» Chasing Tomorrow | | Seeking Benevolence

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by Sakura, Aug 26, 2012.

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    Chapter One :: "The world we've known"

    It was a strange night. The streets were empty under the glow of dim lights. It was queer, a popular part of the city, so quiet. There was only the sounds of a few cabs dropping off their passenger.

    You would find yourself standing at the corner of three cross-streets. In your hands is an invitation to LifeCHANGE, the lottery that promises money beyond a person's dream. "How far are you willing to go," says the card, "to follow your dreams?" The card contained a small note, simply instructing you to take the cab. The destination was unknown, but you realized, on the way, that it was in the city. Now, standing in the middle of the "city that never sleeps", you wondered why it was so quiet? Where were all the people? Why were you brought here? The questions don't cease.

    In the distance, the soft rumbling of thunder indicated the oncoming storm. Quickly, before the rain comes, you survey the area.

    Behind you is a an empty little building that seems to be an abandoned cafe. The front door has been left open to the cold night, leaving an eerie sort of shadow travelling into the room. There are dainty little picnic tables on the inside. The colorful paint is peeling off the walls and it seems no one has been there in a while. You turn away to look around.

    Across the street is a strange looking contraption. From the wheels, you're led to assume it's a car, or a van of some sort. It's an oblong, rather weird shape, about three cars long and bulky on the sides. The doors are too high to simply sit into the seats. If there are seats, you wonder, it's difficult to see into the windows from here.

    Aside from the vehicle, there are no others cars on the streets. The sidewalks are empty, the shops and their lights are closed, and the a dim fog has started to approach from the west. A flash of lightning is followed by a strong crack of thunder. The rain begins to come pouring down in loads, spilling over the streets and drowning the sidewalks. You find the need to take shelter. Where will you go?

    As you move for cover, you think of the inside of the card, the personal message left by Mr. Alexsworth, the founder of the lottery. In his large, flourishing handwriting, he left you a message. It's an inquisitive one, and for a while, you've been thinking of it. Who is this man? Why does he wish to give away so much money just to see people follow their dreams? You let your thoughts roam, waiting. If the rain lets up, perhaps Mr. Alexsworth will resume the 'journey'.



    ---
    Personal Messages:

    Silverman, is there a value you can put on your heart?

    Gunnridge, what is the story in a raindrop?

    Daye, for whose sake are you fighting?

    Lasniv, is there someone you would rather be than yourself?

    Kirchner, are you searching for something in your past?

    Daemon, how does the cry of a broken guitar make you feel?

    Irmon, does a place to return to have to be a physical place?

    Haddoway, what have you lost to the darkness?

    Larsen, which is the film you won't direct?

    David, is there something you're running from ?

    Foster, what is true loneliness?

    Daecher, what hurts you the most?


    <<
     
  2. The cursor remained blinking, the document unfulfilled. It was reeling around in his mind again, a tangent which has recently left the journalist amiss. The rain dripping outside had come in full again, the street sounds just as quiet as that time before. ”It’s nothing.” He said to himself. Removing his right hand from his keyboard he once again touched the rain damaged card he had picked up that night. The almost golden letters on the front reading ‘Alexsworth’ and inside the question that had lost him three more jobs, ‘Does the place to return to have to be a physical place?’ He set the card aside again and picked up a small triangular name plate. It was supposed to be placed on his desk upon receiving a job but for now it just held down notes about the lottery. ”Physical or not Fredrick, holding onto a past not there is futile.” The rest of the report had to be finished and published before the news archives were closed for submissions. ”The last sentence, a real clincher.” The cursor began to move again. ‘For what these cards mean nobody knows, but we can be sure that Alexsworth is paying close attention to the holders.’

    It was perfect, enough to send into the servers. Grabbing a hold of his mouse he saved the document and highlighted it. Once copied he moved over to his browser and typed in the address. Finally he just needed to log in. The cursor remained steady once more. Again his thoughts dwelled on the card he had. "Is it something worth talking about? Or is it just like all the rest a message with no answer?" There he sat for a moment waiting and debating. Finally he came to his senses and logged in. The submission form was relatively easy to navigate with all the coding already in place when writing. He clicked submit and leaned back in his chair. A low groan came from his throat as he tried to relax. The screen sat at a beige looking page from the station. 'Entries no longer accepted. Please resubmit between the hours of 8am and 8pm. Thank you!'
     
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  3. Huddled under the threadbare awning in front of the little abandoned cafe Lana took a long draw on her cigarette, the cherry glowing at the end lighting her face in the dimness. She pulled the too-large thrift store leather jacket closer around her against the chill of the rain, taking in the quiet of the street with a detached sort of interest. It really was strange; this street that was typically so busy no matter the time of day or night was absolutely still and empty. Save for the strange vehicle across the way and the cabs that had begun arriving one by one. Anyone who could close off an intersection like this had clout. And money.

    The card she had received held simple instructions: Get in the taxi. It was exciting, like an adventure or something on television. But then she had been let out here, in this street corner, in the rain. Needless to say she was feeling a little nonplussed about the whole situation, but she would do just about anything for the cash on offer. Lana allowed her mind to wander, just this once while she waited for something to happen, to the possibilities that money like that could hold. I could make sure mom was taken care of, maybe drop down to just one job. Feel like a human being again instead of a turn-and-burn robot. Sleep. She rubbed her eyes, knocking the ashes from her smoke with the flick of her thumb. Just the thought of the word sleep made her feel tired.

