Saturday, March 22, 2014

Death, Rebirth, Rinse, Repeat

Evening, folks. The following brief story was written as a character history for a MUSH that I roleplay on. The protagonist and I share a first name - he's a reimagining of an older character from a World of Darkness tabletop game I ran for about seven years. A few hours to get this one done, including tweaks. Feel free to offer your thoughts - constructive criticism is certainly welcome.

Character History for Tommy Blackthorne -

September 11th, 2001 1:15am

    A heavy rain fell on the lone figure walking down the block in Manhattan. His hands rested in the pockets of his trenchcoat, and his sheer size and build seemed to keep any of the late night gang-bangers from giving him trouble. He glanced up at the sky, the silhouette of the Twin Towers against the gray sky etched into his memory. He somehow believed that the day would be; it was his birthday, though the 'present' he'd received a touch early yesterday something that no one would ever wish to hear.

    Tommy had come down to New York to visit Mount Sinai Hospital to get a second opinion about his medical condition, but the doctors there had no better news than anywhere else. He was dying. NASH, they called it, Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis – basically, his liver was shot and the prospect of a transplant was non-existent. He'd been given a year, and that was the optimistic opinion. To make it even better, he could count the number of drinks he'd had in the last twenty three years on one hand. It wasn't fair – he'd spent his whole life trying to do the right thing and be a good person. Then again – if life were fair, his having a terminal disease would mean he deserved it, he reasoned.

    His reverie was broken as he heard a sound coming from nearby – a woman's voice, a scream cut short, and a struggle. He shook off his dark thoughts and immediately headed towards the sound. His friends had always said he had 'White Knight' syndrome. Peeking around the corner, he saw a male figure, athletically built and wearing clothes that had likely hadn't seen soap since the last millennium. Struggling with him was a beautiful raven haired woman with pale skin, her eyes wide with fear. Her assailant had a gun pressed into her neck, telling her to be quiet and he'd be done 'using her' in a few minutes.

    Spotting a long metallic rod, he figured it was no sword, but it'd do in a pinch. He took a few steps closer, using the would-be-rapist's attention focused elsewhere to get close enough, though he wasn't going to risk him shooting the woman accidentally if he just cracked him over the head. “Hey, asshole! You're 10 seconds away from the most embarrassing moment in your life.” He says, causing the man to whirl around, away from the woman, just in time for Tommy to crack him across the head with the metallic rod. “No means no, sparkles.” He took a step forward, trying to scare the guy into getting up and running away. The unwashed man scrambled to his feet, firing blindly behind him as he took off running, the sound of the gunshot cracking over the crashing thunder that filled the sky.

    Tommy turns slowly towards the woman, blinking as if confused or stunned. “Lady, you ok?” She nods her head quickly, “I'm ok. Thank you …” She trails off as the white dress shirt Tommy wore began to turn a rather lovely shade of crimson. He numbly reaches to the wound, touching it, before looking at his blood covered fingers. “Ahh... shit.” as he crumpled to the ground. Veronica Trent, the woman he'd just saved, cursed softly, immediately kneeling beside him. “God damnit...” she murmured, before reaching into her purse and pulling out a small vial of softly glowing blue liquid. “I hope to God I can make another one, but you're not dying on me!” She cradled Tommy's head in her lap, a soft cough from him bringing blood to his lips. She quickly poured the fluid into his mouth. “Swallow it. Do it!” She commanded, and with his last moments of life, he complied. A moment later, he was gone... for the moment. She stroked his hair, speaking softly. “Come on, damnit. Wake up, Lancelot. Not on my watch... not on my watch...”

    Time passed, Veronica worrying quietly as she held his lifeless body. It seemed an eternity, before a gasp escaped his lips as his eyes fluttered open, the only evidence of the wound that had been in his chest being the bloodstained shirt, replete with bullet hole. He blinks his eyes, looking up at the raven haired beauty, his eyes wide, with a soft blue glow that began to fade. “I... I was dead. Right? I... Are you an Angel?” He asks softly, his question completely serious. She managed a teasing chuckle. “No. I'd be a horrible Angel... But I did save you... and thanks for saving me, Lancelot.”

    Tommy looked around, finally reaching to his chest, and finding no trace of the wound. “I'm Tommy... but Lancelot works.” He says with a smile. “So – what the hell did you have that patches bullet wounds and... I remember shadows... a kinda peaceful twilight...” She presses a finger to his lips. “Not here. Come with me... it's best we're out of here as quickly as possible. Let's head to my place.” He slowly begins to get to his feet. “My car's in the parking garage up the block. We'll take that. No more alleys, got it?” She slips an arm around his waist, and the two made for the car.

    The night was a whirlwind – Immortal? How the hell was that even possible? But Veronica did her best to teach him about not only his new found abilities, but also about the supernatural world lying beneath the surface. Luckily, he'd always been fascinated by the occult, so he had the basics down already. She finally explained to him that the potion she'd used to save him... was hers. The culmination of over ten years of research. Tommy promised her that he would do his best to help her obtain the ingredients she'd need to make another potion for herself.

    The chemistry between the two was tangible, but just as things seemed about to move to a more personal area, her phone rang, her friend Rachel telling her to turn on the television. She clicked it on – and saw the same thing on every station. The World Trade Center was no more. Tommy's immediate reaction was to go there, to try to rescue any survivors – to make use of his immortality. Veronica grasped his hand, and spoke softly. “Don't... there will be thousands of witnesses there. I know you want to help – I wish we both could. But the last thing either of us needs is for people to see you regenerating before their eyes. Especially people from the government. You'd end up in a lab, being cut apart day after day, as they try to find out what makes you what you are. Please... stay here with me.” She asked softly, giving his hand a gentle squeeze. He glances towards the door, but nods. “Alright.” He drew her into his arms, and held her close.

    October 23rd, 2013 – 4:00pm

    Tommy walked over the grass of the large enclosure, a bouquet of Pink Carnations and another of Blue Violets in his hand. He glanced up at the slowly setting sun as he walked, finally stopping at his destination. He crouched down, sweeping the stray grass and such away from Veronica's headstone. Laying the flowers there, along with a photo of the two of them together at their wedding in a sealed frame, he looked at the stone, engraved with 'You will live forever in my heart', tears rolling down his cheeks. “I'm so sorry, Guinevere... I wasn't fast enough... I just... We were supposed to do this together, damn it! What the hell am I going to do without you? Christ... I could barely pick out my own damn clothes in the morning.” He looked again to the sky, at first speaking softly through the tears. “Fuck you. Fuck you and your goddamn cancer! It should be me in that box; not her! Her heart was brighter than anyone else's on this planet, and you know it.” He clenched his hands into fists, before taking a breath, exhaling slowly as his hands opened again. 

    He sighed softly, trying to regain control of his emotions. “Sleep well, my beloved Gwen... I'll figure out a way to join you eventually.” He leaned in, kissing the top of the headstone gently, before rising, and walking away, the wind causing his long coat to flutter behind him. He needed to get away, being in New York was like having an icicle in his heart every waking moment. He remembered a town that was on one of V's 'lists' of weird places... where the hell was it. Maine? Sure. Good a place as any...

Hello - is it me you're looking for?

Hey all! Welcome to the Vault!

What is this nonsense? Well, I've been wanting a forum to get some of my writing out there, and to discuss my observations on life, the universe, and everything, with heartfelt thanks to the late Douglas Adams.

I've set this to 18+ to allow both myself and my readers to express themselves as they wish. I also note that some of my stories have dark, adult themes, so 'caveat lector' folks. In any event, I look forward to interesting discussion and commentary.

- T.