Friday, March 5, 2010

Chapter 10 Pat

"We're going to see Pat first, aren't we?"

I glance over at Maria as we walk. Right after Jimmy left and right before Brandon and I had a chance to really talk, Maria showed up at the door ready to go. He introduced her as another friend of his, and right away I could tell that she's close to my age. I'm guessing he thought that we might have a lot in common because of our ages, but so far that's all we have in common. As she walks beside me, a little ahead of me, I can see the beginning of the same tattoo on her that Brandon and Jimmy have.

Brandon runs his hand through his hair with a little sigh.

"Who's Pat?" I ask.

Maria smiles as she turns back to look at me. "His best friend. Other than Mike, of course. He always stops by when he comes to town."

"She runs the bar," Brandon says with an obvious pause as if there were more to say.

"You'll like her." Maria nods once, firmly, assured of this. "Everyone does. She doesn't take any crap."

The village sits in a small valley surrounded by hills. The weather is beautiful and warm, but there's a cool breeze coming from somewhere that stops it from being hot and carries strange scents. We're still a bit away from the village proper, but it looks small.

"I've heard it's more like a little Neutral town," Brandon says quietly probably catching my thought.

A lot of the buildings are somewhat old-- pre-revolution. They hold up well, but some do look their age and I wonder if it's safe for them to even still be in use.

On the walk here, Brandon and Maria explain what they know of the history of the village to me. While I already knew about the city the tribe is occupying, I was surprised to learn about the village. Here in the south, there were a couple of large labs that were big enough to need an entire city full of workers to support them. But it wasn't feasible for them to travel back and forth to get all of the necessities to support a city. So they created a farming town where they could raise crops and live stock. Over time, they started being able to make their own textiles, mine for metals and coal, and create small manufacturing plants.

And now that's exactly what it was for the tribe. Rather than constantly having to scavenge, they have a deal worked out with the humans here. The tribe protects them and they offer their services, supplying the tribe with basic necessities. Anything extra requires a trade of some sort.

The people here are safe and generally untouchable by those in the tribe and any of the other dangers that exist out there. Before I can stop them, my own thoughts churn, one very clearly managing to reach Brandon. He glances at me. "They're pretty self contained."

"What do you mean?" I ask like an idiot.

Maria smoothly steps in when Brandon pauses trying to find the words to explain. "What he means is that it's very difficult for someone to become a member of the town. Resources are limited."

Of course a heaven like this in a world full of danger wouldn't allow just anyone in.

The bar is on the outskirts of the town. There isn't even a dirt road leading to it, just a small dirt path. Inside, the place is very warm and cozy. Curtains hang in the windows, and mismatched chair sets fill the room. There are quite a few people sitting around, nursing drinks and smoking. I glance quickly to make sure that Jimmy isn't already here waiting for us with his creepy friendly smile and that's when I notice a woman looking at us.

She walks over to us, her eyes on Brandon with a smile. "Like clockwork. I don't need a calendar with you visiting every two weeks."

Brandon steps forward to hug her warmly, and at first she seems to resist when she sees me and Maria, but she folds, wrapping her arms over his shoulders, a rag dangling from her hand. It only lasts a second before they step apart and he turns to us, one hand on the small of her back I notice, and introduces me. "Pat, this is my sister, Paula."

Apparently she reaches out her hand to shake mine before the words sink in because her eyes almost seem to pop open once her hand is in mine. "Sister? You two have a sister now?"

I bite my lip, my hand still in hers, Right away I know she means Brandon and Jimmy, and it sort of disturbs me that she speaks of both of them in the same thought so casually.

The hand that Brandon had on her back comes up to cover his mouth as he gently coughs as if to clear his throat. "Uh, no. Just me. She's Henri's daughter."

She slips her hand away from mine finally with a quick apology. "You're not from here, are you, sweetie?"

Maria and Brandon are both quiet, and I suppose it's time I spoke for myself. "No, I'm, uh, Neutral." I say it quietly and look away, glancing around to see if anyone else is reacting. But no one else is paying us any attention even though we're standing very close to the front door.

"Neutral?" She whispers it still in surprise. But then a smile breaks out on her face and she nudges Brandon. "He'll sleep with anyone once, won't he? I guess we know for sure where you get it from."

Maria laughs and I stand there with my eyes open wide. "That's no secret, Pat." Maria says. "C'mon. It's the one thing they do have in common."

