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  1. February 13, 2012, 11:30 p.m. “You’re gonna lose your shirt,” August threatened as they cleared the dishes from the late dinner. Her internship had her keeping odd hours, and fitting her workouts around the demands of her last semester was always interesting. “You say that every week, frail,” Declan chided her as he started to run the water for the dishes. “And yet, I always get my fill of the peanuts.” “This time will be different,” the woman insisted, shoving the sleeves of her shirt up her arms. The spaghetti and meatballs were long gone; August tried to make enough for leftovers, but every time they had a post-training dinner, Declan ate every scrap. “Washing or drying?” “Washin’,” he said and plunged his hands into the water. “I made it hot.” “You always make it hot,” August snorted as she grabbed a towel. A second later she blushed, then blushed harder as the werewolf unleashed one of his slow sexy chuckles. “Hey, you wanna get spanked, I have no problem delivering,” he told her, automatically washing the dish in his hands. He rinsed and handed the steaming plate to her, adding, “In poker or anything else.” August flushed again, taking the plate and drying it. “Not this time,” she vowed. “I’m winning tonight.” “Well, better hurry up and get to it then,” Declan said, doubling the speed of his dish-washing. They kept of the light banter as they cleaned the kitchen and wiped the table. Then Declan went to get the cards while August located the peanut tin. When the werewolf came into the kitchen, August was holding the tin and frowning. “We have a problem,” she said. “What’s that?” he asked, about two seconds before he remembered having a craving for nuts a couple of days ago. “No peanuts.” “No, three peanuts,” she said, smirking a little. “You ate all but three? Really? And put the tin back with three peanuts in it?” “I only ate what I wanted,” he defended sheepishly, racking his brain for appropriate stakes. August was thinking, too, but her mind was going somewhere different. “Alright,” she said, then drew a deep breath. “Strip poker it is, then.” She colored at the look he gave her and said faintly, “Unless you have a better idea? I mean, with two people, it’s gonna be a short game…” She rather hoped he didn't think of anything better. Tomorrow was Valentines, and being alone on that day was really pathetic. Sure, she, Oneca, Araida and Kaitlin would go picking up men, but that wasn’t the same. August didn’t want to pick up strange men for meaningless sex. She’d rather have meaningless sex with Declan. Hell, she’d rather have sex with Declan altogether. She knew it. He knew it. Only that little sliver of doubt was holding her back and on the eve of Valentine's Day, it wasn't enough to stop her.
  2. February 9, 2012 August jerked into sudden wakefulness, blinking at the sunlight-bathed wall opposite her bed. Green eyes rolled wearily upward and she groaned and shut them again when she saw it was seven in the morning. Why the hell was she up at this hour? A second later, the culprit identified itself with a muted buzz. It was her cell phone, buried under yesterday's jeans. Mumbling curses at the caller, August fished out the offending machine. "What?" she snarled as soon as she'd thumbed it open. "August, are you alright?" The sheer concern in Madeline's voice removed August's anger. "Yeah, I was asleep," the brunette said, sitting upright and pulling her knees to her chest. She hadn't meant to put so much emphasis on that word. "Oh, what time is it? Eight, which means its seven for you. Oh, hon, I'm sorry," Madeline said apologetically. "I just woke up and immediately called you." "Alright... apology accepted," August said, aware that she was being way too nice but too well socialized to stop herself. "Now, why did you call?" "I think I had a bad dream," Madeline said. "It must have been. A ghost was warning me that you were in danger." August swallowed. She'd seen ghosts here and there; it'd gotten better for her once she'd accepted them. They'd ignored her for the most part and she'd ignored them. It had worked well for her to this point. The thought that it might change soon was disheartening and terrifying. Why couldn't they leave her alone? "But you think... it's a dream?" Madeline paused. "I think so. I was asleep and usually ghosts only contact me when they're awake." "Alright, so a bad dream," August said. Her phone beeped and she pulled it away from her ear enough to see that she had a call from Remy. "Madeline, Remy's calling. I should take this." Even if I don't want to take it. "Just be careful, please," the older woman said, the relief that had been in her voice being replaced by worry. "Ask him to call