Shatter [Labryinth] Nov 29, 2015 23:13:54 GMT -5
Post by James Colt on Nov 29, 2015 23:13:54 GMT -5
He wakes up, and, really, he’s not so sure he’s awake at all. The world around him is pitch black, and, although he can smell the familiar smells of rust and concrete, the slightly damp smell that characterizes Sewertown is conspicuously absent. Considering he was curled up in his pile of blankets in Sewertown when he fell asleep, the fact that he’s not there anymore is… disconcerting to say the least.
He doesn’t recognize the smell of this place; wherever it is he’s never been there before. Some unexplored part of the Sewers maybe? It still didn’t smell right though, even after decades of disuse a sewer still smelled vaguely like a sewer, and while his current location smelled slightly damp, it had certainly never been used for that purpose.
He lies still, staring into the darkness and trying to think of who could be responsible for moving him to an unknown location while he slept. If another ring had infiltrated the sewers, they would have either left him alone, captured him, which would have certainly woken him up, or he wouldn’t have woken up at all. If it was someone in his own ring playing a joke or getting back at him for something he’d done there were certainly easier and more fitting punishments than this; he would have woken up with his clothes missing or his head shaved, or maybe while being tossed into the ocean for a surprise swim.
That left only one group in this place with either means or motive for moving him; of course it was the bloody keepers. A hot rush of rage bursts through him at the thought of the keepers interfering in his life more than they already had. No matter how many times they took him for ‘testing’ or ‘improvement’ he never gets used to it, and he never stops hating them for it.
Energized by his anger, he carefully pulls himself off the rough concrete floor and into a crouch, feeling around for any clue of where he could be. Running his fingertips over the ground, he can't feel any movement, if there are people around him, they are either very very still, or nowhere nearby. His hand bumps into a rusty metal bar, and he follows it around, getting a mental picture of where he was. It isn’t a pleasant mental picture.
It seems he’s in a cell of some description, concrete floored, surrounded by iron bars, and no more than six meters by four. He’s been in smallercells, but no matter the size of the cage nothing good ever came of being locked up.
It’s a little confusing though, the keepers ‘style’ is usually more state of the art holding facility and less hundred year old abandoned prison. The whole worn concrete and rusted bars look reminds him more of…
Don’t go there! he mentally growls, It’s in the past, even if it was still standing you’re not there!
Calming himself from the brief burst of terror he growls under his breath for real; there’s a reason he hates being locked up. The combination of too many memories and not enough distractions never fails to drag him down, past and present colliding in the worst possible way.
The keepers know this; they certainly saw enough the first time they locked him up, keeping him penned for months on end, watching him fall to pieces. He would have preferred the tests, the tests gave him something to struggle against, something he could taste and touch and feel. He could fight pain, he could curse and struggle and rage against the keepers, but he couldn't fight something that was already inside him.
With another snarl under his breath he looks around, noticing that the pitch darkness is slowly becoming lighter. He can see the outline of the bars now, and, before he can stop himself, he's up and pacing the small confines of the cell.
It calms him a little, the repetition; eight steps then five across, another eight, another five then back to his corner. He doesn't know how many times he circles the cell, slowly so he doesn't make himself dizzy, but his legs are aching almost pleasantly and his eyes have adjusted to the dim light by the time he stops, sitting cross legged in his corner.
He can see the cell now, but beyond the bars it's just shadow, nothing to see, nothing to smell or feel, it's like the world has shrunk and there’s nothing beyond those iron bars. If the keepers want to creep him out, he has to admit they’re doing a pretty good job with this place.
He lets himself drift, alternating between dozing fitfully and pacing. Oddly, he never gets thirsty or hungry, it seems that wherever he is the normal rules don't apply. The thought that he's not going to starve to death should be a comfort, but it's really, really not.
He doesn't know if it's been hours or days when he finally senses something. Footsteps vibrating through the concrete below, two brisk strides and one dragging, the sharp smell of soap and antiseptic that always clung to the keepers, overlaying a new scent, unwashed human and dog combined, a cell mate? This was new.
He strains his eyes in the shadows, trying to get a glimpse of his captors, but before he can see so much as a single lab coat there's a blinding light, so bright that he can't stop himself from whimpering as he screws his eyes frantically shut and waits for the spots to stop dancing.
It takes him a while to come back from the sensory overload, and he flinches as he realizes there's a hand on his shoulder and a concerned voice in the darkness. He pulls back, falling on his ass and scrambling back into his corner warily, baring his teeth in warning. No one should have been able to get that close to him!
