[DRYH] Who Are the People in your Neighborhood? (02)

edited May 2014 in DRYH
This is so totally not Kansas.

Wherever it is that you ran to, you ran for a really long time, because now that you're taking a damn breath, hands on your knees, you realize it's dusk. The sidewalk has given way to cobblestones. The buildings around you are something out of a reenactment or a play or something, all Old West meets Sherlock shit. Gaslight lamps.

That's when you hear her. Jasmine. You recognize the voice, but don't hear the words, they sound muffled or something. "Benny. Hey Benny, let me see you! C'mon, Benny. Let me out, okay?"

You realize the voice, it's coming from your pocket. From your phone. Did she call you?


  • I reach in my pocket, pull out the phone. "Jasmine? Hey... I'm so sorry for the misunderstanding... listen, I'm just trying to make Art, okay? You're like, my Muse."

    I haven't even looked at the screen yet. The cracked screen nicked my finger and is threatening the right side of my face.
  • She gushes as you feel a bit of hot blood on the tip of your finger, "Benny! You're so awesome to say that. I have no idea why she's such a bitch-hole about your art. She doesn't get it. Too many lattes or something, who knows? I get you though." You can practically feel her breath on your ear, though the cracked screen. "I so totally get you, Benny. I love what you did. I can't believe how you captured me so... perfectly."
  • I totally don't catch the she/me thing at this point. That'll come later, I guess.

    "I know, right? Thank you soooo much for watching all the way through! You're awesome, and you made my video awesome. Right?"

    There's a moment, then, "Hey, do you want to do a shoot on purpose? I'll get a camera or a phone or something, and we could meet up. I'm..." ...look around... "...well, I don't know at the moment, but we could meet up."
  • There's a pause, like maybe she's thinking it over. Then, in a whisper, "Yes, Benny. That would be amazing. I would love to let you, uhm, shoot me."
  • "Let me figure out where I am, see if I can grab something to work with. Call me back in a bit?" I am e-freaking-lated. Looking around. Are there shops around here? Cars? Maybe a cab? The cobblestones and gaslights are weird, but I dunno, maybe it's a historic neighborhood or something? I haven't been everywhere in this town.
  • There's another pause, then she chirps, "Yeah, Benny. Sure. Call you soon!" The call ends.


    No cars here, no cabs, either. Streets are dead quiet. That's when you notice, it's really quiet, like out in the country quiet, no electric lines humming, no sounds of cars in the distance. The moon is out, cloudy sky.

    At the end of the street is a huge clocktower. It has thirteen numbers on it, not twelve.
  • What the...?

    Nothing moving, nothing even making noise. I look at my phone. It's dead-dead. How was I talking to Jasmine? Come to think of it, it never rang, she just started talking. A worn cobblestone glimmers in a shaft of moonlight weary from pushing through the clouds. I shiver in my windbreaker and start walking cautiously toward the only landmark I see. What time does the clock say?
  • The Big Hand, which looks like a wicked, curved blade, is heading just past the 11. The Little Hand, which looks broken and welded back on haphazardly, is sitting just before the 13.

    Heading up the hilly cobblestone street towards the clocktower, you pass a gaslight. As you get within a couple feet, you hear the flame flickering in the night. Off to the left, you see a pair of people, on the opposite side of this narrow street. They're silhouettes, moving together slowly along the street towards you.

    You head up closer, but they're barely moving at all, must be old people. Unless you stop, they'll be between gaslights and shrouded in darkness when you pass them. They don't move to greet you, or even acknowledge your presence.

    Do you head on?
  • I stop in the light. Old or no, I don't want to encounter anyone in the full dark. Nothing useful in my pockets of course. Busted phone. Keys. There's a little flashlight on the keychain, but the battery probably ran out of juice sometime last year. A little notebook and one of those Fisher Space Pens.

    I call out, "Hello? Can you tell me where I am? I guess I'm lost."
  • You hustle to catch up to them, calling out. They continue walking along slowly, snail's pace.

    When you get close enough to see them, you see the woman first, she looks like this:

    Covered in wax, which cakes up and crumbles off when she moves. It's like watching a tiny creature along a sidewalk. But her eyes. There is something in her eyes. The man with her, he's got dead eyes. Gone eyes.

    They don't answer. They don't stop, either, but she looks at you.
  • I'm torn between mourning my dead phone (this would be great footage) and doing the whole run-and-scream thing. The look of her wins out... I'll slow my pace, match theirs. "Hello? Can you help me? Where am I? Who... what..." I sputter to a conversational stop.
  • edited May 2014
    The male's a molten candle of a man with almost no features, (he's so covered with nearly foot-thick wax that it could be a girl under there), he keeps moving, trudging forward, ignoring you. The girl though, with those bright blue eyes, she walks, too, but she's still looking at you.

    She reaches her right hand up, seems like a struggle to do so, but she hands you three discs. I assume you take them. She says nothing. The discs are coins, with the symbol of a king with a candle on his head, or part of his head, on one side and a tree on the other.
  • I take the coins. "Thank you..." I'll let my stride lengthen, keep on toward the clocktower. I look at the coins as I pass through the next island of brighter light. Something about them, about the King, rubs against my mind like a rough cat's tongue on skin.
  • edited May 2014
    You pass through the island of brighter light, shoes slapping lightly on the rain-wet stones under your feet. Then, you pass again into darkness, the space between lights. Only ten feet in darkness, with the clocktower ahead as your guide.

