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Aberrant: Dead Rising - The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men


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(This fiction contains graphic and terrible violence. If you do not have the stomach or desire to read about atrocities being commited against the helpless and defenseless, please stop here and read no further.)

The old school was not what it had once been. Nestled in the Colorado Mountains it had enjoyed a rich history and reputation, well-earned, for producing well-mannered young men and women with strong educations in the arts and humanities. It had been a place of wealth and privilege. It had been a place of learning and growth. It had even been...a place of mystery. The school was none of those things now. Now it was a broken place; the litter of decades old buildings bore witness to where the school had once stood. Grass grew over the empty classrooms; weeds pushed up past tile floors. Mangled desks and chairs lay strewn about like the discarded toys of an angry titan. The athletic field was a tangle of scrub bush and mud, marked by a burned black pit that stretched twenty feet in diameter at its center. There remained only two clues to the school’s former glory. The first was the church. The big red brick building still rose tall and proud, casting a long afternoon shadow across the overgrown paths of the quad. A wall had been built around the church, twelve feet high. It was a mess of brick and rock and chunks of concrete, sloppily assembled. The cement had been poured over it liberally, like glue, and topped with crushed glass of all different sizes and colors. The entrance was nothing more than a sliver, barely wide enough for a man’s shoulders, and blocked on the other side by a filthy rusted school bus. The second clue was more telling. Dangling from the broken chain that had stretched across the archway at the end of the winding mountain road was a sign; the lettering was faded, the polished oak cracked and chipped, but it could still be read: The Trevor Dalton Academy.

Inside the church building a young man sat in a high-backed black leather executive chair. But for the youth’s disparately colored eyes—the right eye brown, the left a red and gold color like fossilized amber—there was little remarkable about him. He was smooth and baby-faced, somewhat short for his age, and brown-haired. His face and limbs were well-formed, the whole of him decidedly attractive, but in such a boring and conventional way, that he might have been plucked from the pages of any Seventeen magazine. He wore blue jeans and a plain white tee shirt that was tight enough to reveal an unexceptional and modestly athletic physique. He had a good smile, bright and friendly, and the boy was smiling now.

Before the youth, there lay an altar of stone. It was covered with a curtain serving as a table-cloth. Centered on the table-cloth was a paper plate, and on the plate there sat a microwaveable bean burrito—easily identifiable as such by the empty wrapper that had been carefully placed alongside it. The burrito was steaming hot.

“We pray our great Lord Skyler is pleased with our offering!” The voice came from one of the twins kneeling at the altar, girls of thirteen or fourteen at most. The boy could never tell which was which. He rose from the chair and strode to the altar. He took the burrito in hand. He bit into it.

“I’m very fucking pleased.” The boy announced. The girls beamed at one another and then at him, watching with broad smiles as he took another bite. “How...did you do it?” The boy asked, sucking hot cheese from the folded tortilla.

“Well, it was actually pretty cool!” The twin on the left began to explain, “we steamed it,” the other twin cut in, almost seamlessly, “but it wasn’t really just steaming, it was like a...like a...” she looked at her sister “How do you say baño Maria in English?” The sister nodded her head, thinking, “like, like...a double boil, like...like heated ba--”

“I guess I don’t really care.” the boy interrupted. He absently patted the twin on her head, moving past her, and praising her as one might praise a favored pet. “You did good.” He was halfway through his burrito when the air in front of him became a roiling black circle, an emptiness in space that seemed to yawn into eternity. From that utter darkness stepped a man, wearing Keds and sunglasses. The twins behind the boy mewled with terror and prostrated themselves on the ground. The man barely glanced at them, bemusedly. Then the man turned to the boy, who was looking at him expectantly, still munching the burrito.

The man smiled and placed a fatherly hand on the boy’s shoulder. “We have need of your,” the man paused, thought it over, “talents.”

“No shit?” The boy crammed the last of the burrito in his mouth, chewed industriously, and wiped his hand on the leg of his jeans. The boy was smiling now.

“No shit.” Han agreed.

This is taking place right after the events of Fallout Baby. Skyler will soon be joining Venus and James on Olympus...as soon as I get around to poasting his arrival. If you either of you two wants to take the lead and react to the appearance of Han and Skyler (James), or of Skyler striding into the interrogation room like he owns the place (Venus), feel free! As an RP note: 'the boy' has the Social Shield power as per Dawn's house rules. Venus can very likely overcome that if she puts her back into it.