“Woah, easy there, just making sure your okay.” The voice is soothing and gentle, but quite young, maybe a teenager or very young adult. He shouldn't need a kid to tell him to calm down.
“I’m fine kid,” he huffs, forcibly calming himself down, “Just don't like people grabbing me.”
He looks around, but all he can see is a shadowy outline, damn those keepers, now his eyes have to adjust to the darkness all over again!
“Soo, any idea where we are?” The kid asks, and something niggles at the back of his mind, the voice sounds familiar, but the kid doesn't smell like Carna, or any ring really. Maybe he's new? Still, something tells him he should know this kid. He figures he should answer though, he can always figure out shit later, no point in alienating his cell mate straight away.
“No clue, I wasn’t even awake when the keepers grabbed me. Assholes.”
“Keepers? Shit, I guess I got caught after all,” the kid mutters under his breath, probably swearing, he knew he would be if he'd just been snagged, “I thought I’d managed to keep hidden, guess not.”
“Join the club kid,” James shrugs, “No one stays hidden forever, I was on the run for years before they caught up to us, most don't even stay free for that long.”
The kid smells nervous (nervous and familiar! Damn it why can't he remember?) and James knows he's got to be freaking out, he knows he was when he was first caught.
“What’s it like? Inside the Menagerie I mean? Is it as bad as they say it is?” The kid asks, and all James can see in the darkness is pair of frightened eyes.
“That depends,” James says, raising an eyebrow though he knows the kid can't see it, “What do they say? It's been a few years since I was out, and all we knew while we were running is that if you let yourself be caught no one would ever see you again. Clearly the rumors have gotten more specific.”
The kid swallows, not at all reassured.
“They say it's full of vicious shifters driven mad by the keepers, half wild, killing everything in sight just because they can. They say there's a tribe of cannibals, and a tribe of horrible experiments. They say the keepers make monsters just to kill shifters. They say everyone who comes here dies.”
James tilts his head to one side, considering whether he should lie to keep the kid from worrying or tell the truth to prepare him. It was no contest really, he’d be doing the kid no favors by being reassuring, blissful ignorance was a great way to get yourself killed.
“Well, some of us are certainly mad, some kill for fun, but most of us are just trying to survive. The cannibal rumour is mostly bullshit, I mean, there are probably a few shifters who are a little less picky about what they eat, but most I’ve met tend to avoid eating shifters or retromorphs unless they’re starving to death.”
“I suppose you could call some of the anthromorphs ‘horrible experiments’ but they’re really just shifters that got messed with by the keepers, fused with their shifts. Some of them look a little creepy but there not monsters. Now the viruses, they’re monsters. You ever see anything that looks like more than two animals shoved together, something that just doesn't smell right, you drop everything and run for the nearest source of water. I suppose a lot of people who come here die, I suppose we’re all going to die in here eventually. I guess its just a race to see what kills us first.”
The kid just stares at him, damn, he must have broken his brain.
“Shit… I’m even more screwed then I thought,” the kid snorts, voice tinged with panic, “All those rumors, and it turns out they’re all true except the Carna ring isn't all cannibals and when they are it's only because it's that or starve to death? How the hell does anyone survive in here?”
“You pull yourself together and stop panicking for one,” James growled a little, “If you let yourself be beaten before you ever reach the fight you’ll die for sure.”
The kid hisses something rude under his breath, staring at him in the darkness, “That's what you always used to say, and look how well it turned out for us!”
James goes perfectly still, his blood runs cold, heart seeming to stop in his chest, “What did you say?”
“You got no right to complain James! You made it out of there alive, you survived, even after they caught you again you survived. You were always good at that… living when others died.”
The kids voice is razor sharp, cutting him to the core but it isn't the tone that makes him tremble, that makes him pull back as if he could melt into the bars, as if the shadows could swallow him whole.
It's the voice, because it's familiar and no one should know these things, secrets whispered in the dark behind iron bars and it can't be true, this can't be real, it's a nightmare a trick.
“Who are you?” He asks hoarsely, even though he knows the answer. It can't be him, but it has to be him.
“I’m hurt,” a familiar, wry tone as the shadow steps out of the darkness, “You’d think you’d recognize your own brother.”
The world is too small, pressing down on him, drowning him, until there is nothing but himself and the impossible.
“You can't,” he hisses, spitting like a snake, like an angry cat, “You can’t be real. You’re dead!”
And it's funny, because he would have given the world to see his brother again and now here they are!
And he's laughing now, something that starts low in his chest and claws it's way out, he's laughing so hard he cries because what else can he do?
“I saw you die! I saw it you bastard, I saw the light leave your eyes, so you CAN’T BE HERE!”
