empathetic / In Between / Apathetic
Optimistic / In Between / Pessimistic
Traditional / In Between / Modern
Hard-working / In Between / Lazy
Cultured / In Between / Uncultured
Loyal   / In Between / Disloyal
Faithful / In Between / Unfaithful  
Additional information ––– –
Smoking Habit: Habitual smoker
Drugs: No hard drugs, mild hallucinogenics only
Alcohol: Known to casually drink in company
RP Hooks ––– –
Jun is established not only in Hingan criminal society, but also in the greater underbelly of the world stage. The seniority of the Oda family is extremely xenophobic, making Jun the sole mediator between them and organizations overseas. Anyone seeking work and marks from Oda will have some sort of relationship with Jun. She is always looking for seedier sorts of allies, as well as alternative avenues of employment.
Such establishment comes with discourse. If your good-aligned character is seeking adversaries, Jun is a proper pain in the ass.
Unless provoked or prodded in an antagonizing way, Jun is a very outgoing and receptive woman. She finds it rather simple to garner favor and new friends in just about any corner. She is very approachable, despite her punkish appearance and demeanor.
Contact Information  ––– –
Message me here, or on Discord at morne#8219!
9 notes · View notes
aion-rsa · 6 months ago
Text
Jacob’s Ladder: How LSD, Tibetan Buddhism and Tim Robbins Combined to Create a Cult Classic
https://ift.tt/2IoUKpW
Screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin still recalls one viewer’s reaction to Jacob’s Ladder.  
“I was stood outside the theatre on the very first day it opened in LA, waiting for the crowds to come out to see how they responded,” Rubin recalls. “As the credits started rolling this guy ran out, probably five feet from me, and yelled at nobody in particular: ‘If I ever meet the guy that wrote that movie, I’ll kill him.’”  
It was  an extraordinary reaction but, then again, Jacob’s Ladder is an extraordinary movie.  
Released on November 2, 1990, the film was only a modest success at the box office, debuting at number one in the US before being knocked off the top spot by Child’s Play 2 just a week later.  But while plastic dolls reigned supreme on the big screen, Jacob’s Ladder would have its day on home video, where it garnered a cult following in the decades that followed. 
It wasn’t difficult to see why; Jacob’s Ladder was the perfect film for the burgeoning format, a multi-layered tale both thematically complex and utterly terrifying. While the film’s main scares were worthy of pausing and rewinding, the fact was that Jacob’s Ladder demanded multiple viewings.
For director Adrian Lyne, that proved crucial to the film’s enduring popularity.
“You probably needed to see the movie twice to sort of understand it. You probably would’ve enjoyed it better the second time,” he told ComingSoon.
Not that his remarks were meant as a criticism – there was just a lot to unpack, in particular that ending.
Set in a grimy 1970s New York, the film ostensibly follows the story of Jacob Singer, a postal worker haunted by his experiences in Vietnam and the death of his young son (an uncredited Macaulay Culkin). Jacob’s damaged existence is shattered further when he becomes increasingly plagued by vivid hallucinations of demon-like creatures and otherworldly realms.
Divorced and living with girlfriend Jezzie (Elizabeth Peña), as Jacob journeys further down the rabbit hole he learns he and his fellow G.I.’s may have been test subjects for an experimental drug known as Jacob’s Ladder.  However, with his haunting visions intensifying, Jacob soon finds himself caught between questioning the very basis of his existence and desperately seeking the truth of his condition with the help of his chiropractor Louie (Danny Aiello).
Featuring standout supporting turns from Peña and Aiello, Jacob’s Ladder is notable for handing Tim Robbins his first major dramatic role. Up until that point Robbins had been better known for comedic turns in films like Tapeheads, Bull Durham, and Howard The Duck. The role of Jacob Singer arguably changed his life.
Yet what makes the movie so unique is that while it is both thriller and psychological horror, Jacob’s Ladder ultimately transcends both to emerge as something spiritual and transformative. It’s in the final denouement that audiences discover everything they have been watching has been playing out in Jacob’s imagination as he lies dying in a makeshift Vietnam hospital (something hinted at in a series of brief flashbacks).
A metaphysical trip of a movie, the idea for Jacob’s Ladder was born out of an altogether different kind of trip Rubin went on while studying screenwriting alongside the likes of Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma at NYU.
“I guess the seed formed for most of my writing during an LSD trip in 1965,” he tells Den of Geek. “My roommate at the time was a very good friend of Timothy Leary [an American psychologist and writer known for his strong advocacy of psychedelic drugs] and he gave me a tablet of LSD. He said it was strong and that I should take it whenever I felt it was right. So I kept it in my wallet for about six months.”
The day eventually came. 
“The day I decided to take it, a man arrived at our apartment,” Rubin says. “He was bringing a jar of lysergic acid (pure liquid LSD) with him from some laboratories in Switzerland. He asked if he could leave it in our refrigerator before going up to Millbrook, New York, which is where Leary and his guys were all devoting their time to ‘experimentation’.”   
Rubin’s trip began with a common mistake many have made with hallucinogens.
“That night I took the tablet that had been sitting in my wallet and nothing happened,” he says. “My roommate said, ‘well, we have  this pure lysergic acid sitting in the refrigerator, why don’t I get an eyedropper and I’ll give you a drop?’ I said ‘OK’. So he went to give me a drop from the eyedropper and by mistake squeezed thousands of micrograms of LSD down my throat.”    
The subsequent LSD trip Rubin experienced changed his outlook on life, death and spirituality.
Read more
Books
“God God – Whose Hand Was I Holding?”: the Scariest Sentences Ever Written, Selected by Top Horror Authors
By Rosie Fletcher
“What came out of that was a mystical experience so profound, but I could find nothing in Western teaching that talked about it,” he says. “But I did find teachings in Eastern religions like Tibetan Buddhism. I decided that I needed to go to places like India and Nepal and meet with teachers to get an understanding of what it was that happened because I entered a world  so much bigger than the world we know experientially, so much more vast and internal, if you will, that I needed some direction.”
Despite bagging a job as an assistant film editor with NBC upon graduation, Rubin had been changed by his LSD experience. Ditching the job, he spent time in Greece before hitchhiking through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan en route to the east and further enlightenment.
Rubin spent time in ashrams in India, a Tibetan monastery in Kathmandu, a Buddhist temple in Bangkok, and a Sikh temple in Singapore as part of a journey that saw him encounter multiple faiths and cultures.
Yet it wasn’t until he returned to New York and met Albert Rudolph, aka Swami Rudrananda, a spiritual teacher who specialised in yoga and meditation, that he began to find the answers he sought.
A jobbing writer in Hollywood, the idea for Jacob’s Ladder came to him one night in a nightmare that began on a near-deserted late night New York subway train.
“I had a dream where I get off the train and end up trapped in a subway station with no exits,” he says. “I realize the only way out is down through the dark tunnel of the subway into some kind of awful hell. But I have to make that journey, because ultimately it’s the journey to my own liberation.”
From there Rubin began to piece together the film’s plot, recalling an Ambrose Bierce short story that had a profound impact on him.
“I had this recollection of  ‘An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge’ which is the story of what goes on in the mind of a man who’s about to be hung,” he says. “He imagines the rope snaps and he get away. He meets a woman and he’s been running back to find her and just as they embrace he feels a huge pull on his neck and he’s hung off the bridge.”
Rubin was fascinated by the idea of a film that fused that narrative with the Tibetan Book of the Dead and the concept of an after-death experience that offers an individual the chance to achieve peace and closure with what they leave behind.
“It’s the idea of what happens inside the mind of a man as he dies,” he says. “Working out all the things they never addressed when they were alive. It is a confusing, complicated state of consciousness. Time is subjective, so that years could be experienced in a matter of milliseconds. Rather than running away from the problem, it’s about embracing it. For Jacob, that moment comes with his son. He learns that it’s only though the biggest losses and the greatest pain and the most broken heart, that you discover your way to liberation.”
Rubin began work as far back as 1980 on the script for Jacob’s Ladder and even began working on the initial treatment for another film, which would go on to become the Oscar-winning Patrick Swayze favourite Ghost.
“Both films shared a certain kind of storytelling idea, one being more frightening and more horror and the other something more popularized,” he says. “But both were trying to convey this idea that death is not what you think is.”
However, after moving his family to LA to focus on becoming a successful screenwriter, Rubin was dumped by his agent, who told him his work was “too metaphysical and nobody wanted to make movies about ghosts.”
His fortunes would soon change though when the script for Jacob’s Ladder was named on a list published by American Film magazine of the best unproduced scripts in Hollywood.
It was in good company alongside the scripts for films like The Princess Bride and Total Recall with the article stating how it was “one of the very few screenplays. . . with the power to consistently raise hackles in broad daylight.”
Even so, it would take a few more years to get Jacob’s Ladder off the ground with Rubin determined to stay as true to his original script as possible. That required a significant budget and a director with a significant amount of commercial clout.
Ridley Scott, Michael Apted, and Sidney Lumet all expressed an interest but it was Lyne who took a leap of faith describing it as “one of the best scripts I’ve ever read”.
It proved a shrewd move for all involved with Lyne turning down the chance to adapt Tom Wolfe’s satirical novel The Bonfire of the Vanities in favor of Jacob’s Ladder.
“He’s a great artist. He brought a great vision,” Rubin says of Lyne. “If he hadn’t made Fatal Attraction before, it probably wouldn’t have gotten the green light.”
Meanwhile Rubin’s old NYU friend, De Palma, would go on to direct what became one of the most notorious flops in movie history with Bonfire of the Vanities.
With Jacob’s Ladder, Lyne sought to move away from the old testament-like demons that torment Jacob  in the original script, preferring something that would further blur the line between dream and reality.
“He didn’t want the spiritual iconography, horns and tails and things like that, that represent demons and angels, wings and things,” Rubin says. “Instead he wanted to play around with nodules and growths coming out of people’s heads. Some kind of human and disturbing. It sounded great and ended up being quite terrifying. Characters could be both demonic and human at the same time.”   
Read more
Movies
How Arachnophobia Became the Perfect Creepy Crawly Horror Comedy
By Jack Beresford
Another area they disagreed on was the film’s ending. Rubin originally envisioned a more Biblical conclusion in which Jacob was set on fire by girlfriend Jezzie before ascending to Heaven on the Jacob’s Ladder that features in the book of Genesis.
“Jacob would be burned to a crisp. Louie the chiropractor (Aiello) finds him and comes over to this shell of a person and he looks at this ash in the form of Jacob and then Jacob’s eyes open,” he says. “And Louie says ‘Jacob your body can’t hold you anymore’ and  pulls at the ash surrounding him and beams of light pour out and you realise he is nothing but light. Then he starts walking up the ladder and disappears. That was the original version. I don’t know if it’s any better, but I always loved it and it never got made. But, you know, in Hollywood you rarely get to see the movie you wrote.”
Opting against any post-production special effects, Lyne preferred to offer only glimpses of the horrors Jacob faces, flashes and disturbing moments inspired by the art of Francis Bacon and H.R. Giger and the photography of Diane Arbus and Joel-Peter Witkin and filmed against the backdrop of a Gothic-tinged vision of New York that chimed with Rubin’s script.
Lyne’s eye for experimentation and “less is more approach” proved crucial in shaping the nightmare world of Jacob’s reality. In one neat bit of camera trickery, actors were recorded shaking their head at a low frame rate which, when played back in fast motion, created the nightmarish faceless vibrating figures that feature in the film. Lyne further hinted at the film’s shock ending by having helicopter sounds played over the effect.
For all the visuals deployed, the film might have fallen flat without Robbins’s affecting performance. Coming several years before The Shawshank Redemption, the casting represented a gamble for all involved, given Robbins’s status as a comedic supporting star up until that point.
Handed the role after first choice Tom Hanks opted to star in the regrettable Bonfire of the Vanities, Robbins was determined to make the most of his opportunity.
“I’m always looking for something that takes a left turn, and this was a great opportunity to go in a different direction,” Robbins told the New York Times. “I love doing comedy, but I know I can do other things as well.”
Even so, Rubin recalls that Robbins took a little convincing, having taken a fancy to the other film he was working on at the time.
“He didn’t want to do Jacob’s Ladder. Tim wanted to star in Ghost but he was the wrong kind of actor. He was perfect for Jacob’s Ladder. It took a lot of convincing to get him to say yes to Jacob’s Ladder but I think now he’s happy that he did it.”
Read more
Movies
Katharine Isabelle on How Ginger Snaps Explored the Horror of Womanhood
By Rosie Fletcher
30 years on, Robbins can have few regrets about starring in the film, which continues to find new fans and spark repeated viewings and debate among fans thanks to that unique ending which not only served up a major twist but, with it, a sense of awakening to the idea of a plain of existence beyond the mortal coil.
“I think it’s the fact that you don’t know what’s going on. You’re scared,” Rubin says. “What’s happening makes no sense. The fact that you’re so engaged by Jacob’s relationship with Jezzie to then discover that he has a wife and children. Then having no idea how these things come together and seeing snippets of these scenes of Vietnam.  In your mind, you are watching the film knowing something is drastically wrong and wanting to resolve it. And then in the final moments, they pronounce him dead and there’s this kind of shock of ‘oh my God, that was the answer’. It’s designed to be a big wake up call.”
The screenwriter also finds it fitting that many come to the film in much the same way he came to the idea back in 1965.
“I have heard it’s a rite of passage for sophomores in some US colleges to get stoned often for the first time – or, you know, not the first time – and watch Jacob’s Ladder,” he says. “It’s like the perfect stoner movie, it really is, because getting stoned is like a little glimpse into LSD. Marijuana is a kindergarten step into the graduate degree of LSD.”
Ghost may have ended up bagging Rubin the Oscar for best original screenplay but he’ll always have a soft spot for Jacob’s Ladder.
“I remain very proud of it and I think without Adrian Lyne directing it would never have been what it is,” Rubin says. “So many films just disappear into the ether. But certain films stay with you. Jacob’s Ladder speaks to the human condition. I tried very hard to make movies that offered different perspectives. There’s a lot to talk about in their world and it’s hard to get Hollywood to make those movies. I’m very grateful. I got to speak to the world.”
The post Jacob’s Ladder: How LSD, Tibetan Buddhism and Tim Robbins Combined to Create a Cult Classic appeared first on Den of Geek.
from Den of Geek https://ift.tt/32uTBDV
0 notes
briskeboys · 6 months ago
Link
Screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin still recalls one viewer’s reaction to Jacob’s Ladder.  
“I was stood outside the theatre on the very first day it opened in LA, waiting for the crowds to come out to see how they responded,” Rubin recalls. “As the credits started rolling this guy ran out, probably five feet from me, and yelled at nobody in particular: ‘If I ever meet the guy that wrote that movie, I’ll kill him.’”  
It was  an extraordinary reaction but, then again, Jacob’s Ladder is an extraordinary movie.  
Released on November 2, 1990, the film was only a modest success at the box office, debuting at number one in the US before being knocked off the top spot by Child’s Play 2 just a week later.  But while plastic dolls reigned supreme on the big screen, Jacob’s Ladder would have its day on home video, where it garnered a cult following in the decades that followed. 
It wasn’t difficult to see why; Jacob’s Ladder was the perfect film for the burgeoning format, a multi-layered tale both thematically complex and utterly terrifying. While the film’s main scares were worthy of pausing and rewinding, the fact was that Jacob’s Ladder demanded multiple viewings.
For director Adrian Lyne, that proved crucial to the film’s enduring popularity.
“You probably needed to see the movie twice to sort of understand it. You probably would’ve enjoyed it better the second time,” he told ComingSoon.
Not that his remarks were meant as a criticism – there was just a lot to unpack, in particular that ending.
Set in a grimy 1970s New York, the film ostensibly follows the story of Jacob Singer, a postal worker haunted by his experiences in Vietnam and the death of his young son (an uncredited Macaulay Culkin). Jacob’s damaged existence is shattered further when he becomes increasingly plagued by vivid hallucinations of demon-like creatures and otherworldly realms.
Divorced and living with girlfriend Jezzie (Elizabeth Peña), as Jacob journeys further down the rabbit hole he learns he and his fellow G.I.’s may have been test subjects for an experimental drug known as Jacob’s Ladder.  However, with his haunting visions intensifying, Jacob soon finds himself caught between questioning the very basis of his existence and desperately seeking the truth of his condition with the help of his chiropractor Louie (Danny Aiello).
Featuring standout supporting turns from Peña and Aiello, Jacob’s Ladder is notable for handing Tim Robbins his first major dramatic role. Up until that point Robbins had been better known for comedic turns in films like Tapeheads, Bull Durham, and Howard The Duck. The role of Jacob Singer arguably changed his life.
Yet what makes the movie so unique is that while it is both thriller and psychological horror, Jacob’s Ladder ultimately transcends both to emerge as something spiritual and transformative. It’s in the final denouement that audiences discover everything they have been watching has been playing out in Jacob’s imagination as he lies dying in a makeshift Vietnam hospital (something hinted at in a series of brief flashbacks).
A metaphysical trip of a movie, the idea for Jacob’s Ladder was born out of an altogether different kind of trip Rubin went on while studying screenwriting alongside the likes of Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma at NYU.
“I guess the seed formed for most of my writing during an LSD trip in 1965,” he tells Den of Geek. “My roommate at the time was a very good friend of Timothy Leary [an American psychologist and writer known for his strong advocacy of psychedelic drugs] and he gave me a tablet of LSD. He said it was strong and that I should take it whenever I felt it was right. So I kept it in my wallet for about six months.”
The day eventually came. 
“The day I decided to take it, a man arrived at our apartment,” Rubin says. “He was bringing a jar of lysergic acid (pure liquid LSD) with him from some laboratories in Switzerland. He asked if he could leave it in our refrigerator before going up to Millbrook, New York, which is where Leary and his guys were all devoting their time to ‘experimentation’.”   
