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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Kallisti's Avatar

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    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    Ah, what the heck.

    I've been lurking in this thread since its creation, but I haven't felt inspired to write anything lately, so I'll post one of the few stories of mine that survived my computer crash. It probably won't make much sense as written, since it was written for a few of my friends and therefore with the assumption of some prior knowledge, but I'll write a new draft later. And, of course, the forum can't display all my beautiful formatting.

    Mask Masque by Kallisti (This should be treated as a rough draft...)
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    Mask Masque
    By Kallisti

    WE wear the mask that grins and lies,
    It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
    This debt we pay to human guile;
    With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
    And mouth with myriad subtleties.
    Why should the world be over-wise,
    In counting all our tears and sighs?
    Nay, let them only see us, while
    We wear the mask.
    We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
    To thee from tortured souls arise.
    We sing, but oh the clay is vile
    Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
    But let the world dream otherwise,
    We wear the mask!
    --Paul Laurence Dunbar, We Wear the Mask

    We all have our ugly secrets and our skeletons in the closet. So we choose a mask, and we don it, and we hope that, by pretending to become the mask, we can become the mask. Everyone does it. You. I. Robert. But Robert, now…there’s something of a special case. He wears a mask, of course. Everyone does…but which? Who is Robert? Let’s have a look, shall we?

    Pulcinello, the bully?
    They were all staring at him, and it was really beginning to get on his nerves. Goddamnit, I’ve been stared at enough in the past few days. And he glared around at them all. “Can I help you?” But no one was frightened. Everyone laughed. “Sure can, kid. How much for a blowjob?” A vein began to throb in Robert’s forehead. He was getting very sick of that kind of crap. But he just kept walking…right into the chest of a huge bald man with his cronies behind him. “Kid, I don’t think you realize just how much trouble you’re in.” But Robert had had a rough few days…and he had an ace up his sleeve. “Are you going to get out of my way before I hurt you?” That’s when he noticed the bald man had a knife. It was in Robert’s gut. It hurt. A lot.

    Il Dottore?
    That crunching sounded…really bad. Hadn’t Crusader said the zipline was safe and he did it all the time? Jeeze. What a wannabe. Still, he’d better go check it out. “Hey! You all right?”
    “Yeah, I’m fine,” came the Crusader’s reply as Caleb reeled him in. He let go of the line and slumped against a wall. He was obviously not fine. At all.
    “You know what? Here. Your ribs are broken, I can tell. Here, I’ll get it.” OK, creepy voices in my head, don’t fail me now. He laid a hand on the Crusader’s chest, and there was a sickening snap. “Owwwww….OWWWW! Don’t DO that!” And he slumped against the wall. Whoops! ****. “Sorry, but your ribs were broken and I just…OK, OK. I won’t do it again…”

    Pierrot, the jilted lover?
    Robert,
    It’s over. I just can’t be with you anymore. I’m sorry.
    He stared in disbelief at the screen of his phone. It’s over. She’s gone…
    He never once cried. He just died a little inside. That was the day he stopped caring. The next day he blew up at his boss and lost his job. Again. But he didn’t care. He didn’t care anymore…

    Pedrolino, the Dreamer?
    Dude, this sucks. Last time I had an acid flashback, I saw glowing green chipmunks doing the wave in my shower. Being in some random dude’s house running form the police because we all have weird superpowers? Lame. I just wish these people would shut up and let me wait out the dream Jeeze. I only took the stuff the one time at Bridget’s party, and it gets me stuck here two years later? This so sucks. This whole world so sucks. Man, this is taking too long… There were people there, he was not alone. But they were just dreams. He knew it. And he was right. But that doesn’t mean they’re not real, does it? Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily—life is but a dream…

