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Spare Parts

 
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Ketch Creeley
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2015 11:31 pm    Post subject: Spare Parts Reply with quote

The OOC:

This thread is essentially a memory bank. More specifically, Ketch's memory bank. Out of context and non-linear as memories tend to be. I haven't yet decided if I'll time stamp things.

Some of the things posted here will be solo writings. Some will be collaborations with other writers. Rarely will an entire scene be posted here. Instead, with the permission of the other writers, I will pull out chunks to highlight. The full scene might come later as part of a separate thread or SL. Or never. Because I move like a sloth.

Please stay tuned.
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Ketch Creeley
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2015 4:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There was a hush here that was muffling but not cloying, inspired one to look both inward and outward at the same time. The winter cold lent an added layer of serenity since most animals were hibernating or burrowed deep enough to take advantage of whatever warmth they could find—only the humans and whatever might be scavenging for food were dumb enough to muck around this close to nightfall during the coldest month of the year. The snow crunched and icy crusts broke audibly with the weight of their feet. Otherwise, the men moved in relative quiet—Ketch more so than Fin, which surprised the Scot a little and had him flicking glances his way to observe the other man as they walked.

Once past the treeline bordering the cabin, there wasn’t a clear cut path to be followed so Ketch split off to wander aimlessly for awhile, soaking up the scent of the forest, stepping lightly over downed trees and icy rocks, and weaving through brambles and bushes stripped of their leaves by the rough hand of winter. The silence was expansive, had both flavor and gravity and, at moments, he could feel the texture of the trees on his tongue, his footfalls like roots stretching over the ground. Standing still, he could pick out the sounds of animals, the way the wind bent the limbs of a tree and scattered dry corpses of leaves across the snow. Deep in the terrain he heard the night predators stirring to begin their hunt, closer in the clatter of hooves, and beneath that the whisper-soft passage of rabbits and mice. Prowling along the perimeter until he located Fin's hiding place where the man sat slouched up against a tree, Ketch came up quietly and then dropped alongside the man unceremoniously.

Ketch propped the crossbow beside him and leaned against Fin, shoulder to shoulder, close enough to share body heat. It was a practical gesture, entirely unselfconscious. Fin didn’t mind the proximity, was comfortable because he was comfortable with Ketch. The man didn’t judge him, didn’t try to tell him what to do or how to get out of this black depression, just offered a shoulder and a couch and good company. Made him laugh when few others could. It wasn’t a cuddly kind of closeness that he felt for him, not like he could find with Ben or Taneth or Lucy; it was something else, an inexpressible comfort. Normally Fin was a talker and not afraid of expressing his feelings; Ketch allowed for silence and things to remain unspoken, and there was a part of Fin that deeply appreciated that. Gave everything else inside him room to breathe.

Fin’s eyes had been closed, head resting back against bark while he let his senses stretch beyond himself. One looped edge of his kilt had been drawn up over his hoodie like a blanket to add another layer, tucking his legs under so that there wasn't any exposed skin. Now it was a waiting game - his bow at the ready in case they heard anything. Fin relaxed and pulled Ketch’s old flask out of his sporran (appropriated since Ketch had gotten a new one for the holiday). The liquid was warming and Fin shifted so that he relaxed into his position even more, offering it out wordlessly to the other man. "Where'd ye learn to hunt?" he whispered.

The appearance of his own appropriated flask was cause for a lift of brow, but Ketch made no further comment on it, thereby silently relinquishing ownership to Fin. Though he did stick a hand out for it once he’d finished pulling on some cheap, fingerless gloves, and tipped the metal to his lips when Fin handed it over before replying at the same low decibel, “My grandfather.” That was the short answer. He didn’t elaborate.

