[BPRD] Makes My Skin Crawl, pt 3 [All 3.3]

edited December 2012 in In-Game
The ride back to the hotel was quiet. Its dark now, and when the sun sets on the horizon, it gets surprisingly cold outside.

There are six channels on the TV, one of them is the TV Guide channel. The rooms smell like stale air and fabricated scents. The tiles on the bathroom floor are worn and slightly cracked but not unclean, exactly. There is an ice machine and $1.50 soda machines in an alcove on your floor. There are twelve cars in the lot, the hotel would hold maybe sixty families, so yeah, its pretty much deserted.

You're on the outskirts of town, town being a generous word. There are a few fast food places, a steakhouse and a gentleman's club.

What do you do?


  • I get my own room at the hotel. I suppose it's because I am the only girl, and such a thing is what is considered proper. I guess that's a nice thing, but it feels rather lonely. My favorite thing about my brief stint in America's Foster Care System was being put in a room with a bunch of other kids. It was so nice to lay awake at night and listen to other people breathe and know that I was not alone. I had a roommate a couple times at the asylum, but they didn't usually last long. I never really blamed them. I suppose it would be rather awful (even for crazy people) to be mistaken for a horrifying monster or to have ghosts steal all of your clothes or to be awoken in the middle of the night by my screams.

    So the car ride is silent. Which technically means everyone has stopped fighting (tricky), but doesn't mean that anyone is particularly happy. What is next on the schedule? Dinner and formulating The Plan? When we get back to the hotel, I excuse myself to "freshen up." I've never been entirely sure what it means to "freshen up," but women use it all the time and no one ever objects. I always picture returning to my room, stepping into a large pot of dirt and watering my feet with a watering can like I'm a flower. But of course that would be absurd. So instead I splash some water on my face, and then climb into the center of the saggy bed where I sit like I'm meditating, waiting for someone to come get me.
  • edited December 2012
    I think we may have adjoining rooms, Penelope, with a door between. You could leave this open for the moment, if you want company.

    For myself, I am silent and brooding. I don't sleep, I don't eat, I don't watch television or use bathrooms or drink soda, so the accommodations simply don't matter to me. I do retrieve a pair of texts from my library, and I consult them as I chalk signs on our windows and doors, signs to keep out certain classes of spiritual entity. The wards should encompass those skinwalkers.

    You'll see me doing this, Penelope, moving about your room. But then I put out the tags that ward off housekeepers, and then I sit in a corner chair, doing absolutely nothing. I don't even pretend to breathe.
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    #DiceRoller( 2d6+4 )
  • Dr. Eaton,

    Would this powerful barrier work to keep you sealed in? At least, as you intended it.
  • edited December 2012
    No. I am working broadly because I have only a rough idea of what a skin-walker is, but not that broadly. My nature is of the grave, interlaced with a greater divinity. These creatures, according to Joseph, are mortal witches who have been transformed by magic and sacrifice into an entirely different class of being than myself. I associate them with witches' familiars, and with the spirit walkers of many shamanistic cultures (who send out their souls to walk in the forms of animals).

    Admittedly, the boy, Jolo, is meant to be dead. If he is in fact a ghost, then perhaps I have miscalculated. However, I am for the moment following from what Joseph has told me.

    Note that the wards, while reasonably potent, are not perfectly thorough. I have only barred the portals - the doors and windows. So I suppose that since it is not an all-encompassing barrier, it could not have contained me, regardless.
  • I had left the adjoining door closed until you, Grandfather, come through and start drawing on the windows and doors. Perhaps my etiquette is outdated, but I thought it was rather bad manners to draw on windows and doors that don't belong to you. But you appear to know what you are doing, so I watch curiously from my spot on the bed. I only glance a couple times (four to be exact) into your room through the open door.

    Then you retreat to your corner chair, in your own room I presume. And I'm left trying to decide if the silence is worse than the arguing. Finally I unfold myself from my bed and hover silently in the doorway, looking around your room. It looks very similar to mine. But instead of one silent person, it contains three. I frown, sigh, and then traipse in, plopping in the chair next to my Grandfather.

    I hold up three fingers. "Here is my Three Step Guide to Hotel Room Improvements. Number 1: If you pretend the bed is a hammock, you don't mind the sagging as much." I tick off a finger. "Number 2: Redecorate. Gr—Dr. Eaton set a fine example with his chalk drawings." I tick off another finger. "Number 3: Fill the room with pleasant conversation with your friends." I paste a bright smile on my face and look between the three of them expectantly.
  • I'm doing what any good soldier does when he's got a break, I field strip my weapon, the efficient habitual actions a sort of meditation of my own. Only barely watching what Doc does.

    I fucked up, yelling at Joe, and I know it. I accused him of being emotional when I was just as emotional because of Penny.

