Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chapter 35 The Room

"I'm sorry, Alex."

The small hand sized lamp does little to light the dark room, and I give a shiver. It is cold here and dusty, just like the abandoned apartment had been. But the air here is stuffy and smells of rust. It's been a while since anyone has been in this room.

But my first concern is Alex. He doesn't look at me. I try to keep the small light down remembering the way Yosef had held it up to blind us and hide himself from view, but I also want to see his expression. He stands near by utterly silent, and I'm not sure if he's just gathering his thoughts or ready to blow up at me. Part of me already wants to form my defense. He was the one who agreed. He could have dragged me away or used his power on me. He could have stopped me, and maybe he's regretting that now.

Alex doesn't speak, not even to acknowledge my apology. His eyes scan the room, and he sidles up to me, placing a hand over my hand on the pocket light to shine it around the room.

I don't stop him. I follow the spot light and take in the scene. Cobwebs hang from the ceiling, old machinery lay about with their guts either missing or laying around the ground near by. The room is filled with ghost of chaos covered in darkness and dust.

"What happened here?" My voice is nothing more than a soft whisper. Still dust swirls in the air at my increased breath.

Alex's eyes fall on me. His mouth is in a straight line, his brows lowered. "This is a place we should not be."

He lets my hand go, his eyes still on me intently. Yosef had said this was where it started. He couldn't have seriously meant that. I lift the light and walk further into the room to let the light fall to the other wall, past the machines and the cobwebs. The small beam doesn't hit a wall as I expect but a large pane of glass which diffuses it, scattering it so that the glass looks smoky with darkness trapped behind it.

Alex still stays near the wall and so I stop to look back at him. His arms are crossed and his lips pursed as if he's decided that he won't go any farther in.

"Alex, are you thinking this was actually Henri's room?" In the middle of the dark, large room my voice gets eaten up and almost disappears. The words sound ridiculous coming from me, but Alex clearly doesn't look comfortable here. It's possible that Alex's people have the same dislike of talking about other people's past that Brandon seemed to, so maybe in some way this is too much for him. But for me this is exactly what I wanted, to see it with my own eyes and know what was done to Henri.

When Alex doesn't immediately respond, I look around and find a door near the large pane of glass. It's another thick door reinforced the same as the other one, but it rests open and I step towards it leaving Alex in the shadows. There is something about this door that's a little different from the other one. My scalp tingles when I notice the burn marks on the door. They're more concentrated than a regular fire and seem to center around the locking mechanism.

I want to call Alex over to look with me, but I don't. Instead, I walk into the room, shining the light in, taking careful steps.

No one has touched this room in a while. I'd guess not since the Revolution. The other machines in the previous room look as if they'd been torn apart for scrap, but the machines in this room are left mostly intact. The shiny metal of the various machines and control panels are coated in a thick bit of dust that coats it like a blanket. Just blowing on it wouldn't be enough to move the dust. It's settled and started to become a grime that hides the perfect sheen of the cold metal.

I take a further step in and the light falls on a metal box. There are no marks on the door. It hangs partially open. Whatever was inside escaped a long time ago.

"Alex?" I don't want to turn away from the room. The light remains shining in front of me though the darkness at my back makes me uncomfortable. "What is this? Do you know about this?"

I glance over my shoulder though I can barely see him. He still stands back against the wall, his arms remain crossed. I don't expect him to know. He was never an experiment like this. But maybe he had heard stories. Maybe he would have more of a clue than I did like the way he knew our people were the ones being experimented on when I didn't even know.

"Is this where they kept him?"

Alex looks up then, his green eyes catching a bit of light before I look away.

There is something frightening and dark that hovers in this room. I can feel it though I'm not sure what it is or how. I look for clues, but there is nothing. No papers or books, no real hints at what happened. I'm only left here to guess, to imagine that Henri was once kept in that little metal box when he wasn't much older than me while people stood watching him from behind the safety of this large thick glass.

I'm suddenly very exhausted. As I step over to him, Alex slides down the wall to sit on the ground and I crawl into his arms without bothering to ask. My voice shakes and I don't bother to hide it. "Well, I guess we know why Henri's so grumpy, huh?"

I bury my face in Alex's shoulder and relinquish the small light when he takes it from me and turns it off with a click. The darkness presses down, forcing me to burrow closer to Alex.

The experiments have stopped as far as anyone knows, but there still is no rest for anyone involved. I press my face into my hands against Alex's shoulder. They fought for freedom, to escape these metal boxes and the prying eyes, but now they still fight each other and the regular humans. Anyone who is able bodied and can think is suspect.

