Discussion in 'The Queen of Cups' started by Zin, Jul 9, 2016.
You wake up in a pool of your own half-dried blood matting your hair, the back of your head aching - and the inside of your forehead hurting, too, though that doesn't seem to make sense. Your vision is spotted as you stir and try to get your bearings, limbs refusing to work quite right when you try to move. Your mouth feels dry, and with every second of awareness you realize just how much worse you feel than you realized, the ache in your skull amplified tenfold by the ache of a headache setting in... and the bruises all over your body don't help the stiffness in your limbs.
The smell of iron is thick in the air, clogging your nostrils, and... no, that isn't the smell of blood, that is blood, clogging up your nose and pinning one nostril closed.
Your home and shop is trashed, once you manage to get a bleary-eyed look around... the register is smouldering and smoking gently, the front window is smashed, and someone stole the rest of your pies.
More importantly, you don't see Zebra. You don't smell Zebra.
You do, however, see signs that make you think he was dragged out of your shared shop and living space - namely the scraps of his clothes caught on the jagged pieces of wood jutting out of the doorway.
Fuck. What did I do?
Katters sits up, sticking and unsticking her tongue to the roof of her mouth. She needs water, and a truckload of advil, and—
She looks around. The wreckage surrounding her is not the result of a night of drunken debauchery (or, if it is, she's very angry that she can't remember it).
Oh shit, the window again.
Also everything else. They're going to be paying these repairs off for forever.
Katters stands and fights off a wave of nausea. She puts a hand to her head, hoping some pressure will ease the killer headache she's got going, but the pressure only makes it worse. She puts her hand down.
It looks like a bomb went off. Did a bomb go off? Did someone blow up the shop? The door to the house is gone, just gone, and the door to outside has been shattered.
She peers into the house and decides against going in. It doesn't look any better in there, and she wants to pretend the damage is confined to this one, small area for a little while longer.
Outside looks better. There's some broken glass, and one of the tables has been upturned, but that would be easy to clean up. This is a mess Katters can get behind.
She stares at it for a while, trying to ignore what is probably a concussion, before noticing a scrap of fabric almost-hidden among the glass. That's weird, and she turns around to look for more.
Sure enough, there's another one on the floor inside the shop. And where the door was, fabric caught on the wood. Picking it up, it feels like cotton — a shirt? Wrong colour to be hers, so. Zebra?
Where is Zebra?
Katters walks back outside. “Zebra?”
Katters recieves no response but that of the quiet breeze through the streets, empty and echoing. That's... weird, too. The only sound right now seems to be the crunch of your green converse over busted glass.
No one seems to be around at all, even the nearby people Katters has grown used to.
There's no sign of Zebra, aside from that of a clear scuffle that ended with ripped fabric.
Shit. Did Zebra explode? Katters thinks Zebra might have exploded. She wouldn’t put it past him.
“Zebra?” she tries again. Her own voice sets off another pang in her head and she decides that if Zebra were going to respond, he’d have done it already.
She’s clutching the remains of his shirt in her hand, but she’s not worried. He’ll be around somewhere — semi-shirtless, but alive.
It’s very quiet, outside. It’s a little creepy. Katters turns back to the house and winces at the damage, somehow worse than she remembered it being. Time to go back inside, see the extent of it.
She passes through the shop — been there, done that — and steps through the gaping doorway into the living room, scanning the floor for more clues. Maybe a manifesto the bomber left behind, or a trail of blood and gunpowder that would lead her to the culprit.
It isn't even dark out, yet.
There should be people around.
Hell, there should probably be cops, or something, the wreckage isn't exactly subtle.
But there's no one.
More importantly, you can't damn well remember what hit you. Every time you try... it makes your skull ache more... there's... huh.
There's... a weird, sharp pain, at the back of your neck, near the base... one you only notice as you start being able to work through the pain in your skull. ( You may have a fracture. You probably don't want to stick your fingers in it. )
Your feet hit something, sending it rolling further under the gutted couch.
Katters drops to her hands and knees — everything goes black for a second, but she recovers and peers under the couch. It’s hard to see, but. She drops further, to her stomach, and gropes under the couch for the thing.