    Well. More tired. She had been working each of her three jobs back to back for the past four days non-stop in order to build enough funds to take time off for this thing. The Eye-Opener was starting to wear off, too. She was going to need another hit soon. Her lips quirked up in a funny smile as she thought of the running and how she had had a bit of a laugh at the hand-written note that came along with her strange invitation. "Is there something you're running from?" More like constantly running to. Since her mother had been hospitalized it was a non-stop rotation of kitchens broken up by hospital visits and the occasional night out. You had to unwind somehow, right?

    Taking another long drag and blowing the smoke from her nose, she watched the cabs and the people. It was about time that whatever they were here for got started.

     
  4. A loud popping noise interrupted her song as one of the guitar strings snapped, whipping her shoulder. Wincing, Celia reached to her case and grabbed a new string, unwinding it and prepping it to be put on. As she was about to thread the string through, she noticed that not only had the string broke, but the tuning mechanism for that string as well. Her stomach sank and she felt tears well up in her eyes. It wasn't often that she broke her guitar, but when she did, she always felt horrible about it. To her, a guitar was her friend, and breaking it was like pushing your friend out of a tree and making their arm or leg break. You aren't going to be happy about breaking your friend, are you? If you're happy, something is wrong with you. When something like that happens, you're going to want to get them help. In this case, however, she couldn't get help. She was broke, and even if she did have the money to get her guitar fixed, it was too late at night now. She looked up at the people scattered about in the cafe; they didn't even seem to notice what had happened. Maybe she wasn't as good as she thought she was?

    Shaking her head, she stood and put her guitar back in it's case as gently as she possibly could. She didn't want to hurt it more than its current state. She closed the case and flipped the latches shut. Picking up the case, she headed to the back to see the owner. She didn't particularly like him, but she had to speak to him now. As she walked in, he had his back to her as he was fixing something, it appeared. She tapped his shoulder. As he turned, she began to speak. She didn't want to be there more than she had to be. "My guitar is broken, I can't fix it right now. I'm afraid I'll be out for a while." Niceness was key here. The owner was cold and steely as always. He had never been nice to her, and this was no exception.
    "In that case, get out of my cafe." At that, she turned on her heels, walking briskly out of the little cafe. She didn't want to be there more than she had top be. She stepped outside into the rain, stopping there and looking up. Little droplets fell onto her face and tickled her skin. She shivered some, bare skin exposed to the cold air and freezing rain. She shook her head, looking at her guitar case. 'Perhaps I'll just go for a walk.' She hugged the case to her, walking down the street. Reaching into her pocket for warmth, she felt a little slip of paper. She pulled it out. "LifeCHANGE," the card read. 'Oh, that's right.' She had gotten it earlier, but she wasn't sure if she actually had a chance at having her life changed. She opened it one-handed. "How does the cry of a broken guitar make you feel?" As she read the card, tears threaten to burst the dam once more and she grasped her case tighter. She kept walking. 'I will go to that corner and do this.' The answer to that question was simple to her. It hurt.

    She eventually got to the corner, noticing another person there. It was cold and rainy; Why would someone be here by themselves? She watched as the lady walked into the abandoned cafe, deciding to follow. As she walked in, she saw an odd looking vehicle. she wasn't sure what it was, but she assumed it was the cab.
     
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    The droplets of water clinging to his glasses were glistening spots on his vision under the fluorescent glow of the streetlights. Pitter patter, began the rain, and then slowly mounted to a crescendo of torrential downpour. It soaked him to the bone, matting down fluffy brown hair and making his green plaid button-down cling to his skin. He stopped on the sidewalk and shut his eyes to savor the moment, tipping his face heavenward and letting it wash over him, like it was washing everything away. A clean slate, a fresh start... Wasn't that why he'd come here?

    Kelly had always liked the rain.

    Music hummed in his eardrums, vibrating through the earphones from his iPod, and he hummed along with it as he slipped his hands into the pockets of his dark jeans and resumed motion. The melody was haunting, the lyrics a little close to home, and yet he felt compelled to listen all the same. Kelly released a shaky sigh. His fingers closed around stiff paper, tracing over the edges with something like trepidation, as if he thought it might disappear with too much handling. He could see the words printed on the card even now, scrawled across the back of his eyelids...

    "Are you searching for something in your past?"

    What lay in Kelly's past couldn't be recovered. No matter what he wanted, one cannot go back; only forward. And Kelly was more than ready to move forward, or so he told himself, as he walked down the road in the rain toward uncertain promises, with only a ghost of a song for company.

    ***

    Earlier...

    ***

    If he stared at his phone long enough, hard enough, desperately enough, it would ring. That was the game that Kelly played, when he was alone and in his darkest place.

    It didn't matter who it was. Whether it was Erin, or Shane, even Jessica, or just someone calling to offer him his next job. He needed that phone to ring, needed it like air or water or one meal a day, needed it like a junkie needs his fix. Hell, he'd take a call from his therapist, even though he'd stopped seeing her when he'd gone off his meds out of shame that she'd find him slipping. That was his fault, for choosing a therapist who felt more like a maternal figure than his own mother. It was too hard to disappoint her.

    So instead, he'd cut another tie.

    His cell phone rang.

    Inhaling sharply, he picked up without even looking at the caller ID, and he sounded breathless even to his own ears when he spoke. "Yeah, hi?"

    "Kelly! Weren't you coming over? We were going to fill out applications, right?" Jessica's warm and silky voice was like a caress, sweet and textile. It made Kelly grin despite himself, and despite the answer he had for her.

    "I'm sorry. I can't." He leaned forward, propping his chin on the steering wheel of his car. "The Rustbucket won't start. I have to take her in, I think..."