Rubin’s trip began with a common mistake many have made with hallucinogens.
“That night I took the tablet that had been sitting in my wallet and nothing happened,” he says. “My roommate said, ‘well, we have  this pure lysergic acid sitting in the refrigerator, why don’t I get an eyedropper and I’ll give you a drop?’ I said ‘OK’. So he went to give me a drop from the eyedropper and by mistake squeezed thousands of micrograms of LSD down my throat.”    
The subsequent LSD trip Rubin experienced changed his outlook on life, death and spirituality.
Read more
Books
“God God – Whose Hand Was I Holding?”: the Scariest Sentences Ever Written, Selected by Top Horror Authors
By Rosie Fletcher
“What came out of that was a mystical experience so profound, but I could find nothing in Western teaching that talked about it,” he says. “But I did find teachings in Eastern religions like Tibetan Buddhism. I decided that I needed to go to places like India and Nepal and meet with teachers to get an understanding of what it was that happened because I entered a world  so much bigger than the world we know experientially, so much more vast and internal, if you will, that I needed some direction.”
Despite bagging a job as an assistant film editor with NBC upon graduation, Rubin had been changed by his LSD experience. Ditching the job, he spent time in Greece before hitchhiking through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan en route to the east and further enlightenment.
Rubin spent time in ashrams in India, a Tibetan monastery in Kathmandu, a Buddhist temple in Bangkok, and a Sikh temple in Singapore as part of a journey that saw him encounter multiple faiths and cultures.
Yet it wasn’t until he returned to New York and met Albert Rudolph, aka Swami Rudrananda, a spiritual teacher who specialised in yoga and meditation, that he began to find the answers he sought.
A jobbing writer in Hollywood, the idea for Jacob’s Ladder came to him one night in a nightmare that began on a near-deserted late night New York subway train.
“I had a dream where I get off the train and end up trapped in a subway station with no exits,” he says. “I realize the only way out is down through the dark tunnel of the subway into some kind of awful hell. But I have to make that journey, because ultimately it’s the journey to my own liberation.”
From there Rubin began to piece together the film’s plot, recalling an Ambrose Bierce short story that had a profound impact on him.
“I had this recollection of  ‘An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge’ which is the story of what goes on in the mind of a man who’s about to be hung,” he says. “He imagines the rope snaps and he get away. He meets a woman and he’s been running back to find her and just as they embrace he feels a huge pull on his neck and he’s hung off the bridge.”
Rubin was fascinated by the idea of a film that fused that narrative with the Tibetan Book of the Dead and the concept of an after-death experience that offers an individual the chance to achieve peace and closure with what they leave behind.
“It’s the idea of what happens inside the mind of a man as he dies,” he says. “Working out all the things they never addressed when they were alive. It is a confusing, complicated state of consciousness. Time is subjective, so that years could be experienced in a matter of milliseconds. Rather than running away from the problem, it’s about embracing it. For Jacob, that moment comes with his son. He learns that it’s only though the biggest losses and the greatest pain and the most broken heart, that you discover your way to liberation.”
Rubin began work as far back as 1980 on the script for Jacob’s Ladder and even began working on the initial treatment for another film, which would go on to become the Oscar-winning Patrick Swayze favourite Ghost.
“Both films shared a certain kind of storytelling idea, one being more frightening and more horror and the other something more popularized,” he says. “But both were trying to convey this idea that death is not what you think is.”
However, after moving his family to LA to focus on becoming a successful screenwriter, Rubin was dumped by his agent, who told him his work was “too metaphysical and nobody wanted to make movies about ghosts.”
His fortunes would soon change though when the script for Jacob’s Ladder was named on a list published by American Film magazine of the best unproduced scripts in Hollywood.
It was in good company alongside the scripts for films like The Princess Bride and Total Recall with the article stating how it was “one of the very few screenplays. . . with the power to consistently raise hackles in broad daylight.”
Even so, it would take a few more years to get Jacob’s Ladder off the ground with Rubin determined to stay as true to his original script as possible. That required a significant budget and a director with a significant amount of commercial clout.
Ridley Scott, Michael Apted, and Sidney Lumet all expressed an interest but it was Lyne who took a leap of faith describing it as “one of the best scripts I’ve ever read”.
It proved a shrewd move for all involved with Lyne turning down the chance to adapt Tom Wolfe’s satirical novel The Bonfire of the Vanities in favor of Jacob’s Ladder.
“He’s a great artist. He brought a great vision,” Rubin says of Lyne. “If he hadn’t made Fatal Attraction before, it probably wouldn’t have gotten the green light.”
Meanwhile Rubin’s old NYU friend, De Palma, would go on to direct what became one of the most notorious flops in movie history with Bonfire of the Vanities.
With Jacob’s Ladder, Lyne sought to move away from the old testament-like demons that torment Jacob  in the original script, preferring something that would further blur the line between dream and reality.
“He didn’t want the spiritual iconography, horns and tails and things like that, that represent demons and angels, wings and things,” Rubin says. “Instead he wanted to play around with nodules and growths coming out of people’s heads. Some kind of human and disturbing. It sounded great and ended up being quite terrifying. Characters could be both demonic and human at the same time.”   
Read more
Movies
How Arachnophobia Became the Perfect Creepy Crawly Horror Comedy
By Jack Beresford
Another area they disagreed on was the film’s ending. Rubin originally envisioned a more Biblical conclusion in which Jacob was set on fire by girlfriend Jezzie before ascending to Heaven on the Jacob’s Ladder that features in the book of Genesis.
“Jacob would be burned to a crisp. Louie the chiropractor (Aiello) finds him and comes over to this shell of a person and he looks at this ash in the form of Jacob and then Jacob’s eyes open,” he says. “And Louie says ‘Jacob your body can’t hold you anymore’ and  pulls at the ash surrounding him and beams of light pour out and you realise he is nothing but light. Then he starts walking up the ladder and disappears. That was the original version. I don’t know if it’s any better, but I always loved it and it never got made. But, you know, in Hollywood you rarely get to see the movie you wrote.”
Opting against any post-production special effects, Lyne preferred to offer only glimpses of the horrors Jacob faces, flashes and disturbing moments inspired by the art of Francis Bacon and H.R. Giger and the photography of Diane Arbus and Joel-Peter Witkin and filmed against the backdrop of a Gothic-tinged vision of New York that chimed with Rubin’s script.
Lyne’s eye for experimentation and “less is more approach” proved crucial in shaping the nightmare world of Jacob’s reality. In one neat bit of camera trickery, actors were recorded shaking their head at a low frame rate which, when played back in fast motion, created the nightmarish faceless vibrating figures that feature in the film. Lyne further hinted at the film’s shock ending by having helicopter sounds played over the effect.
For all the visuals deployed, the film might have fallen flat without Robbins’s affecting performance. Coming several years before The Shawshank Redemption, the casting represented a gamble for all involved, given Robbins’s status as a comedic supporting star up until that point.
Handed the role after first choice Tom Hanks opted to star in the regrettable Bonfire of the Vanities, Robbins was determined to make the most of his opportunity.
“I’m always looking for something that takes a left turn, and this was a great opportunity to go in a different direction,” Robbins told the New York Times. “I love doing comedy, but I know I can do other things as well.”
Even so, Rubin recalls that Robbins took a little convincing, having taken a fancy to the other film he was working on at the time.
“He didn’t want to do Jacob’s Ladder. Tim wanted to star in Ghost but he was the wrong kind of actor. He was perfect for Jacob’s Ladder. It took a lot of convincing to get him to say yes to Jacob’s Ladder but I think now he’s happy that he did it.”
Read more
Movies
Katharine Isabelle on How Ginger Snaps Explored the Horror of Womanhood
By Rosie Fletcher
30 years on, Robbins can have few regrets about starring in the film, which continues to find new fans and spark repeated viewings and debate among fans thanks to that unique ending which not only served up a major twist but, with it, a sense of awakening to the idea of a plain of existence beyond the mortal coil.
“I think it’s the fact that you don’t know what’s going on. You’re scared,” Rubin says. “What’s happening makes no sense. The fact that you’re so engaged by Jacob’s relationship with Jezzie to then discover that he has a wife and children. Then having no idea how these things come together and seeing snippets of these scenes of Vietnam.  In your mind, you are watching the film knowing something is drastically wrong and wanting to resolve it. And then in the final moments, they pronounce him dead and there’s this kind of shock of ‘oh my God, that was the answer’. It’s designed to be a big wake up call.”
The screenwriter also finds it fitting that many come to the film in much the same way he came to the idea back in 1965.
“I have heard it’s a rite of passage for sophomores in some US colleges to get stoned often for the first time – or, you know, not the first time – and watch Jacob’s Ladder,” he says. “It’s like the perfect stoner movie, it really is, because getting stoned is like a little glimpse into LSD. Marijuana is a kindergarten step into the graduate degree of LSD.”
Ghost may have ended up bagging Rubin the Oscar for best original screenplay but he’ll always have a soft spot for Jacob’s Ladder.
“I remain very proud of it and I think without Adrian Lyne directing it would never have been what it is,” Rubin says. “So many films just disappear into the ether. But certain films stay with you. Jacob’s Ladder speaks to the human condition. I tried very hard to make movies that offered different perspectives. There’s a lot to talk about in their world and it’s hard to get Hollywood to make those movies. I’m very grateful. I got to speak to the world.”
The post Jacob’s Ladder: How LSD, Tibetan Buddhism and Tim Robbins Combined to Create a Cult Classic appeared first on Den of Geek.
via Den of Geek
0 notes
chewedupculture · 6 months ago
Text
Jacob’s Ladder: How LSD, Tibetan Buddhism and Tim Robbins Combined to Create a Cult Classic
Screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin still recalls one viewer’s reaction to Jacob’s Ladder.  
“I was stood outside the theatre on the very first day it opened in LA, waiting for the crowds to come out to see how they responded,” Rubin recalls. “As the credits started rolling this guy ran out, probably five feet from me, and yelled at nobody in particular: ‘If I ever meet the guy that wrote that movie, I’ll kill him.’”  
It was  an extraordinary reaction but, then again, Jacob’s Ladder is an extraordinary movie.  
Released on November 2, 1990, the film was only a modest success at the box office, debuting at number one in the US before being knocked off the top spot by Child’s Play 2 just a week later.  But while plastic dolls reigned supreme on the big screen, Jacob’s Ladder would have its day on home video, where it garnered a cult following in the decades that followed. 
It wasn’t difficult to see why; Jacob’s Ladder was the perfect film for the burgeoning format, a multi-layered tale both thematically complex and utterly terrifying. While the film’s main scares were worthy of pausing and rewinding, the fact was that Jacob’s Ladder demanded multiple viewings.
For director Adrian Lyne, that proved crucial to the film’s enduring popularity.
“You probably needed to see the movie twice to sort of understand it. You probably would’ve enjoyed it better the second time,” he told ComingSoon.
Not that his remarks were meant as a criticism – there was just a lot to unpack, in particular that ending.
Set in a grimy 1970s New York, the film ostensibly follows the story of Jacob Singer, a postal worker haunted by his experiences in Vietnam and the death of his young son (an uncredited Macaulay Culkin). Jacob’s damaged existence is shattered further when he becomes increasingly plagued by vivid hallucinations of demon-like creatures and otherworldly realms.
Divorced and living with girlfriend Jezzie (Elizabeth Peña), as Jacob journeys further down the rabbit hole he learns he and his fellow G.I.’s may have been test subjects for an experimental drug known as Jacob’s Ladder.  However, with his haunting visions intensifying, Jacob soon finds himself caught between questioning the very basis of his existence and desperately seeking the truth of his condition with the help of his chiropractor Louie (Danny Aiello).
Featuring standout supporting turns from Peña and Aiello, Jacob’s Ladder is notable for handing Tim Robbins his first major dramatic role. Up until that point Robbins had been better known for comedic turns in films like Tapeheads, Bull Durham, and Howard The Duck. The role of Jacob Singer arguably changed his life.
Yet what makes the movie so unique is that while it is both thriller and psychological horror, Jacob’s Ladder ultimately transcends both to emerge as something spiritual and transformative. It’s in the final denouement that audiences discover everything they have been watching has been playing out in Jacob’s imagination as he lies dying in a makeshift Vietnam hospital (something hinted at in a series of brief flashbacks).
A metaphysical trip of a movie, the idea for Jacob’s Ladder was born out of an altogether different kind of trip Rubin went on while studying screenwriting alongside the likes of Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma at NYU.
“I guess the seed formed for most of my writing during an LSD trip in 1965,” he tells Den of Geek. “My roommate at the time was a very good friend of Timothy Leary [an American psychologist and writer known for his strong advocacy of psychedelic drugs] and he gave me a tablet of LSD. He said it was strong and that I should take it whenever I felt it was right. So I kept it in my wallet for about six months.”
The day eventually came. 
“The day I decided to take it, a man arrived at our apartment,” Rubin says. “He was bringing a jar of lysergic acid (pure liquid LSD) with him from some laboratories in Switzerland. He asked if he could leave it in our refrigerator before going up to Millbrook, New York, which is where Leary and his guys were all devoting their time to ‘experimentation’.”   
Rubin’s trip began with a common mistake many have made with hallucinogens.
“That night I took the tablet that had been sitting in my wallet and nothing happened,” he says. “My roommate said, ‘well, we have  this pure lysergic acid sitting in the refrigerator, why don’t I get an eyedropper and I’ll give you a drop?’ I said ‘OK’. So he went to give me a drop from the eyedropper and by mistake squeezed thousands of micrograms of LSD down my throat.”    
The subsequent LSD trip Rubin experienced changed his outlook on life, death and spirituality.
Read more
Books
“God God – Whose Hand Was I Holding?”: the Scariest Sentences Ever Written, Selected by Top Horror Authors
By Rosie Fletcher
“What came out of that was a mystical experience so profound, but I could find nothing in Western teaching that talked about it,” he says. “But I did find teachings in Eastern religions like Tibetan Buddhism. I decided that I needed to go to places like India and Nepal and meet with teachers to get an understanding of what it was that happened because I entered a world  so much bigger than the world we know experientially, so much more vast and internal, if you will, that I needed some direction.”
Despite bagging a job as an assistant film editor with NBC upon graduation, Rubin had been changed by his LSD experience. Ditching the job, he spent time in Greece before hitchhiking through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan en route to the east and further enlightenment.
Rubin spent time in ashrams in India, a Tibetan monastery in Kathmandu, a Buddhist temple in Bangkok, and a Sikh temple in Singapore as part of a journey that saw him encounter multiple faiths and cultures.
Yet it wasn’t until he returned to New York and met Albert Rudolph, aka Swami Rudrananda, a spiritual teacher who specialised in yoga and meditation, that he began to find the answers he sought.
A jobbing writer in Hollywood, the idea for Jacob’s Ladder came to him one night in a nightmare that began on a near-deserted late night New York subway train.
“I had a dream where I get off the train and end up trapped in a subway station with no exits,” he says. “I realize the only way out is down through the dark tunnel of the subway into some kind of awful hell. But I have to make that journey, because ultimately it’s the journey to my own liberation.”
From there Rubin began to piece together the film’s plot, recalling an Ambrose Bierce short story that had a profound impact on him.
“I had this recollection of  ‘An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge’ which is the story of what goes on in the mind of a man who’s about to be hung,” he says. “He imagines the rope snaps and he get away. He meets a woman and he’s been running back to find her and just as they embrace he feels a huge pull on his neck and he’s hung off the bridge.”
Rubin was fascinated by the idea of a film that fused that narrative with the Tibetan Book of the Dead and the concept of an after-death experience that offers an individual the chance to achieve peace and closure with what they leave behind.
“It’s the idea of what happens inside the mind of a man as he dies,” he says. “Working out all the things they never addressed when they were alive. It is a confusing, complicated state of consciousness. Time is subjective, so that years could be experienced in a matter of milliseconds. Rather than running away from the problem, it’s about embracing it. For Jacob, that moment comes with his son. He learns that it’s only though the biggest losses and the greatest pain and the most broken heart, that you discover your way to liberation.”
Rubin began work as far back as 1980 on the script for Jacob’s Ladder and even began working on the initial treatment for another film, which would go on to become the Oscar-winning Patrick Swayze favourite Ghost.
“Both films shared a certain kind of storytelling idea, one being more frightening and more horror and the other something more popularized,” he says. “But both were trying to convey this idea that death is not what you think is.”
However, after moving his family to LA to focus on becoming a successful screenwriter, Rubin was dumped by his agent, who told him his work was “too metaphysical and nobody wanted to make movies about ghosts.”
His fortunes would soon change though when the script for Jacob’s Ladder was named on a list published by American Film magazine of the best unproduced scripts in Hollywood.
It was in good company alongside the scripts for films like The Princess Bride and Total Recall with the article stating how it was “one of the very few screenplays. . . with the power to consistently raise hackles in broad daylight.”
Even so, it would take a few more years to get Jacob’s Ladder off the ground with Rubin determined to stay as true to his original script as possible. That required a significant budget and a director with a significant amount of commercial clout.
Ridley Scott, Michael Apted, and Sidney Lumet all expressed an interest but it was Lyne who took a leap of faith describing it as “one of the best scripts I’ve ever read”.
It proved a shrewd move for all involved with Lyne turning down the chance to adapt Tom Wolfe’s satirical novel The Bonfire of the Vanities in favor of Jacob’s Ladder.
“He’s a great artist. He brought a great vision,” Rubin says of Lyne. “If he hadn’t made Fatal Attraction before, it probably wouldn’t have gotten the green light.”
Meanwhile Rubin’s old NYU friend, De Palma, would go on to direct what became one of the most notorious flops in movie history with Bonfire of the Vanities.