    I re-holster the weapon, then look at the clock and think about time zones. It's too late to call Sam, I'll have to do it tomorrow. The last picture Annie emailed to me flashes in my head. it was mostly Sam, Annie cropped it so it was, but I could still see the khaki covered leg Sammy was sitting on. How is it that some other guy gets to hold my little girl?

    Feeling that stab in my gut, I stand. "Let's find something to eat and talk about what we're gonna do. Doc, I hope you don't mind."
  • Automatically, I respond, "Not at all."

    And I stand as well. I could lend you a hand up, Penelope, but of course I don't. I do, however, offer you a smile and an inclined head.

    "You're very charming, my dear. It's a wonder that this company suits you."
  • Alright, Dr. Eaton stays at the hotel and Joe takes Penny and Blake out to eat, right?

    Joe, where do you take them?
  • Hm? No, I go with them.
  • Oh, glad I asked, I thought Blake was suggesting otherwise.
  • No, I believe that was simply to do with concern over eating in front of me.
  • Yeah... just trying to be polite.
  • edited December 2012
    Now that we are at the hotel and away from that cursed place, I feel tension begin to leave my body. 

    I stay a second to watch Doctor Eaton set his wards and Blake field strip his gun.  Penny is off in her room to "freshen up". I perform my own ritual:  I leave the room to find the ice machine to fill the bucket and retrieve an armful of colas. I then settle on my bed, sipping coke and using the remote to find local news on the tv. 

    A few minutes later as Penny counts down her hotel improvements I crack a smile. The suggestion of dinner and the chance for some traditional Dine food sounds great. 

    "Yeah, I'll drive.Let's hit the steakhouse. Unless it's changed since I was here we will get some good local grub and a quiet enough spot for our planning." I stand and lead the others out the door. 
  • Alright, we have the four of you walking into a steakhouse now. How are you dressed? Anything out of the ordinary?

    The steakhouse is a wide open affair, the entire rim of the place is neatly stacked rocks for a rustic approach, the top half open like a longhouse, lots of dark brown wood. High booths and then in the middle are arrays of long tables for big parties. The smell of meat permeates the place and wafts around the outside for a few hundred feet in the parking lot. It's coming off the supper rush, so things are starting to die down, lots of empty plates and cups and uneaten food on tables, wait staff cleaning up the mess, not for the next cycle of folks, but to start the attrition process of shutting down stations for the night, the tail end of a normal day.

    Joe, do you have a favorite spot here? There's a nice set of windows overlooking a mesa, right? Or is it the alcove that's real quiet near the back with some odd stuffed animals on the walls?
  • I am dressed as I always am, which I suppose is out of date and somewhat inappropriate for the climate. In addition, the unnerving aura of cold.
  • When I step into the restaurant, it seems I have travelled in time. Nothing has changed since I had spent so much time here in my youth. I am wearing the same worn-out jeans, flannel shirt and boots. The turquoise bric a brac which spelled out "southwest" for tourists is still on the walls. And so is the decades-old taxidermy rejects which are at once creepy and comforting.

    I wave to the small staff, greeting them in my native language, and walk past the rows of booths overlooking the mesa where I would normally sit to one of the darker tables in the back guarded by a stuffed mountain lion. A dark spot for dark business.

    Our business is rarely dark enough to affect my appetite and I’m dying for something local. I don't recognize the waitress when she walks up but I read her nametag, "Anna." After a short discussion with Anna, the cooks will be more than happy to put together some local dishes. "Blake and Penny, do you want to try something local or do you want something from the menu?"
  • I'm in a suit. One of two. Which is, of course, perfect.

    Don't ask. It's a special forces party trick. Go walking into the woods with nothing but your suit and a knife for a week. Come back out not only clean, but pressed. If you can do that, it's hard not to look perfect if you have even minimal resources by most people's standards.

    The offer of local food is interesting. I've eaten a lot of food (and a lot of things that aren't food unless you need them to be) around the world, but this is something I haven't had.

    "Something local, thanks."

    Once Joe orders and the waitress has moved away.

    "Okay. What do we know, and how can we contain them?"
  • I am wearing an old pair of leather shoes that are good for walking, black polka dot tights, a black skirt with ruffles, a t-shirt with a large picture of a white cat on the front (It looks like Beau who refused to come with me on this mission. He hates the desert), and a large purple sweater that hangs almost past my skirt. It's so much fun to pick your own clothes!

    I also eagerly agree to try the local food. Look at us, ordering mysterious food not on the menu! Like movie stars!

    Blake asks what we know, and I realize that I need to tell them the little, tiny secret that I've been holding onto. Well, not secret, not really. I just found out and then didn't tell them. Ok, fine. I was keeping it secret. I try not to look too guilty.