    Scaramuccia, the Warrior?
    Robert leapt nimbly to the side as Firearm charged him. Dude, not okay! We come to see Hank, and we get jumped by freaks? And that…thing…the one with the black…No, no, don’t even think about it…The knife clattered to the ground, and so did Firearm. Yeah! Nice one, Spud! Oh. Crap. He’s just getting back up. It didn’t hurt him at all. Crap… Robert ran over and kicked the fallen Firearm as he tried to rise. It didn’t accomplish much, but it felt good. Yeah! Take that! Crap, it didn’t work. Some fighter I turn out to be…
    Brighello, the sly?
    “Spud, if that thing takes you over there's not much I can do. All of their souls are still intact, there's no one collective soul. I wouldn't be able to do anything to it. But if I go first, I might be able to step out of my body if it tries to take me over, because it's not affecting souls.”
    “So you wouldn’t think that if you pulled my soul out I would no longer have a consciousness he could control?”
    “If it takes you, it'll just attack me as soon as I try anything. If it takes me, I can escape while you run.”
    “Actually I guess if he does go crazy with me he could just turn off you powers...or shoot you.”
    “He can do that? Oh. Right. He'd have your powers. Then maybe I should go first. I have a decent chance of getting away on my own, and you could run.”
    “Yeah, but he could also kill me with your powers…it’s a gamble either way, but I could turn you off before hand.”
    “That’d probably work. So it’s a plan. Turn off my powers and let’s go…”
    “Ok, but just before he does it. I’m not sure how long it lasts…”
    “All right, let's go. I don't think he'll mind that we're...taking precautions. After all, so's he...”
    “Ok. Let’s do this…”
    And Spud heaved in a nervous breath, and followed Robert back towards the rail car.
    And there they were. All of them. The revulsion and fear was written clearly in Spud’s face.
    “Eric, that is really creepy…can’t you just do this with one person?”
    “Can’t you do this with just one organ? Really, you only need your brain…”
    “…Umm, ok. My point is, creepy with all the people.”
    Robert took a deep breath. Spud was judging Eric because his powers were creepy while wandering around with Robert the Ghost Whisperer? Hypocritical, much?
    “All right. All right. We’ve decided to accept your offer. I'll let you...read me...but Spud needs to do something first.”
    “…do what?”
    The voices suddenly cut off in mid-word, leaving only blissful silence.
    “Ok. All set.”
    Hell yes. I almost want him to try and trick us, just so he can see just how ready we are for him. We’ve totally got him now…

    He’s looked at them all now, and not really liked what he’s seen. He’d lived a flawed life, all right. He was lucky to be alive to be making this choice. But he’d tried them all…well, except for two. But those masks, those masks were trouble. Still, he had to pick something…

    Arlecchino, the merry trickster, the savior, the good?
    “No, no! Please no!” The cry of terror rent the cold night air.
    The moonlight shining of the skylights on the rooftop cast an eldritch glow on the woman tied to the chair, and the man in black standing over her. Her face was contorted with terror, but the man didn’t care. He’d seen it all before. It was part of the job description. “Sorry, little lady, but Mr. Brainy said you’d made him angry. When Mr. Brainy gets angry, people die. Slowly. I don’t have a lot of time, so you know what I’m gonna do? I’m gonna shoot you in the gut with my little friend here. It’ll hurt like hell. I’d say at least it won’t last long, but…well…it will. It’ll take about an hour for you to die. Sucks to be you, I guess.” He raised his gun, and fired, the bullet a sliver of silver hanging in the moonlight.
    Yes. Hanging. Completely motionless.
    “What the hell?”
    The man with the gun wondered, but not for too long.
    A man dressed in ghostly white landed softly before him. His skin was the honey-brown of someone who spends much time in the sun, and his brown eyes…shone somehow. They were illuminated with the light of wisdom, of compassion and caring, but they were hard, too. The eyes of someone who’d been through a lot, and seen even more.
    They were the most frightening thing the man in the black had ever seen.
    The taste of the fear was in his mouth, coppery and unfamiliar.
    “Wh-who the hell are you? What did you do?”
    The man in white spoke, and his voice was soft and warm, the voice of a kind man. “You haven’t heard of me? That’s strange. Mr. Brainy and I go back quite a ways. Next time you see him, ask him how the old head’s doing for me, won’t you?”
    “Who are you?!”
    “Oh, yes. I’ve forgotten to introduce myself. How very rude of me. I’m called Seraphim. I have other names, but you don’t need any of those. And you, sir? You are in a lot of trouble…”
    “Ya think so, Mr. Sera-whatever? ‘Cause the way I see it, I still have a gun and you still don’t. So you stopped the one bullet. Huzzah! Good for you! Now let’s see how well you do with ten.”
    “You don’t want to shoot at me.”
    “Oh, is that so? Well, I guess I’ll just have to make do, then. We can’t always get what we want.”
    The man in white shook his head, and made a slight gesture, and the man in black relaxed as the ghost nearest him slipped inside, filling the dark crevasses and little holes that infest every soul. He put away the gun, and sat down quietly. He's right, I don't want to shoot him...What? That wasn't my thought...No, it was mine. Now, SIT.
    He sauntered over to the woman in the chair, undid the bonds, and gave her a little wink. “Not bad, huh? Well, you’re free. Some free advice to go with the free rescue, though—steer clear of Brainy in the future. He’s bad news unless you’re as badass and ruggedly handsome as me. Trust me on this.”