    You hear a sound to the right, in the dark, a metallic rumbling with clink-clink-clink sounds like hammerfalls on the stone. It draws your attention, because holyshit robots. Nothing. Nothing in the inky black nothing.

    Glance back at the clocktower. No clocktower. Just darkness. The light hid from you. The stones don't feel like stones. Not anymore.

    Turn. The feel of asphalt under your shoes. A streetlight, two blocks from your house. How the fuck did you get here?

    What's your house like, Benny? Who's in your family? Any neighbors you go to school with? It's after suppertime. Late. Dark out. Fall weather. Chilly.

    Coins still in your hand.
  • edited May 2014
    As I walk the few blocks to the house, late for dinner, broken phone, I think about what's there.

    Dad: smelling the tiniest bit of a cigarette he snuck before coming home from his job, his post-dinner Scotch on his breath. Five o'clock (eight o'clock?) shadow. He's probably reviewing something on his laptop or going through papers - he's a director-level project manager for a consulting firm, which means... I don't know. He'll be pissed that I'm late and the phone thing will push him over the edge.

    Mom: she'll be watching TV, laughing at all the right spots in the sitcoms. It was her night to make dinner, so the house will smell like Italy (that's her thing this year). She's an elementary school teacher, so there's maybe some craft project in front of her on the coffee table.

    Heather: a year older than me. Her car's not in the drive, so she's probably out with her friends. Which she has lots of. No boyfriend at the moment, but that won't last long.

    I pass Kurt and Eileen's house, she's on the girl's varsity soccer team, pretty darned good. Kurt's okay, a freshman. The families on either side of us have kids, but they're young. (Mrs. Harbison is super-hot.) Across the street, though, are the Andrews. They look good on the surface, but all three of the kids (Bud, Todd and Amanda) are pure poison at school. I don't get bullied much, but I've pulled Bud and Todd off smaller kids all the time, and Amanda is the gossip mill.

    Up to the door, key in, it's open and I walk in already preparing for the storm. No one's hit anyone in this house since I was 8 and Heather was 9, but the volume does get turned up sometimes.
  • When you come into the little foyer, your dad looks up from his easy chair, the blue light of his laptop illuminating his face, the flickering light of the TV shines off his glasses. "Ben... it's late." He says it like an accusation as he shuts the laptop, then sits back, still eyeing you. "Where have you been?"

    Your mom looks up from her easy chair, a smaller version of your dad's. The Good Wife is on, her favorite.
  • Oh boy, here we go.

    "I... my phone broke, and it turns out this girl I like has a boyfriend. I just sort of wandered around, wound up getting lost..." cobblestones, clock tower, wax woman... I finger the coins in my pocket. "Couldn't call because, you know, phone... and I just, well. I'm here, I'm sorry, I'll take whatever punishment you give me." Sometimes the best defense is to cave early. silence, moon, the sudden metallic rumble

  • Your dad sighs in frustration when you admit to the phone breaking. Your mom pipes up, "Oh honey, you love that phone! All your movies are on there. Did you get them to the Youtube or lose them?"

    "We've got another year on that plan, son." You dad says, trying to get things settled before your mom takes over, "I can get you a burner and swap SIMs, but you owe us for the headcam already. When are you going to pay for that, again?"
  • I have to answer Dad first. "Mrs. Warner said she could give me some hours at the Hallmark store, from a week or two before Thanksgiving through the Christmas season. Paying you for that camera is the first priority. I'm so sorry the phone broke!" Looking at Mom, "I'm hoping I can get everything off, somehow. I'll see what I can do later."

    I'm tired, I've had a fucked up day. The thing with Jasmine and Darius, whatever it was that happened after that, facing Dad's not angry, but disappointed face, Mom's concern. Haven't eaten since a turkey sandwich before practice. wax, dripping, flaking

    Sheepishly, "Is there anything left to eat?"

    Jasmine's voice on my busted phone, Jasmine who never knew my name, who certainly didn't have my phone number
  • "You're doing the gutters this weekend, Benny." Your dad isn't taking any IOUs, it seems. "And I'll come up with some work we can do on the house. Your Saturdays are mine until Thanksgiving."

    Your mom pauses the show, stands up, "We can pick through the chicken, make a sandwich, honey."

    As you walk ahead of your mom for the kitchen, your phone rings.
  • I pull it out of my pocket, look at the cracked screen to see what I can see. Anything?
  • It's Jasmine. A snapshot of her from something you filmed.

    "I thought your phone was dead, Benny?" your Mom sounds confused. She looks over your shoulder, standing to your side in the narrow hall, "That screen is a mess. Is that... she's pretty. Is that her? Maybe she's apologizing?"
  • I look at Mom and shrug, then swipe across the screen to answer, wincing even before my finger moves across the jagged wreck of the screen. "Jasmine?" I walk into the kitchen, the corner by the back door, keeping my back turned to Mom, speaking low.
  • "Heyyyyy!" Jasmine says as you call her name. "Is this enough of a bit?"
  • I think about whether there's any way I'm walking back out the door. Heather's still out, and it's usually okay for me to keep my own hours, up to a point, but Dad's not going to be very accommodating in his current state. "Hang on one sec..."

    "Mom? It is her, Jasmine. She wants to meet up, talk. I'd really like to... think you can help with Dad?"