    A pause. Then, "I could come get you."

    Kelly shut his eyes, turning his words over in his mouth. They tasted like sawdust. "You don't have to do that, Jess."

    "It's not a problem! I was thinking, we could make a night of it, you know? Applications first, then treat ourselves to dinner, then maybe... come back to my place..." The drop in her pitch threatened to cloud his thoughts, and for a moment he wondered why he didn't just get over himself and come right out with why he'd been holding back. Why was he so afraid? Jessica was a wonderful girl. They liked each other, and he was just frustrating them both by dancing around the issue.

    His chest suddenly felt tight. It started in the center and spread outward, forming the lines of his binder. It was compressing him, wrapping him up tight, a necessary restriction. Even the word itself was honest about that.

    "Sorry, Jess. I've got something going on later."

    She took just a little too long to reply. "Right. Okay."

    Click.

    Kelly was left alone with his thoughts, clutching his phone and staring out the windshield of a broken-down car, with troubled green eyes and a lifetime of regrets.
    </object>
     
  6. [​IMG]There was a slight chill from the sudden breeze that went by. Standing under one of the roofs of a small store he looked over at the cafe. His hands rested in his jacket and he just stood there for a moment t ponder his thougts. Why am i here? He thought as he looked at how the rain was pouring down. Leaning up from the wall his eyes checked his surroundins before jotting acroos the street and then to the cafe. He looked aback at the street noticing the strange car and then he shook his head because it was just a earie feeling.

    Slowly he opened the door to the cafe, the dim lights were enough to make him want to leave the store and stand in the rain all over again. Raymond remembered the letter that he had. What is true lonlieness?. He sighed and stared doen at the letter letting his mind get filled up with thoughs and wonders. The whole area seemed a little off, were had expected tons of people it was empty, where he had expected tones of bustling cars there were none.

    His eyes darted to the door when he heard it open and a girl walked inside, the one thought that was going through his head was mabey she's here for the same reason i am. He had no clue on what to do or say, he was so focused on the letter. What does it mean, who wrote it and better yet why were the three questions going through Raymind's head. Tapping his hand on the table he sighed and then looked down trying to sort things out.
     
  7. It takes a short time to recover from a soical dilemma. The brain doesn't quite kick back in... not until you've reshuffled your cards at least. To get rid of the blush, to correct your posture, to straighten your coat - these things take a moment.

    And in that moment, you can neglect things.

    Like the simple Where the fuck am I? reflex of a man who finds himself suddenly on a street in the pouring rain at night without a clue where to go next. In the fluster of deciding if American taxi drivers expected to be tipped or not, he had missed the chance to question his destination as he stumbled out of the taxi. Of course, fluster was the milder way of putting it. At times like this Mark Gunnridge was moved to outright anger by the inconvenience of American life. Why could a man not simply pay the exact amount he expects for a service? Why do there have to be these phantom addendums of 'sales tax' and 'tips'? An Englishman is accustomed to preparing the exact change for something, before he even reaches the register, so as to limit the need for unnecessary dialogue. But here... here you have to wave a handful notes and hope that it covers whatever invisible stipulations of commerce you've unwittingly brought upon yourself by having the temerity to want something.

    It was barbaric.

    The philosopher Thomas Hobbes once proposed that service providers should stab their customers a number of times equivalent to how much of an inconvenience it was to provide that service to them. That way, all this currency nonsense could be put to one side and we could get down the real basics of an economy - the ability to inflict pain on your neighbour without rebuttal. Right now, Gunnridge would've preferred such simplicity.

    Anyway, this fish out of water had thrashed long enough.

    Gunnridge pulled his coat around him, scowled at the rain, and considered the street corner he was on. Some hipster types seemed to be congregating at the derelict cafe behind him. Probably a multi-racial street gang (including white guys). He would steer clear of them. Instead, he made his way to the weird tram-like vehicle parked across the street, which seemed as out of place as he felt. Moving up and down its length, Gunnridge searched for a door, then finally opted to hammer his palm on the bubble-like side.

    "HELLO?!" he called, hoping his British accent would not antagonize the street gang in that cafe.

    Americans were pissy about that sort of thing, and more than ready to stab, shoot or throw their french fries at anything that wasn't as fat and useless as they were.
     


  8. Ophelia, Ophelia. Slow down. You look like an idiot.

    The pale girl scrambled to the corner as if she was catching a leaving train. Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes sparkling. Her jacket was slipping off one shoulder, a backpack swung across her chest and a small piece of paper in her hand, presumably her invitation. She stopped to take a look around. Behind her, the empty cafe. In front, the strange car. Down the streets, just fog and an oncoming storm. Ophelia sighed. Maybe it was a lie. Could it be possibly that such a large scale lottery could possibly be a scam. She took another sigh and pulled out her phone, tapping the screen and scrolling through her messages. She'd told only one friend where she was going today, hopefully she could get some directions back via subway..

    The girl stopped to look up at the crack of thunder, shuddering. She was afraid of the loud booming noise. She nearly dropped her phone. Slipping the electronic back into her pocket, she looked around again. It was raining hard. She liked the feeling of the cold water tumbling upon her. She stood still for a few minutes, watching a few people hurry about. A man seemed to approach the strange vehicle. Originally, she assumed it was a car wreck, but now, with closer inspection, she realized it was just built in a strange way. It was a curious sort of car.