me as soon as he's done with you." "I will, bye!" August said and switched over to catch Peter. "Hey, there. What's up?" "August, I need some help," Remy said with little preamble. "I have some associates who have gone missing. They were filming a haunting in a mental asylum - one of those reality show things - and have all gone missing. Given the setting, this calls for your particular talents." "Wait, you want me to go into a haunted asylum?!" August barked, her green eyes growing wide. "Do you think I'm dumb or suicidal?" "There are people missing," Remy said with quiet intensity. "They may not have been the smartest people, but they were decent. Jack's got a little girl and a wife. Duke's his mother's only living child. Renee is a film student at the Academy of Art. Neil's -" "Stop it," August sighed. "I get the idea. Tell me everything you know." "The show is called Grave Encounters," Remy said immediately. August could hear the relief in his voice. "They were filming their seventh episode. The usual pattern is that they get locked in the haunted area overnight. The caretaker was supposed to come back and let them out in the morning. When he opened the door, he found some of their equipment in the lobby but no people. He hollared for them but became upset when he saw one of the lights was broken. You know the big lights?" "Yeah, I'm a film student," August reminded him. "Those are pricey." "The caretaker was concerned by this," Remy told her. "So he called me." "Why you?" "Because he was instructed to do so," Remy replied. "If there were any problems, he was to call me immediately. It will be another twelve hours before we can file a missing persons report and I fear for their safety if we wait that long." "So you want to go now," August sighed. She could call Declan and ask him to go with her so she wouldn't be alone. Thank god this was a Saturday and he had the day off. They'd planned to go hiking up into the mountains together. Not as a date. No, no... just two friends hiking together for the day. "Hey, Dec, I know we were supposed to go kick about in nature today. How about hunting down idiots in a haunted asylum instead?" "Yes and I need a medium." He didn't see her wince; she hated that term. It made her sound hokey, and she wasn't comfortable with having that label applied to her. "I've got two other people going with me..." His voice trailed off into a sigh. "And if I don't include Oneca, she'll set me on fire." Shit... August wasn't sure if Declan would be alright working with other people. She knew what he was and that was awkward enough. More people knowing wouldn't please him. "Uh, I had plans, but I'll cancel them." "Thank you, I appreciate that," Remy said sincerely. "I'll be by to pick you up in thirty minutes." "Right. See you," August sighed as she hung up. She immediately called Declan, sure that unlike her he would actually be up at this ungodly hour. He was much better then her about maintaining a 'normal' schedule, ironically. "Hey, you," she said, smiling involuntarily as he answered. "Sorry to call so early, but something's come up. I wanted to yet you know that I have to cancel on you sooner rather than later. Maybe we can go tomorrow?"
  3. [Late evening, 25 Jan 2012] I have got to be out of my mind. As she looked westward from the edge of her territory, a light and cool wind wafting inland from the coast, Sarah considered once more what she planned to do, how dangerous it was... and yet, how necessary. The land to the west of here belonged to someone else. And try as she may, nobody else came to mind for the advice she badly needed. Had this been territory back home, Sarah would have shifted to her wolf-form and let out a howl of greeting. But this was the middle of suburban Los Angeles, not a half-dozen blocks from UCLA. People noticed a wolf howling in their backyards. Nor should she leave a note on a tree or rock and hope it might be noticed. People took care of their yards here, and stray paper tacked up wouldn't last long. With one last look around, Sarah stepped out of her territory and into that of the werewolf she knew only as Owns-The-Night. Her neighbor. --- Half an hour of sniffing and scouting and furtive glances later, the Dead-Wolf stood before the door of an unassuming and tidy little house on a corner directly across the street from campus. The signs were unmistakable; the scent was strongest here, and there were tell-tale marks on the trees that were as loud a message of "Stay Away!" as anything man had ever made. Unfortunately, staying away would leave her no better off than she'd been these past several months. With no small amount of trepidation, she reached up with a cold, dead hand and knocked on the door of the wolf's den.