    Back on the phone. "My ass is in a sling here for breaking my phone and getting home late for dinner, but I'm working on it..."

    Not thinking about all the problems with the fact that I'm talking to Jasmine. Not thinking about anything but her face, her hair, the way light always seems to find her at just the right angle...
  • edited May 2014
    Your mom takes a breath, but you can telling she's assessing, not getting ready to object. She narrows her eyes, "You've got protection, right?"

    Hey Benny, I doubt you're using speakerphone, so you're putting your face near the phone, right? Looks like she set up a video call. Do you even have the plan for that? "So sorry you've had a crap day, Benny. Really. But I want you to shoot me."
  • edited May 2014
    "Mom!" Then, blushing, "yes..."

    I've never done a video call, really, but adding weird to weird just equals weird at this point. "I think I can swing it... where do you want to meet?"

    Man, I want you to shoot me... Just hearing her say that is just about enough for me to get wood.
  • edited May 2014
    As you're looking down at Jasmine, your mom looks, too. She moves out of the range of the camera, mouthing the words, "She's cute!". Then, your mom heads down the hall to the kitchen, leaving you alone.

    "If you're, you know, in trouble... I could like, come over," Jasmine offers with a little smile.
  • That's a good solution. Right? Sure, have her come over, we can hang out in the "family room" in the basement. "Umm. What about Darius? He was pretty pissed at me, and... well, I don't... ah, yeah. Why don't you come on over? That would be great."

    My palms are sweating, heart beating fast, trying to act cool and knowing how far short I'm falling of that goal. Already off balance, now this one-two punch of dread and arousal. I lean against the wall to steady myself, feel the cool solidity against my back.
  • "Oh, Benny, don't worry about Darius," Jasmine answers with a grin. She rolls her eyes a little, "He doesn't get me like you do."

    She looks at you, then sort of past you at the wall behind you, as if she might've seen your mom earlier. "I'm really close, Benny.... when can I come over?"
  • Jasmine knows where I live? She's close?

    "Just ring the bell. I'll grab my GoPro and be back down to answer the door in 5 minutes."
  • She nods, "Cool. See you soooon." The phone winks out.
  • I swing through the kitchen and grab the sandwich, give Mom a kiss on the cheek and say, "She's coming over here, so I don't have to poke Dad about going out. We'll keep it down in the family room, okay?" Not even really waiting for an answer, I'll take a bite of the sandwich on the way to my bedroom, calling back "Good chicken!" through a mouthful of food. Up the stairs to my room, grab the GoPro, rummage around in the closet to find my three year old Flip camera thingy. Batteries from the desk, laptop under my arm, juggling all this stuff.

    Back down the stairs, straight to the basement, dump the stuff on the coffee table, then back up to the living room. "I'll do the gutters for sure. Whatever else you want, Dad. I'm sorry for everything." Rushed to get the words out before Jasmine rings the bell, but sincere. Then, that moment of waiting. I'm tuned in to whatever the folks say, but all my real attention is on waiting for the doorbell.
  • Your mom nods when you zip out of there, she thinks this whole thing is "cute". The drive-by acceptance of gutter work satisfies your dad for now. Then you wait. Impatiently.

    You hear a car pull into the driveway. Shuts off, door opens. Click clack of heels on the sidewalk, coming closer.
  • I'm wound so tight I can feel my hair. It takes every shred of my dignity, every last shred of it, to wait for the doorbell. But I wait.

    is the clock striking somewhere right now?

    slow shuffling, candle wax

    heels on the sidewalk, metal on cobblestones

    I blink. I wait.
  • Jingle of keys. Door handle turns. Door opens wide.

    It's Heather. Her perfume proceeds her, something from American Eagle or Abercrombie and Fitch or something. She's got her school backpack slung over her shoulder and she's wearing the clothes she wore to school this morning, but you know she changes into other clothes after school.

    She looks at you, all excited and staring at the door. "Uhm, hi, Ben. You okay? Don't like, look so sad I'm home, okay?"

    Your dad is back on his laptop. Your mom turns her show back on.
  • "Uh. Hi, Heather. How... was your day?" Still flushed, trying to be cool.

    Has she not come home since school? That would be weird.

    "I've got a friend coming over. I think we'll hang in the basement."
  • "I'm good, Ben," she answers. Then, a little louder, "Who's your friend? Is Darius coming over?" She grins as she walks past you.

    Is this a two level house, bedrooms upstairs? Or a rancher? or what?
  • Well, I knew she'd find out, and she's not pushing it in front of the parental units, so I'll allow a little bit of snide. I try to grin back a little. "I hope not..."

    Two stories plus a semi-finished basement. Bedrooms up, laundry room and family room down.
  • Heather heads upstairs, fishing her phone out of her purse, doesn't mention not eating, so she must have told them already. She doesn't ask about Darius. Does she care? Why wouldn't she dig for details?

    Are you staying in the hall?
  • edited May 2014
    I'm still where I was when Heather came in.

    Heather probably cares more out of curiosity than anything else. She knows I didn't get hurt myself, and she won't do anything in front of the folks that gets me in more hot water unless she's really mad about something. She'll grill me later, for sure, and probably even commiserate a little, but she'll needle me about it for months.

    Momentary distraction past, I return to my holding pattern. I'm like a well-trained dog that's been told to "Sit" while the owner's holding a treat. Not doing anything, really, but almost visibly vibrating. Probably drooling a bit, too.
  • Your phone buzzes in your pocket.

