Silicon County: An Interactive Story (Ongoing)

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  • I'm so sorry for taking so long to reply back to you, but it's insanely great to hear you've liked it! :^D

    BlueShadiw posted: »

    Finally got the time to catch up with the reboot, loving it so far!

  • Thanks for the part.

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    Tyler Gavins, 02-09 - Thursday, Nov. 24th, 05:20 PM: As it became time to leave for the Joneses’, Tyler dressed in a white, collar

  • Thank you for reading! :^D

    Lord_EAA posted: »

    Thanks for the part.

  • You know, just today I was thinking how there hasn't been a Silicon part in a while. I am so glad to see this new update =) And well, I hope your upcoming vacation is going to be awesome! I wonder, will it span over the entirety of April? No matter what, I hope you're going to have a great time there!

    Now, this part was really nice as well. I noticed Amanda Gavins in the character list before and had to ask myself just whom she is. Well, that's the first mystery I consider fully solved in the story :D Though maybe I am reading too much into it, but it seems to me that the relationship between her and Tyler seems to be rather complex. His reaction to meeting her doesn't seem to be too enthusiastic. Maybe it's just his general situation that is really dragging him down and draining him of energy, but I got the impression that he is not too fond of Amanda, given his reserved reaction and silence during their drive. Hm, ah well, I'm probably putting too much emphasis on his behaviour here, I gotta wait and see how he acts in future parts. Nonetheless, I am still concerned for his general well-being.

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    Tyler Gavins, 02-09 - Thursday, Nov. 24th, 05:20 PM: As it became time to leave for the Joneses’, Tyler dressed in a white, collar

  • Me too! I didn't realize it had been so long, and I'm glad to get this one part out. Hopefully it's the first of many this month! As for the vacation, I don't think it would take up the entire month of April, but I really don't know how long it will last yet, which is why I'm approaching it with the mindset that I won't have much time to write that month. I could probably bring my laptop to write while out of town, and I could post if the wi-fi is good, but I'll have to wait and see. :^)

    There's clearly some strain, or perhaps some kind of stain, on Tyler's relationship with his older sister. Though he has been drained of energy as of late, there's certainly something there that is causing the withdrawn way he interacts with Amanda and caused his displeased, if subdued, reaction to his father hugging her. Anyway, there's more to the Gavins than meets the eye and there's one Gavins family member who's involvement and development in Act 2 I'm particularly looking forward to, though I shouldn't say who.

    You know, just today I was thinking how there hasn't been a Silicon part in a while. I am so glad to see this new update And well

  • That very short introduction of Amanda has me very excited for things to come. Though I shouldn't say more than that, so I don't give anything away. ARGH! I'm not used to being quiet as a reader. XD
    Even seeing Liquid's comment I was like "I really wanna reply but I probably shouldn't." Bright side is that I'm really enjoying seeing others speculate about the Gavins family.

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    Tyler Gavins, 02-09 - Thursday, Nov. 24th, 05:20 PM: As it became time to leave for the Joneses’, Tyler dressed in a white, collar

  • I'm happy you liked her introduction! I probably feel a little proud for coming up with the decal for her beanie lol. I really get what you mean, though. Every time I see someone speculate I just want to spill EVERYTHING and I have to beat around the bush not to. XD Despite feeling like I've been a little obvious with my hints so far, I think there are some hints to come which might shine a slightly brighter light on things here.

    AgentZ46 posted: »

    That very short introduction of Amanda has me very excited for things to come. Though I shouldn't say more than that, so I don't g

  • Me too! I didn't realize it had been so long, and I'm glad to get this one part out. Hopefully it's the first of many this month! As for the vacation, I don't think it would take up the entire month of April, but I really don't know how long it will last yet, which is why I'm approaching it with the mindset that I won't have much time to write that month. I could probably bring my laptop to write while out of town, and I could post if the wi-fi is good, but I'll have to wait and see. :^)

    This sounds great! Well, no matter how long it will be in the end, I hope you have a great vacation! Put that first, we can surely wait for your return. And well, it seems we'll be having quite a number of awesome parts until then, which is something I am also very happy about.

    There's clearly some strain, or perhaps some kind of stain, on Tyler's relationship with his older sister. Though he has been drained of energy as of late, there's certainly something there that is causing the withdrawn way he interacts with Amanda and caused his displeased, if subdued, reaction to his father hugging her.

    So, I'm not too far off, I see. This is very interesting, to see that I apparently got something right about their relationship. Though I am not sure if Tyler's negative reaction came from Amanda's mere presence, or from her interaction with Daniel. Maybe it's not a particularly negative opinion on Amanda as a person, but maybe he somehow sees her relationship with Daniel as something negative. From what we've see so far, Daniel sounds like a person that can be difficult to get along with, so perhaps that's something I should pay attention to as well. Ah, I guess Tyler's next part should give me a bit more to speculate, once I actually see them interacting for longer. This part has been relatively short and there's only so much I can deduce from a couple of lines.

    Anyway, there's more to the Gavins than meets the eye and there's one Gavins family member who's involvement and development in Act 2 I'm particularly looking forward to, though I shouldn't say who.

    Do you know what time it is? That's right, crack theory time. You previously mentioned an antagonist whose motivations are going to be portrayed sympathetically and who is going to be introduced in Act 2. It might be nothing... hell, it's most likely nothing, but I am fully capable of combining these two pieces of information into something that is not the least unthinkable theory I have come up with. So, we know Daniel is a very protective father, if not to say, overprotective. I doubt he is going to just watch helplessly as Tyler's condition gets worse. It wouldn't be too far fetched that he is going to consider Clifford and whatever caused Tyler's insomnia as threats to his sons well-being. So, he becomes open for the manipulations of another god-thing, maybe the King of Lions, who turns him into his agent under the promise that he helps Tyler in return. While I kinda doubt that Daniel is among the eight who have been seen by Thomas, I wouldn't rule it out completely either.

    Gosh... I'm always afraid that I'm either so far off that I'm going to make a fool out of myself when things turn out totally different, or that I'm so close to the truth that you feel uncomfortable with it XD Perhaps it would be for the best not to answer to my ramblings in too much detail, unless in truly outrageous cases, like the Evil Lana theory from way back. I just love speculating into every possible direction :D At the same time, I am almost sure that I have missed more than one strong hint to future plotlines and that I am absolutely wrong with some other things. But this one... well, this is one I'm having a relatively good feeling about. It makes sense, which is already more than quite a couple of my usual theories have speaking in their favour.

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    Me too! I didn't realize it had been so long, and I'm glad to get this one part out. Hopefully it's the first of many this month!

  • edited March 2017

    Thomas Callahan, 02-10 - Thursday, Nov. 24th, 05:25 PM: They arrived at Russell’s house a little before five thirty in the afternoon. Thomas and Lana walked side by side up the sidewalk, led by Russell to the porch. They passed a weather-worn rocker set on the porch and, going through the front door, they stepped into a living room, the wood grain walls covered in well-maintained picture frames bearing images of a large family, most of whom Thomas had never met, but some that he had. Many pictures were faded and marked by age. Many of those who were depicted, Thomas realized, were likely dead.

    Hugh—Russell’s youngest, a boy of five years of age—jumped up from where he’d been sprawled on his stomach in front of the TV, having been watching some program about prehistoric marine life on a nature channel, and ran into their path. He stopped there.

    The little boy smiled at Thomas and his father, then gave Lana an uncertain look. “Hi?” he said uncertainly.

    “Hello,” Lana said gently, smiling down at him.

    That seemed to put the little boy’s worries to rest, as he smiled back widely, proudly revealing the absence of several teeth, and giggled before darting off into the adjoining kitchen.

    Thomas stepped further into the room and glanced at a particular picture frame. He felt a small stirring of emotion, smiled, and quickly looked elsewhere. His eyes had caught a picture of himself and Russell—a small white middle-schooler and taller, three-years-older black high-schooler—posed with two puppies that they had received from the same litter. Hooper, held in young Thomas’s small hands, was frozen in mid-nip at his brother’s right ear, who was reeling back with surprise.

    Even though he’d been distracted for only a second by the nostalgic picture, Russell’s seven- and nine-year-olds—two boys named Leland and Ron, respectively—caught Thomas in his reverie from a well-plotted hiding spot behind the sofa. They both tackled him at once, and he staggered back but remained standing. Thankfully, Russell, rumbling with laughter, pulled the older boy into a hug and lifted the boy’s feet off the carpet, allowing Thomas to deal with Leland, who had succeeded in climbing him. Thomas wrapped an arm around the younger boy’s waist, so that he wouldn’t fall, and the boy was content to stand on Thomas’s hip while holding onto his shoulders.

    Thomas turned to Lana, the boy on his hip, and they both show her their teeth—some their smiles less whole than others. Appearing suddenly a little out of her environment and holding her entwined hands in front of her, she shook her head, but the ghost of a just barely suppressed smile was visible on her vividly red lips.

    “Are Uncle Thomas’s friend?” young Leland asked.

    “Yes,” Lana said, smiling.

    “Bed buddies?” Leland ventured innocently.

    Thomas could just make out the blush beneath her makeup. After all the fun she’d taken embarrassing him, he still couldn’t find pleasure in the turning of the tables, because he was painfully aware of how hot his own face had become and was sure he’d just gone beet-red.

