The Last Kills

Chapter 1, Scene 1 • 2 days ago

RICKETY BUS LINE

drip….

Drip…

Sparse rainfall spatters the tall windows of the rickety bus, chosen as if out of a graveyard of its yester-year peers to take the six strangers down the last leg outside of town. A few pieces of duct-tape suffer furtively trying to heal patches and cracks on the wooden backs of the seats that give new — or the original — meaning to the phrase ‘stiff as a board’. On one row, the metal handlebar above the seat has worked itself loose and it rattles chattily at every tiny bump in the mostly unpaved road. Has been for the last hour.

rattle rattle … rattle rattle

drip… drip…

A couple of times, the driver up front in the blue uniform top with the sewn patch with knit letters ‘LAWRENCE’ attempted to tune a radio obviously installed a decade after the bus was built. It flared up.

//‘And only … that you’ll … mine … no other arms entwined…’

‘… Ayúdame … Déjeme en paz! …’

‘… calls for intermittent … throughout the…’

‘And I say, I say unto you — repent! … they replied …’

‘zzzzzztttssshhhzzzzzzz—’//

But as the trees thickened, leaving the last cottages behind in their vast, lonely acres, the signal had faded and Lawrence let it be, putting two dark hands back on the over-sized steering wheel. Here, the close-knit trees lean within gossiping distance of each other, casting judgmental shadows over the patchy road and the bus traveling it. Against the shadows and rainfall, Lawrence squints beadily, hunched forward to put his face a scant few inches closer to the window. Still, every so often, he casts glances over his shoulder at his unlikely bundle of young passengers that chose this round-about, back of the woods, route.

Tires wrestle over a bump. rat— RATTLE

“So, uh…” ventures Lawrence finally, pinching at his nose with a soft sniff, “What brings you folks out this way?”

Maximus Coventry Wellington III (dothething) moved

Lounging with his back against the window, and legs spread out on the rest of the bus seat, Max’s eyes lull open at the clattery noise produced by the metal handlebar in front of him. His gaze shifts between the other passengers while his eyebrows draw tightly together, “Seriously people, there’s no fucking way that I’m the only person who can’t stand that bullshit.”

Max turns in his seat, facing the front like those bus monitors had always insisted. His expression has a nearly pinched quality, partly because he’d just woken up, partly because, as his late Mother had warned, his face really has gotten stuck that way.

His feet make purchase with the floor, and he presses himself up to a stand for better leverage.

He’d drifted off to sleep just after boarding, but with his waking, his patience has completely evaporated, and the sound has grated on his nerves in a very short amount of time. The bar is given an abrupt twist and tug in an effort to extract it from its place.

Silence would really be golden—which is why he makes no effort to answer the bus driver, and instead remarks, “You’re paid to drive. Not talk to us. If I wanted to chatter I’d talk to one of my family’s oncall shrinks. Fucking eggheads.”

Wren Hart (Moring) moved • 1 day ago • Request revisions

Wren sat in the back of the bus and read a book on witchcraft. Or tried to at least. The author was a fraud; that had been obvious from the start. The shit that hacks wrote though played better with marks than anything remotely authentic so Wren soldiered on.

She played the part of the witchy-girl to perfection: blonde-brown hair down to her knees, a long black sleeveless tunic with a pattern picked out in gold sequins, grass stained jeans rolled-up a few inches over her tanned ankles, and snow white Keds. On her left wrist was a gold bracelet with various occult charms — most of them bullshit made-up by the Wiccans or other new age posers. A leather messenger bag that Wren used to carry her tarot cards and other tools of the trade completed her get-up.

From time-to-time Wren would sneak a peek over the top of her book. The other passengers were all young — the little redhead probably Wren’s age; maybe a little younger from her starving waif look. Two of the others really stood out for Wren though. A dark haired boy who looked like he spent a lot of time at the gym and a pretty blonde who’d probably been class president in High School. She wouldn’t say no to a sleepover with either of them and if there was money or credit cards in their jeans when they fell asleep, so much the better. The book hid Wren’s little smile.

She wondered if they were all headed to the house as well. Wren knew there would be others. The Black Man had told her that much. Still she hadn’t expected so many. It was what it was though.

When the driver spoke an asshole up towards the front answered him. He sounded like a rich prick slumming it with the working jerks. He sounded like Wren when someone got to know her. Rather than taking either’s bait, Wren closed her book and stowed it in her messenger bag.

Walking up the quivering aisle until she was next to the the blonde, Wren said in her best innocent girl voice, “Hey, you mind if I sit next to you?”