    You've got a text message:
    I'm outside. A little scared to meet your parents or whatever. Can I sneak in the back or something?
  • I'll just go to the back door, next to the kitchen. Basement stairs are right next to the door, so that's easy. I don't even think of this as sneaking, really. I open the door to the cool night and call out softly, "Jasmine? Back this way."
  • You hear a rustle by the shrubs to your left, then Jasmine steps out from behind them. "Boo!" She whispers it, then covers her mouth as she smiles wide. She's wearing the same outfit you saw her wearing when you did the action scenes. Where did you catch her then? School? At the... what, the mall or something?

    She comes up to you, then ducks inside, moving close enough to brush your arm. She waits for you just inside the backdoor. She's right there, Benny.
  • Oh, those scenes. She doesn't even know how vital, how alive she is. Stalking BOGO shoes at Macy's like a leopardess... it was... ah.

    At that brush, my head explodes. There's a nanosecond of clarity.

    This can't be. There's no way. What the fuck is going on here? What about...? Why?

    Then it's gone. Hormones, blood rushing to my dick, some auteur vision shit, it doesn't matter. My muse is right here, brushing past me, smiling. I follow, then take the lead down the stairs to the basement. The family room, with its wall-to-wall carpet and faux-mahogany furniture. I touch Jasmine's shoulder as I move past her to the stairs down.
  • The stairs down muffle your steps. You can practically feel Jasmine's warmth as she follows you. She has this nervous giggle that you hear right as you reach the bottom.

    "Are you gonna get in like, trouble or anything?" her voice is a whisper. She walks past you, brushing your arm again, this time had to be on purpose. She walks over to put an elbow on the mahogany bar, looking at the bottles of liquor that your father has collected for years.

    She looks over at you, grinning, "How do you want me? ... to pose, I mean."
  • Oof. Seriously, blood flow to the brain is impeded, and the half-a-sandwich was not nearly enough to pump my blood sugar to non-zombie levels.

    I look at Jasmine, at the cameras on the coffee table. Pick up the Flip. "Just do whatever... whatever you want. I'll just capture the moment. You're awesome, no matter what."
  • When you pick up the Flip, she suddenly becomes a little shy. Her eyes flit about, no longer making direct eye contact. She pushes a few strands of hair behind her left ear.

    "So I should... stand still? Or something?" She gives a nervous smile, looking at you, then away. She puts her hand on the bar, then off it again.
  • "Nah. Just... don't be nervous, talk to me or walk across the room, whatever. The best minutes I've ever shot were you, not knowing. Just pretend I'm not filming, just... whatever. I'm not much of a director, am I?
  • "I guess I have to talk to you, Benny." she replies, looking at you while trying to take her mind off the camera. "Why have you never talked to me? Like... ever?"
  • Oh...

    "Jasmine, I never talked to you because, c'mon. You're... do you even see what I see? Do you even know?"

    I turn to the mirror behind the bar, she follows my gaze. Beautiful as she is, I hope she sees what I see. Not just the physical beauty, but the mystery... the slightly hollow eyes, the... unearthliness of her tired, caffeine-fueled, enervated existence. It's beyond pretty, right, it's... creepy, almost. I watch her image change to match my vision. Penthouse Barely Legal to E.A. Poe waif, with not much transition.
  • edited May 2014
    That sounds like some use of your Madness power, Benny. That's a Pain 2 effort.

    Your Exhaustion of 1 is sticky, it still applies. You'll need to use at least one Madness, too.
  • Discipline: (Rolled: 3d6. Rolls: 5, 2, 3. Total: 10)
    Exhaustion: (Rolled: 1d6. Rolls: 3. Total: 3)
    Madness: (Rolled: 1d6. Rolls: 2. Total: 2)
  • Pain: (Rolled: 2d6. Rolls: 4, 1. Total: 5)
  • Jasmine follows your look into the mirror, regards herself, but then she's looking at you a bit more. Through the lens of your Flip, she takes on that look. Trick of the light.

    After she gets a little more comfortable, she walks past the mirror, and turns to look at you, laughs, and performs a little bit. She dances, more of a little sway to her hips, hands reaching high. She keeps looking at you, becoming bolder, smiling wider, doing obvious poses like some model you might've seen on America's Top Model.

    "Is this good, Benny?"

    Discipline dominates, so things stay under control. You have the option to
    remove a response check-mark or decrease your exhaustion by one.
  • I'll move the Exhaustion down to zero, might at as well.

    "That's good, sweetie, but I don't need you to pose so much. Why don't you sit. Talk to me. Why did you come see me? You hated me earlier today."

    A minute to think, then, "What do you want me to shoot?"

  • She looks around the basement room, picks out a stool at the bar, sits down, her back to the mirror. She's looking at you with more confidence now, with those big eyes of hers. Your camera loves her slightly sunken cheeks, the sharp edges of her thin body, the shadows under those captivating eyes, and the way the front of her shirt hangs open just so.

    "Benny... I don't hate you. Not at all. I want you to forget what happened earlier. That was all wrong." She leans forward a little, her hands on the sides of the stool, heels perched on the bottom rail of it. "I want you to shoot... whatever you want. I'm so sorry for earlier today, Benny. Let me... make it up to you. Okay?"
  • If I didn't have the camera in my hands I'd be a complete wreck by now. As it is, though, the camera's my confidence. Looking at the viewscreen on the back, I can make the world be what I want, make me be what I want. I walk up to Jasmine, framing her face, closer and closer. I reach across the bar behind her and grab a knife. Just a paring knife for slicing limes or whatever, and it's probably dull, but the point and serrated edge look wicked enough.

