Silicon County: An Interactive Story (Ongoing)

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  • Understood. I just wanted to clarify that.

    AgentZ46 posted: »

    Well I wasn't implying a couple. I meant their relationship in general.

  • Wow, I missed a lot here XD I think I have read it all now. After what I have read here, I also think that rebooting the story was really the best decision you have made for the story. It all feels so much bigger and more polished. Favorite character is Tyler right now but all of them are nice. Thomas and Lana were cute I have not expected it and I ship it. And Clive intrigues me because how different his situation looks when compared to the first story.

    And I am also really thinking about what I have read here and the theories. I like the mystery vibe this is giving. Right now, I think what Liquid said makes sense but I think there must be more to it. Whatever it is, it seems supernatural.

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    Tyler Gavins, 01-05: Tyler stood dangerously close to the edge of the cliff, looking down into the perfect if murky reflection of

  • Intriguing. Very intriguing... So, it is a one-shot that is still crucial to the main plotlines? I really can't wait for this to make sense, because I'm sure the realization just what is going on there will be awesome =)

    I have several one-shots in mind that are crucial to the main plotlines. (Forgive me for once again changing the title—I did it to differentiate from the main story's epilogue.) I want to do a series of 'lude one-shots (hehe). Prelude to Fire, Interlude to Fire, Postlude to Fire. Each would tie heavily into the main plot, but the ongoing Postlude is probably the most crucial for every character. One to air alongside each act. I got Post' mostly figured out and a lot of ideas for Pre' and Inter'. Things are going to get weird.

    Huh, this is even more intriguing. I mean, if Rachel and Alex are both missing, then Alex could be another figure, which means they would be connected through family. But the others? Man, I don't know. That's basically all there is about the Carson family, so I doubt the other six are actually blood-related to them, if Alex is even one of these figures to begin with.

    We will just have to wait and hope Clive dreams about the figures again in more clarity. I will say, we will learn a lot more about each of them as the story progresses. Maybe... just maybe some of them will be introduced.

    Hm, alright, this is good. These hints, have there already been some? I try to read as cautious as possible, but I haven't found any so far.

    I've hinted at their lack of inclusion, all of which you have picked up on, but I have not hinted at the reason for why such a thing would happen. You don't have to worry about missing anything at the moment. The upcoming hints will also probably be pretty easy to pinpoint.

    You understand? That's good, because honestly, I myself am not entirely sure what I was getting at. It is a large mixture of emotions, of which anticipation is perhaps the strongest one. You got me more than intrigued. And one thing I haven't even considered is a possibl connection between the number of Carsons and th acts... hm, I feel like I am about to realize something important, but there is some crucial information still missing. I love that feeling, I think I haven't been that positively confused in a long while.

    A rotation of protagonists. Three acts. Three Carsons. -nudge- -nudge-

    As for Clive, this was something I had to wonder during your talk with Lord here. If Rachel and Alex do not exist in this current version of the timeline, would Clive still do anything to get them back? I wasn't sure about it myself, because by all means, their non-existance would basically mean that he is a completely different person, with completely different experiences. But it is reassuring to know that he would still do this for them, as it means that at heart, he still shares the key characteristics with the man he was in the original story.

    More than you know. This Clive is a lot like Clive, your Clive. They're just about the same person, really. They look like each other. They have similar backstories with fundamental but subtle differences that have spawned very big differences (as we're learning). But they both love their kids, that's for sure.

    Firstly, I've decided to further separate the Silentium stuff as its own plot. I've renamed it Epilogue to Fire—if you ask me, it'

  • edited November 2016

    Tyler Gavins, 01-06: The lone headlight created a narrow cone of light and cast Tyler’s pale face in even paler illumination. Darkness swallowed the path in his bicycle’s wake like a giant snake retracting its tongue. The sky was still pitch black except for the rare and momentary break of cloud cover that would reveal a small section of star-dense sky.

    He didn’t want to go home immediately. Yes, he definitely did not. Tyler flew down the trail, an indecisive path in mind that neither delayed his arrival nor sped it up. He could still change his mind...

    The icy wind was penetrative, cutting through his jacket like it was nonexistent. His hands were made numb and aggravated by the handlebars’ vibration of unsteady intensity as well as the cold. The wind chilled his head and pained his ears despite the hood of his jacket. Yet still, in spite of all the unpleasantries, he harbored the apathetic desire to linger. Home could wait, couldn’t it?

    The path twisted left and right, downhill and uphill. It dropped down into another slope scarred with rain-craved crevasses and filled with exposed roots. It rose again steeply and he had to stand if he wanted to push forward, worrying his bike wouldn’t find traction on the leaves which obscured the path. The slope shifted downward again and his bike picked up speed.

    Tyler was contemplating acting on the desire when the path suddenly split into two—and he hung right when he should have swung left, down a trail he wasn’t aware of. It was an incredibly easy mistake to make with the vagueness of the path, narrow cone of light, and utter darkness. To his credit, he didn’t go sailing into the quarry’s freezing waters. When his headlight failed to illuminate an approaching lip of suspicious darkness, a pit of blackness, his face was painted with shock and he did an ungraceful dive off the side of his bike. It went on to fly into the open air above the quarry, its trajectory curving downward. He barely heard the splash as he rolled ass over face downhill in pure darkness. He hurtled into a tree trunk which killed his momentum very quickly and extremely painfully.

    Holy fuck, he thought, lying on his back, breathing heavily, holy fuck.

    His whole body and head were a dull throb, his left ankle felt numb—he rotated it and pain shot up his leg—and he was pretty sure he tasted blood. He couldn’t figure out where he’d hit the tree until the throbbing in his head faded into a deep-rooted ache and he rolled over in time to throw up while propped hastily on his forearms. He gagged, spat deliberately, then pushed away from his mess and fell against the closest tree which happened to be the one that stopped him. The post-vomit taste in his mouth nearly made him throw up again, but he didn’t. He was notified of pain—of minor scrapes and bruises sustained during the tumble—that he was previously unaware of. His ankle radiated a pleasant heat, which he found somewhat disturbing even in his daze.

    The word ‘concussion’ echoed in his head until it had lost all meaning. He blinked, a little confused, whispering several mild curses when his dazed mind finally acknowledged the complete and utter darkness. The only difference he garner could between it and shutting one's eyes was a vague sense of motion in the treetops, though perhaps he was just delirious. Either way, he was definitely concussed.

    The shrouded trees cackled again in the wind, bare branches scratching against one another, and Tyler imagined bones would make a similar sound and couldn’t shake that image as he began to lose consciousness. He couldn’t see the moon, as vague and weak as it would have been behind the clouds. The sky was all black now. He drifted off, dreaming of an arctic tundra more befitting of the cold he felt.

    And it was the sheer magnitude of the warmth which woke Tyler. He opened his eyes and stared groggily up into twin flashlights that glowed a green of great depths far above him. He blinked. The flashlights tilted inquisitively to one side in unison, leaving a fading trail of light on Tyler’s retinas. He blinked several more times, the harsh glow softened, becoming more ovular, and he discerned slitted pupils. A surprised squawk escaped his throat before he hissed numerous curses and backed up against the tree.

    Something monstrously large stood in the darkness. Its glowing eyes of green light cast a dim illumination halfway down the length of its own black-furred snout, home to nostrils which issued hot air after every ebb of breath.

    It seemed amused as it leaned toward him, the eyes of rich green like tracers in the night. He could smell its coppery breath. It smelt grossly of blood. Tyler went off on another tirade of curses that would have made a sailor wince, muttered something vulgar about Clifford the Big Red Dog, and anti-climaxed with the phrase “You got be shiting me.”

    Tyler then fainted, but the creature had already drawn back, vaguely cackling in the wind with a demented laugh, or perhaps it was the trees again.

    To be continued... tonight

    Post-part notes:

    • So after writing this, I started on a new part for Tyler, and it just went on for almost five pages (we're up to 21 pages now out of my typical 12-16 and it's still going!) That part isn't quite finished yet, so I'm probably going to post half or so tonight and the rest when it's ready. I apologize for the lack of choices in Tyler's POV. None have come up yet in writing.

    • Anyway, to quote Tyler next part: "Don't panic!"

  • My reaction: ... What the fuck was that!?