    She glanced at the occupants of the cafe behind her, seeing the familiar glint of a laptop. Oh yeah! It'll get all wet if I just stand here! Taking the chance to see the inside of the peculiar car, she hurried over, walking past the man who seemed to be pounding on the door of the car. The doors were up pretty high, Ophelia saw. And it didn't seem like there was anything inside.

    She sneaked a look at the man. He was English, she realized, overhearing a bit of his accent just a moment ago. It made her smile. English people were cool, like her dad. "Maybe the door's open." She mumbled, mostly to herself. She wondered how she should speak. English accent to make the man feel like she was one of them, or her normal, new yorker slang. She opted for the latter, just to remain a stranger, and jumped to grab the edge of the door handle, pulling it with the force of her body. With a large creak, the door swung open, allowing them passage. She put her arms against the floor and pulled herself into the car, crawling to her feet once she was inside.

    The inside of the vehicle was similar to a plane. There were two seats up ahead with tons of lighted controls that were turned off at the moment. The windowsheild was enormous, stretching like a panorama across the front. There were many seats, doubled up on each side of the van, probably more than ten from what Ophelia could see. With another sigh, she plopped down on one of the seats in the back and pulled out her phone again. Still no text messages.

    I guess no one is really misses me yet. The thought made her laugh. If only she acted all dramatic and made a huge commotion about leaving. People wouldn't even notice she was gone unless it was a few days. It was sad, but, that was college. Everyone was too busy to keep track of her difficulties.

    Which is why I'm doing this. She reminded herself, eyeing the invitation again. It was wrinkled from how many times she'd held it tightly and read it over and over again. For whose sake am I fighting?

    Her eyes glided over to the open door, towards the English strange, as if to divert her own thoughts, but a small voice inside her head wanted to say: probably not for my own.
     


  9. [Celia watched as more and more people showed up. Plucking the non broken strings of her guitar, she stood in the cover of the cafe. After multiple people had showed up, she returned out to the rain soaked sidewalk, looking at the car as another girl swung the door open. She blinked; she hadn't even though about opening a door. I wonder what made her think to try one of the doors. Perhaps it was just natural instinct? Celia watched as the pretty girl hopped into the vehicle. She timidly followed her, her sad, broken guitar still in her hand as she cautiously made her way to the car. She peered in, seeing the girl.
    "Excuse me? May I sit next to you?" Celia was so damn shy; it was her damn anxiety. She couldn't help the bright red tinge her skin got when she spoke to a new person. She supposed that was just how anxiety worked. She wondered how many people would actually show up for this. As far as any of them knew, it could be some perv trying to get them into human trafficing. Who knew? Obviously the one running the show knew, but no one else did.

    As she stood outside of the car, the rain fell down onto her bare skin, chilling her to the bone. She was fond of rain, except for rare times like this when she didn't have decent clothing on. Any other time, the rain was one of her best friends. It watered the flowers and plants and made them look beautiful. Of course, she couldn't really say it watered flowers. After all, a flower was just a plant's reproduction organ. That was a creepy thought, but it was true. She actually remembered something from her eighth grade year.
     
  10. Busy! It is that one word that describes Lars' current life situation. Already when he wakes up in the morning he has started multitasking, trying bravely to brush his teeth while taking a shower at the same time. The kind of activity that makes you question which one you choose to begin with. And then, as if you weren't in a state of stress already, you have to make it appear as if you're listening to the woman lying in your bed making what seems to be random observations about your apartment and what happened last night.

    Nicole is her name. Black hair, green eyes, brown skin, her figure can best be described as 'petite', and with a more than average interest for staying in shape. She works as a dancing tutor. Even though she has a formal degree in modern dance, hip hop is her passion. Her teaching means she has to travel out of town a lot to do workshops. If they were to develop their feelings for each other to something more than it is now, they would have to endure a lot of time away from each other.


    He loves her, and she probably knows that, but she doesn't seem to want to take the initiative to progress their relationship any further. He is used to her company in his home now.


    Or maybe it's for the simple fact that his apartment is pretty much made up of just his bed, his fridge, the bathroom and a cardboard box. All the money he has seems to go to wards his electronic tools. The GoPro camera being his latest acquisition.


    "You really should think about putting something on your walls before I break myself in and do it myself." Nicole remarks still lying in the bed.


    "Yeah, uh-huh, sure honey. I gotta go now, talk later!" He uttered before exiting the apartment.


    --
    --


    "Larsen, which is the film you won't direct?"


    Lars was dropped off nearby the cafe on an empty side-walk. No one, not even a stray cat to spot in a close distance. He looks side to side before staring down at the card once more.




    "LifeCHANGE..."


    Never heard of it before, for all he knew it could be a promo card for some rich guy wanting to give unknown struggling artists like himself a shot at the big leagues.


    The question had kept him pondering all day. His answer was quite clear; no biographical stuff. Oh! And definitly no horror movies! He'd never understood the thrill of scaring people to death.


    Lars jumped in the road hoping he'd stay dry.


    "Shit, shit, shit." He cursed to himself running through the pouring rain.


    Larsen rushed to the cafe without focusing on the surroundings.
     
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  11. Tossing her cigarette butt into the rushing gutter, Lana watched with interest as a man and then a woman approached the vehicle. And then got inside. The pretty girl with the guitar that had walked up not too long ago had left the shelter of the awning to go investigate. Glancing around and drawing her jacket around herself tighter still, Lana said to no one in particular: "Well, if all the cool kids are doing it."

    She took off at a jog towards the odd shape of the thing, jumping into the open door and hoping that she didn't jostle or smack into anyone within. With an apologetic grin and shaking the water from her hair, Lana flopped unceremoniously into one of the seats that lined the interior. Taking quick stock of the others within as well as noting the strange make of the... what would you even call it? A limo?

