Friday, February 9, 2018

A Simple Plan, Prologue

A Simple Plan

Prologue

Winter was the best time of the year.

When he was alive, Terry despised the winter. It was cold, and dark, and slick with snow and ice and the dirty sludge that covered the city after every storm. But ever since he died, winter had become the only time he felt even somewhat human.

The cold didn’t bother him anymore, and he had seen far worse things than the filthy sludge. Even better, with his hood pulled up and a scarf covering his face, he could actually go out in public, and be around the happy, normal people who still had their lives ahead of them.

He had slowly and carefully made his way to the park. The wounds were still raw, and would take time and blood to heal. But for tonight, there was nothing more he wanted to do than to be around people. They may not speak with him, the cold driving them to move quickly to their destinations. But he could be at least near them, as if he were one of them. And, for now at least, that was enough.

He made his was to an empty bench, and settled on it. From here, he had a view of the frozen lake, and the people skating on it. Families teaching their small children, and tending to their bruises. Friends laughing and joking. Young couples flirting and “accidently” bumping into each other. In the cold and the dark, life played out in front of him.



“Why the hell do you do this to yourself?” The question barely moved Terry, lost as he was in his own thoughts.

“Do what?”

“Sit here and stare like a freak? What, you want to go out there and join them?”

“I can still appreciate something, even if I can’t have it.”

“Bullshit. If you had wanted this, you would have had it. I mean, shit, you were an ex-frat boy making lawyer money. Corporate lawyer money. If you wanted to go ice skating with some tight blonde, you would’ve been. But instead, you wanted to work all night, then come home to a frozen dinner and T.V. And on Friday nights, if you were feeling crazy, you treated yourself with delivery and porn. You’re just here to torture yourself.”

Terry finally turned to Silas. His green, molted skin was clearly visible under his ripped jeans and exposed hands. The only token of concern to The Masquerade was that he bothered to pull his hood up, but that was as far as he would go. Terry had no way of knowing how long Silas had sat next to him on the bench, or if he had been following him all night. Terry was good at not being seen when he wanted to be hidden. Silas, well, Silas only let you see him when he wanted you to.

Terry should have hated Silas, the creature who had murdered him and taken away his life, and his future. Any hope he had of one day having what those people in front of him had was stolen by the monster next to him. But, he knew that Silas had a point. It was a point that Terry had made himself, more than once. Funny how it took him being dead to have any appreciation for life.

Besides, Terry couldn’t be mad at Silas. He was the only friend he had left.

Instead, he turned back to the skaters and sunk into a sullen silence. Silas sighed deeply, and dug a pack of cigarettes out of his worn jacket. As always, he offered one to Terry, who, as always, declined with a shake of his head. He made his usual production of picking out the “right” cigarette, putting the pack back, and carefully straightening the inevitably bent smoke. From a different pocket, he took out his steel zippo, and methodically and gently tapped and packed the tobacco for the cigarette. Only then would he deign to light it.

He made it through his first cigarette, and most of his second, before speaking again. “So, where’ve you been man? You haven’t been keeping to your usual haunts.”

“Around.”

“Around? Right. Cause you just love to leave your little apartment and just be ‘around.’”

“I really don’t want to talk about it.”

That provoked a laugh, harsh and course and monstrous. More like a jackal with a two-pack a day habit than anything human.

“Spare me, kiddo. You’re out here because you don’t want to be alone. But I’m the only son of a bitch stupid enough to waste my time on you. So, spill it. You ain’t got anywhere else to be and neither do I,” he said, holding up the two other packs he had carefully stored in one of his myriad other pockets.

Terry stared off. He didn’t want to talk about it. He had to talk about. With choice, again, having been taken from him, he began telling his story.

“Remember a few months ago, I told you about the…financial difficulties I was having?”

“Yeah. Seemed odd, seeing as you had all that cash saved up when you went on ‘sabbatical.’”