    “He means—!” Russell paused in clearing the air, letting Ron, who was struggling against his grasp, go. Russell then came over and took Leland out of Thomas’s arms. “Apologies. He’s asking if you’re dating. That’s what he means. Sorry.”

    “Are you?” Leland asked.

    “Quiet!” Russell hissed.

    Before Thomas could fumble a response—which would further embarrass himself, Lana, and his host—Lana surprised him. She quietly, gently said “Yes” and smiled at him. Thomas guessed, while it hadn’t been specifically stated, that they were dating. He smiled back and they all passed into the kitchen.

    There, they introduced Lana to Cara, Russell’s wife, with whom Thomas had been acquaintances for almost as long as he had been with Russell. There was little lead up before dinner: they performed the last bits of set up that required and, with several minutes, the seven of them took seats around the dining room table.

    To be continued...

  • This sounds great! Well, no matter how long it will be in the end, I hope you have a great vacation! Put that first, we can surely wait for your return. And well, it seems we'll be having quite a number of awesome parts until then, which is something I am also very happy about.

    Thank you! I'm sure it will be great! :D And it was just a thought. It might be an inconvenience to push himself to write while gone—the circumstances would certainly be a tad inopportune—but, at the moment especially, I'm having a lot of fun writing, so if I'm writing while out of town it will be for my own personal enjoyment. The biggest problem I can see is replying to comments, which would probably be complicated by lack of time and (potentially) poor wi-fi. I really don't want to miss the comments, so it might be nice just to take a brief break and think over some plans while gone.

    So, I'm not too far off, I see. This is very interesting, to see that I apparently got something right about their relationship. Though I am not sure if Tyler's negative reaction came from Amanda's mere presence, or from her interaction with Daniel. Maybe it's not a particularly negative opinion on Amanda as a person, but maybe he somehow sees her relationship with Daniel as something negative. From what we've see so far, Daniel sounds like a person that can be difficult to get along with, so perhaps that's something I should pay attention to as well. Ah, I guess Tyler's next part should give me a bit more to speculate, once I actually see them interacting for longer. This part has been relatively short and there's only so much I can deduce from a couple of lines.

    You're definitely right about that—while there are lines to read between here, they are just too few to deduce much besides the fact that there's some distance between Tyler and his family. We'll hopefully get some more context on what is causing that distance in Tyler's next part, which should be the next storyline to update again. By the way, don't worry about Clive's lack of involvement so far this chapter. By the end of this chapter, through things may still be a little unbalanced in terms screen time, Clive will have had at least two more parts—his lack of screen time during the middle portions of this chapter pretty much just come from his dinner party taking place later in the day than everyone else's. He will have some moments to shine!

    Do you know what time it is? That's right, crack theory time. You previously mentioned an antagonist whose motivations are going to be portrayed sympathetically and who is going to be introduced in Act 2. It might be nothing... hell, it's most likely nothing, but I am fully capable of combining these two pieces of information into something that is not the least unthinkable theory I have come up with. So, we know Daniel is a very protective father, if not to say, overprotective. I doubt he is going to just watch helplessly as Tyler's condition gets worse. It wouldn't be too far fetched that he is going to consider Clifford and whatever caused Tyler's insomnia as threats to his sons well-being. So, he becomes open for the manipulations of another god-thing, maybe the King of Lions, who turns him into his agent under the promise that he helps Tyler in return. While I kinda doubt that Daniel is among the eight who have been seen by Thomas, I wouldn't rule it out completely either.

    Gosh... I'm always afraid that I'm either so far off that I'm going to make a fool out of myself when things turn out totally different, or that I'm so close to the truth that you feel uncomfortable with it XD Perhaps it would be for the best not to answer to my ramblings in too much detail, unless in truly outrageous cases, like the Evil Lana theory from way back. I just love speculating into every possible direction :D At the same time, I am almost sure that I have missed more than one strong hint to future plotlines and that I am absolutely wrong with some other things. But this one... well, this is one I'm having a relatively good feeling about. It makes sense, which is already more than quite a couple of my usual theories have speaking in their favour.

    Well, I can at least reaffirm something about this "antagonist" (quotes because this character is really just a protagonist on a different side of things). As I mentioned before, this new person, who hasn't been in the original Silicon, also hasn't been introduced yet. While I actually really love your theory on Daniel (and your theories as a whole, as they usually delve down directions that I hadn't even considered taking the plot and are just really fun in general), he's certainly been introduced. :P

    Me too! I didn't realize it had been so long, and I'm glad to get this one part out. Hopefully it's the first of many this month!

  • Awesome. Nice to see Thomas and Lana finally going into a full out relationship.

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    Thomas Callahan, 02-10 - Thursday, Nov. 24th, 05:25 PM: They arrived at Russell’s house a little before five thirty in the afterno

  • Yep! It was something I felt the need to establish.

    I'm really looking forward to delving further into their relationship—there's a lot more to it than meets the eye.

    Lord_EAA posted: »

    Awesome. Nice to see Thomas and Lana finally going into a full out relationship.

  • D'awww :3 I like these two so much, they always make for cute scenes. It's great that they finally more or less acknowledge that they are dating. Aside from that, it is interesting that Russell is getting such increased screentime. I have thought of him to be only a side character when he was first introduced, but he's growing in importance and so is my opinion on him. He's almost certainly not the guy who spiked Thomas' drink, which I bet was indeed Wade Pittman, wherever he ended up at. Ah, a lovely part indeed :)

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    Thomas Callahan, 02-10 - Thursday, Nov. 24th, 05:25 PM: They arrived at Russell’s house a little before five thirty in the afterno

  • Thank you! I'm sure it will be great! :D And it was just a thought. It might be an inconvenience to push himself to write while gone—the circumstances would certainly be a tad inopportune—but, at the moment especially, I'm having a lot of fun writing, so if I'm writing while out of town it will be for my own personal enjoyment. The biggest problem I can see is replying to comments, which would probably be complicated by lack of time and (potentially) poor wi-fi. I really don't want to miss the comments, so it might be nice just to take a brief break and think over some plans while gone.

    Yeah, I know these situations. I myself have considered writing on vacation before, though it never really worked out, but not only for a lack of wi-fi, but for a general lack of time and I usually tend to stay in one place while on vacation, whereas you seem to make a pretty long trip. Taking a break and going through your plans once more can't possibly be a bad idea, though I certainly wouldn't oppose a part or two either :D

    You're definitely right about that—while there are lines to read between here, they are just too few to deduce much besides the fact that there's some distance between Tyler and his family. We'll hopefully get some more context on what is causing that distance in Tyler's next part, which should be the next storyline to update again. By the way, don't worry about Clive's lack of involvement so far this chapter. By the end of this chapter, through things may still be a little unbalanced in terms screen time, Clive will have had at least two more parts—his lack of screen time during the middle portions of this chapter pretty much just come from his dinner party taking place later in the day than everyone else's. He will have some moments to shine!

    Ah, don't worry, I certainly am not terribly bothered by Clive's momentary absence. Gives me more time to put my thoughts about his storyline in order, because at this point I am still a bit confused by the things going on for him. Mostly, I am still not sure just what happened to create the situation as it is right now, if this is a parallel universe where he never had children, or if anything changed the past, or if this is all part of an illusion. All I know is, this is not right, something bad happened and once Clive realizes this, he has to find a way to restore things as they should be. So many possibilities and as patient as I am, I can't wait to learn more. That said, I know that not every PoV can always get equal screentime and I know that Clive's dinner is set for later in the evening, so there's nothing I am concerned of. That said, considering how his last dinner party in the original story ended, I am not sure what is going to happen here this time. Though a question, if you don't mind: How much of this chapter remains in general? Compared to the last one, it feels like we're halfway through, but I could be completely off there, so regardless of Clive's involvement, it'd be great to know how long I can expect this chapter to be in general, at least roughly.

    Well, I can at least reaffirm something about this "antagonist" (quotes because this character is really just a protagonist on a different side of things). As I mentioned before, this new person, who hasn't been in the original Silicon, also hasn't been introduced yet. While I actually really love your theory on Daniel (and your theories as a whole, as they usually delve down directions that I hadn't even considered taking the plot and are just really fun in general), he's certainly been introduced. :P

    Ah, I misunderstood you there! I thought this antagonist was just someone who wasn't introduced in the original story, which would fit for Daniel, but now I have no idea at all. Although, at least in theory, Amanda would fit now, since she hasn't been introduced by the time you made that statement about this semi-antagonist. Although I don't know enough about her to speculate about a motive, whereas Daniel would make sense, so I'm not going to speculate further on that before knowing more about her. I doubt she's going to be this person though. This means there's a whole list of characters I have no idea about, one of which is going to be a good guy on the bad guys side. If there even is a classical bad guy, considering that I am not willing to trust either of the god-things at this point.

