The Martyr is dressed solemnly in Black button down shirt, black pleated trousers, and a wine coloured paisly waistcoat. His tie is stars and moons. His black hightops have awkward silver glitter star designs. The radio is playing early thirty jazz softly to itself. There is a bottle of El Dorado dark rum on the table. Dare has a glass in his hand from which he solemnly sips. From the level of the bottle, one can guess this is his first glass, but his progress has been steady if slow. His expression is blank, his thoughts turned inward.
Down the hall comes a young woman of mixed race, short and curvy, dressed in a sharp, black on white suit and tie that blurs the genderline a bit. Her hair is an explosion of frizzy black curls, a barely tamed mane of natural ethnic perfection. A septum ring is the only visible jewelry she wears.
She moves with a casual, languid grace, hands in her pants pockets as she heads for the dispensary. She seems lost in thought.
The Martyr is raising his glass for another sip when he spots her, his natural curiosity surfacin despite his preoccupation. His brows knit. She looks new, but most new people don't behave like this. Did he miss an arrival. he stands slowly, a little carefully, still in the process of figuring out how this body handles strong drink, "Hello? Miss?"
"Hmm?" The young woman looks up, 'brows lifting as she stops. "Oh. Hey, Finn." A beat. "Dare. Dare, right? Sorry. Kinda... adjusting right now."
She notes the rum. "I thought you weren't a rum person? That's a better choice than Bacardi, but still not to my personal liking."
The Martyr nods, "Rum. I can't decide if I like it or not." He freezes as it hits him and he squints at her. Thoughts move fast behind his eyes, "What should I call you?" He glances between her and the bottle, "I know nothing at all about rum. This is what the dispenser spit out this time." His words are clear and there's not a hint of cartoonishnish in his pronunciation, though there is a touch of colour to his cheeks. "What would you suggest for this occasion?"
Blink. "Oh! Right. Um. Remember how Max was looking for that... reset? I got it, with some unexpected results. I'm still her, still have all her lives in my head, still feel everything she felt. I'm just... Different? Different now. You can still call me Max, if that's easiest. I get it if that's too weird, though, in which case Wendy is fine."
"I like black spiced rum best," Creepy says. "But if you want a good dark rum, Meyers is great."
The Martyr smiles sadly, "How can I forget? In the time between that conversation and the note, I'd been thinking about it pretty much constantly." His gaze is steady, "I was willing to do it. Who did?" And how bad did it fuck them up, but that the other question is in his eyes instead of his mouth. "Did it work as well as you'd hoped?" He is searching her face now, trying to figure out and what is here after the transformation. "Spiced sounds interesting."
The Martyr is dressed solemnly in Black button down shirt, black pleated trousers, and a wine coloured paisley waistcoat. His tie is stars and moons. His black hightops have awkward silver glitter star designs. The radio is playing early thirty jazz softly to itself. There is a bottle of El Dorado dark rum on the table. Dare has a glass in his hand.
Creepshow wears a sharp, gender-neutral suit, black on white, with a black tie. Her hair is big and natural and free in all its frizzy glory. Hands in her pockets, she's standing a bit away from Martyr, having been headed for the dispensary. "Ethan," she answers. "A few came to watch. To... send me off with love. I put a sticky note on your door, but it was sudden and short notice. Sorry."
"Did it work?" She looks down at herself, then back up. "I think so. I'm not in pain anymore. Not struggling with myself as much, but that may be because everything's new. It gave peace to her, to the part of me that needed it."
The Martyr repeats, "Ethan." He doesn't know this Ethan at all, except through Boet's eyes, but he has a picture of what it may have been like. He nods. "That makes sense." A pause. "I'd have come if I'd known. I owed you that." This is is a subdued, quieter version of Dare, but one much like the Finn who could grieve and plan and keep an eye on friends at the same time. Mostly backbone and stillness. "I get how urgent it was, and how much pain you were in. It's why it... made sense in the first place." He nods slowly, "What happens now?" A grim smile, "Or do you know? I can see how you might not."
"Now? Now I get used to being a fucking D cup, for starters. Holy fucking fuck is this strange." Creepshow pulls one hand from a pocket and idly adjusts her septum ring. "No fucking clue beyond adjusting. This has never happened before that we know of. There are plenty of people who just vanish, their door symbol changes, and someone new eventually pops out, but nothing like this. My door symbol is still the same. Room changed a bit, but even that's largely similar. And I'm not upset that you weren't there. I gave, like, five minutes' notice."
"I am intrigued by this Nettie. I really can't wait to meet her" grins Competitor as she and Penitent enter the parlour, hand in hand. "But I guess it wouldn't be the /real/ Nettie. You were still you when you became Kylie. I mean, you knew who I was and Kylie wouldn't, though there were also definite differences." A blush to her cheeks. "Which were nice."
Realizing they are no longer alone, Competitor offers Martyr a wave and a smile. "Hey, Dare. You really should have a first name of 'Dan'" she teases before noting his muted demeanor. "Everything okay?" A more hesitant smile for the new person; not many people of colour around here. "Hi, welcome to wherever we are. I'm Star. You weren't at the Lodge, were you?" She was good at remembering guest lists and she doesn't recall someone who looked like Creepshow.
Hand in hand. "That's because I was trying extra hard to keep it together, too," Penitent says in her light tone, her smile small and light. Like she's in her serene, zen place again, as she sometimes is. "I feel like i could have just lost myself in who Kylie was while we were there, you know?" There's a laugh. "Nettie was a bit more intense though." A nudge at Competitor's hip as she wander into the room, lifting her hand to give a finger-wiggle of a wave towards the pair of others there. "Hello," she says in that simple tone of hers, her gaze focusing on the Creepshow primarily. "You're out and about already, I didn't expect that."
