Cutscene: A Detour On Memory Lane

December 27, 2015:

A member of a Purifier cell meets a curious and grizzled soul.

Brooklyn, New York

A dining room in Park Slope.

Characters

NPCs: Jonah Blanchard, Purifier

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Wheezing, bleeding, and seated with his hands cuffed behind one of his dining room chairs, Jonah regretted ever replying to 'SolutionOmega'. The newbie appeared on /r/xout just two days ago, full of questions and fired up for the cause; Jonah felt it his duty to educate, to draw him out of the ideological shallows so that he might swim with his brothers and sisters in spirit.

"Let's see here."

Omega's voice has a starved quality to it. Between it and the barely restrained violence with which the wee, wild-haired man studies(and re-studies) every inch of Jonah, the young crusader has been biting back the urge to blurt something about high mercury content since Omega sat down across from him.

"Case Number 11…" Omega tosses another manila envelope from the satchel at his side onto the table. It can't quite slide smoothly towards Jonah at this point, but that doesn't stop the smaller man from nudging it closer, opening it up, and paging through— just like the others. "… girl by the name'a Leonora Fischer, age 4."

Years-old pictures and news clippings stare silently at Jonah: '6 DEAD, 8 INJURED'; 'CHURCH FIRE FIRST IN THIRTY YEARS'; a little girl with a lie behind her beaming, gap-toothed smile and gray eyes; 'COMMUNITY IN SHOCK'; 'CANDLELIGHT VIGIL SCHEDULED FOR SUNDAY'; the little gray-eyed girl drawing her finger over an intimately familiar book with gilded pages; 'REVEREND CALLS FOR PEACE IN COMMUNITY'; a tiny, blackened body…

"See, now, I can guess how you fucks knew she could do what she could," Omega rumbles after half a minute of silent paging, "with her eyes an' what not: confessions an' spiritual dilemmas an' all'a that. What I been wonderin' since we first got to— what's that shit, DMin'? IMin'? Some fuckin' kinda 'M'-in' aboutcher exploits, though: did one'a y'all know she was in Sunday School when you decided to detonate?"

"All the better to show the world what comes of consorting with the devil's children," Jonah hisses, defiant even as he strains to only watch the slideshow through the corner of his swelling eye. It's become routine: stare at a file; field questions; fight aforementioned mercury urges; remind self to talk to mods about security; pee a little.

Remember Nell.

Stop remembering Nell.

"One more time, just in case the first ten didn't sink in:," he continues with a forced smirk, "if you're here to martyr me—"

"I'm just askin' questions, bub," the stranger forcefully insists. "That's what this' about, right? Learnin' about the cause? So c'mon, learn me: how many kids does it take ta make a statement, exactly? Is it 6? Hope it's in the ballpark, 'cause if it ain't, you boys done wasted…"

Stop. Remembering, Jonah tells himself as Omega's words melt into a vague, sandy growl.

Remember the way she wanted to do everything he did, even as he got to the age where he was more interested in hitting purecore shows with his crew and trying to hang out with other, older girls than having a permanent sidekick.

Stop remembering how he could never resist waking her up for a snack and a little TV time whenever he got home, just to make it up to her.

Remember how the air smelled the first time she made something burn with her eyes. Remember her panic; remember how his world fell out from under him.

Whatever you do, do not— do not remember the splashing and boiling and the preaching and the thrashing! Stop remembering the baptism!

Stop remembering the look on Mom's face when Nell stopped fighting you! Stop remembering her panic, her promise to make it all right. STOP!

"— c'mon—"

Omega slaps him, hard. He snaps up from his slump, stills a trembling lip, and forces himself to focus on his tormenter.

"What're you, daydreamin' on me?" the stranger presses, incredulous. "I still got questions! Look— I'll make it easy on ya, bub: this next set, they can be about Case Number 12…" another envelope is drawn.

"… or they can be aboutcher buddies. Pick yer poison, bub."

With his hands as they are, Jonah can't do anything about the tear beginning its trek down his cheek.

|||

"Ya did the right thing, bub," Omega assuringly murmurs just a few feet from his ear as he unlocks the cuffs. "Openin' up to me an' what not. Gonna help me make a lotta things right."

Jonah's arms fall limp at his sides once they're unbound. They hang for a couple seconds - about as long as it takes him to inhale and exhale with a shudder and a choked off sob - before he pulls them into his lap and rubs at his wrists. He hardens his shell-shocked features into a vacant glare, staring at the thirteen files on the table instead of the stranger.

"Hell, who knows? Could be that sweet li'l Nell's smilin' down on ya now, ready to forgive. Just like always, right?"

"I was only—" Jonah stops himself mid-protest and clenches his jaw for a moment.

Following another shudder, his voice and glare both begin to crack as he whispers, "I thought… if I just prayed long enough, she'd… she—"

"Shhh," Omega half-whispers, half-snarls as he straightens behind Jonah. "Someday, maybe - just maybe - you'll get a chance ta ask her, eh? That's how it goes, right?"

"Y— yes, we believe"

"'course, I'm guessin' you might be waitin' a whole hell of a while, all things considered."

"in life ever— what—"

*SNIKT!*

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