    I hand the knife to Jasmine, back off to the far wall. "Walk toward me. Slow. Don't be purposefully threatening, just hold the knife casually and do whatever feels right."
  • Jasmine is getting into it, following your direction gives her something else to think about. You feel a chill as you see her rise up, walk towards you. She's got the paring knife in her hand, and she gently caresses the tip against her forefinger, probably something she saw in a movie. Or did you see that in a movie sometime?

    She pauses, then grins like she got an idea. "Benny, why me?" she asks as she pulls the knife up to put the flat of it along her exposed collarbone. "I'm not... you know, not complaining. But why?"

    There's a moment when she's moving closer, close enough to smell the coffee on her skin, that you stomach twists a bit. Weird, like you were chewing on some yummy fruit and got ahold of a pit or something. But it passes.
  • I remember seeing someone else touching a knife like that, on my laptop screen. Maybe in a Jee-woon Kim movie? I doubt Jasmine saw that, though...

    I swallow through the bad second, coffee and just a touch of sweat filling my nose as the screen fills with the knife, her throat. "Jasmine, you're... when you move, it's like everyone in the room tracks you with their eyes, like a hundred cameras filming from a hundred angles. When you're still, it's like I'm drawn in to a closeup without even meaning to be. Light hits you and makes interesting shadows. Darkness wraps around you, but doesn't obscure..." I stop talking. She's so close.
  • "...wow..." she says, but you don't see her mouth, the len focused on the blade, on her neck. "That sounds amazing, Benny." She moves closer, filling the lens with her body, ruining the shot.

    She's right in front of you, Benny, right there. "Benny... do you, uhm." Jasmine pauses to reach her free hand up to gently pull your chin up, away from the camera, to look directly at her. Her eyes pull you in, make you feel a little dizzy. "Do you... like me?"
  • Oh, Jasmine. I've kissed girls, fooled around, but this...

    I put the camera down without turning it off. It's like I've shuffled my feet on a shag carpet in the winter, I feel... charged. I move the hand with the paring knife and lean down to kiss the hollow there, between collarbone and shoulder. Look back up, meet her eyes again, let them pull me, hope mine are pulling her the same way.


    So close, we're sharing breath.

  • Jasmine, your muse, your dream girl, leans in to kiss you, mouth parting just slightly. Just before your lips touch, you feel her take in a breath. Like you would before you hit the water at the pool.

    Her mouth is soft, Benny. Pliant, and eager, even. She moves her hand up to cup your face, her thumb brushing your cheek like you're a precious thing. Her eyes are closed, her body pressing against you now.

    After several moments of lips pressed to lips, a tentative probing tongue, a soft sigh, things feel like they're going to progress... further.

    Then you feel something against your neck: cool metal, a few inches long. It's the paring knife. She's put it there, right along a major artery. Her eyes open, and she pulls back a hair, looking into your eyes. She's got this mercurial smile on her face.
  • The cool touch of the blade startles me, and I'm back out of the moment, in her eyes. I make the smallest sound. There is a fragment of a second where I can make a decision. Long enough for the flash of cobblestones, clocktower, wax, wrong and then the opportunity to choose is gone, falling down into her eyes, drowned by her smell, numbed by her touch.

    Fuck it. I lean forward just that tiny bit that she's pulled back, feel the teeth of the knife on my neck. Lips touching hers again, hand in the small of her back. The knife is a sharp counterpoint to the sweetness of the moment.
  • Jasmine smiles wide when you lean in, when you don't shirk from the danger. She slips more tongue into the kiss, her hand moving from your face down the side of your neck to reast on your side. It tickles a little, her touch.

    She makes soft sounds of pleasure as you kiss for a small forever. Then, she presses the knife into your throat, and you feel a dribble of wetness. She just cut you! A scratch, you think. But yeah, Jasmine just cut you with that "dull knife".

    With a giggle, she pulls back, haunting eyes looking at the wound, then back up at you. "Will you..." She squeezes your side, then slips her hand around your back. "Will you be mine, Benny?"
  • I want her. Blood trickling down my neck, I still want her. But... something's pushing up from the haze of hormones and danger. Something maybe even scarier.

    I meet those eyes and take a half step back, as far as I can without completely losing contact, her hand now on my hip. Reach behind me for the camera, still running. Hold it up, her face filling the screen.

    "Wrong question, sweetie. The real question is... will you be mine?"

    After all, what I really want to do is direct.
  • Oh Benny. Dominating Jasmine like this? Well, that's a Pain 5 challenge.

    How much are you willing to use that Madness of yours for this?
  • I'll push it, for sure.

    Discipline: (Rolled: 3d6. Rolls: 3, 1, 4. Total: 8)
    Exhaustion: (Rolled: 1d6. Rolls: 6. Total: 6)
    Madness: (Rolled: 3d6. Rolls: 6, 5, 1. Total: 12)
  • Pain: (Rolled: 5d6 . Rolls: 6, 5, 4, 2, 6. Total: 23)
  • You succeed in making Jasmine yours! Pain most definitely dominates here, so I will take another sweet, sweet Coin of Despair for my coffer (that's two!).