  4. December 22, 2011 August was not in a good mood. Despite the festive nature around her, she had no desire to participate. She was alone in this mood; the other film TAs were excited to be shutting down for the semester. All their cheer made her feel even sorrier for herself. This wasn’t entirely unusual for her; she usually dreaded the upcoming mandatory family-time. Thanksgiving was bad enough but Georgie would be home for Christmas. It was always harder seeing her black-haired, green-eyed cousin. Georgie was the same age as August, and they could pass for sisters. It was like seeing what should have been. And there was Declan. Two days ago, he’d dropped her off at her house after their workout, chipper and eager for his trip into the mountains. August doubted he’d even noticed that she’d been brooding and silent, already missing him. He’d given her an odd look when she’d hugged him, but said nothing as he climbed in his truck and headed northeast. Sighing in disgust, August tried not to think about the handsome, brooding werewolf anymore. Sadly, he was like the elephant in the room, albeit much sexier: the harder she tried not to think about him, the more she found herself daydreaming. She missed him a lot, there was no doubt, and she’d expected that. What she hadn’t expected was the missing being an actual ache in her heart. The depth of her unexpected emotions were scaring the crap out of her. Do not fall in love with him! she ordered her mind, pretty sure she wasn’t there. Yet. And it could also be somewhat innocent: she could love him non-romantically. August was sure that was possible, assuming they could ever get past all the lust that tangled up her head. So in truth, all she really knew was that she was definitely very fond of him, enough that his absence was noticeable. Her phone rang and she checked, a wild hope that it was him calling to ask for a tow or saying something had come up and he was coming back. It wasn’t him; it was Aunt Molly. “And so it begins,” she muttered before thumbing the call to active. “Hey,” she said with more warmth than she was feeling. “What’s up?” “I just wanted to know when you were coming over, honey.” Aunt Molly’s voice was slightly too high pitched for a woman of her age, making her sound like a teen when she was over fifty. “Mom is already here, and Tracy and her brood are due at six.” August glanced at the clock; it was just after three. Less than three hours to hell. “Uh… between five and six.” She heard the disappointment without Molly saying a word and added, “I have work at the lab that I have to finish first.” “Sure sweetie,” Aunt Molly said and had August not known the woman, she’d have never heard her unhappiness. “Just be sure you bring a side dish, ok?” She’d planned to make roasted veggies but now remembered she hadn’t bought any of the groceries. Fuck! I am the worst niece ever. “I will,” August promised, resolving to get something on her way over. A nice veggie tray from the store should be sufficient.
  5. August 27, 2011 Enough was enough. August was lying on her bed, staring at the ceiling. She had been assessing her life for the last few weeks, and she’d come to one inescapable conclusion: she couldn’t take care of herself. She’d always thought of herself as a survivor. She had survived things that would make others crumble. But honestly, instead of surviving stuff, why didn’t she try to stop it? It was a new concept for her. But it had a certain allure to it. Of course, the question was how. August was pretty sure that she didn’t want to learn this the hard way, by picking fights until she was proficient enough to win them. And learning cost lessons. She’d had free self-defense classes provided by the UCLA cops, but having done that once didn’t infer the ability to kick ass. No, she needed something more, especially since the weirdness that was her life wasn’t slowing down. So where could she get some tips on self defense that wouldn’t actually cost any money? August thought about it for a moment, then rolled over onto her stomach. Her fingers dug into her purse, fishing out her phone. Once she had recovered it from the purse-ian depths, she selected a number and hit talk. “Hey, Dec,” she said in greeting at the hello. “Whatcha doin’ tonight?” Her voice was hopeful, but also a bit shy. She didn’t know if he’d be interested in this; the only way to know was to ask, and she didn’t really what his reaction would be. The uncertainty left her feeling a bit vulnerable and it was clear in her tone.
  6. September 5, 2011, 1:55 p.m. Holmby Park August walked nervously next to Dec, her anxiousness evident in her stance. She was really glad that Declan had agreed to come and even happier that he’d been able to get the time off. “You sure this won’t get you in trouble?” she asked, more because she needed to talk than needing more assurance. “Nah,” Dec said, looking around more casually then August, but still attentive. “My boss owed me time off.” Something about his smile after that statement made August raise an eyebrow. She was suddenly glad Dec didn’t work for her, for reasons she couldn’t name. “Okay, then.” His grin widened some more at her tone, and he lifted a hand. For a second, August thought that he’d hug her but instead she got another manly pat on the back. However, those thoughts quickly faded when she saw Shane. That wasn’t technically true – she saw the ghost first. Lilly was hard to miss; she floated half a head higher than Shane like some spectral weather balloon. “There,” August said, her voice hoarse. She caught Dec’s arm and subtly pointed. “That dark-haired man on the bench.” She swallowed and glanced up at Declan. “Maybe I should approach alone. Let him know you’re coming. I don’t want to get this started off wrong.”