There's a syringe, and it's a big one, with a long, sturdy needle, and... well. There's blood on the end... and it's empty, now.
Ugh, just junk. Really need to clean up more, Katters thinks, who knows what else is under that couch.
She holds the syringe up to the light, trying to see if there’s anything in it, and if she recognises its contents if so.
But she doesn’t recognise the syringe at all — it’s not a model she’s ever bought before, and she’s pretty sure she’s the only one in the house with a syringe-buying habit.
Katters stands, wobbles, takes a closer look at the thing. There’s blood on it — hers? Zebra’s? The junkie that broke into the shop and strapped Zebra to a bomb? The terrorist who injected Zebra with a bomb?
These are too many questions for a person with a potentially-severe head injury. Katters ventures deeper into the house, toward the kitchen, for that glass of water and truckload of advil she promised herself.
There's a single silvery droplet of something caught on the plunger. It looks like mercury.
The kitchen is also trashed.
Some motherfucker stole your knives and cutlery, and the fridge is hanging open, leaning on one hinge.
The knives are gone, the food is gone, even the fucking painkillers are gone. Who steals generic over-the-counters? Who cracks a person’s skull open and then takes their advil? An asshole, that’s who.
Katters washes her face off in the sink, drinking a few handfuls of water while she’s at it. That’s better — she can breathe again, and that omnipresent rust smell is, well. Not gone, but diminished. She can smell other things over it, like the toxic stench of melted plastic and hot metal from the register in the other room.
On second thought, she preferred the blood.
She separates the syringe from its needle and puts it in her pocket, along with the fabric scrap. The needle she leaves on the counter, where it can get forgotten about and pose a future hazard.
She’d like to take Great Prejudice with her — more for comfort than anything else — but last she remembers, she’d left the sledgehammer by the door, which means it’s gone, now. She’ll be angry about that, later. Right now she’s too busy being angry at everything else, and also in pain.
Katters leaves, shaking off the useless urge to lock the door behind her. Head injury means doctor, which means it’s time to hit up the local doc-in-a-box.
The air tastes stale as Katters leaves her home, strange and stagnant and... ever so slightly stinking of ozone. The colours of the town seem muted as she heads towards the nearest walk- in clinic...
...and she still has yet to see another living soul.
When she reaches it, the clinic is empty, with signs of habitation, but no sign of people.
The walk wasn’t an easy one — after a while, every step Katters took sent a pulse of pain through her skull, and the stillness of the air made it difficult to breathe. Smog, she decided, taking great lungfuls of stale air through her open mouth.
So, when she arrives at the clinic, she elects to sit down for a while and recover. There are plenty of open seats in the eerily empty waiting room, so she sprawls, spreading out over two or three uncomfortable chairs.
Something happened at the pie shop. Some kind of devastating event, which wrecked much of the building and Katters’ person. And now Zebra — and seemingly everyone else in the world — was gone.
What if, she wonders, it’s not them who are gone.
The clinic is very quiet. The world is very quiet. The world is quiet, and empty, and still, and Katters is alone.
What if, she wonders, it wasn’t Zebra who blew up. What if—
Her heartrate’s gone back down. She can breathe again. Her head still hurts, but it’s not throbbing anymore, and that’s a start. Maybe she can finish it off — there’s no doctors around, but surely there are painkillers somewhere.
Katters stands up, and raids the clinic.
The clinic, thankfully, is full to the brim of the really good shit... and there's even some things that could comprise a snack of sorts in the fridge. Morphine, Ibuprofen, Vicodin... plus enough bandages and rubbing alcohol, along with supplies for stitches, to at least attempt to fix herself up. ( Medicine + Dexterity )
While she's rummaging around, though, she hears the quietest little jingle of something touching the little bell out front...
And sees someone slip into a nearby room out of the corner of her eye.
Katters grabs a medical bag and starts dumping everything she can find into it. Advil, definitely. Morphine, sure. Gauze, why not. Syringes, balms, surgical tape, gloves, a stethoscope — everything but the wheelchairs. If they didn’t want her to steal all their shit, they shouldn’t have left all their shit unattended.
She tosses a sandwich in, too — she’s too nauseated to eat, right now, but she’ll be ravenous once the painkillers kick in. Speaking of which.
