Visitations 5-04

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Hours later, I stood on the porch, gazing at the empty driveway. The space where my father’s car belonged, where its presence had always reassured me when I needed it to, was devoid of any such comfort. After my mother had left, being able to see my father’s car whenever I woke up had become… important. I used to bolt out of bed in the middle of the night and run to the window, just to show myself that I still had a parent, that one of them still cared enough to stay.

Sometimes, it wasn’t enough. Some nights, I had to go to Dad’s room and sleep in his bed. I had to touch him, had to know he was there for myself. The only way I could rest on those nights was to put my hand on his cheek, feel his beard under my fingers. Then, only then, could I relax enough to sleep.

Tonight, I was having that feeling again. That feeling of being abandoned. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t. Dad had to help Rose with her father. I knew that. I would never try to feel upset about that fact. And yet that feeling of worry, like I wouldn’t see him again, kept rising up in me, like bile in my throat.

It made me anxious. I wanted to call him, wanted to chat and find out where he was and how it was going. But I’d already done that twice throughout the afternoon, and I didn’t want to drive Dad crazy. God, I needed to get rid of this selfish feeling. Why did I hate the idea of him being out there so much? Sure, tomorrow was my birthday. But a woman’s father might be dying. Have some perspective, Flick.

An hour. I’d give it another hour and then call to see how things were going. I could wait that long, right? Hell, make it an hour and a half so the kid and I could watch another movie.

Not that he’d seemed all that interested in the ones we’d already watched. Most of the boy’s attention had been devoted toward getting me to essentially recite my life story to him. He wanted to know everything, from the name of my fifth grade teacher (Mr. Bisby) to my first crush (also Mr. Bisby), and more. Every question I answered just seemed to make a dozen more spring up in the kid’s head.

I’d excused myself to come outside while he was finishing up his dinner, some spaghetti I’d put together. For some reason, I’d felt like the walls of the house had been closing all day long. This house, my home, felt very different without my father in it. It felt dark, and smaller than I remembered.

The gate past the driveway that led into our backyard squeaked. My eyes turned that way, and I frowned. Through the darkness, it felt like there was something on the other side of that gate, something watching me through the tiny crack between it and the attached fence. If I squinted just right, it seemed like I could just sort of make out a pale face gazing back at me contemplatively.

A trick of the light. Really, it had to be my mind playing tricks on me. Still, I glanced at the door behind me to make sure I wasn’t being watched before stepping off the porch. My hand strayed to the weapon sheath at my belt automatically as I walked to the gate. With each step, my brain kept telling my heart that we were jumping at shadows and being ridiculous. My heart’s response was mostly a lot of pictures of decapitated girls and wild gestures toward the stacks upon stacks of books about Stranger attacks that were in the Crossroads library. My bladder was anxiously waiting its turn to weigh in on the situation.

At the gate, I hesitated. For a long moment, I simply stood there, facing the wooden barrier. Slowly, ever so gradually, I reached up to unlatch the tiny hook that held the gate closed. My other hand touched the canister that held my staff, and I held my breath while giving the gate a firm shove.

Nothing. The space between our house that led into the backyard was empty save for the enormous pile of firewood that had sat there for as long as I could remember. Other than that, there was nothing in sight. Nothing to jump out at me, nothing to be afraid of. I had been jumping at shadows after all.

Shaking my head, I turned around and almost ran directly into a small figure standing directly behind me, silent and motionless, staring. A startled yelp escaped me, and I jerked backwards reflexively, my heart in my throat, pounding furiously. It took me a second to recognize the figure. “Jeeze, Ammon!”

“That’s my name,” the boy announced, head tilting to gaze up at me. “What’re you doing out here?”

“I was just…” Feeling embarrassed, I shook my head. “I thought I saw a cat or something. I thought it might belong to you or your aunt. Do you guys have any pets?” I tried to move the conversation onto him. As interested as he had seemed in my life, the kid had been equally tight-lipped about his own.

“I used to have a lot of pets,” Ammon confirmed easily. “But I had to leave them to come here.”

Blinking at that, I relatched the gate once more. “You had to leave them?” My mouth started to open to ask if they were renting the house next door or something, but I remembered what my Dad had said about interviewing someone. Don’t supply the answer for them. Ask the question and see where it goes.