  7. {Saturday, 13th August, 2011} Adanedhel finished his preparations and sat back on the throw-pillow, looking at the tools spread out before him. Tonight was the night! A full moon, when the gateway between the worlds was at it's narrowest. After tonight, he wouldn't be Evan Nelson anymore. Poor sad Evan, with his greasy hair and coke-bottle-lens glasses, would fall away from the shining truth of his soul like a husk, and only Adanedhel would remain. It had taken so much work. The labour of months, years even, ever since Adanedhel had realised his true identity whilst attending a Lord of the Rings LARP in San Diego. The way his peers had marvelled at his grasp of Qenya, at how melodically and fluidly he had spoken it. He had read them poems he'd crafted in the ancient tongue, and they'd applauded, and the lady playing Galadriel (who'd looked much more lovely and ethereal than the woman who'd played the role in the movies, but Adanedhel still considered Cate Blanchett as very fitting for the role) had kissed him on the cheek and told him he had a truly Elvish soul. An Elvish soul! Of course he did - it made perfect sense now! His whole life had been one of loneliness at best, torment at worst among the brutish, unrefined herd of humanity that had been his lot. His father had called him a faggot for wanting to study poetry and literature, and his mother had just fretted and sighed that her son was a dreamer. Of course he was a dreamer! Who wouldn't want to dream of something better than this inelegant, mundane pigsty. Well, tonight that would be over. No more dreaming. It had taken him a while to find the right rituals, pieced together from fragments of so-called 'Satanic' texts, truths hidden in 'fiction' and even some passages of the Bible! The truth was indeed there to be found, if one but wanted badly enough to perceive it. He picked up the knife and examined it carefully. It was perfect, a shining steel blade with silver Qenya runes etched into the blade near the hilt. It was a reproduction Elven dagger, but the runes were Adanedhel's own addition, signifying transformation and new life from death. He was proud of the work. He set it back onto the cloth roll with the rope and ceremonial robes. Outside in the van was the final component for the ritual - a tormented but pure soul who needed to be released into the grace of the Valar, who would receive her and in the process grant Evan his release from this ugly, frail mortal shell. He'd watched her for weeks. She was a film student, and she was beautiful and good at heart, but tormented. He'd followed her on her visits to her doctor, seen her leave with troubled expressions on her face. He'd watched closely as she seemed to recoil at things that were not there. Poor fragile soul. He knew that he was doing her a kindness, and that she would be better off in the afterlife. Earlier this evening he'd caught her as she'd come out of the doctor's again, taking her by surprise and pressing the chloroformed pad to her face. She'd gone limp almost immediately, and he'd dragged her to the van. Before she woke, he would have to change her into the simple-yet-lovely Elven gown he'd bought for the occasion of her escape from this horrible life. He looked at his clock: a half hour till midnight - time to go. He gathered up his robes, the gown, the rope and the knife, and left his shoddy, shitty little apartment for the last time. It was a full moon, a bright night despite the permanent haze that hung over L.A in late summer. Owns-The-Night was enjoying the night air in one of his favorite lazing-spots, a dense thicket of trees and bushes near the girl's dorm. There were other reasons besides the cover that he liked that spot. He was looking at two of them now. The vargr may not have been a gentleman, but he knew what he liked. Besides, the night was quiet, all the pimps and dealers seemed to be indoors or doing business well away from the campus, so really what better use was there for his time than to watch young women flitting around their dorm rooms naked but for a pair of panties. The freshman drew her curtains, ending the peepshow, and the huge wolf whuffed softly under his breath and flowed to his feet with a grace eerie in an animal so unnaturally large, shaking himself lightly before heading off on another round of his territory. He moved with uncanny silence and stealth, barely seeming to disturb the gloom between the trees as he ghosted past two young lovers walking along a path, holding hands and talking about the movie they'd seen. The humans never had a clue he was there, and beyond the ring of light thrown by the lamps lining the path, silver eyes watched them with a sense of proprietary satisfaction. They could walk aboard safely because of him, and that was worth all the work of the last eighteen months. This campus, and the blocks surrounding it, were his, and he guaranteed safety to the inoffensive and death to the intruder with equal fervor. Vampires, drug dealers - it was all the same to him. No-one fucked with this place unless they wanted a faceful of vargr. That was something to be proud of. He was moving with a steady, ground-eating trot along the western rim of the UCLA campus near the graveyard when the wind shifted, blowing from the west now rather than the north, and carrying a familiar scent to his nostrils. August, and she wasn't far away either. The vargr's head tilted as he considered that. She must be across the street, and that meant she was in the cemetary. What the hell was she doing there at night? Junkies and bums sometimes crashed there, and whilst it wasn't a terrible place to wander and think, it wasn't exactly safe after midnight on a Saturday. With a low puzzled growl in his chest, Owns-The-Night waited for the road to be clear before bounding across, clearing the wall in one leap.
