Of Biblical Proportions

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Synthetic Seraph, Sep 24, 2013.

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  1. (( http://bryansyme.deviantart.com/art/Pin-up-bat-wing-girl-291110033 and larger wings ))

    Lafayette Debonnuit resembled an eighteen year old human girl, but every part of that description except "female" was a front. A mere six years ago she'd been a baby curled up and dormant except to feed, and since then had grown through development stages at roughly three-to-one pace like dog years were supposedly seven-to-one. A baby bat in fact, indistinguishable from wild cousins except for two arms for a total of six limbs. Her size and proportions had gradually grown more human, and the final spurt had traded fur for skin, a muzzle for a clear and pretty face, and passable appearance except for the wings, pointed ears and teeth that marked her kind at this age.

    Whatever kind that IS, anyway. Mysteriously delivered along with a male to the care of an oddball human who relished night creatures like her, she'd grown up with no knowledge of what her race was like, what they stood for, or even what would happen with her own body in the future. Keep aging in a triple speed lifespan and die of old age around the corner? Mature to peak and thrive in her prime eternally? The human "mother" had no leads to gain after her source had disappeared. Eventually, Lafayette had struck out on her own in a quest not only to find her kin but to fulfill her independence after hiding in the refuge of the estate all the eldritch stages of her life. Thankfully she wasn't wandering aimlessly trying to find an undiscovered race with no clue; her family's magic-dabbling friends had been able to help that much at least.

    At 5'5" she stood average for a white American female, though lean like a tennis star or swimming pro as few overindulging Americans could achieve. Her hair hung moody sunrise orange to her forehead and shoulders, longer if she took down her perky twin ponytails. Emerald eyes glinted with both caution and the spirit of adventure. Her black leather-and-rivets dress managed to scream scandal even though the most risque skin she showed was her collarbone, since stockings and sleeves striped in candy red and licorice black took care of the rest. Black army surplus boots protected in more ways than one - walking soles, chilly weather and self defense.

    Her most grabbing feature, though, were the bat wings of turbulent sunset purple that when folded spanned from the nape of her neck to her tailbone. Visible bra straps affixed to where the wing seams joined her back, some reinforced craft rods, and duct tape on the webbing itself helped lend the impression that Lafayette was another teen with enough time on her hand to devise ways to stand out from society and the cookie cutter Elvira goths.

    Currently she lied face down on a cot in a quite accommodating Catholic charity shelter in New York City, waterproofed leather backpack underneath like a pillow more to preserve her worldly goods from opportunists than for comfort. Compared to taking refuge during the day on rooftops with no apparent stair access and covering herself against the sun, this was the best idea yet. Lafayette didn't mind the looks from the staff when she'd asked to use the nighttime cots during daylight, whether they thought her more mentally ill than the muttering shellshocked veterans for looking as she did or a freeloader for looking clean and nice rather than worn down as most homeless weathered over time. So far she'd learned more methods of safety, now that she could pass as human - hide as she had before, disguise herself as one of them, and now also choose a sleeping place so public that no one would harm her without every other bystander gawking as witness.
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  2. New York City was a world away from Father Connor Sheehan’s hometown of Kilshanny, a tiny dot of a village in County Clare, Ireland that could only be visible on a map if you squinted your eyes half-way shut. He had been living in New York for six months, and he was already homesick; he missed the ancient stone churches and abbeys, the peaceful hamlets and stretches of farmland, how green everything was. He missed football, lamb and mutton stew, and most importantly a tall proper pint of Guinness, not like the piss water served in the States. The families in Kilshanny had been living there for hundreds of years, one couldn’t leave their house without bumping into an old neighbor or childhood friend, but in the bright lights and congested streets of New York City, everyone was a stranger, people didn’t meet each other’s eyes and a simple, friendly ‘hello’ was cause for immediate suspicion. New York City was truly the melting pot of the world, a mixture of people from all cultures and walks of life, where the very rich lived beside the poorest of the poor, where sin and vice thrived, where dreams were made, and where they went to die.

    In other words, it was the perfect place for a newly ordained priest, fresh from the seminary and full of vigor, to test his mettle.

    Since Father Connor’s arrival at Holy Cross Church, the parish had seen an increase in attendance during Saturday and Sunday mass. Connor liked to attribute this to the passion with which he delivered the liturgy, in comparison to the stale elderly feeble Father Douglas who presided before him. In truth, his lilting Irish accent – which infatuated Americans for whatever reason – and his youth, and good looks were the main draw for parishioners, especially the female variety.