The Martyr says, “I'm not angry I missed it. I just... cared. I wanted this you to know that I loved that you in my way. I know that in the scheme of things I was the least important person who could have been there." Something opens up in his face, his tight grip on his affect loosening for a moment and for several long breathes the pain and compassion leak out before he can tamp them down again and his head swivels sharply to take in the arrivals, perfect lawyer poker face slamming down hard and fast. He waves at Star and the artist formally known as Emily.”
"Sudden craving for Jamaican jerk," says Creepshow. "Which is fucking odd, because I don't think Max or Esme ever had it, which raises all kinds of questions about how these bodies work." A nod for Competitor, and a little smile. "I was, but it's complicated."
To Martyr, "Not the least. Not by a long shot. Don't say that. I'm still her, and I know. That's what matters."
"You were?" Competitor's brow furrows as she tries to place Creepshow. But Penitent knows her, so that solves things. "Oh, she's one of the Sorority girls? Sorry, /was/ one of the Sorority girls. There were a lot I didn't meet but I usually checked the guest lists..." A shrug. "I guess our memories can play tricks on us, especially here. Jamaican Jerk? I'm not familiar with that activity though I can guess what it may have involved. You knew Max?" Competitor nods at this further revelations. "Max and I didn't get off to the best start in the Lodge but she ended up being an incredible hero. I have a lot of respect for her when all is said and done. Have you seen her here yet? She looks a bit different."
The Penitent's brows lift up, and she looks down at herself for a moment before moving over a little bit to peer at Creepshow a bit closer, before looking back to Competitor and gesturing. "No this is Max. Was Max. I was going to tell you after we wandered for a bit, that this happened. Uh, so surprise, I guess?" She offers a little smile, somewhat uncertain at the whole thing. "She changed. Somehow. That happens sometimes, people change. But she's still got all of Max's memories?" She nods slowly, glancing at Creepy again as if to confirm.
The Martyr thinks that over and asks quietly, "May I have permission to hug you?" he blinks, the information about this Max and the food cravings adding to the things he'd observed about Boots, blank slate r not, all tucked away for later cogitation. To Star he says, "This is definitely new."
"I'm Max," says Creepshow. "I have all of her memories and feel all the things she felt. Um. Thanks for the kind words? I'm not great at taking compliments. But yeah, new look, maybe some new personality bits? Same person more or less. More in this body."
"This is Max?" Competitor stares for a moment; she looks a LOT different. "People change /this/ much? Does everyone?" Now it's her turn to look down at herself. Even flesh is not stable? "Umm...it's a nice look, Max. Did you choose it somehow? And I meant what I said...but I will make sure not to compliment you again." A little smile for the new face of Creepshow before looking to Penitent. "You saw it happen?" Competitor chuckles hollowly at Martyr's words. "/Everything/ is new here. So our memories aren't even connected to our minds? If they can travel from body to body like this...almost like a new computer had the same programming copied over...who are we?" A wince at her own words. "This line of thinking is going to get real messy."
Nodding slowly, Penitent frowns a moment, inclining her head and them moving to sit on the couch nearby, legs curling beneath her. Apparently trips through the magic door are on hold for the moment. "We've never seen someone change like this. Never. This is very new." She chews at her lip a moment, looking thoughtful as she considers slowly what is going on. "But I saw it. She just changed. There was the woman we knew, and then there was a light, and then there was ... someone else, but still the same person." She glances down at the floor. "I don't know about the idea of just having memories copied, but I guess it confirms that we're not human, like we keep seeming to be when we forget this place."
The Martyr is no Fool, so stays where he is. "I am happy for you. I really am." He is shaking slightly. His mental journey the last couple of days has had him wound so tight there was bound to be a reaction at some point. He sets the glass down, "I think I would like to try jerked chicken with spiced dark rum. I always did like trying new things." He gazes at Star with empathy, "The ground is always unstable. I've decided to cling to the few things that persist. Even if some of them are sharp." He thinks over what the artist formally known as Emily says, "Human or not, there is a humanness about us. We love, we grieve. Even the blank state arrivals have pretty distinct personalities and tastes in food and clothes."
"This is new," says Creepshow. "Nothing like what I went through earlier has happened before. I don't know if was controlled or not. It was something I wanted, though. After Max, I couldn't keep being me anymore. It was getting too painful. I got my wish, in a way. I still don't know the how or why of it, and maybe I never will. I wouldn't worry about it randomly happening to you. I really had to go through some shit to do whatever it was I did. Maybe this place knew I needed it."
Her stomach grumbles. "Anyway, I'm fucking starving. I gotta grab food."
Competitor listens to everyone as she moves to join Penitent on the couch. Her mind abuzz with theories and questions but...would any of it matter. "If you're happier, Max...do we still call you Max? If you're happier then that is what matters." She can't quite understand how she can be if she has the same memories and feelings that made her miserable, but she doesn't understand the more fundamental issues of shape changing either. "I'm glad for you" she smiles before a wave as Creepshow heads for food. An arched brow is for Penitent. "A light? Almost magical. But I guess any technology we don't understand would appear to be magic." A pause. "I think I stole that off Clarke." She is rather fond of Martyr and his insistence on humanity, she is not too far off that hope herself, so she smiles warmly at him before noting, "It could all be programming. I don't know. I could barely get the booking computer at the Lodge to work."
"But we have ... I don't know. Urges that don't quite make sense, as well." Penitent says quietly, shaking her head. "Like Max said. Old Max, when the only person she knew of being was Esme, urges. Like the way our rooms and door symbols are ... themed. The weeping woman and my cell. Every life I've lived, I've felt guilt, and sorrow. A need to atone for something. And that even seems to be there, here, though I do my best to ignore it. And before you all say I have nothing to feel guilty about, just don't." She frowns, but it's a more thoughtful frown, shifting on the couch there. "And we come into these events with new lives and personas and all this history already there that we didn't live through, even relationships and friendships just written into us because ... because why? Is that really feeling, or are we just doing what we're made to do?" There's a vaguely glum nod at Competitor at the idea of magic and not understanding. She doesn't understand either.