    "So, where are we headed?" She asked, looking from one face to another. "You guys are here for that LifeCHANGE thing too, right? Or do I have the wrong space-limo? I didn't get any information, really. Just a card and a question. I'm Lana by the way." She rambled. She tended to ramble when she met new people.
     
  12. "Oh..." Gunnridge muttered as a brunette moved past him and found a door to open, before hauling herself up onto the raised floor.

    "Erm..." He then watched a second brunette move from the cafe and follow the first inside, dragging a guitar with her.

    "Er.. hi..." Then a third brunette followed from the cafe and likewise entered the vehicle.

    They had all ignored him. Maybe this was the nature of American teenagers. Or maybe he was stuck in some strange kind of time-loop, doomed for eternity to watch brunettes jumping into vans. Or maybe they were sisters, all saddling up to continue their road trip across the States.

    Weird sisters. Perhaps they would call him the king of Scotland.

    Gunnridge sighed at his own joke, then moved along the vehicle to peer into the opening. Three sets of women's legs. And the one with the tattoos was speaking. "You guys are here for that LifeCHANGE thing too, right? Or do I have the wrong space-limo? I didn't get any information, really. Just a card and a question. I'm Lana by the way."

    American voices. So laid-back, so drawling. So expectant of service and revelation. Gunnridge guessed it was time to play the game. Pulling himself up, his wet shoes slipped on the lip of the doorway as he struggled into the compartment and gripped one of the seat backs. It was enough to draw the attention of the three girls and he was suddenly aware of the intimacy of this enclosed space.

    His accent was made stranger by the echo. "Hi. I'm here for the... thing."

    Was this a coach or a plane? He had heard of American hybrids, but this was ridiculous. Taking the invitation from his pocket, Gunnridge waved it, just in case none of the weird sisters understood what he was saying. "I got a... card.. thing."

    There was now a puddle of rainwater around him.
     
  13. View attachment 14518 Shawnee removed her wet rain hood to drag her fingers through her dark brunette hair. She loosened her black jacket and removed the dark lavender scarf from her neck and placed them on a nearby table. Dropped her backpack beside the unoccupied chair, she glanced around to take in what little atmosphere she could register from the place.

    Using more than just her eyes, she found no conscious effort in interior decorating in the past. Then there was the sound of feet vacating, as well as entering. She knew she wasn’t alone, but everyone was so engross in their own foolhardiness attached to their LifeCHANGE cards, the atmosphere remained flat. That is, if they were all there for the same reason as she was.

    Maybe this was a bad idea, she thought, as if it was the only bad idea she’s done that night. Shawnee sat down and pulled her cell phone out to check the time. Too late to call Jack... but why should she apologize, or even consider the thought? She returned it back to her hip pouch with a determined huff.

    "Shit, shit, shit."

    Turning quickly around at the intrusion of silence, a guy rushes in, obviously perturbed about getting wet.

    “Here, here!” she applauded. “Every last bit of it.” What a way to break the ice. Shawnee gave a light smile for any eyes that were probably giving her a peculiar look by now.

    “So, who’s got a deck of cards on them? Or, at least one that’s worth keeping in your hand?” She pulled out her LifeCHANGE card, twisting it so the dull lights of the room could catch the glossiness of the golden letters scrolled on its face. "If I'm the only one here following this thing, then I'm a bigger fool than I'd thought."
     
  14. After a quiet moment to think the silence was broken by a sniffling. Rubbing his nose, Fredrick broke his train of un-thought, his computer still on the submission screen. It was times like these he wished he had some other means of being a journalist. It was weird to want to become something when your whole life has been overcoming this social anxiety. It was a haunting affliction but a controllable and treatable one. He took in a deep breath the air was still and stagnant. Letting go he got up out of his chair. ”Ohhhh, I guess I should go out. At least the rain will deter most people.” Leaving his apartment he descended down stairs, living on the fifth floor he could see over the top of the residential buildings around him but it was not much to see. This area had been neglected, perhaps even forgotten, perfect for a soul lost and in hiding; but, what others failed to notice is that even in the most deprived of civilizations there is still life. There are men, women, and children all seeking to live here. Street gangs called it home, unemployed mothers addicted to whatever the new drug was called it the same. For people like Fredrick it was a cursed haven. The country would have been true solitude but nobody could afford to live out there anymore.

    The next sensation to take over was the smell of gas. It was overbearing yet somehow comforting. It came from the garage that echoed each one of his footsteps. He was quite lucky enough to get an apartment in one of the only buildings that had an indoor garage. It kept the adolescent punks and gangsters out of his things. He made quiet observation of other vehicles as he shuffled towards his. The dripping water through the sewer drain brought his attention upon an old red GMC. The thing had marks on the side, like it was beaten by a chain. Most of the tires looked old except for the back right, it must’ve been destroyed in an attack. The thing had fresh treads and everything. Observation felt comforting to him, knowing that he could tell someone’s story just by looking at their car. Finally he approached the black behemoth he owned. The 96’ Silverado jumped into life the engine echoing in the garage. Pulling out he tossed the card on the passenger seat catching the glimpse of the program ran by the owner. ‘LifeCHANGE’ would money really change someone’s life for the better? Or was it some sort of secret that Alexsworth kept with him? Either way it was time to fish out a new scoop, the door opened and as if on queue lightning struck. Turning on the wipers he headed toward the Café several blocks down.