With Jacob’s Ladder, Lyne sought to move away from the old testament-like demons that torment Jacob  in the original script, preferring something that would further blur the line between dream and reality.
“He didn’t want the spiritual iconography, horns and tails and things like that, that represent demons and angels, wings and things,” Rubin says. “Instead he wanted to play around with nodules and growths coming out of people’s heads. Some kind of human and disturbing. It sounded great and ended up being quite terrifying. Characters could be both demonic and human at the same time.”   
Read more
Movies
How Arachnophobia Became the Perfect Creepy Crawly Horror Comedy
By Jack Beresford
Another area they disagreed on was the film’s ending. Rubin originally envisioned a more Biblical conclusion in which Jacob was set on fire by girlfriend Jezzie before ascending to Heaven on the Jacob’s Ladder that features in the book of Genesis.
“Jacob would be burned to a crisp. Louie the chiropractor (Aiello) finds him and comes over to this shell of a person and he looks at this ash in the form of Jacob and then Jacob’s eyes open,” he says. “And Louie says ‘Jacob your body can’t hold you anymore’ and  pulls at the ash surrounding him and beams of light pour out and you realise he is nothing but light. Then he starts walking up the ladder and disappears. That was the original version. I don’t know if it’s any better, but I always loved it and it never got made. But, you know, in Hollywood you rarely get to see the movie you wrote.”
Opting against any post-production special effects, Lyne preferred to offer only glimpses of the horrors Jacob faces, flashes and disturbing moments inspired by the art of Francis Bacon and H.R. Giger and the photography of Diane Arbus and Joel-Peter Witkin and filmed against the backdrop of a Gothic-tinged vision of New York that chimed with Rubin’s script.
Lyne’s eye for experimentation and “less is more approach” proved crucial in shaping the nightmare world of Jacob’s reality. In one neat bit of camera trickery, actors were recorded shaking their head at a low frame rate which, when played back in fast motion, created the nightmarish faceless vibrating figures that feature in the film. Lyne further hinted at the film’s shock ending by having helicopter sounds played over the effect.
For all the visuals deployed, the film might have fallen flat without Robbins’s affecting performance. Coming several years before The Shawshank Redemption, the casting represented a gamble for all involved, given Robbins’s status as a comedic supporting star up until that point.
Handed the role after first choice Tom Hanks opted to star in the regrettable Bonfire of the Vanities, Robbins was determined to make the most of his opportunity.
“I’m always looking for something that takes a left turn, and this was a great opportunity to go in a different direction,” Robbins told the New York Times. “I love doing comedy, but I know I can do other things as well.”
Even so, Rubin recalls that Robbins took a little convincing, having taken a fancy to the other film he was working on at the time.
“He didn’t want to do Jacob’s Ladder. Tim wanted to star in Ghost but he was the wrong kind of actor. He was perfect for Jacob’s Ladder. It took a lot of convincing to get him to say yes to Jacob’s Ladder but I think now he’s happy that he did it.”
Read more
Movies
Katharine Isabelle on How Ginger Snaps Explored the Horror of Womanhood
By Rosie Fletcher
30 years on, Robbins can have few regrets about starring in the film, which continues to find new fans and spark repeated viewings and debate among fans thanks to that unique ending which not only served up a major twist but, with it, a sense of awakening to the idea of a plain of existence beyond the mortal coil.
“I think it’s the fact that you don’t know what’s going on. You’re scared,” Rubin says. “What’s happening makes no sense. The fact that you’re so engaged by Jacob’s relationship with Jezzie to then discover that he has a wife and children. Then having no idea how these things come together and seeing snippets of these scenes of Vietnam.  In your mind, you are watching the film knowing something is drastically wrong and wanting to resolve it. And then in the final moments, they pronounce him dead and there’s this kind of shock of ‘oh my God, that was the answer’. It’s designed to be a big wake up call.”
The screenwriter also finds it fitting that many come to the film in much the same way he came to the idea back in 1965.
“I have heard it’s a rite of passage for sophomores in some US colleges to get stoned often for the first time – or, you know, not the first time – and watch Jacob’s Ladder,” he says. “It’s like the perfect stoner movie, it really is, because getting stoned is like a little glimpse into LSD. Marijuana is a kindergarten step into the graduate degree of LSD.”
Ghost may have ended up bagging Rubin the Oscar for best original screenplay but he’ll always have a soft spot for Jacob’s Ladder.
“I remain very proud of it and I think without Adrian Lyne directing it would never have been what it is,” Rubin says. “So many films just disappear into the ether. But certain films stay with you. Jacob’s Ladder speaks to the human condition. I tried very hard to make movies that offered different perspectives. There’s a lot to talk about in their world and it’s hard to get Hollywood to make those movies. I’m very grateful. I got to speak to the world.”
The post Jacob’s Ladder: How LSD, Tibetan Buddhism and Tim Robbins Combined to Create a Cult Classic appeared first on Den of Geek.
source https://www.denofgeek.com/movies/jacobs-ladder-screenwriter-bruce-joel-rubin/
0 notes
askthesuncat · 6 months ago
Text
Character Info: J’majha Quan/Marina Wrynn
Tumblr media
Character Name: Marina Wrynn (J’majha Quan)
The Basics ––– –
Age: 24
Birthday: 15th Sun of the 6th Astral Moon (November 14th)
Race: Miqo’te | Seeker (J tribe)
Gender: Female
Sexuality: Heterosexual
Marital Status: Single
Physical Appearance ––– –
Hair: Dark Blonde
Eyes: Purple
Height: 5′5″
Build: Slender but toned
Distinguishing Marks: n/a
Common Accessories:
Personal ––– –
Profession: Mercenary,
Hobbies: Reading, training, music
Languages: Common, both Azerothian and Eorzean, Orcish
Residence: Goblet, Ul’Dah
Birthplace: Gyr Arbania
Religion: The Church of the Holy Light
Patron Deity: The Light of Creation
Fears: Demons, the deep ocean, Pugs( they are so Wrinkly)
Relationships ––– -
Spouse: None
Children: None
Parents: Biological: Father - J’quan Nunh(Presumed) Mother - J’ara  Adopted: Deceased
Siblings: Brother - Anduin Wrynn (Adopted), Sister - J’han Quan, Brother - J’raq Tia
Other Relatives: Aunt - J’asa,
Pets: Molten Corgi - Slag
Traits ––– -
* Bold your character’s answer.
Extroverted / In Between / Introverted
Disorganized / In Between / Organized
Close Minded / In Between / Open Minded
Calm / In Between / Anxious
Disagreeable / In Between / Agreeable
Cautious / In Between / Reckless
Patient / In Between /  Impatient
Outspoken / In Between / Reserved
Leader / In Between / Follower
Empathetic / In Between / Apathetic
Optimistic / In Between / Pessimistic
Traditional / In Between / Modern
Hard-working / In Between / Lazy
Cultured / In Between / Uncultured
Loyal / In Between / Disloyal
Faithful / In Between / Unfaithful
Biography
Marina Wrynn started her life in the region of Gyr Abania. Born to the J tribe of Miqo’te during the initial beginnings of the Ala Mhigan Occupation. The area she lived in would soon become the epicenter for the Convergence: a accidental magic event that would cause Azeroth and the Source to gain portals that led to each other. For the village however this meant a rampaging Nathrezim unleashing a can of Rip and Tear on a group of unprepared Miqo’te. Marina would be lost through one of the portals formed by the Convergence and would land in Stormwind out side the cathedral of The Light.
Here the baby Miqo’te would be found by Tiffin Wrynn. Seeing the crying baby looked around for her parents. She spent an hour searching before realizing there was no one missing a child. Not wanting to leave the baby in the care of the orphanage so young, Tiffin brought the child to the Royal Palace.
Sometime around the Cataclysm, Marina disappeared after falling through a hole that led back to her birth place. There she discovered her true origins and met her birth family. Though she wanted to return to her adopted home, she wanted to help her blood relatives be free from Garlean oppression.
She adopted her birth name J’majha Quan when in public to avoid confusion, and became something of a vigilante against Garlemald forces. Calling her self Tyr’s Arbiter She clashed with the Garleans for a few years, disrupting patrols, hiding wanted fugitives and attacking high ranking Garlean figures and loyalists.
However her luck ran out when she crossed blades with Zenos yae Galvus. Believing the Prince to be an easy target she attacked him during a hunt, not realizing she was the prey. They two battled for a long time before Marina used the most infamous Paladin technique to escape (Bubble-Hearthing).
The battle would trun out to be a problem for Marina, because she had managed to survive and hold her own against the Prince, Zenos began to search for her intrigued by the power of the Light.
In order to avoid the Crown Prince, J’majha fled with her siblings to Eorzea. They settled in Limsa Lominsa, Where Marina got a job as an Adventurer. she used that as a source of income until ARR happens.
Additional information ––– –
Drugs: Marina has partaken of certain kinds of Azerothian recreational substances. Her favorite is a type of hallucinogenic mushroom that was given to her family as a gift by the High Chieftain of Mulgore: Cairne Bloodhoof. It is used by the Tauren for Spiritual visions, not so much for Marina. Also she likes Catnip for obvious reasons(Miqo’te).
Alcohol: Marina loves Alcohol. She fortunately does not have a drinking problem, though not for the universe’s lack of trying.
0 notes
consumedkings · 6 months ago
Text
ancient names, pt. xi
A John Seed/Original Female Character Fanfic
Ancient Names, pt xi: what kind of man
Masterlink Post
Word Count: ~8.2k (I’M SORRY)
Rating: M for now, rating will change in later chapters as things develop.
Warnings: Gore/violence, Still Under The Influencer of drugs, uhhhh blood. There's a lot of mentions of blood and death and what have you. Elliot has a meltdown (surprise). Joseph is creepy (surprise pt. 2 electric boogaloo). People are confused about How To Feel. I don't understand how laws work and so I'm just literally out here trying my best, you know? Don't @ me.
Notes: I wanted to start off by saying THANK YOU everyone for your feedback! I was having a real hard time hitting my stride with the last chapter but all of your kind words has given me life. There's some still in these old bones yet and I really hope that you enjoy this one.
 Anyway I'm a clown and I'm sorry this chapter took so long. Joke's on you, it's always clown hour here! Thank you forever and always to @starcrier ​ for being the best proof-reader and somehow managing to make my incoherency readable?? Manageable??? You're an angel and ily! Also, @empirics ​, my writing aspiration forever, and @baeogorath ​ who makes me cry literally every time I read anything they have to say about my writing. Thank you thank you thank you!
John had never seen a person’s head blown in with a shotgun, and he wasn’t sure that he really needed to.
Ase’s blood had splattered when Jacob fired the shotgun at what he was sure could be considered point-blank range, the spray of it nearly catching them in the process. But no, it was mostly on Elliot, like she was some Carrie at her first prom, a real tried-and-true Scream Queen.
“I knew you’d find a way to fuck it up,” Jacob said, no absence of venom in his voice as he stepped away from Ase’s dead body like she was nothing—and sure, she was nothing, and John didn’t necessarily have any qualms with getting rid of her (he had blown a shell straight through her spine), but that wasn’t what was making him nauseated.
It was Elliot. Baby-blues eaten away by her pupils, blown wide with hallucinogens, drenched in blood, making a noise something close to a rabbit that thought it was going to die.
He didn’t have the energy to tell Jacob that the blow to her skull had been unnecessary, that there was no way someone could walk away from their entire stomach being blown through by a shotgun. That Jacob’s idea of “fucked up” was greatly, massively warped if he thought that Ase hadn’t been finished after shot number one. Even if he’d had the energy it wouldn’t have mattered, because the next words out of Jacob’s mouth were, “You put Faith at risk going back for her.”
The eldest Seed didn’t need to say what it was he meant; John knew. The words were “you put Faith at risk going back for her”, but what he meant was, Joseph’s going to be furious when he finds out.
“Get your pet,” Jacob bit out, “and let’s fucking move.”
John’s limbs moved of their own volition, kneeling down in front of Elliot and turning her face away from the grisly scene laid out next to her. If she recognized him, it didn’t show; she trembled, and her eyes never stayed fixed for very long, as though everything in the entire world was assaulting her senses at every second.
“Elliot,” he said, pulling her to her feet as the sound of voices rising in the distance peppered the air, “we have to move.”
Some kind of guttural sorrow welled up and out of her as he pulled her along and down the hill, her feet stumbling. Around them, the night hummed with gunfire and shouting. John was certain that he heard something like grief wracking the air at the hilltop above them, and he couldn’t bring himself to look back, afraid of what he’d see—that redheaded monster of Ase’s bent over her nearly-decapitated corpse, or worse: coming after them.
He kept one hand on Elliot’s arm and the other out in front of her case she tried to plummet headfirst down the hill—whether by chance or accident—and by the time they had reached the bottom, the strange agony sounds that had tried to burrow out of her had mostly ceased; her gaze was still glassy and dark, and there was an odd sway about her, but she looked only shell-shocked now.
Oh, John thought, absently, if that’s all.
Joey’s dark gaze darted between the two of them. He released Elliot to her without a word, his hand dropping from the blonde as Joey fussed over her. Faith swayed dreamily just a few steps away from Joey, humming a song mostly to herself; beyond her, Jacob stood, his arms crossed over his chest while he toted the shotgun in one of his hands, before he apparently got tired of waiting and grabbed Faith’s hand.
“If you want to stand around down here and chit chat, that’s fine,” he said, tugging Faith—clearly still drugged, clearly unaware of the carnage occurring around them—off to the trail that led away from the lake. “ We’re leaving.”
“Jacob—” John started. It was too late. The redhead had set for himself and for Faith a brutal and punishing pace to return them to wherever it was Joseph waited, and though he was loathe to admit it, Jacob was on the right track; pretty soon, the members of Eden’s Gate that had been sent up to wreak havoc on the Family would be dead, and he was certain that once Ase’s death was fully recognized, someone would want revenge.
“Are we going home?” Faith asked, giggling as she toddled after Jacob, barely able to keep herself upright. “That lady said John was going to come and rescue me.”
John’s chest tightened at the sound of her laughter. She was so completely unperturbed by everything—everything she had been through, had seen. He wondered how heavily they’d had to drug her, and if she would even remember half of it come the moment that she sobered up.
He exhaled, glancing at the top of the ridge above them where the lights of the cabins and flashlights and whatever-the-fuck-else those monsters had at their disposal glimmered.
“When,” Elliot said, the word grinding out of her mouth haltingly, “when... did Jacob-”
“Drink some water,” Joey murmured. She uncapped the half-drank water bottle and pushed it into Elliot’s hand and added, “And we’ll talk about it later, but right now we need to move, Elli.”
Elli, John thought, and felt a faint glimmer of amusement at the absurdity of such a soft, round nickname for a girl who was only sharp edges. Well, but she wasn’t so sharp now, was she? As he led them along the dark trail, her fingers brushing his on occasion, he would glance over at her and find her staring at him like he was a stranger, like she didn’t recognize him. Maybe she didn’t; he wasn’t familiar with the drugs they’d put her on, anyway.
“What the fuck happened up there?” Joey hissed, her hand firmly rooted in Elliot’s as she tugged her along—not unlike the way Jacob was pulling Faith. She had taken the water bottle back when it became apparent Elliot wasn’t interested in it. “Why is Elliot covered in blood —”
“She’s alive,” John snapped, “isn’t that what’s important?”
“I suppose you’ll be wanting a fucking award.”
“Stop it,” Elliot managed out. “Stop arguing. You both are so fucking loud.”
Joey’s lips pressed into a thin line. They ducked into the treeline far below Sacred Skies Camp, picking their way as quickly as they could through the underbrush, but the journey was slow and arduous; guiding Elliot through the trees had, in the last twenty minutes, become no easier than guiding a toddler. A blind, deaf toddler, who spared no interest in staying upright, and also had a metric fuck ton of psychotropic drugs in her system.
The walk there seemed to take much longer than it had going up, but John was sure that was his own adrenaline crash happening. He’d been stressed—about getting Faith out, about what he’d find, if he’d find anything at all or if they’d have done away with Elliot seconds after getting her.
Fuck . The thought filtered through his brain with dismay at the realization that he had been worried about her. Jacob was right; he’d really only needed to get Faith. But Elliot had been—she’d gone in there for them , and Joseph wanted her alive, and—
“Tired,” Elliot said, her voice hoarse and cracking with exhaustion as she took agonizing step after agonizing step. “I’m so tired, J—”
“I know,” John and Joey said, both cutting Elliot off and overlapping each other at the same time. Of course, John already knew what it was like to handle Elliot like this. They’d toddled through one field with Elliot clutching him like an anchor, drugged to the gills, once already; this was new territory for the other deputy.
Joey gave him a dark, turbulent look—the kind that implied murderous intent—and John turned his attention back to the task at hand: getting the fuck out of there.
As soon as the truck came into sight, running with the lights off, John let himself breathe a sigh of relief. He hadn’t thought Jacob would really up and leave them, but it also wasn’t impossible that he would have insisted and said fuck off if Joseph had protested. His eldest brother had been notorious for pushing back, for picking fights, and maybe—just maybe—he was pissed enough to follow through this time.
“About time,” Jacob said from the driver’s seat. Joseph did not give his input, which only served to further John’s personal unease as he opened the tailgate of the truck. Joey climbed in first, swaying just a little. He’d noticed that her pupils looked blown, too, though not quite as much as Elliot’s, so it must not have been fully out of her system yet.
John glanced up the hill absently. The sound of Eden’s Gate members still echoed. Not quite done yet, he thought absently, and then said, “Alright, Deputy, let’s get a move on.”
“Too high,” Elliot sighed, and he wasn’t sure if she meant the tailgate or herself. John turned her around from trying to clamber into the back and gripped her hips; her hands fluttered unsteadily before holding onto his arms.