The Martyr sits rather abruptly and just closes his eyes while he works at calming his shakes. When he opens them, he's steady, "She said max or Wendy if Max feels weird. The 'smart phone' Chance showed us sure looked like magic to me. A lot has happened even in the time between ours and 2018. The technology that makes this lace possible and or little trips out there is so far beyond me, we might as well be in a Philip Jose Farmer novel." He makes an ugly sound with his lips, "There are definitely urges. Terrifying incredibly fucking familiar urges." He glares at his glass, picks it up and swallows a shot's worth like it's medicine. There is suddenly nothing at all Finn-ish in his expression, his insistence on humanness a moment ago or not. This is so much darker and harder. "Some people talk like this place doesn't matter, but it does. Others talk like out there doesn't matter. I have to believe it does, the same way I have to believe the individual matters even as the whole concept of identity gets shaken up like puzzle pieces in a box every time people cross back and forth. Some of the things underneath? The most fundamental drives. The things I think the sigils represent? I think those are us. It's the only solid thing I can find to stand on anywhere. And you know what? They are terrifying." He looks at the Penitent, eyes like boreholes in the snow, "I can't argue with you about atonement. I have....something similar. Under all that love there is something driving me even harder like a lemming towards a cliff."
Of course, Competitor wants to tell Penitent she has nothing to feel guilty about but she keeps it to herself, listening to the heavy discussion with a stoic expression. Though when Penitent finishes speaking, she can't help leaning over to embrace the other woman. "Max told me that the relationships we find /in/ the stories are true. I hope that is the case. But am I just programmed to think that way? You know me, Nettie, I'm not the kind of person who is willing to be a puppet. So, if they have programmed that in me, then they've fucked themselves over." A tender kiss to Penitent's cheek before looking over to Martyr as he gets gloomy. Not something she likes to see.
The 'smart phone' idea has her looking confused for a moment but it's not important. "We have no idea what year we are in now, who knows what people have come up with. There are certainly things we /want/ to believe but how much of that is free will. As I said the other night. Are we matched to those images on the doors or are we made to match them? I have a person on top of a mountain. I think it goes with one of the posters on my wall - 'Climb the mountain of your fear, the view is great from up here'."
"Maybe none of it matters at all," Penny says in a small voice, shrugging her shoulders. Another shift, hands wringing together before her as she continues on. "Madison felt horrible for leading all those people to their deaths on the Island. Wyred Fest would never have been on that island if she hadn't managed to make the right shady deals to secure it. Even though I realize it wasn't her fault and she couldn't have known, and she knew that, it was still awful. And besides that, she did horrible things. Destroyed lives with the stroke of a pen in the name of making more money. And just ignored it, pretended like she didn't know. Kylie was on the Sevastopol Space Station, decommissioning, when it went dark and everything went bad. Supplies were limited, no help was coming, and it was everyone for themselves. She shot people because she thought they'd take her food or water or meds, before she ended up on the Noc. Anette Hargreave was a thief and a murderer, and while not the worst of the bunch in the Black Widow Gang, she did her share of awful things because she felt she had to do them. And then Emily, scared, hiding, manipulative bitch that she was. All the other students adored Emily, and she's just as quickly turn on them. The guilt she had to confront when she started to actually consider all that right there was ... hard for her to confront." A brief glance at Competitor there, "But someone was persistent enough to make her keep trying."
A soft sigh at that touch from Competitor, and she leans into that embrace. "And my image is a woman crying while a village burns down behind her. And I just know, somehow, that she burned that village down. I've always known it, from the moment I saw it. And that's who I am? It's my fault." She shakes her head. "I guess if none of it matters, the only thing that matters is what we do with it."
The Martyr toasts Star, "You show 'em! You show 'em all!" When Emily starts pouring out her past lives, he watches her over the rim of his glass. He sets it down carefully and is soon sitting on his heals in front of her. He reaches for her non-Star side hand and attempts to take it in both of his. He does his best to look her in the eyes, "Finn guessed that about Emily the first night he met her. It didn't matter. He loved her like a niece anyway. He could see her clear and he still loved her and would have happily gone through any horror to get her her happy ending. Emily was still someone worthy of love, whatever her faults. Guilty or not of crimes out there or something deeper and darker you can't remember, there is... beauty in what you were and who you are."
All those lives. All that torment. No matter the details, Penitent has had to suffer through incredible guilt and pain each time. Just like that image on her door. Competitor had thought this may have been the case but to hear it stated so clearly...it is still a shock. And she hugs Penitent a little tighter. "I will always be here for you now" she whispers before adding, "Maybe I should change the image on my door to a nagging woman." It's an attempt at humour.
Competitor can't disagree with Martyr's words about Penitent. The /real/ Emily was definitely worthy of love, hence Christine's persistence. That Emily who was buried deep. Perhaps it was Nettie or Kylie in there that Christine was seeing at the Lodge? That she fell in love with. Competitor smiles a thanks to Martyr for his words, arms around Penitent. "As you say, Nettie, it's up to you what you do with this knowledge."
Her hand taken by the Martyr, and Penny just smiles a little. "Emily was ... good at lying to the people around her that mattered to her. And to herself. Not so much to others, or to people she didn't expect to really get to know or see again. I'm not suggesting she wasn't worth caring about. And as it turns out, I'm kind of good at carrying these burdens. Anette really showed me how to do that, but ..." she shakes her head a little. "I don't know. Every time, there's a little more added on that I have to figure out how to balance. I'm already four people. But maybe I'm not even a person at all." A pause, and she nods. "I'm not really ... upset about it. I don't know. Just kind of numb."