    After parking he waited inside the truck hoping it would stop raining. Across the street was a large vehicle, possibly doing the same thing. He brought out a pencil from his hair and a notebook from the glove compartment. He took notes on things hoping that news would stumble toward him. Unfortunately the mindset of a journalist was one of aggression and that socially was something he could not do. As he took down the notes he noticed several people walking along the sidewalk that suddenly stopped and got into the vehicle he noticed earlier. Even more strange he noticed a few were holding the card that he had sitting in his passenger seat. Perhaps this trip was worth it as he got the truck ready to follow the populated vehicle.
     
  15. Silverman, is there a value you can put on your heart?

    "And that concludes this tour. Any questions?" Some people simply shook their heads. Others muttered or looked at one another as if they were embarrassed to talk to her. Nika smiled with as much enthusiasm as she had started the tour with and hoped that would wipe out any memory of her energy lapses by the time they had reached the butterfly and insect exhibit. Then again, she wasn't sure anyone even listened to her in that room since there were too many butterflies and 'ew gross' insects to look at. "Please check out the museum shop for some mementos or the canteen if you're hungry. There's a restroom to the left here," she concluded, waving in the general direction they might want to go. The group started dispersing. It was only after everyone else had walked away that she turned toward the break room.

    The first thing she did upon entering the break room was fill a cup with water, down it, and fill it again. She wrenched open her locker and grabbed her bag, digging through to make sure she had her wallet and keys. Oh yeah. Her fingers closed along that strange invitation she had received. LifeCHANGE. She couldn't deny the fact she wanted to go. It sounded like, well, a change and a chance at something better, and who didn't want that? But she was also apprehensive. What would she do about rent if it took longer than a month or two? The card gave no clue about that.

    A glance at the clock told Nika she only had a couple hours till dinner. Mandy and Thomas were coming over, and she hadn't seen them in quite a long time. Cancel or not? Cancel. She dug out her phone and punched through the menu's to Mandy's face. Ring ring. Chasing dreams seemed a bit silly, but she hoped they would understand.

    "Hey Mandy!"

    "Hey Nika!"

    "I got to call off dinner tonight. Something came up today, I ..."

    "What knocked over the dinosaur exhibit and got to put it back together?"

    "Something like that. Anyways, I'm real ..."

    "Nah, it's fine. I'll call Thomas. Bye."

    "Great. Maybe we can ..." Click.

    Well, that went smoothly. Nika shoved the phone back in her bag and fumbled around for her wallet. All the card said was get in the taxi, and taxis costed money. There was only a single 20 left. She hoped it was enough. Two cups later, Nika was out the main door and headed back to her apartment.

    Later that evening, she was opening an umbrella and getting out of a taxi. During the entire trip, she had been thinking that short question written on the inside of her card. Is there a value you can put on your heart? Her initial reaction had been 'No!' No amount of money would win her heart over, but it had only took her a second to consider the question another way. She had a job and it clothed, fed, and housed her, and if she could keep on like this so long as the museum was still there (this she didn't doubt), but her heart wasn't in it. By the time she had gotten out of the taxi, her answer hadn't changed, but she had at least thought about it. If she put a value on her heart, that meant she had something to strive for, and there was an end. She was saying if she had that, whatever that was, she would be content, but how was she supposed to know contentment ahead time?

    In some ways, she couldn't believe she was here. She had never flat out canceled a dinner before without figuring out some other date (but then again, Mandy had hung up by then), and she wasn't in the habit of receiving fancy cards. Maybe it was a hoax, but it was extremely elaborate if they bothered with the fancy cards.

    From where she stood, she could see a few people climbing into the strange looking vehicle across the way. As she turned to look down the street for cars (not that there really had been any), her eye caught a glimpse of a card being waved around in the cafe. It looked like the same size card that she had gotten, and she thought she maybe saw a bit of gold writing on it. Maybe whoever it was was in charge and knew about the card. Nika folded up her umbrella and headed into the cafe.

    Up close, she could see it was the same sort of card. Nika approached the woman holding the card, and said, "Hi, am I late? Sorry. Is the car out there for us?" There was something strange about the woman's eyes. They didn't exactly look like a normal person's eyes. Nika supposed they kind of looked like what she imagined a fortune teller's eyes to look like when they were seeing into the future, but that was pure imagination. She would never spend 5 or 10 or whatever number of dollars on that sort of nonsense.
     
  16. View attachment 14519 "Hi, am I late? Sorry. Is the car out there for us?"

    Shawnee turned towards the new voice, a young lady, and shook her head. "No, you're not late. At least, I believe you're not. And, I am unaware of a vehicle outside, but if there is one it is probably for us."

    It takes a while for people to realize her handicap, and she understood that. It's not like her eyes were completely clouded over, just partial. Still, there was always some back lit frustration in her mind that lingered when their lack of understanding misled them into assumptions. Or, it this case, the undeniable sensation of discomfort she could sense from a person's first impression received when they finally realize that something was wrong with her.

    It was common nature for shock to hit first, then the timid apology to avoid offending or that awkward tone in their voice that expressed it without words. What would follow next would be according to that individual's personality and attitude towards the unfortunate. Either the person would avoid her at all cost, or actually ignore her flaws and just chat as if there was nothing different about her.

    Shawnee was use to the first. Regardless, she kindly extended her hand towards the shadowed figure before her and gave a warm smile.
    "You're here for LifeCHANGE too? I'm Shawnee, by the way. Not quite sure how many are here for this thing, but the party's not all it's cracked up to be so far."
     