“Don’t throw up on me,” he said.
She looked tired. Each second her eyes spent open seemed to demand more and more energy from her. “Expensive shirt, huh?”
“That’s right.”
He hoisted her into the back of the truck; she sat on the tailgate for a second only, and swayed forward like she was going to tumble right off; she steadied her hands on his shoulders, fingers gripping his shirt and bleeding warm against his skin.
“You did it too fast,” Elliot muttered, her voice verging on spoiled brat. Resisting the urge to roll his eyes, John climbed in after her as she scooted to the farthest spot away from the tailgate. Jacob didn’t wait for the tailgate to close before he pulled out of the brush; the truck hit the dirt road with a heavy thunk that had his teeth rattling around in his skull. Fucker, he thought, slamming the tailgate shut before the dust kicked up beneath them.
Elliot had her back pressed against the window into the truck. Blood covered her face and matted strands of her hair where they’d stuck to her cheeks; the vicious edge to her was dulled, whittled down to the bone until she was just a small girl folded up into the side of Joey Hudson.
When her eyes had fluttered shut and the night had settled a chill over them, Joey’s gaze flickered across John for a moment before landing on his face. She was silent, studying him—in a most infuriating way, wordlessly —before she finally said, “What happened?”
John glanced out at the Montana wilderness stretching out behind her, late into the night; he thought about the way Elliot had balked at the sight of the treeline, like there was something in there only she could see, something horrible.
“Well, the boys and I thought it’d be a nice night to go out,” he replied flatly, cocking his head before looking at Joey. “It’s been a while since we’ve done anything fun, you know, so it was nice to get the gang all together again for a little fun .”
The brunette’s expression flattened. “The devil rebuking sin.”
“I shot the psycho and I got Elliot out of there,” John bit out. “What did you expect?”
“You, to leave her,” Joey snapped. “That’s what I would have expected out of you.”
The words shouldn’t have stung. They were coming from Joey Hudson, after all, the only person that Elliot really cared about and so clearly the only person that John could use against her. But these facts were minor details to him now, carefully pinned out somewhere in the back of his mind—always accessible, but no longer important. Hudson had stopped being very important at all when she stopped being something to dangle in front of Elliot. Now they stung for a different reason, something that John couldn’t put his thumb on.
That’s not very true, something in him said, rattling against the bones of his rib cage. You know exactly why that bothers you.
“Well, that’s on you, isn’t it?” John replied, keeping his voice sickly sweet. “I’ll have you know I took very good care of your hellcat.”
“Yeah,” Joey ventured dryly, “having her shoved into a cult that shot her so full of poison it was coming out of her eyes really showed some TLC.”
“I’m sure she told you the plan was different,” John bit out.
“She tried. Which is why I’m wondering why you even fucking came back for us at all, Seed.”
Though Joey’s voice was soft so as not to rustle Elliot, it was pounding with venom. Hatred. That was to be expected, he thought; after all, in the short time that she’d been his ward, he’d done his very hardest to lure Elliot in with her fear and then passed her off almost immediately to Faith. But still, the wording struck him—it was the same sentiment that Jacob had flung in his face after blowing Ase’s brains out.
You put Faith at risk going back for her.
I’m wondering why you even fucking came back for us at all.
It was never the plan to save Elliot. It was always: get Faith, get out, and if you can get the deputy too—sure. Why not? She’d be indebted to them. Even more so if they got Joey out with her. But Faith should have been the absolute priority first, and he’d left her down at the lake to go back up into the middle of a firefight to get Elliot and Joey out.
If we’re partners, you have to trust me.
“I don’t know why it bothers you so much,” he managed out, trying to keep his voice as clipped as he could. “Normally, when people are rescued, they’re thankful. ”
“You did kidnap me,” Joey snapped, “so you’re closer to us being equal than my being grateful, and even that’s pushing it. I just don’t know if the rescuing still counts as a good deed if you only did it for yourself.”
John stared at her, eyes narrowing and jaw setting, tense and tight until pain radiated up into his skull. “I don’t know what you’re insinuating, Deputy Hudson —”
“Then you’re a bigger idiot than I thought.”
Elliot stirred, eyelashes fluttering. She coughed into Joey’s shoulder—the gesture not lost on the brunette, who grimaced a little—and when her eyes landed on John there was an eerieness about them, like she was trying to pull him open and peer inside, peel back the vibrating tension and hostility that Joey Hudson’s interrogation brought of him.
“What?” John asked, barely masking his irritation. It shouldn’t have bothered him so much, but it did because he couldn’t get the way she’d said, John? out of his head, small and wounded so very afraid, with Ase’s blood drenching her.
“Just trying to figure out which John you are,” Elliot replied, her voice slick with exhaustion and the words rolling out of her mouth in something close to a slur. They sent an uneasy jolt through him. It was the drugs, surely—she probably said all kinds of weird shit while she was high. He didn’t know what she was seeing, anyway.
(—fucking hate you, John Seed, John Duncan, whatever the fuck your name is, whoever the fuck you are—)
The blonde sighed again. The breath sounded like some kind of exertion for her; she squirmed and tried to get more comfortable against Joey’s shoulder, the blood on her face staining the forest-green of the deputy’s shirt. John’s head ached. The memory of Joseph, silent while Jacob debated the logistics of getting a killing shot through Elliot, flickered through his mind, venomous.
(—should see yourself whenever Joseph says anything. You practically fall over to kiss the ground he fucking walks on—)
“Well,” he replied, settling more comfortably in his spot across from the two women, “let me know when you find out, why don’t you, Rook?” He let his head loll back against the lip of the truck bed, a dark, cloudless night spreading out above him. He wanted to brush aside the way Elliot looked at him, but he had learned long ago that was the quickest way to underestimate her.
“I’m just dying to know.”
━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━
The truck came to a halting stop. John hadn’t realized he’d fallen asleep until the strange inertia-pull of the truck stilling rustled him from his sleep. It was hard to say how long they had been on the road, but if he had to guess—and, taking into consideration how Jacob liked to drive—he’d wager it had been only thirty minutes.
Across from him, Elliot was awake, murmuring something to Joey that he couldn’t hear over the sound of the engine giving one last kick before Jacob turned it off. There was a higher clarity about the blonde, now, one that implied that sleep had done her well—though the pupils of her eyes stayed wide, there was now a sliver of baby blue that he could see, if he looked close enough.
He grimaced as exhaustion burned through his body, and for a brief second, their eyes met; like before, they pried at him, tried to see something that maybe he didn’t want her to. 
As he lowered the tailgate of the truck and slid out, John turned around and instinctively reached to steady Elliot as she tried to climb down.
“I’m fine,” she said, more biting than he anticipated. Just coming down, John thought absently, his hands only remaining in the air for a second after her assertion before dropping to his sides again.
“Oh, yeah,” John replied, “I forgot that you’d rather I let you eat shit than keep you from falling over.”
She’s always been willful, he mused. The thought occurred as though John had known Elliot for a long time. In a way, he supposed that he did; fuck, he’d tried every goddamn trick in the book to lure her in, and she’d still spit her venom into her walkie at every chance she’d gotten. There was nothing that John didn’t try and dig up, nothing that he hadn’t racked his brain for in the brief moment that they’d visited all those years ago. And still— and still, and still —she—
“Hudson,” John said, offering his hand to her because he was a gentleman and certainly not because he enjoyed the way the gesture made her squirm.
“Fuck off, John,” Joey replied tersely, sliding off the truck bed as well. John smiled dryly.
He said, the needling coming to him like second nature, “So nice to have both of you here at one time. It’s what I always wanted, you know.”
Elliot shot him a look, one that sucked the wind right out of his sails. It was a wounded look, like he had suddenly reminded her of the things he had done, and John felt an uncomfortable twist in his stomach. He didn’t know why the words came out—a force of habit, maybe, or the way that Joey Hudson’s animosity (and closeness ) to Elliot made his hackles raise. As though Joey’s presence made a choice immediately clear for her, and she chose Joey.
The clench of his jaw sent pain radiating up into his skull. He thought that things had been much simpler pre-Joey Hudson, and he was regretting having helped her.
“I knew you’d come and save me,” Faith said, her voice breaking him out of the turmoil of his thoughts. She smiled at him, and it would have almost been endearing if her pupils weren’t absolutely blown to hell, reminding him that they’d probably done more than just drug her with some weird hallucinogen—the way she’d been acting when he’d seen her on the road had been something more akin to the kinds of things Faith had partaken of before.
He reached up, pulling her into a one-armed hug. “Yeah?” he replied. “You listened to those crazies?”
“They’re not crazy,” Faith sighed. Her voice bloomed with something like affection, and when she looked at him, there was a startling clarity about her expression—keen, and a little sly. Not so innocent, our Faith, he thought absently. “Just different, John. And you came, didn’t you?”
A prickling sensation crawled up the back of his neck. John glanced away from Faith, his gaze meeting Joseph’s from where he stood in front of the car; per usual, his expression was unreadable, obscured behind a mask of tranquility that provided no insight on what his brother was thinking or feeling.
“Go on,” John said, patting Faith’s back, “get some sleep. You’re going to feel like hell in a few hours, you know.”
She laughed, like maybe she didn’t quite hear what he actually said, and slid out of his half-embrace to wander around to the front of the car where Joseph was waiting. He turned his gaze away, swallowing back the feeling that he’d somehow failed a test—something that only Joseph knew the meters and results of, that he’d have to sweat until he found out about.
Elliot had already started walking away with Joey, taking her back to the same bunkhouse that she’d been holding up in prior to their little excursion. They spoke in low voices to one another; Elliot’s expression was even soft, softer than it had been when he’d found her sobbing into the grass in the field, when she’d been terrified out of her skin. Softer than when she’d had Ase’s brains splattered all over her.
John sucked his teeth, pushing the tailgate of the truck up until it latched. The adrenaline crash was starting to hit him hard, now. Every muscle in his body ached with the effort of moving, as though they’d all tensed and held for hours at a time; maybe they had. Gunfire and screaming still echoed in his head, while corpse after corpse, and Ase’s shattered head, lingered just behind his eyelids. They didn’t bother him, these images of glory and gore—but he couldn’t shake the way that Elliot had looked at him from the ground, drenched in blood, terrified.
Terrified of him.
“It’s always going to be like that, you know.” It was Jacob’s hard, steely voice that pulled him now, like his siblings wanted to take turns interrupting his train of thought. “She’s always going to pick Hudson over us.” His brother leveled him with one swift, hard look. “Over you .”
“Funny,” John muttered, “I didn’t realize you were a psych professional, Jacob.”
“Faith could have died because you went back for that girl,” Jacob bit out, his voice low but vibrating with something more venomous. “I know you know that, you aren’t stupid. And you went back for her anyway. So—”
“So, what?” he interrupted, trying not to let the frustrated venom from watching Elliot take Joey’s hand and walk off bubble out of him. “Faith’s alive, that crazy bitch is dead. What else do you want?”
“For you to get your shit together,” Jacob snapped. “Like I said, I know you’re not stupid, but do yourself the favor and prove it to me anyway. That girl —”
That girl, Jacob said, like the words didn’t suddenly fill John with some kind of poison. The eldest Seed gestured toward the bunkhouse, where inevitably, Elliot and Joey were conspiring; to leave, to kill. At this point, John wasn’t sure, and he didn’t think that either would surprise him.
“—is nothing. Don’t let nothing fuck everything up for us.” Jacob’s words were hard and cold. He gripped John’s shoulder and added, “Don’t let nothing fuck everything up for Joseph.”
That’s what it really boiled down to at the end of it all: that Joseph had seen like he always did, because nothing went without Joseph’s seeing, and maybe he wasn’t sure that Elliot was really worth the trouble anymore. Before, Joseph had wanted her to add to their little collection of misfits, just like he’d added the sheriff’s receptionist, just like he’d picked up Faith when she was Rachel, just like when he let Jacob tap into the worst parts of him for use, just like just like just like . Joseph was hard-pressed to find a vicious misfit that he didn’t want for himself, and Elliot Honeysett had been no different.
But a hard-to-break will cost time, and resources, and maybe with these locusts in their garden, that just wasn’t going to cut it anymore. Not for Joseph. Not right now. Where was this, anyway, back at the start of it all? Back when John had wanted to do things his way?
“Whatever Joseph’s opinion on the usefulness of the deputy, Burke’s gone,” John said after a minute. Jacob’s hand still sat heavy on his shoulder; he passed a hand over his face and sighed. “That marshal, the one that was—”
“I remember.”
John grimaced. “He was with Faith, and Hudson, but he wasn’t at the camp that I could see.” He paused again. “Jacob, if he got out and he made it out of Hope County, he’ll be a problem.”
The red-headed nodded once, brisk. “A big fucking problem.” Another pause, and then: “Tell me you’ll get this whole issue with the deputy wrapped up.”
John’s jaw clenched. Tell me you can do this, Joseph had said. Tell me you’ll get this whole issue wrapped up. Hadn’t he proven he was capable of handling her? Hadn’t Joseph himself said that?
“There’s no issue,” he replied flatly, stepping around Jacob and heading to the church. “Never was.”
“Good.”
It was easy to say, and harder to believe. He knew—the rational part of his brain, somewhere inside of him—knew that he was jealous of Hudson. That he knew exactly what Hudson thought of him, and he hated that someone who hated him had Elliot immediately trailing after her like a puppy, as though the last three days—all of those moments hadn’t meant—
And what was he supposed to think, then, about the way that her lashes had fluttered when his fingers brushed her skin, the way the heat crawled under her freckles when he slid into her planetary pull? That it was just—passing? Nothing?
Does it matter?
━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━  
Elliot was having a hard time.
That was to say, there were a lot of conflicting emotions that were welling up inside of her, crashing down like tidal waves. Normally, she’d be able to bottle those pesky things up and bury them deep inside her, to access later (which could be minutes, or days, or years—whenever); but with the drugs still wreaking havoc on her, she felt like all of her normal defenses were crashed and battered, maybe even beyond repair. Maybe even permanently decimated.
It was lucky that she had Joey, she supposed as she closed the bunkhouse door behind them, letting the noise of it soothe her over-worked senses; lucky, because Joey had always been her lighthouse in the times that she needed it the most.
“We have to get out of here,” Joey said, and the words immediately exhausted Elliot further. She took in a long, suffering breath and sat down on the edge of one of the bunk beds, rubbing her hands against her face. She was far from out of the woods; she thought maybe she was starting to come down, or even crash, because it felt like electrical pulses kept ricocheting through her body and they wouldn’t stop.
Elliot managed out, “I’m in no shape to go anywhere, Joey, you know that I—”
She saw the look on Joey’s face. Distress. John had kidnapped her, and terrorized her with whatever it was he had originally planned to do to her, and now they were here, in the compound, where it had all began. And yes; John had kidnapped Joey, and her, and yes, he was a fucking psycho, and—
And yes, he knew her well enough to shove a cigarette in her hands when she was stressed, and he didn’t complain when her nails dug into him when she thought the world was going to split in two around her, and yes, he did come back for her when he didn’t have to, and yes and yes —
‘And yes’ what? A nasty voice inside of her head said. A man so much as looks at you and all of a sudden you’re on the other side?
“I can try,” she offered weakly. “I can try, if you want to go now, but I don’t know where Boomer is and everyone from Hope County is—hopefully—already gone. I don’t have anything.”
When the words came out of her mouth, she felt the last thread holding herself together snap. I don’t have anything, the words echoing hollow inside of her, reminding her that everyone was gone, maybe they were dead, that she didn’t know where her dog or her mama were and maybe that meant that she didn’t have anything left inside of her, either, nothing left to give. That she had scraped and scraped to the bottom of the barrel and now she’d have to start breaking herself into pieces to have anything worthwhile to give anyone.
“I don’t have anything, Joey,” she said again, her voice wobbling and wet and fuck, she hated it so much, the burning of her eyes stinging against blood and viscera collecting in the tears. “I don’t, I’m sorry—I’m really sorry—”
Joey crossed the small space of the bunkhouse to crouch in front of her. She pressed her hands into Elliot’s shoulders, and she was saying something, but Elliot couldn’t hear it over the pounding of blood in her head.
She pressed the heels of her palms against her eye sockets, but the gesture brought no comfort; each time she closed her eyes, she kept seeing Ase, skull caved in. Surely, one shot had been enough? Surely, the second shot to her head was just—
Just John being himself.
“God, he fucking—he mutilated her, Joey,” Elliot managed out, her voice breaking on something like agony as the panic started to set in. Her hands trembled and she pushed the hair from her face, a movement that she was sure was just packing the dried blood in. She couldn’t get her eyes to focus on anything; everywhere she looked, she thought she could see the dark flicker of Ase’s clothing, the haunting corpse come to finish what she started. “She was dead—all of her, just falling—spilling out of her, like she’d been gutted, and I thought that he was done, and we’d go home, but then he shot her again—God, fuck, Joey, she’s all over me—”
“Hey,” Joey said firmly. “El. Take a breath and look at me.”
“I am.”
“A bigger breath,” Joey insisted, taking her hands away from her face and pulling her to a stand. “Just one.”
She did. I see, she thought and failed. I smell, I hear, I feel, but nothing came. She was drowning in it, whatever it was; Ase’s blood and guts on her, the memory of her glassy eyes as Ase reached for her, the feeling of Kian’s hands on her neck, the horrific monster lurking in the woods, and…
“Take another,” Joey reiterated. “Just one more.”
Elliot knew this trick. It was the oldest trick in Joey’s book. Just ask for one, and then just one more, and then just one more, until she was breathing like normal. She did as the brunette bid her anyway, and because her normal grounding methods had failed her, she instead thought, I’ll just count to ten. If I can make it for ten more seconds… And then another ten…
“You’re still sweating hallucinogen,” Joey murmured, squeezing her hands to help bring her back down. “You should take a shower. Come on.”