The world is spinning, and he knows he’s breathing too fast, too shallow, dark spots dancing in his eyes because he can't get enough air, can't breathe past this feeling clawing in his chest.
“You died in my arms Sam…” he manages to choke out, “You should shouldn't have… it should've…”
There's a hand on his shoulder, and it almost feels comforting, but the grip is like iron.
“It should've been you,” and his voice is gentle, understanding, but his eyes shine with malice, “It’s all your fault James. You’re the one that disobeyed, you’re the one they were trying to punish, if they’d just shot you instead I would have survived. I would have escaped easier, I would have done a better job of taking care of the other kids than you did, none of them would have died, we wouldn't have gotten caught again.”
James is crying now, silent tears running down his face because it's one thing to think these thoughts late at night, when the guilt and the loneliness is enough to choke him, but to hear his brother agreeing with them? He didn't think anything could hurt worse than losing him did, but this…
He wants to argue, but he can't, because deep down… Sam is right, Sam was always right.
“You should have died. I wish you had. You do too, don't you?”
James just shakes his head mutely, trying to pull away, trying not to listen, but Sam is there, taking his hands so he can’t cover his ears, can't block him out.
“Don't do that James, you don't get to hide from the truth. You wish you had died, so do I, so does everyone you killed, everyone who should have been here instead of you. You don't deserve to live James, not when you killed us,” And there’s something like pity in Sam’s eyes, “You know what you have to do now James, don't you? You know the only way to make things right.”
And he's tempted, he's so, so tempted because this… this is worse than any nightmare, worse than any pain or fear or loneliness he’s ever felt. It would be easy, so easy to shift, a slice of his claws in the right place… No more pain, no more loneliness, no more nightmares, no more guilt.
“I’m sorry Sam, I’m so sorry. I can’t. I have a duty, a responsibility, I won't throw it aside so selfishly.”
“To who, the Carna? They’d be better off without you. Who would miss you? It's not like you have any friends, even among the Carna.”
It’s true, oh sure, he has acquaintances, people who were happy to hunt with him, who he could rely on to help him, but will any of them actually care if he dies?
Still, he swore his loyalty to the Carna, and that wasn't something he could go back on. Carna gave him a home, something to fight for, something like a family, and he couldn't just turn his back on them.
“No, I’m sorry, I can't. I just can't.”
“Fine,” Sam snaps, “If you won't do it, we will.”
Sam surges forward, a mask of anger and hatred on his face, grabbing him by the hair and slamming his head into the iron bars, once, twice, three times and everything just fades away.
Something is tickling his nose. He tries to swipe it away with his right hand but he can't, he can't get his hand free.. He blinks open his eyes, wincing as the sudden light makes the pain in his head ratchet up from mild to unbearable. He can see sky overhead, hear a grating sound off to one side, but everything is just a little too far away. Where is he now?
A shower of dirt rains down on him from above, and suddenly everything snaps into place. His hands are bound with duct tape, his mouth is taped shut too. He’s lying on his back in the dirt, in a hole six feet below the ground.
He's in a grave. He's in a god damned grave.
Sam is standing above him, shoveling more dirt down, and he's not alone. There’s Emmie, the first kid he accidentally killed in the ring, there’s poor Tom who starved to death, Amy who got shot down when they escaped, Chris who died from an infection a week later, a Fulsi hunter he never knew the name of who he killed in a fight over supplies… All dead, all his fault.
More dirt, and he thrashes in his bonds, trying to get loose, trying to beg through the gag but all that comes out is muffled grunts.
“I’m sorry James. You should have done it yourself, it would have been quicker.” Sam shakes his head in mock regret.
More dirt, and he's panicking now, it can't end like this, he could handle dying, but not like this. Not buried alive by his own brother.
He's screaming behind the gag now.
“Shhh it's ok James, it'll be over soon, it's for the best you know. You can't kill anyone else now.”
He thinks he passes out from panic because when he looks next the dirt has almost completely covered him. He stares up at Sam, his eyes wide and terrified, and the last thing he sees before the soil covers him completely is his brother’s sad smile.
There’s no light, there's no air, there's just darkness and dirt, dirt in his nose, in his throat, in his lungs, he breathes it in and it's choking him, he's dying, buried alive. His heart is beating so fast, he wonders if it will burst before he has time to suffocate to death.
And he's terrified, he's fighting and thrashing and so so scared but… he deserves this, he knows he deserves this. If this is what Sam wants, if this is his punishment… who is he to argue?
So he stops fighting, stops struggling, stops trying to breathe. As the soil crushes in around him and the world falls away he thinks one last thought.
I deserve this.