2011-06-09: Sweating Bullets



Special Guests: Mindbender and Upgrade

Summary: Hot on the heels of Upgraded, Shane finds out what happens when the mind becomes a wonderful thing to waste.

Date: June 9, 2011

Log Title: Sweating Bullets

Rating: PG-13

Westchester — Greymalkin Drive

The parking lot that serves Salem Center is expansive. The mall building being the largest in the area, most of the traffic is aimed for there. However, there are a number of independent buildings along the edges of the parking lot and across the street. Benches dot the sidewalks that line the buildings, along with trash cans, bushes, trees and lamps. There is a large archway that leads to the mall entrance.


Run far. Run fast.

Don't look back, whatever you do. Whatever happened to cause that hole in the world could be *right behind you.*

Her hip is starting to hurt; even if it was months and months ago, dislocated hips are temperamental creatures. Once-broken collarbones, even more so. Her boots are large and heavy, starting to weigh her down as she begins to tire… And still Shane runs. Because however much this activity *does* hurt, and it hurts badly enough to make her wish she was in the hospital again… or just handed a hit of Kick… she *knows* how much this hurts. What she doesn't know is what might happen if she slowed down for a second.

Not far behind Shane, the woman from the mall appears, wearing the same clothes as she was before, but now bloodstained from the apparent death of her husband, and other combat. "Hey. Girl," says the woman's voice, from just a little ways behind Shane. "Where are you running to? You've gone a very long way."

Shane stumbles at the sound of the voice, but continues to run… though her pace is noticeably slower than it was at the bus stop. The girl is, after all, not built for long-term sprinting, and the effort of forcing herself at such a pace for miles has taken a terrible toll on her… But the sound of the woman's voice, recognized as the one who appeared in front of her, does a good deal to spur her onwards. Somewhere down this road is safety, if only she can reach it. Pushing her earphones over her head, she blocks out the world in a way she's never quite needed to before, taking solace in noise.

Hello me, meet the real me,
And my misfit's way of life.
A dark black past is my
Most valued possession…

The flash of light appears in front of Shane, and the woman appears in front of her and approaches with slow steps. "Can you hear me?" She reaches towards Shane's earphones to pull them off her head. "Are you listening?" Whether or not the earphones come off, those words break through the barriers that Shane has put up.

"GET AWAY FROM ME!" the slight young student shrieks, attempting to dodge the grasping hand and fumbling to the street as her overtaxed legs give way, opening up painful scrapes on her kneecaps. As the bloodspattered woman draws closer, her skin begins to flush, eyes squeezing shut. "WHY WON'T YOU… JUST… *LEAVE ME ALONE?!*" As the last words leave her lips, her skin luminesces a dull, angry red… just a split-second before the girl on the groud at the woman's feet explodes in a brilliant flare of energy and the thunderclap of distorted air, shredding her outer clothes to pieces.

The woman's clothes also shred at the energy, but she seems otherwise rather unaffected by the power, scraps of clothes being all that hides her modesty. She seems rather unconcerned at this and reaches her hand towards Shane, "Please, take my hand up, dear. You're not well right now. You've seen things happen that I'm sorry you had to see. But now, I want to help you. And I know you're scared, rightly so, but I will not do you harm."

Shane's head snaps up, terrified, unreasoning eyes staring at a woman whose clothing may have been damaged by the blast, but otherwise unharmed… and yet the street directly beneath Shane has a new, sizable pothole. "Dunno who you are," she says, her boots and earphones still intact but her own clothing down to little more than underwear and scraps, "so *fuck off.*" She ducks away from the hand, skitter-crawling away and attempting to rise to her feet to continue running.

"No, you can't go! I just want to help, you don't understand. You'll be tra-" She stops speaking, because everything stops speaking, because the surroundings have frozen into a reflective crystalline substance, from the horizon, and seeming to approach Shane with her at the center. It freezes the woman into a series of smooth surfaces, unrecognizable as a human. A voice echoes across the silence, "trapped. Trapped. Trapped."

Shane staggers to a halt again, turning to stare, horrified, as the world begins to crystallise, her chest heaving as her breath comes quicker, shorter. "Stop it… Stop it!" Turning in a circle, she scans the immediate area for anything like a crack in reality, a guide towards escape. But her inner voice whispers doubt, telling her she's already in too much trouble, probably a dead girl walking. "Stop it," she whispers, the music pounding in her ears, loud and clear and providing a desperately-needed link to sanity.

Feeling paranoid?
True enemy or false friend?
Anxiety's attackin' me
And my air is getting thin!

The crystalized, reflective material goes under Shane's boots, but stops there, and starts to shift into different structures, sometimes sharp and menacing, and sometimes softer and yet deadly in their loneliness. For no matter how many Shanes there are bouncing off the structures, they're pretty unlikely to be helpful. "You can escape," whispers the woman's voice across the surface of the area, "You can. You can. Can Escape. Are you. You can. Listening?"

"I just wanted to get home," Shane whispers, tears skating down her cheeks as she picks her way through the crystalline structures. "What's happening… What did I do…?" Whether she's talking to the external voice in her head, or her inner victim, is unsure, but exhaustion is making her far more chatty than she'd normally be.