The journey between the main room of the bunkhouse and the felt both like it took years and happened without her knowing, as though she’d blinked and suddenly found herself standing in the bathroom, the fluorescent on the ceiling digging into her irises.
Her gaze flickered up to the mirror hanging over the sink. The person that looked back was a stranger to her; blood splattered every inch of her skin, matted in her hair, staining her in dark, carmine gore. Elliot thought about the strange voice in the woods, crackling and snapping and trying her on for size as it slid under her skin.
As the glass of the mirror seemed to pulse and stretch, the sound of running water snapped her attention elsewhere, hands limp at her sides. Joey pulled the knob that turned the water into a shower and said, “Okay, Elli, you call if you need me.”
“Okay,” Elliot murmured tiredly.
“Okay,” Joey repeated, watching her for a moment. And then she pulled her into a tight hug, and whispered, “For the record, I never doubted you’d be able to get me out. From John, or from the other place.”
The words didn’t offer her any comfort, but they were nice, nonetheless. She nodded her head and waited until the brunette had left the room before she started to undress, her movements methodical but unsteady; it wasn’t until water hit her skin and she saw the streams of thinned blood touching down on the floor of the bathtub that she finally felt some relief.
Even if it was only a little.
I don’t have anything, she thought tiredly, her eyes closing as she ducked her face under the stream of the shower. I don’t have anything left. What am I supposed to do now?
She had Joey. She didn’t have any idea of how to find Boomer. Hope County was gone, if they were lucky, and dead if they weren’t. She hadn’t heard from her own mother in--weeks? Or was it days? How long had this been going on?
It felt strange, to not be able to trust her own memory—to not know when the last time was that she got a full night’s sleep, or the last time that she curled up in her own bed, or the last time that she spent doing something that she enjoyed. As Elliot scrubbed the blood off of her face and out of her hair, staining her fingernails rusted-red, she thought that the idea of continuing on , of doing more, was so very exhausting.
They didn’t hurt you? John had asked, his fingers brushing the bruises on her throat where Kian’s fingers had gripped. It bothered her, when people touched her—grabbed her like they owned her, like she wasn’t in control of her own body—but when John did it, it was different. Even when he’d dragged his finger under her collarbone and said, I think it’ll fit nicely right here, don’t you? Just over your heart.
John was only doing what he was meant to do all along: draw her in, keep her there, and Ase’s gruesome death was just a reminder of the person that he really was. She had forgotten that.
But she wouldn’t again.
━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━
The night felt sticky, sitting like a second skin on him. When John stepped into the church to find Jacob and Joseph talking in low voices, he felt a strange sensation prickle down his spine. It was anticipation, he realized, nearly a moment too late; by the time he was bracing himself, Jacob had turned and walked out the side door, leaving himself and Joseph alone.
“How is our deputy?” Joseph asked, his voice light and mild. John tried to lessen the tension in his jaw.
“Which one?” he replied dryly. “She’s fine.”
Joseph said, “You were worried about her.”
“Well, I did work really fucking hard not to kill her,” he bit out, and then sighed at the way Joseph’s brow arched, a visible change in his expression even in the dim, intimate lighting of the chapel. “Look, Jacob already gave me the whole speech about—”
“I think you’re doing a great job with the deputy,” Joseph interrupted, firm but not unkind, “and I want you to continue.”
John stopped. Maybe it was the adrenaline crash, or the way that he’d come into the conversation at what appeared to be the end of it, but he couldn’t wrap his head around what Joseph was telling him; especially after what Jacob had said to him.
So he said, very intelligently, “What?”
“Our friend the marshal got out,” Joseph supplied. “Hope County has evacuated, if they’re lucky. But you know, John, even if they come for us—even if they arrest us—there are…”
A pause lingered between them, just long enough for something close to dread to knot and writhe between his ribs.
“... ways,” his brother continued, placing each word meticulously, “to make a legal case like this one fall apart.”
I don’t know what you mean, John wanted to say, but the words wouldn’t come out of him. If Hope County was on the run, they might not ever look back; if the U.S. Marshal brought his buddies back, that would make Elliot the key witness in their case, while the other members of Hope County and the Resistance were…
“It’ll be all of them testifying against us,” John said after a moment. “I appreciate your confidence in my abilities, but—”
“You can convince people not to talk,” Joseph replied. He paced away from the table at the center of the chapel’s front room, absently scratching at his jaw, as though he were only just coming up with this idea; John knew that wasn’t the case. It wasn’t ever the case with Joseph. Nothing went without careful deliberation. “There are particular brands of persuasion that work better than others. But we’ll need more than just silencing our neighbors. We’ll need…”
Positive testimony, John thought, when the words didn’t come out of Joseph’s mouth.
“Yeah,” John murmured tiredly. “I know.”
“Good.” Joseph gave him a small smile. He reached out, gripping John’s shoulder. “I’m proud of you, John.”
He stared at the wood paneling of the floor. Maybe he was tired; maybe it was the exhaustion from the last few hours, but Joseph’s words didn’t strike the same match in him that they had before. If Joseph noticed—and he almost certainly had—he didn’t let it show; rather, he let the distance between them grow, hand dropping from his shoulder as he walked for the door.
“You were going to let Jacob kill her.” The words came out of John’s mouth before he could think to stop them, before he could say to himself, it’s not worth the fight. He’s your brother, John. He gave you everything. Don’t you always say that you waited your whole life for something to say yes to?
He felt, more than he saw, Joseph pause in the doorway leading out of the chapel. A strange silence stretched between them; it was one where John thought he might have felt the scrutiny of his older brother’s gaze on him.
And then, in a voice casual and light, Joseph said, “You’re tired, John. You’ve had a long day. Get some rest, won’t you?”
John was tired. Tired enough to think that he might fall asleep standing up if he wasn’t careful. “You’re right,” he said after a moment, turning his head to look at Joseph over his shoulder with a small smile. “I will.”
“Goodnight, John.”
━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━
Night passed more quickly than he would have liked. By the time morning had arrived, he thought maybe his conversation with Joseph was a dream; that he’d hallucinated the whole thing. Maybe some of the Family’s weird drugs had rubbed off on him while he was in there.
By the time early morning had rolled around, he’d dragged himself through a shower and into cleaner clothes. He half expected to find the bunkhouse completely vacated by Elliot and Hudson by the time he walked out with an armful of clothes, pleasantly surprised that Elliot was leaned against the door. Smoking, naturally.
“You look more like yourself,” John said as he approached. Her gaze flickered over him absently. She looked tired, but had since washed the blood and guts off of her face and out of her hair; as she took a drag of her cigarette and tapped the ash out of the end of it, her eyes turned away from him. Weird, he thought. He added, “I know you’ve got the whole blood-stained look, but I thought you might like to get into some clothes that are a bit cleaner.”
Elliot smoothed her boot over some ash on the ground, waiting for a heartbeat longer than normal before she said, “Thanks.” She sounded sour , like John’s mere existence was a chore for her, and not the way that it had been before—like she really meant it.
“You’re welcome,” he replied, watching her curiously. Despite the dark circles under her eyes, and the sickly rasp in her voice—it had probably felt nice to be high in that regard—she looked clear-headed. Normal. “How are you feeling?”
“John,” Elliot sighed, “let’s not.”
“Fine,” John snipped. “Where’s Hudson?”
“She went to walk the perimeter to try and call Boomer,” Elliot replied tiredly. “And then we’re leaving.”
Fuck, he thought, remembering his conversation with Joseph. Fuck fuck fuck. “Well, isn’t that lovely.” The biting venom welled up in his voice. There was a strange panic setting in now. She wouldn’t look at him, not for longer than a second, and her tone rang hollow and empty. He swallowed thickly, teeth clenching as he continued, “And how do you intend to leave, then? On foot? You sure seem like you’re in peak physical condition to be walking cross-country, Elliot. But I suppose if you have Hudson, then it won’t matter, because Hudson rescued you from those cultists and—”
“I don’t know, John ,” Elliot bit out, a real flex in her voice this time. It was comforting, to have her be anything—anything but ambivalent, anything but absent from their conversation. “I think I could get pretty far if I decide to start blowing people’s fucking skulls in with a shotgun, don’t you?”
John stared at her. “Pardon?”
“Oh, fuck off,” the blonde snipped, dropping what remained of the cigarette and stomping it out with her shoe. “Don’t give me your fucking clothes. If I change out of these I might forget that you splattered me with that woman’s brains.”
She turned and opened the door to the bunkhouse, going to close it, but John shoved his foot in the doorway to stop her, tossing the clothes onto the bed the second he got inside. 
“I didn’t ,” John seethed. “Maybe you were too fucking high out of your mind to tell—”
“Oh, I’m sorry.” Elliot’s voice was flinty. “It completely slipped my mind that you’re incapable of taking responsibility for yourself. Remember, John, that time you rubbed it in my face that your fucking family made me into a murderer? Because I do, and the pure fucking irony —” She jabbed a finger into his chest, the anger seeping out of her now. “—of you trying to make me feel like shit for killing your idiotic little cultists and then obliterating a woman’s skull onto my face is palpable!”
“Are you deaf?” John snapped, snagging her wrist before she could turn and try to walk somewhere else again. “I didn’t shoot Ase in the head, Jacob did. I put both my fucking hands on you to get you off the ground. How am I going to do that holding a fucking shotgun, Elliot?”
“I don’t know!” she replied furiously. There was a reckless, high-color in her cheeks, her voice cracking and breaking on something that John couldn’t quite pin down, couldn’t quite get his hands on. Even now, he thought, even when she was spitting her venom she was so — 
“I don’t fucking know, John, you do—crazy fucking things all the time,” she insisted, and there was an uncomfortable wobble in her voice as her lashes fluttered. “Half the time I don’t know which John is going to open his fucking mouth—I don’t know if it’s—if it’s the John that kidnapped my best friend or if it’s the John that… That can be… With me, he’s...”
Her voice trailed off, weaker now, her fire spitting furiously as it tried to stay alight. John’s fingers loosened around her wrist, but didn’t let her go.
“There’s only one John,” he said, and his voice came out hoarse. “It’s just me.”
“I hate you,” the blonde managed out weakly, her lashes dark with unshed tears, soft and doe-like. “I’ve never—”
“Elliot,” John, tugging on her wrist, pulling her forward until she was in his space, until he could feel the warmth of her body and smell the wild on her—pine trees and ash and the mild shampoo she had used, “you’re going to have to come up with a new slogan that you actually believe.”
“John,” she tried again, and she was soft, soft and tired, “please, I’m—so tired of trying to figure you out—”
He closed what little space remained between them to kiss her; for a second, her entire body tensed like an animal ready for flight, stony and immovable against the affection, but he let her wrist slide from his hand, concerned that any moment he might spook her, that she was frozen because she was deciding when to run.
Her wrist slipped through his grip, catching at the base of her hand. She knotted her fingers into the front of his shirt and when his hand came up to the slope of her jaw, she leaned —like a flower to sunlight, blooming under his touch, just like that. Just that easy. John’s other arm slid around her waist to tug her up closer, and her mouth parted against his like instinct, like it had never not been this way between them.
The moment stretched; reality swung back in, the warmth of her mouth against his leaning back until a bit of space stretched between them. Not a lot, just enough for their noses to brush, and Elliot said, “I don’t know which—”
“I told you,” he replied, threading his fingers through her hair, “there’s just the one. This one, El, me. I want—”
“John,” she started, her voice overlapping his, "tell me that you're not lying when—"
He went to say, I want you to stay, I want to kiss you again, you hellcat, I’ve wanted to kiss you for days, but he didn’t get the chance because the sound of Joey’s voice outside the front door had broken the magic of the moment.
“Elliot,” Hudson called, “guess who I...”
The door opened, followed quickly by a scattering of dog nails as Boomer came racing inside. Without a second thought, Elliot had crouched down to wrap her arms around the dog John immediately took a step back and cleared his throat, feeling as though he’d been caught-out. Maybe, in a way, he had. He wouldn’t have cared, if he didn’t think that the idea of Hudson catching them would have made Elliot bolt instantly.
I should have kissed her again, he thought absently, watching Elliot fawn over Boomer with the kind of delight that she reserved only for him, her lips kiss-reddened. Before Hudson.
“He must have followed you here and waited,” Hudson said, looking at John with a narrowed, suspicious gaze. “Everything okay, Elliot?” she asked, even when she was looking at John. “I heard arguing.”
“Fine,” Elliot insisted, crouched on the floor to get as close to the Heeler as possible. “Everything’s fine. John was just—”
“Just dropping off some clean clothes for the deputy,” John interjected, despite the anxiety he felt sliding around inside of him when Elliot looked at him. The flush in her cheeks remained, and he knew that it wasn’t just anger there, anymore. Not really. 
Joey crossed her arms over her chest. “Great. So you can leave, then? We’re done with you.”
We’re, she said, like she spoke for the both of him, both herself and Elliot. We’re, like just seconds ago, John hadn’t been thinking about the way Elliot’s breath hitched when his fingers brushed her skin.
“Sure thing,” he drawled, taking a few steps toward the door. He almost walked right out the door, even with his hands itching for her again, but he stopped. I should just say it, he thought. I should just out it right now.
“What is it?” Joey prompted, her voice hard and flinty.
Elliot wouldn’t ever forgive him if he did.
“Nothing,” John replied after a moment. A little smile ticked the corners of his mouth upward, and for a second his gaze met Elliot’s. “Hope you get some well-deserved rest, you two.”
The brunette watched him with a dark, inscrutable gaze, and he stepped out of the bunkhouse, letting the door swing shut behind him. For just a moment, he paused outside the door; long enough to hear Joey go, “What was that about?”, and he started off across the yard.
Not done with me yet, deputy.
14 notes · View notes
markedwrath · 8 months ago
Text
Tumblr media
Bliss flowers are exceptionally beautiful , if you ask Laurel. Their fields of emerald green and pristine white trumpet blooms are inviting , begging to be walked through , inhaled , explored . The psychedelic experience forces the mind to be blissfully ignorant of their surroundings , and if removed , the subject begs to stay , better to remain in their worry-less existence until the drug all but takes them over , removing who they are and all they stand for . Almost literally , overexposure to bliss turns people into mindless husks , zombies who still look like old friends and family , but they attack on sight any who threaten the flowers .
Turned into a hallucinogenic drug , bliss shows the users different things . Laurel will say she saw the mushroom clouds of doom in the distance as Joseph preached on the end , inviting her to stay , rest , listen before the screams of the dying fill her hears with their dread . 
The fight with the herald who controls the Henbane River was real . Laurel repeats this over and over . Faith is dead . Having seen the woman vanish into thin clouds of vibrant green smoke , Laurel fought with reality . She fought with the end , arguing that Faith had to be brought to justice from those she stole from their homes . Pumping bliss into the county’s water source endangered them all and the deputy had to put an end . So when she met the herald by the river , their fight was surreal . A bizarre fantasy of punching and pulling , screaming obscenities as ‘ angels  ’- faith’s blissed out followers , tried to devour her whole , pull her skin from her muscles with angry gnarling teeth . When Faith finally stumbled ... though Laurel still asked was this real ? Laurel followed her to the water . Faith’s voice , as beautiful as the butterflies and flowers that followed her , was haunting . But it would end .
It would end as Laurel’s hands wrapped around her neck and she would shove the woman underwater . Hold . Hold . Was this real ? Was the body under the blissful waters really Faith ? Or was this another peggie , maybe a resistance member , maybe it was the deputy herself , dreaming . Hold . The body is heavy but the arms aren’t moving . Hold . Someone is shouting in the distance , the fish have all swam away from the commotion . Hold . Someone takes Laurel’s arms in gentle hands , whispering that it’s alright , they’re dead , deputy , she’s dead , and the rookie isn’t sure if they’re talking about Faith or her .
God , she prays it’s both .
1 note · View note
indelibleevidence · 10 months ago
Text
The Fears He Hides (1/2)
Author’s Note: Since Camila sulked, here’s the first (short) part of my way-too-long, team-reacts-to-drugged-Kurt fic (tag to 5x05). Video dialogue in bold italics and internal monologue in normal italics.
***
“You know, this technically means you’ve been inside Jane,” Rich said thoughtfully.
“What?” Patterson looked up from her computer screen, giving him a blank stare.
“That’s pretty intimate. Putting your finger inside someone. Just sayin’.” Rich sipped his coffee with a smirk.
With an incredulous look, Patterson demanded, “What is wrong with you? It was a horrible experience for both of us. Why are you trying to make this into a sex thing?”
“I mean, I’ve had sex that was a horrible experience for both of us, so…” He sighed when she looked unamused. “Okay, I was just trying to make you laugh. Ever since the surgery, you’ve looked kinda grim.”
“We only just got confirmation that Kurt is safe, and we don’t know yet if he broke and gave up our location. I have reasons to feel grim.”
Perceptive as always, Rich added, “And it freaked you out to literally have Jane’s life in your hands.”
Patterson finished typing and turned around to face him. “Okay. Yes. That was terrifying. She was awake, and I was hurting her, and at one point I slipped with the forceps and dropped the bullet, and Jane made this awful noise, and I’m gonna have nightmares about it.”
“There you go! It’s always healthier to talk about it. Feel any better?” Rich asked.
“Not really.” Patterson shuddered. “I mean, I’ve had people’s lives in my hands before. A lot. But that was all different; that was when I was controlling the technology or providing the information, occasionally when I was disarming bombs, or shooting people to save other people… The point is: I’m trained for that. With this, I felt like I was at the bottom of the Mariana Trench with only one small tank of oxygen.”
“Yeah, I absolutely wouldn’t have wanted to be you— Wait, was that your phone?”