    I am so confused XD

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    Tyler Gavins, 01-06: The lone headlight created a narrow cone of light and cast Tyler’s pale face in even paler illumination. Dark

  • There it is! The dark turn in Tyler's storyline I knew was coming XD Though he probably still got lucky, considering that he was left alive. I mean, I have absolutely no idea what that creepy thing was, other than that it totally freaks me out right now. I mean, I expected many things, but not something that wouldn't be out of place in a monster story. That said, Tyler's amazing reaction would have probably been exactly my own, even if I might have peed a little more :D Seriously, what was that? That thing was creepy as hell. I try to work it into my previous theory and the closest I get is some Stranger Things like stuff, which I believe is not really the right direction to speculate into. So... no, I have no idea what to do with this. Unless it was something he imagined, I have no logical explanation for what that thing was.

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    Tyler Gavins, 01-06: The lone headlight created a narrow cone of light and cast Tyler’s pale face in even paler illumination. Dark

  • I have several one-shots in mind that are crucial to the main plotlines. (Forgive me for once again changing the title—I did it to differentiate from the main story's epilogue.) I want to do a series of 'lude one-shots (hehe). Prelude to Fire, Interlude to Fire, Postlude to Fire. Each would tie heavily into the main plot, but the ongoing Postlude is probably the most crucial for every character. One to air alongside each act. I got Post' mostly figured out and a lot of ideas for Pre' and Inter'. Things are going to get weird.

    Hm, I see. This does sound great! So, is Postlude the one to accompany the first act? I would have expected things to start with Prelude. Although, that alone already sounds weird. Ah, if they are all going to be like the part with the knight, then I will have a lot to be confused about and a lot to theorize :D

    We will just have to wait and hope Clive dreams about the figures again in more clarity. I will say, we will learn a lot more about each of them as the story progresses. Maybe... just maybe some of them will be introduced.

    So, that means they are all going to be characters of some capacity, if we learn more about them. I already can only speculate who it might be. Rachel is likely, maybe, if her absence is related to Alex', he could be among them as well. But other than that, I really have not even the hint of an idea.

    I've hinted at their lack of inclusion, all of which you have picked up on, but I have not hinted at the reason for why such a thing would happen. You don't have to worry about missing anything at the moment. The upcoming hints will also probably be pretty easy to pinpoint.

    Good to know I haven't missed anything. I know I only noticed that stuff about the knight because you pointed it out somewhere, so I am a bit worried I could miss some crucial detail. But yes, I have noticed their absence pretty early in this, as well as the stuff about them probably not even existing right now. I do look forward for future hints.

    A rotation of protagonists. Three acts. Three Carsons. -nudge- -nudge-

    I... I... oh.... oooooh. I think I understand what you mean =) This is making me even more excited about the future, even if I still have no idea how Rachel and Alex are going to appear. I sense something pretty big coming up in one of the next chapters that will probably make more sense out of everything.

    More than you know. This Clive is a lot like Clive, your Clive. They're just about the same person, really. They look like each other. They have similar backstories with fundamental but subtle differences that have spawned very big differences (as we're learning). But they both love their kids, that's for sure.

    Hm, that might imply that this version of Clive has kids, or at least, that his paternal instincts are natural with him, so that he would do anything for his children he even if he doesn't truly know them. But it is reassuring that he is, at the core, still the same guy. I wonder about this subtle differences though. On theory I immediately had was that Clive or Melissa are infertile in this version, therefore making it impossible for Rachel and Alex to be born, therefore preventing Melissa's death. That might be a fundamental but subtle difference that has spawned big differences. I also guess that such a thing could be mentioned sooner or later, maybe if Thomas asks Clive if he has any children. Though at the same time, I don't know if you already plan on outright revealing such a detail.

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    Intriguing. Very intriguing... So, it is a one-shot that is still crucial to the main plotlines? I really can't wait for this to m

  • edited December 2016

    Tyler Gavins, 01-07: Tyler opened his eyes without having fully woken. He stared into an abstract painting of darkness and blurry colors which were tinted with an orange light. He was lying on his side on a flat and hard surface. The exposed skin of his face and hands told him it was cold.

    Awareness came slowly, like his liquefied conscious was being poured haphazardly into a glass far too small to contain it all. It splashed and spilled over the edges, making a thorough mess and hindering his ability to think cognitively.

    Tyler’s vision came mostly into focus and he realized he was looking at a parking lot. It was still night, still clouded. He recognized belatedly it was the diner’s parking lot. He was curled into a ball outside of the diner’s entrance. He rolled onto his stomach, becoming suddenly conscious of his aching body, and climbed onto his knees. He rested his back against the diner’s glass door—a stray twig poking into his back—and waited for his head to clear completely. His head hurt terribly.

    It all came back to him, and the pain of the headache seemed to multiple. He made an odd, stilted noise, attempting to gasp sharply and expel foul language at the same time. It didn’t work. Eventually, breathing took priority, and he did so heavily for a solid minute, recalling his encounter with the monster. He remembered how it had watched him for a moment, then descended toward him in the night, green eyes glowing, half a snout glint with its own reflecting light, black-on-black in the night, its true shape and size untold. He was sure—behind the veil of darkness—it was leering.

    Yet he was back at the diner and couldn’t pinpoint any new injuries. He pulled his legs to his chest to fight off the cold and stared forward. Jeez, he remembered its breath—hot and coppery. Bloody, too, definitely. And it was huge, radiating warmth like a space heater. What the hell was it?

    It hadn’t killed him. That was obvious. In fact, it seemed to have brought him back to the diner. What was it and why did it spare him? But why would an animal, even an intelligent animal, have done that? Was it trained? Was it even an animal?

    Both this and the concussion were hurting his head. He removed the bothersome twig and his hand came back a little bloody. His eyes widened. Had it bitten him? Oh, hell, no-- He jerked his head around, tugged at his jacket, and stared at the stretched-out holes poked into his jacket that one could stick a few fingers through, and a lot of blood. Miraculously, he hadn’t been scratched. He had to get this straight: it had picked him up by the nape of his jacket with its murder muzzle without harming him then deposited him at the diner. All after scaring him half to death for its own amusement.

    His back was caked with blood. He felt his stomach churn suddenly.

    What the hell was this thing and why was it so goddamn courteous? Was it Clifford the Big, Black and Bloody Dog? Jasper the Friendly Werewolf? That was ridiculous. He shut his eyes—tired and concussed and confused—and he remembered its eyes so vividly that he thought, for a moment in the blackness, it was staring back at him again. His eyes shot open a split-second later and he shuddered horribly. Was it any more ridiculous than what had already happened?

    He’d lost his backpack during the tumble, he realized, but wasn’t too concerned about the loss of homework and textbooks at the moment. His cell phone was a different story. It was uncomfortable to ride his bike with it in his pocket, so he’d tossed it in there. He could look for it in the daylight hours. But not at night. Definitely not at night.

    His rate of breath had mostly normalized when he glanced at his wristwatch: 01:12 AM. He tried not panic again. He had lost more than one and a half hours being unconscious and semiconscious. Was no one looking for him? Had his father not notified anyone that he hadn’t returned home? He stood with minor difficulty, became dazed by a flash of vertigo which faded but didn’t fully pass, and shook his stiff legs and arms despite the deep aching. It hurt to put weight on his sprained ankle, but it wasn’t unbearable. He was stretching, touching his toes when he heard an engine and the crunch of leaves. He jolted upright, which amplified the pain in his head, and listened.

    The woods!

    He limped briskly to the corner of the building, rested on it, and watched a vehicle’s brights light up trees at a diagonal angle as it climbed the steep slope. Tyler was briefly blinded when it mounted the concrete lip of the parking lot and its headlights leveled on him. He shut his eyes and waved madly. The lights shut off quickly. He blinked blindly at where it had stopped and heard a rolling door slam violently open.

    It was Samantha, and she was sprinting toward him. Her expression was distraught with an indiscernible layer of either anger or relief. He wasn’t sure if he was going to get slapped or hugged. With his bruises, he wasn’t sure which would hurt worse. She embraced him in a hug, and it was painful, but also comforting.

    Tyler remembered the blood half a second too late. When she pulled away with a start, he exclaimed, “Don’t panic!”

    Sam let out a muffled gasp when she saw the red on hands and her hoodie, which had been a deep blue and was now mingled with dark splotches of blood around the sleeves. She grabbed him by firmly the shoulders, manhandling him, and spun him around so she could inspect his back. Blood had soaked through to his black t-shirt, but it hadn’t even been pricked. She drew several shaky breaths and Tyler turned around again to face her.

    “Are those fucking bite marks on your jacket?” she asked, bewildered. “They’re fucking huge!”

    He rubbed one of the shoulders she had manhandled. “Look, a weird thing happened.” He gave her the condensed version as the driver was climbing out of the van.

    Sam stared at him. Finally, she said, “Holy shit, that’s rad.”