On one of the mirror walls, there's a tapping sound, a banging on the other side of the glasslike structures. The other hand belongs to one of Shane's reflections, tapping on the glass with an open palm, seeming equally as panicked and terrified. "Listening?"

Shane shies away from the crystal at first, eyes wide. When nothing immediately horrible — more so, at least, than watching herself trapped behind mirrored crystal — happens, she closes her mouth, nostrils flaring with the heaviness of her breath, and nods mutely.

Hello me, it's me again!
You can subdue but *never* tame me.
It gives me a migraine headache!
Thinkin' down to your level!

"Good," whispers the voice, "Follow my voice, don't look at them… they are trapped like you, and only one of you can escape. It must be you, they are just reflections." The voice seems to trail away from Shane, and leads her should she be willing to follow. "I am sorry I wasn't in time for. Sorry. Reflections. You."

Yeah just keep on thinkin it's my fault!
And stay an inch or two outta kickin' distance!
Mankind has *got* ta know
His limitations…

Made biddable by exhaustion and terror, Shane stumbles along in the wake of the voice, horrified eyes drawn to her reflections banging against the walls of their crystal prisons. "…Where am I…? What's happening? What *is* this?!"

"A singularity," says the voice, "I could not help the boy, he escaped me and refused to." As Shane looks at the reflections, at least one seems to have their crystal chamber collapse upon her and simply vanish away to her muted scream as the reflection twists out of view. "Don't look! It is all the possibilities and we need only you to return. You are more real. You can trust me."

Feeling claustrophobic?
Like the walls are closing in?
Bloodstains on my hands, and I
Don't know where I've been!

Shane cringes as the crystals collapse, crushing the image within into torturous nothingness. She seems to be making good headway, until the voice proclaims that she can trust it, words which bring the young mutant to a dead stop. "…No. *Where are you.*"

I'm in trouble for the things
I haven't got to yet!
I'm sharpening the axe
And my palms are getting wet!
Sweating bullets!

One hand slaps against the mirror, "Here." It is the image of the woman, in her destroyed clothes, "I can open the way for you here. You do not want to trust. I understand. Then trust yourself." She keeps her palm flat against the glass, this image trying to reach towards Shane. "But you need to move and survive."

Shane shies away from the reaching hand, unconsciously moving in the direction of the voice. "…You didn't get hurt. You're not *real.* Where am I going?!" Her skin begins to flush again, for all that she continues forward; the buildup doesn't have to be quick, and she can hold it at critical levels, if briefly… But it's clear the girl is becoming impatient for answers, and teetering at the edge of her nerves.

"Forgotten," echoes through across the walls. "I am untouchable by mutant abilities, it makes me suited to help," explains the voice, now coming from the Upgrade in the mirror, "Break my image, you must hurry, or else you will fold away into nothingness and your existence will be forgotten." Indeed, the walls begin to smooth and close, warping any perceptions in the room and wiping away other failed reflections. "Break."

And break Shane indeed does, on many levels, as the prison folds itself in around her. Dropping to one knee, she squeezes shut her eyes and takes in a deep breath. As she does, her skin reddens, glowing… And then erupts with the concussive force that creates her ear-shattering explosion.

This time, the woman is the only one affected, and her mirror shatters away, "Quickly!" Calls the echoing voice, coming from through the glass. The other reflections become even more panicked and attempt similar maneuvers, but nothing breaks away for them, the opening is only for this Shane. "Time." "Move quickly! You have no time!"

With the way clear before her, Shane stumbles into a weary, panicked lame-horse approximation of a run… but given her state of mind, it's probable that the direction she takes is only coincidentally that of the beckoning voice; to anyone who has any clue about human psychology, Shane is incoherent with terror, flight instincts screaming in her ears.

As Shane passes through the pathway opened to her, the mirror substance closes behind her. "Safe." This leaves her in a corridor seemingly made of similar material, though for now, all of the Shanes in the reflections act normally. "I know where you can be safe for a time. I know your lungs must be burning, but there is water…"

"Water…" Now that the word is said, yes, her lungs are burning… but the lesson has been learned, to stop is to die. Thus, caroming off the walls at random, Shane continues to stumble vaguely forward, trying to bring moisture back to her parched throat and struggling lungs.

The corridor may seem to stretch on for an eternity for the parched Shane, but eventually it does end, and at the end there is another room, less uniform than the previous and with puddles falling into the grooves, ready to access for drinking. "You can rest now. For a time, but then we will have to move. We have a long time ahead of us."

Shane falls to her knees at the edge of the water, supporting herself on shaky arms, chest heaving. She remains this way for a long while, until she can coax her system to slow enough to allow her to drink. Plopping over to one side, she holds her upper body up on one elbow, her free hand dipping into the puddle to drink. Slowly, like her physical therapy nurse taught her after a brutal session; small sips, spaced out, avoid throwing it all back up…

Back in reality, Upgrade watches as Shane drinks out of a doggie bowl in their dingy underground hideout. "Huh, pathetic. At least this one will be useful." She walks over towards her husband, who is just fine after the previous day, resting a hand on the side of his neck, "Are you playing stupid games still? This one seems properly terrified. You think fear will be enough to control her?"

Mindbender doesn't look up from his go game against himself, "If not, I'll just lay waste to her mind… everyone can be controlled by enough fear."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License