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    This sounds great! Well, no matter how long it will be in the end, I hope you have a great vacation! Put that first, we can surely

  • Ah, don't worry, I certainly am not terribly bothered by Clive's momentary absence. Gives me more time to put my thoughts about his storyline in order, because at this point I am still a bit confused by the things going on for him. Mostly, I am still not sure just what happened to create the situation as it is right now, if this is a parallel universe where he never had children, or if anything changed the past, or if this is all part of an illusion. All I know is, this is not right, something bad happened and once Clive realizes this, he has to find a way to restore things as they should be. So many possibilities and as patient as I am, I can't wait to learn more. That said, I know that not every PoV can always get equal screentime and I know that Clive's dinner is set for later in the evening, so there's nothing I am concerned of. That said, considering how his last dinner party in the original story ended, I am not sure what is going to happen here this time. Though a question, if you don't mind: How much of this chapter remains in general? Compared to the last one, it feels like we're halfway through, but I could be completely off there, so regardless of Clive's involvement, it'd be great to know how long I can expect this chapter to be in general, at least roughly.

    There will be at the very least five or six more parts. In rough chronological order, that will come up to another one for Tyler, another (or, more likely, two) for Thomas, and three back-to-back parts for Clive (though, if Thomas has a second part, that will probably find itself between Clive's third and second to last parts.) Given the likelihood of the chapter growing as it progresses toward the end, as they usually do, it's not a stretch to assume it may be a little longer than five or six parts. In terms of length, chapter 1 came up to 36 pages on Google Docs. So far, chapter 2 has amassed 21 pages, so it's already reached what I used to consider a long chapter and still has a bit to go. More than halfway there. I think I can definitely finish chapter 2 this month if I maintain this pace!

    Ah, I misunderstood you there! I thought this antagonist was just someone who wasn't introduced in the original story, which would fit for Daniel, but now I have no idea at all. Although, at least in theory, Amanda would fit now, since she hasn't been introduced by the time you made that statement about this semi-antagonist. Although I don't know enough about her to speculate about a motive, whereas Daniel would make sense, so I'm not going to speculate further on that before knowing more about her. I doubt she's going to be this person though. This means there's a whole list of characters I have no idea about, one of which is going to be a good guy on the bad guys side. If there even is a classical bad guy, considering that I am not willing to trust either of the god-things at this point.

    Ah! I'm sorry to dispell more of your theories, but believe I have mentioned in the past (and I will reconfirm now) that this new person is going to be introduced in Act 2, which unfortunately excludes Amanda. Alas, it's safe to say these aren't your classic bad guys. Let me just say, the King of Lions is something. It is one of the reasons I want to speed up my pace with the updates, as well as the many other odds and ends that will start appearing with a greatly increased frequency from Act 2 onward. I haven't mentioned this yet, but planning the future chapters has required me to create a sort of map—it's made a piece of poster board and it's hanging on my wall right now, covered in a little less than twenty sticky and with far more in need of being added, each representing starting points and important locations—each with distinct atmospheres and diverse, well, gimmicks isn't the wrong word for it—within the Divine Dream. I have yet to plot courses... but that comes next. The Divine Dream is going to be quite the adventure! :^D

    Thank you! I'm sure it will be great! And it was just a thought. It might be an inconvenience to push himself to write while gone

  • Funny note about Russell: I can reasonably discern from his submission that he was intended to be submitted for a zombie story, probably Monument. I could have ported him over to that, but I decided to just use him as a very small side character for the role of a bartender and kept adding little things to his character, such as him being childhood friends with Thomas, and he steadily grew into a character I actually really like. XD

    D'awww I like these two so much, they always make for cute scenes. It's great that they finally more or less acknowledge that the

  • edited March 2017

    Update

    Apologies for the delay! Tyler's last part this chapter has grown a little larger than expected. It's also a little heavier than I was expecting. A lot will soon be revealed, but it still requires additional work. However, it shouldn't long now!

  • edited March 2017

    Tyler Gavins, 02-11 - Thursday, Nov. 24th, 06:05 PM: Before conversation became heated, it had been a pleasant dinner. In truth, it all had started out nice—Tyler would not, or perhaps could not, have acknowledged such afterwards, because the unpleasantries would paint the whole day in shades of frustration—but the night went down the proverbial shitter within half an hour of taking their seats at the long table that dominated the Joneses’ large dining room.

    That night there were four small families there. This included the Gavins, consisting of Tyler, his adult sister Amanda, and his father Daniel; the Joneses, who were their hosts, including Misses Marsha Jones, her adult son Bernie, her teenage daughter Sam, and her husband, a man named Alan who was a sheriff’s officer at the county Sheriff’s Office; the Classons, including Misses Cassidy Classon, her adult daughter Emily, and her husband; and, lastly, Kayle Robin and her mother and father. In total there were thirteen people seated around the table—there was only one empty chair—sitting in no particular order besides young adults sitting near young adults and husbands sitting near wives.

    Dinner had already commenced. Tyler had zoned out and now played with the scraps left on his plate, thinking about the markings and if he could search the woods behind his house after dark. On this night Sam was seated to his right—no one was seated to her right besides Kayla, who was sat at the end of the table—and to his left sat Bernie. The various conversations being held around the table hit his ears as an incoherent babble.

    “...nine years since Mike disappeared,” someone said, the voice familiar and disquieting. The single word brought the unfocused scene into crystalline and surreal clarity for Tyler, like he was a sleepwalker slapped awake to find himself in an unfamiliar location. Suddenly every stream of talk was overwhelming as his eyes searched his vicinity for the speaker. Immediately across from him was Missus Cassidy Classon, and to her right, in order, sat her daughter Emily, his sister Amanda, then his father and Sam’s father. His father and Mister Alan Jones were talking about a case that had reached a dead end.

    The case of Michael’s supposed disappearance. It’s been nine years since Mike disappeared—Tyler assumed this was what his father had said.

    Suddenly the bile in Tyler’s stomach felt volatile as the two adults’ talk was brought into exclusive, involuntarily focus, the many other voices conjoining into background noise. The two were talking softly, as not to disturb or depress the others, but Tyler could perfectly hear his father mournfully add to his earlier comment, “The turnout for the searches dwindled after a few weeks, and after a month the general consensus was that he’d perished somewhere north.”

    A hundred venomous retorts came to mind but Tyler found he couldn’t will his mouth to open to share them.

    “You have my condolences,” Alan said sincerely. Mister Jones was a tall man, thin with dark brown eyes that possessed a friendly twinkled while also appearing somewhat sleep-deprived.

    “Thank you,” his father whispered so softly Tyler had trouble hearing it. “December first will be the official anniversary of his disappearance.”

    “It must be a difficult time for you,” Alan said. His tone was soft and mournful as well.

    And Tyler, in a whisper, repeated his father. “Disappearance,” he said to himself. It was only after the background clatter of silverware and babble of conversation suddenly quieted, and after some stares and discreet glances turned his way, that Tyler realized he had likely said the word quite loudly. His father stared at him. Tyler’s nausea increased threefold and he looked down into his plate. His face grew hot and red.

    “Yes,” his father said slowly after a long silence. “The anniversary of his disappearance. I’m sorry, Tyler. I know you’re sensitive to the subject. I shouldn’t have discussed at dinner or within your presence.”

    Alan Jones looked guilt-stricken, the sympathy he felt for Tyler real and evident across his expression. “No, I apologies…” he began.

    Tyler said, “No—” This time the words nearly left his throat before the growing need to vomit assailed him and he had to swallow the bile along with the words to keep from throwing up.

    His father stared into his very being, the dead seeming to stare the hardest. His father asked, with the utmost sincerity, “Are you feeling okay, Ty? You look unwell.”

    Tyler whispered—it was all he could manage with the nausea, even if it wasn’t what he wanted to say. Only Bernie and Sam—on his side of the table—and Cassidy and Emily—on the opposite side—heard him or were able to recognize the movement of his lips. Their expressions—ranging from dismayed to stocked, minus Emily, who retained a neutral if piqued look—gave an impression of what was said.

    “Would you repeat that, Ty,” his father said. He hadn’t blinked.

    “Fuck you,” Tyler whispered again, but loud enough for his father and everyone else to hear him. The sheer contempt of the voice which left his mouth was perhaps more jarring than the words themselves. No one had ever heard Tyler speak this way. Not even Sam, who had heard such words spoken before, but always in jest and never with such venom.

    The tension could’ve been cut by a knife. The silence was palpable. “I apologize,” Daniel said to the others, to Mister and Missus Jones in particular, his voice level and the essence of control. “Tyler, apologize then grab your jacket. Amanda, I’m afraid you need to grab your jacket as well.”

    “Yes, Dad,” she said softly.

    “Here, take the keys. Wait with him in the truck,” Daniel ordered calmly.

    Amanda rose from her seat. Tyler rose and pushed his chair back under the table, fighting the urge to vomit. He tried not to look at the others who remained seated while he put on his jacket, but he caught the suspicion in Alan Jones’s expression.

    “Sorry,” Tyler said weakly, then turned and left through the foyer, followed by Amanda, who had to hurry to catch up.

    The air outside was frigid. The sun had set to a dimming glow which vaguely outlined the roof of the Joneses’ house. Half-way across the yard, standing in grass made crunchy by the cold, Amanda caught up with her younger brother and drew him into the hug.

    “It’s okay, Ty,” she whispered.