His small blond head bobbed up and down earnestly. “It was a really long trip. I couldn’t keep track of them all. And I didn’t want to choose which ones to bring, so I left them behind.”

“Aww, I’m sorry you had to do that. Losing your pets can be hard.” Wincing at the thought of the ill-fated rabbit I’d had once, I tried to make him feel better. “So what kind of animals were they?”

His gaze met mine evenly, his expression blank. “I don’t understand the question.”

My mouth opened to respond to that, but a chill ran through me. “I uhh, let’s go inside, kid. It’s getting cold out here.” Ushering the boy back into the house, I trailed after. At the door, I looked around once more, unable to shake the feeling of unease. If anything, it kept getting worse. With a sigh, I locked the door, twisting the deadbolt before turning to face Ammon. “So, what movie should we watch next?”

******

Midnight. I was officially seventeen years old. As the near-scalding hot shower water pounded down on my back, I gazed at the drain and let my thoughts wander. I daydreamed absently while giving my hair a thorough scrubbing. The anxiety from the day, the confusion over finding out that Seller was my ancestor and wondering what connection he had to my mother, the concern for my father, all of it and more just swirled through my brain without rhyme or reason. I was thinking about Seller, and that somehow turned into thinking about the twins, which turned into thoughts about Ammon and his curiosity. Everything, every thought just competed for attention in my mind. I tried to let it go, tried to relax and just enjoy the shower. Yet something just kept nagging at me. Something in the corner of my mind would not let up its cries for attention. I’d thought that taking a long, hot shower after getting Ammon tucked into bed would help, but if anything I felt even more anxious. I was nervous, almost scared even. The tension in my back and arms was getting worse under the hot water, not better.

Finally, after almost an hour, I gave up. This wasn’t working. Twisting the knob off, I stepped out of the shower and grabbed a nearby towel. As I dried myself off, my eyes lifted to the door and I paused.

Didn’t I lock that?

After dressing in what I admit was a bit of a rush, I opened the bathroom door and eased my head out to look down the hall toward the guest room where I’d left Ammon. His door was shut, and I couldn’t hear anything aside from the sound of a couple cars driving by outside. Probably some people heading home from the bar that was across the street from the bowling alley.

Shaking my head at my own imagination, I walked past the guest room, moving quietly to avoid waking up the poor kid inside. Bypassing my own room, I started downstairs. Even if I hadn’t recently gained the ability to stay up roughly twenty-three hours a day, I still wouldn’t have been able to sleep while Dad was still out with Rose. I’d watch some television for awhile, maybe poke through the kitchen and see if we still had that brownie mix that had been in the cupboard before I went to school.

All of the lights were off as I made my way downstairs. It was very nearly pitch black, though that hardly mattered. I knew this house perfectly. I knew everything in it. I could literally navigate it with my eyes closed, so the tiny amount of light coming through the closed curtains was more than enough.

At the bottom of the stairs, I turned to the living room, walking straight in with a quick left to avoid the coffee table in front of the couch. Circling back that way, I found the familiar fuzzy sofa itself with one hand before plopping myself down into it. My questing fingers found the remote, and I sat back while lifting it to stab at the power button with my thumb.

The television came to life, illuminating the room to reveal half a dozen people standing around me.

Jump scares in movies and games fucking suck. They’re awful. Believe me, jump scares in real life are about a thousand times worse. A not-so-tiny yelp escaped me as I jerked, my hand dropping to my belt.

It was too late. They were on me. Strong, firm hands caught each of my arms, shoving me back against the couch. A man for each side, their figures appearing massive in the faint and distorted light from the television that cast their features in terrible and mysterious shadows.

Another caught hold of my legs as I kicked out, dragging them up onto the coffee table. As my mouth opened to shout, the guy holding my left arm in a vice-like grip put his other hand over my mouth.

The remote was pulled from my hand by another figure, and the television was shut off. Darkness returned briefly before the light switch was flicked on, illuminating the room so suddenly I had to close my eyes momentarily.

Opening them once more, I found myself staring at the person holding the remote. Ammon.

Wait. The people holding me down, I knew them. They were my coworkers from the theater over the summer. The one using both arms to hold my right arm against the couch was Pete, the senior from my old high school who had helped me clean one last time before I had confronted our boss. The guy whose right hand was covering my mouth while his left held my other arm trapped was Rosco, the grumpy old projectionist. Bradley Joseph, the would-be film critic that manned the ticket booth, was holding my legs. Other co-workers, other people I had spent the summer with, crowded in close. There were even more people than I’d originally thought. It looked like all my co-workers were here.