The Martyr smiles back at the Competitor, they are together in this, as they were in so many things at the Lake. He shakes his head, "Finn spent a lot of time with defendants and in courtrooms. He saw right through you and spent a lot of time early on terrified Emily would really hurt Laine. He still liked you. Even then. I still liked you. That's what real love is. seeing all the flaws and it not mattering in the end." He looks away, "There is a beauty too in pain and penance and sacrifice. In the moment when you realize that you have done something truly aweful or are about to and just... surrender to it and to the consequences and the pain and the guilt. Trust me. I know. Our natures aren't as far apart as they might look."
"No numbness either" Competitor insists playfully. "I much prefer when you feel things. Even if it is something bad, at least you are feeling. And I don't care how advanced our watchers may be, you can't program feelings. Reactions, maybe, but not feelings. And we know the difference. So don't stay numb, Nattie." Another kiss to Penitent's cheek before letting her rest her head on Competitor's shoulder if she wishes, one arm around her now. "Fight."
Creepshow returns with a plate of food and a pitcher of something red on ice. She sets everything down, pulls four glasses from her suit jacket, and sits. Each person is given a glass, and she pours drinks from the pitcher.
"Rum punch," she says. "Kraken black spiced rum and tropical punch, to be specific. Most of my lives have liked rum straight, or rum and coke. This is another Caribbean thing, though Max had it a few times. And yeah, I fucking knew exactly what the jerk chicken was going to taste like before I tried it, and I'm almost certain I've never fucking had it. What the fuck is that about?"
"Oh, Emily would have hurt Laine if she found out about her secret stripper life earlier. By the time she found out, the was ... nicer, about it, because so much had happened and we were fighting for our lives, but she still wasn't exactly kind about it. That's not really my point, I'm okay with Emily. I'm okay with what I am. It's just ... hard for you to understand. When you've been through it more times, maybe you'll get some glimmer of it I guess. This wasn't even meant to be about me. I'm sorry." There's a brief little smile, though the apology is an earnest one. "I do that a lot too. Apologize. For everything."
She shakes her head at Competitor. "That's not what I meant either, exactly. I feel. But it seems they can program feelings. We come into these ... stories with attachments already, sometimes." A shrug of her shoulders, and then she glances at the returning Creepshow, reaching out for the glass when it's poured and picking it up to examine it. "I don't know what that's about. But we always have preferences and knowledge we get from somewhere. Who knows."
The Martyr's voice is very soft, "There is a terrible beauty to that pain and something about it feels good in a way it really shouldn't." He sighs shaking off the feeling, "I get that we're new and we don't have the experience." He gives the former Emily a crooked smile, "Just know big and complicated doesn't stop us caring."
He lets go of her hand and settles back into his chair, taking the offered rum punch to taste. His eyebrows go up in surprise. "This? This I definitely like." He considers Max's question, "Maybe the bodies have templates based on people. Boots arrived with musical taste and vocabulary words and a whole list of foods he liked that I'd never heard of. He can't remember his life, but knows what 'smart phones' do and place names in Africa and Europe. Maybe there really was a person who looks a lot like me who's... personality fit whatever criteria led to whoever it is to pick me to be Finn. Maybe we aren't abducted people with wiped memories, but a sort of xerox of them.
Competitor takes the drink from Creepshow with a nod of thanks. "I guess 'jerk' didn't mean what I thought it did" she smirks. "Unless people are doing awful things with chickens. You think there are new memories with this new body? Wendy, is it? Did you know Wendy is an invented name? I know all names are, but that one was made up for 'Peter Pan'." Since that is probably well known and/or of no interest to anyone, she will quickly move on.
"I know that Dare and I have a lot to 'look forward' to, if we end up in more stories and when we return. I'll admit that I have no idea what will happen but I do hope that I will understand more, Penitent. And that we can help each other as soon as I have more tools." Competitor takes a sip of the drink. "That's nice. Maybe a relationship that is part of the 'setting', is different to one that develops in the 'setting'. The former can be programmed. The latter...not so." A nod to Creepshow. "Wendy thinks that is a case. If the whole purpose of what we are going through is for someone, or something, to watch what we do. They would program the parameters but then study what happens with the participants. If they could program everything, why bother running the studies? At the Lodge, we weren't part of the setting, Nettie. What happened between us developed...and I like to think that was /us/ doing that, not a program." A pause. "Can someone tell me what a 'smart phone' is?"
"I heard you guys talking about the urges, doors, rooms..." says Creepy as she settles in. "What do you think they mean? In your case, that is. What are they telling us?"
She shakes her head at Competitor's questions. "I don't think it's an actual name," she answers. "I went into my little death party wearing a Cure shirt, but after being... I dunno, reborn? I saw that it was now a Concrete Blonde shirt. A song of theirs popped into my head, and I started singing it. It's called 'Tomorrow, Wendy'. The Cure have a song called 'Wendy Time', too. So I just decided Wendy's fine."
"You used to think people picking names were kind of kidding themselves," Penitent notes to Creepshow thoughtfully. She's not judging, just pointing out the interesting quirk. "I know what mine means. Mostly. And I've always felt like this place is a prison that I deserve to be in. I'm comfortable here because I belong here. The weeping woman is all about the burden of guilt. Sometimes it needs to be done though. I told you that earlier though, before your change." She still seems a little uncertain about the new Creepshow, but she's warming up to it.
Sipping from that glass now, she considers quietly for a moment. "Maybe, but it doesn't make something like what Anette had with Cillian feel any less real, to me, you know? Just because they started off with their ten years of history together." She notes to Competitor, nodding. "I don't know, these talks always go around in circles with lots of theories, but there's no data to confirm anything. Until we try and mess with our own history. Which probably still won't do anything, but we'll try anyway." The Martyr does get a brief smile and a nod as well.
The Penitent notes for Competitor, "Oh, a smart phone is a mobile telephone that's also a computer. With a touch screen and everything. I'll show you one some time."
