Halloween 2021 IF,  Interactive Fiction

Halloween I.F – “That Which Lingers” – Day 9

[ Please read the kickoff post before commenting! ] 

Ariadne made the decision easy by immediately starting to fill Faraday in on everything they’d learned so far, particularly Lekha’s disappearance after taking the Hallow Society job and Sia’s unexpected vampirism.

Faraday nodded along, taking that in with a slight frown as Ariadne paused only when the server came by to pour him some coffee. Webb, hungry again after having barely been able to pick at their dinner, ordered something called a Cheesesteak Melt Hashbrown Bowl out of sheer masochistic curiosity.

“So that’s where we’re at,” Ariadne murmured after the server stepped away again. “It’s something, at least.”

“Who gave you the tip you ended up passing along to Sia?” Faraday asked Webb.

Webb frowned, curling their hands around their coffee cup. “It was Pax.”

“So that’s one maybe traceable to Pax, the other to the Hallow Society…”

“Or she could have just become a vampire totally independently of all that. I mean, you didn’t mention anything about recruits being part of the whole thing,” Webb pointed out, looking at Ariadne.

“No, but that’s definitely something Grimm does,” Ariadne said. “Maybe it just… depends on the person? Or his whims? I don’t know.” She shook her head. “Vampire lords don’t go around making everyone into vampires, obviously, but growing your clan and keeping them loyal to you is part of the whole… thing.”

She’d started to look a little unhappy again, as she’d done previously when talking about Grimm. Again, Webb felt that unsettling little twist in their stomach thinking about having pried the truth out of her about an obviously personal subject.

They did what they had to do, they reminded themself. She didn’t need to know—about it, or about Webb. They didn’t think she’d hold the magic part against him, not exactly—it was pretty common for humans to pick up magical abilities or undergo some sort of transformation in their lives. Some people took it well, embracing their new life with excitement and enthusiasm, casting off their perceived mundanity wholeheartedly. Others struggled with it, especially if it upended their previous life; Webb had heard of families splintered, relationships lost, paths irrevocably altered.

Close to the valley like this, you had to just accept the supernatural as part of your life. But further out… there was still a lot of fear, and confusion, and misunderstanding. And even with other supernatural creatures, an ability like Webb’s wasn’t always welcome.

To be fair, there was a lot to potentially be afraid of. “Did you have any trouble with the Inquisitors on the way here?” Webb asked Faraday.

He shook his head. “There was just the one that I saw, and they followed you for a bit before heading back. It just took me a bit longer to catch up. Ariadne is a menace on city streets.”

“That reminds me, Webb. How far away is the Curator’s place?

“About a fifteen minute drive,” said Webb. “So… we’ll have to figure out a way to get over there, with all three of us.”

Faraday stretched out in his seat, giving Webb a little wink. “Now that we have a little more time and aren’t immediately being pursued by a blade-wielding phantom, I’m sure I can manage something.”

Webb frowned at him the entire time that the server was setting a plate down between them. They picked up a fork and immediately impaled a stack of potato. “Well, isn’t that lucky.”

“I do my best to please,” Faraday said easily.

Webb shot a glance at Ariadne, betrayed to find that she was just grinning, teeth indenting her lower lip a little as she tried to stifle it, eyes widening. “What?” she asked.

“Did you find out anything more about Sia?” Webb opted to change the subject instead.

“I’m just signing up for an account to subscribe to locked content,” Ariadne said, flashing Webb a peace sign. “If it turns out she’s connected to Grimm, maybe she’ll let something slip that we can use, and if not.” She shrugged, and smiled. “I get to see titties, I guess?”

“Truly, you can’t lose,” Webb said dryly. “You didn’t already have an account of your own?”

“If you mean to subscribe, no—other vampires really don’t do a lot for me,” she said, easygoing. “And if you mean to release my own content, no, but I’m happy you’d think I’d be a hit.” She crept a hand out to try to steal one of Webb’s hashbrowns.

“Did I say that?” Webb lightly slid the plate out of the way. “And don’t be crass. You have to have the whole bite at once. You have to understand the whole Waffle House culinary balance of flavors they’ve got going on.” They held the fork up to Ariadne’s lips instead.

Her eyes widened a little, but she obediently leaned forward and ate the bite off Webb’s fork.

Webb, who realized what they’d done about a second too late to stop themself, just stared back at her, then pulled the fork back and returned to eating, trying to brush that off by immediately pretending it hadn’t happened.

“… here,” Faraday said after a moment, bemused, glancing between Ariadne and Webb. “Let me grab my credit card for you.”

“You don’t need to buy my nudes, babe.”

“For the subscription…”

Webb sank down in their seat a little, grateful that the moment had passed. Unfortunately, they liked flirting with people. And they were very interested in pretty blonds wearing leather who rode motorcycles and would clearly be down for a little light bloodplay.

But obviously, under the circumstances, every part of that was a bad idea. For one thing, there was no time to fuck around when they were being hunted down, their livelihood was completely uprooted, and peoples’ lives potentially hung in the balance. It was irresponsible and also frankly way too much pressure.