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The first time he had stepped into Han’s void and out the other side, the boy had felt a tickle of nausea in the back of his throat, a clenching of his guts like the sensation of vertigo. He barely felt a thing as he stepped through this time, only a little tug of dizziness that passed in the blink of an eye.

“I have some business to attend to,” Han explained as the boy glanced back over his shoulder at the vanishing circle of darkness that had born them from the mountain side and into the mountain itself: Into the heart of Olympus, the home of the Gods. “You will find Circe with some prisoners in the lower levels.” A look passed between Han and the boy before Han spoke again. “It would take me too long to explain. Circe can bring you up to speed.”

“Mmm. Sure.” The boy answered. He pushed his hands into his jeans pockets and watched Han walk down the hallway and turn the corner. He waited a moment longer, the time it took to draw a long breath into his lungs, and then he walked down the stone corridor in the opposite direction. His Nike tennis shoes made little sound. As he walked, he began to whistle. He had no talent for it, and he sounded clumsy and off-tune, but he went on whistling anyway.

Halfway down the stairs the boy stopped whistling. He took his hands out of his pockets and brushed his fingers through his hair. Circe was sitting on the carved bench outside the door. She was an elegant woman with long dark hair and bright green eyes and the boy liked the look of her. He liked her angular nose and her sharp chin and the hint of freckles on her cheeks. She was wearing a plain gray dress with a wide red shawl and leather sandals. The boy liked that she dressed down, and not for the first time he wondered what she might look like naked. The boy slowed his approach. He took one step and then another, and then he stopped as Circe uncoiled from the bench. The boy was smiling. Circe was not.

“The Boy Atlas.” Circe said.

“I like Kid Atlas better.” The boy answered lightly. He wondered, idly, if Circe had any cigarettes. If anyone, anywhere, had any cigarettes.

“What do you think you’re going to do here that I can’t?” Circe shook her head, snorted derisively.

The boy shrugged and smiled and said, “Han asked me to come.”

“Oh, he did?” Circe’s left eyelid twitched.

“He did.” The boy confirmed.

“Well, you can have them. I’m sick of this rabble.” Circe yawned and stretched and the boy watched her body grow taut and straight. He watched her breasts rise with her ribs and her arms. She met the boy’s eyes and frowned and made to brush past him.

“Circe.” The boy said.

“What do you want, Skyler?” Her tone was as cold and hard as the stones they stood upon.

“What am I supposed to get out of them?”

Circe drew her lips back in a sneer. “Does it matter?” she stalked off without waiting for an answer. The boy watched her go until she was up the stairs and out of sight, and then he turned back to the door. The door was five feet wide by ten feet tall. It was carved from a solid block of stone. The boy was smiling when he pulled open the door and walked inside.

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The room had uneven stone walls and a sloped roof. It was deep inside the mountain, cool and moist from a hidden stream that ran beneath the rock. Little clumps of moss grew on the walls. The room had a deep earthy smell, and the boy paused once inside and breathed deep of it.

They were five, the boy saw, all of them barefoot. A thickly built black man with a growth of stubble and a bruised face, sat against the corner with his arms draped over his knees. A skinny man in the ragged and moldy remains of a business suit occupied the far corner. He began to pray when the boy shouldered the door closed. “Oh God no, oh God no, oh God no, no, no more.” But the broken man in the stinking suit did not hold the boy’s interest. On the other side of the room stood a man and a woman. They were close together, the man’s arms wrapped protectively around the woman’s shoulders. The man’s hair had begun to go gray at his temples. He had thin lips and a wide jaw and high cheek-bones. His clothes hung on him loosely; a weathered brown belt knotted around his waist kept his pants up and his shirt billowed out from his shoulders like a sail. He had been a big, strong man once, and he carried himself as if he still were. Proud, defiant. The woman had good skin and long, tangled brown hair. Her red-rimmed eyes were fixed on the boy. She was extremely pregnant, her belly full and rounded and stretching the flimsy shirt she wore.

“Do you like Nine Inch Nails?” The boy asked conversationally as he walked closer to the man and the woman. “They have this song, Hurt. It’s not the best song in the world or anything. But Johnny Cash did a really great cover. Do you like Johnny Cash?” The boy began to circle the couple and the man quickly spun around, moving his woman with him, never leaving his back to the boy. “Johnny Cash, I think, is one of the greatest singers in the world. Maybe the best.” The boy said, “Or was, I mean. He died. Before Z-Day. He was already dead. You probably knew that.”