“I’m not tired,” Ammon informed me, his voice strangely calm considering everything that was happening. I thrashed against the grip of those holding me down, my shouts for them to get the hell off me muffled by the hand that still covered my mouth, making it harder to breathe. And through all of this, Ammon simply stood there and continued. “So I want to play another game. A better game.”

I was lost. Confused. Scared. Horrified. All of it, everything. I was still struggling to get free, but there wasn’t a lot that the power of ‘never get tired’ could do against three full-sized men practically sitting on me.

Ammon stepped closer, setting the remote down. His eyes were bright with enthusiasm. “See, I think I might like you. Maybe. But I’ve gotta be sure. I have to find out if I really do, if I care. I wanna know what that feels like. You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to feel things.”

How long he’d waited to feel things? What the fuck? What was going on? Why were my coworkers here? Why were they holding me down? What was Ammon doing? Why did it seem like they were listening to him? What the hell?! All of that and more prodded me to fight harder against the hands holding me in place. Not that it accomplished anything, but at least I could keep struggling futilely a lot longer than they could hold me. These guys were strong, but I knew for a fact that I could outlast them.

Ammon smiled humorlessly. His small hand reached out to pat Rosco’s, and the man removed it from my mouth. As soon as the obstruction was gone, I demanded, “Ammon, what the hell do you–”

My words were cut off by a hard slap. Ammon’s hand had shot out, connecting with the side of my face so hard I briefly saw stars.

When my gaze cleared up, the boy was frowning as he shook his head, looking at his hand in disappointment. “Nope. Darn. I was really hoping I’d feel sad about that.” Making an annoyed face, he finally heaved a sigh. “Oh well, I guess we have to try something worse.” Tenderly patting my arm, the kid added, “Maybe if you get really hurt, then it’ll turn on. Maybe if you’re crying. Do you think you’ll cry if they hurt you? You spent a lot of time with them. Would being hurt by them make you sad? Will seeing you be hurt by them make me sad? Is that how it works?”

“Ammon, what… damn it, let me go!” I raised my voice, trying to snap my former coworkers out of whatever spell they’d been put under. Because at that point, that was was all it could be. A spell or some Stranger ability. Nothing else made sense. Nothing about Ammon made sense.
And I was in very deep trouble.

“My name is Ammon,” the kid announced to the room before pausing. His gaze met mine. “You should all make her cry.”

In the corner of the room, the window behind Dad’s recliner abruptly shattered as a figure leapt through it. I barely caught a glimpse of movement before a spray of blood suddenly appeared in the middle of Ammon’s chest. A knife had embedded itself there, and the boy stared down at it in surprise before slumping down.

As he collapsed, the hands holding me loosened. The figure in the corner moved again, so fast that it was barely a blur. They caught hold of poor Rosco and shoved him away from me one direction to knock down several people there before planting a hand against both Pete and Bradley, shoving each of them so hard even one-handed that each flew back a good dozen feet, plowing into the people there as well.

I was yanked to my feet by a firm grasp, and before I knew what was happening, we were halfway to the front door.

“Wait!” I jerked back around, stumbling as my eyes took in the sight on the floor of my family’s living room, looking for the dead boy with the knife in his chest.

He wasn’t dead, and the knife was no longer in his chest. Ammon was sitting up, staring at the bloody blade in his hand. His shirt was torn, and I could see the wound in his body already sealing itself up. He raised his gaze our way, eyes narrowing as he began to speak. “My name is–”

Strong hands grabbed me off the floor, and then the world blurred around me as I was carried out of the house and all the way down the street within the span of a few seconds.

Then we stopped almost two blocks away, and I was released. Stumbling a little, I took in a breath before letting it out again. “Thanks, Sell–” I started while turning toward what I thought was the man who had come back to check on me.

It wasn’t him. It was a girl. She stood a few feet from me, face illuminated by the nearby streetlight. She was clearly at least half-Asian and partly something else. Native American, probably. Or maybe French. I wasn’t entirely sure. I guessed her age at maybe a few years older than me.