The Martyr takes another drink of the punch. He is definitely a bit flushed now, and his words a little slower, but after two fingers of rum, Finn would have been edging into cartoon character vocal territory. Dare clearly is not. "I definitely hope nothing awful was done to this chicken while it was alive. If it was ever alive. I've no personal experience of programmed in romantic relationships, but I can say the pre-existing friendships were never as strong as the ones I built there. I still felt them and they did matter to me, but they were nowhere near as intense. I've listened to enough people compare one to the other that I have to think what and who we choose for ourselves to care about shapes us in ways our... given backgrounds don't. Maybe Anette and Cillian chose each other even though they were given each other at the start. Maybe they would have chosen each other anyway? I don't know."
He cocks his head, "Wendy then." He peers into his drink. "Maybe whoever it is needs certain sorts of people to do certain sorts of jobs, whether it's an experiment or parallel universe time bandits or something far weirder. I keep wishing I knew who had my room before I did. Were we alike at all? How were we different. Is someone grieving them the way Misty grieves the person who had Addison's room? I keep wishing I knew more. You're right, here just aren't enough data points." He takes a long drink.
"My urges have nothing to do with my door" Competitor giggles to Wendy, "But I am self-aware enough to know that I like to win. Though I also like to think that I do so without hurting people. That person on my door certainly looks like they're happy about getting to the top. But, again, what came first, the door or me? The chicken or the jerk?"
Competitor's arm around Penitent gives her a squeeze that is both comforting and apologetic. "Sorry, I didn't mean to belittle what Anette and Cillian had nor how important it is to you. I can see how important at is. And, you're right, we're just guessing without data. When are you going to head to the island? And do you want me to come with you? Oh, did you get that camera off Ma...Wendy?" Her brow furrows about the wonders of a smart phone. "That sounds...clever. Like that thing on my wrist at the Noc? I still have no idea what that did."
"I don't know who was in my room either, Dare. I don't think anything in there now belonged to them. I didn't /consciously/ choose any of it, how could I, I was asleep, but it /feels/ like it is my choices. Not someone else's." Competitor has a larger mouthful of her drink. "This really is quite nice."
"I think..." Creepshow frowns, considering her words in answer to Penny. "I think I was someone more intense and volatile before today. Like Max. I loved fiercely. I fucked fiercely. I had a fierce temper. Everything she felt and did was at eleven, all the time. You saw the pictures in my room here. They've changed since what happened earlier. They're vague and obscured now. Sinister as they sneak up on you. I think my problem was that I felt the extremes and nothing else, and it was burning me up. Maybe this place heard my cries and gave me a nudge. I still feel all those things, but not quite as strong. Not as urgently. I can breathe."
Martyr gets a small nod. "The one I knew? Was named Bob. He was the head of security for the Eclipse resort and casino on the Noc. Russian or something. Middle-aged. Taciturn and distant. But he was kind, and sacrificed himself for others. I can see some things in common."
To Competitor, "I gave it to her. No idea if she got it working."
"Well, Anette and Cillian were a long time coming, it felt like. They gave up on their hopes and dreams while the blood curse on the families loomed over them, knowing their children would be just as cursed. It wasn't until they actually saw an end to the whole thing that they ... we ... chose to actually do something about it." Penny says thoughtfully, nodding. Maybe it was a choice they made rather than something just written into them." Penitent gives a brief smile to Competitor, shaking her head. "No, you didn't belittle it." With the camera there is a sort of laugh. "I got the camera but I have no idea how to fix it. I took it all apart and everything and then just kind of stared at it in frustration. But it was fun, anyway." She shrugs a little, smiling at Creepshow as she nods a little. "Intense is ... true. And yeah, I remember your room. Huh." She makes a thought 'hmmh'ing sound at that description from Creepshow.
The Martyr smiles softly, "That's one of the things I liked about you, star. You defined winning as everybody lives, or at least as many as you could possibly save." He is meting into his chair a little as the earlier rum starts to really hit, his pronunciation growing more careful. "I thought at first whoever decorated my room might be subtly insane, but now I think.... It's like there is a fundamental duality in me and each subconsciously contributed....Does that sound crazy?" His brow knits as he concentrate on what Wendy is saying. "I really am glad you can breathe. It hurt so much to watch, that I can only imagine how bad it must have been from the inside....Oh!" His eyes go wide as the one who came before him is described. "I can... yes. Because the sacrifice has to come from... yes." He nods slowly. "Surface different, but similar under the skin." He stares into space a little while, thoughts swimming under the surface like koi, "I liked that your room didn't lie, Wendy. Is that weird? It's like Caleb... Boet or whatever bunker. It's a true thing said loud."
Competitor considers Wendy's words. "You think that the Watchers deliberately made you feel better? Understood your pain and did something to alleviate it? I was thinking of them as neutral at best but if they did show consideration and concern for us, that has to be a good thing." A nod that the camera has been handed on though Penitent's description of what happened to it afterwards does make Competitor laugh too. "I love it" she grins before a playful ruffle of Penitent's hair. "At least you tried. And, yeah, if you weren't married in the setting, then it was something /you/ decided on. Not programmed. And when do I get to see your room?"
A shrug to Martyr's compliment. "You can reach higher when standing on the shoulders of others. And if they /want/ you standing on their shoulders, that works out even better" she 'explains'...it's probably on another of her posters. "It was us against Dagon. There was never any question that I was going to make it just about me. It sounds like I want to see your room too, Dare. I /really/ wish I had a VCR though. And tapes. I haven't seen 'Dirty Dancing' in /ages/." She glances around at the others, blushing a little. "I mean, it's an /okay/ movie. Nothing really special." Time to hide behind some more drinking.