First, he’d learned to listen and see, and then to feel. Months of standing stock still in the forest until his legs threatened to buckle and he could swear he felt the dirt beneath his feet coating his tongue and running through his veins, listening to the sounds of nature, the animals, and trying to push beyond the borders of his own body. It’d been a fruitless and maddening effort for weeks on end, frustration mounting so that at the end of each day he tore through the woods violently on his way home, his grandfather trailing calmly behind him—which only angered Ketch further. It began slowly, a gradual sense of vanishing. The animals passed concentrically closer to him and then right in front of him as if he didn’t exist at all. Finally, on the tail end of a late-Autumn weekend, Ketch reached a hand out to touch the antlers of a passing buck and it stopped its motions altogether to look at him curiously, rolling its great brown eyes slowly over him as its nostrils quivered. Ketch passed a hand through the ruff of the beast’s neck and felt the wild-roaming spirit of the animal caught like a frenetic pulse beneath his flattened palm. And then, without warning, with no other fanfare than the vague sensation of needles scratching lightly across his palm, he felt it within him.

Fin accepted the short answer with a nod and didn’t press for anything more. He just sat and let his mind wander to how he learned to hunt as a lad with his father and the other men of the village. It had been a communal act, many often sharing their kills with those that participated in that particular hunt. Fin thought maybe that was what he missed most about his old life—a sense of shared destiny, shared purpose. Everyone had a task or a talent that contributed to the overall safety and survival of the small community that made up his village. The relationships felt symbiotic rather than selfish. People that lived in these cities now, with anything and everything they could want at their fingertips or a press of a button away, they weren’t forced to depend upon others anymore. Cities were full of independent ghosts that all haunted the same space but were stuck in their own hells. A person didn’t have to reach out unless they wanted to, and Fin was still uncertain how to adjust to that.

In contrast, Ketch had lived a life of self-reliance. Relationships were potential liabilities. If he couldn’t get something on his own, he either didn’t get it or initiated a complicated series of trades and manipulations to accomplish it. Altruism was a fiction, reality was the grit in your teeth from beneath the nails of the person who’d punched you. Mimi had been his first opportunity for genuine selflessness; when she vanished, she left a great fissure in her wake that he’d tried to fill in the old ways, but it always seemed the hole was too deep: the women boring by comparison, the whiskey lacking in bite, bruises and broken bones from fights never quite balancing the violent toll taken on his mind. Had he and Fin met back then, he’d not have been capable of the camaraderie taking place now, the easy slouch that brought their shoulders together, the coordinating rise and fall of their chests.

Ketch capped the flask and set it aside, giving the man a pointed look as he ticked his head sideways at the surrounding forest in silent indication. If the Scot didn’t hear it now, he would shortly: hooves. Fingers skimmed lightly over the crossbow beside him.

Putting all of his mental wanderings aside, Fin reached for his bow and the arrow already set out and aside so he wouldn’t give his position way. Together, both men came to a crouch in the hollowed out log and peered over the edge of the tree. There was a doe there, looking a little light on its feet as if the foraging had been lean this winter but Fin wasn’t going to turn his nose up at it. Arrow nocked, the bow rose slowly over the top of the tree so as not to attract the doe’s attention. Then he took aim, sighting down the length of the arrow and releasing it smoothly. There was a brief twang and the doe tensed, starting to turn its head as the arrow flew toward its target. The arrow struck through the middle of its neck—not a killing blow but still solid, a good start. Fin pulled another arrow from the quiver and nocked, just in case, while the doe started to move.

Ketch’s finger hovered pressure against the trigger, but he didn’t pull it immediately. Instead, he waited when Fin loosed his arrow to see where it would land and gauged the doe’s reflexive action. She listed to the side for a half-second span, muscles of her hind-quarters trembling. Ketch squeezed the trigger. All told, it was a matter of seconds between their arrows, and where Fin’s landed solidly through the middle of the neck, Ketch’s struck below the back of the skull along the spinal column. The doe foundered in place, and if that blow didn’t kill her as Ketch meant it to, well then there was Fin’s next arrow already in place. He didn’t intend for the animal to suffer needlessly. That was reserved for beasts of the human persuasion.