    He shared in the hug, squeezing her tightly. The words tried to escape him then, his voice brittle and childlike, filled with anxiety and fear and remembrance, his voice past the verge of breaking, broken. Tyler said, hardly audible, “He…”

    Tyler broke away from the hug, put his hand on his knees, and vomited into the grass. He didn’t stop retching once his stomach was empty. Amanda was weeping. She squatted beside him, embraced his neck in a hug, and whispered, “It was an accident, Ty.” She repeated that, and repeated it again, though Tyler had hardly heard her the first time.

    Tyler is standing in the living room, smiling, pulling a harmless joke on his father. He has hidden his father’s cigarettes under the couch cushions. He thinks his father will laugh. Michael is in his bedroom, which is further down the hall from Tyler’s room, reading a comic and minding his own business. Tyler is seven-years-old and getting more mischievous by the week. Michael is eleven. Their sister is thirteen and in another room of the house. Tyler waits patiently in the living room, sitting on the couch. He doesn’t have to wait long before his father arrives home. The man walks inside, hanging his keys on the rack with clumsy movements. Tyler watches, smiling. His father looks at him and smiles back as he walks into the kitchen. Tyler hears a drawer open, hears the contents shuffled and shifted, hears the drawer close again. More probable locations are checked, each audible by the swinging of cabinet hinges and the rolling of ball-bearing slides. The actions, the noises, become audibly impatient. Tyler waits. His smile and excitement for the prank hasn’t faded; the game has only grown more thrilling.

    His father emerges from the kitchen, crosses the living room without glancing at Tyler, hikes upstairs, puffing frustratedly with each step, and disappearances up there. Loud noises drift downstairs. Things are being pulled open roughly and slammed into place. Tyler’s smile wavers, diminishes, and finally vanishes as his father stomps downstairs, nearly stumbling the last step before catching his balance, and looks directly at Tyler. There is no longer any hint of a smile on his father’s face. Staring into his father’s scowling expression, into his father’s dull eyes sharpened by anger, Tyler feels a sudden pulse of fear and guilt.

    His father asks him if he has taken his cigarettes.

    Tyler is suddenly very afraid. The guilt he also feels appears across his expression, but his voice fails him and doesn’t reply.

    His father stomps towards him, grabs his shoulder painfully, and repeats the questions.

    Tyler can feel a palpable vapor, feel a sticky mist in the air coming from his father’s mouth. It smells horrible and strong. Tyler clams up. He feels like crying. His father’s grip on his shoulder is hurting him. He begins to cry, but he does not scream nor answer. He has shut his eyes, and he keeps them shut as a giant hand finds his neck.

    Suddenly there is terribly pain. Sounds fade. Consciousness dims. Then the grip slackens, and Tyler looks blurrily at the short figure slamming its little fists against his father’s back. The figure is Michael. Michael is shouting, but Tyler can’t hearing what is being said. His father drops Tyler back onto the couch and strikes and connects with Michael’s swinging arms. A fight begins between his father and older brother. His father is large but clumsy. His brother is fast. The fight moves to the center of the living room, then down the hallway and out of sight. Tyler regains the use of his body and runs, tears streaming down his cheeks, to the hallway. Down it he sees them locked in embrace, fighting still. He sees them fall toward the glass door, and then an instantly later he sees them crash through it and fall onto small square of concrete pouch outside. The two figures separate, the larger rolling off into the grass screaming and cursing and clutching his face. The smaller form of Tyler’s brother remains on the porch, making inert little movements.

    The petrification breaks and Tyler runs down the hall. He hesitates but steps through the doorframe, now absent of glass, and onto shards that litter the porch. His little feet are cut. He treads carefully, painfully to his brother’s side and kneels beside him. The sun has set, and what little light there is escapes from inside the house, illuminating the fragments of glass, casting his brother’s weakened body in a dim light. Michael has only now stopped moving. His face is shredded by glass, embedded with glass. His throat is cut many places and bleeds the most. There is a lot of blood. Steam rises from it, rises into the cold air. Tyler stares at his brother’s corpse in mounting horror. The larger figure of his father is only several meters away, on his hands and knees, clawing at the fragment which has pierced his eye, weeping, groaning like a sick animal or monster, but not attacking. Tyler stands there, horrified, thoughts racing, blaming himself, seeing his father’s demented caricature, seeing his brother’s lifeless corpse. Then he runs into the woods to hide.

    Amanda helped Tyler to his feet. He allowed himself to be guided toward the truck, sicken and dazed by the recollection, fighting continued nasuasa. The sun had set and darkness had enveloped the nearby woods. To Tyler, the world was spinning, now reduced to the lighted areas of the yard. Suddenly the interior of the truck brightened to existence as Amanda clicked the car keys. She helped him into the back seat and sat with him, and he allowed himself to be held by his older sister as the tears continued to flow.

    Their father’s outline stepped backward through the Joneses’ front door, speaking to those concerned individuals who remained inside, using subtle gestures to emphasise or deemphasize certain points in his explanations and apologies, projecting an image of pure sanity, a father bearing the burden of a troubled son. The conversation finished and their father descended the steps while several figures moved to stand motionlessly on the porch to see them off. Their father—an ill-shaped shadow in the darkened places between lights, a muscular black-haired man with a frowning countenance and dead eye while passing beneath them—caused the car to bob as he climbed into the driver’s seat, accepted the keys from Amanda, and soon began the long drive back to the cabin.

    To be continued...

    Notes:

    • Yeah. Not sure what to say besides that wasn't fun to write. Really f'd up. Anyway, a lot of things have been revealed, and I'm curious how this part will affect speculation and what it will do to alter the leading theories. I would also like to know your thoughts on briefly switching to present-tense—the goal was to make it disorienting and jarring, and I'd like to know if I was successful in that. Oh, and this may not be Tyler's last part this chapter. He might a small segment toward the end, but we'll have to see. Next part is Thomas. After that, it's Clive time.
  • That was really hard to read, even knowing exactly what was happening It upsets me. Poor Tyler, and Michael as well. Extremely well written by the way. As much as I dreaded it, it was well done.

    Now I can finally say this! @LiquidChicagoTed I was so shocked when we got that small tease of Tyler's backstory and you suggested that it was Tyler who killed Michael. Granted I can see why you drew that conclusion. At the time I was like "WHAT!?" XD
    Anyway I wasn't mad or anything just very surprised.

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    Tyler Gavins, 02-11 - Thursday, Nov. 24th, 06:05 PM: Before conversation became heated, it had been a pleasant dinner. In truth, i

  • Haha, I just reread my speculation from back then and it seems I was right with a couple of things, I just misinterpreted them =) I spotted Tyler feeling guilty and Michael's death being an accident, but I drew the wrong conclusions. Never once did it occur to me that Daniel had a hand in these events. His own wound, the eye, kinda made me think he was another victim and considering that Tyler was the only one physically unharmed by this, my suspicions fell onto him, especially as I did not yet know what kind of supernatural elements Hope would include in this rebooted story. Him losing control over some sort of power was entirely in the realms of possible :D But ah, as much as I spotted some important details back then, I speculated into the completely different direction. Even later, I thought that Michael might have been killed by a wild animal and that provoking this animal has kinda been Tyler's fault, but I now see how absolutely wrong I have been, at least in a literal sense. I certainly understand your surprise at my earlier thoughts XD

    AgentZ46 posted: »

    That was really hard to read, even knowing exactly what was happening It upsets me. Poor Tyler, and Michael as well. Extremely wel

  • Well... damn, that was dark. And it also came completely out of the left field for me. Didn't expect that at all, it hit me without warning. I obviously made my speculation about Michael's death, but that Daniel was the one to kill him, man, I wouldn't have ever thought that! That guy is completely nuts. Holy shit, I am seriously concerned for Tyler if he remains in the presence of that uncontrollable arse. Sure, Michael's death was an accident, but it takes a special kind of person to attack his seven-year old son over a pack of cigarettes, before getting into a brawl with his eleven year-old son and having the nerve to cover up said son's death by making it seem he merely disappeared. I don't even want to imagine what he did to hide the corpse. Holy shit, this was such a dark twist to Tyler's entire storyline. I see a lot of things differently now.

    And this explains a lot about the Gavins family dynamics! It was obvious to me that something was seriously wrong between these three and now it finally makes sense. That was this missing puzzle piece I've been hoping for. There were moments where Tyler seemed almost afraid of his father and I can totally see why. Also stuff like Daniel's seriously unsettling overprotectiveness, I understand it. And then there's Amanda. It hasn't been stated here, but I can somewhat guess what happened between them that made their relationship go sour. Judging by her interaction with Daniel, it seems she has made her peace with him and is on relatively good terms, something Tyler clearly isn't and something I doubt he's happy about. So, it's nothing particular between Tyler and Amanda, but more the way she interacts with Daniel. At least that's what I think right now.

    Damn it... now I really need to take a deep breath. That was a really terrifying truth, especially as I never saw it coming in the slightest. And I loved it! That was so far my highlight of the chapter and that is despite all the other cool stuff that already happened, the revelations and things like that. This little piece of storyline was likely completely unrelated to the greater mystery arc with the Kingdom of Divine Dreams (though I wouldn't be surprised if it'll be somehow brought up in there as well), but it was nonetheless one of the best revelations I have seen in the story so far and while I doubt it'll remain the last amazing twist in this chapter (as I am relatively sure there will be something in Clive's parts for me to work with), it is so far my favourite. We'll see what the remaining parts of the chapter will bring, but this was already an amazing finale for Tyler's Chapter 2 storyline.

