AW: Chippewa, Population: 202.
Lively is an awkward man in a tweed suit, standing just outside your window while you change.
Unnatural Lust Transfixion
“You. Now. In the RV.”
Casual Brain Receptivity
“He’s looking at me. Please make him stop looking at me, I feel dirty when he does that.”
In-Brain Puppet Strings
“But if I don’t do what he says, I’ll be fucked too! It’s like I just can’t win!”
“Did he just crush Scrum’s skull? Oh shit, Scrum’s brains are leaking all over the fucking floor, and now he’s looking at US! Let’s get the fuck out of here!”
“But I’M SHOOTING BULLETS, Teag. That naked perv out there, he’s dodging FUCKING BULLETS and, oh god, I think it’s giving him an erection!”
“Yeah, but I can’t stop watching Bob. Look at how it bounces when-”
“FUCK TEAG THAT’S GROSS! I’M NOT LISTENING!! LALALALALALA”
Light! Light is the first thing Lively remembers. He batted away the rays of golden sun peeking between the slats of the wall, sending dust motes swirling around between his knobby fingers. He sucked in air in a great big yawn that felt like the first breath he had ever taken. Today felt especially new somehow. He threw covers off of himself, sweating in the summer weather and chided himself about being unable to sleep without them. Clambering upright, he hung his long legs off the bed and tried to work the fatigue out of his bones. At 14, it felt like he had experienced all his growth spurts at once and his body just didn’t fit right.
He found slacks and a dress shirt in the closet, both slightly rumpled. He didn’t care that much- he was always expected to dress well growing up but he half-assed it every moment he possibly could. When he was leader of the holding, he thought, he would outlaw formal clothes. He tugged them over his gangly frame and composed himself – and his hair – for inspection. He threw on a tweed jacket to complete the picture. As he was examining himself in the mirror for correctness, his stomach let out a low growl, as if defending its territory. Hunching over into his regular posture, he heeded the warning, fleeing down the steps and skipping every other one.
He skidded to a stop here, examining the house. It was a two-story shack, rotting, weathered boards barely standing against the sun’s rays and the warm breeze. But when’s the last time Lively had been here? Where were his parents? WHO were his parents?
Maybe he lived alone here, orphaned. Maybe his parents were still asleep somewhere in the house. Maybe they were on vacation. A thousand ideas cycled around Lively’s head as he tried to orient himself, but they only led to more questions: did he have a job? Who were his friends? How did he get here, and was it even his house? “Lively. I’m Lively, and I’m 14. I’m a boy, I don’t like dressing up, I’m hungry and I’m having a bad day. So…” he said, hoping that by starting to recite things he DID know he would run smoothly into the things he could not remember. But as he got to “So,” this word stopped him. It seemed that even as the word trailed off it became more substantial in the air. So… ?
Losing one’s place in the universe is the stuff of nightmares. Throughout life each one of us is keenly aware of a constant stream of expectations upon us. Simultaneously finding oneself unequipped to respond to those expectations AND unable to even remember them causes a level of panic and embarrassment that is extroardinarily hurtful.
Lively burst out into an unfamiliar street, forgetting his hunger. He was in a holding, yes. But this was the wrong holding. He was supposed to be in P-….. no, R-…. no. It definitely started with… never mind. That one was gone too. He had to find help! Someone had to know him!
Originally part of a textile mill, and renovated into dentist’s offices, internet service providers and high-end restaraunts in the heyday of man, this place had been renovated again into a fortified holding. A shantytown had been cobbled together around the mill buildings, and the whole thing was surrounded by a decorative brick wall, now riddled with bullets and topped with spirals of barbed wire. Lively made a bee-line to the main mill building and ran up a flight of steps, letting out a panicked wail. He began to feel lightheaded, and his heart raced. People started to come out of doors in the long hallway, all dressed in uniforms. Some of their expressions were stern and disapproving, others looked worried. Suddenly Lively realized he may be somewhere he’s not allowed, and he gasped for air, trying to get a grip on the situation. His vision closed in as people rushed towards him.
He awoke in a Dentist’s chair, with two women looking down at him. One wore coveralls and had her hair back, the other in the same uniform he saw the others in. His arm hurt, and his head hurt. He wasn’t sure which hurt more.
“How are you feeling?” the lady in coveralls asked.
“I… my arm hurts,” Lively compromised.
“I’m Marsha, I run this place. This is Switch, our Angel, " – Switch scoffed at this title – “she fixed you up.”
Lively stared awkwardly at these two. Life in this harsh world had obviously taken its toll, but they had weathered worse storms than this. They seemed upbeat, and this made Lively calmer. “Where am I?” he finally asked.
“You, little man, are in Rosewood Court, the esteemed shopping and office centre of better days. What I wanna know is how a little guy like you wound up in our hold. I know everything that goes on around here, and something doesn’t add up!”
“I don’t remember,” Lively answered truthfully.
“Well now,” she said, “we might have a problem then. I’m going to send for Sumisu, and hopefully we can get your head sorted out too… one way or another.”
“What do you mean, one way or another?” Lively asked, not liking the wording one bit.
“Sumisu’s a Brainer,” Switch cut in, “If you know anything, you’d better say it now, because there ain’t nobody better at jogging someone’s memory than him.”
Lively shook his head, and with a sigh from Marsha the two went to talk in the next room in hushed tones. After a minute, Marsha returned with an asian man in a smart suit and tie. He set his hat on an IV rack, sat on the edge of the already-cramped dentist’s chair, and leaned uncomfortably close. Lively smelled whiskey on his breath.
“How are you little guy?” he said, the H full of alco-breath.
“Hi… okay, sir.”
“Do you know where your parents are?”
“Do you know who I am?”
“I’m Sumisu. You and I are going to get to know each other reeeal well.”
Sumisu brought the light over real close and studied Lively’s face very carefully. He tasted Lively’s sweat. He felt his chest and stomach, asking him if it hurt. As he took measurements of the bumps on Lively’s head, he asked nominal questions: do you like apricots? Have you ever heard music before? What do you do before bed? These were interjected with bizarre questions: do you masturbate? What do you think the insides of a dog look like? Where would you most like to touch your parents if I found them for you? That’s a nice suit. What would you do if you soiled it? Many times questions were asked more than once, phrased differently each time.
Finally, he gave Lively a slip of paper and asked, “what does this taste like?” Sumisu frowned when Lively said, “it tatheh like paper.” He walked back and forth, then turned back to Lively.
“You’ve been tampered with by another Brainer. I can’t reverse the damage.”
As Sumisu was leaving, he glanced back – “Take care, Lively.”
“I never told you my name,” Lively said. Sumisu winked at him and walked out the door.
This scene has played backwards and forwards in his head ever since. Is Sumisu his antagonist? Is he simply the best Brainer in his trade? Either way, somehow he factors into this mystery.
Lively apprenticed with another Brainer to learn the tricks and the ways of the one who took his family away from him. He scrapped together enough jingle with his talent and his passion and bought the best, most obscenely violating gear. Eventually he parted ways with his mentor and found himself in Chippewa, where he met a Hocus that treated him hospitably in spite of the ruined gaze that usually warned people off of his company. Soon, the Hocus made a swift exit, and Lively decided to tag along for the ride.
The rest, as we say, is history.