Fin muttered a curse under his breath for being out of practice and watched as the doe stumbled, one foot scrabbling against the leaves and underbrush, thrashing spastically. She went down on one front knee while that back leg kicked repeatedly, her breathing labored and harsh. Saliva collected at the corners of her mouth as Fin lowered his arrow and climbed out of the hollowed log to move toward the animal. Avoiding the back leg, he circled around to the head of the beast and knelt down beside her, crooning and petting her neck around the protruding arrow until she settled fully on its side. Fin murmured to the doe in Gaelic as he pulled the black-handled knife from his boot, ready to slit her throat if he didn't see the telltale signs that her life was fading already. The beast made a few soft noises before a pall settled over her, movements calming, breathing gradually slowing until finally, she was still. Fin waited patiently, glancing over to Ketch during that time, nodding to convey a laconic congratulations on the kill.

Using his knife, Fin slit the throat to help drain the blood and cupped a hand underneath to catch some of the hot, viscous liquid in his hand. Some ran over the edge and dripped onto the leaves and the short, coarse hair of the deer while he leaned to sip it out of his palm. It was warm and rich, the coppery flavor bursting in his mouth, warming him all the way down and sitting heavily in his gut, filling it for the time being until he ate again.

Ketch had settled at the rear of the animal, blade of his Havalon thumbed open and hovering above the doe’s belly when Fin leaned over and began sipping the blood. Ketch cocked his head to the side, bewildered and wondering if this was some cultural practice carried over from the 1700’s. He watched Fin another two beats before shrugging and leaning in, thinking to follow suit and be companionable until Fin flattened his palm and flicked a spray of blood at him, instead.

Ketch blinked and saw red, then blinked again. “You’re a *** nutjob,” he said, laughter coming out in staccato puffs of frosted air, “certifiable.” Fin smirked crookedly and smeared his bloody hands diagonally from his forehead down each side of his face much like the heathen Ketch often accused him of being.

Turning his attention back to the doe, Ketch made his cuts to the rear, unzipped the flesh up to the sternum, and reached inside the chest cavity to snip the diaphragm. He’d let Fin do the rest of the work up top, and once he’d removed those organs, Ketch would take care of the plumbing. That left them to wait for the rest of the blood to drain away before they could each grab an end of their catch and haul it back to the cabin as the sun dropped fully behind the treeline.

(Adapted. Thank you, FinMack)
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Ketch Creeley
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2015 4:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lacuna

Amsterdam is murder, 7 in 7. Drops, dead drops, and information deep dives. They divide them evenly, do the last one together. Ketch doesn’t like the deep dives, never has. All those thoughts running loose in his head. That’s how it starts, he thinks. If Mimi had it her way they’d have covered it all in five days and *** in the hotel room the other two. They need a vacation. He won't admit they’re going too hard, lays the six over a pamphlet on De Hortus Botanicus and empties gold casings atop a glossy shrubbery. Buxus obtusifolia. They’ll see it next time. Maybe.

She wants to divide his skin sometimes. Right along the seams, slip inside, dig around, *** some *** up. Love, hate, it's a thin line that’s gotten harder to remember lately. He looks at her the same way. Like glass figurines, porcelain tea cups, the china no one ever uses in the cabinet, you handle it delicately at the same time you wonder how much pressure it’d take to break them. There's always the temptation.

........

Her hips keep disobeying, swaying side to side to music only she can hear. Not like a metronome, but off-balance, favoring the right side. His direction. Loud flower print skirt splashing petals over her thighs. “Focus,” he says, even though he’s losing his to the swish of her hemline, higher each time. “Do you remember this?”

Her frown is an eraser smudging time. His, hers, it’s all jumbled up; he’s trying to realign it. That frown, though, it says he’s failing.

Other options include: Munich, Florence, *** Amarillo where they both nearly got the *** kicked out of them not once but three times. New York, New Orleans, New Delhi. Boston. Capetown. Berne.