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    Tyler Gavins, 02-11 - Thursday, Nov. 24th, 06:05 PM: Before conversation became heated, it had been a pleasant dinner. In truth, i

  • Umm..... Well..... I feel nervous bringing anything related to this back due to my awful, awful memories about this conversation and how it almost (at least in my mind) cost me Liquids long time friendship and respect but re-reading I noticed something. NoHope you never did answer his questions here:

    Hm, this just made me curious and I have to ask yet another question... Does this mean that the whole attempt to make Luke less guilty was something you considered only after realizing how much I hate him, or was it always the plan to make things more morally ambiguous with him? And if that wasn't always the plan, does it mean that you originally intended to have him more clearly guilty of his actions?

    I just want Liquid to satisfy his curiosity as he put it back then and then just let this whole topic die.

    I've got 26 notifications. I'm gonna try to address this. I'm sorry for your poor feed. After writing my replies to Lord,

  • I didn't realize I missed this. Basically yes, it's the former: the attempt to make Luke less guilty was something I only considered after seeing everyone's reactions (not just Liquid's) and realizing just what a huge corner I had written myself into. This topsy-turvy portrayal really just highlights the fact I had no idea what I was doing. Thankfully, for the reboot, I have all the plans! It's not a mistake I'm going to repeat. Not if I can help it. Like, each part of chapter 4 is planned out—that's not something I've ever done before.

    And don't feel bad! It's water under the bridge. And I can say for certain no friendships were ever at risk due to simple miscommunication. We all love you, man! :)

    Lord_EAA posted: »

    Umm..... Well..... I feel nervous bringing anything related to this back due to my awful, awful memories about this conversation a

  • Than You for answering and for your kind words. Yeah I know Liquid wasn't going to stop talking to me but every time I look at this I get the same intense fear ill say something and he or someone else will never talk to me because said something very poorly. Once again deep thank you and I love you too dude :)!

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    I didn't realize I missed this. Basically yes, it's the former: the attempt to make Luke less guilty was something I only consider

  • You're really worrying far too much about this :D I had hoped it to be clear from the beginning that any negative feeling I had about this situation started and ended with the character Luke and never went any further. Of course I wasn't exactly happy about the fact that a majority was so very much against this revenge I yearned for and saw Luke so much more ambiguous than I did, but this whole situation surely never threatened to sour my opinion on anyone here. Just in case this hasn't been clear already. I doubt you could say anything that would piss someone here off so much that they will have a worse opinion on you or even outright stop talking to you. I for one have a thicker skin that that ;)

    Lord_EAA posted: »

    Than You for answering and for your kind words. Yeah I know Liquid wasn't going to stop talking to me but every time I look at thi

  • Ah, this is very interesting. I was curious about this and I kind of guessed that this was the case. Interestingly I would have actually hated Luke far less if you would have portrayed him as this utterly vile piece of shit I tried to paint him as in my comments. I mean, don't get me wrong, I still would have ranted about him (if more toned down) and would have gone out of my way to find the worst possible fate for him, I would have loathed him, but it would have probably affected me less than it eventually did. It would have been a bit like Trevor from Monument. I mean, you don't see me going out of my way to hate on Trevor anymore, even though he did a lot worse than Luke ever did. This ambiguity was the problem there, because with a being of pure evil, I could have at least been sure that the other readers will hate him as well and would have been more likely to grant me revenge, or perhaps it wouldn't have even been up to a choice then, because the characters would have no good reason to spare him in the first place. But at last part of my anger towards Luke was fuelled by this thought that he could somehow not get a satisfying punishment, which was a thought I started to get when I noticed that you tried to paint him in a more ambiguous light. That and the fact that you arguably succeeded at making him look less guilty, given how the others had opinions on him that were far less negative. There's no chance such an attempt could have ever succeeded with me, but all in all, your attempt to make him look less guilty certainly worked for the majority of the readers here, so I wouldn't even see it as a failure. It was just the wrong approach for me personally, due to my connection to the whole thing, though I could see that others might even be intrigued by such a morally ambiguous situation.

    But as you said, that's something from the past. Past Luke is gone, erased from existence, completely undone, which is the absolute best I could have ever hoped for, and my feelings for him are similarly gone. The reboot is there and so far, it's by far the version of the story I prefer. My feelings on the reboot are so positive that they even managed to more or less end my negative feelings on Luke. Now I am curious to see this new version of him. Sure, I'll probably remain a bit reluctant about him and it's hard to say yet how I will actually feel about him, but it says a lot about how much I love this rebooted story that I am absolutely willing to give him something that resembles a fair chance. This leads me to another question, as I am curious, I know he will appear at some point, but can you give a hint when to expect him, or would that be too much of a spoiler? If it's too spoilery, then I don't expect an answer of course, but it's something I'd be interested in :)

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    I didn't realize I missed this. Basically yes, it's the former: the attempt to make Luke less guilty was something I only consider

  • edited March 2017

    Thank you for saying this. I love my friendship with you and the others and it gives me comfort to know I'm just paranoid. Sorry for that, its just that I deeply value our friendship and it would be awful if it just ended. I'm glad to know it was never in danger to begin with.

    You're really worrying far too much about this I had hoped it to be clear from the beginning that any negative feeling I had abou

  • Same here. I put a great deal of value on the friendships I have made here in the forums and I can assure you, it takes a serious lot for me to even consider breaking off any of these friendships. Certainly I would never do that over something as ultimately miniscule as this whole Luke stuff. So, don't worry too much. I'm sure the others see it similarly :)

    Actually, remember this one guy we have talked about lately? You know, that guy. Take him as the negative example, the worst-case scenario, the one anyone else on here is unlikely to ever get even close to. This level of jackassery is what it takes for me to get a lasting grudge on someone I interact with. You know how long it took for me to break off the contact in that case, how much had to happen from his side. I am absolutely convinced you can't get even close to such a point, not even if you'd try. So, really, there is nothing to worry about when you interact with me. In the 2+ years I've been knowing you, there has been absolutely nothing that gave me a negative opinion on you and I seriously doubt anything ever will. I hope that makes it clear :D

    Lord_EAA posted: »

    Thank you for saying this. I love my friendship with you and the others and it gives me comfort to know I'm just paranoid. Sorry f

  • It does thank you :D.

    Same here. I put a great deal of value on the friendships I have made here in the forums and I can assure you, it takes a serious

  • edited March 2017

    This leads me to another question, as I am curious, I know he will appear at some point, but can you give a hint when to expect him, or would that be too much of a spoiler? If it's too spoilery, then I don't expect an answer of course, but it's something I'd be interested in :)

    It pains to have to refrain from answering this, but I think I should. I don't want to spoil any upcoming revelations or lend any credence to possible plot points, so all I will say is you'll get some hints in Clive's next few parts. ;)

    Ah, this is very interesting. I was curious about this and I kind of guessed that this was the case. Interestingly I would have ac

  • Thomas Callahan, 02-12 - Thursday, Nov. 24th, 06:28 PM: For a while, it seemed the dinner at the Armstrong’s could not be going better: the food was delicious, the conversation was captivating, and the children and their parents got along wonderfully with Lana.

    Not long into the night, however, Thomas became anxious, a little frustrated, and terribly sick to his stomach, all for no apparent reason. He excused himself from the table, found the bathroom, threw up into the toilet, and returned to his seat pale but otherwise fine. He wasn’t sure if they had heard him retching, but since no issue was raised, he assumed they hadn’t. His inexplicable frustration had faded, but the nausea and anxiety lingered ever so slightly, so he set out from the conversation and merely observed, realizing quickly that the topic was how he and Russell had met.

    “Skyward Basketball,” Russell explained to Lana, laughing. “It’s church program. Still ongoing, and I’m actually coaching Ron and some others in his grade. Anyway, it’s just a program for the Sunday schoolers, like little Thomas back in the day. As a teen, I was the assistant coach for Thomas’s team.”

    “Is that so?” Lana said, smirking at Thomas. “Well, was he any good?”

    “Are you kidding? He was horrible! And way too short. He couldn’t shoot a hoop if his life depended on it. Of course, it was all, and still is, all in the name of run.” He glanced over his shoulder, toward the living room where the kids were watching some program or other. “In truth,” Russell went on, lowering his voice, “I’m still dealing with amateurs. You’d think they were a bunch of little kids or something.”

    Lana smiled, nodded slightly, but didn’t laugh. She fixed Thomas with a inquisitive look which was all-too piercing, and Thomas knew the jig was up: she knew he was feeling uneasy. To their hosts, she said, politely, “If you’d excuse me.”

    She stood, touched Thomas’s shoulder, and her fingers lingered as she drew away. Thomas took the hint and excused himself a moment later as well. He found her in the hallway leading to the bathroom, which looked out into the living room. There Hugh and Leland laid on their stomachs and kicked their feet while Ron laid on the sofa, all watching a nature show about chupacabras. On the television—which was now showing an arid landscape over commentary by some Australian woman—there were two watermarks; one was the station's logo and the other was the program’s initials: I.S.M.I.

    Lana was leaning against one wall of the hallway, watching the children, when Thomas entered and leaned on the wall opposite her. He didn’t look her in the eyes at first, afraid he had spoiled the evening by his attempt to conceal his sickness. He ventured a glance, though, and saw her smile, faint as it was, hadn’t faded.

