Post retrospectives here!
It has been a trying couple of days. I have been overburdened with patients, and my resources have been stretched as far as they will go.
Patient 1 was an exsanguinated, prepubescent female. Since it appeared the Brainer was involved in her attack, she was connected to the Hocus’ cult, and the Savvyhead knew right where to find her, life-threatening conflict seemed imminent. In order to minimize conflict or threat to my safety, I made the choice to treat patient 1 without first being paid in barter or stock. It was my hope that patient 1’s survival would pacify those involved. I was sorely mistaken…
Patient 2, the Hocus, suffered intracranial bleeding as a result of a “psychic” attack by the Brainer. The Hocus became quite agitated, demanding my immediate medical attention. Knowing the Hocus’ propensity for manipulating others via the psychic maelstrom, I chose to treat her before other – more seriously injured – patients.
Patient 3 was the Brainer. He presented with multiple abrasions, contusions, and – of course – a gun shot wound. It appears as if some combination of the Hocus, Savvyhead, Trey, and/or other cultists attacked the Brainer. His condition was quite serious. Untreated, I expect his death would have been imminent. However, as previously noted, the Brainer is something of a puzzle to me; an atypical case. The incongruence between his alturism towards children, and homicidal behavior towards children no more than 36 hours later, requires more investigation. Seeing as I still need to study this Brainer and his connection to the maelstrom, I decided to commence treatment without immediate payment in barter or stock.
Patient 4 was… myself. I suffered subcutaneous damage due to an improper needle stick, causing a blood infection. I was attacked by an angry mob of violent and perhaps intoxicated men, resulting in a minor subdural hematoma and concussion. Finally, patient 2 attacked me while I was treating her. The cumulative damage would have been enough to kill me had I not spent my last two stock to relieve pressure on my brain. From what I understand, I fell unconscious immediately after drilling into my scull to insert a catheter. The Savvyhead administered supportive care, and I regained consciousness many hours later.
There remain an unspecified number of holding children that sustained injuries during the mob riots. It is likely that these injuries range from superficial to fatal. However, I have been unable to evaluate them due to the severity of patients 1 and 3, my own ailing health, and lack of any supplies or stock.
It would appear that my colleague Trey has returned. Ironically, my personal safety had not once been threatened in his absence. Then, the hour of his return, I was nearly the victim of a rape gang. I have not mentioned to the others that I was forced to dispatch two attackers… It seems of little consequence with everything else that has transpired. However, it was a terrifying experience being alone and being targeted. Trey was apparently too busy attacking the Brainer (along with the Hocus) to protect me. My, how allegiances and priorities change…
~ Char, Angel 8/15/11
((I did something a little different this time—I think I touched on all of the events, albeit in subtler ways. Hope it works for y’all!))
“Um, Char? It’s me, Rigger. I—I don’t know if you can hear me. I don’t know if the sound of my voice impacts your brain when you’re unconscious. One more thing to ask you later, I guess. But I feel the need to get some things off my chest, and I can’t leave you alone, so… here goes.
Nobody ever pays attention to the mechanic unless something needs fixed. And that’s usually the way I like it. I’ve done more than my share of getting noticed earlier in life—and it isn’t where my talents lie.
Besides, being unnoticed allows me to see things, hear things, observe life. Eventually I come to conclusions—and I’m oftener right.
My first life conclusion is that everything breaks. I wouldn’t have my place in the world if it didn’t, but that doesn’t make it any less true. There’s always another mechanical failure—like the door falling off the back of your sterile sanctuary. There’s always another society failure, like Twice fucking everyone’s brains. Shit, indeed happens.
My second conclusion is that if you’re like me—if you’re low to the ground, unnoticed and open to what’s going on around you—more often than not you end up in the right place at the right time. People treat me as if I’m—unfocused. I prefer to think that I’m merely focused on right now. Something—sometimes something I can’t even place my finger on—grabs my attention and I end up where I’m supposed to be. Like finding that little girl you put back together. Or like—well, when I thought she was for sure going to die, I just knew all of a sudden, how what was left could be used—it makes me feel cold, but there it is. My point is that the more I try to hide, the more open to everything I seem to get—and it puts me where I need to be.