Patterson leaned over to check. “It’s Tasha. She’s sent us the footage of Kurt’s interrogation— Oh.” She looked up at Rich in dismay. “They gave him some kind of hallucinogen to try to break through his defences. She says he’s scared he said something that could lead them to us.”
“But we can’t move Jane, right? Not yet?” Rich restlessly glanced in the general direction of the bunkroom, where Jane was sleeping off the surgery.
“Let’s not panic. We can watch the footage and see what the damage is. That’s the first step.” Patterson connected her phone to her tablet, hoping like hell that the drugs were just making Kurt paranoid.
A couple of minutes later, they settled down to watch the interrogation.
“Why don’t we skip to my favourite part? Where you ask me where my team is, and I tell you to go to hell. ’Cause I’m never gonna give them up.”
“Yeah, you tell her, Kurt!” Rich lifted his coffee cup towards the screen in a salute.
“Do you know what my favourite part is? That you really believe that.”
At Ivy’s response, Rich looked a little deflated. “Yeah, okay, that’s a pretty good villain line. I would have been intimidated by that.”
As they watched Kurt’s bravado fade at the news that Jane had been shot, Patterson sighed. “That’s not optimal. She knows Jane’s his weak point. She’s gonna lean on that.”
“Let’s hope she doesn’t know his really weak point,” Rich said.
“She for sure already knows about Bethany.” As Ivy wheeled a cart carrying a tray of torture implements into the room, she hissed in sympathy. “Oh, no. Tasha didn’t say they physically tortured him too…”
The blood drained from Rich’s face, and she realised this must be giving him flashbacks to his time in the French black site. “Hey—you don’t have to watch this. I can handle it.”
Rich straightened his spine. “I’m fine. Just focus on the video.”
Mercifully, Ivy decided to ‘skip the theatrics’—but what she said next was just as worrying as if she’d begun to pull out Kurt’s fingernails. “This is a combination of sodium thiopental, sodium amytal, and a cocktail of heavy psychotropics.”
“Ohhhh, this is very not good. I don’t know if he can withstand this.”
“You’re kind of ruining my image of Kurt as an infallible super-agent here,” Rich grumbled.
They watched in tense silence as Ivy grabbed their friend in a headlock and plunged the needle into his neck, then stepped away. Kurt wrenched at his bonds, breathing hard, but Ivy had him tied up tight.
Patterson sighed and skipped the footage forward as Ivy left Kurt alone, giving the drugs time to work.
“I hate this part. The part where they leave you alone with your thoughts, to worry about what might happen next.” Rich shuddered.
Patterson laid a comforting hand on his arm for a moment, then set the footage to normal speed again as Ivy reappeared with an IV stand. As she crouched beside Kurt, presumably inserting an IV into the back of his hand, Rich shifted nervously.
“Wait, more drugs? Is he even gonna be able to get back here before he keels over from an overdose?”
“That’ll be the hallucinogen,” Patterson said. “I doubt it’s enough to kill him, but it’s gonna really freak him out.”
“It’s funny. You talk about this team you’re protecting like they’re your family.” Ivy hooked the IV line up to the drug cocktail.
“Uhh, we are family, lady,” Rich said. “Just because we’re not related, that doesn’t mean anything.”
Patterson shushed him, listening with resignation as Ivy began talking about Kurt’s ‘real’ family—Bethany—and even dropped Allie’s name into the mix, too. Pushing all of his buttons, and Patterson wasn’t surprised when he lost his cool in response.
“If my daughter doesn’t come out of that hospital…”
“No! Why’d you tell her Bethany’s in a hospital? I don’t think she knew that!” Rich groaned. “He’s not even hallucinating yet, and he’s already saying too much? I thought he was way better than this!”
“Calm down! He hasn’t said anything specific. He just said ‘hospital’. There are a lot of hospitals in the States.”
“I know, I know, but…”
“Let’s just have a little faith in him, until there’s a reason to panic, okay?”
“Okay.” Rich fidgeted, but was quiet.
Ivy had left Kurt alone again, and Patterson skipped forward until he began to talk to someone who wasn’t there. Does he think there’s a door guard? Maybe there’s someone out of shot.
But then his focus seemed to shift, and he looked behind him, his face falling into defensive disbelief.
“Guess he’s seeing someone new. I once had this hallucination on mushrooms, where my mom was trying to get me to sleep with her. If I had that one when I was in Kurt’s situation, I would totally give Ivy anything she wanted, just to make her make it go away.” Rich was still paler than Patterson would have expected, given that the torture was psychological. Maybe he’d been given drugs in the black site, too. If he was deflecting the memories with his usual inappropriate spiel, he was more rattled than she’d thought.
“Too much information, Rich,” she said, but there was no exasperation in her tone.
Kurt wasn’t giving much indication of whom he was seeing, except for to say that the person was dead. That narrowed it down, but not by much. It could have been anyone from his father to Shepherd, or even someone completely random they’d been dealing with, like Sho Akhtar.
“Do you think it’s Reade?” Rich said.
Thinking of Reade was still so painful. Patterson shook her head slowly, ignoring the hurt. “I doubt it. He’d be talking to Reade like a friend. Same with Mayfair or Pellington. I don’t think it’s any of them. Wait… He said, ‘I know who you are,’ like the other person was introducing themselves—like they never met in real life.”
Kurt was beginning to lose his cool—shaking his head, his eyes following the imaginary person as though they were pacing around the room. He wrenched at his bonds, but was still held fast. Then he yelled a denial, and for the other person to shut up, and Patterson shifted uncomfortably.
“I don’t like seeing him like this.”
“Yeah, me neither.” Rich was completely serious about that, and she couldn’t tell whether it was Kurt’s distress that was making him so uneasy, or his own memories.
He’d never step away on his own, but maybe…
“I don’t think Kurt would want us to see him like this, either. Not if he had a choice.” Her mind made up, she stopped the video.
“But we don’t have a choice. What are you doing?” Rich’s quickly hidden expression of relief was a confirmation that she’d made the right decision.
“I’m gonna give it to Jane. If anyone has to see him like this, it should be her. She’s the one who’s closest to him; she’s the one he’ll feel least ashamed about having seen it, when the drugs are out of his system.”
Rich stood up. “Are you sure she can handle it? I mean, she has just had life-saving amateur surgery…”
She’ll handle it better than you would. Patterson didn’t voice the thought, knowing he didn’t need the guilt trip. “She’s probably gonna want to watch it anyway. I’ll go give it to her. Could you make us some coffee while I do that? Then we can carry on looking into places we can relocate to if we’re compromised.”
If Rich suspected she was trying to spare his mental state, he didn’t acknowledge it. “Sure. I’ll open the Doritos, too.”
“Ugh. Flavoured cardboard. No thanks.” Noting that her friend looked a little calmer already, Patterson headed towards the bunkroom.
To be continued when I proofread the rest and add an epilogue later...
38 notes · View notes
spurgie-cousin · 11 months ago
Text
So @gothkrispies​ and @totallyrobophobic​ reminded me of some female cult leaders that I’d forgotten existed, and I thought a good way to kill time would be to make a post about some of the most insane ones. Mostly just because I want too, but also because they’re often overlooked in the cult world. There’s a few I want to cover and I have a short attention span, so this is part 1 of maybe 3? Or two. We’ll see how it goes...here’s Cult Ladies! Part 1:
Tumblr media
Tumblr media
Gwen Shamblin Lara - The Remnant Fellowship
So, it’s been awhile since I’ve checked in on the bouffant prophet of Tennessee Gwen Shamblin, now known as Gwen Shamblin Lara after her 2018 marriage ‘90s tv Tarzan Joe Lara. If you are unfamiliar with her, she’s a former nutritional specialist turned church cult leader that began her ministry with a weird combination of diets and Jesus, or her preferred term, ‘faith based weight-loss’. Her teachings have often been criticized for being too focused on weight loss at the expense of health, to the point of encouraging eating disorders.
The Remnant Fellowship has also been criticized by families of current members, who say that they use ‘cult-like’ tactics to manipulate their congregation, and that they are told Gwen Shamblin Lara is a prophet of God who they can be punished for contradicting. In 2007 the church also came under fire for their rules regarding child discipline, when the child of a couple who professed to be Remnant members died due to what medical examiners referred to as "acute and chronic" abuse. Gwen Shamblin has denied all claims and taken media outlets to court over this accusation on the ground of slander. Allegations could never be definitively proven by the court, so all charges were dropped.
Tumblr media
Tumblr media
J.Z. Knight - Ramtha School Of Enlightenment
This one has a personal twist for me, because 5 of my family members have been balls deep in this bullshit for over a decade. In fact one of them, my great-aunt Linda Evans (by marriage, who is pictured in the 2nd photo) is not only the one who introduced my other family to it, but is responsible for converting hundreds of people at the very least.
J.Z. Knight (born Judith Darlene Hampton) was working in TV in Washington state when she claims to have had a revelation given to her by a 40,000 year old spirit named Ramtha, who she claims is one of the first human spirits to have ever experienced enlightenment. According to her, this spirit told her that it came back to tell her that her calling was to spread the message of enlightenment through the (obviously bullshit) method of ‘channeling’, which supposedly involves Ramtha inhabiting her for temporary periods of time and then providing the secrets to the universe. Kind of like a seance, where the channeler is doing a really bad ‘Apu’ impression, spitting out frothy new age nonsense and charging thousands of dollars a year in tuition. 
The Ramtha School puts huge importance on the apocalypse, and their followers are in constant preparation for the end times, leading many people to label them a doomsday cult. I can attest to this, as all of my family members in the cult all have under ground bunkers and nonperishable food supplies to last them for years. 
Also I think it’s worth noting that of 2019 J.Z Knight was (and as far as I know, still is) a big supporter and funder of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Tumblr media
Tumblr media
Anne Hamilton-Byrne - The Family
So we wrap up part 1 with Anne Hamilton-Byrne (born Evelyn Grace Victoria Edwards), a narcissistic ex-yoga teacher from Australia. Anne mixed traditional Christian teachings with just the right amount of Hinduism to make it appealing to ‘60s religious defectors looking for a new way to worship. Like many similar religious experiments around that time, the group began to form a cult mentality, with Hamilton-Byrne asserting more and more control over the growing number of followers.
Hamilton-Byrne eventually acquired a remote property called Kai Lama where she housed 14 children, who were either birthed by members of the church or acquired by illegal adoption. In an effort to create better people more pliant church members, she did weird things, like dye all of their hair platinum blonde and give them her surname, and straight up sadistic things like punishing them with starvation diets and giving them hallucinogenic drugs, while isolating them from the outside world and indoctrinating them with The Family’s strict doctrine.
Other completely insane shit associated with her cult included the incidents at Newhaven Hospital, which was a psychiatric hospital run by one of the cult members in the ‘60s-’70s (the cult was then known as Santiniketan Park Association). Many employees were also members. After a 1992 investigation it was found that patients were treated with excessive hallucinogenic drugs, lobotomies, and electro-shock therapy. 
The Kai Lama compound was eventually raided in 1987, after one of Hamilton-Byrne’s adopted children was expelled for behavior and later contacted a private investigator, as well as the Victoria police. Hamilton-Byrne and her husband fled to New York state, where they were eventually arrested in 1993. Victims of her cult have since received compensation for their experiences. Oh, and she’s dead now unlike the others, which is good. 
32 notes · View notes
monstersdownthepath · a year ago
Text
Mahathallah was once a Psychopomp Usher, and one of the most powerful ones under Pharasma’s employ. She was able to see the prophesied death of every creature that was capable of dying... except herself. Driven by the curiosity regarding her own fate, she asked Pharasma for the truth, only to be told that before the answer could be given, she must travel the River of Souls for thousands of years to find her way from the mortal realm to the Boneyard, as all souls are destined to do. This lengthy vacation was enough time for her previous faith to crumble to dust, her former religion fading away.
Upon meeting Pharasma again, Mahathallah asked for the details of her own death, and received her answer. An answer she was wholly unprepared for, horrifying her so utterly that she fled the Boneyard in terror, tearing her way across the Great Beyond in mindless fear, until her wanderings brought her into the arms of Asmodeus.
It’s not known what he said or did to calm her, but her portfolio and modus operandi now including powerful hallucinogens and depressant drugs is a pretty big hint about how he managed to get her to finally settle down. As thanks for quelling her fears of her eventual, inevitable death, she now serves Asmodeus, her knowledge and power quite obviously useful to the King of Devils.
41 notes · View notes
goldxnhour · a year ago
Text
Chara. Study
** bold all that apply to your muse.
EYES: blue / green / brown / hazel / grey / black / color-changing / other
HAIR: blonde / dirty blonde / brown / black / red / grey or white / multi-colored / other
FACIAL HAIR: yes / no / sometimes / often / rarely
BODY TYPE: underweight / slender / slim / built (buff) / curvy / athletic / average / muscular / pudgy / overweight
SKIN: pale (porcelain) / light / fair / yellow undertone / pink undertone / neutral / freckled / tan /  bronze / olive / medium / dark
GENDER IDENTITY: female / male / agender / gender fluid / cisgender / transgender / gender variant / non-binary / none / other
GENDER EXPRESSION: hyper-masculine / hyper-feminine / masculine / feminine / leans masculine / leans feminine / androgynous / neither / in the middle / somewhat fluid / very fluid / it depends / other
PRONOUNS: he, him, his / she, hers / they, them, theirs / mx / it depends / any / none / other
SEXUALITY: straight / gay / bisexual / demisexual / asexual / pansexual / somewhat fluid / very fluid / other
SEXUAL ATTITUDE: sex repulsed / sex neutral / sex favorable / sex tolerant / it varies somewhat / it varies often / other
ROMANTIC ORIENTATION: homoromantic / heteroromantic / biromantic / panromantic / aromantic / demiromantic / somewhat fluid / very fluid / other
ROMANTIC ATTITUDE: romance repulsed / romance neutral / romance favorable / romance tolerant / it varies somewhat / it varies often / other
SEXUAL POSITION: top / versatile / bottom / leans top / leans bottom / it depends / it varies somewhat / it varies often / other
SEXUAL ROLE: dominant / switch / submissive / leans dominant / leans submissive / it depends / it varies somewhat / it varies often / other
SEXUAL EXPERIENCES: highly adventurous / open to some new things / experienced / somewhat experienced / moderate / mostly inexperienced / curious / vanilla / naive / other / none
EDUCATION: high school / trade school or certificate / some college / associate’s degree / bachelor’s degree / master’s degree  / doctorate / other
I’VE BEEN: intentionally hurt / severely ill / mentally abused / bullied / physically abused / neglected / tortured / brainwashed / robbed / shot / attacked / other
BEST TRAITS: affectionate / adventurous / athletic / brave / careful / charming / confident / energetic / creative / cunning / determined / forgiving / generous / honest / humorous / intelligent / loyal / modest / patient / selfless / polite / down-to-earth / diligent / moral / fun-loving / charismatic / calm / witty / ambitious / cheerful / practical / stable / tough / passionate / easy-going / dependable / logical / sensitive / open / sociable
WORST TRAITS: aggressive / bratty / conceited / controlling / cynical / shy / fearful / greedy / gullible / jealous / naive / impatient / impulsive / cocky / reckless / insecure / irresponsible / mistrustful / paranoid / possessive / sarcastic / overly self-doubting / selfish / swears too much / unstable / clumsy / rebellious / emotional / vengeful / anxious / self-sabotaging / moody / generally angry / pessimistic / slacker / thin-skinned / dramatic / argumentative
LIVING SITUATION: lives alone / lives with parent(s) or guardian / lives with family / lives with significant other / lives with friend / lives with roommate / drifter / homeless / lives with children
PARENTS/GUARDIANS: mother / father / adoptive parent(s) / foster  parent(s) / grandmother / grandfather / aunt / uncle / sibling(s) / other / parents or guardians are deceased / none
SIBLING(S): sister(s) or brother(s) / half-sister(s) or half-brother(s) / step-sister(s) or step-brother(s) / none / other
RELATIONSHIP: single / crushing / dating / swinging / sex only / engaged / married / partnered / separated / divorced / it’s complicated / other
RELATIONSHIP ATTITUDE: happy / unhappy / it varies somewhat / it varies often / it's complicated / neutral / other
I HAVE A(N): learning disorder / personality disorder / mental disorder / anxiety disorder / sleep disorder / eating disorder / behavioral disorder / substance-related disorder / PTSD / mental disability / physical disability / none / other / in remission / present
THINGS I’VE DONE: drank alcohol / smoked cigarettes / stolen / done drugs / self-harmed / starved myself / lost my virginity / had a threesome / had a one-night stand / gotten into a fist fight / gone to the hospital / gone to jail / used a fake ID / played hooky / gone to a rave / killed someone / had someone try to kill me / been homeless
SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS: wealthy / well-off / moderate / struggling / poor / in poverty / other
MEDICAL: healthy / moderate / immunocompromised / disabled / disadvantaged / frequently sick / has a diagnosis / in-between / average / other
CLASS: upper / upper-middle / middle / working / slave / unsure / unknown / it varies / other
EDUCATION/INTELLECT: superior / above-average / qualified / unqualified / average / studying / street smarts / none / other
CRIMINAL RECORD: yes, for major crimes / yes, for minor crimes  / just a(n) traffic ticket(s) / restraining order(s) / other / none
CHILDREN: has children / has no children / has step-children / open to children / actively wants children / does not want children / children are deceased / currently trying for children / cannot have children / relationship with children is complicated / has adopted  or fostered children / wants to adopt or foster children / other
FAMILY OF ORIGIN RELATIONSHIPS: close with sibling(s) / not close with sibling(s) / has no siblings / siblings are deceased / separated from family / orphaned / adopted / disowned by parents / abandoned by father or mother / close with family / not close with family / other
TRAITS + TENDENCIES: extroverted / introverted / in between disorganized / organized / in between closed-minded / open-minded / in between calm / anxious / in between disagreeable / agreeable / in between cautious / reckless / in between patient / impatient / in between outspoken / reserved / in between leader / follower / in between empathetic / cold / in between optimistic / pessimistic / in between traditional / modern / in between hardworking / lazy / in between cultured / uncultured / in between loyal / disloyal / it depends faithful / unfaithful / it depends
RELIGION: monotheist / polytheist / atheist / agnostic / spiritual / other
BELIEF IN GHOSTS AND SPIRITS: yes / no / don’t know / maybe, it’s possible / don’t care / other
BELIEF IN AFTERLIFE: yes / no / don’t know / maybe, it’s possible / don’t care / other
BELIEF IN REINCARNATION: yes / no / don’t know / maybe, it’s possible / don’t care / other
BELIEF IN ALIENS: yes  / no / don’t know / maybe, it’s possible  / don’t care
PHILOSOPHICAL: yes / no / somewhat / other
PHYSICAL ABILITY: excellent / good / moderate / poor / none
LITERACY: excellent / good / moderate / poor / none
ART SKILLS: excellent / good / moderate / poor / good in some but not others / other / none
ART ABILITIES: painting / sculpture / writing / architecture / instrumental / singing / dance / theater / photography / film / other / none
TECHNICAL SKILLS: excellent / good / moderate / poor / depends / other / none
ALCOHOL: past - never / once / rarely / sometimes / frequently / to excess present - never / rarely / sometimes / frequently / to excess
NICOTINE: past - never / once / rarely / sometimes / frequently / to excess present - never / rarely / sometimes / frequently / to excess
WEED: past - never / once / rarely / sometimes / frequently / to excess present - never / rarely / sometimes / frequently / to excess
NARCOTICS: past - never / once / rarely / sometimes / frequently / to excess present - never / rarely / sometimes / frequently / to excess
HALLUCINOGENS: past - never / once / rarely / sometimes / frequently / to excess present - never / rarely / sometimes / frequently / to excess
PRESCRIBED MEDICATIONS: past / present / never / forever / none / other
0 notes
Text
Happy False Value Day everyone!!!