    She looked at him, and she didn’t appear upset. Not in the slight. Softly, and with Russell's nickname for him, she said, “Not feeling well, bud?”

    Thomas rubbed his neck and sighed. “I guess you heard me throw up.”

    She looked startled upon hearing this. “No. I didn’t.”

    “Oh.” He rubbed his neck more fiercely. Face hot and red, he said, “I’m feeling better now, though.”

    “Well, I glad,” she said.

    He moved, leaned on the wall next to her—to keep his blushing face out of her direct line of sight—and asked, “Are you enjoying yourself?”

    There was a pause. Then she said, “I am. Surprisingly. I wasn’t completely sure when I got the invitation. I guess when you asked I didn’t really show it. I really wanted to go...”

    That last sentence left strangely incomplete to Thomas, like there was a ‘despite…’ cut off from the end of it. He looked away, eyes glued to the mahogany wood grain walls, and pondered this. Instead of asking about that, which may have been personal, he thought of another question.

    “Can I ask you something? It may sound strange.”

    “Sure,” she said softly, looking at him more attentively.

    “Why did you come?”

    “That’s a little vague.”

    “Sorry,” he whispered.

    “Don’t be.” She sighed, dug the heel of her tennis shoe into the carpet, and gave her head a self-deprecating shake. “I felt . . . I don’t know . . . a connection. To you.”

    The hairs on Thomas’s neck tingled.

    “Are you sure . . .” she asked a moment later, “that we’ve never met?”

    He looked at her strangely, not because he thought her strange, but because he had the same sort of question in the tip of his tongue and would never be able to articulate. “What,” he croaked, his mouth suddenly dry, “makes you ask that?”

    “Something’s familiar about you,” she answered.

    “Familiar in what way?”

    “I don’t know.” She sighed. “I just know that that night I got the strangest feeling of déjà vu when you came to talk to me.”

    “Monday? At Russell’s?”

    “Yeah.”

    Thomas was silent. He remembered, vividly, the sensation of being captured by her gaze and proceeding her direction without any clear thought on the matter. To an extent, he felt it again while looking at her in half-profile, at her browns eyes and dark eyelashes cast toward the carpet, possibly in embarrassment at her admission. He felt a faint feeling of familiarity in her facial features, the paleness of her skin, even the cut and white dye of her hair.

    Thinking about the discrepancies with the car crash and his injuries, the dream and the Prince of Wolves’s vague instructions and warnings, even the animal that kid supposed saw in the woods, Thomas said, involuntarily, “Something freaking weird is going on, if you ask me.”

    “I think you’re right,” she agreed. Giving no more thought to the odd matter, she indicated the kitchen, and the beyond it the dining room, with a nod. “We probably shouldn’t keep them waiting any longer. They’ll think we snuck off.”

    Thomas followed, thinking about the prince’s self-proclaimed partnership with him and what the hell that actually meant. He rejoined Russell and Cara at the table with Lana and they talked. The anxiety and nausea still lingered, but the feelings were vague and distant, like he was only experiencing them vicariously.

    Whatever the hell is going on, I’m at the center of it, he thought. There was a black pit of worry in his stomach, softly churning with daunting notions and foreign feelings. Whose feelings, he wondered suddenly, crazily, with paranoia, am I experiencing?

    His name, a familiar voice answered, is Tyler Gavins. And he needs your help.

    Part 2, Below

  • Part 2

    Suddenly Thomas was standing in a tall hexagonal chamber. Before him was the prince, the weed- and feather-like material of its cloak hardly touching the clear crystal floor. Behind the prince, three of the room’s facets were devoted to the image of the chapel from his earlier dream. In the front-most pew, he saw the top of his head, himself collapsed on the bench. Thomas looked behind himself and saw, in the three remaining facets, himself, slumped, sleeping in his chair at the dining room table while the three around the table regarded his sudden drifting off to sleep.

    He felt dizzy, and a variety of curses came to his mind as he crouched to regain his balance, but none escaped his clenched jaw.

    “Thomas.”

    He looked up at the Prince of Wolves. The skull-mask was emotionless, ominous.

    “Uh...” Thomas muttered.

    “Tyler is the only dreamer who was reached before he could taste the Divine Dream and become intertwined in its spell,” the prince said. “He cannot sleep, or dream, and so he cannot be touched by the lion’s typical methods. Though he’s not out of his reach entirely...” The prince paused and adjusted its hollow stare, seeing straight into Thomas’s soul. “But the lion is not why I’ve brought you here. It’s Tyler’s father. I do believe you felt it... there’s a slight empathetic link between you two…”

    “Slight?”

    “They were rather strong emotions.”

    “Slight,” Thomas repeated stupidly. He managed to gather his wits. “Is Tyler Gavins okay?

    The prince was silent and ponderous. “Physically, he is unharmed. But the psychological damage is high, the toll great. He made himself sick trying to say, aloud, that his father killed his brother some years ago.”

    Thomas was once again stuck stupid. He ran his finger through his hair. “You’re serious?”

    “Yes,” the prince said. It sighed strangely, like a stale shift of air through a dark cavern. “Perhaps, I thought, you would want to help him. I can give you all the information, and you can use it to report to the authorities—anonymously, I should add, so as not to become indisposed with the proceedings of the law, like you would be if you reported directly. We can’t have you become indisposed. So, what do you say?”

    “I’ll do it,” Thomas whispered.

    “Then all you must do is listen and follow my instructions exactly as I tell you to.” What followed were several names and the precise location of the body, then orders on how to carry out the task. The prince’s last command was unexpected. “Lastly, you have to do this tomorrow. Tonight, I want you to attend Clive Carson’s dinner.”

    Thomas very nearly reeled. “Why? Tyler’s in the hands of a murderer. He’s in danger!”

    “Not immediate danger,” the prince replied coolly. “It’s far more imperative that you get Clive talking about his dreams.”

    “That hardly seems as important!”

    “I assure you, Thomas, it is very important.” They stared. Thomas broke the off first. “I repeat,” the prince continued, “it’s imperative that you get Clive talking about his dreams. I have a hunch Clive is special.”

    “How so?” Thomas questioned.

    “That I don’t know. Perhaps we’ll learn hints if you go speak to him.” It paused, tilted its skull-mask. “Please,” it said, almost sincerely, “go to the dinner, speak to Clive, and tomorrow, use the information as I’ve instructed you.”

    Thomas felt a flicker of defiance, even while intimidated beyond measure. “Tell me,” he asked, “why can’t I do it sooner?”

    The prince stared. Perhaps it glared, disliking having its authority challenged. Whatever the case, when it spoke, its voice was calm and carried no hint of aggression, or threat. “It’s a merely matter of priorities, Thomas. I suspect Clive is the key to locating the two missing dreamers, and I would like you to see what you can learn from him without interference from the Sheriff’s apprehension of Daniel Gavins. Displacing Tyler could cause ripples, and while that is something I will allow tomorrow for his sake, I would prefer your night at Clive’s not be put at risk by initiating Daniel Gavins’s arrest.”

    The prince paused, thought for a moment, and looked downward, as if a tad remorseful. “Perhaps it’s too much to ask of you to stand by while Tyler remains in his father’s presence, and perhaps I’m being overly cautious. No matter. Since we’re partners, Thomas, I will leave this to your discretion. All I ask is that you keep my concerns in mind.” The Prince of Wolves extend a scaly talon from beneath its cloak of weeds or feathers and pointed toward the glass panes behind Thomas. “I recommend you return quickly. They’re getting curious. Just step right through.”


    Upon passing through the pane, Thomas’s eyes slowly fluttered opened. He was slumped in his chair at the table. He sat upright. The others were looking at him sympathetically. They hadn’t disturbed him. Russell and Cara—and Lana, Thomas suspected—knew how difficult and tiring the last few weeks had been. They had let him rest.

    He tried to hide how unsettled he was yawning. He wasn’t sure if it was convincing. “Sorry,” he said at last. “I didn’t even realize I was dozing off.”

    Russell nodded. “Do you think it might be time to call it a night?”

    Thomas looked at Lana, feeling very sorry for what he was about to do, but before he reply, she gave a slight, understanding nod. “Yeah,” Thomas said softly, feeling a little surprised and guilty atop uneasy. “That might be for the best.”


    Thomas walked Lana to the flight of the stairs leading up to her apartment level. Russell had driven them back there, and he waited in the car. The two of them stopped at the base and meandered a bit at there, kicking their feet against the cold. Thomas spoke first. “I had a really fine evening with you. I’m sorry to have cut it short.”

    Lana looked up from where she was milling about and smiled. “Don’t be,” she said, taking a few steps toward him. “I had a good time, too.” She overcame her hesitation, crossed the remaining distance, and planted a kiss on his cheek.

    She turned and quickly, almost fleetingly, ascended the stairs. Thomas stood, staring in her wake, for nine thunderous heart beats before he blinked against the cold, which stinged his eyes, and hurried back to Russell’s car. Russell patted him on the shoulder approvingly, said Lana was a fine, kind woman and that he had enjoyed meeting her, and drove Thomas home to the inn.