  8. August 22, 2011 Life is what happens when you’re making plans. August really hated that saying, especially now that she was its effects in full force. She’d made a lot of plans to get her degree and get a job, then her insanity had started. August had gamely made plans to accommodate that, then she’d gotten dragged into a cemetery and nearly knifed by some guy. Aside from the trauma and all the accompanying issues from the attack itself, she’d then had a medical bill dropped into her lap for her ambulance ride and emergency room visit. “Cocksuckers!” she snapped as she stared at the letter and attached bill. Outrage and helpless anger flooded her and she tore the bill up instinctively. Throwing it on the floor, she flopped onto her bed, blinking back angry tears. It’d be fine. She’d be fine. She wanted to believe that, more than anything. But it was damned hard to feel anything other than kicked while she was down. “Fuck,” she snarled, pissed beyond reason and irrationally hurt that they’d bill her for getting attacked. “Fuck!” Pushing to her feet, she grabbed her last forty dollars out of her hiding hole – her emergency funds that she kept for the end of the semester, when she ran out of money. This money had to buy enough food to feed her until her loans paid out. Fortunately, she wasn’t eating a lot, and she could snitch some food from Oneca’s food, if she needed. The green-eyed girl winced as she remembered the last time she’d done that: Saja had given her a knowing, cool look the next time they’d met. Satan hadn’t said anything; she didn’t need to. August had gotten the message. It was a short walk down to campus, where August caught the bus. Her bus pass was one thing she kept up, paying months in advance to ensure she wouldn’t become completely dependent on Oneca. It bothered her to rely on her roommate so much, even if Oneca didn’t care. Plus, this shopping was better done on her own. The walk and the ride gave her time to calm down. There were probably victim advocacy groups that would help her pay her bills. She just needed to find them and jump through their hoops. It seemed like so much work, and August pressed the side of her head to the bus window, feeling the creep of despair. Should she even bother? At this rate, she was just going to end up in the crazy farm, so what did a few missed bills here and there matter? Her stop was reached and August piled off with everyone else. Like part of the herd, she ambled into the store, breathing a sigh of relief when the air-conditioning closed in around her. Grabbing a basket – a cart was just going to depress her over how little she had in it – she headed for the pasta aisle. They should have plenty of Top Ramen there. Yay, August sighed to herself, even as she accepted her lot in life.
  9. Monday August 22nd From Tuna Canyon Sam drove toward the city, her phone cradled on her shoulder as she called her client. "Hi, August, it's Sam." "Hi Sam, how are things going?" August sounded a little stressed. "Good, well, OK. Listen I was hoping you had a little time, I'd like to stop by and get that photo of Brad. I want to be able to show it around while I talk to people." "Umm, sure. When?" "I'm up in Malibu, so maybe an hour or so? Where should I meet you?" "Do you know the Trader Joe's on Glendon Ave?" Sam replied in the affermative. "There's a sub place next door, Jersey Mike's. I'll meet you there." "That sounds perfect, I could use some lunch anyways. See you soon." Sam hung up and turned out onto the PCH headed east toward LA proper. The drive took about forty minutes and parking another ten but thankfully she was able to locate a space between the campus and the sub shop. Sam walked into Jersey Mike's Subs her stomach already starting to rumble; breakfast had been a hasty half bagel and that was nearly six hours ago. She quickly got into line, ordered a turkey wrap, despite really wanting a Big Kahuna Cheese-steak, and a bottle of water that proved foolishly expensive. "Three bucks for a water," she muttered as she sat down, irritated. She took a bite out of the wrap and was glad it tasted good, settling for a low fat, no cheese, diet option was good for her waistline, but bad for her tastebuds. What I wouldn't do for a good piece of pie.