    Jasmine's grin widens, stretching too far for a glimmer. She slides the cool metal against your neck, opening the wound farther. You feel it, the stab of pain, the blood dribbling down your neck, ruining your shirt.

    She brings the bloody knife up to her mouth, wrapping lips over the blade. She mugs for the camera, licking the blood off, then turns it to slice a cut in her own tongue. She nods slowly, "I'm yours... all yours. Your muse. Your creation. Your puppet. Body and soul."

    So saying, she drops the knife onto the carpet, discarding it casually, moves forward, putting both hands around your neck. She wants to kiss you, Benny. With a mouth full of your blood mixed with hers.
  • I kiss her, penny taste and an undertone of... wrong. Then I disengage. Move to the old iPod hooked up to the stereo. Mom took belly dance classes for "exercise" a few years ago, and I remember one song from those otherwise horrifying days. Scroll down the list until I find it.

    "Dance for me, Jasmine. Dance for the camera."

  • Jasmine dances for you. It's unrehearsed, and there's a certain appeal to that, right? She isn't some covergirl stepping off the magazine rack, Benny. She's raw, and malleable. You want to direct? She's your star. All the potential in the universe, waiting for your direction.

    The song plays on, and Jasmine finds the beat. She senses the belly-dancing rhythm, and shimmies her hips, laughing at herself, surprised at how uninhibited she is right now, in this moment.

    In too short a time, the song ends, flipping over to some crooner nonsense, not danceable. Jasmine stops, gives you a beaming smile, seeing that you're into it. "Benny... can you make a movie with this? Like now? I want to see."
  • Hell yeah, I can...

    "This might be boring for you, and it'll probably take me a few days to get something I'd want to show anyone but us, but I'll rough somthing out now..."

    Download the video from the Flip, pull the song off Mom's old iPod, sort through some clips and stills. The first real editing I do is to pull the footage of Jasmine with the knife and of her dancing, scrub the background. Lots of fiddly bits follow, but after about a half hour or so, this is what it looks like.

    Silent. Jimmy Stewart asleep in a wheelchair, facing the window of his apartment. A shadow falls across his face. Instead of Grace Kelly, though, we see Jasmine leaning in, knife held at her throat. The shadow covers his Jimmy's face entirely, and we cut back to his perspective, Jasmine approaching closer and closer, lips parted, sweat on her upper lip. Back to Jimmy's face, expectant in her shadow, then back to Jasmine, slowly touching the knife to her tongue.

    The music starts, those dirty sampled drums. Cut to black and white footage of London from a silent Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, damp cobblestones, flickering gas lamps, no one on the street. Jasmine fades in, dancing, as a ghost. Image desaturated and not fully opaque. The light shines through all of her but her eyes, which continue to grow more solid. Natacha Atlas begins to sing, and this is the point where Jasmine found the groove, really dancing now, not just swaying to the beat.

    I use most of the dance footage, resisting the urge to clutter things up too much. At some point, the background fades to the clock from Metropolis, face seen from within. At the end, as the song fades out, cut back to my altered Rear Window. Jasmine-as-Grace kisses Jimmy Stewart (this was the very hardest part to do), and then, after a pause where I've excised Grace's line, Jimmy Stewart says, "It hurts a little..." Fade to black.

    I've sketched out what I'm doing for Jasmine, keeping her engaged, and I finally just let it run for her, see what she thinks.
  • Jasmine sits on the bar stool while you work. She rotates back and forth on the swivel of the stool, and pays attention to what you're doing. It's obvious she's into this, leaning forward when you clue her in, asking little questions. She doesn't know the movies you're splicing in, even asks how old they are.

    "It hurts a little," she repeats at the end. Jasmine looks at you in a whole new light, you just know it. She's seen your process, not just the results. "Wow... Benny." She says it quiet, almost reverently.

    You're interrupted by a voice from the top of the stairs. "Ben." It's your sister. "Hey, what are you doing down here?" She starts coming down to the basement. Thromp Thromp Thromp, on the carpeted stairs.

    Jasmine's eyes bug for a moment and she looks to you, worried.
  • Oh shit...

    Heather's voice and footsteps break whatever spell I've been under, and I'm Just Benny again all of a sudden, like the proverbial deer in the proverbial headlights. Why didn't I just bring Jasmine in through the front door, talk her into it? I look at the laptop screen, nothing bad there, the knife on the floor, the few drops of blood staining the rug. The cut on my neck has stopped bleeding, but it's there.

    I'm not going to hide Jasmine, that's stupid, they knew she was coming over, even if it's weird that she wanted to come in the back door. But I do need to make everything look normal. Don't have time to actually clean things up, though, and the cut is not going away.


    a clock with thirteen hours Something clicks (or is it snaps?) in my head. I focus on what Heather shouldn't see, focus so hard that the knife and the blood on the carpet go hazy, transparent even to me. "Just working on some video with my friend, Sis. No big deal."
  • Well, Benny, if you want to make those things go away, you can certainly try. That's a Pain 2 difficulty, but it will take at least 2 Madness.
  • Discipline: (Rolled: 3d6. Rolls: 4, 3, 6. Total: 13)
    Exhaustion: (Rolled: 1d6. Rolls: 3. Total: 3)
    Madness: (Rolled: 2d6. Rolls: 2, 2. Total: 4)

    (current "permanent" pools: Discipline 3; Exhaustion 1; Madness 0)
  • Pain: (Rolled: 2d6. Rolls: 1, 6. Total: 7)
  • Hey Benny, it looks like you have four successes, so the knife and the blood "disappears". You know they're there. You know the real, you know what's what. Your sister doesn't notice it, or sees it and doesn't recognize it for what it is.