    Alone at last, the taillights of Russell’s car vanishing around the street corner, Thomas on the sidewalk in front of the Wooded Inn. He was submerged in the yellow glow of streetlights, breathing vapor into the cool night air, while his mind raced through the prince’s instructions.

    He glanced one last time through the windows at the inn’s welcoming, lit interior before beginning a brisk walk toward the library, a block and a half away. He came to pass under the large eve over its entrance, where the pay phone was tucked away. There weren’t any cameras that he knew of. He inspected the phonebook, which was attached by chain to prevent theft, then he deposited some quarters and dialed.

    It rang once, twice. Thomas was holding his breath. It rang a third time, then it was answered. “Hello?” a teenager asked. She sounded tired, even though it was a little past seven. “You’ve reached the Joneses. Is anyone there?”

    “I need to speak to Alan Jones,” he grumbled at last, trying to disguise his voice.

    “Sure,” the girl said. “Just a moment.”

    Thomas waited. He heard muffled voices. He heard the phone exchange hands. He heard a sigh breath into speaker before the man spoke. “This is Alan Jones,” the Sheriff’s Officer said. “Can I help?”

    “Yes.” Thomas hesitated long enough for the officer to inquiry if he was still on the line. “Yes,” he grumbled again. “Daniel Gavins murdered his son, Michael, and hid the boy’s remains in the wall just opposite you if you’re coming down the stairs.” Before Alan Jones could formulate a response or inquiry, Thomas said, “Please help Tyler,” and disconnected the call.

    Heart racing, Thomas steadied himself on the pay phone. He replaced the tethered phone, rubbed his eyes, and eyed his vicinity suspiciously, like he was being watched. He saw no one. Night had descended early, and the library had closed two days ago for the holidays, along with the other establishments around the town square—anything that was still open this afternoon had closed early for Thanksgiving. The City Office, Thomas realized, wherein was the Sheriff’s Office, was sixty feet away at the square’s center. Spurred by that thought, Thomas hurried back the inn.

    To be continued...

    Post-part notes:

    • Can I be frank? I'm gonna be frank. The entire second half was unplanned for. The first half I had given a lot of thought before it became time to write it out, but when it came time to cap off the dinner scene at the Armstrong's, having the Prince of Wolves reply to Thomas's internal wonderings sort of happened spontaneously. And I'm glad it did. I like this as a cap for Thomas's PoV this chapter (though he is going to appear again before this chapter is over) and I feel it added a lot more substance to what was going to be, admittedly, a tad dry otherwise. The one problem it caused was delaying this part by a day. Anyway, Clive is up next, and I probably won't do an additional part for Thomas after all. I'm still shooting to finish chapter 2 before the end of the month, but there's always the possibly I won't make that deadline. Regardless, I know now I will have plenty of time next month to write before it's time to leave on vacation. I'll see you again soon!
  • Oh man, every time the Prince of Wolves appears, I get the chills. Seriously, I don't know if I can trust him or not, but I know that I sure as hell enjoy him! Surprisingly, this part gave me a more positive impression of him than his first part, where I was pretty sure that he is nothing more than a godly schemer, with absolutely zero compassion for the mortals he uses. This one made me think there might be something slightly different. Not quite care maybe, but he seemed less cold and intimidating this time. Don't know, maybe I'm interpreting too much into this, but that is how I felt about him while reading this part. It's also been interesting that he gave more of an idea on what Clive's role in this whole situation is all about. I previously voiced my doubt that he is among the people Thomas saw, which now seems all but confirmed, otherwise the Prince might have known more about him. But Rachel and Alex are, as expected, confirmed to be among the eight and it appears that whatever happened to mess up the reality as it was and should be, Clive is a key factor in undoing it.

    That said, I am a bit concerned by Thomas not listening to the Prince's advice. I doubt this being gave it to him for no reason, so who knows what sort of an effect this seemingly minor change will have. I mean, I don't have a problem with Daniel being imprisoned honestly, but I'd be more happy if Thomas would have done it after the dinner with Clive, as the Prince told him to. Daniel, well, he did kill his son in a fit of rage, there's no saying how much of a danger he could be for his remaining children if he ever loses control over himself again. Maybe seeing him getting put to justice will help with closing this dark part of Tyler's life. And well, Daniel is a danger to him. Thomas did an understandable thing, though I doubt this one additional day would have done much harm to Tyler. Now, there's no saying how much he is going to affect. In any way, I can't wait for Clive's parts! This is going to be awesome :)

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    Part 2 Suddenly Thomas was standing in a tall hexagonal chamber. Before him was the prince, the weed- and feather-like material

  • Well that certainly surprised me! It seems Daniel is in deep shit now. Or maybe he'll somehow get out of it but that seems unlikely. If he does go down for this it begs the question of what happens to Tyler. He's still in highschool and living with him. I suppose that it's possible that he could stay with his sister.

    Though I'm also concerned as to how Amanda will react. She isn't as angry as Tyler and as far as they know nobody outside of the family knows the truth of what happened to Michael. I'm worried that they'll draw the conclusion that Tyler made this anonymous call.

    There's also Thomas suddenly feeling sick, I'm not sure what that's about.

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    Part 2 Suddenly Thomas was standing in a tall hexagonal chamber. Before him was the prince, the weed- and feather-like material

  • edited March 2017

    So Thomas doesn't want to ask Lana a personal question.....so he ends up asking her another personal question. I think he's starting to learn how she works ;).

    The prince stays as mysterious as always, though I trust him still. Still i'm kind of surprised you didn't give us a choice on whether to follow his advice or not, I was certain there was set up for it there. Maybe Thomas just feels like he doesn't have a choice here so he never considers it. Anyway great part, I'm glad you added the second section even though it was a last minute thing, I would have been slightly dissaponted if it had ended with the first.

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    Part 2 Suddenly Thomas was standing in a tall hexagonal chamber. Before him was the prince, the weed- and feather-like material

  • I like Thomas and Lana so much, its awesome to see how they develop :) But I am worried about the prince. I dont trust him but he helped Tyler in this part and that is not a bad thing. The problem is that we dont know what he is and how the others of his kind are, so we dont know if he is well-intentioned for his kind or not. But he is a great character and I am curios about his plans. It seems getting Rachel and Alexander back from wherever they are is one of his goals and maybe they can give more answers. I dont know where they are but they have to know more, right?

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    Part 2 Suddenly Thomas was standing in a tall hexagonal chamber. Before him was the prince, the weed- and feather-like material

  • Clive Carson, 02-13 - Thursday, Nov. 24th, 06:22 PM: Clive and Melissa set the table, aligning silverware, laying out plates and napkins, setting down several freshly heated dishes of food. Afterward they waited in each other’s company, biding time with light talk, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder on the hearth while the fire emitted warmth through their backs. They both got a little sleepy-eyed. Melissa’s head came to rest on Clive’s shoulder in the intervening minutes, and she only lifted once the doorbell rang.

    They opened the front door. Clive shuddered as the cold was let in, deeply missing the fire’s heat. The Schneiders were standing on their porch. Their cheeks and noses were made rosy by the mounting chill, because the sun was gone from view, its glow still lingering, but failing. The couple wore youthful smiles.

    “It’s good to see you,” David Schneider said, his accent German, shaking Clive’s hand with both his hands—he would have embraced him, eagerly, but he knew Clive minded his personal space. He hugged Melissa, and once his own wife finished her greetings, and after they had hung their jackets in the hall, he took Alex Schneider’s hand and they all moved into the living room, where the fire sizzled and popped and permeated the air with warmth.

    Clive took the dishes they brought, uncovered them, and arranged them around the table. When he returned, David had sprawled on the couch, Alex had sat next to him, and across from them, Melissa had once again sat at the hearth, saving a spot beside her for Clive.

    “How have you two been?” David asked merrily, after Clive had taken his seat. David was a tall six-foot-two, his head was shaved, and he was handsome. His eyes were blue, and he wore jeans and a long sleeve button-up which, Clive was aware, concealed an ugly, violent tattoo that covered most of his chest and a plethora of scars along his arms from onstage self-mutilation, from an odd and dark time in the man’s musical career.

    Those just making David’s acquaintance could never imagine what a strange fellow David had once been earlier in adulthood, because he practically radiated positivity. And he was nice. Horribly, almost suspiciously nice. He just about made others levitate in his presence.

    Alex had had a hand in that. Their encounter—as the couple had admitted, rather openly—was the catalyst for David clearing up his act and getting off some pretty hard drugs he was doing at the time. An American from Oregon, Alex was shorter than her husband by almost a foot. Her eyes were brown and bright. Her blond hair was tied into a ponytail. She was chubby. And she was beautiful.

    “We’ve been good,” Melissa softly replied to David’s question.

    “We heard you were recording with your band last week,” Clive chimed in.

    David barked a laugh. He had a soundproof room for recording built into his basement for the times his bandmates visited to record new songs—nowadays, it was a calmer affair—but mostly just as a place to catch up or replay old favorites should the mood strike them. “I suppose,” he said, “we’ll just have to keep the sound down next time.”

    “Or just add another layer of sound foam,” Alex added, smiling.

    “That could work,” David agreed.

    They exchanged idle small talk for several minutes, then the doorbell rang once again. Clive stood first and waved away their attempts to follow him; instead, they headed toward the dining room. Clive entered the hall, and cold fangs dug into his skin as he opened the door. Shivering, he saw the Pages standing on his porch.