  10. August 17, 2011 “So that’s it,” Javier said, his thin face made longer with worry. “No one’s seen Brad in two weeks.” “Wow,” Marley said, her eyes wide. “Seriously. Nothing?” “We had a date last Friday, which he missed,” August told them. That raised a few eyebrows. Brad’s interest in her had been well-known throughout the School of Film. “That’s when I started to think that he wasn’t just laying low after that stupid bastard conned him.” “He was looking for him,” Gabe told the table somberly. “Who?” Marley asked. “The con-artist.” Javier was the one who answered, though Marley was looking at Gabe. “He told Gabe and I that he’d gotten a lead on the guy. Someone named ‘Jackson’ was going to sell him information on the guy.” “You let him go alone?” August asked, her cheeks flushing as she turned a dire eye on the two men. “There was no ‘let’, August,” Gabe told her, his brown eyes somber. The Asian American looked as upset as she felt. “We tried to talk him out of it, but he was determined to get his money back.” Javier crossed his arms and snorted, his wide, dark nostrils flaring as he stated, “Get his pride back. That’s what was messing with him.” “There’s only one thing to do,” Steph said. She was Gabe’s half-sister, and the resemblance was clear despite her white father’s genetic influence. “We have to take this to the cops.” “Devon already called the cops, and filed a missing persons report.” Javier didn’t look mollified as he spoke. “Seriously,” Marley grumbled, “Devon’s just his roommate. He doesn’t care about Brad. He’s probably glad he doesn’t have to share the remote anymore.” “Is this something we want to get involved in?” Gabe asked uneasily. “Yeah. Brad’s our friend. Let’s take what we know to the police,” August said. She rose and the others stood with her, pleased that someone was pushing them to action. -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- Campus security was great for crimes on campus, but no one knew whether the crime had happened on campus. So they went to the West Los Angeles Community Police Station. The group of five had to wait for almost an hour before a detective from the Missing Persons Unit could see them. Their first look was promising; an older man, thick but not fat, with cool, calculating eyes. He introduced himself as Detective Robinson. The five gave their information to him; he wrote it all down and then said, “Thank you for the information. We’ll keep looking for your friend.” “Wait, is that all?” August asked, her brow furrowing. After their trek, it didn’t seem right that it should end with a five minute conversation. “Yes, ma’am. We’ll continue to look for your friend, but I’ll be honest – there are a lot of missing persons,” Detective Robinson told them. “We’re doing everything we can. If you’re not satisfied, you should hire a private investigator.” That seemed to deflate most of them, but August asked, “Do you know a good one?” “I know lots of good ones, and some affordable ones,” Robinson said, cracking a grin for the first time. “Lemme give you a few names.”
  11. July 28, 2011, The Red Dragon, 9:00 p.m. "Any other fund-raising suggestions?" Amy Zellker gazed around the table, her plump face set in cheerful lines. Amy was an Organizer. She lived to be the head of an organization, pouring her time and energy into it. It became the source of her self-worth and pride. And everyone else in the club let her, because it meant they wouldn't have to do it. August was relieved when no one else came up with anything else. They'd been here for three hours and the wait staff was starting to get annoyed. Maureen was doing her best to remain an actual customer by continuing her trips to the buffet, but even she was slowing down. August stifled a sigh as she eyed her empty glass; the staff had stopped filling them an hour ago in hopes of making them leave faster. Had this been a Film and Photography Society meeting, they would have already been done. The Graduate Cinematography SA was a different beast, far more pompous. "Then I think we're done," Amy said, still cheerful. Money appeared and was tossed on the table, until everyone had given their part. Then the club broke up into ones and twos, everyone heading their own way. August pushed through the door and into the muggy LA air. Her steps turned north, toward home. It was a longish walk, but she was short on cash until her student assistance started to pay out. Walking was much cheaper than driving. The problem wasn't the walk. It was what she might see on the way. They were always worse when she was alone. They were always worse when it was dark. This walk promised to be bad. Oneca was out tonight, Aradia didn't have a working car and August would sooner ask a live cobra for a ride than ask Saja. That chick gave her the creeps and was also hateful. August's sandals thumped against the concrete of the sidewalks. She kept her head down, trying not to see anything unusual. She didn't want to see or react to them. Sometimes they noticed when you reacted to them visibly. Clutching the handle of her backpack, she walked on, sweat gluing her shirt to her body.