    Upon looking at him, women of the church would often sigh and lament that he was, ’Such a waste!’ At 28, Connor was tall and broad shouldered, more slim than brawny, but his arms were lightly corded with muscle from being a long time student of aikido and his other… ‘extracurricular’ training. Thick dark brown hair curled underneath his ears, and his hazel eyes were more green than brown. His features were strong and masculine; bushy eyebrows that resembled caterpillars and furrowed deeply whenever he was in profound thought, a prominent nose and jaw line, and thin lips that often twisted into a boyish, crooked smile. His skin was tanned and rough, his hands especially calloused, suggesting his life had included hard labor, and wasn’t always spent in quiet reflection and religious study. The nuns who taught him in primary school ensured he had perfect posture, and he walked with an easygoing confidence and grace in spite of his lanky size.

    Unbeknown to most, and unconventional for a priest – even one his age – he had a tattoo engraved on his skin, just below his wrist on his right forearm. The black ink depicted an eight-pointed star in the middle of a circle, with an eye peering out of its center. Its gothic imagery resembled the logo a heavy metal band might print on CDs or t-shirts, but in truth the symbol was thousands of years old, from Babylonian times. The mark of the Order of Inanna.

    As always, he concealed his tattoo with a long sleeved black shirt tucked neatly into black plants, his white collar covering the base of his neck. Worn black leather steel toed boots adorned his feet; in this part of the city, even wholesome Irish priests needed some form of protection.

    Today, Connor spent his afternoon in the homeless shelter Holy Cross ran; bringing food and clothing donated by the church, assisting in the kitchens, reading to the children, listening to the adults and praying with them if they permitted. In a city of such luxury, it never ceased to sadden him how so many poor were cast aside, lost and forgotten souls abandoned by the very humanity that they were part.

    Even if the shelter’s residents were there a short while, just a temporary refuge, a place to stay warm for the night, Connor did his best to meet briefly with each one before they left. A middle-aged female staffer told him about her, the teenage goth girl with purple wings strapped to her back, who was clearly ‘touched in the head’ but too clean and well-taken care of to be a junkie, hooker or average teenage runaway. She kept odd hours, preferring to sleep during the day, and rarely spoke to anyone since her arrival. ’Go and talk to her, Father,' the social worker urged. 'Use some of that Irish charm of yours. Maybe she’ll open up to you because you’re closer to her age.’

    With a tray of food from the kitchens in hand; a turkey sandwich, apple, tasty cake and can of coke, he made his way through the women’s sleeping quarters, the rows of cots lining the ground empty except for one. At first, the realism of her wings startled him; they did not look like any cheap costume purchased in a Halloween store, they appeared fused to her, the intricate and downright beautiful purple webbing part of her being. Connor had seen enough of the strange and other worldly in his 28 years to not be fooled by some haphazardly placed duct tape, but he remained perfectly calm and unsuspicious outwardly. The priest cleared his throat, a quiet smile donning his face.

    “Excuse me for waking you, miss, but even night owls shouldn’t skip lunch.”
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  3. "I'm sorry. I'll get right on it. Have you had anything to eat yet today, or not since last night?" The words were out of her mouth while half in the throes of sleep, accent bearing muzziness of sleep but wherever her original home was, definitely not possessing New York City's sharpness. She pushed up on hands and knees, then sat on her heels and rubbed her face, head heavy and seeing nothing more than a haze of the room's light through her almost-sealed eyelashes. Then she swung her legs over the side of the cot to plant her booted soles on the floor, rubbed her face more, but her legs gave a thoughtful press against the cot's metal supports over which canvas bedding was stretched.

    This didn't feel like a bed mattress. She'd automatically treated this voice as if she were back in the estate, where Lafayette was the most responsible and the scales of balance when it came to chores had tipped slowly against her with each passing year until she kept the manor upright like the very trellis upholding fruiting vines. But that voice had been male and adult, not her caretaker's absentminded croon nor her brother's sweet piping, so which of the houseguests had walked into her room to chide the night owl for not making the daytime lunch?

    All of a sudden her hands fell away from her face and those green eyes flew open for real. Grown person. Male in the female quarters. Uniformed, representing the organization. Kind demeanor. Fit, strength could be cause for her concern. Attractive among grown persons. The categories fired rapidly one after another and the rest of the ward and the traveling night creature's reason for being here clicked into place.