"Yeah, the pictures are all blurry and out of focus now," says Creepshow. "Almost abstract. It's like those hidden Indian pictures, where it's all just formless noise until you stare at it a really long time and your eyes unfocus. Then your mind starts interpreting what's there. They're... disturbing, but they were before, too. They still feel like me, though. And the various sex toys are put away instead of out in the open. Still blood stains all over the floor, though. Still a bottomless wardrobe of insane outfits and wigs. Still my keepsakes from each of the stories."
A nod. "Maybe. Maybe if I couldn't hold it together I'm of no use or interest to them. Maybe they wanted to help. It's like the upgrades to those two doors. Is it better now, or worse, that there's a living, breathing world on the other side now? Does it comfort us to see friends we've lost in there? Or is it torture? They could be benevolent or malicious, and we might not know the difference."
"I was fascinated by your room before. Conrad felt like he had to shield me from it, but he was different then, too." Penitent notes quietly to Creepshow, after Martyr's words, nodding quietly. And there's a smile for Competitor too, a bob of her head at that ruffling. "If I did it enough times or had a manual and replacement parts I might get somewhere, but it'd never make it back through those magic rooms afterwards, unfortunately. And all you have to do is knock and you can see my room. It's not all that."
She leans back a little, sipping at her drink again as she considers Creepy's further words on the door. "I think they're whatever we want them to be. Remember how I said I was going to be Madison for a while? Conrad and I are going to use them to go back to just before Wyred Fest, and ... make sure it never happens. We'll stop the festival from occurring on the Grey Island. It's something he needs to do, I think. He always felt bad that his festival turned out the way it did. And it's the only one of these stories we have a real chance to make a difference in. Most of the others, we were just there for the ride. And then we'll see what happens. What could have been, I suppose. I'm not sure if it's a way to resolve issues and get some closure or just a chance to torture ourselves further."
The Martyr grins at the former Emily, "See? You chose even if they set up the conditions that hem that choice." He waves his hand absently, "My room's sort of the opposite of Briar's. Which is kind of funny and right at the same time. My room isn't that weird, weird. It's just subtly odd, like someone was trying to me really dramatic and gothic romantic and someone else was used to designing dorm rooms or hospitals and the sentimentalist drama queen and the neat freak utilitarian were forced to compromise. Or maybe they had a good wrestle and nobody won."
He drinks his punch as if he's forgotten it had alcohol in it. "I bet you could go through the magic doors and watch anything you liked in there. We don't really need VCR's if we can watch anything we like in a private theater or whatever. Patrick Swayze's really good looking. I bet you could be in the movie if you liked, Star. All that dancing.... I think I'll need to lose more for me to judge the magic doors properly. It's bound to happen eventually." He peers at Wendy, "I think it's gong to be interesting getting to know this you. I'm glad this isn't a wake after all." He squints at the Penitent, "Is it okay to ask what happened at the festival on that Island? I've been there, but it was earlier just to go swimming."
"Sex toys and blood stains?" Competitor nods slowly in a 'I should take one step away from Creepshow' kind of way, but she continues to sit with Penitent instead. "Those rooms seem to be whatever you want them to be. Like a holiday from 'reality'." Competitor and Penitent have discussed already about the likelihood of change in those rooms affecting anything in an objective sense, so she won't rehash the discussion here. And she has a very important role to play when it is over...if Penitent comes back. Though she will ask, "You want me to come with you or would that just be too confusing? Could you read the manual in those rooms and then fix the camera? Hmm...if those rooms /are/ what we generate from our own minds, that might be a good experiment. You could 'generate' a repair manual and then see if you can fix the camera from it. That would mean that it is a reality that is more than what we generate, or you had that knowledge in your subconscious all along and it was brought out in the form of the manual."
"Patrick Swayze is okay" Competitor shrugs. "Me? In the movie?" That makes her laugh. "I'm not /that/ good a dancer. Though the private cinema sounds like an idea. What about it, Nettie? Want to go to the movies with me? I know it's not a date in the Riviera but it would be nice." If Penitent is going to talk about the festival, Competitor will be providing an encouraging squeeze.
"That's what I'm saying," Creepy agrees with Penny. "Every food and drink we can dream of, at our fingertips. Any world we want on the other side of a door. Nothing ever really breaks or hurts us. Tomorrow it's all better. It's either paradise or a perfect prison. Benevolent or malicious. Who fucking knows? In any case, the place knew I needed a change and gave it to me. Now let's see how fast I regret it."
She's been eating off and on the whole time, and now finishes her drink. "Until whatever that was earlier, I'd never been starving in here. You could technically never eat or drink a thing and be fine with the daily reset. Are we ever really hungry? Just earlier, I was hungry like I've never been. Now? I'm fucking exhausted. I need to sleep. Dying and reforming apparently takes a lot out of you."
She gets up and stretches. "I still don't know who I am now. I'm figuring it out. Be patient if I get.... strange." Blink. "Strange for me. It's still me, just... Me plus." She waggles fingers and heads for the hall, singing to herself. She can sing quite well in this new guise.
"And they say, goodbye. Tomorrow Wendy's going to die."
"Oh I can find a book on the shelf. It's the replacement parts really that I don't have. It's not a simple repair job." Penny shrugs her shoulders and leans some more on Competitor, nodding. "My room is just a prison cell. Nothing all that fancy or interesting about it. Another reason why I've felt like I deserve to be here. But this isn't paradise, that's for sure. It's something else entirely." She cants her head slightly at Creepshow's further thoughts, considering. "I admit, I only eat because it's comforting really, not because I actually get hungry." She nods slowly, offering a finger wriggle of a wave. "I hope we still get to go to Prosperity and cause some trouble though. Just for fun."