  17. [video=youtube;VDj67VZnbUw]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDj67VZnbUw[/video]


    Cersily wondered over the card, about the question, a bit of a focused frown peaked on her features as she turned it over in her head. Who else could she be but herself? She didn't want to be anyone else... just.... change herself... change a couple things here and there. It was just a little harder than changing your hair. Add scissors and maybe some color and some body, and voila, completely different look. But life isn't like that. You can't just cut away something and add something else, and expect the integrity to remain. Too many changes and you're fighting yourself even more...

    Given her occupation-less days, she had plenty of time to think.

    She had texted her boyfriend about the current problem, which was- she was broke. As in "Parents refuse to help aside from tossing the occasional ten dollar bill at her".

    So, easily, she was dumbfounded on how she proceeded. He simply sent her a text that he'd spot her some cash- eighty bucks.

    "O... oh, no, wait, he just got paid... and he only.... that's over half of his paycheck!" She muttered and tossed the phone to her bed while she rose to get dressed into some clothing beyond the scraps she called her pajamas, then reached for her phone again, hastily texting him that it was too mu- the doorbell was ringing. She ditched the phone on the bed again and wandered downstairs, seeing her boyfriend at the door through the window.

    She rushed to open the door.

    "Babe- I can't take that much mo-" She started, only to get dragged into a bear hug, which squelched any hope of fighting back.

    "Silly baby.... just take it... I'm sure you wouldn't ask for it for nothing..." He cooed, and she turned in his arms, finding her sweet spot, then settled down a bit, murmuring something under her breath as she nestled her head between his chin and neck, wrapping her arms around him. He was so nice.... so calm, that sometimes she worried it made her want to mess with him... she rarely saw him angry or truly primal... he was reserved, calm and sweet.

    So how the hell did he end up with her? How did he possibly think that she was girlfriend material?

    Yeah, the sex was good, and yes, they got along better than she did with anyone else- but his behavior was so alien to her. Her family loved him, hoping she'd settle down... she wanted time to think, time to know more...

    "I... I hate to ask this... but... I need to... get to a taxi... I... got a card... I need the money for that and I don't know exactly what's going to happen or how long I'll be there... or..." His arms tightened around her, and she breathed in his scent, trying to calm herself.

    "I'll drive you there- and I have a little present for you." He pulled away slightly, so she could see his face, a facial-furred face, smiling down at her. He was like a giant bunny... too sweet to take seriously, almost. She found herself smiling, and then broke into a scoff and happy laughter as he tossed a plush at her. It was... a green blob?.... oh... it had ears.... and a tail... and stubby legs.... it was like someone had combined a cat with a marshmallow.... Then she recognized it. It was a plush she had spotted on their last date... it was pricey for a small little thing, but she had cooed over it... and he got it for her.

    "How did you get this?" She murmured, slightly stunned.

    "Friend of a friend was friends with the store owner, so he gave me a bit of a discount, and my sister helped out a bit." He offered. "I wanted to give you something... you were really upset yesterday when you..." He paused, trying to figure out the wording, but it didn't need to be said.

    She had fucked up, majorly. Yesterday, she just needed one drink... and then one became two, and she lost count around the fifth glass of scotch- her friends thought her hilarious and adorable as she hugged everyone and talked about how she met so-and-so and that person, and that person WAAAAAY over there, and there. The fun started to deteriorate as she peeled off her clothes and ran out of her friend's house, only one shoe on her foot being her only scrap of clothing. A couple tried to wrangle her back in, but she had fought back, and punched and kicked, and struggled. She made a scene. It was no small feat that the neighborhood didn't know about it yet. She had bruised up a couple people, and her boyfriend had to pick her up in a rolled up heavy rug tied together to keep her from wiggling free. He had tended to her, calmed her down, and fed her til she had realized her mistakes and broke down. It was a common occurrence. People got her drunk and drunker and drunker, finding her amusing, and then shoved the blame away when her boyfriend would come and rescue her happy ass from temptation. She wasn't anyone's problem, or anyone's liability, she was entertainment.

    She clutched the plush to her chest and smiled slightly. "Thank you... You didn't have to... this is the fourth time this month... last time you had to drive twenty miles to get me out of a bar when I was causing problems..." She muttered. "Sorry I'm so useless." She added, only to find herself wrapped in another hug.

    "You're not useless, you just have to get through this... everyone has problems... here's the cash and let's go, ok?" He folded the money into her hand and guided her out into the world, pausing so she could lock the door behind herself. Only to open it back up and race to get her phone and her purse before coming out again, apologizing.

    Soon they were on the road and she sat with the plush in her lap, unsure of what to do as they drove. She gave him the directions while stroking at the fabric... it was soft...

    He turned on some music, some kind of screamo metal, and within moments, it was changed to something more heavy metal-ish. She didn't even have time to grimace- he was starting to pick up on her preferences, and she didn't know how to feel about that. "Don't go running off thinking that you'll make me feel better if we're not together. You're not a burden to me... You can trust me... I'm here to help..." He spoke softly at one of the lights, and she sunk into the seat- yeah, she had done that once before after a really bad party... felt so bad about the mess she made she got herself quite lost and before the day was over, a cop had taken her into his precinct and called her boyfriend to pick her up. She would have gotten in trouble for public intoxication, but she didn't pose much of a problem, just depressed and scared. When she wore off the drink she had left his house after he had fallen asleep and called up one of her friends.

    Two days straight, he didn't know where she was, and two days straight, she got into a bit of trouble, in plenty of ways, and by the time she was done, she had a rare feeling of shame. He found her eventually and downright threatened her friends- who.... probably weren't really her friends.