The boy smiled warmly at the couple. They did not smile back. The woman’s lower lip had begun to tremble. The boy watched them both for a time in silence and then said, “It’s a really good song, the way Cash sings it. It’s about drugs, you know, drug abuse. You don’t have to be a genius or anything to figure that out.” The boy resumed walking his slow circle and the man kept turning with him, keeping him in sight. “The thing I like about it is,” the boy paused and thought, looking around the room for inspiration. The black man was dragging himself to his feet with a groan. The man in the suit had turned his back to the boy and squatted in his corner, whimpering and repeating his litany of panicked prayer. “I guess the thing I like is the emptiness. Cash really gets that. There’s so much pain in emptiness, don’t you think so?”

The black man curled his heavy hands into fists. “Hey man, why dontchu just leave ‘em alone? Why dontchu just leave all of us alone, man? We ain’t done nuthin’ to you!”

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“What have I become?” the boy sang, smiling first at the black man and then at the couple. He tried to imitate, as best he could, the rich throaty tones of Johnny Cash; he could not. The boy sang poorly, but with feeling “my sweetest friend, everyone I know, goes away in the end...” he stepped toward the couple and the man pushed his wife to one side and came at the boy, crazed and swinging. The boy simply stood there, and took the blows. His head scarcely moved from left to right as the man raked his face again and again with powerful hooks. When the man finally stopped punching his knuckles were raw and bleeding and the boy’s face bore no mark.

“You don’t gotta do this, man! You don’t gotta do whatever it is you’re fixin’ to do!” the black man screamed. “Look at me man! Don’t do this!” He took a nervous step toward the boy and stopped, his whole body twitching, the spit glistening on his lip. But the boy did not stop. The boy raised his hand and gave the man a short, sharp tap in the chest. The man rocketed away from the blow as if he’d been shot from cannon. He struck the wall behind him and crumpled against the cold, moss covered stones, where he lay unmoving.

“No! Oh, no, Jeremy, no!” the woman cried. She turned away from the sight of her fallen husband as the boy stepped over to her. “I told him this would happen! I begged him not to defy th-the gods, please! I swear! I didn’t want this! I didn’t ask for this!” she wailed.

“And you could have it all,” the boy sang quietly, his voice pitched low and intimate, “my empire of dirt.” the boy looked into the woman’s terrified eyes and said “I will let you down. I will make you hurt” and then the black man made a charge and threw himself into the boy’s side. The black man had been hungry a long time. He had lost much of his bulk, even some of his muscle weight. But he was still a big heavy man, and the boy was small, and what happened should not have happened: The black man smashed into the boy’s hip and bounced away from it as if he’d thrown himself into a wall of brick. He went sprawling on his back and could only look on impotently as the boy grabbed the woman by the collar and brought her to her hands and knees. He watched, powerless to stop it, as the boy lifted the woman’s skirt and drew her panties down. Then the boy turned and looked at him and grinned a warm winsome grin, and the black man felt his skin crawl. He wanted to turn onto his side, to close his eyes, but the black man could not look away. He saw the boy draw his fist back, glowing red as bright lines of sparking light leapt up the boy’s forearm, from his knuckles to his elbow. When the boy slammed his fist between the woman’s thighs, and the black man heard her awful, piercing scream, he began to cry. The bile rose up in his throat.

The black man had traveled a long hard road to this place they called Olympus. He had seen a great many things he would have liked to forget. But he would never forget what he saw the boy do next: from the ruined bloody hole that had been the woman’s sex, the boy drew forth a purplish gore and slime covered fetus. The black man would remember the curious look on the boy’s face as he held the fetus by the ankles and turned it, gazing at it almost tenderly. The black man would remember the stink, the sad broken sound the dying mother made as her glazed eyes took in the horror that had been done to her, to her child. He would remember how the boy lifted up the wriggling babe, that tiny creature, a symbol of hope and resiliency and life, and how the boy then dashed the baby down, smashing it on the hard, rocky ground. And the black man would remember how the newborn child had split asunder, like an overripe tomato splatting wetly against the mountain, bits of skull and brain flying everywhere.

When it was over, they were three. The black man was sobbing uncontrollably. The boy was drenched with viscera and his once white tee shirt was crimson from the collar to the hem. Even the prayers from the skinny man had stopped; he sat staring with hollow eyes. The boy scratched under his nose and finally broke the silence, “So...who feels like talking?”

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