  12. Monday, August 1, 2011, Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden, 2:00 p.m. The sun was deliciously warm. August didn't feel warm often; lately, cold had been her enemy, a sign that she was still going crazy. Or perhaps that she was still insane. It was hard to tell if she was actually nuts or still sane and fighting the fall. Wasn't there a rule that if you were worried about being insane you were still sane? Or was that officially wishful thinking? Her therapist would tell her that thoughts like that weren't helping. August was supposed to be helping with her therapy, not questioning her level of insanity. Think pleasant thoughts, she told herself. Keeping her eyes shut, she let the heat act like a balm on soul as well as her body. The stone bench under her was also warm; with the firm heat under her and the golden warmth above her, she was completely at ease. Nearby, someone was turning over the earth; August could smell the scent of disrupted, heated soil. The occasional sound of the worker reached her as well, but she was concentrating on the sounds of the guys playing catch with a Frisbee or of the birds singing. They were very active, their voices pitched in high, nervous chirps. They sounded a little scared. Those are not the kind of thoughts you should be thinking about, she chided herself, but now that she'd noticed the nervous twittering, she couldn't shut it out. As a distraction, she let her mind drift to the final project for her independent study. Though summer classes were technically over, she was still working on her project. Her instructor had let her start late so she had until August 15. She had a couple of weeks, but she needed to start focusing. August had loved to play with light and film; styles like film noir were so interesting to her technically. The play of light and dark had been the focus of her summer project and now she had to submit a video showing her knowledge. But since her 'break' August had found herself woefully short on inspiration. What had once been easy, even exciting, was now a chore. Part of coming to this park was the hope that something would inspire her. Then the warm sun had lulled her into a nap. Just like a cat, she thought with a lazy smile. Carelessly, she shifted on the bench, pulling one knee up as her hands came to rest on her stomach. This was way too relaxing; the warm summer air combined with the lack of Saja-related pressure or school pressure was enough to draw her toward sleep. The Frisbee took care of that. It sailed over the hands of the guy jumping for it and right into August's face. Yelping, she sat up, clapping her hand to the spot over her eye. It was already throbbing but she could tell it was just going to be a bruise and wasn't bleeding. And the shithead who'd missed was laughing at her. August glared at him, as he giggled into his hand and pulled his sun visor low over his eyes. It was nervous laughter but she didn't care. "Hey, wanna get that for me?" "Sure," August said, turning to look over the bushes behind the bench. The Frisbee was on top of the bushes and she shoved through trimmed foliage, grimacing as they raked at her bare legs. She grabbed the offending disk, snatching it up off the plants. She was seconds from hurling it back- What would the Wolf do? As always, that thought made her stop and consider. And she was angry. She'd been having a good day. It wasn't being hit with the Frisbee. It was that he'd laughed at her instead of apologizing. There was a gardener nearby, one of the UCLA's fleet of groundskeepers. August darted over to his cart and grabbed the pruning knife off of it. She started to hack at the plastic disc, but it was too tough to cut in half like she'd wanted. She heard the guy yell and start toward her, and August switched tactics. She began to scratch letters into the disc instead, and by the time the boy snatched it from her she'd managed to get three letters in it: A-S-S. "Bitch!" he snarled when he saw her artwork. His friends weren't too far behind, but August wasn't afraid of any of them. They were all frat kids, over-privileged and rude, and she was still angry. "Try an apology next time," she told them, setting the pruning knife down in the cart. The kid opened his mouth, then looked over her shoulder and paled. "Good luck, bitch," he muttered before turning and fleeing. Frowning, August turned to see what had caused that reaction.
  13. January 30, 2007 The door squeaked open five minutes after the lecture started. August winced at the noise and then winced harder as several heads turned to look at her – including the teacher's. Why did I think that Sunday was a good time to go to one of Lucien Hunt's parties with Oneca? she sighed to herself. Feeling chagrined, she slipped into the first open seat, her face heating up from being the center of attention. Drawing out her notebook, she started to take notes on the class. Comparative Religion 101 wasn't that interesting to her, but she needed the humanity credit for her gen eds. With effort, she focused on the lecture. At least the teacher wasn't too old; he was handsome in a British-scholarly way. It made it easier to focus on him, if not the lecture. Ugh, she sighed after ten minutes. It was no good; the mild hangover she had from last night was cutting through her concentration. She could get the notes from that cute guy a couple of seats over; she'd spoken with him before. Letting her mind relax, she started to doodle instead. She wasn't very good at it; her wolves all ended up looking too soft for her tastes. Dr. Astor's voice became a soothing drone in the back of her mind; August felt herself slipping away. Her doodles became less and less about wolves, and more and more random. Then from the chaos, order began to take form. Faces peered out of the lines of her page, all of them shrieking in pain. A small mound of some kind of powder was the center of drawing. It was ominous in its simplicity. August was still drawing when the class was dismissed and the other students were gone.