Before Brandon can even inhale to form any sort of defense, there's a screech from somewhere past the bar. "Brandon!" A little girl comes running out in a simple little pinafore dress with brightly colored pants on underneath that look like they've seen better days. The girl is covered in dirt. Her shoes make loud thumping noises against the old wood as she runs to Brandon and leaps into his arms as he moves to scoop her up. It's so fluid a movement between the two that it has to be well practiced. Like they worked it out before hand how much strength he'd need to hold her and how much lift she'd need to meet him half way.

"I knew it. I saw it on the calendar, and I knew it. I told gramma..." She rattles off so many words a minute in her excitement that they blur together and I can't fully understand, but Brandon patiently nods as if he understands it all. (Ironically, it's the same patience he seems to have with me when he's trying to explain things.)

"Melissa!" Pat looks at me. "She's not always this dirty. I swear."

An older woman walks up wiping her hands on her apron. "Then you lie."

Maria smile. "That's true Pat. Anytime I see Melissa, she's come back from crawling through the garden."

"Mom!" Pat turns to the older woman. "She's supposed to be outside with you."

The older woman smiles and shrugs her shoulders. "She just got away from me. I'm old you know." I get a good look at her, and she is not old. She's probably the same age as my mother. She steps past Pat to greet Brandon with a kiss on his cheek.

The little girl in his arms snuggles close to him in a way that is clearly possessive. Her blue eyes glance over at me, watching me carefully as if I might try and take him away.

Maria puts a hand on my arm. "Don't worry, we can go to the junk shop and kill some time. You take your time. We can meet up in a bit."

Pat looks really apologetic. "I'm sorry. She just loves when Brandon visits."

"Just like all the other girls in town." Pat's mother laughs and Pat glares at her.

"It's okay," I say in an echo of Maria's words.

"You sure?" Brandon asks as if the little girl clinging to him has any intention of letting him go.

"Yeah." Both Maria and I nod at the same time. It takes a bit of work on both our parts to reassure him that it's fine.

Even then he still looks a little bit guilty. "All right. But don't take her to the Edge. I wanna be there for that."

Next Chapter -->

I come bearing another profile. Or two, technically. Patrice and Melissa Sherman. (Check it out just to see the cutest TS3 toddler picture I think I am ever going to get.)


  1. Hmm, if I was of a suspicious mind, I'd say that Brandon is Melissa's father (she has his eyes)...

    The Edge sounds interesting, and a little ominous, can't wait to see it.

  2. If I might, again, chant in a sing-songy voice: Brandon has a girlfriend, Brandon has a girlfriend... :) Or well, from the sounds of it, he probably has a couple girlfriends, but I'm also calling baby mama on this one because of Melissa's eyes!

    And awww, that last picture of them is just too cute!

    I just love that they have this little town hidden away. I think Paula should stay there for a while. It's just got to be so emotionally taxing for her to be on guard all the time. It must be nice for them to have somewhere to relax a little.

    Hmmm, the Edge? Can't wait to find out about that!

  3. This chapter is packed with all sorts of new information! Wonderful! So Brandon er...gets around? That is something I wouldn't have expected, given what we've seen of him so far, but then again Paula doesn't know much about him. I wonder if there is something about having powers or being an experiment or the offspring of one that makes people more prone to engage in procreative activities? Hmmm...

    That toddler definitely looks like Brandon--she's beautiful. Given his tendencies, I wonder if he has a few more around town?

    I'm surprised at how casually everyone jokes about it, especially around Pat. I wonder if she's a realist--she does get a bit irked at her mother toward the end. But none of them are trying to sugarcoat it... And I can't wait to see what The Edge is too!

    Ok, I'll stop writing this book here on your comments. Sorry!

  4. Poida, but you're not of a suspicious mind, right? XD

    Laura, that certainly does have a ring to it, lol!

    I think we all needed a little bit of a break. Sometimes this story is a little dark!

    And I hope you guys like the Edge. I spent a little extra time on that. :)

    Rachel, I love seeing your thought processes after reading this entry. Paula doesn't know much about him, it's true. As for his procreative activities, well, haha, you have some interesting thoughts.

    Pat is a fun character. She does seem to look at things a little bit different. I've been having fun exploring her world lately.