    “In a terrified, shitting yourself sort of way, yeah” he agreed reluctantly. “The blood’s unsettling--”

    Bernie stopped several feet away from him and crossed his arms, looking him up and down with disapproval and worry. He stood a foot and a half taller than Tyler. “I just got off the phone with your father. He’s gonna meet you at your home.” So his father hadn’t forgotten about him. What else had he expected? Bernie’s expression and tone became the sternest Tyler had ever seen or heard it. It was actually scary. “What the hell happened to you? Are you alright?”

    Tyler opened his mouth to speak, then closed it hesitantly. Sam crossed her arms, too, and seemed to give him an even sterner frown. He realized she wasn’t angry; she was waiting to see what he would do, how much he would tell Bernie. Bernie would either think he was crazy or delusional. Tyler swallowed, his throat terribly dry all of a sudden, and told him everything, with details he hadn’t mentioned to Sam. It wasn’t a long story and he had finished telling it in less than four minutes, but the dizziness had set in again and he had to take a seat on the cement, even for such a short duration.

    By the end of it, Bernie had gone from looking a tad angry to concerned to baffled. He looked at Tyler’s back as well and came to the same verdict: whatever might have bitten his jacket had only bitten that, thoroughly soaking it with blood in the process.

    “Do you believe me?” Tyler finally asked after a moment of silence following his tale’s conclusion.

    Bernie sighed tiredly, massaging the bridge of his nose and waving an apology with the other. “I’m sorry, Tyler. It’s a lot to digest. But whatever happened, you’re hurt. I think we should take you to the emergency center. I’ll call your father, get him to meet us there. And… we can notify the Sheriff’s Office about this animal.”

    Tyler nodded, unsure. He exchanged his ruined jacket and bloodied t-shirt—which Bernie threw into a trash bag to give to the Sheriff’s Office; reluctantly, Sam’s hoodie had been added to the mix—for a thick blanket that he wrapped around himself. He climbed into the backseat of the van with Samantha. The shock had mostly worn off—though the headache hadn’t—and sleepiness was soon setting in, but it wasn’t overpowering.

    While they settled in, Bernie gave Tyler’s father a call, then asked Tyler if he wanted to speak to him. He excused himself by saying he wanted to speak to his father in person. Bernie told Tyler’s father that he was alright but to meet them at the emergency center, then they were on the highway and on their way to Silicon General Hospital.

    The blanket was on the verge of being sweltering, but it was far better than lying out in the cold. Tyler leaned toward Sam, asking in a whisper, “You don’t think I’m faking, do you?”

    She looked at him, her expression crossed like he had accused her of something offensive. “I believe every word you told me.” She eyed a large bump on his head, easily visible on his shaved head, and sighed. “Honestly, if it wasn’t for the state of your jacket, I might have my doubts.”

    “I’m sorry about your hoodie,” he whispered guilty, the blanket enveloping him as he sunk deeper into its folds.

    “Don’t worry about it,” she replied, then frowned. “You think it killed a deer?”

    “I hope it was a deer,” he muttered. He noticed the beginnings of a disturbed look on Sam’s face and corrected himself, feeling bad for implying something so morbid. “Thing is, it didn’t just not eat me, it carried me back to the diner. I’m gonna take a wild guess and say humans aren’t on its menu. Jeez, I wonder what it was.”

    “What else could it have been?” Sam asked.

    Tyler shrugged, smiled glumly. “Clifford the Big Red Dog?” That comparison had crossed him when he’d encountered it. He found it kind of funny in retrospect.

    His smile was contagious and she chuckled weakly. “Let’s hope so.” Her expression became sober and she rubbed her arms. Relinquishing her hoodie, she was down to a t-shirt. “God, this is sort of scary.”

    He nodded, but his smile didn’t cease—however, it did diminish a degree. “Not so rad, huh?”

    “I don’t know, Ty.” She frowned and her brow creased. “This place is usually boring. I guess I got a little excited. I didn’t mean to upset you.”

    “Nah, it’s pretty rad.” He yawned, closing his eyes, and remembered what he originally mistook for flashlights. He shivered despite the blanket, a wave of dizziness passing over him, a new wave of head pain. “Pretty rad,” he repeated, softer this time and with less conviction. It was off the walls rad, alright. Insane, really.

    He leaned closer, whispering even softer to be absolutely sure their driver couldn’t hear them. “Does Bernie believe me?”

    Sam glanced upfront. It wasn’t a secret that Tyler thought of Bernie as an older brother. His opinion and support mattered a lot to Tyler. “He’s a little reluctant, but he believes you.” She sighed. “Tomorrow, there’ll be nothing to question. We’ll go out and look for your backpack, maybe even see about getting your bike out of the quarry. Something that big has got to have left tracks. We can take pictures and people will know you’re telling the truth.”

    Tyler nodded but felt it wouldn’t be that simple.

    They arrived at the hospital at 01:20 and pulled into the emergency center parking lot half a minute later. Tyler followed Sam out of the van and his eyes immediately found the only other vehicle there: a faded blue Ford parked in the shadows of a tree. His father’s truck. Tyler slid his attention to Bernie, who was debating whether to bring the trash bag with him. In the end, they left without it.

    The sliding doors—glowing like a beacon in the dark night—parted as they approached. Like every hospital, the smell of disinfectant permeated the building. White walls, ceilings and floors. They walked down the center of the hallway toward the lobby, their disorderly footsteps signaling their coming. Tyler felt uncomfortable with only the blanket to cover his chest and back.

    Daniel Gavins had been standing when they got there. His loose-fitting, red jacket and navy blue trousers concealed his muscular physique, but not his height, which closely rivaled Bernie’s. Daniel gave his son a lingering look of inquiry, a small frown tipping the scale of an expression of indifference, a short black beard decorating his prematurely wrinkled face.

    They met at the point that the hallway widened into the lobby.

    “Where were you?” Daniel asked. His voice was low, soft-spoken, and just a tad gravelly. People often said it was pleasant; it was like sandpaper to Tyler. Now it was dripping with equal parts impatience and concern.

    Tyler didn’t say anything, casting his eyes to the white tile floor for a moment. He surmised accurately that he appeared ashamed. In truth, he felt a spark of frustration which he had to snuff out. ‘Where were you?’ Not, ‘Are you okay?’ “The quarry,” he answered vaguely.

    His father sighed. “Please don’t be difficult, Ty,” Daniel said. His brown-eyed gaze was hard but not hollow; it was imploring and lit genuine worry. “What happened at the quarry?”

    “I was speeding down the wrong trail in the night, toward the quarry, and I ditched the bike to avoid the plunge,” Tyler answered more decisively. “From there, I tumbled for a bit, then hit a tree and passed out.”

    “Is that all?” Daniel asked.

    “No,” Tyler whispered. He dropped the pretense that all was well and the argumentative attitude, glancing nervously at Samantha, then Bernie. “Dad,” he said with difficulty, “I saw… no, I woke up and came face-to-face with some kind of animal. It carried me back to the diner after I passed out a second time, then it left.”

    His father raised an eyebrow, then eyed his son’s battered head. “Did it hurt you?” he questioned. When Tyler shook his head, he asked, “How badly did you hit your head?”

    “I know what I saw,” Tyler whispered defensively, feeling an echo of head pain in that moment.

    “I haven’t voiced any doubts, Tyler,” Daniel countered. “Ty...” he touched his son’s arm and there was an invisible but fully palpable flinch that only he and his son were aware of. He retracted his hand, then crossed his arms. “You’ve gotta admit it sounds far fetched. It carried you back to the diner, did it? That sounds like a Disney movie.”

    “I believe Tyler,” Samantha spoke up. She looked at her brother for support.

    Bernie frowned then nodded regretfully. “His jacket makes a compelling case.”

    Daniel’s brow narrowed into a scowl, the flesh of his scarred and blinded left eye responding less, making it peer out by comparison. “Right now, my son’s health is my concern. Tyler, we’ll discuss what you saw after they’ve gotten a look at you.”

    Tyler had begun to sway from standing for so long, the dizziness settling in for the long haul. His father wrapped an arm around his shoulder and Tyler didn’t resist or flinch. Daniel led him to one of the chairs that populated the lobby then went to converse with the perplexed receptionist. Samantha sat next to Tyler and took his hand to comfort him. His undilating eyes were glued to the floor. Bernie remained standing, arms folded across his chest.