Other options include: a doctor of rare ability, hospitalization, admitting it’s out of his hands.

“Do you remember this?” He asks again, patience lined with paper-thin frustration. Collapses easily beneath her silence, beneath the hand she extends to him. And he takes it. He takes it every goddamned time.

(This has been moved here from another folder.)
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Ketch Creeley
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2016 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

December

...A fist to his gut curled Ketch over, positioning him inches above the other man’s face so that he could smell the beer on his breath, the blood welling around his mouth. Adrenaline flushed his veins as fingers released and then took root around the man’s neck again, pulling him a half foot upright only to slam the man’s skull backwards into the dirt. And once more, enough to see the man’s eyes roll briefly back in his head before a sharp, sudden twist of hips unsettled Ketch, who caught an elbow in the dirt and finally found the beginnings of a caustic smile that was never fully realized. Turned out the other man had one last charge in his fist and set it off under Ketch’s chin. Teeth clattered together and a spray of blood fanned outwards as Ketch tipped backward onto the dirt. He saw nothing but pitch black. The noise in his head went silent, and for a brief moment before he blacked out, Ketch felt the same euphoric release he chased in the bedroom. Different mechanisms but the same magnitude of blessed freedom. Blissfully full, magnificently, bloodily sated.

Five golden seconds of unconsciousness that felt limitless, that felt like the kind of sleep he’d been pursuing for months. Years, maybe. A cool, thick black, downy spread of nothing. Then, in a sudden rush, pricks of light, a needling yellow glow that formed a haze at his temples. Ketch squeezed his eyes shut trying to extend the reach of the darkness, but it’d slipped away. He could feel the rise and fall of his chest, became gradually aware of straw stuck to his elbows, his back where he was propped like a forgotten puppet, half slumped and soaked in his own sweat and blood. The ambience around him filtered in slowly and, at first, as a lump of indistinguishable noise, a roaring that swept over his ear drums like a tidal wave. He winced, eyes narrowing like the motion would help him sort the sounds into phrases and the shapes into bodies. Fin was crouched next to him speaking. After staring at the Scot’s mouth for a good half minute, the question pinged the appropriate receptors in Ketch’s brain and he understood. “Tha’ be enough or ye goin’ back in?”

His reply came after another 15 seconds of formulation, and was accompanied by a smile that looked as if it, too, had been knocked askew, hitched oddly on his mouth as it was. A little lethargic, a little cruel in its curve. “Think I’ll take a breather.” That might have been an understatement; Ketch looked like something lining the gutters of West End. The shifter slid backwards onto his palms, righting himself into a lesser slouch as he passed the inside of his hand over the rough terrain of his face, prodding at the tender parts, the welts and tears that welled blood, the bump throbbing along his nose and another at his temple, the abrasion knuckles had made along his jaw, the bruises unfurling dark purple fingers across his ribs. His accounting was thorough and, in the end, gratified. He needed a shower, and possibly to stick the whole of his face in a sink full of ice. But nothing diminished his sense of satisfaction. Narrowed, swollen eyes searched the crowd until he found his opponent leaned up against a wall also indulging himself in taking a bodily history of the fight. There was no one else around him. When their eyes met, Ketch gave him a grim, thoughtful quirk of lips. The man was not human, but he was trying to blend in. Like him.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

2008:

An old routine: Mimi lets him out on the side of AZ-87. Not lets. Pushes. Forces him out with a fist that he can't retaliate against, though sometimes he catches it and holds it and they stare each other down, eyes violent, slinging accusations where their bodies have gone too still. This time her fist bounces off his jaw without any effort on his part to evade it. He gets out; all he has is his absence. It's usually enough to turn the car around eventually. A mile down the road. Maybe five. Once it was twenty.