Alex wraps his arms around me and pulls me close, his breath warming the top of my head, and, safe together at least for the night, I can rest.

Next Chapter -->


  1. Wow. That was very intense!

    It's nearly impossible to imagine what Henri went through in a place like that. Everything looks so...cold and sterile. So unyielding. I love this chapter because it gives us a glimpse into Henri's past. I imagined it would be something like this, but it's nice to have some visuals.

    Like Paula, I can see why Henri is always grumpy (lol). I would be more than grumpy if I was subjected to something like this.

    Cap-wise, the lighting was pretty much on point. It's amazing what images the game can produce when left in skilled hands. ;D

    Awesome stuff!

  2. I really love the lighting in that preview picture. It gives off a sense that something omnious is afoot.

    The setting, the darkness, all wonderful in this chapter and you can certainly feel Paula's sense of dread and Alex's very serious reluctance. It must be hard for him as well to be there where it all happened. It must bring back so many unpleasant memories for me. That he went in anyway with Paula is a testament to his emotional strength and mental capability.

  3. I really loved this. There was such a sense of dread throughout, probably similar to what Paula was feeling. I think the pictures being so dark really added to the atmosphere as well. I know you've said you just throw your pictures together but I think you're being modest. ;)

    I guess Alex would know more than he's willing to share at the moment, seeing he's so quiet and reluctant to say anything. I think I can understand that. Poor Paula - no one ever wants to tell her anything, which must make it all even more confusing and frightening for her.

    For Paula and Alex's sakes, I hope the experiments really have stopped. Just seeing that the equipment is all still there (though we don't know whether it's functional or not) is worrying.

  4. Nicole, thank you!

    I had fun doing the visual this time around. Normally I dread it. I should have linked to this which was the inspiration.

    Thank you for the compliment. I did actually touch up the photos using picnik, something I don't normally do, just to make sure the darks were dark and the lights light.

    Carnaxa, thanks! I was having a bit of fun with the light in this one.

    True. Alex also feels like he's trespassing I'm sure. This is the past of someone very important, and you don't tread through a person's past. Maybe his people have a taboo like that too because that's normally a Southlands thing.

    "That he went in anyway with Paula is a testament to his emotional strength and mental capability." Oh yes, I agree. I think he's very strong mentally and emotionally, but somehow still very open at the same time. He's such a fun character.

    Carla, oh thank you. Haha, yes I honestly do just slap my pics together. Though this time I did do a little bit of editing for once.

    It's possible that he might, or even might have his own suspicions based on things he's heard. But yeah, this reluctance to tell Paula anything is probably wearing a little thin for her by now!

    Aw, thanks so much for your comment!

  5. They always take it too far, don't they? People, I mean. Revolutions end badly and there's Henri, escaped from one box and now occupying another.

    Alex's reluctance to poke around in there makes sense to me. Henri is a huge figure, close to mythical, so it's like trespassing on a shrine. Or a grave. I can understand Paula's curiosity too. Her comment about understanding why Henri is so grumpy cut the dark and the tension perfectly. It's a horrific place.

    I'm not sure I understand why Yosef and everybody else, people who are now hunted by Henri, wouldn't scavenge the creepy room. Are they afraid of it, too?

    Really intense, frightening, and beautifully shot. The green light in the dark, Paula and Alex holding onto each other, you absolutely capture the atmosphere.

  6. SB, yes, I believe that in some fashion, we do. Revolutions rarely end well. It just leads into another off-balance power struggle. I guess it's like trying to stand in the middle of a teeter totter and balance it while wearing roller skates. Every move makes you just miss your goal of the middle.

    Yes, exactly. Especially to Alex. Henri is probably as close to living myth as he'll get. A highly respected man, even for Alex. And it is like walking on a shrine or a grave, exactly that.

    I think that in a way, Yosef and his people would fear it. It might not be something they realize, just something in the back of their head. A place they don't relish revisiting, and something they probably don't want to face.

    Oh, thank you so much.

  7. Ooh, very dark and foreboding, I love that first picture, the lighting is especially nice :)

    Lovely, atmospheric chapter, keep em coming.

  8. Like the others, I think the title picture really sets the mood for the rest of them.

    So Henri was kept in a small metal box behind a pane of glass, like an animal. I don't know what I was expecting or what Paula was expecting, but I imagine the inhumane nature of it all shocked her to her core. It wasn't enough for her to find out that neutrals had been the ones performing the experiments--it's like she had to see evidence of it with her own eyes, and once she did she could understand Henri's feelings and motivations a bit more.