    Heather comes down into the basement, stays there at the foot of the stairs, doesn't come too far in. She looks over at you, at Jasmine. She chuckles silently. "Hey, Jazz."

    "Uhm... hey there," Jasmine responds quietly, pushing locks of hair behind her left ear.

    "This... is your friend, Ben?" You sister asks like it's a joke. She's putting you down a little. She thinks Jasmine is out of your league, too. Then, she looks at JAsmine and throws this in, "Or are you friends with Darius now and he's hiding?"

    "Who?" Jasmine asks, managing to pull it off with a genuinely confused tone. She looks at Heather, then you.

    Heather snickers, "Heh, riiiight. Well, I'll leave you with your friend then." Your sister turns to head back up the stairs, "Stay out of dad's liquor, okay?"

    Discipline dominates, so things stay under control. You have the option to remove a response check-mark or decrease your exhaustion by one.
  • "Right, no liquor. It's a stretch, though, H. You know how I love a Rusty nail." Keeping my voice as normal as I can. I blow out a breath as Heather heads up the stairs.
  • Right before she disappears behind the wall, she gives you a faux-innocent smile, "I wouldn't even know what a rusty nail is, Ben." As she thromp thromps up the stairs, she calls back down, "See ya, Jazz!"

    Jasmine calls back, "Bye." It's too quiet for her to hear, probably. Then she's there, and the knife is there, the blood is there, and Jasmine looks relieved. "That was... pretty close. Maybe. Maybe we should get out of here?"
  • Outta here sounds good... what the hell am I doing?

    "Sure, Jasmine. Where to?"
  • Jasmine looks at you for a moment or two, thinking. The left corner of her mouth quirks up in a smirk, and she answers, "Wanna sneak into my high school?" She looks at you with those haunted eyes expectantly.
  • I shut down my laptop, close it. Put the Flip in my pocket, grab the GoPro, give Jasmine a quick kiss. "Sure. Why not?"
  • edited May 2014
    Jasmine kisses you back, a delicate touch, then she's sneaking up the stairs, walking lightly in hopes that nobody is up there waiting.

    Evidently your sister didn't rat you out. Your parents are still in the living room, you hear the TV blaring some mid-season replacement that won't make it to a second one. Your sister is jamming to something upstairs, in the bathroom, she's taking a shower.

    Jasmine walks soft and quiet to the backdoor, letting herself out with a click of the backdoor latch, then she heads out. It's getting dark already. Sun's last rays peeking over the horizon.

    "Quicker to take the subway, kay?" she urges as she walks through the backyard to the hedges. You know just beyond the hedges is the gravel alleyway.

    Is there a subway nearby? She seems to think so. Didn't she drive here?

    What do you do?
  • Subway? Huh...

    "Subway? Where's... I mean there's... that station never opened, did it? Didn't you drive?"

    I'll follow her, regardless. Of course I will.
  • Jasmine looks back, but doesn't answer for a moment. She continues into the hedge, walking through the narrow passage to the alley. The hedge, which is about six feet high, "high enough to ensure good neighbors", like your dad says, is a healthy dark green, perfectly groomed.

    You feel the rush of wind and hear the cuh-chukka cuh-chukka of a car on tracks, see a glimpse of a fucking subway car come into view, behind the hedge as if it is running down the alleyway from out of... nowhere?

    Brakes squeal as the subway, which has at least five cars, the rest trailing out of sight behind the garage, comes to a stop. Thunk-thunk doors open and you see Jasmine skip up to the subway and step up into it.

    "C'mon, Benny!" she calls. And you must be dreaming. This is your break girl, after all. Dreaming, and with her. So... what do you do?
  • I don't even... this isn't... Have I seriously lost my shit? There's a fucking train. In the alley? That is terrifying and laughable at the same time.


    I'll follow her, regardless. Of course I will.
  • Jasmine turns around to look at you as she pulls some yellowy coin to drop it into a small metal slot in a little pole right by the subway door.

    She walks over to plop down on one of the far benches and looks at you brightly, excited at this little adventure. The rest of the car is empty.

    The interior of the subway car looks like this:
  • Adventure? Why not...

    Is her coin like the ones in my pocket? If so, I'll pull one out and drop it in myself, then plop down next to her.

    "So... this is interesting. Where does it run?"
  • You only got a glimpse, but it fit the size and color, and you know what? It fits right in that slot, sliding into the compartment inside the squared pole.

    Jasmine scoots until your thighs are touching and laces the fingers of her right hand in your left, smiling up at you, "All over the City, of course. Silly" She nudges you playfully with her shoulder.

    "So..." Jasmine begins as she looks up at you, "Are you like, shy about PDA and stuff?"
  • Car's empty? What the hell... actually, by this point I'd probably make out in front of a bunch of nuns.

    "Shy? No, I don't think I'm shy. At least not tonight..."

    Lean in, brushing my lips past her ear, kissing down the line of her jaw. The spot where her thigh touches mine tingles like a 9-volt battery on the tongue. There's no hiding the boner tenting my jeans, and I frankly don't care.