What I was sure about was the feeling that my brain was screaming at me about. She was a Stranger. With a capital S. I knew it. Instinctively, I just knew she wasn’t human.
Taking an immediate step back, I grabbed for the weapon canister at my belt. “You’re a—you’re–”

“A vampire,” the girl replied evenly. “Yeah. And you’re a Heretic. But you have bigger problems than me right now.”

Distractedly, I glanced down the street. “Ammon… what—I don’t understand. What did he do to them? Mind control or something? But how? I mean, he’s not… that’s like a… a Stranger power. But he’s not, I didn’t sense…” I paused. Hadn’t I? I’d been uneasy around Ammon the whole time. He was a thoroughly creepy kid. Had that sense of unease been something more?

But that didn’t make sense, because one glance at this girl and my brain wasn’t subtle at all about things. It screamed Stranger at me, blaring every possible alarm.

And what had Ammon been talking about? Why would he care if I was hurt? What did that–

My brain stopped. I realized the worst part of what was going on. “Dad.”

The girl—vampire in front of me gave a single nod. “That’s your bigger problem. Come with me. I will get you to him. Trust me, you don’t have time to lose right now. I know what that school told you. I know what they think, what they’re teaching you. Now I’m asking you to forget it. Because your dad needs you to. You cannot get to him in time without help. I want to help you. I want to get you to him. But you have to let me. You have to trust me, at least long enough to save your father.”

“Save him…” My heart pounded. “What—what did Ammon do?”

“It’s not about what Ammon did,” the vampire informed me. “It’s about what he told your father to do.”

“What he told Dad to do?” I echoed slowly, staring at her. Scenario after scenario kept playing its way through my brain.

She nodded once. “He wanted you all to himself. He wanted to get rid of your dad. So he used his power and told him to drive that woman out to a motel. There he was supposed to wait until one in the morning, kill her, and then call the police and turn himself in.

“It’s twelve-forty now. We’ve got twenty minutes to stop your father from being arrested for murder. So either trust me and let me get you there in time, or drive yourself. Either way, choose.”

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20 comments

  1. Well gosh! We get more of Ammon being creepy (his line about ‘pets’ was pretty chilling on further reflection), and we also get more of Senny! Plotlines collide at the speed of light, and Flick has been exposed to an alternate view of Strangers. Although, having said that, it probably doesn’t help overturn any stereotypes that the first ‘wild’ Stranger she’s seen was Kid Sociopath.

    On that subject, we get a bit more of Ammon’s motivation – he’s trying to feel something. And he’s chosen to try and feel sadness, or possibly guilt, for some reason. (I sat and had a think as to why this was familiar – I was sure it was a Nasuverse thing, but I finally realised it’s also the motivation of King Joseph of Gallia from Zero no Tsukaima.) I suppose this is also why he thinks Flick being his sister is important. It sounds like he’s read about what emotions are but never actually felt them; he’s heard you’re supposed to feel bad when a member of your family hurts, so he’s gone ‘Great! I happen to have a sister I’ve never met, let’s use her as an experiment!’. I guess this is also why he took the time to get to know Flick before acting – to try and add emotional weight.

    Needless to say, I find Ammon a much more compelling and interesting character now. I mean, he was great before as ‘creepy child model #5’, but this promises a lot of potential development. Yay!

    Also, Flick needs some more nifty superpowers, statim.

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    1. Oh, damn. I just realized, this is why he was so brutal to Denise the gas station attendent while the robber got off comparatively easily. She was mildly friendly to him, so he put her through so much pain because he thought he might feel something over it.

      *shudders*

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  2. Flick needs to be more paranoid.

    I like Asenath and her blunt way of gaining the reluctant trust of someone who has been specifically taught to view her as a monster. Not to mention the utterly pragmatic way she stuck a knife into a ten-year (he’s ten,right?) old mind controller’s chest.

    Also, I find Ammon significantly more terrifying than I did before. Which, considering his introduction, is saying something. Literally everything he did this chapter scared me. First he called what is apparently a lot of people his pets, then he arranged that ambush (which indicates the possibility that he has a large section of the townspeople under his control). Then, instead of tying big sis up and throwing her in a car to take him back with her (as I expected), he starts ordering her torture to see if he feels anything over it. THEN we find out he has a healing factor. Fuck. Oh, and then there’s what he’s doing to Lincoln and Rose. I say again: Fuck.