    She demurely looked down. One arm reached over to her backpack pillow and slid it against her hip like arm's reach away was too distant for that precious cargo, an insecure trait that was the most she'd held in common with typical homeless, and rested her hands together in her lap. Rather the man was the owl, and she was the scurrying mouse, meek and small. In his gentle aura her gaze built the courage to rise from the Father's knees to that tray level with her head and then up to his face. "Is that for me? If so, thanks. You've gone out of your way."
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  4. Connor braced himself for all manner of reactions; he was accustomed to dealing with runaway teenagers, fleeing troubled homes or a life on the street, who had more scars and horror stories than a person twice their age. Some rolled their eyes, scoffed at him, spat upon and mistrusted the slightest hint of kindness, recoiled from him and deemed him a ’kiddie fucker.’ Often, he was met with stone cold silence. He hadn’t expected the leather-clad goth girl to answer with such timid sweetness when she stirred from sleep. He didn’t think she was going to be so… polite.

    Of course, there was a niggling part of him suspicious over whether or not she was really human, so a genuine ‘thank you’ uttered from the lips of a teenager wasn’t quite as strange, in the grand scheme of things.

    “You’re more than welcome. And I haven’t, really. No one goes hungry in my kitchen.” He glanced around, a frown touching his face. The sleeping quarters were located in the shelter’s basement, and in the dim light of afternoon they looked cramped and uncomfortable, more a prison than a refuge. None of the women left any of the few possessions they had, for fear of being stolen. The basement lacked homeliness, warmth, any sign that night after night, each cot cradled a woman and protected her from whatever life she led when she woke, if her restless thoughts and worries allowed her sleep at all.

    He snapped back from his pondering, gaze focused on the girl's eyes, a green brighter than his own. He did his best to respectfully maintain eye level rather than gawk at her wings. “I’m Father Connor Sheehan, by the way. I've heard a lot about you, you make quite the impression, but I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure of knowing your name?”

    Before extending the lunch tray, he nodded toward the sparse dormitory’s exit. “Would you care to join me outside while you eat? It’s a lovely fall day, and the courtyard provides a much nicer view than in here.” He offered her another warm smile, attempting to comfort her obvious nerves, although his invitation wasn’t purely out of kindness; a test, in part, to see if she shunned or embraced his offer to bask in sunlight.
    #4 DeliriumTrigger, Sep 26, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 26, 2013
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  5. "Lafayette Debonnuit," she replied automatically. It wasn't like inventing a cover name for the road would protect anything; a sleuth might detect a whiff of French Louisiana in her accent and narrow down her origin to that region, but the surname she'd taken based on the nickname for the estate itself didn't match any of the humans in her life or produce traceable records. "Sheehan," she repeated quietly to herself, fixing the unfamiliar pronunciation in her mouth, a sign she courteously expected to remember the Father's name during her stay at this base.

    Her head lolled a little as she swiveled it to the exit his nod indicated. Conversation flagged despite the material he gave her to answer. For the slim winged teen, while safely indoors during the day, AM and PM might as well be reversed and she was functioning about as well as a human being woken up out of bed in the witching hour. Full sunlight was like taking someone from Norway and plopping him in equatorial Africa and expecting him to commit field labor: first groggy, then head swimming, ending with collapse. And before all that her skin would sizzle, not actual burning with visible steam tendrils but a junkie's prickly ant sensations.

    "Hnn." Politeness made her reflexively try his request. Shadows in the lee of the building would be not much worse than the basement itself, she reasoned, though she missed the term "courtyard" and its stark implications of no shelter at all. The colorful night creature nodded, scooted sideways on her cot so she could rise without entering the adult man's personal space which manners and rightness pressed her away from like two magnets of the same polarity are repelled. Her backpack, she picked up and slung onto one shoulder so it merely pressed loosely into one wing instead of trapping both underneath it or fiddling with the latches that let it secure properly while letting her spread and fly. She shuffled for the dingy basement's staircase, turning her side to Father Connor without fear of attack from behind or his more subtle inspection.

    But either the hour itself or the dispersed afternoon light from the rectangular basement windows close by its ceiling made her stagger as if one leg was uneven from the other. Her arms crossed over her chest, not exactly hugging herself but definitely unconscious self-comfort. In a few slow strides her head hung and eyes half-closed like resisting most portions of drowsiness was worthwhile but looking flawless while doing so was too much effort. During the loose grid of cots, she automatically made the specific zig zag that took her straight between two rectangles of sunlight rather than through them, then hugged the wall to escape the slanting afternoon sunbeams by passing below them at the source like walking underneath a tangible ladder.

    Then the stagger became a zombie shamble, and weak-kneed Lafayette folded up onto the next cot that was dim rather than affected by window shafts. "Maybe I should eat something first," she smiled kindly as she arranged her sitting pose to face Father Connor, implying she had an ordinary sugar level drop or was eating better recently to catch up from severe deprivation before coming to the shelter. The youth who'd recently come into her own and left home was learning, but perhaps not thoroughly enough to avoid misfortune.
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