My third conclusion is that when shit happens, when things break, if we’re not careful it cascades. When an engine starts to fail you have two choices—shut it down and minimize the damage or finish running it into the ground. People forget that. All the time. They get so focused on doing that they fuck shit up worse. People jump to conclusions and act without having all of the diagnostics at their finger tips. They fight when they don’t need to. When shit happens and we take it out on each other, more, worse shit happens. Every time. Like Lively getting shot. Like rampaging, children-stomping mobs. Like the best laid plans to fix the Twice situation going tits up in a heartbeat. As a team we can fix anything. As adversaries… we fuck everything up. Hard.
I feel like the best I could do to help those injured children didn’t amount to much. I don’t know. Maybe I need to learn how to be noticed more. Or at the right times. Cause what good does it do to be at the right place at the right time if I can’t change anything? What good does it do to be oftener right if nobody listens?"
Somewhere in the recesses of dim corridors, a voice sounded.
“…and if you get lost, retrace your steps and try to remember how you got there. Look at things along the way from both sides. If you still can’t find anything go find the hardholder, okay?”
A cold was in his hand. Cold world, perhaps cold metal, but the tiny bits of rust creeping along it threw wave after pounding wave of red into the air. Pale shadows passed through his chest in a peaceful thunkTHUNK, thunkTHUNK, hitting his ribs and then his back in a second heartbeat, a murmur in time.
A shape was resolving on the floor. Pale, beautiful, like an impressionist painting but the ones that depict typhoid fever. She actually looked like Mice. Mice was a sweet little girl. She was innocent. She still knew her family, and of very few of the world’s troubles. When she went hungry she still ate. For all the drought she never seemed to go thirsty, she was too good at finding things. This girl, though, she looked thirsty. Almost like all the blood was sucked out of her-
The Cold in Lively’s hand pulsed louder. The rust was threatening to envelop his hand. Even so, he felt reality ebbing back in. People were shouting. Mice was dead. The Cold was some kind of surgical tool. Lively was lost.
Quickly adding up the scene, he seemed to have killed Mice. That didn’t make any sense. Surely the people he had been traveling with had seen enough that he wasn’t in the habit of murdering people for sport. “Help me find out who did this,” he said. More yelling.
Rigger was there, in the way that only Rigger Is There When Things Happen. But he was walking with a limp now, and he was burning holes in the soles of his feet he was staring at them so hard. Ever so softly, he said “I know how… I can show you..but it would kill her.”
Lively, shaking with rage but taken by the horrifying implication reached awkwardly, unsteadily and put a hand on Rigger’s shoulder, and shook his head. There would be hope for the girl yet. He turned his back to the group to hide his tears, and squeezed his eyes shut as the psychic maelstrom enveloped him once again. His skin peeled away, leaving him a creature of wound beads and pearls, shifting in the light. The loop passing through his chest was darker now, and passed through a few other people, one of many random chains of events his conscious, or perhaps the collective subconscious, wanted to point out to him. He reached out, unraveling, shrieking into the stormy winds murderous defiance. He would find whoever is responsible. He would kill them. He reached further, and clamped down.
Lively held onto it, a living brain and he squeezed and squeezed. He wrenched with both hands, if they could even be called hands any more, and azure fluid filled them and dripped on the ground. When the life had ebbed from this soul, he cast it aside, his murderous rage sated. He found himself in a strange corridor. Lost. The loop of shadows was almost black now, passing through him and the ghosts of others.
Lively rubbed the Crazy out of his eyes and retraced his steps. He was in a shipping crate. He was talking about reassigning brains that had been misused for the ill of mankind to more suitable tasks. He was finding ways to restore his memory – to find his tormentor, and perhaps even his family. From there it got strange. There were circles of unimaginable size, lines of vivid colors he could no longer describe, impossible angles that defied euclidean AND polar geometry, and a night sky swimming with murky reds. These images seem harmless if not normal, but evoked a primal dread hard-coded into the senses of things not of our universe. This could only be another brain-fucker. NO- another full-on, honest to fuckin’ god Brainer. It had to be Twice.
“Twice,” Lively said, snapping back to reality and inadvertently answering a question. “If we find T-…. T…..” The word stuck in Lively’s throat, choking him as he tried to say it. “Did he just say he killed her twice?” someone said. Lively concentrated on breathing, abandoning his plan and hoping that the name would be enough. It wasn’t. “Forget it, you’re all useless,” he said and turned away.
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