  14. Name: August Turner Personal Information: Public Identity: August Turner Nicknames: Auggie Real Name: same Occupation: Cinematography student Legal Status: United States Citizen, living in Los Angeles Marital Status: Umarried Known Relatives: Margaret 'Molly' Sullivan (aunt), Elena Fiona Turner (mother), Riona Sullivan (grandmother), Tracy Davis (aunt), Jerome Davis (uncle), Michael Davis (cousin), Georgette Davis (cousin) Deceased Relatives: Walter Jacob Turner (father), Tyla April Turner (sister) Physical Traits: Weight: 145 lbs Height: 5'; 6" Apparent age: mid-twenties Gender: Female Ethnic Background: Caucasian Eye Color: blue-green Hair Color: black Handedness: Right Age: 22 Clubs/Organizations: Film and Photography Society (UCLA), Graduate Cinematography Student Association (UCLA) Fictions: Pre-game 07/30/2011 - The Bone Monk's Vows Intra-game 07/28/2011 - Giving the Gift of Indigestion [C] 08/01/2011 - Feeding a Wolf [C] 08/03/2011 - She Who Interferes with a Raven [C] 08/05/2011 - Boot-Scooting Boogie ?? - Just Stopping By 08/13-15/2011 - Live Action 08/16/2011 - Surf n Turf 08/17/2011 - Lost to the Night - Part 1, Hired Help [C] 08/18/2011 - A Sanctuary, Safe and Strong 08/22/2011 - Big Bad Wolf 08/27/2011 - A New Way History: August - known then as Tilly Augusta Turner, thanks to a favorite aunt - was effectively orphaned at age ten with the death of her father, Walter Turner. Her father worked as a Site Manager for various studios. Publically, he was loved by his employers but hid a dark secret: he was an abusive bastard at home. His daughters and wife lived in fear of him, unable to break free. At first it was just beatings, but as time passed, the abuse passed into torture. Fiona took the worst of it, as her pain incorporated the sexual. Some part of Walter refused to cross that line with his twin girls, no matter how bad he got. What none of them knew was that Walter was being Ridden. For years, a spirit of pain had been clinging to him, warping his mind and personality to feed its growing hunger. Just as it was starting to get out of control, to move outside the family, fate intervened. In the late fall of 1995, Walter received an assignment from Paramount Studios to prep a site in Colorado for a survival thriller. Walter took his wife and daughters up with him, a common practice for him when he planned to be gone for extended amounts of time. All was going well until a freak snowstorm cut them off. Walter had prepared for this with provisions, and there were buildings on the site, so the family was fine. The studio promised to airlift them out as soon as possible. The rescuers arrived to find carnage. Walter was dead, found at the bottom of an icy ravine and picked at by scavengers. His wife, Elena, was bound to the bed in one of the buildings, injured, hysterical and nearly insensate. Tilly and her twin sister, Tyla, were found after two hours of looking. Tyla was found dead, beaten to death. Tilly was next to her sister, sobbing and half-frozen. The investigators never got the full story, but they pieced together the following assumption: Walter had snapped and tried to kill his daughters. They ran and he caught one, killing her. Elena tried to stop him, and he hurt her and tied her to the bed. While looking for his other daughter, he slipped and fell to his death. This is mostly true. What is omitted, unknown, or forgotten is that a solitary Uratha hunter caught wind of the Ridden. As a ghost led the girl into the woods and away from her father, the Uratha arrived. He saved Tilly, mauling the monster her father had become in near-wolf form. After dropping the body into a ravine, he led the girl back to the cabin, then went to get help. He led people back as a human and faded away into the background. While no one believed the girl's tale about a giant wolf saving her, wolves remained a fascination for the girl. Elena was admitted to a mental hospital, where she has remained since. The woman is broken after years of torture followed by the death of her youngest daughter. Tilly - who changed her name to August Tyla Turner at age eighteen - was raised by an aunt in Los Angeles. She is her father's daughter, and she pursued a career in Hollywood. August went to UCLA, going for her undergraduate in Film, Television and Media. Her first roommate was a slovenly nightmare, dirty beyond even the messy August's standards. Unable to get someone to trade with her, she looked off-campus for a new place to live and found Oneca. The girl seemed more interested in company than in a reliable renter, which was good since August didn't have much money. Plus Oneca was fun, if a little weird. After getting her undergrad, she started her Masters of Fine Arts in cinematography. Oneca's sister showed up for her freshman year of college and for a while, August thought she might get kicked out of the house. A compromise was reached: August moved into the hastily renovated attic and Oneca's parents didn't kick her out. In her first year, she scored a spot on the second unit of a documentary about wolves in a sanctuary in the mountains. It was being directed by a friend of her father's, and Paul took her on as an intern as a favor to his memory. During the production, August found herself surrounded by people who knew her father, in the mountains and with wolves around all the time. The walls she'd carefully constructed to contain her psyche and her gifts came crumbling down. She began to see 'things' again. August barely held herself together. She managed to finish the internship but right after she checked into a hospital. Medication helped her, mostly by drugging her into a zombie-like state where she couldn't see anything clearly. That didn't work for her, so she stopped taking them and tried to just ignore whatever was going on. For now, she keeps trying to keep her head above water. It's not easy; she keeps seeing things that aren't there, things that look like ghosts. For now, ignoring them is working, but she worries about her condition becoming worse.
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