As many of you know Ben Aaronovitch used to work for Waterstone’s, a bookshop chain in the UK, and because he’s quite proud of having worked there (and they are proud of having once employed him, no seriously, every time I even look at one of his books in one of their shops a member of staff spontaneously appears to tell me “He used to work here you know!” If I had a pound for every time I’d heard that I could afford to buy the Folly) he gives Waterstone’s a special exclusive short story in the first run of every new Rivers of London book. 
Obviously this is great for those of us who are UK fans. 
It’s less great for those of you who are international fans. However in the spirit of International Magical Cooperation I managed to get my hands on my copy ever so slightly early and so I have here for your reading pleasure, the exclusive short story from False Value - A Dedicated Follower of Fashion
Please note that this story contains mentions of sex and drugs and rock’n’roll
A Dedicated Follower of Fashion
By Ben Aaronovitch
You know that song by The Kinks? Not that one. The other one. No, not that one either. Yeah, that one- ‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion’. You wouldn’t believe it to look at me now, but that song’s about me. 
These days my daughter does her best to keep me looking respectable, and I haven’t the heart to tell her that I’d much rather wear my nice comfortable corduroy trousers, with braces, and leave my shirt untucked. But back in the sixties I was the dedicated follower of fashion. And it’s true that they sought me here and they sought me there but, as Ray Davies knew perfectly well, that was probably because of the drug dealing. What can I say? Clothes aren’t cheap. 
I was a middleman buying wholesale and supplying a network of dealers, mostly in and around the King’s Road. I rarely sold retail, although I did have a number of select clients. And of course nothing lubricates a soirée like a bowl full of alpha-methylphenethylamine. It was all going swimmingly until some little shit from Islington stiffed me on a payment and I found myself coming up ten grand short. And, believe me, ten grand in 1967 was a lot of money. You could buy a house in Notting Hill for less than that - not that anyone wanted to, not in those days. 
Now, I’ll admit that as an entrepreneur working in such a volatile industry, I probably should have ensured that I had a cash reserve stashed away against such an eventuality. Mistakes were definitely made. But in my defence, not only had I just discovered the joys of blow, I was also distracted by my infatuation with Lilith. 
Now, I’ve always cheerfully swung both ways and, to be honest, I’ve always been more attracted by the cut of someone’s trousers than what was held therein. But when I met Lilith it was if all the cash registers rung out in celebration. She was so like a man in some ways and so like a woman in others. I’d love to say that it was the best of both worlds, but looking back it was a disaster in every respect. Although a completely exhilarating disaster, like a roller coaster to an unknown destination. I tried explaining what she was like to Ray Davies and that beardy writer who ran that sci-fi magazine, but they both got her completely wrong. 
So there I was, suddenly ten grand down to people whose names you’re better off not knowing - let’s just call them the Deplorables and leave it at that. If I tell you that their nicknames were Cutter, Lead Pipe and Gnasher, that should give you a flavour of their character. You could call Cutter the brains behind the gang but that would be risking an overstatement. Organised crime in the good old days required little in the way of actual brains and relied much more on a calculated defiance of the social niceties vis-à-vis psychotic violence. Terrify your rivals, bully your customers, and hand out a bung to the local constabulary and you were away. 
And it goes without saying that aesthetically they were a dead loss. 
The Deplorables had a straightforward approach to those that owed them money which I will leave to your imagination - suffice only to say that it involved a sledgehammer and, of all things, a marlinspike. 
But I had no intention of losing my knees, so I had arranged a couple of new deals that would net me a sufficient profit to cover both what I owed the Deplorables and the same again to appease them sufficiently to save my poor knees from a fate worse than polyester. 
I know some of you are thinking that polyester was hip and groovy back in the Swinging Sixties, but trust me when I say that it was an abomination from the start - whatever the elegance of its long chain polymers.
In order to keep body and wardrobe together while I waited for these deals to come to fruition I decanted, along with Lilith and my faithful sidekick Merton, to a squat in Wandsworth just off the Earlsfield High Street. Now, I normally shun the transpontine reaches of the capital. But my thinking was sound. With my reputation as a flower of Chelsea and the King’s Road, I reckoned that nobody - least of all the dim members of the Deplorables - would think to look for me across the river. 
‘No fucking way,’ said Lilith when she first saw it, ‘am I living in this shithole.’
Squats come in many flavours. But political, religious or student, they are almost always shitholes. However, I could see this one had potential and Nigel, God bless his woolen Woolworths socks, had at least kept it clean. 
But not particularly tidy. 
Outwardly Nigel was definitely one of the children of Aquarius. Inside he had the soul of an accountant, but alas none of the facility with numbers. 
According to Nigel, who could be dull about this sort of thing, the building we were squatting in had been built in the eighteenth century as an inn that specialised in serving the trade along the river Wandle. This was news to me, because I had assumed the rank channel immediately behind the house was a canal. 
‘There used to be factories up and down the Wandle,’ he told me despite my best efforts to stop him, ‘all connected up with barges. And this is where the wartermen used to get their drinks in.’
With the collapse of that trade it was converted into a grad town house, a status it retained for a hundred years or so before providing slum housing for the unwashed multitude. Occasionally on its hundred-year odyssey it would surface into the light of respectable society before descending once more into the depths of squalor. 
Which is where yours truly arrived to bring a touch of colour and a modicum of good taste to the old place. 
Looking back, I believe that might have been the start of the whole ghastly business. 
Now the thing about the drug trade is that it overlaps with the general smuggling industry. As a result a man with the right contacts can acquire much in the way of valuable cloth - Egyptian cotton and the like - without troubling the good people of Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise. Then such an individual might use his reputation for fashion to sell on said items to the East End rag trade at less than wholesale, cash under the table, no questions asked and no invoices raised. Not as lucrative as a suitcase full of horse, but safer and more dependable. 
Cloth, even expensive cloth, takes up considerably more room even than Mary Jane, so the fact that the old building had a beer cellar capacious enough to store the stock was the other reason I’d chosen it as a bolt-hole. Merton and I pressed Nigel into service to help us carry the bales, wrapped in tarpaulin for protection, down to the cellar, which proved to be mercifully dry and cool.
It was surprisingly cool - you could have used it as a pantry. 
‘That’s because of the river,’ Nigel explained. ‘It’s just the other side of that wall.’
I touched the wall and was surprised to find it cool but bone dry. 
‘They know how to build houses in those days,’ said Nigel. 
Once we’d moved the good in, it was time to deal with the ever simmering domestic crisis that was life with Lilith. In the latest instalment of the drama, she had ejected Nigel from the master bedroom and claimed it as her own. This was less of a distraction than it might be because Nigel, like nearly all men, was clearly smitten with Lilith and acquiesced with surprisingly good grace. 
And so we settled in companionably enough, especially when Lilith and Nigel discovered a common in the works of Jack Kerouac. I could see that at some point I would be bedding down with Merton for a night or two. I won’t lie and say that I didn’t find Lilith’s peccadillos upsetting but Merton, bless his acrylic Y-fronts offers compensation in his own rough manner. 
Things started to go wrong the night of the storm and consequent flood. And while our decision to drop acid and commune with the thunder- Nigel’s idea, by the way - probably wasn’t to blame, it certainly didn’t help.
I don’t normally do hallucinogenics as they often disappoint. You go up expecting Yellow Submarine and get a lot of irritating visual distraction instead. My colour sense is quite keen enough, thank you, without having a pair of purple velvet bell-bottoms start to shine like a neon sign. 
The master bedroom - now Lilith’s domain - contained, of all things, a king-size four-poster bed that was missing its curtains. But since I’d arrived, it at least had matching cotton sheets in a tasteful orange and green fleurs-de-lis pattern. They matched the old wallpaper with its geometric tan and orange florets that still showed the retangular ghosts of long vanished photographs and paintings.
At some point - Nigel had said the 1930s - the owners had installed an aluminium-framed picture window that ran almost the length of the room and looked out over the canal, or more importantly, up into the boiling clouds of the oncoming storm. 
Lilith started on the bed with all three of us, but I can’t take anything seriously when heading up on LSD, least of all sex. So I quickly disengaged and chose to sit on the end of the bed and watch the storm. I doubt the others were troubled by my absence. 
I watched the storm come in over the rooftops of South London with lightning flashing in my eyes and that glorious sense of joy that only comes from something psychoactive interacting with your neurones. I lost myself in that storm and, in it, I thought I sensed the roar of the god of joy, whose acolytes dance naked on the hilltops and rip the goats apart. 
But the mind is fickle and darts from thought to thought and I became fascinated by the patterns the raindrops traced down the window glass. Then the play of light and shadow drew me to the walls, where I found myself pulling at the torn edge of the wallpaper. Like most squats, damp had gotten into the room at some point in the past and the top layer peeled away to reveal another layer below - a vertical floral design in red, purple and green on a pale background. Carefully I stripped a couple of square feet away. And while behind me Lilith howled obscenities in the throes of her passion, I started on the next layer. This revealed a faded leaf design in silver and turquoise. The colours pulled at me and I realised that if I could just find the original surface I might open a portal to another dimension - one of style and colour and exquisite taste. 
But I had to be patient. Clawing the walls would disrupt the delicate lines of cosmic energy that flowed along the pinstripes of the layer of blue linen-finish paper. Delicately, I peeled a loose corner until I uncovered a beautiful mustard yellow bird that glowed with an inner light. Gently and meticulously I revealed more. A trellis design overgrown with olive and brown brambles sporting red flowers and crimson birds. I knew it at once as a classic design from ‘the Firm’, the company founded by William Morris to bring back craftsmanship to a world turned grey and smoky by the Industrial Revolution.
I was ready for a hallucination then, and willed my mind into the pattern in front of me, but nothing happened. The wallpaper shone out of the hole in the wall, the light shifting like sunlight through a real trellis, real birds, but that achingly rational part of my brain stayed aloof. Chemistry, it said, it’s all chemistry. 
At some point Nigel escaped the bed and fled whimpering into the cupboard and closed the door behind himself. 
The trellis and its mustard-coloured birds mocked me from the walls, 
‘I think we’re sinking,’ said Merton, for what I realised was the third or fourth time. 
I was still coming down and it took concentration to focus on Merton, who was stark naked and pacing up and down at the foot of the bed. Lilith was sprawled face down, arms and legs spread like a starfish to occupy as much space as possible. There was no sign of Nigel, and in my elevated state I seriously gave consideration to the thought that Lilith had devoured him following coitus. 
Merton rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet, as if testing his footing. 
‘Definitely sinking,’ he said, and ran out of the door. 
I flailed about a bit until I found a packet of Lilith’s Embassy Filters and a box of Swan Vestas, managed to not light the filter on the second attempt and dragged in a grateful lungful. A burst of head-clearing nicotine helped chase away the last of the lysergic acid diethylamide and I was just trying to determine whether I’d hallucinated a naked Merton when he reappeared.
‘I’ve got good news and bad news,’ he said. ‘We’re not sinking but we’re definitely flooding.’
The cellar was divided into two parts. The stairs led down to the smaller part of it, essentially a wide corridor which used to house, so Nigel insisted on telling me, the coal chute - now bricked up. A big metal reinforced door opened into the larger part of the cellar - the part with over ten grand’s worth of fabric stored in it. The door was closed but the corridor part was two inches deep in filthy water. 
‘Don’t open the door!’ called Nigel from the top of the stairs. 
I had no intention of leaving the dry section of the stairs, let alone risking the cuffs of my maroon corduroy flares in what looked to me like sewage overflow. Merton, who’d been trying to force the door open, now splashed back as if stung. For a man who I’d once seen cheerfully batter a traffic warden for awarding him a ticket, it was odd how he never argued with Nigel - not about practical things to do with the house anyway. 
Nigel, resplendent in a genuine Indian cloth kaftan - or so he claimed - passed me and stepped gingerly into the water. Reaching the door, he rapped sharply with his knuckles just above the waterline, then he methodically rapped up the door until he reached head height. After a few experimental raps to confirm, he turned to me and told me I was deader than a moleskin waistcoat. 
‘The whole room’s flooded,’ he said. ‘Probably not a good idea to open this door.’
I sat down on the stairs and put my head in my hands. I did a mental inventory of what I’d stored and how it had been packed. It was bad, but if we could pump out the room half of it could be salvaged - especially the silks, since the individual rolls had been wrapped in polythene. 
Thank God for Hans von Pechmann, I thought, and got to my feet. 
‘We need to drain the room,’ I said. ‘Nigel, get a pump and enough hose to run it back out to the river.’
Nigel nodded.
‘Yeah, yeah,’ he said, and practically skipped up the stairs. 
‘Put some clothes on before you go out!’ I called after him. 
I told Merton that when we had the pump and the hose, he would have to cut a suitable hole in the door -  near the top. 
‘Will you need tools?’ I asked. 
Merton eyed up the door. 
‘I have what I need in my bedroom,’ he said.
‘Good,’ I said. ‘Let’s have a cup of tea.’
It took Nigel the best part of the day to source the suitable equipment. In the meantime, I sent Merton out to the local phone box to see if I couldn’t rustle up another life- and kneecap-saving transaction. Ideally, I should have been making the calls myself but I didn’t dare show my face on the street - it’s a well-known face, even in South London. I spent the time cataloguing my wardrobe, alas much reduced by my exile, ironing that which needed ironing and casting away those items that had fallen out of style since my last purge. 
Some things never go out of style - some things, thank God, will never come back. Let us hope that the lime-green acrylic aquiline button-down cardigan is one of them. I really don’t know what I was thinking when I bought it. 
Apart from a spectacularly noisy toilet break, Lilith stayed blissfully asleep in the main bedroom until teatime and then vanished into the bathroom for the next two hours. 
Once Nigel had returned with the pump and the hose, Merton used his hammer and chisel to cut a rough hole, six inches across, near the top of the door. Nigel had brought down the cream-coloured hostess trolley and mounted the pump on that to keep it out of the water. Once it was rigged we ran a hosepipe up the stair, down the hall, across the kitchen and poked it out the back window. Merton stayed to supervise the outflow while I returned to the top of the stairs and gave Nigel the nod. 
It looked ramshackle and was, indeed, held together with string and gaffer tape. But like most things that Nigel built, especially his improvised hookahs, it was perfectly adequate. The pump puttered into life, the pipe going through the hole in the door stiffened, there was a gurgling sound and I followed the passage of the water upstairs and into the kitchen. There, an arc of water shot from the hose and into the river beyond. 
‘How long until it’s pumped out?’ I asked.
‘A couple of days,’ said Nigel. 
When I objected, he pointed out that it was a small-bore hosepipe, that the cellar was large and that we didn’t know how the river water was getting in. 
Some things you can’t control, I suppose, such as Lilith - who I found sitting in the kitchen in a loose yellow kimono, drinking brandy and letting her assets hang out. 
‘It smells different in here’ she said.
I pointed out that the window was open to allow egress of the hosepipe and was thus allowing fresh air, to which Lilith was generally unaccustomed, to enter the room. Lilith grunted and said she was going out that evening to meet some friends in Soho. 
I tried to talk her out of it but she insisted, and there was no stopping Lilith when she was set on something. 
‘What if the Deplorables see you?’ I asked.
‘Darling,’ said Lilith, throwing an orange ostrich feather boa around her neck, ‘the Deplorables never frequent the places I do and in any case - I’m invisible.’
I was making another calming cup of tea when I realised that Lilith had been right. The kitchen smelt fresh and, oddly, sun dappled - of you thought sun dappled was a smell. I went to the open window and took a deep breath. Not normally something I’d recommend given the foetid nature of the Wandle - which still looked more like a canal to me - behind the house. The air was fresh and another thing I noticed was that the water shooting out of the hosepipe was clear. I pulled the pipe in a bit and had a closer look and then an experimental tate - just the tip of the tongue, you understand. It was plain, clean water. Perhaps, I thought, the cellar had been flooded by a burst mains pipe. If so, then there was a chance that much of my stock might survive relatively intact. 