Then there was the fact that Webb’s usual “relationships” had an approximate typical duration of twelve hours maximum. They met plenty of people out and about Hallow Point, got to know them well enough to get invited to a room or an appropriately secluded corner or movie theatre, and that was it. No morning after, no second date.

Not only did they not follow up or stick around, they also made most of their dates forget that that was an option.

Webb didn’t use their abilities very often. They’d been a normal human, once upon a time. But sometimes things happened, and sometimes those things weren’t very pleasant, and you woke up in the hospital with your life in shambles and the ability to influence peoples’ thoughts and memories with eyes that were distinctly not human anymore.

They’d fallen into a deep depression for several years after that, withdrawing from any relationships, shutting themself away from the world that they didn’t want any part of. And even when they eventually came crawling back… well, they didn’t want anybody else knowing what they could do, or what they really looked like under their hat and behind their sunglasses.

They never coerced anybody into anything, of course. But a little mesmerizing could make most people forget all about the way Webb’s eyes were an unnatural yellow-green, and the way that other parts of their body were not quite right anymore. And it could also make it so Webb never got a follow-up text or call. Webb could be a pleasant moment that they remembered distantly like a dream they put behind them and moved on with their life, much better without Webb in it.

Ariadne and Faraday clearly had a good thing going on. They were obviously, to Webb’s mild despair, nice people. Webb could help them out a little, figure out how they themself wanted to start over somewhere else, and be done with it. No getting involved. No making mistakes.

Webb pushed their plate away, finished off their cup of coffee, and stood up. “I’m going to the restroom. Let’s head out after that.”

Ariadne nodded, wiggling Faraday’s credit card between her fingertips. “I’ll settle the bill.”

Tucked away in the stall, Webb tugged out their notebook again. No message from the Inquisitor. Propelled and inspired by their own personal commitment to making bad decisions, Webb pulled out a pack of crayons they’d lifted on their way past the hostess’ podium and carefully drew a simple cartoon of a horned figure wielding a sword, their ghostly ‘hair’ wiggling off towards the edge of the page. Then they drew a little heart next to it.

Snapping the book shut, Webb slid it, and the crayons into their jacket again. They finished up, washed up, and headed back out to find Ariadne waiting outside by herself, a helmet under each arm.

“Ready to go?” she asked, a smile lighting up her face.

It made Webb’s steps falter. They weren’t used to people seeming genuinely pleased to see them. And in this case, they absolutely didn’t deserve it. This was pretty much the first time they could remember that they had to look someone in the eye for more than a farewell after they’d messed with their head, and it felt… not good.

Webb shivered a little, tugging their sleeves down slightly and hugging their elbows. “Yeah,” they muttered. “Faraday just going to meet up with us again later?”

Ariadne patted her bag. “I’ve got his stuff,” she said, which wasn’t quite an answer. “You seem cold… do you want his sweater? It’ll be worse once we start riding…”

The late autumn air was getting chillier and chillier as night had fully fallen. Webb had a thin rainproof jacket over their cardigan, but it wasn’t much against the wind when they were blazing down the street, and their pant hems were still damp.

“Absolutely not,” they said, reaching out to take the helmet. “Let’s get going. I’ll give you directions…”

It was weirder, this time, settling onto the bike with Ariadne, arms wrapped around her waist. Webb tried to put it out of their mind. Focus on figuring out what to do next, they reminded themself. How much did they want to tell the Curator? How did they want to approach the line of questioning? To that point, how were they going to approach the tower in the first place? Just walk up and knock on the door? Or try to snoop around a little first?

They tried to think about that, and only that, as the ignition roared to life and Ariadne sent them peeling away from the Waffle House and into the night.

[Please suggest or +1 an action in the comments.

As a reminder, it can be thoughts, words, deeds, or curiosities!]

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Well… I didn’t quite get back on track with the earlier post because I failed to finish before I had to run D&D. But every day is a new opportunity. Earlier post tomorrow. So grateful for everyone’s participation and comments so far! Hope you’re enjoying! ♥


  • meredithakatz

    I emotionally want to tell you to snoop but I also feel like that could potentially offend the Curator and that’d ruin your whole reason for going there 8(

    Come to think of it, you can’t make eye contact with the Curator, can you?

    How do you usually make contact with them? I guess knocking can’t hurt.

    As for what to tell… Don’t go all out, in case they’re the leak, but you do have to get answers. If you can find a way to come at it sideways, that’d be best.

    • Prince Charming

      Yes. All that.
      Just knock on the door.

      And if you feel guilty about using your power on Ariadne, you should just come clean and tell her. When the time is right for that, of course.

      I‘m enjoying this a lot. It‘s so much fun.

  • t a

    Yeah seriously, just tell them. Before you go into the Curator’s, to keep the conversation short and give you all a distraction and time to process after. “I needed to make sure you were for real due to all the terrifying potential threats to my life, but now that I know you were, I feel pretty bad about it. I’m not going to feel totally easy till I do it to Faraday too, but maybe Ariadne can supervise that one. Sorry.”

    Honestly you didn’t do anything too wildly unreasonable here. Communication can fix it. And you super need to know if Faraday isn’t just fucking with both of you… weirder things have happened.

  • Noelle

    The longer you wait to tell them about your power, the worse it’s going to be when it finally does come out. And you know it will.

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