    Haha, you know how I feel about long comments. I love them, so please feel free!

  5. "He'll sleep with anyone once, won't he? I guess we know for sure where you get it from."

    I was very surprised to read this! More surprised that that everyone seemed quite open and casual about it than surprised to learn that about Brandon. But still a little surprised about that too. I don't know, he never seemed like the type to bed-hop to me. I don't have too much trouble believing it either though. We're seeing him through Paula's eyes so he's still quite mysterious. He could really be anyone, or anything.

    I can only imagine what's running through Paula's head right now. She didn't have much time think about it before Melissa came running in though. Now she's got her to think about as well.

    Along with everyone else, I'm thinking Brandon might be her father as well. If he's not, Melissa certainly treats him as if he is. Which is something I think Paula may have noted, seeing she's thinking about the possessiveness Melissa is showing.

    Also, a little bit random but I really love the second picture of Brandon and Pat together.

    On a non-Brandon related note, I loved the little glimpse we got of your world (as in the physical environment) in the second picture, with Brandon's hand.

    I guess that was almost Brandon-related!

    Looking forward to seeing the Edge!

  6. So Brandon acts like most of the guys I know LOL! Ok except he's an experiment and supposedly doesn't do 'that'. It adds a wonderful and completely realistic level to him.

    No jealousy I can detect between Maria and Pat. If Melissa is Brandon's daughter, is there some reason he wouldn't acknowledge her? I can think of all kinds of reasons, but no point in going there yet.

    I love the concept of a town like that. Reminds me of medieval settlements around some lord's castle, under his protection, but those peasants were sort of chattel. In this case, the chattel appear to be kind of exclusive. NY co-op sort of chattel who decide who can and who can't join their exclusive community. Just wonderful!

    Can't wait to find out about the Edge!

    And I loved, just loved the description of Melissa crawling around the garden in the dirt!

  7. Carla, I love reading your reaction to this. XD There is a bit about Brandon that we don't know. And you're right, it's interesting that everyone is so casual about it. Mostly will have to do with their own views on sex. And well, to Maria it makes no difference anyway. She has no interest in Brandon. There's only one here who would, and she's the one who starts it.

    All so many great points. Yup, Paula seems to have noted something there with Melissa's possessiveness. Pat is one of Brandon's best friends, so he's always been around. I'm sure if the other kids asked her who her father was, she would just claim Brandon.

    Also, thanks. You should see the test shots I took for these two. Definitely my favorite test shots. I'll probably post them at some point.

    As for the world, at some point I'll do a tour on the other blog. I'm still pretty much setting it up.

    S.B., if by "that" you mean sex, I can assure you that yes he does. There isn't much to do out in the Wildlands but that really, lol. Of course that can lead to surprises and problems. With all of the bios I've linked to, I actually include their views on sex because I think it's kind of an important thing to think about because it's so important and at the same time a form of entertainment.

    Maria is definitely not interested in Brandon, so your detection is correct that there is no jealousy between the two. But that's a great question! We'll touch on that next chapter, and Paula might be able to think of a few herself. That won't mean she's right, lol.

    And yes, exactly what I was going for. I imagine the Wildlands area is very much heading into a feudal system. Only in this case the chattel have some power, even if it's only over their own town. This village in particular is very much like an NY co-op, very exclusive and difficult to get into. They don't want trouble, they'd like to maintain the status quo. Ultimately, they know their worth. They're important to Henri and his tribe because they know how to work the machines and grow the crops that the large tribe needs to support all their men.


    His ability "get around" (so to speak) surprised me. He didn't seem like that type of guy, but I guess his um...more "personal" activities weren't covered haha. I like that there are more facets to him than what meets the eye.

    I agree with everyone else in saying that I think Melissa (who is insanely precious <3) is his daughter. They really do look alike.

    Pat is a really interesting character. I really like the way she jokes around, but I also get the sense that she is also "reserving" something. This is probably my "I-don't-trust-anyone-in-this-story" instinct talking, so don't mind me.

    Oooh, I'm really curious about this Edge! I can't wait for the next update!