“Well, having no income makes you realize how expensive even basic things are. So, I got a job.”

“A job? Fuckin’ hell man. If you need cash, believe me, there are ways to get cash.”

“Not legally,” Terry ignored the scoff coughing from Silas. “So, when I got offered some work by a friend at McGuire Woods, it was a bit of a relief. It was simple work, reviewing and prepping documents. I could do it all at home, thanks to fax machines and computers and couriers. They were…accommodating. Very accommodating.

“It was going well. It was nice to be back into things, you know? To have something to fill the nights, to have a purpose when you get up in the morning. Evening. Whatever. I was so pleased with myself that I didn’t realize, not at first.”

His voice trailed off. “Realize what?” Silas asked, distractedly.

“It’s difficult to explain, but they were gaps in their forms. Pauses in conversations. Things that didn’t really strike me, until I realized that they were letting me fill in the blanks. At first it was simple stuff, legal stuff. Then, things about my former employer. It was subtle. I can’t really remember when it first hit me, but I began to wonder. They had been asking me about more than just ‘Title Code X’ or ‘Partner Y.’ They were asking me about people I knew, places I knew. Or, to be more accurate, knew of.”

“What did you tell them?” Terry now had Silas’ full attention.

“What could I tell them? I don’t know anything, not really. I never really cared about us or ‘our friends’ very much. But, going back over the conversations, I realized I had told them everything. Everything I did know, or thought I knew. I was so happy to be on a team, to be working towards a goal, that I didn’t even realize I was the goal.  I told them, and I hadn’t even realized what I had done.

“I also knew that they needed more. A lot more, if they actually wanted to do anything. And if anyone found out what I had done? Look, I may not be the happiest kid on the block, but that doesn’t mean I want to be hanged by meat hooks to see my first sunrise, right? So, I figured I should probably do something about it.

I began some digging of my own. There was, to my absolute lack of surprise, more going on than I knew. With a little bit of backlogging, I managed to put together the same puzzle they had, and it had led them to some kind of construction company, Vulcan Materials. There was absolutely no reason they should have been involved in the case, but here they were, ready to have a subpoena served on them for Discovery. They were after a whole mess of files, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why they would care.

“All of which is a long way of saying, that, well, that’s how I found myself in the back of a cement truck.”

If you read the “session 0” post, you know that my initial idea for this story was that Terry wouldn’t find out about Montrell’s manipulations until after a good number of scenes. But, I really couldn’t figure out a setup to make that interesting. One of my biases as a Storyteller is to minimize the setup, and skip to the parts where the character(s) can start making meaningful and interesting decisions. So, I changed my mind and set the “long, subtle manipulation” into the backstory. Sure, if I were going to write a novel, the first half or so would involve that. But this is a game, and a game requires decisions, and consequences. So, Terry HAS been played, and the Story is what happens when he decides to do something about it.

So, Terry accidently spilled info on Kindred to an unknown individual (Montrell). Montrell is now after more information, and in scene 1, Terry will attempt to beat them to the files. We’ll see how that goes.

Secondly, I’ve decided to write this up in the 1st person, which is a bit different from my usual AP’s. Part of this is to try and give Terry a different “voice” than Hanson had, but part of it just for my challenge and amusement. 
The fact that it’s in 1st person doesn’t guarantee that Terry will survive. If he dies, I’ll just say that the whole thing is Silas’ recounting of Terry last nights as a cautionary tale to someone else.

See you all next time!

Victory Points
Heat
Terry
0
Montrell
0
0
Investigation & Action Scene Count
0
Willpower (6)
3
Blood Pool (12)
12
Health (7)
7
Scene Number
Type
Description
Result
1
Investigation
Infiltrate a Location


Rules and Mechanics
Not familiar with Vampire? Check out the Primer
Story StructureScarlet Vampire a variation of Scarlet Heroes
OracleCRGE

A Simple Plan, Scene 2

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