    "One thing that I know, that I haven't told you yet, that I suppose might be important for you to know, that I didn't mean to not tell you, that I found out earlier, that I was planning on telling you, that I'm telling you right now....Haske Yitkayo-IIya is psychic, like me."
  • I nod. Stroke my chin.

    "I rather doubt that he is psychic like you, Penelope, but hm. We do see that sort of thing, from time to time."
  • edited January 2013
    I raise an eyebrow at the news. "That explains why you and he were holding hands, I suppose." A long sip of coffee punctuates the comment.

    "Skinwalkers used to be ordinary people, but they are corrupted by evil. Through sinister ceremonies, breaking taboos and culminating in the murder of a family member - a parent or sibling,, they are initiated into a dark order. They wear the skin of animals and people to disguise themselves as they torment their prey."

    I pause while Anna delivers our food. They've prepared a spread of traditional navajo food such as boiled mutton, rabbit, roasted squashes and pumpkins, and corn cooked in a variety of ways.

    "I was fourteen years old. It was late summer, and there were several unsolved murders across the reservation. My apprenticeship with Atsah had just begun. We spent several weeks tracking the yee naaldlooshii. It had taken to haunting an aunt that he felt had humiliated him. The aunt was paralyzed and watched helplessly as her husband was brutally sliced up. The yee naaldlooshii had charmed her, paralyzed her, by use of the aunt's brush - depositing it into a tarantula's den."

    I prod at my food with my fork as I remininsce. "We were lucky. It let its guard down, over confident that it was alone. As it tormented the family we were able to slip up on it undetected. Atsah used magic to shield our minds from the skinwalker. Atsah distracted it; I watched, horrified as it changed from a thing half-coyote and half-man into a owl as it flew at him, then I started firing on it with a pistol, its bullets coated in white ash. My hand was shaky and it took several shots. All the while it made the most horrible sounds until it finally fell down. Dead."

    I push my plate away and look off to the windows across the restaurant. "None of the family survived. The skinwalker had evisceratd all but the aunt and the trauma of seeing them die was, in the end, too much for her." I look over at Doctor Eaton,"Consult your books, Doctor. Skinwalkers are abominations because of what they chose to do to become what they are and because of what they continue to do. They profane what the trickster spirit is."
  • My eyes dart from Joe to Grandfather to Blake and back to Joe. I'm not sure what to make of Joe's comment about us holding hands. Does it explain it? Because I would still like it explained.

    Joe launches into a story, and at first I am excited. I love stories, and this one sounds exciting! But as the story goes along, my smile slowly falls until it's somewhere down underneath the table by my feet. I'm staring silently at my plate of food, my silverware untouched. That was a terrible story. It didn't even have a happy ending. Haske Yitkayo-IIya wasn't like that, was he? He was dangerous. I could see that. But I don't think he would make a woman watch as he sliced up her husband like he was making a salad. Would he?

    My head comes up at the word abomination. That words burns, like someone just reached out and branded it onto my forehead. I've had that word whispered at me, hurled at me, screamed at me, stabbed at me. I don't like that word.

    "When I was fourteen, I was locked in an insane asylum for being an abomination." I say, and my voice is very calm.

    I look out the window, but it's too dark to see outside. Instead I just see my reflection. My face stares back at me, all eyes. I blink and then my reflection's mouth is opening. But it's a wolf's mouth, full of rows and rows of bloody sharp teeth.

    "Ashes, ashes, we all fall down." I whisper-sing. Then I turn away from the hallucination and smile politely at the table as I push my chair back and get to my feet. "I need to use the restroom. Please excuse me."
  • edited January 2013
    "Of course, Penelope. Take your time."

    I wait as my granddaughter leaves the table, and then - once she is gone - I turn on you, Joe.

    "Have a care, Joseph. Do I need to remind you that you are making a number of assumptions? Your history in these matters is not impeccable ... how long has it been since you attempted to destroy me?"

    Blake, I am reasonably certain that that incident is not in Bureau records.

    "I think that more study is required. There are many ways to change one's form while remaining short of ritual murder. While there have clearly been deaths, we still have only conjecture on what has taken place?"
  • [Penny]

    The bathroom is rather dimly lit, but the stalls are a nice dark red color. Apparently the people here take their interior decoration inspiration from the red rocks outside. There is a lot of red. Red curtains. Red bedspreads. Red bathroom stalls. I wonder if I could become invisible if I wore red from head to toe? Like camouflage.

    Anyways. I didn't actually have to go to the bathroom. I stand in front of the mirror for a long time just looking at my reflection. My nose is normal sized. My teeth are normal human teeth. My mouth is the same as always. No wolf snout. No bloody fangs. That's a relief, I suppose.