    In a moment, his father crossed the lobby and sat next to his son, opposite Sam. In the brief window between then and when a nurse would lead Tyler away, Daniel asked his son what he’d seen and listened attentively. Daniel’s expression grew troubled and his son was led away. Daniel then excused Bernie and Samantha and they left reluctantly. Bernie passed the trash bag onto Daniel before leaving. He had a look inside the bag before putting in his truck and his worry grew.

    Following an examination, Tyler’s concussion was diagnosed as mild, several of his bruises were determined deep but not worrying, and he had no broken bones or lacerations to speak of. Tyler was driven home by his father with a prescription for painkillers which they would pick up at the pharmacy in the morning during open hours. His father’s face was no less troubled and they didn’t speak on the way home.

    To be continued...

  • Hm.... hmmmm, first of all, I see that Tyler's father still has the scars from the wounds he received in the prologue. I don't know if that means that my earlier theory about Mikey is disproven now, but it certainly doesn't speak in its favour. That said, neither does it outright speak against it. I also have to wonder, has it ever been stated what attacked Tyler and Mikey back then? Because Daniel's rather concerned reaction about Tyler's discovery makes me believe that he knows more about this than he has shared with his son so far. Perhaps it hasn't been a wolf or bear that attacked Tyler and Mikey shortly before his prologue, but that thing he just saw in the forest and maybe his father outright knows what that thing is. I mean, he seemed a bit too quick to believe Tyler, considering how unbelievable such a tale has to sound, so that might mean that he outright knows that Tyler is telling the truth. Although, I'm not sure if it has been that thing that attacked him back then, considering that it just carried him back to the diner without harming him. That could mean that there is something else in the forest as well, something decidedly more dangerous :scream:

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    Tyler Gavins, 01-07: Tyler opened his eyes without having fully woken. He stared into an abstract painting of darkness and blurry

  • Hm, I see. This does sound great! So, is Postlude the one to accompany the first act? I would have expected things to start with Prelude. Although, that alone already sounds weird. Ah, if they are all going to be like the part with the knight, then I will have a lot to be confused about and a lot to theorize :D

    The naming structure denotes their placement in the timeline. Postlude is the latest, Interlude sits in the center, and Prelude is the earliest. Postlude to Fire is following the knight, aka the Interloper, because there are things relevant to the first act in it. Interlude will follow a different entity (that we will see in Postlude) and be relevant to the second act. Prelude to Fire will follow a third entity that's still a bit fuzzy in planning. I've actually drawn two out of three of them, so I look forward to sharing those!

    So, that means they are all going to be characters of some capacity, if we learn more about them. I already can only speculate who it might be. Rachel is likely, maybe, if her absence is related to Alex', he could be among them as well. But other than that, I really have not even the hint of an idea.

    Next time Clive dreams, he'll have more interaction with the figures and a lot more knowledge will be garnered. I can't say for certain if he'll dream his recurring dream again because we'll rapidly nearing the end of this chapter. Tyler has another one or two, Thomas will likely have two more, depending on who I choose to follow for their hospital excursion, and I have two more in mind for Clive. I also think the chapter might close with a new part for Postlude to Fire. There's unfortunately not a lot of room for a nap. There's a high chance Clive's POV will start with a dream sequence in chapter 2.

    Good to know I haven't missed anything. I know I only noticed that stuff about the knight because you pointed it out somewhere, so I am a bit worried I could miss some crucial detail. But yes, I have noticed their absence pretty early in this, as well as the stuff about them probably not even existing right now. I do look forward for future hints.

    This can be tricky due to the need to keep some things hidden, but if anything confuses you, don't hesitate to ask for some clarification. There's a chance I will be able to answer. Unfortunately, the whereabouts of Rachel and Alexander Carson fall strongly into the important-secret-to-be-revealed category. What I mean to say is it doesn't hurt to ask directly, even if I can't provide an answer at that time.

    I... I... oh.... oooooh. I think I understand what you mean =) This is making me even more excited about the future, even if I still have no idea how Rachel and Alex are going to appear. I sense something pretty big coming up in one of the next chapters that will probably make more sense out of everything.

    I hope you understand. I was a few minutes away from canceling your Speculators Alliance Membership lol.

    Hm, that might imply that this version of Clive has kids, or at least, that his paternal instincts are natural with him, so that he would do anything for his children he even if he doesn't truly know them. But it is reassuring that he is, at the core, still the same guy. I wonder about this subtle differences though. On theory I immediately had was that Clive or Melissa are infertile in this version, therefore making it impossible for Rachel and Alex to be born, therefore preventing Melissa's death. That might be a fundamental but subtle difference that has spawned big differences. I also guess that such a thing could be mentioned sooner or later, maybe if Thomas asks Clive if he has any children. Though at the same time, I don't know if you already plan on outright revealing such a detail.

    I'm afraid having Thomas just plain ask Clive would come off as heavy handed. However, I do have a plan to sneak in such reveal, which would be very clear and easy to spot. To address your infertility theory: It's a solid one, but it's not the case. Since it's pretty obvious there's something up with Rachel and Alex's whereabouts, and that I would probably clarify right away if they were in the story, I'm going to drop the "alleged" and "hypothetical" pretenses. An explanation exists to explain why they appear to be missing, why Melissa appears to be alive, and all the various other discrepancies littering story.

    I have several one-shots in mind that are crucial to the main plotlines. (Forgive me for once again changing the title—I did it to

  • That was pretty cool and long parts. Your writing style is quite appealing and nice to read, especially that reader can feel the atmosphere of the scene because of that.

    I am looking forward for more and of course for discovering, what is really happening in this Valley.

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    Tyler Gavins, 01-07: Tyler opened his eyes without having fully woken. He stared into an abstract painting of darkness and blurry

  • I'm gonna nickname this animal Clifford from now on.

    am loving Tyler's parts so much! Also the intro of Daniel. Can't wait to see more of him.

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    Tyler Gavins, 01-07: Tyler opened his eyes without having fully woken. He stared into an abstract painting of darkness and blurry

  • I have to say Liquid, it brings me great pleasure to watch you try to figure out what happened in Tyler's backstory. ;)

    Hm.... hmmmm, first of all, I see that Tyler's father still has the scars from the wounds he received in the prologue. I don't kno

  • You've once again created a reasonable theory, Liquid, that makes some sense of the senselessness of this story. I feel a little bad about this, like I'm sweeping your speculation under the rug, but I need to reiterate that nothing supernatural occurred in the prologue. :^P

    Hm.... hmmmm, first of all, I see that Tyler's father still has the scars from the wounds he received in the prologue. I don't kno

  • edited December 2016

    Funny enough, that's actually what Tyler has nicknamed it in future parts!

    It's really gratifying to know you like his sections! Daniel Gavins will have another small part to play in Tyler's next piece (which is coming tonight and has a choice. After that, his POV is going to have a little cool down to allow Clive and Thomas some screentime.) I'm also considering making him the first non-POV to carry a small part, but we'll have to wait and see on that. :^)

    AgentZ46 posted: »

    I'm gonna nickname this animal Clifford from now on. am loving Tyler's parts so much! Also the intro of Daniel. Can't wait to see more of him.

  • Thank you! Your compliments are very appreciated! With this part especially, I was worried I might be hitting the reader over the head with too much reiteration, and I'm happy to learn it was enjoyed.

    I look forward to conveying it!

    Mathea posted: »

    That was pretty cool and long parts. Your writing style is quite appealing and nice to read, especially that reader can feel the a

  • edited December 2016

    Tyler Gavins, 01-08: The back road that led to their property cut through the wood woods. In light of recent events, their journey down it was nerve racking for Tyler. The creature would be lurking in the shadows, stalking and pouncing on him as he was leaving the truck, ripping him to bloody ribbons with as much exertion as a cat slaughtering a mouse. Yet it didn’t attack. If it was there, it only observed Tyler walk hurriedly from the truck while his father followed at a slower pace. They entered the cabin without incident.

    Daniel briefly set the trash bag on the hardwood floor and called after Tyler as he was passing the threshold to his room. “I believe you, Tyler,” he told him, sadness wavering like a flame in his eyes. “I’ll always believe anything you tell me.”

    Tyler hung his head low and drew a rocky breath. “Okay.”

    “Take a shower, Ty, and put on a fresh set of clothes,” his father commanded. “If there’s a problem, don’t hesitate to call your sister’s place.”

    “You’re going out,” Tyler stated flatly.

    His father nodded. “I’ll be back before you’re done showering. Don’t worry.”

    He picked up the trash bag and passed by Tyler, putting a hand on his shoulder for a moment. Tyler didn’t wince. Daniel continued into the storeroom located at the back of the house. He watched his father deposit the trash bag into one of the fridges his father usually stored venison. He went into his room to grab clothes then exited to the hallway again, pausing as the front door fell shut. He shook his head as he entered the bathroom and closed the door.