Katters tosses back four ibuprofen and an entire glass of water. She’s sorely tempted by the opiates, but things are strange enough lately that she wants to keep her wits about her. Maybe she’ll take a couple Vicodin when she feels safe again.
Her immediate needs met, she decides it’s finally time to assess the extent of the damage. She finds a mirror and takes a look.
There are bruises blooming over her scales, and some swelling over her brow and right eye. Her nose hasn’t bled since she washed it, and if it was ever running anything but blood, it hasn’t done that since, either. Katters is a little disappointed in herself for washing before getting a look at the damage, but in her defence, she was suffering from a head injury at the time.
She gingerly presses her fingers into her scalp, sparking more pain. Her scalp, too, is swollen, and there’s a laceration hidden beneath her hair. That’s where most of the pain is coming from, but not all of it.
She’s pretty sure there’s a fracture, but she can’t be positive without an x-ray or MRI, and those are difficult to do alone. At the very least, it’s not a compound or depressed fracture, so she probably won’t need surgery. Thank god for that — she’s not keen on trying to perform surgery on her own head.
South of the alleged fracture, just above her neck, Katters finds a small lump — an injection site. That explains the syringe she found, probably. Strange place for an injection, though — she wonders what was in it. Is that why she can’t remember anything? Or is that just the head injury?
There are other bruises, and other scrapes, but nothing that requires any attention. She will heal, if given the chance.
She’s cleaning the laceration with a damp paper towel, hissing under her breath, when she hears someone in the waiting room. She turns to see who it is, and spots them darting into one of the other exam rooms.
Either someone else is raiding the place for drugs, or … She doesn’t know what “or” is, but she doesn’t like it. Whatever the stranger is doing, Katters wants no part of it. She ducks out of her own exam room, clutching her first-second-and-third aid kit in her claws, and sneaks out of the building.
The bell dings as she walks past the desk, and for a split second, Katters sees a shadow in front of her. Then it's gone, and she's alone in the empty street.
There's a car in front of the clinic that looked to be in perfect condition when she came in, but now it's starting to rust, paint flaking away in front of her eyes.
Shadow people. That figures. Stress, probably.
But the dissolving car is new. Katters approaches it, head cocked in idle curiosity. It’s an older model, with a distinct, angular shape — not like those modern cars that are all the exact same level of aerodynamic. Its blue paint fades, sunbleached in seconds, and then peels away, exposing the steel underneath.
Spots of rust appear around the car’s seams and hinges, small at first, but they grow. They eat through the metal, form collections of swiss-cheese that collapse together into bigger, jagged, and irregular holes — ringed with the flesh-like red of the rust.
The air disappears from the car’s tires, and it sags. Its headlights cloud over, yellow and opaque.
Katters crouches next to the passenger door. The rust has devoured a considerable chunk of it, and she can see the skeletal mechanisms inside — the reinforcement bars being touched by the rusting disease next, spreading from there to the window system. She touches a finger to the wound.
The car screams.
Katters leaps back as the car’s alarm goes off, one of the alarms that sound like a police siren. The alarm rises into an abrupt whine, falls into a slow, deep groan, and dies as the alarm system is taken by whatever it is that is devouring the rest of the car.
She swallows her heart and takes an unnecessary look around to see if the noise attracted anyone’s attention. She starts walking, away from the clinic and the car, away from her shops, and deeper into the city.
She could use a cigarette.
The street beneath her feet begins to groan and shudder, cracks spreading beneath her converse, the world shivering and shaking around her, the ground beginning to crack apart and disintegrate....
There's a strange smell in the air, like copper and sulfur, and you hear something shuffling behind you, slow and cautious, followed by a low, creaking croak that turns into a burst of loud static.
Katters turns, brandishing her kit like a weapon.
You see a misty shape that seems to be made of static, which moves towards you, taking two more steps before it bursts into a cloud of static.
The noise is a bit like this...
Kintsugi is based on the premise that nothing anyone can do or say makes it okay to treat them like trash. By logging in, you affirm that you understand this to be the foundational premise of the community. More on our community philosophy here.
Separate names with a comma.