  • You kiss her neck, and Jasmine makes a soft sound of pleasure, barely audible under the sound of the subway as it chugs off, down your alley.

    Jasmine shifts her weight, and rolls over to climb on top of you, keeping her neck exposed to you. She plants one thigh on either side of yours and if she wasn't fully aware of your erection before, she's on it now. Her skinny jeans hug her curves, and you can feel her body's warmth.

    The necking grows more intense and she gently pulls your hair back, and holds your face and kisses your eyes, then nuzzles against your ear. Her body is so light, so soft, Benny.

    You realize the subway moved underground at some point, and you're passing by in a tunnel, past red hot stations, past shadow-filled gaps in... in something. A cascade of odd and unnatural images outside, contrasting to the beauty inside, here with you.

    As the car comes along to a stop, I'm curious. How far did you two go?
  • As the brakes squeak on metal and the train shudders to a stop, I pull my hand out of her panties, where she had guided it. My thumb brushes her clit one more time and she jerks, head back, mouth open, making little gasps into the air. Friction against my cock, still inside my jeans, still hard, I haven't cum yet, but it feels like a stiff breeze could set me off now.

    So, that's how far we went.
  • Jasmine's damp hair clings to her temples, and she says breathlessly, "Whoah. That was... wow." She sits up a bit when you see there is someone at the doors, fumbles for the zipper on her jeans quickly.

    The guy is big, like linebacker big, with stringy blonde hair and a lined face. Probably in his forties. He steps into the car, and it shudders a little with his weight. He's wearing old workman's boots of dark brown leather, thick denim jeans with the cuffs duct tapes to the tops of the boots, a thick olive drab jacket that looks bulky, like it's hiding something. Under his jacket you see a symbol on the dark shirt he wears, looks like the same symbol on your wax coin.

    A couple things make him stand out, though. He's wearing wrap-around shades, and there's some weird flickering that you see around the edges of the glasses, a reddish light. And well, he has a frickin axe strapped over his back, the blade showing behind his right ear. He looks to Jasmine and you in a kind of thousand yard stare, where he sees you, marks you, then moves on. He takes two steps to cross to your side of the car and sits heavily.

    Jasmine's up quick, grabbing for your hand, the one slick with her cum, giggling, "Sorry sir," she mumbles apologetically to the man.

    He ignores Jasmine, his gaze fixing on you for a moment. With a deep voice, he intones, "Be careful, Awakened One. You enter the Mad City. You are a beacon to the Nightmares. I smell the real world all over you, and they will mark you and hunt you. This... lady will feed you to the Mother if you let her."

    Jasmine pulls at your hand, squeezing, "Benny," she says urgently, "Don't listen to that crazy old man. He's just... a homeless crazy person." She sounds desperate to get out of there. She is scared of this man.
  • I'm on a nonexistent subway car. I've got a hard-on like the freaking Empire State Building. The Girl of My Dreams just came under my hand.

    Dude's words are crazy to me, but so is this whole freaking day, right? He seems reasonable, aside from the axe. (Is there anything reasonable about a dude carrying an axe on the fucking subway, which, by the way, doesn't exist?) But...

    Jasmine. I can't listen. Mother? Whatever. I can smell her on my fingers.

    smell of corruption, grin too wide, blood in her mouth, impossible subway

    I put my arm around Jasmine. The gesture is strong, but my eyes are doubtful. I look away from Axe Dude.
  • The subway doors shut, moments later it begins to move away. Jasmine pulls herself to you, kissing you passionately in the underground station that smells of rot and mildew. It's an odd mix, her passion in this dank old subway station, lit only by gaslight.

    "Benny, baby," Jasmine says when she comes up for air. "I've got my own room at the school. We can be alone in there, okay? Won't that be great? All alone." Her words become promises, and she pulls you along to the stairs to the street.

    The cobblestone street. It looks familiar, Benny. You don't see the Clocktower, though, only... this:

    "Okay, this is my school, Benny. It has a dorm, and a Mother Superior who runs the whole school. It's kind of a finishing school, you know? So I kinda have to check the PDA and stuff, alright?" She lets go of your hand, but walks near you across the street. She smirks once she hits the light across the street with you. Her smile curls up a little too far, "When we get to my room, Benny. I promise to rock your world."
  • This... lady will feed you to the Mother if you let her.

    Mother Superior?

    "Wait. Mother Superior?" Oh Felicia, where the Fuckawee?

    I'm a fucking teenage boy with a hard-on, being threatened with a Mother Superior. I pull Jasmine into the omnipresent shadow. "I'm not sure about your school, but I do know that you had one and I haven't. How about convince me?" It's dark, but the sound of my zipper going down is sharp, solid. My hands on Jasmine's shoulders, gentle but firm, pushing down.
  • Jasmine takes in a sharp breath when you guide her into the dark, then giggles as she lets you push her to her knees.

    I'm curious how this will work out for you, Benny. I think this is a Pain 3 to pull this off, getting head in a dark alley here right outside the school.
  • This is worth some Madness. I need to clear my head, right, and at the moment my gonads are keeping me from that.

    Discipline: (Rolled: 3d6. Rolls: 5, 2, 4. Total: 11)
    Exhaustion: (Rolled: 1d6. Rolls: 6. Total: 6)
    Madness: (Rolled: 2d6. Rolls: 3, 1. Total: 4)
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