    Tyler tossed the Joneses’ borrowed blanket by the hamper and looked at his battered reflection in the mirror. He ran a hand over his head’s prickly hairs, poked the large bump cautiously, testing the pain it inflicted and stopping when it hurt with legitimate intensity. He then turned his back to the mirror, eying the giant, dark patch of dried blood with disgust from over his shoulder. The air’s chill made him shiver.

    He climbed out of his jeans and underwear in a hurry, clambered into the shower, and got the water just below roasting. The room quickly filled with steam. He scrubbed at his back with a bar of soap and diluted red water drained for a time, then, seemingly, it was just clear water. From there, he washed from head to toe, careful around his head, extra rigorous around his back just for good measure.

    Tyler shut off the water, pulled back the shower curtain, and dried his head then upper torso and arms. He wrapped the towel around his waist, swiped a hand across the foggy mirror to create a window of reflection, and, to be positive it was gone, once again turned his back to the mirror. His eyes widened.

    Upon each shoulder blade was a dark red mark. They were spaced like eyes and looked like twin clumps of blood with two thin flames rising from each of them. They were colored exactly like the dried blood that had coated his back. He touched one and he felt nothing but his own skin, as if the markings had been tattooed or dyed on.

    It did this to me, shit, shit, shit!

    With a fright, he discarded his towel and restored the shower’s hot cascade. He scrubbed hard, scrubbed with cold water, scrubbed with various shampoos and body washes until he had exhausted his options, scrubbed until his flesh was raw. At last, he tried scratching at it with his fingernails, only managing to hurt himself. He gave up, drying off again and dressing up to his waist. He leaned over the counter, prodded his tender flesh. Uneven, pained blotches had risen around and under both markings as result of his vicious scrubbing, but they remained completely unchanged, unfaded. Dark red on bright red. Only the flesh they rested on had suffered.

    Tyler heard the front door open and close and he suddenly felt very dizzy. Heavy boot steps sounded. Daniel called his name. Tyler shook silently, feet glued to the floor.

    “Ty?” his father called again. He knocked on the bathroom door three times. A moment of quiet contemplation passed, then his father knocked three more times in faster succession. “Tyler, are you alright?”

    Every fiber of Tyler’s being screamed for him to keep it hidden. He had been marked by the goddamned beast. Clifford had left him a souvenir, generous and courteous as he was. Tyler began to pull on his t-shirt without conscious thought, then paused hesitantly in the process. His father knocked rapidly—eight times in the span of three seconds—and called his name again. His father would break down the door at any moment.

    “I-I’m fine!” Tyler shouted back unconvincingly.

    Daniel stopped knocking, a tense hand audibly coming to rest on the door. “Why the hell didn’t you answer, boy?”

    “I’m... okay,” he repeated with even less conviction. He felt like he was going to be sick. His head droned. His back stung from the damaged he himself had caused.

    “Tyler, let me in,” Daniel ordered. He pounded once more on the door. “You’re worrying me, Tyler.”

    Tyler could easily and vividly imagine doorframe exploding toward him with the sound of splintering wood as his father rammed his shoulder into the door. The cabin had been built by his father’s uncle and guardian—Tyler’s granduncle—Michael, a man his father spoke highly of, a man his late brother was named after, and a man Tyler had never known. Uncle Mike, as his father knew him, had built the cabin more than about five years before Daniel Gavins had been born. In its fifty-years-plus life span, seventeen years of which Tyler bore witness, the bathroom door had not been replaced. Daniel Gavins would ram through it on his second strike at the very most.

    Five seconds of silence had lapsed during his imagining and recollection. His father’s closed fist once again struck the door and this time there was a soft but audible crack. Would he hide it? His mind screamed that it was the only option.

    [Hide the markings.]

    [Reveal the markings.]

  • The naming structure denotes their placement in the timeline. Postlude is the latest, Interlude sits in the center, and Prelude is the earliest. Postlude to Fire is following the knight, aka the Interloper, because there are things relevant to the first act in it. Interlude will follow a different entity (that we will see in Postlude) and be relevant to the second act. Prelude to Fire will follow a third entity that's still a bit fuzzy in planning. I've actually drawn two out of three of them, so I look forward to sharing those!

    Now it makes sense! I see what you're going for with this. I mean, it will likely be a big mindfuck for me, but of the positive kind. That means the current stuff with the knight is actually the last one time-wise, correct? Suddenly I am strangely enough less confused about it, because now I understand that it is not something that needs to make sense in the context of the story right now, but likely something that will make a lot more sense once I have a full picture of this.

    Next time Clive dreams, he'll have more interaction with the figures and a lot more knowledge will be garnered. I can't say for certain if he'll dream his recurring dream again because we'll rapidly nearing the end of this chapter. Tyler has another one or two, Thomas will likely have two more, depending on who I choose to follow for their hospital excursion, and I have two more in mind for Clive. I also think the chapter might close with a new part for Postlude to Fire. There's unfortunately not a lot of room for a nap. There's a high chance Clive's POV will start with a dream sequence in chapter 2.

    Interaction with the figures, I guess this will give me a lot to work with! I mean, at least with this dream, I would be surprised if it would be the last tim he'd dream it, considering that it has already been stated to be a recurring dream. And when it will come, I will prepare the tinfoil.

    This can be tricky due to the need to keep some things hidden, but if anything confuses you, don't hesitate to ask for some clarification. There's a chance I will be able to answer. Unfortunately, the whereabouts of Rachel and Alexander Carson fall strongly into the important-secret-to-be-revealed category. What I mean to say is it doesn't hurt to ask directly, even if I can't provide an answer at that time.

    I wouldn't dare to outright ask! I mean, if there are minor things I can't make sense of, then I guess I might ask, but not with such important detail like the nature of Rachel's and Alex's absence. At least at this point, it would make things far too easy. I mean, in the end I'd probably appreciate to have an explanation behind these events, but for now, I really love that I only gradually start to learn more about this. As strange as it sounds, I actually enjoy making these theories. Your reactions provide me with additional hints, or at least additional material to interpret and that gives me enough to speculate.

    I hope you understand. I was a few minutes away from canceling your Speculators Alliance Membership lol.

    Oh, it seems like I really dodged a bullet here. Being a member of the Speculators Alliance is something I take utmost pride in :D

    I'm afraid having Thomas just plain ask Clive would come off as heavy handed. However, I do have a plan to sneak in such reveal, which would be very clear and easy to spot. To address your infertility theory: It's a solid one, but it's not the case. Since it's pretty obvious there's something up with Rachel and Alex's whereabouts, and that I would probably clarify right away if they were in the story, I'm going to drop the "alleged" and "hypothetical" pretenses. An explanation exists to explain why they appear to be missing, why Melissa appears to be alive, and all the various other discrepancies littering story.

    Yeah, you got a point there. I was thinking, perhaps as a bit of a bonding moment between the two, but I see what you mean. And hm, the infertility was just a first theory in this field. I'm sure if if think more closely, I'll come up with another theory. Even though the infertility would have made sense... hm, now I have to find another small detail that could lead to such major changes. Though your wording here is interesting. This stuff about Melissa only appearing to be alive, I mean... could that be a hint that she is not truly alive right now? This could hint at something similar to my theory that this is part of a very vivid hallucination.

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    Hm, I see. This does sound great! So, is Postlude the one to accompany the first act? I would have expected things to start with P

  • Hehe, and one of these days I will succeed at it! I shall not give up until I actually guessed right about Tyler's backstory =) Although I have the feeling I am slowly getting warmer, with the revelations in his most recent part.

    AgentZ46 posted: »

    I have to say Liquid, it brings me great pleasure to watch you try to figure out what happened in Tyler's backstory.

  • Ah, of course! Now I remember. Yes, you indeed mentioned it. I should have kept that one in mind. Though then I am a bit surprised how quickly Daniel seems to believe his son. I am still rather sure that he knows more about what Tyler saw, but this is probably unrelated to whatever happened in the prologue. Or perhaps this creature is not actually supernatural. I mean, an escaped lab experiment mutant is nothing supernatural, just messed-up science. At this point of the story, nothing seems outright impossible.