    "I know." She snapped, then bit her lip. "Sorry..."

    "It's ok.... ok, we're here, be safe.... no drinking, please?" He asked as she walked from the car, sighing as she did. "I can't promise that, but I'll try." She tossed back, still clutching the cat plush.

    Taxi.... taxi... oh... that thing outside the cafe, maybe?

    "That...... is the taxi maybe?" She wondered and poked around a bit. A couple other people seemed to be inside... and then she heard one of them talk about LifeCHANGE, and she knew she was at the right place. She checked her outfit, took a breath and summoned up her pluckiest attitude.

    "Hi there! I'm Cersily- Cersily Lasniv- I got a card too... I suppose I'm at the right place, right?" She looked back around- her boyfriend waved to her from his car and drove off- no backing out now. "LifeCHANGE, right? I overheard you, and I think this is where I'm supposed to be..."she trailed off, rubbing at one of the paws of the cat plush.

    "So, who are you guys?" She asked with a well practiced smile.
     



  18. Celia blushed as she pulled herself and her guitar up into the overly tall vehicle. Why did she have to be so darn short? As she got in, she noticed how awkward she was. The fact that she often had panic attacks made her stay silent, or even invisible. She wasn't sure about this anymore. Did she really want to be here? She looked at her guitar and bit her lip nervously. She could feel a panic attack coming on, but she wouldn't let it happen. Instead she mindlessly plucked the strings in a melodic rhythm without using the top sting. She was used to picking patterns, and as she made this one up, she threw a couple notes in that weren't meant to be in that key, but still sounded good. Hopefully no one would notice her sad guitar. She was always made fun of for that thing. She snuggled close to it, hoping to get some warmth. She was freezing now; her now soaked tank-top and skirt weren't helping whatsoever, and she lacked other means of clothing. Curling her legs to her chest, she decided to just set her guitar on the floor in front of her. She hoped no one would step on it, but with her luck, someone would trip and fall on it, killing it like it was a fly.

    Celia watched as other people clambered into the oddly shaped taxi. So many brunettes.... How many of us are there? She thought back to a class she had took while she was still in school. For some reason, they were talking about percentages of people in the US with certain hair colors. Brown 69%, Blonde 16%, Black 10%, and Red 5%. She grinned slightly at her memory. Celia couldn't remember what she had for dinner last night, but she could remember nine years ago. Sighing, she played with the fringes of her skirt, still curled in a tight little ball, her skin cold and slick from the rain. She wished she had a cat. That would make her so happy right now. She could cuddle the adorable little ball of fur and make it purr by petting it behind the ears and on its belly... But sadly enough, she knew that wouldn't happen. Cats don't just appear out of nowhere, even though she wished they did.

    Celia decided that she wouldn't speak unless she was spoken to on this thing. She figured no one wanted to hear her horrific voice blab. Perhaps no one would notice her if she just sat shivering in the corner. That would probably work. It had always worked before. So, she curled into the corner, looking around at everyone else, hoping no one would notice her; then again, with her luck, someone was bound to.
     
  19. [CAFE]

    Aside from the light conversation and the people's movements, the cafe was silent. It looked abandoned. Lars would be surprised if there was actually any food behind the counter. Nika was curious as to why the place, in such good condition, was left empty. The strangers looked at one another warily. Sure enough they were all carrying the same invitation card, so LifeCHANGE could not have been totally a scam.

    Before anyone could respond to Shawnee's attempt to warm the atmosphere, the screen across from them, above the counter, where the day's special smoothie was often displayed, flickered, and the sound of static filled the room.

    "Welcome to LifeCHANGE."
    It was a deep voice, rather manly and authoritative. You could even assume it was Mr. Alexsworth. There was no picture of him on the screen, just an animation of the LifeCHANGE lottery card. "I see that you've all gathered in quite a messy fashion. I apologize for the weather, unfortunately, you might agree with me when I say that we cannot afford a delay."

    The animation changed to a current video image of the van outside. Cersily was seen speaking to the people inside it. Celia was climbing inside with her guitar.

    "As you can see, the strange contraption outside has actually been built for your transport."

    [VEHICLE]

    Inside the car, the engine turned itself on, releasing a constant humming. Where introductions had been taking place, everyone's attention was diverted to the front, where the radio tuned itself and Mr. Alexsworth's conversation was played into the vehicle.

    "Please enter the vehicle within the next five minutes. If you are not within the vehicle by that time, you will lose your chance at the lottery. There are 11 total attendees. Please hurry."

    For a man with so much money, he was quite demanding. There were only five people in the car already. As the others from the cafe hurried over, more instructions were relayed through the radio contact. Someone would have to pilot the vehicle. It was somewhat of a merge between a car and a plane, capable of flying if take-off was initiated correctly. As a result the next stretch of thirty miles was a straight, empty street. Once take off was administered, basic controls would need to be taken care of. Repairs and accidents were also their responsibility. There was frozen food in the kitchen compartments in the back. Life support supplies were also directed at. Basic seatbelts and safety manuals were in another compartment. The bathrooms were in the back. Storage was in compartments that opened up under their feet.

    It was a plane operation, Alexsworth explained, he wanted to see the extent of their varied abilities. Would they work together to reach their destination? Or would they fail, crash the plane, and lose their chance, and possibly their lives?

    [OTHER]

    In their respective vehicles, Kelly & Frederick's car radios also tuned into the station at which Alexsworth was giving his instructions.

    Five minutes are ticking on the clock. What will you do?