    Two more questions: I’m assuming that Asenath waited to save Flick for so long (Wyoming should have gone dark by seven or eight) because had no idea what kind of heretic protections the house might or might not have, or maybe because she was trying to figure out the exact relationship between Flick and Ammon. But why didn’t she use the intervening time to get to Lincoln and Rose? Because she didn’t want to miss any possible opportunities to kill Ammon?

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    1. She should have followed the Black Order rule and suspect everyone. She knows that there are things that go bump in the night. In the words of the immortal Harry Dresden: “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean there’s not an invisible demon ready to eat your face.”

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      1. “You’re only paranoid if you’re wrong.”

        I have a feeling that Flick will have a much easier time with this after this weekend. I mean jeez, what a crappy birthday.

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  3. Two more questions: I’m assuming that Asenath waited to save Flick for so long (Wyoming should have gone dark by seven or eight) because had no idea what kind of heretic protections the house might or might not have, or maybe because she was trying to figure out the exact relationship between Flick and Ammon. But why didn’t she use the intervening time to get to Lincoln and Rose? Because she didn’t want to miss any possible opportunities to kill Ammon?

    She waited until there was an opening to get Flick out without letting herself get caught in a fight. She didn’t want to kill any of the mind controlled people, and she didn’t want to risk letting Ammon use his power on her. Up until the confrontation in the living room that drew all of Ammon’s attention, he had people watching for interruptions. The bit earlier at the gate was Senny scouting things out, getting the lay of the land and figuring out where they were.

    And yes, she was also trying to figure out exactly what Ammon wanted with Flick, why he was so interested in her. She needed answers, and a good opening to get the girl and get out.

    As for why she didn’t use the time to save Lincoln and Rose, it’s simple. She only just found out about it. 😉 This wasn’t ‘she listened in on him giving the orders to Flick’s father and then sat on it’, this was ‘she listened to him talk about it moments before this scene went down.’

    Oh, and yeah, he’s about 10.

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    1. Asenath is awesome. Seriously, she’s just great. Nice, genuinely heroic, ruthlessly pragmatic when she has to be. She’s rapidly becoming one of my favorite characters.

      Also, I want to take a moment and appreciate how wrong everything is going for Ammon. First he makes it to Wyoming to discover that Flick is going to an exclusive private school. Then, when she finally makes it home, she turns out to be immune to his powers. Then she gets distracted by Seller. Later, once he FINALLY has her where he wants her, some other completely random person comes out of NOWHERE and pulls her out. The kid just can’t catch a break.

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  4. Sunny to the rescue, and it is as glorious as I had hoped it would be.
    Ammon’s power-set is a bit over-powered. Mind control, self regeneration, healing of others and kill-shot immunity, at least when it comes to his heart. I’m guessing his head has to be taken off, and probably his brains utterly destroyed for it to count as a “kill”.
    I’m guessing he counts as a Stranger when it comes to “you kill it you get part of it’s power” and would probably give the mind control, though healing of others is something that’d come in rather handy as well.
    Would a Heretic killing another Heretic get any sort of powers from the kill? Don’t remember if I’ve asked that yet or not… .

    I find it interesting that the Stranger Identification Sense works on vampires, which are humans converted though the blood of a Stranger, but not on Spawn (which is my catch-all term for “the children of a Stranger and a human that has Stranger abilities” until I am told there is already an in-verse term for such a thing).
    Sunny was a mixed breed child before becoming a vampire, but it sounded like she was mostly base-line human with no preternatural abilities before drinking her father’s blood so I wouldn’t classify her as a Spawn.
    Or did Ammon not trigger the full SIS response because he’s Flick’s family? Just like his power doesn’t work on her because she’s family, that street could be two way after all.

    I thought Ammon might have been a text book psychopath, in that he didn’t have the full range of normal human emotions. He gave me that feeling, that his joyful nature was a ruse and that he just wasn’t really feeling anything at all. That he was desperately trying to feel something, anything, but nothing ever came.
    A lot of people take for granted that they can feel happy or sad, never really thinking about what life would be like when you didn’t ever know what those sensations felt like.