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    You've once again created a reasonable theory, Liquid, that makes some sense of the senselessness of this story. I feel a little b

  • This part had once again some pretty interesting revelations. Now I know who Mikey was. The one from the prologue was Tyler's brother then. I have expected something like that already, either a brother, or a good friend. I am also rather worried by Daniel's behaviour. He seems to take protectiveness of his son more than just a bit too far and I'm getting some rather uncomfortable vibes from him. I can't really explain it, but perhaps his eagerness to smash in the door just because his son doesn't answer immediately is part of what makes me a bit wary of him. That said, considering that Mikey likely had a rather horrible death, I also can understand his overprotectiveness, but still, smashing in the door? That man probably has issues. Understandable issues, but issues.

    And these markings are yet another piece in this puzzle. I wonder if everything is connected, meaning Clifford and the strange markings have something to do with the other things that I am curious about, like the disappearance of Rachel and Alexander. At this point, I can't seem to connect these two, which makes me wonder if there might be more than one strange thing happening at the same time. Anyways, back to the markings, they concern me. I have no idea, are they something good, something bad. They do seem to be supernatural in origin, unless Clifford is secretly a tattoo artist, which would mean that they could literally mean anything. As long as Tyler doesn't show any negative symptoms, everything likely is fine, but this is as strange as it is worrying regardless.

    [Reveal the markings.]

    It is clear that Daniel is utterly worried about his son. He likely won't believe him if he tries to hide the markings. Even more important, if I assume correctly that he knows more about what is going on, then perhaps he has information about the markings as well and could be able to reveal if they are dangerous or not. At the worst, they are like a bite in a zombie apocalypse and we all know that hiding the bite is the worst thing that someone can do.

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    Tyler Gavins, 01-08: The back road that led to their property cut through the wood woods. In light of recent events, their journey

  • Tyler no! What's happening to you?

    I really loved this part. When Tyler started freaking out I got a bit worried.

    [Hide the markings.] Tyler should definitely tell someone, just not his father. I don't think he'll take it very well and I don't think Tyler will handle it very well.

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    Tyler Gavins, 01-08: The back road that led to their property cut through the wood woods. In light of recent events, their journey

  • [Reveal the markings.]

    It's his father... so why not to show it to him, especially if he looks like believing him. I don't know why, but those marks give me the idea of wings growing out of them in the future.

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    Tyler Gavins, 01-08: The back road that led to their property cut through the wood woods. In light of recent events, their journey

  • If Tyler grows wings I will flip out. :D

    Mathea posted: »

    [Reveal the markings.] It's his father... so why not to show it to him, especially if he looks like believing him. I don't know why, but those marks give me the idea of wings growing out of them in the future.

  • [Reveal the markings.]

    I dont think it is a good idea to keep this hidden. If it is dangerous for his health, he has to get help as quickly as possible.

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    Tyler Gavins, 01-08: The back road that led to their property cut through the wood woods. In light of recent events, their journey

  • Mind telling me your original plans for Tyler before the reboot? Or was he one of those characters that you just have no idea what to do with.

  • You're pretty much spot on. In the original story, we likely wouldn't have seen him again until the second act. He would have been a side character in the group attempting to escape quarantine.

    It's safe to it wouldn't have done his character any justice. Honestly, it's helped eliminate many doubts about rebooting the story.

    AgentZ46 posted: »

    Mind telling me your original plans for Tyler before the reboot? Or was he one of those characters that you just have no idea what to do with.

  • Well the reboot certainly worked out in my favor then. :p

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    You're pretty much spot on. In the original story, we likely wouldn't have seen him again until the second act. He would have been

  • I'm confident in saying it worked out in almost everyone's favor!

    AgentZ46 posted: »

    Well the reboot certainly worked out in my favor then.

  • Voting is closed!

    (!) Tyler will reveal the markings to his father

    Later tonight, Thomas's storyline will continue. After that, Thomas and Clive's storylines will split and do their own thing. Clive's will likely be the first to continue, and sooner or later after that, we'll see a conclusion to Tyler's involvement this chapter. I'll see you soon! :^D

  • Thomas Callahan, 01-09: Thomas Callahan felt uncertainty build at the back of his throat as Clive waited for his decision. The necessity to answer invoked a frightening half-minute of self-inspection in which he believed to faintly taste the coppery tang of blood. His mouth had become terribly dry in that half-minute of internal debate.

    “Let’s go through the proper channels,” Thomas said finally, his tone soaked with a great reluctance. He felt a genuine pang of concern for Lana’s wellbeing and, strangely, couldn’t consider her a mere acquaintance. They shared a connect that night which seemed like a bud with the potential to blossom. He was worried for her, and the dark possibilities which crept like shadows in his mind made him sick.

    He had to remind himself that going to the hospital and notifying the Sheriff’s Office was the only way to handle this situation. If culprit was... successful, then time was of the essence. The chance the note survived the rain was too dangerously low to justify the eight-mile drive through Dayton and halfway up to Lake Salinas, not when that creeping fear remained possible.

    Clive gave a solemn nod, vaguely detecting Thomas’s hesitation despite his usual tendency to miss such things. Clive rose from the sofa with a slight increase of difficulty and offered Thomas a hand.

    “Let’s get you to the hospital, son,” Clive said, his hand wavering.

    Thomas was drawn away from his thoughts. He took the soft hand in his own, allowing Clive to help him to his feet. He let the blanket fall onto the hearth. Even with the assistance—which was a kind if unnecessary gesture—his legs signaled a barrage of pained aches. The burning didn’t fade out entirely, and became irritably clear again with each step toward the front door. He felt like he’d been through a meat grinder.

    “We’ll call the Sheriff’s Office on my cell,” Clive stated. He briefly disappeared into the kitchen again with their two mugs and the single plate and returned with the cell phone in his breast pocket. He plucked a set of keys from a hook, snatched an umbrella from a basket, and opened the front door. The soft drone of rainfall suddenly returned to its full strength, and Thomas followed Clive through the door.

    Thomas stepped onto the porch, the distinct drop in temperature causing his composure to dissolve into another fit of shivers and his skin to break out in goosebumps. The two of them observed the wind-whipped rain pour at a sixty-degree angle, splashing off the sidewalks and road and creating half a foot of heavy haze.

    Clive produced a displeased mumble at the sight. He slipped back inside and returned with a pair of rubber boots and tossed them at Thomas’s feet. “These haven’t been worn in a while. You might want to check for spiders.”

    Thomas nodded grimly. He sat on his heels, gave each boot a shake, and winded carried away the dust. He probed them while grimacing, then withdrew his hand in relief. He pulled them on.

    Clive opened the umbrella. The old man held it over the two of them as they ventured out from under the porch’s roof and into the slanted curtain of rain. They took the cement path right and it led around the house. The rebounding rain quickly doused the ends of Thomas’s borrowed pants legs in water, heavy drops struck his shoulders despite Clive’s efforts to keep him safe under the canopy, and the rain’s angle made sheltering one’s lower body nigh impossible.

    As they neared the corner, the truck came quickly into view—first its silver rear bumper that was spotted with dents, then its faded red body that had a horizontal stripe of white. Thomas was stuck by a set of distant memories, but he didn’t stop walking—doing so would expose him to the elements in full. He’d seen this pickup dozens of times throughout his childhood, back when it was less ratty, possessed fewer dings, back in the days when his dad drove him to the dime store for a sweet after Sunday School. Those days were buried by twenty long years and a lot of blood and dirt, but he remembered them all the same. They’d be hitting Hawley for groceries and various other things Dayton’s diminishing business front couldn’t provide—sometimes with his mother, sometimes without—and his father, upon seeing the vehicle, would usually learn over to his seat, whisper, That’s Clive Carson’s Chevy pickup, Tom. Clive Carson? he would ask. That’s Clive Carson’s truck, his father would repeat. His father didn’t always point it out, but his father’s eyes always caught it—and when they did, so did Thomas’s. He came to recognize that vehicle by sight and by his father’s observation.

    When the red-white pickup entered his vision, his father’s words echoed as if his own, and he thought soberly, That’s Clive Carson’s truck.

    The chill amplified by far more than a degree.

    Thomas wondered for a moment, as they approached Clive Carson’s truck, if he had held an unjustified disdain for the author due to his father’s influences and insistences. Thomas wasn’t sure, but he decided not to let his father taint his opinion of the intelligent and kindhearted man who had gone above and beyond to help him.

    Whatever preconceived notions Thomas might have harbored about an author named Clive Carson were gone the moment the man had given him a pair of his own boxers in his time of need, perhaps even the moment he’d met him.

    And now that man held an umbrella over him, at the sacrifice of his own exposure to the rain, and ushered Thomas into the open passenger’s side door. Thomas slid onto the seat and Clive shut the door before hurrying around the front of the truck to the other side. He clambered inside, closed the umbrella, and tossed the dripping thing onto the backseat floorboards.