    LOL...describing Henri as "grumpy" is quite an understatement. It certainly explains why he rarely smiles and rarely laughs. I'm wondering if the experiments are really over...I need to look back at Michael and Edith's story because I can't remember exactly when Michael broke out of his lab--but it feels like it must have been later than the Revolution, and it may have even been later than when this story takes place.

    Now we just wait to see if they're let out in the morning.

  9. The last chapter felt like a stone rolling forward down a hill, there was something unstoppable about the tension building up, but in this chapter the tension is compact and closed in like the characters.

    I love how Paula can't resist looking around despite everything and how Alex can't even bring himself to move from his spot. You don't give much information about the experiments, but it's enough for the imagination to run wild. Loved the dark images too, they also leave much to the imagination.

  10. poida, thanks. I love playing around with lighting in this game.

    Thank you.

    Rachel, all very true. It would have to be shocking, especially since she knows a little more about it now than when she started.

    Oh you bring up a good one. Someone asked about that on the forum spring a couple of weeks ago. (Huh, the question doesn't seem to be showing on my forum spring profile? Wow, that makes me look like a douche, lol.)

    Michael did indeed break out much later than the revolution, but he was out by the time this story takes place. :}

    Willow Weeds, thank you. I figure Paula's in the same boat as the rest of us. She wouldn't know specifics, so her mind is free to run wild with that she's seen and it just makes her sick.

    Thank you!

  11. While I agree that there would be some sort of awe and reverance involved in Alex trespassing on Henri's past, I wonder if Alex's reluctance to move, to speak, to do anything is in some way a fear/phobia of being locked up, of being caught by those who are different to him and examined/experimented on himself, just like his own kind were before he was born.

    We know that he didn't even have shoes growing up, I can't imagine he is used to or comfortable in enclosed spaces, especially enclosed spaces which have a history like this place.

    Paula's morbid curiosity can't be helping things, but perhaps another reason he doesn't say anything is because he knows she needs to be there as much as he doesn't want to be.

  12. Oh, Illandrya, I hadn't even thought of that honestly! That's a good point, and I'm positive that's a valid fear of his own. I'm sure he's heard the stories. I need to examine more closely what the Lost Landers think of the Labs because I'm sure they have their own stories and fears regarding it.

    I think if anyone were to be logical about this though, it would be Alex. He would understand Paula's need to understand what happened and the need to understand her father.

    Thank you!

  13. I like that Paula's first instinct is to worry about Alex, speaks volumes to me. Actually, Paula is showing a new side of herself here, she is showing real moxie and bravery, and she is shrewder than I gave her credit for.

    Burn marks on the door, like from a flame thrower? Part of an escape from long ago?
    Also explains Henri's wall around his emotions. Grumpy indeed.
    well done~

  14. Man that's good. You captured the oppressiveness of the dark so well and the way everything unfolds is brilliant.

  15. Thanks Drew. Paula is surprising when she actually has reason to stop and think. And well, she's never had reason with people protecting her, haha. I'm sure Brandon might even be surprised.

    That's one possibility. Most likely from the escape.

    Thank you for the support!

    Nicole, thank you very much.

  16. So sorry, I'm about a million chapters behind! :o

    But I loved this one, the details are amazing, and make it very atmospheric!

    One thing I'm only just starting to realize is how *long* the experiments must have gone on. And like others have said, we only assume they've stopped. Clearly they've stopped here in this place, but maybe they're going on still in other parts of the world?

    What an awful, horrible thing to have happened to the world. It's not a wonder they're all in chaos.

    The scorch marks remind me of Michael's story. Which makes me wonder if this was the same lab they were both in?

    And he-he, I just went and reread all of Edy and Michael's story, lol! Oh, *sigh* that was a good one! :D

  17. Laura, it's okay. I know you're busy between family and being whipped into writing more by us.

    On the length of experimenting, I'm surprised that many people seem to think it didn't go on very long or that it stopped right away after the Revolution. Things are never so cut and dried.

    But your question is good an haunting.

    Oh Michael. I think many people were confused by that. Because Michael is clearly experimented on after the time of the Revolution. So there's proof that it is still happening.

    Also, awww, lol. I hope I can turn their story into a novel, but I'll see. Maybe a novella? Oh man, you see the thing you do to me?