Her gaze lingers on the departing Creepshow for a while. "Sure, I'll go to the movies with you. With all my 2018 knowledge there's heaps of things you haven't even seen yet!" She grins at that idea, nudging Competitor a little before shifting a little to face the Martyr properly. "Has no one told you what happened? This is when I was Madison Wellson, and my brother Conrad -- who's also Cillian and also Joshua from the lodge, by the way, if you didn't know -- had this plan to like, throw the best party ever. A month long music festival, on a deserted island in the pacific ocean. No infrastructure, nothing. And it would be broadcast live across the world, streamed to everyone, twenty four seven. The technology involved to provide electricity, plumbing and high speed internet to a place with literally nothing was mind boggling. It would have changed the world. Of course, the island he wanted -- we couldn't get. But Madison pulled the strings and made all the right shady deals to get it, and we were in business. This was the 'past' though, my first real memories are the first day on the Island itself. To cut a long story short, it wasn't deserted, there was an ancient tribe of natives living there that everyone thought were dead, even the local islanders. They all said the island was cursed, and it was. The inbred cannibal natives captured some of ours, and we fought back, and somehow the native ancestors rose from the ground. Skeletal warriors attacked us every night." A beat. "Conrad and I didn't make it through that one alive."
The Martyr curls his legs, so he can curl more sideways with his feet dangling of the edge. The punch in his glass is rapidly disappearing and he's definitely edging towards the Wonderful World of Disney, "I think I like rum after all. I didn't think I did, but I do. Spicy Krakens.... If you go alone no one would see you. You could get Patrick to teach you to dance like that." He watches Wendy go, murmuring, "No hugs." He swirls the remaining punch absently, "I was always so hungry when I was Finn. Too busy for meals most of the time. It's nice to be full. And know I'm loved. I didn't when I was alive." Once he figures out his question is being answered he does try to focus properly on it. It's so hard to get people to talk about the festival properly, after all. Drunk or not he's fitting the dropped hints into the more connected narrative. "I am sorry." He does look sorry, "I'm not sure what to say, but thank you for telling me."
"I eat because I'm used to it" Competitor admits. "Never really thought about whether I was hungry or not first. Now I'm going to have to see if I get hungry. Especially after aerobics." A wave to Wendy. "Take care of yourself." She watches her leave before turning to the others. "She's cute...if that means anything."
A nod about the repair book on the shelf idea. "True. And I have discovered a disturbing lack of electronic, or similar, equipment here. Though a camera is more mechanical. Is there film for it?" Speaking of films. "You know what we should do? Watch a film that neither of us have seen but someone else here has. We watch it then come back and tell it to the person who /has/ seen it. If they match, what it through the doors is objectively real. If it doesn't, it was all in our minds. Do you think that would work?"
New Activity ---------
Competitor won't interrupt the tale of the island, though she will frown at some parts. It was horrible; and she thought she had it tough in the Lodge. "I have some experience in disbelieving island curses" she smiles softly. "No one would have blamed you, just like no one blamed me." A pause. "No one blamed me, did they? What are you going to do to stop it? Call it off? Get that original island? Move it?"
"Cute, she's damn hot. Did you see those tits she has now?" Penny muses at Competitor's comment regarding the new Creepshow. There's a bit of a wave of her hand at Martyr. "Don't be sorry about that. Dying is easier than living, if you ask me. In the stories at least. Madison died, she ended, and I can just go on being ... me, you know? People like Anette and Emily are harder to shake because they didn't end. I just don't know what happens next, and it would be nice to have one of those lives back for real." She nods. "At least I didn't get killed by skeletons. Turns out the shady official that I bribed to get that island was so eager because he knew about that lost tribe, and owed them a sacrifice or two. David Akala. He's another one of our recurring enemies, because a guy that looked exactly the same was also Asmoday in Prosperity, one of the demon Benefactors. He also rigged a lot of our equipment, and one time we were talking to him and kind of onto him, and he blew up the trailer we were in. Boom. No more Madison. It was quick and painless, really."
She grins a little and nudges Competitor. "I don't know that it needs film. Most everything is a computer by then." There's a laugh. "Some people were angry that the staff didn't tell everyone about the ghost stories, but I mean. That seems pointless. Anyway yeah, we'll call it off or maybe move it to a different place perhaps. I don't know exactly what he plans. I need to chat to him again about it, actually. And some other things before we do this."
The Martyr sighs, "She's definately cute. I wish I could stop thinking about her belly button." Which wasn't on display. Right. He blinks at them, "Have either of you seen Beyond Therapy? It's really weird and hardly anyone's seen it. Or Another Country. Rupert Everett and the Dread Pirate Robeerts and that cute guy from Lost Empires...." He swallows the rest of the punch and then looks sadly into the glass, "I never blamed you Star. I stood up for you, remember? No one could have known the ghosts would turn dangerous except Dini and family. You didn't know what would happen and people agreed once they thought about it and anyway you were amazing and I was so scared you'd die and the resistance would fall apart because none of us could have held it together like you did and it was the same with the cannibal skeleton island. It was soooooo pretty there and perfect, Not Em. I would have wanted to stay there for ever. It felt so safe even knowing it was going to go wrong. At least in Chance's version." And he's gone the full mickey mouse. "See? Not your fault. Madison didn't know. It was the demon guy's fault." He stretches his arms across the arm of his chair and rests his head on them to look at them sideways. "Dying was easy. Even when I thought there was nothing after I was ready to do it. Waking up after and having to mourn everything: myself. Danny. My world. The people Briar and I are now but won't be for long? That's hard. I need more rum." He makes no move to get any.
"Hey, I've got huge tits too" Competitor pouts before nudging Penitent with a grin. "You hadn't noticed? I'll have to share tits...tips...with Wendy on how to deal with them." She tilts her head a little. "But, if you have Madison surviving, won't that just add another personality that is harder to shake into the mix? And we have recurring...'bad guys'? Interesting."
"A camera that's a computer? What will they think of next? I told Dini we should have made the ghosts part of the excitement of staying there. He declined...and we all know why now" Competitor frowns. "I wish I could have found the bastard but they wouldn't let me back on the island. They wouldn't let anyone back."