  9. I'm so thrilled with this chapter! Another special 'intermezzo' offering more insight into your fascinating world. :)
    So Pat is Brandon's best friend, surely that is 'more' not less than (just) a 'girlfriend'?
    Maria says Paula will like Pat because "she doesn't take any crap". It made me wonder how Maria perceives Paula.
    When Paula and Pat are introduced, Pat holds Paula's hand for quite a while... in fact until she hears that Paula is Henri's daughter? And then she let's go immeiately with a 'quick apology'? It felt as if Pat was being 'careful' there...
    By the way, it would disturb me too if someone spoke so casually of Brandon and Jimmy in one thought. They could not be more different.
    Brandon obviously loves women and they love him. I wonder whether his ability to pick up 'stray thoughts' helps him with his conquests. (Apart from the fact that he is handsome and a very nice person - lol.)
    I liked Pat's mum! I wonder whether her obvious friendliness made Paula think of her own mum... and of the letter.
    I hope that Melissa is Brandon's daughter, because that would make Paula her auntie! Paula would have not two but three family members in the Wildlands... That must be quite something for her if she only (knew) lived with her mum before. I feel she would feel very protective and caring of one so little in such a dangerous world. Also, now that she is informed of her father's and brother's sexual prowess she may wonder how many more brothers/sisters and nephews/nieces she has in the Wildlands... it could be a tribe of it's own! :)
    Thinking back about Henri's visit, I can now see why Henri said to Paula: "It's disrupting to his relationships to have you here."
    Maybe he gave Brandon and Paula another week especially so that Brandon could 'show', 'explain' things himself to Paula? (I just love Henri, sorry, and haven't seen a bad side to him just yet!)
    Oh, a visit to the junk shop sounds exciting. Do we get to see what's there? I can't imagine anything being 'junk' in this world...
    The symbiosis between The Tribe and The Village/Town seems perfect, but I suppose the balance is precarious... especially since these tribes war over resources. There definitely seems to be a 'civilian caste' and a 'military caste'. And I'm very much looking forward to The Edge experience too! :)

  10. ARRRG! I was working on making my comment and then poof. :( How frustrating. Okay, let's see if I can remember what I wrote.

    Nicole, lol! When I first commented to your post, I was saying that one of the things I love about Brandon is that even if you knew him, you probably wouldn't have expected that about him either. He's never anything like you'd expect.

    Then while commenting, I wondered if people were picturing Brandon as a piranha or something that went around conquering women, lol. Okay, that would be surprising.

    I think you're actually onto something about Pat "reseving" a bit. I didn't intend to show that, so it's awesome if you get that sense from her because it would fit. I imagine that she does hold back, especially when it comes to Brandon.

    Moondaisy, it's so nice to see you. When are you updating Raj's story? I wondered where you were at, lol.

    "So Pat is Brandon's best friend, surely that is 'more' not less than (just) a 'girlfriend'?" I would agree with you here. :)

    Regarding how Maria sees Paula, that's a good question! I didn't even think about that. When Maria tells Paula that Pat doesn't take crap, I was thinking that Maria was more sharing why everyone, including Maria, likes Pat.

    As for the hand holding, oh that's interesting. It does read that way! I didn't really think about that. Even the way Brandon tells Pat that Paula is Henri's daughter comes across awkwardly like he knows she might take a step back, lol. I didn't really intend that, but that's an interesting reading of it and you know how I enjoy alternate readings from what I had intended.

    Brandon and women-- I think you are spot on. With his ability to connect to people, I think something so personal and intimate like sex can be very powerful for her.

    Also, I would doubt that he'd call any woman he's been with a "conquest." He's not really conquering them if they're going willingly to his bed. It made me wonder if people weren't picturing him as a piranha who went around using his ability to read what women want and then capturing them, lol. No, it's always mutual. There's probably only one person he's ever tried very hard to get...

    Oh that's such a nice sentiment about Melissa and her possible connection to Paula. That's true. It'd be like she had a family ready for her especially if her mother was originally the only family she had before. Oh, I didn't really think about that one.

    And lol: "now that she is informed of her father's and brother's sexual prowess she may wonder how many more brothers/sisters and nephews/nieces she has in the Wildlands... it could be a tribe of it's own!" XD You're right. Plus, I find it interesting that so far you've been the only one to mention the fact that Henri was included when they were teasing Brandon about his prowess.

    As for Henri's words, pooossibly, lol. Paula considered it at first too.

    Remember that you haven't seen much of Henri yet either. ;)

    The junk shop, yeah I just finished decorating it today. So you'll definitely get a glimpse. I'm planning on having a little tour or something of the village proper possibly.