    “Good to see you, Clive,” Amber said, shifting the dish in her arms to shake Clive’s hand, and her husband Ed did the same.

    “David and Alex are here?” Ed asked.

    “Yeah,” Clive replied.

    “What about that other guy, Thomas Callahan?” he said. Ed was a veteran, who had served three years in Afghanistan. His interest in Thomas, Clive guessed, likely spurred from an interest in the other man’s time in the Middle East as a chaplain.

    Clive shook his head. “He’s not here yet, but he said he’d come.”

    “Well, we hope he does,” Amber said. ”We’d both like to meet him.”

    Clive nodded and ushered the two of them inside, hurriedly closing the door behind them to keep the cold out and the heat in. He took their dishes while Ed hung up an overcoat, and Amber hung her jacket from another of the pegs, then followed them into the dining room, where the others greeted them. From there, dinner commenced.

    To be continued...

  • edited March 2017

    Aye, Clive =) A short, but neat part, a good introduction for this dinner scene, which I can guess is going to be very important for this chapter, considering that even the Prince of Wolves outright mentioned it. With Thomas approaching and probably triggering one of Clive's visions, I cannot wait for what we're going to see. Whatever it is, I am sure it will lead to some answers of sorts, or at leas put Clive on the road to find out the truth. It's probably a good thing that the Prince of Wolves wants this to happen, because it means me and this potentially divine being of questionable moral standing have at least one goal in common :D

    And hey, Alex is introduced! Well, the other Alex at least, not mine, but the wife of that eccentric, but strangely likable former musician from Germany who used to be into some seriously dark stuff during his career. I don't even know what kind of music requires on-stage self-mutilation and I am not sure if I want to know. Some very weird sub-form of emocore maybe? One thing's for sure though, that is by far not the weirdest thing coming from Germany :D Anyways, I remember that guy from the original story briefly, glad to see him again as well.

    I also see the Page family... Without their son. This is now a super huge stretch, because they potentially just left Luke at home to spare him a potentially boring dinner with someone he has no connection to, but perhaps whatever caused the disappearance of Rachel and Alex from the entire timeline did the same to Luke? It's likely the first one, but the second is certainly a possibility, even if it seems likely the Prince would have mentioned such a thing before when he hinted at some of the dreamers. He explicitly mentioned two missing dreamers, so if Rachel and Alex are these two, there's no room for Luke. So, I guess he's not missing, just staying at home. Although I just realized one big difference, with Samantha being Tyler's best friend in this reality and not Luke's, whereas their relationship in the original story has been far less familiar, if I remember correctly. Maybe it's just that Sam and Luke never got friends, due to the factor that Alex is missing from the equation and that his rivalry with Luke might have influenced her, but it's entirely likely that this timeline doesn't feature Luke to begin with. Hm..... until I know more, I am still leaning more to the former option though.

    NoHopeLeft posted: »

    Clive Carson, 02-13 - Thursday, Nov. 24th, 06:22 PM: Clive and Melissa set the table, aligning silverware, laying out plates and n

  • edited March 2017

    Clive Carson, 02-14 - Thursday, Nov. 24th, 07:33 PM: Dinner had been marvelous. There was turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce as well as roast with steamed potatoes and carrots, fresh homemade rolls, and mash potatoes and gravy, along with much more. By the time dinner was winding down, everyone was positively stuffed. And admittedly, more than a little drunk. Red wine had flowed freely over the course of the meal, and once that had run dry, someone had found and broke out the beer. Only David, Clive, Amber, and Alex partook in the beer. Although Melissa and Ed had had their fair share of wine, the two seemed mostly sober, and Ed a tad somber.

    They were gathered again in the living room. Clive and Melissa were on the hearth, David and Alex were on cuddling the couch, and Ed and Amber were squeezed onto an easy chair meant for one person.

    “Will you show us?” Amber asked. Clive had, off-handedly and with the assistant of alcohol, mentioned that he had finished the next chapter in his current writing project, which was originally meant to be a book but was shaping up to be a novella of sorts. “Maybe,” she went on excitedly, because she was an unabashed fan of his work, “we could do a reading.”

    Clive shrugged. For all it did, alcohol still couldn’t fully nullify his self-consciousness, especially regarding his writing. Though it made him more inclined to the idea than he would have been otherwise. “I don’t know. Maybe if everyone was interested. Is everyone interested?”

    The idea was endorsed by nods, vocal agreements, and the slight spillage of some beer. That, Clive thought, settles that.

    “Whoops,” Alex whispered.

    “Leave it,” Clive said, standing with difficult. He moved slowly, so he wouldn’t stumble. “I’ll grabbed some paper towels on my way back.”

    He made his way upstairs, entered his study, and gathered the most recently written pages from his work desk. The pages had been typed using a typewriter he had owned and maintained for a long time; his first published novel was written using it so many years go, along with its subsequent drafts, and before that a score of short fictions.

    He stopped in the kitchen before returning to the living room and handing Alex several paper towels. He sat next to Melissa and tapped the pages on his knee to align them.

    “Well,” he said, “does anyone want to do the reading, or should I?”

    “May I?” Amber asked drunkenly.

    Clive shrugged, leaned forward, and handed her the pages. Only Melissa had read the previous three chapters, but everyone in the room was familiar with the premise to some extent. Besides, it could be summarized pretty aptly: after the death of his father, a man rents a cabin to clear his head and get his thoughts in order—there, he is a stalked by creature.

    “‘Several Days and Nights, chapter four,’” Amber said, slurring her words. She coughed before going on. “‘There was a scratching sound.

    “‘Gilligan stirred in his sleep,” she continued, “‘trying to ignore it, not fully compre…’” she paused, appearing she might be sick, then continued “‘...comprehending the sound he was hearing. When the noise persisted he at last opened his eyes. Clear, soft scratches. Perhaps on glass. He sat up in bed and the noise abruptly ceased...’”

    Any and all nuance to the writing was lost in her drunkenness.

    “May I?” Ed asked. She handed him the pages, looking a little disappointed. He realigned them and loudly cleared his throat. “‘Gripped by a mounting sense of isolation, Gilligan swung his legs of the bed, stood with the blanket wrapped around him, and pulled his boots over his socks. First he added some more wood to the dying fire. Second he wandered about the house, checking the windows for any signs of—’

    “‘Scratches. Standing in stark contrast to the woods which the window overlooked. Gilligan slipped a hand out from under his blanket, touched the glass where the crisscrossing scratches met, and felt a demented chill play his vertebrae like a xylophone.’” Ed’s deep and clear voice, and perhaps the gloominess he acquired while drinking, complemented the narration. Everyone listened raptly, David in particular.

    Ed went on: “‘He got closer to the window—closer than he would have liked to on a cold and lonesome night such as now—and tried to see out, see if whatever had scratched it had also left tracks, but the firelight dancing within the cabin only tossed his reflection on the glass and did nothing to penetrate the darkness outside.

    “‘Gilligan returned to his bed and sat but entertained no thoughts about getting back to sleep. He debated with himself. Finally curiosity got the better of caution and he left behind the blanket and slipped his jacket over his sleepwear. Before he stepped onto the porch he grabbed a flashlight and flicked it on.

    “‘His breath hung in the air as vapor,’” Ed continued. “‘He played the beam off the massive drifts in the open field opposite the porch, then off his car, buried almost to its hubcaps in snow; its ice-encrusted windows shone the light back at him fragmented and weakened. He turned the beam to the ground and shined it in front of him as he made his way around the cabin.

    “‘There were no stars out. No moon. Behemoth clouds veiled the sky in darkness.

    “‘His boots crunched through the snow’s frozen layer of crust as he walked—the only sound besides the soft click of branches just ahead of him. He rounded the second corner and walked, slowly, two more paces.

    “‘The flashlight played across the snow and filled the tracks with shadow. Gilligan stopped dead away. The cold, he thought, had not ever felt colder. Shivering, using the beam he followed the tracks until they vanished into the woods. He reluctantly moved one foot forward, then the next. Closer inspection revealed they were indeed footprints, but not made by hoofs or pads, and not by a human, regardless of whether they were barefoot, in socks, or in shoes.

    “‘The tracks led out of the woods and abruptly ended there at the base of the window. A horrible thought struck him. His gaze wandered upward…’”

    The doorbell rang its singsong tone and David jumped, stifled a gasp, and tried and failed to catch a car of beer he had just upended.

    To be contiune...

  • I'm glad you like David and Alex! David's original portrayal was a lot more somber last time around, so it's interesting to be trying a more eccentric, freakishly nice portrayal. As for the genre of music, the submission says he was part of a hard rock band, but I don't think self-mutilation is specific or relevant to that genre, like, at all. Anyway, it's not something I play to google.

    These are our first hints about Luke, so maybe it's better if I play coy on the subject for now. There's one thing I would like to raise with you, though. If Luke is not one of the prince's divine dreamers, maybe the prince doesn't know about his absence or at the very least doesn't care about it since it's irrelevant to his goals. As for whether or not Amber and Edward just left Luke at home—it's entirely possible. ;)

    Aye, Clive A short, but neat part, a good introduction for this dinner scene, which I can guess is going to be very important for

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