    Clive keyed the ignition. He activated the windshield wipers and they squeaked loudly back and forth. A moment later, he was using the side of Thomas’s seat for leverage to get a proper look behind him as the truck pulled out of the driveway. He put it in drive and rolled down Summer Street, fumbling the heater on and the cell phone out of his pocket.

    The AC blasted cold air for the first thirty seconds before heating up to a comfortably warm temperature. Thomas had taken the phone, dialed the city office, and spoken briefly to a woman who transferred him to the Sheriff’s Office.

    It rang for a second before being picked up by a young man who sounded like he was in his early twenties. Speaking quickly but with an audible effort to remain comprehensible, he said, “You’ve reached the Silicon County Sheriff’s Office. You’re speaking to Clyde Roberts, secretary. How may I help you?”

    “I’d like to report a few things,” Thomas said into the phone’s receiver.

    “Who’s speaking?” Clyde asked. Thomas believed he heard the click of a pen.

    “Thomas Callahan,” he answered.

    That seemed to give Clyde a moment’s pause. Papers shuffled and a pen ball scratched something down. The secretary made up for the lost time by speaking even faster, a southern drawl becoming more pronounced. “Mr. Callahan, what do you have to report?”

    Thomas gave a brief summary of the previous night and morning. He explained that he had gotten drugged by a drink meant for a woman named Lana, passed out while driving on the road toward Lake Salinas, and woke up naked and bruised in the woods, ending up in Mr. Carson’s care, but a lot of the details were kept vague. The pen scratched wildly on Clyde’s end. Then all was suddenly silent except for the rain beating on the windshield and the wipers’ loud squeaking.

    “Mr. Callahan,” Clyde finally said, “I’ve made the proper notifications. Sheriff Jenkins will meet the two of you at the hospital. Deputy Parker will check on your car.” He took a breath. “Can I help you in any other way?”

    “Can you please try to find the women I mentioned? Lana? I took the brunt of the drink, but I’m worried she might have had enough to…” He felt his voice preparing to break and stopped.

    “I’ll do what I can, Mr. Callahan,” Clyde replied sincerely. “Will that be all?”

    “Yes, thank you.”

    “Sheriff Jenkins just left. He’ll get there a little while after you do.” Then, almost apologetically, he said, “Goodbye, Mr. Callahan.”

    Thomas said goodbye, hung up and returned the cell phone to Clive, who dropped it back in his pocket. The pickup pulled into the hospital parking lot at 06:15 and Clive shut off the engine. Both of them sat in silence, watching the emergency room entrance through the rain’s distortion.

    “Thank you,” Thomas said.

    “It’s not a problem,” Clive replied. He gathered up the umbrella and offered the handle to Thomas.

    He shook his head, smiling faintly. “Keep it. I’ll make a run for it.” Clive nodded, smiled a little, then offered him a hand which Thomas took and shook firmly.

    They both jumped out about the same time. Clive deployed the umbrella and jogged at a hurried pace while Thomas ran toward the entrance. Thunder cracked loudly and lightning flashed in the distance behind the hospital. While they were drying their shoes and rubber boots on the mat just inside the door, a white sheriff’s cruiser—pelted by water and with windshield wipers swiping madly—turned into the parking lot.

    To be continued...

  • [and with windshield wipers swiping madly....]

    ahh, the madness of windshield wipers.

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    Thomas Callahan, 01-09: Thomas Callahan felt uncertainty build at the back of his throat as Clive waited for his decision. The nec

  • Watch out, the sheriff's coming for you. I expected him to show up later.

    Question: What's the gap between Thomas'/Clive's parts and Tyler's parts? Which took place first?

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    Thomas Callahan, 01-09: Thomas Callahan felt uncertainty build at the back of his throat as Clive waited for his decision. The nec

  • Here's the flow of events. Let me know if it answers your question. And I understand any confusion caused by the timeline, since things were told out of order. I think I'll put timestamps on future parts.

    08:30 PM: Tyler leaves the soccer game and arrives at the diner > 10:15: Thomas arrives at the bar > 11:10 PM: Tyler leaves the diner, crashes and passes out > 11:45 PM: Thomas leaves the bar and passes out > 12:45 AM: Tyler wakes up, sees Clifford, and passes out again > 01:15 AM: Tyler wakes at the diner and leaves for the hospital > 01:20 AM: Tyler arrives at the hospital > 02:00 AM: Tyler returns home and discovers Clifford's Mark > 05:00 AM: Thomas wakes up naked in the woods > 06:15 AM: Clive and Thomas arrive at the hospital

    AgentZ46 posted: »

    Watch out, the sheriff's coming for you. I expected him to show up later. Question: What's the gap between Thomas'/Clive's parts and Tyler's parts? Which took place first?

  • Thanks! And it's no issue, I was just curious.

    I didn't realize Tyler was coming back from a soccer game though.

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    Here's the flow of events. Let me know if it answers your question. And I understand any confusion caused by the timeline, since t

  • After having watched the soccer game, they had rode their bikes out of the school parking lot and into the woods immediately adjacent to it

    It was there, but very easily missed. I might do a more comprehensive summary of chapter 1 at the beginning of chapter 2 just to make sure everyone's on the same page.

    AgentZ46 posted: »

    Thanks! And it's no issue, I was just curious. I didn't realize Tyler was coming back from a soccer game though.

  • Wow, I guess it just went straight over my head. XD

    Fun question: Did the team Tyler was rooting for win?

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    After having watched the soccer game, they had rode their bikes out of the school parking lot and into the woods immediately adjac

  • SILICON SPARROWS DEFEAT DUSKIN DOGS, 14-10

    From the paper Clive was reading lol. Tyler goes to Silicon County High School, so the answer is yes.

    AgentZ46 posted: »

    Wow, I guess it just went straight over my head. XD Fun question: Did the team Tyler was rooting for win?

  • As always, this was a very interesting part, even if it didn't really hold much in terms of revelations. I must say, my earlier theory that not only Clive's life has changed, but the lives of Thomas and Tyler as well, holds less credibility with each passing part. First there was the revelation that Mikey still died in Tyler's storyline, now I get increasingly bad vibes whenever Thomas thinks about his father, so my initial theory seems to have been disproven now. That opens the question, why did whatever happened seemingly only affect the Carsons? I thought of this as a similarity between all three PoV's, but now it appears that out of them, only Clive is actually in such a different position than he was in the original story. That also makes me more willing to believe that there are more strange things going on than just something behind the disappearance of Rachel and Alex. Perhaps Clifford is indeed unrelated to whatever happened to them, because whatever happened to them seems to be unrelated to Thomas and Tyler. Hmmmm.... I really am excited for Clive's next part, because I will make sure to analyze every word of it for any sort of hint at what the situation actually is.

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    Thomas Callahan, 01-09: Thomas Callahan felt uncertainty build at the back of his throat as Clive waited for his decision. The nec

  • Clive Carson, 01-10: He had a brief conversation with the Sheriff (in which he learned nothing he didn’t already know) before returning home—content, because he would get back long before Melissa. The rain hadn’t subsided in the least. In fact, the storm’s animosity seemed all the more tangible as thunder broke more frequently and distant streaks of lightning lit up the dark clouds like veins pumping molten gold.

    Zeus—or some other sky-ruling deity—was having a temper tantrum this morning. Whereas Clive felt rather good and fulfilled, all things considered. He was cold, yes. Damp, certainly. The chance of catching a cold, high. But he felt good about himself in the way only brought about by good deeds. But it was a positivity tempered by the dark doors which still hung open. The fate of the woman troubled Clive especially and he hoped he’d be kept in the loop.

    Clive reached Summer Street at about 06:30 and parked in his driveway. Opening the car door and the umbrella immediately afterwards, Clive stepped into the unrelenting shower. Arriving more than a little drenched at the porch, Clive closed the umbrella and fished his keys from his pocket. He inserted the key in the lock, turned, and felt a spell of nausea and lightheadedness. He leaned on the door for a moment then walked unsteadily inside. He felt something else...

    Still plagued by lightheadedness, he came to a startling revelation: the walls were the wrong color. Lime green instead of dark gray. Green adorned with white trim. There was a pervasive, intoxicating feeling...

    Mercury and disregard, he realized belatedly.

    Clive stopped in the entryway of the house, dripping water and shivering, two puddles gathering beneath his tennis shoes. He would have turned tail and run out the door again to learn whose house he had just entered—because wrong house! had been his second thought upon seeing the green walls—but the dark-stained picture frames which populated the wall had caught his attention. He saw a younger version of himself in one of them, smiling widely with a younger version of Melissa and a… a...