    There is a church in the bad part of Freeport, with a graveyard in the back. It’s a beautiful church, if small. In the church, there is a painting of Lazarus rising from the grave. The painting has a box of votive candles beneath it, but none of the churchgoers ever light a candle in the bottom row of the box. Those candles are not theirs. They’re his. When the Father comes back in the morning, to give the morning service, he sees three little flames in that part of the box. Three candles lit. Three lives saved that night. Three deeds done that night. And he offers up a little prayer: God protect and keep Seraphim, so that he may continue his good work…

    That one, right there. That one was cool. That guy is pretty damn awesome, he’d make a good Robert. Or Robert would make a good him. Whichever. But there’s one more…

    Il Macabre, the grotesque, the slayer, the malevolent?
    “No, no! Please no!” The cry of terror rent the cold night air.
    The moonlight shining of the skylights on the rooftop cast an eldritch glow on the woman tied to the chair, and the man in black standing over her. Her face was contorted with terror, but the man didn’t care. He’d seen it all before. It was part of the job description. “Tell me what I need to know and I won’t have to. Mrs. Kenta, you know where your son is hiding. You will tell me willingly, or you will tell me unwillingly. It’s that simple.”
    “No, no! You won’t kill me, you need me alive! You’ll never know if you kill me. Dead men tell no tales and all that.” Her words were brave, but the shaking in her voice betrayed her fear.
    “You’re a fool, Miriam Kenta. Of course dead men tell tales. I’ll show you, if you’re not careful…”
    He raised his gun, menacingly, then turned it suddenly, yelling, the bullet that was speeding towards him a sliver of silver hanging in the moonlight.
    Yes. Hanging. Completely motionless.
    The man with the gun wondered, but not for too long.
    The man dressed in tattered black turned to face him him. His skin was the honey-brown of someone who spends much time in the sun, and his brown eyes…shone somehow. They were dark and dead and cold, illuminated by the sharp, actinic gleam of grim determination and sheer hate, and they were hard, too. The eyes of someone who’d been through a lot, and seen even more.
    They were the most frightening thing the man in the black had ever seen.
    The taste of the fear was in his mouth, coppery and unfamiliar.
    “Wh-who the hell are you? What did you do?”
    The man in black spoke, and his voice was soft but sharp and cold, the voice of a cruel, dangerous man. “You haven’t heard of me? That’s strange. The Kenta family and I go back a quite a ways. The next time you see dear Richard, ask him how his leg is healing up for me, won’t you?”
    “Who are you?!”
    “Oh, yes. I’ve forgotten to introduce myself. How very rude of me. I’m called Asmodean. I have other names, but you don’t need any of those. And you, sir? You are in a lot of trouble…”
    “Ya think so, Mr. Asmodean? ‘Cause the way I see it, I still have a gun and you still don’t. So you stopped the one bullet. Huzzah! Good for you! Now let’s see how well you do with ten.”
    “You don’t want to shoot at me.”
    “Oh, is that so? Well, I guess I’ll just have to make do, then. We can’t always get what we want.”
    He raised the gun. The man in the black shifted a finger of his upraised hand, ever so slightly, and the man crumpled. “I told you so. I’ll put you back, or at least try…sometime soon…once I finish with Kenta, maybe. It all depends on what I feel like doing. It’s a good thing you didn’t make me really angry, though. The consequences of that would be...painful.”
    “Now, Mrs. Kenta. You will tell me what you know, or I will drag it from your soul…”

    There is a church in the bad part of Freeport, with a graveyard in the back. It’s a beautiful church, if small. In the church, there is a painting of Lazarus rising from the grave. The painting has a box of votive candles beneath it, but none of the churchgoers ever light a candle three. Those candles are not theirs. They’re his. When the Father comes back in the morning, to give the morning service, he sees three little flames in that part of the box. Three candles lit. Three lives saved that night. Three deeds done tonight. And he offers up a little prayer: God save us all, and have mercy on his soul…and those of his victims.

    And now Robert has a mask. Just like you. Just like me. Just like all of us. But which mask? Only time will tell.

    We all wear masks, you see. Which one is yours?

    I'll probably fix the formatting later when I'm less busy.
    Last edited by Kallisti; 2009-09-23 at 05:13 PM.
    "Once upon a time, a story was never finished..."