    Symbiosis is a perfect word to describe the relationship between the tribe and the village! It is an interesting relationship.

    Thank you moondaisy!

  11. The moment Pat was mentioned, my first thought was whether she was Brandon's sometime lover and with the addition of Melissa, my suspicion is that it might be his kid. Like father, like son.

    This was a nice homely feel - a stark contrast to what Paula has seen up to this point.

  12. Maybe I gave you the wrong idea by calling it "Brandon making conquests". (He is so much more dangerous and therefore so much more sexy than Raj - lol) I just thought that if he could pick up stray thoughts, it would be only natural for him to pick up who fancies him... but further then that, what the women he has a relationship think and feel. (And that's where his true kind nature comes totally to the fore, I think!... Maybe alittle bit like his father, although not in the same way... both men seem to care about LIFE deeply.)
    Thank you for always replying to me and having patience with my silly questions. :)

  13. Carnaxa, that's an interesting way to put it. "Sometime lover" would imply she still might be with him.

    Perfect, just what I was going for. XD

    Moondaisy, lol, thanks for clarifying. I just wonder if subconsciously that wasn't the image that everyone was seeing. I mean you hear that a man is promiscuous and I think there are certain assumptions/connotations that go a long with it. One being that the man would go around making conquests.

    But you're right right that he can pick up strong thoughts. It would have to be a little intoxicating, wouldn't it? I mean how often does he catch someone thinking thoughts about him, lol.

  14. I am here, finally! Very interesting chapter, I love the sexual realities of your world, they just put it out there. They must need a score card to keep track of who begat who...No wonder you are doing family trees! (Thanks for that link!)

    Brandon is a sly dog. But, I am not that surprised he 'gets around'. Kind of fits the whole Alpha male thing he has going.
    But what makes Brandon so bloody interesting to me are the moments of tenderness, like with Paula and now the sweet Melissa. I am not one for kids in stories, but that last picture deserves the "awwww" award of the week, LOL!
    And enjoying my visit to "Hogsmeade" look forward to more!!
    Oh and love the name 'The Edge'!

  15. Hi Drew! lol, a scorecard, yeah, if they keep track. I'm sure that someone like Henri stopped a long time ago.

    Alpha Male, haha, perfect. Does he give off that vibe? That's good. We'll get to that later on.

    "But what makes Brandon so bloody interesting to me are the moments of tenderness..." I love that. I think, ultimately, that's what fascinates me too. I've been exploring his future, and that was exactly what I had the most fun exploring.

    Thank you, Drew.

  16. I never questioned the idea of Brandon having sex but it didn't occur to me that he would get around quite as much as it would seem he does. I wonder if he has ever wanted a monogamous relationship or been in love. And I also believe that Melissa is his.

    Brandon definitely seems like he has tenderness inside him and yet in his position, that would perhaps be a liablility wouldn't it? He has so many facets that I wonder if we are really seeing who he is or if there is something we have not seen yet.

    Can't wait for the "Edge"!

  17. Oh, Gayl. Thanks so much for your comment. You ponder a very good question that I'm going to leave alone and possibly get back to after this story is over, if it will finish.

    It could possibly be a liability. I imagine that he does have a lot of inward conflicts at times. His power gives him such an understanding of people, and at the same time his upbringing has required him to act a certain way.

  18. I loved this chapter. Melissa is adorable and I will admit I had to sneak a peak at the profile to find out if Brandon really was her father or not. They seem to have bonded quite well and perhaps he enjoys playing the father figure even if he isn't actually? That shot of the two of them was just gorgeous.

    Yet another little insight into Brandon. Interesting that the only personality trait he has in common with his father is that he doesn't like a cold bed - I'm wondering if that's what his father meant in an earlier chapter when he said something to the effect that Paula was putting the skids on Brandon's "relationships". Does the old man want Brandon to breed perhaps?

  19. I still won't admit out loud whether he's her father or not. It's up to you to decide that. For now. Pat has a story, but I don't know when I'll get to it.

    Hee... I love that you say it's the "only" personality trait he has in common with his father. And Paula took the relationships line for meaning that, but there are definitely other, more important relationships-- Jimmy being one of them.

    As for breeding, I can say with confidence that Henri wouldn't care one way or the other most likely. Jimmy would care more than Henri would.