    There was a little girl, no more than seven-years-old, sitting between them. He, Melissa and the little girl were bunched together and smiling. The little girl’s ashen complexion was peppered with freckles, dark auburn hair was blown across her face in translucent strands, and her eyes were like vast worlds frozen in amber. Looking at the picture made his head ache and his heart hurt, but he couldn’t draw his eyes away from it.

    His fingertips brushed the girl’s image, and he felt the wall, but reacted to it all the same. He began to cry involuntarily.

    Tears flooded his vision and the lightheadedness seemed to be culminating. He could no longer focus his eyes on the other picture frames—which never seemed to feature more than three blurred outlines, the genders of whom were undecided—and stumbled down the hall. Both items fell out of his hands, the keys clattering with a flat echo, the umbrella flopping with a vague squishing sound.

    Clive wandered deeper into the mysterious house that was at once completely foreign and completely familiar. His hindered vision made discerning the differences difficult, but not impossible. It was the same house—with the same shape, dimensions, and hardwood floors—but the walls had been painted a different color, the furniture had been replaced with entirely new sets, then shuffled.

    His rate of breath was increasing steadily.

    Clive approached the new sofa and dared to reach out to it, to feel if it was real. On his way, his shoulder bumped into something invisible. He hesitated for a moment, then realized something was falling and grabbed at the empty air as that something clanged on the floor without breaking. He nudged the area in front of him with a prodding shoe and it connected to something that was most definitely invisible. He stepped over it.

    The house was beginning to rock like a ship, but he knew it was his own dizziness causing the effect. He leaned on the new sofa for stability and his hands disappeared half an inch into the fake sofa and came to rest on the real sofa, his sofa, his invisible sofa.

    Someone turned my living room into the goddamn holodeck, he thought, his mind spinning, the room spinning as well. No, even in his confused state, he didn’t think you could project something to be invisible.

    Someone drugged me, like how Thomas was drugged, he thought indecisively. Someone drugged my goddamn coffee and now I’m having an incredibly vivid hallucination.

    Clive thought foggily of the little girl in the picture and had a sudden, curious idea, in addition to another agonizing wave of his patented feelings of mercury and disregard. The situation was twisted to all hell, but he manage to make since of some of it. The projection, the overlay, was still his house, as strange as it felt for him to consider it as such. It was home to himself and Melissa, and it was also home to a little girl.

    He didn’t have any kids. He never attempted to have any kids. He couldn’t… do… it...

    Despite that, Clive felt the inherent need to find her. He began to push toward the first floor’s spare bedroom with a crude logic working in his brain: the living room had changed, and perhaps one of the spare bedrooms had been converted to house a new occupant. There were two spares, each on separate floors. He staggered down the hallway, ignoring the stairs because he didn’t think he could make it up there.

    He fell against one of the lime green walls for support and pressed forward even as all the feelings and sensations intensified. The walls flashed dark gray and the brief but sudden cutting-off from the things which clouded his senses was like being plunged into icy water. The immediate re-submersion in the feelings was like a sudden transition to a fiery bath. He was going to be sick.

    The walls were green, then gray, then green again. He felt he might vomit, but held it down.

    He pushed the door open and rested against the doorframe in exasperation. The downstairs guest room was still merely a guest room. There were only a few differences in the furniture’s placement, but besides that, it was largely the same. He didn’t know what he expected. Flowers and the color pink, he supposed. He glanced behind him and the walls in the hallway were still green. The guest room was gray in both states.

    But the quest room looked occupied nonetheless. The bed covers were ruffled, there was a large traveling pack sitting on the bed, and a satchel sitting next to that.

    A satchel.

    The room flashed back to its original state and Clive felt another wave of dizziness. The room blinked between the two states as he climbed into the bed and curled into a ball. Then he was left in the icy cool cut-off, most sensations faded. The feelings of mercury and disregard lingered. Clive fell into a natural sleep, born out of a wholly unnatural exhaustion.

    It was not a dreamless sleep.


    For a while, there was darkness. Then, it was like someone flipped a switch.

    The landscape was wooded, the ground was coated darkly, and the sky was a shade lighter than the dark and leafless tree branches. And everything, even the starless sky, was cast in various shades of mercury. The metal surfaces churned, but stayed in form.

    Clive took a nervous breath.

    Looking at his outstretched arms, he discovered groggily that even his body and clothes were cast in quicksilver. He ran his trembling fingers along the flesh of his forearm and sighed with mild relief when he only felt his skin and arm hair. He touched one of the silver trees, then he rubbed a chalky residue between his fingers.

    Clive searched his surroundings for any sign of the chasm, but found no evidence of a crack in the earth. He wandered the woods, looking for the figures from his dream’s previous renditions, but found no one.

    It occurred to him how lucid this new rendition was, and he found himself thinking back to the strangeness which had just occurred in his home. He couldn’t make sense of that, so he tried to make sense of this version of the dream. It lacked the chasm, the eight to twelve faceless figures, and the perilous leap. There wasn’t much symbolism to go off of.

    “Hello?” he called.

    No one answered. Not even an echo. In fact, he thought his voice seemed dampened in some odd way.

    “Hello?!” he tried again, louder, noticing the same dampening effect.

    And again, there was no answer. Clive exhaled fearfully. He shivered, not from a chill setting in, but from realizing how utterly still the air was. He could hear his own breath, fast and anxious, his pounding heart, but nothing else. The woods were unnatural and foreboding, characteristics emphasized by the vacuum of your typical woodland sounds. No foliage to be ruffled by wind, no wind to do the ruffling, no leaves crunching under your shoes, no birds or squirrels or critters of any kind.

    He didn’t want to be here. He didn’t want to be alone, but he wouldn’t feel right pulling someone else into this place. This wholly unnatural place. He took solace in the fact he would wake up soon. But he didn’t feel safe standing around, so he picked a direction and began to wander. And as time passed, he began to fear that he would never wake.


    Clive woke up foggily. The room was a swirled painter’s palette of the most dull colors in existence. The ceiling was white. There were gray blobs with streaks of white trim. Melancholic lighting peaked through the window blinds to his right. The only color in the room was an auburn smudge to his left, with a ovalular moon with two small green craters.

    The features of his wife’s face clarified a moment later. Resting upon the pale canvas of her face were thin red lips which were moving and downturned in an expression of worry, a small nose, and dark green eyes which stared pleadingly. Her auburn hair was messy and frantic.

    “Clive,” she repeated imploringly. He heard her this time.

    “Hmm?” He had been smiling at her in a sleepy daze. He realized his dumbfounded expression must have scared her, and he suspected he looked short of a few marbles. She shook him again. “I’m awake,” he yawned, frowning. He noticed it had stopped raining. How long was he dreaming?

    “Why hell did you climb into the guest bed soaking wet, and with your shoes on?”

    He sat up slowly, tossing his legs over the side of the bed. He looked down his shoes, then at the damp Clive-shaped impression he had made on bed. “Oh. I’m sorry.”

    “Are you feeling okay?” she asked, touching his forehead with the back of her hand. She frowned, not because he was feverish, but because he wasn’t. “What’s happened to you?”

    “I feel fine,” he said. It wasn’t the whole truth, but it also wasn’t a lie. He’d woken up not feeling particularly rested, but neither did he feel bad. ‘Fine’ expressed how he felt. ‘Relieved’ did as well. He was relieved he wasn’t alone anymore. He’d been afraid that he would wander the woods for eternity by himself. But it was a dream. “I really feel fine,” he repeated.

    “So you went out,” she stated, sitting next to him and draping an arm around his shoulder and pulling him close. He realized he was shivering a little in his wet clothes. Her warmth comforted him and helped calm the shivering. “You came back and left the front door cracked,” she went on. “You tracked water through the house, dropped your keys and the umbrella on the floor, and knocked the lamp over. Please, tell me what happened, Cliff.”

    He felt an obligation to tell her, and not just because she invoked his nickname. This concerned her, too. He’d always had strange dreams, and he if he told her the truth, he would tell her about it, too. It was the vision, or hallucination, which worried him the most. He suspected the little girl was in some way his child. But if he told Melissa his wild speculation—that he had, what, envisioned some kind of alternate dimension in which they had a kid (how ridiculous that sounded)—she be distraught. It would disturb her as much as it disturbed him. And while he could tell a convincing lie, she would certainly see through it, though she might leave it be.

    He would tell her everything later, of course, if he could make heads or tails of what he’d seen. There’s too little information to go off of. He’d just upset her.

    [Tell the truth.]

    [Create a lie.]

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