He walks his penance, scuffing up clouds of dust with the toes of his boots, aimless and patient. The horizon curves ahead of him, the thicks and thins of the road as it crests a hill dwindling to a single dark thread that vanishes into a gray halo of smog. What a sick kind of love. Sticks a hand in his chest, bypasses the heart entirely and goes for the gut instead. Each side of him is disappointed in the other for living up to expectations: idiot human, dumb beast. Feels rare that they agree.

He thinks about taking off as he often does when he’s on these brief shoulder-of-the-road hiatuses: dropping down to four and vanishing into the desert. Or he could take to the sky, carve through the air currents on a dark wing. There’s his fear of heights to contend with. He always finds that ironic, that one place where his own human nature overwhelms the instinct of the other. In the end he knows he’ll do neither because in addition to some other loathful adjectives, he is also a sucker. For this woman, at least.

A car passes him by in a blue blur of speed, and then another at a more leisurely pace, one of those on the scenic tour spoiled by enough intermittent gas stations with carved wooden Indians standing sentinel and bins of cheap dreamcatchers to find the landscape twee rather than rightfully dangerous.

He estimates three miles this time before the jeep comes hauling back in his direction and pulls an aggressive stop on the shoulder opposite him. Mimi cranks down the window, laying her arm flat across the bottom of it as Ketch lopes across the road. Sunglasses are shoved upwards with the back of her hand and she squints at him like she’s judging his speed. “*** you,” she says as he crosses over the yellow line.

“Likewise.”

Apologies complete, he gets in the car and knocks road dust from the tips of his boots. Picking up his place on the map curling atop the dashboard, he points out Tonalea but Mimi continues to backtrack. “Someone’s tailing,” she says curtly, plunging a cigarette into the red eye of the car lighter. Once it starts smoking, she hands it over to him, kicking the heel of her chin up at the rearview. “Watch.”

He watches but there’s nothing to see, no one coming up behind them, no one for miles in either direction and he guesses she’s gotten lost again, wonders if it’s his fault for the argument or something that happened between putting him out on the side of the road and one of those miles she drove alone. Guilt’s got a fist heavier than hers. And more cunning. He slumps back in the seat and tries an experiment. “Where are we?”

Mimi looks at him like he’s the one that’s lost, that “duh” expression that hollows out her eyes and drops her mouth open a shallow little bit, but she finally says, “On the way to Vegas.”

He remembers this. Six months ago, terrain a slightly different combination of red, orange, and black and he across the seat from her smoking just like that. She had the window down then, too, wind blowing in hot as the devil’s breath. He doesn’t mind the revisitation. Aside from the argument (most certainly his fault that time), that’d been a good day, too. Remembering his role well, he slides his hand atop her knee, passes the cigarette back over, fitting it in the keyhole that’s formed at the corner of her mouth. Perfect fit now just like it was then. It unlocks her smile, which is (and was) what he was hoping for.

But some ten miles in, before she snaps out of it and pulls to the side of the road with hands trembling on the wheel, he wonders if their forward momentum will keep requiring them to go backwards. He needs a plan. Eventually they’ll run out of places to revisit, the past will collide headlong with the future. There will be wreckage they can’t avoid. He knows that. For now, they keep driving.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2016 2:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

April 2nd, 2016
Prague, 5:35 a.m.

There was nothing familiar here. No touchstones or landmarks tied to memory. Just unpainted experience: the old blank canvas of existence waiting for the stroke of action, for wandering feet, for hungry eyes to paint it. The night still wrapped around the city, indigo-armed and thick, the two lamplights of the inn poking dull, yellow holes in it.

He stepped inside, he got a room. He managed. It was what he knew to do. The bedframe was small, the walls stained with conversations that came before his silence. And then it came. That feeling. The one he had to bring with him no matter how light he traveled, how few the items in his backpack. Felt like it could have brought down the plane, left a crater in the Earth somewhere as finite proof of life. An irony unto itself. Density was the deception that allowed it to fit inside his body: a dark, compacted enormity unseen and well-contained.

This was where he meant to unpack it.
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Ketch Creeley
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2017 10:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What happened on New Year's Eve, 2016.
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