I also noticed that the house had a small back garden, or rather a side garden, an overgrown patch of weeds and brambles that filled a roughly triangular space between next door’s garden wall, the river and the side of the kitchen. I replaced the hose and went looking for the door that led to the garden. I’m not a horticulturalist myself, but to a man in my position, knowing there’s a back door - for egress in extremis - is always a comfort. 
It took three days to drain the cellar, which passed as quickly as two quarters of Lebanese cannabis resin could make it. Now I’ve never been one to get the munchies, but Nigel could consume an astonishing amount of fish and chips, and poor Merton was forced to make several supply runs. On the morning of the fourth day, Nigel declared that we could force the door and I went to fetch Merton. 
Who was nowhere to be found.
His room was as he always left it, the bed made with military precision and knife-edge creases. Merton was a thoroughly institutionalised boy, but what institution - the navy, prison, the Foreign Legion - I’d never thought to ask. His clothes, though dull, were hung or folded with the same admirable care. His tool case was missing but the canvas bag containing his baseball bat, bayonet and the long wooden stick with the stainless steel barbs that I didn’t want to know the purpose of, was tucked into the wardrobe next to his two spare pairs of Doc Martens boots. 
I returned to the basement corridor, which Nigel had mercifully mopped clean once the muddy water had soaked away. Nigel was standing by the door to the cellar, stock-still and staring at something on the floor. 
‘What is it?’ I asked.
Nigel pointed mutely at a battered blue metal toolbox sitting by the door. Its top was open and its trays expanded to reveal its rows of neatly arrayed tools and boxes of screws and nails.
‘He must have gone inside,’ said Nigel. His voice dropped to an urgent whisper. ‘Inside there!’
Since I had no idea why Nigel was so agitated, I reached out and pushed the door open. It opened a fraction and then pushed back - as if someone was leaning against the other side.
‘Merton,’ I said, ‘stop fucking about and let me in.’
I shoved harder and the door opened a crack and out poured a weird sweet smell like cooked milk. And with it a sense of outraged dignity which so surprised me that I jumped back from the door, which slammed shut. 
‘Is he in there?’ asked Nigel.
‘Must be,’ I said, but I wasn’t sure I believed it.
Neither of us could match Merton -  because that’s who it had to be - for physical might. I mean, I employed him precisely because he could intimidate your average creditor just by breaking wind. So we trooped upstairs for a cup of tea and some pharmaceutical reinforcement. 
‘Got any more black beauties?’ asked Nigel, who never could separate his biphetamines from his common or garden amphetamines. I swear, you try to educate people but there are limits. I gave him a couple of ludes, and given the day we’d had so far, took a couple myself. Lilith returned fabulously drunk at two in the morning, and we all piled into bed and didn’t get up until the next afternoon. 
The door to the cellar remained closed and Merton’s tool case was still where he’d left it. I tried the door, but it was stuck fast with no give at all. I even tried knocking it down, like they do in films, but all I did was bruise my shoulder. 
If Merton was in there, he wasn’t coming out until he was good and ready. And since I wasn’t getting in, I had to accept that I wouldn’t be realising any value from my stock of fabrics any time soon. Still, I’d already written down their value and put other deals in motion to generate cash flow - another drug deal, as it happens. A stack of Happy Bus LSD out of Rotterdam. A little bit riskier than my normal deals, but needs must, as they say.
Without Merton, I was forced to rely on Nigel to go out and make the necessary phone calls. Unlike Merton, who followed instructions without question, I had to explain everything to him as if he were in a spy movie with Michael Caine. Once he had the gist, he darted out the front door wearing an RAF surplus greatcoat. As I watched him go from the upstairs window, I realised that his hair had grown long enough to reach between his shoulder blades and wondered why I hadn’t noticed. 
The next couple of days went past with no sign of Merton, and I only managed to keep anxiety at bay with the help of my dwindling supply of cannabis resin and long punishing nights with Lilith. 
The door to the cellar remained closed. 
When I had nerved myself up to go look, I noticed that something had been jammed into the cracks around the edge of the door - as if it had oozed out from inside the cellar in liquid form and then set on contact with air. I took a set of pliers from Merton’s tool case and worried a fragment out. It’s a long time since I’ve prepared a slide in earnest, but while I didn’t have a microscope I did have a jeweller’s glass I keep for checking crystal shape. Under magnification the fragment revealed itself to be a tangle of threads - blue cotton, my good Egyptian cotton at a guess. I picked at the tangle with a pair of tweezers and a strange notion struck me -  that the threads weren’t tangled randomly, that there was a pattern to the knots.
I could imagine a circumstance where the pressure of water could both shred the original weave of a cloth and then tangle the threads. I could even imagine water pressure forcing the threads around the edge of the door, but it seemed unlikely. Before I discovered fashion and pharmaceuticals I did a degree in chemistry. Started a degree, to be precise - I stopped paying attention in the second year. But I always thought of myself as rational even when under the influence. 
If I’d known what I know now, I would have run screaming from the house and taken my chances with the Deplorables. But I lived in a much smaller world in those days. 
Although large enough for my Rotterdam connection to agree to a deal. Not only that, but it seemed my credit was good enough for me to procure a sample shipment on good faith. With the profit from that sale I could finance a larger shipment and thus dig myself out of my financial predicament and quit the squat - and it’s creepy basement.
The only catch being that I would have to provide my own mule to bring the sample in. Normally you don’t use your friends as mules, not even friends of friends. What you really want is a gullible person who’s been talked into it by someone you only know through business. I knew a guy who could meet a girl at a party and have her on a plane to Ankara the next day. He made a living recruiting mules and didn’t mind some wastage at all - right up to the point someone’s mother gave him both barrels of her husband’s grousing shotgun. The police never caught her and only Merton and I turned up for the funeral. 
It wasn’t hard to persuade Lilith to fly to Rotterdam - especially first class - and the beauty was that wherever she touched down, she paid for herself. Or to be strictly accurate, other people took care of her needs for her. The downside, of course, was that you had to allow her time to party - in this case, at least a week. You’d think that without Lilith sharing the high thread cotton sheets of the four-poster bed I’d be getting more sleep, but I found myself spending most of every night staring at the underside of the bed’s canopy. 
It didn’t help that I had to ration the Quaaludes - I needed them to keep Nigel functioning. 
‘There’s something in the cellar,’ he said, and refused to go down into the basement. 
I, on the other hand, found myself increasingly drawn to the cellar door. Especially when it started to flower. 
It started with a spray of cotton around the door frame, overlapping triangular leaves of white and navy-blue cotton that stuck to the bricks of the wall as if they’d been glued in place. I took a sample and found that instead of regular weave, the cloth was formed by the intertwining of threads in a complex pattern. Some of the threads amongst the white and blue were a bright scarlet and spread through the fabric in a branching pattern like streams into a river basin. Or, more disturbingly, like capillaries branching out from a vein. 
I did make an attempt, cautiously, to scrape one of the ‘leaves’ off the wall with a trowel I found in Merton’s tool case. But even as I pushed the blade under the edge of the cloth I felt such a wave of disinterest -  I cannot describe it more clearly than that- that I found myself halfway up the basement stairs before I realised what had happened. 
The next day the cotton leaves had spread out at least another six inches and surrounding the door were tongues of crimson and yellow orgaza. Individual threads had begun to colonise the door proper - curling into swirling patterns like ivy climbing a wall. I spent an indeterminate amount of time with my back to the opposite wall, staring at the pattern to see if I could spot them moving.
I wondered what it meant. Perhaps Nigel was right, and the Age of Aquarius was upon us and we had entered a time of miracles. 
When I was upstairs I tried to put the cellar out of my mind and concentrate on plans for the future. I had fallen into drug dealing almost by accident and had always found it an easy and convenient way to keep myself in the sartorial fashion I aspired to. But if my run-in with the deplorables was an indication of the future, then perhaps it was time to pack it in. A boutique of my own instead, one in which I could serve both as owner-manager and inspiration. Before the merest thought of doing actual work, no matter how supervisory, had filled me with disgust but now … now it seemed attractive. 
I didn’t trust these feelings. 
I needed out of the squat. I needed to be strutting down the King’s Road or Carnaby Street. I wanted back out into the world, where I could be as dazzling and as splendid as the first acolyte of the goddess of fashion. 
But you need working kneecaps to strut your stuff. And so I stayed where I was. 
By the third day the door was completely obscured behind a tapestry of red, black and gold thread, and wings of cotton spread out across the walls and ceiling. The organza had likewise spread and a third wave of pink and yellow damask now framed the doorway. By the sixth day the entire corridor was curtained in swathes of multicoloured fabric, so that it seemed a tunnel to a draper’s wonderland. 
I no longer dared leave the safety of the foot of the stairs and yet I still found myself walking down them three times a day to look. The urge to walk into its warm comforting embrace was terrifying. 
On the seventh day, Lilith failed to return. I started to seriously worry on the eighth; on the ninth, I fell into such a despair that no amount of near pharmaceutical-grade Drinamyl amphetamines could lift me from it. On the tenth, a postcard arrived with four jaunty pictures of a tram stop, a fountain, a town square, a gigantic statue of a man holding up the sky and Groeten uit Rotterdam written across the front. 
On the back Lilith sent me love and kisses, explained that she’d met a splendid sailor or three and would be staying on in the Netherlands for a bit, but not to worry because she’d found a perfectly wonderful Spaniard to courier my product back to London. Thoughtfully she’d written the travel and contact details of the Spanish courier on the postcard - in plain English. 
With a heavy heart I sent Nigel out to pick up the package and when he failed to return I was not surprised. 
We live in a universe constantly assailed by the forces of entropy. Nothing good, pure or beautiful can stand up to the relentless regression towards the mean, the dull and the shabby. A minority have always striven to be a beacon in the gloom, a constant source of inspiration to those around them. Some worked through the medium of paint, or music, or literature, but I have sought to make myself the living embodiment of style and culture. 
God knows it hasn’t been easy. 
But a man should always know when he’s been beaten. That morning, as I sat in the kitchen, futilely waiting for Nigel to return, I realised that that time, for me, was nigh. I went upstairs, stripped myself down to my underwear - not nylon and not frilly, thank you, Ray - and after taking a deep breath to steel myself, donned a pair of brown corduroy trousers and a matching moleskin shirt. A pair of Hush Puppies and one of Merton’s donkey jackets completed my transformation. I looked in the mirror -  I was unrecognisable. 
Stuffing the last of my cash reserves in my pockets, I headed for the front door. I paused by the basement only long enough to ensure it was closed. From behind it came a noise that might have been a giant breathing, or water flowing, or shuttles running back and forth across lines of thread. 
I shuddered and walked boldly out into the sunlight. 
My plan was simple. Take the train to Holyhead, the ferry to Dublin and then, via a few contacts I still had, to America and freedom. 
I didn’t even get as far as Garratt Lane before I ran straight into Cutter. I tried to braout but somehow he recognized me instantly and called out my name. 
I turned, ran back to the squat, slammed the door behind me and went for the back door. There I could escape via the garden, over the wall and run for Wimbledon Park station. 
But Lead Pipe was waiting in the kitchen, with a cup of tea on the go and the Daily Mirror open to the back pages. 
‘About time,’ he rumbled when he saw me. 
Three guesses where I went next. 
I was down the stairs and into the basement corridor before I even noticed that the walls had grown a fringe that glowed with a soft golden light. I was prepared to throw myself frantically at the cellar door but I found it open. I ran inside with no brighter plan than to barricade myself inside and hope the Deplorables grew bored.
Inside the cellar was a riot of colour. The walls were arrayed with purple organza and burgundy charmeuse, while sprays of a brilliant blue habotai framed cascades of fabric woven in a dozen colours - scarlet, yellow and green - into tangles of vines, leaves and flowers. Globes of light hung suspended from golden threads in each corner, illuminating a bundle of gold and black embroidered silk suspended from tendrils of lace - like a cocoon from a spider-s web. 
Around me was a giant’s breathing and the warp and weft of a loom gigantic enough to weave the stars themselves. I could no more have stopped myself from grasping that bundle than I could have stopped myself breathing. 
The bundle was warm and squirming in my arms. I unwrapped a layer of gauzy chiffon, gazed down on my fate and was lost. 
‘Oi,’ said a voice from behind me. 
I turned to find myself confronting the sartorial disaster that were the Deplorables en masse. I won’t describe their appearance on the off chance that children may one day read this account. 
‘Can I help you gentlemen?’ I asked, because politeness is always stylish. 
‘Yeah,’ said Cutter. ‘You can give us the ten grand you owe us.’
‘Plus interest,’ said Lead Pipe.
‘Plus interest,’ said Cutter. 
‘I’m rather afraid I haven’t got it,’ I said. 
‘That’s a shame,’ said Cutter, and he turned to Lead Pipe. ‘Isn’t that a shame?’
‘It’s definitely a shame,’ said Lead Pipe. 
The bundle in my arms squirmed a bit and made happy gurgling noises. 
‘Since the money is not forthcoming, I’m afraid we’ll be forced to take measures,’ said Cutter. He looked once more to Lead Pipe. ‘Is your sledgehammer ready?’
By way of reply, Lead Pipe held up his sledgehammer and I couldn’t help but notice that there were brown stains on the long wooden handle. 
‘And Gnasher,’ said Cutter. ‘Do you have a marlinspike about your person?”
Gnasher grunted and held up a pointed lump of metal that I can only presume, in my ignorance of all things nautical, was a marlinspike. 
Cutter turned back to me and smiled nastily.
‘I’d say that you should take this like a man,’ said Cutter. ‘But that would be a waste of time.’
Never mind his rudeness, I had more pressing concerns. 
‘Shush,’ I said. ‘You’ll wake the baby.’
Cutter’s face suffused to a fine shade of puce and he opened his mouth to continue his ranting, so I twitched aside the fine damask sheet to reveal my daughter nestled in her bundle of silk and high-thread Egyptian cotton.
Her beautiful brown face broke into a charming smile and, opening her chubby arms in a benediction, she laughed - a sound like water tumbling over stones. 
Cutter gave me an astonished look and whispered.
‘Is this your…?’
‘Yes,’ I whispered back. ‘Her name is Wanda.’
‘But,’ said Cutter, ‘you can’t keep her here.’
‘She likes it here,’ I said indignantly.
‘It’s a dump,’ said Lead Pipe in a low rumble. ‘It’s not fit for human habitation.’
‘He’s right,’ said Cutter. ‘There’s damp and mould and the kitchen is a disgrace.’
‘And there’s no nursery,’ rumbled Lead Pipe.
‘And the garden is a jungle,’ said Gnasher. ‘Totally unsuitable.’
‘Gentlemen,’ I said, ‘I can’t attend to any of these details if you break my legs.’
‘Obviously, we have to deal with the immediate shortcomings of the house before we return to the matter of breaking your legs,’ said Cutter. ‘Don’t we boys?’
‘I know a couple of builders,’ said Gnasher. ‘And Lead Pipe has green fingers. Ain’t that right?’
Lead Pipe cracked knuckles the size of walnuts. ‘That’s true,’ he said. 
‘Really?’ I said.
‘You should see his allotment,’ said Cutter. ‘He has compost heaps you wouldn’t believe.’
I thought of the rumours of what exactly happened to people who crossed the Deplorables and I decided that I actually did believe in those heaps. 
‘About my legs,’ I said but Cutter wasn’t listening.
‘And there’s the roof,’ he said, and the others nodded. 
‘About my legs,’ I said louder and then wished I hadn’t, because the trio were jerked out of their dreams of home improvement and focused on yours truly in a somewhat disconcerting manner. 
‘What about them?’ asked Cutter, taking a step towards me. 
‘I thought we might reach a more mutually beneficial arrangement,’ I said.
‘What kind of beneficial arrangement did you have in mind?’ he said. 
‘There’s the matter of the way you dress,’ I said. 
Cutter pushed his face towards mine. 
‘What’s wrong with the way we dress?’ he said. ‘It’s practical.’
‘Stain resistant,’ said Lead Pipe. 
‘Yes, but,’ I said, ‘it could be so much more.’
And Wanda laughed again and this time behind the chuckling stream was the crisp snap of fabric shears and the whistling hum of the shuttle as it plays back and forth across the thread.
‘But first,’ said Cutter, waving a blunt finger in my face, ‘we have to sort out the playroom.’
And that was that. I gave up the pharmaceutical trade and opened a boutique instead. Cutter and his boys were my first customers, and while they never stopped being an unsavoury gang of foul-mouthed thugs, at least when they broke legs they were well dressed doing it. 
Merton, it turned out, had fled the squat the day we pumped out the water and, being in need of some security, assaulted a police officer so that he could spend a couple of nice peaceful years at Her Majesty’s pleasure. Lilith visited him regularly, and after he got out they ran an animal sanctuary just outside Abergavenny until their deaths, within three months of each other, in 2009. Nigel is still alive and taught cybernetics at Imperial College until his retirement a couple of years ago. 
My daughter and I never got around to giving the boutique a name. It was always just ‘the shop’ and given that we never advertised it’s a wonder that we stay in business. We’re always at the cutting edge of fashion. We were out of flares while the Bay City Rollers were still number one and stocking bondage trousers before John Lyndon had dyed his hair. We’ve moved the shop a couple of times and, while we’re hard to find, we’re always close to the river. 
So if you want to know what the herd are going to be wearing next spring, and if you can find us and are prepared to pay the price, you too can join the ranks of the stylish, the à la mode, and truly become a dedicated follower of fashion. 
END
176 notes · View notes