Zahrah (Ohmu) moved • 1 day ago • Request revisions

“I would think that you would be used to bullshit.” The dark haired woman who sat toward the front of the bus did not turn to look at Maximus as she spoke – which she did with a hint of an accent – but it was obvious that she was addressing him. Though she did not know him personally, she knew his type. The scenery passed by outside the window – generic trees matched by dirt roads. Instead, she watched the raindrops cry down the window, interested in the different paths each took.

She pushed some of her long, straight black hair over her shoulder, letting it fall down her back. She was dressed in an unassuming manner: jeans and dark tank top. A dark button up sweater was folded haphazardly in her lap. Her ears had multiple piercings – large silver hoop earrings at the bottom, colored and silver studs creeping up the lobe. Around her neck hung a small silver hamsa from a long chain. In the middle of the palm rested a dark red jewel.

Though none yet had answered the driver’s question, Zahrah turned her face toward the man and smiled. Her eyes drifted to the stitched patch over his chest. Instead of answering, however, she asked another question, “Have you driven this route many times, Lawrence?” When you didn’t wish to answer a question about yourself, distract them and attempt to get them to talk about themselves.

Vivian Austin (NotSoEvilPepsi) moved • 1 day ago • Request revisions

Vivian didn’t pay much attention to the conversations happening around her, too lost in her own world. She could hear them all talking, she just wasn’t listening to the actual words they were saying.

She’d pretty much spaced out once she’d sat down, though every now and then she would reach into the little bag she had for her camera and come up with some sort of snack food to munch on.

At one point she’d taken out a Sharpie pen and added her initials to the list forming on the back of the seat in front of her. She’d put the pen away quickly and returned to looking out her window.

Emmaline Williams (Meegs) moved • 1 day ago • Request revisions

Man, this place was a dump! From the moment she had gotten on the bus, Emmaline had been tempted to get right back off. Still, had to get where you were going, right?

So, she’d popped a couple pieces of gum in her mouth, propped her hooker boots up on the seat in front of her, stuck her ear buds in her ear (a little bit of everything from Miranda Lambert to Lady GaGa to Snoop Dogg) and just chilled out. She closed her eyes, hoping that if she pretended to be asleep no one would bother her. Of course, no way in hell she could ever sleep in a dump like this. Ugh, it was so gross.

Suddenly, a voice right next to her pulled her out of her daydreams. Her boots clunked loudly back on the floor as she sat up straight, pulling out one of her ear buds to look over at the girl standing beside her. Really? She dramatically looked around the bus. A million seats in the place, and she wanted to sit next to her?

A smug smile grew on Emmaline’s lips. Of course she did. People always wanted to be closer to Emmaline Williams. She radiated positive energy. She was Chosen.

“Sure, sweetie,” she said, grabbing her purse off the seat and plopping it down in her lap.

“Name’s Emmaline. How ‘bout you?”

Dexter Kelley (bardnoir) moved • 1 day ago • Request revisions

Dexter was sprawled out near the back, taking up one whole seat as if it was his couch. His head rested against the cold window and he would almost be invisible. A black t-shirt across his muscular body would have made him blend in with the shadows, if there were any. Instead the light textures of the bus made him stand out.

He said nothing, eyes watching everyone with a smile as he moved his pencil across the book in his hand. It seemed he was drawing something more than writing, looking up to watch people interact. Some of the banter causing him to smirk and got back to his drawing.

The narrator continued the scene • 19 hours ago

CHALLENGES
Focus And You'll Know…

Roused by the stirring of the passengers, it seemed, the bus took a particularly large pothole under the embarrassed, shifting hands of Lawrence. Under the determined twisting, the metal handlebar in Maximus' grip began to hesitantly loosen until, jarred, one side abruptly came off, jerking upwards with the violence of freedom.

Cowed but not willing to lose his job over it — and damage to his vehicle — Lawrence looked over his shoulder but caught Zahrah on the return. A slight dimple disappeared into the natural wrinkles of his face. He spared another look over himself before squinting into the vastness of the apparently identical road ahead of them as behind.

“Uhh…” his fingers rapped on the steering wheel’s peeling cover. “No, miss— I mean not this one, not much. Nobody really wants to be comin' out here much anymore. It’s much faster on the, uh…” gauging out the window, he pointed to his right, northerly, over the trees. There weren’t even lights on the horizon anymore. The terrain had gotten too flat, too lonely. “On the other road, there.”

It left a question in his eye, but he didn’t ask again. He only sniffed with a sense of discomfort and eyed Zahrah a bit more scrupulously than he had previously.