"You like belly buttons, Dare? Sure, why not? I think I may have seen 'Beyond Therapy' but I don't think I've seen 'Another Country'. I know you stood up for me, Dare. I haven't thanked you enough. Either of you. I'm sure someone would have stepped up. Addison for one. He wanted to step all over me but, in a strange way, I miss him. I guess he wasn't one of 'us'. And he's right, Nettie, the only person at fault were the people who wanted to kill you."
A laugh from Penitent about Creepshow's belly button, brows lifting up. She shakes her head to all of those things about what she may or may not have seen. "Nope, none of them. And I know it wasn't my - Madison's - fault. But it doesn't matter, is my whole point. Telling me it's not my fault doesn't make me feel better. Madison have so many chances to back out. Our father told me not to fund Conrad's 'stupid idea' -- dad's words. The island government told us time and time again that we couldn't use that island. Any of the others, sure. But not that one. There were so many times she could have backed out -- should have. And like I said. Madison did other things too. She certainly didn't hold it together like Christine did. She hid in the dark and drank herself senseless, consumed by guilt."
She grins at Christine's mention of her breasts though, squeezing the woman a moment. "Oh, I sure did notice thank you very much. But you remember Max before. Now she's all curvy. It's a dramatic change, you know? And maybe it will make things harder. That's why I asked you for that favour the other night."
The Martyr giggles at the 'tits/tips,' rolling his head a little on his arms. "You can have a whole library inside. I wonder if that's why they call the phones smart." He giggles again, probably something to do with belly buttons. "Not sure. Never found out. Probably for the best, really." He sighs, "In my head I had an organizational chart with you on top, then Bastian, then Cass. Only we died and you didn't so it didn't matter.... 'S funny. Once I saw what Drake was like I didn't want to be there, but after I started doing the handouts I was glad I was. If someone had to be there it should have been me. As sorry as I'd been to be tangled up with the Boathouse People before, everything felt right once I... hinted the thing I shouldn't have hinted to Bastian. Such a fine line ethically and I walked it and I was glad I was helping even if I wasn't good at it parti- Not much use. Could at least be a body shield. Or something. On raids." He peers at the women, "We all slotted into place. Like Madison and the Island and the guilt. I've been really leaning into my nature, but it all keeps getting snatched at the last minute...." he looks really confused, "Harder? Favour?"
"I had a lot of support to do what I did on the island. It sounds like Madison was pretty much left alone." There is a frown at that for a moment but Competitor's smile is back as her breasts have been noted. Though even that smile is brief with what Penitent mentions next. "Yeah, I guess it would be harder." She kisses Penitent on the lips, letting it linger a moment before looking into her eyes. "If needed, I'll make sure you come back to us. I promise. Even if I have to keep flashing my tits at you." A wink and a smile, though she will leave deeper explanations for Martyr to Penitent. "Why didn't Drake go for help with that infection? And he didn't come back, did he? You did great, Dare. I didn't know what was going on at that boathouse. Not at first at least. They were all criminals? Explains why they were all armed. And you were always more than just a body shield, Dare. Don't be silly."
"Honestly, I didn't think about the structure that much and just kind of did ... whatever I felt like I needed to." Penny says with a small little grin. "At first anyway. Emily wasn't in a good place after Jessica died. She's not here. I looked. And Madison wasn't left alone, really. Conrad was worried about her, but he was also out there trying to save everyone." Whatever other thoughts she might have about Madison are dismissed by that kiss, and it's returned with a happy little sound coming from it, leaning back afterwards. "Drake was here before the lodge ... and in Prosperity. He was a little strange when I saw him here last, too. I don't know." She does arch a brow at the talk that all those 'boathouse people' were criminals though. She didn't know this bit! "I figured something was going on with the whole Christian/Joshua thing, which in retrospect made me realize how dense Emily could be to not ... notice things. Criminals, though? Been there, done that." She grins, and shifts a little. "I'm gonna go lie down for a little," she says quietly to the pair of them, shifting to stand.
The Martyr says out of nowhere, "I understand about cupcakes now, but I'm pretty sure I'm not eating them right." He nods, "At the Lake there was all this glue holding people together. It'd've been terrible if it had just been Christine alone with no real support." His eyes go wide, "I don't know! I knew Johnathon and Roxie and Ryder, but everyone else was friends of theirs... Hey, has anyone seen Ryder around? God he was hot, but I wouldn't have dared... Anyway, Drake was supposed to have been a good guy who helped Johnathan through a bad patch, Only something happened to him between then and the Lake and he wasn't the man they thought they knew. He was just...Pfffft." He waggles his hand to try to illustrate a hot air balloon escaping, "He was scry and out of control and drunk all the time, but not mellow Danny drunk, but I want to shoot people drunk and I told them I was firing as clients if they couldn't get him to stop _endangering_ people and he was pretty isolated and paranoid by the time he was bit...." He starts weeping softly, "No one cared enough to go check. We were terrible friends even though I wasn't his friend and never liked him and no one was who I thought they were really and it's why I didn't want to be there." He blinks at them slowly. "Even criminals need lawyers. I thought they were Robin hood, but they disappointed me so much.... Oh! I am sorry about Jessica. Good night, Em. Still love you like you are, you know."
"Nettie is going to be Madison again for this experiment with Joshua" Competitor explains to Dare. "If she loses herself to Madison but comes back here, she may need some help to remember she is more than just Madison. That's where I come in. A memory jogger. Max would have been one too but she's changed, that's why it may be harder with her now. Roxie will be another. People that Nattie has shared deep moments with who will be able to connect her back to this life." As Penitent rises, so does Competitor. "I'll come with you. Maybe we can make some more memories." A little wiggle of her eyebrows before she gives Dare a hug. "Stay safe. Even in here. We'll talk again later."