    I turn away from my reflection and sit up on the counter inbetween the two sinks, kicking my legs aimlessly. I have an idea in my head that is potentially a bad one. Not definitely. Just potentially. I've been working on getting better at using magic. Once I figured out that it was easier to say spells in my mind, I started practicing that way. Apparently it has something to do with being psychic because most people, like Grandfather, have to say them out loud. But I am 74% sure that I could summon Haske Yitkayo-IIya into the bathroom with me. I'd like to talk to him somewhere where there aren't any guns and bullets and angry people using those guns to shoot those bullets. It's much easier to talk without guns and bullets.

    I just want to talk to him. Maybe I can find some way to convince us all to work together! So I close my eyes, my palms flat on the counter I'm sitting on. I take four deep breaths. Then I say the words in my head like I'm ringing a bell. Loud and clear. They leave a slightly metallic taste in my mouth, even though I'm not saying anything out loud.
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  • As you sit there on the counter, saying the words in your head, a mother and her kids come in. You hear them on the periphery of your senses, but you keep your eyes closed, right? But the kid has to go when the kid has to go. They aren't trying to be loud, but the little girl voice is asking questions about you, echoing from a stall and across the tiles.

    Then they come up to the counter and the mother fusses them quietly through washing hands and one of them says something about your clothes, "She dresses funny." you hear in a small boy's voice, but they don't address you directly. Then the door opens, you hear the noise of the restaurant and it fades as the door slowly closes.

    The words start to tumble into each other, the thoughts and the bell ringing becomes almost a chanting song. Your reverie is interrupted when suddenly a hand touches your shoulder. From behind you, from the mirror. You jump, a little, right?

    "You called to me, cousin?" you hear a familiar voice ask, right by your ear.
  • This must be what it feels like to be a piece of art in a museum. People gawking, whispering comments. Children can say terribly cruel things sometimes. But I choose to interpret "funny" as in, "happy" or "cheerful." I'll pretend he was having a terrible, no good, awful, bad day, and my outfit cheered him up. I don't open my eyes so there is a possibility that he was smiling.

    I do jump a little when someone touches my shoulder. Mostly because I was expecting Haske Yitkayo-IIya to appear in front of me. I finally open my eyes and pivot slightly until I can see him. Does he look like the boy again? "Hello." I smile. "I was hoping we could talk without anyone shooting at us." I tilt my head. His face feels very close to mine. "What do you say?"
  • edited January 2013

    He does look like the boy Jolo still, feather in his long hair, a faded yellow t-shirt, worn jeans, no shoes. When you turn, you see he's stepping through the mirror, coming across from somewhere else. He seems a little, well, surprised to be doing this, but in a couple heartbeats, he sits beside you on the counter. He's right beside, you, reaches down to take hold of your right hand gently, his feet dangling just above the floor, his back to the mirror, like you.

    "That sounds great. What did you want to talk about?" He seems utterly unaffected by the fact he was shot at, if not shot a couple hours ago.
  • My heart does this funny flipping thing in my chest when he takes my hand, and I shiver a little, but in a nice way.

    "I would like to talk about a lot of things. Nice things." I say easily, swinging my feet again. "But what I need to talk about is not very nice." I frown and look up at him. "Joe hates you." I say matter-of-factly. "He says you're an abomination. Well, all of you. He told us a terrible story about a skinwalker who made a woman watch as he hurt her husband." I'm staring at him, unblinking with my huge eyes. "It's hard for me to see you doing something like that. But those people in the canyon died terrible deaths. Did you help kill them?" My tone is still easy and calm, but my eyes are troubled.
  • Haske Yitkayo-IIya looks at you with his curious eyes, drinking in your words. He seems fascinated by you, have you ever had someone interested in you that way? Not fascinated because you're sick or insane, he thinks you're incredibly special. He listens to the not nice information with a sad smile, nodding along. When you ask about his involvement, he says, "Yes, Penelope Snow, I helped kill them. I became a coyote and I bit one of them so he could not run from... my alpha. I told you earlier that what was done was hard, but right. They were going to rape the land. Where you come from, there is so much, but here, The People are starved and desperate. They have again sold the land for beads and we will not allow it. We will kill again. We will kill anyone who threatens our last home. " As he spoke, his calm broke and you saw anger and fear in his eyes. More of the sadness swirls in there, too.

    "I'm sorry Joe hates me. He is a good man, he is part of a brave culture of warriors, I admire him. He will never agree with the Yee Naaldlooshii, even though we both serve the people." He sighs, then offers earnestly, "It is messy, Penelope Snow. Some of the skinwalkers have done terrible things to outsiders to scare them away, some have misused their powers for selfish reasons. But is it the power that corrupted them? The power is the power. You know this."

    Suddenly, he pulls your hand back up to his hair, brushing your fingers against the feather specifically. The softness of the feather tickles your fingertips and he smiles, "Penelope Snow, you have a gift. I..." he pauses, uncertain, "I could show you how to walk in the skin of others. We could fly across valleys and mesas, we could run on all fours. You could... you could run as a horse, Penelope Snow."
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