The narrator gave cards to Vivian Austin: Card-type-icon-thing Camera Bag
The narrator gave cards to Wren Hart: Card-type-icon-thing Messenger Bag

Maximus Coventry Wellington III (dothething) moved • 18 hours ago • Request revisions

Focus And You'll Know…
Weakness
ASSHOLE

“Because people like you talk to—” Max starts to retort to Zahrah before being quite violently knocked off his feet, handlebar in hand. The metal meets the teen’s face when he falls to the ground of the bus floor. A long line of curses are emitted from his lips.

With his back against the aisle, Max’s hands press to the floor to push himself back up to a stand, “I will have your job for thi—” but he quickly loses his balance again thanks to his growing headache, crashing to the aisle floor once more. “Fuuuuuuck,” he mutters from the ground.

Determinedly, metal bar still in his grasp, he manages to fumble up to his feet and slide back into his seat. “Seriously. I know that was on purpose.” His fingers pinch the bridge of his nose.

Wren Hart (Moring) moved • 4 hours ago • Request revisions

Obstacle
Focus And You'll Know…
Subplot
PRIVATE SUBPLOT

Wren returned Emmaline’s smile, though hers was shy; hesitant, as if she were asking to sit at the cool girls table. Sitting, Wren said, “I’m Wren. Like the little bird.”

Wren brushed her long blonde-brown hair to the side, away from Emmaline, so that the confidant blonde could get a good look at her neck and face. Wren knew that she was very pretty in a deliberate 70s fashion and that even straight girls tended to like her — if only because they wanted to fix her fashion mistakes. For a moment Wren regretted not wearing her flip-flops or beaded sandals; it would have completed her hippy-chic look.

“Sorry if I’m bothering you, but this bus is really creepy,” Wren glanced out past Emmaline into the dark woods, “I guess I just wanted some company and you sorta look like someone who isn’t afraid of anything.”

Acting on impulse, Wren reached up and fingered Emmaline’s hair. “I wish my hair were this color. It’s so pretty and …” Wren pulled her hand away but some strands of Emmaline’s hair had caught in one of Wren’s rings and pulled out.

“Oh! I’m soooo sorry. These stupid rings,” Wren said, pulling the ring off and putting it into her messenger bag. “I’m such an ass. I shouldn’t have touched you. I just … I’m just a big jerk.”

Emmaline Williams (Meegs) moved • 4 hours ago • Request revisions

Obstacle
Focus And You'll Know…
Strength
BORN LEADER

Emmaline’s smile only grew at Wren’s own tentative one. It was a look she was used to, having seen it on many girls at school trying to befriend her; though she was quite certain such a look had never graced her own beautiful features.

She couldn’t help but take in the girl’s style as she brushed her hair out of her face. The hair seemed a bit unruly… It would be so easy to throw it up into a loose, shaggy updo, maybe even held in place with #2 pencils or chopsticks, something quirky like that to accentuate her vintage style. And vintage definitely described it. But you could be vintage and still be stylish. Emmaline just knew if this girl let her take her to a thrift shop that they would be able to really spruce her up. And it wasn’t like she needed a lot of help. She really was beautiful.

Actually, maybe they didn’t even need the thrift shop. No, Wren was really working this vintage style. All the girl really needed was one defining accessory to really make her stand out. Maybe a necklace with a bird charm on it, or feather earrings. Or even feathers braided into her hair. Other than something to define her, there was just one thing the girl needed most: Self-confidence.

“Oh, it’s okay, Wren, you’re right, the bus is kind of…” Her eyes widened as she saw strands of her hair in the girl’s hand. It hadn’t even hurt, but… She shook her head, easily masking the surprise that had only been there for a brief second. Again, Wren was apologizing. Focus on that, Emmaline. It’s just a few strands, it’s not as though she’s balded yet. And yet, it created an infinitesimal chink in her armor of self-confidence, and she desperately wished that she had brought a hat with her.

“Really, it’s fine. You apologize too much, you know? Besides, I’m sure it was just from hitting that pothole, this driver can’t…

The ticking in her head intensified suddenly, a stabbing pain striking her head.

Zahrah (Ohmu) moved • 2 hours ago • Request revisions

The bus jerked, jumped and tossed Zahrah toward the window. She put a steadying hand on the wall next to her to keep from sliding or slamming too hard against it.

Maximus' ranting voice and Lawrence’s answer to her question started to meld together as she looked out the window. A man like Maximus getting bumped around due to the road condition normally would at least garner a chuckle from her. However, something was wrong. She put a hand on her head. Something like nausea rose from the bottom of her stomach.

“I think…I think I’m going to be sick…”

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