    I thought his treatment of Rose (if that’s actually her name) was just a lack of understanding that “people need to eat” (her devouring of the pizza suggested to me she hadn’t been allowed to eat in a while) but he’s had pets before! He should know better! Shame on you Ammon! You need to treat your pets better than this! Didn’t your father teach you anything about proper pet care? I mean, sure, you can just always go down to the bus stop and find a replacement but it won’t be the same one! You need to take more responsibility here young man.
    Though there is a good chance you won’t be alive much longer so maybe you won’t get the chance to become more responsible. At the same time you’ve got good potential of being a reoccurring antagonist so your chances of slipping away are just as good as your chances of being dealt with in a very final manner. I give it maybe sixty-forty odds, death and slipping away respectively.
    Oh, and there’s always the chance Daddy shows up to pull your rear out of the fire, only to tan it later for you going off to play without proper supervision. You’ve been a naughty boy Ammon, and naughty boys get punished!

    I just had a very nasty thought; once all this is over the Heretics are going to have to cover things up, and to do that they are going to have to do more memory tampering. But how to you explain someone like Rose just driving off one day? Answer; Alzheimer’s.
    What if every case of Alzheimer’s is actually just some poor schmuck who got involved with Strangers a bit too often or took wrong to the memory tampering? A nasty thought indeed.

    Well, we know there’s no question as to what Flick is going to do next. She’s already been kind of told from Avalon that “All Strangers Are Chaotic Evil” is not really true and her desire to keep her father safe will trump anything else hands down.
    The only question I have now is; does she have her staff on her or was it left behind at the house?

    Another great chapter, looking forward to the next installment.

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    1. Ammon’s power-set is a bit over-powered. Mind control, self regeneration, healing of others and kill-shot immunity, at least when it comes to his heart. I’m guessing his head has to be taken off, and probably his brains utterly destroyed for it to count as a “kill”.

      He can be pretty scary all right. Not as scary as his dad, but he’s a good start.

      Would a Heretic killing another Heretic get any sort of powers from the kill? Don’t remember if I’ve asked that yet or not… .

      I don’t think you did, but someone else on SV did. I’ll quote the answer that I gave then:

      It’s a crapshoot that isn’t supposed to be possible to tilt in your favor. Sometimes they get most of the powers, sometimes they get almost none of them. There’s (supposedly) no way to tell ahead of time.

      Or did Ammon not trigger the full SIS response because he’s Flick’s family? Just like his power doesn’t work on her because she’s family, that street could be two way after all.

      All I’ll say right this moment is that there’s a reason I purposefully showed that he doesn’t trigger Seller’s Stranger sense either.

      I thought Ammon might have been a text book psychopath, in that he didn’t have the full range of normal human emotions. He gave me that feeling, that his joyful nature was a ruse and that he just wasn’t really feeling anything at all. That he was desperately trying to feel something, anything, but nothing ever came.

      For the most part, he’s acting out the emotions he thinks sound right, playing the game, trying to do things that are so bad just out of the hope that he’ll feel something. That’s why he wanted to get to know Flick before having bad things done to her. That’s why he was harsher to the gas station clerk than the robber. He didn’t care about the robber. There wasn’t much chance of provoking an emotion.

      Shame on you Ammon! You need to treat your pets better than this! Didn’t your father teach you anything about proper pet care?

      That’s what OTHER pets are for.

      What if every case of Alzheimer’s is actually just some poor schmuck who got involved with Strangers a bit too often or took wrong to the memory tampering? A nasty thought indeed.

      Nasty, but not entirely off track.

      The only question I have now is; does she have her staff on her or was it left behind at the house?

      She started to grab for her weapon when she figured out what Asenath was, so yeah, she has it. Oh, and she also grabbed for it when she was ambushed, just too late. Avalon drilled keeping her weapon on her at all times into her head.

      Like

  5. ““I used to have a lot of pets,” Ammon confirmed easily. “But I had to leave them to come here.””
    Me: Knowing what we do about Ammon OOC, this is rather disturbing.

    “The television came to life, illuminating the room to reveal half a dozen people standing around me.

    Jump scares in movies and games fucking suck. They’re awful. Believe me, jump scares in real life are about a thousand times worse. A not-so-tiny yelp escaped me as I jerked, my hand dropping to my belt.

    It was too late. They were on me. Strong, firm hands caught each of my arms, shoving me back against the couch. A man for each side, their figures appearing massive in the faint and distorted light from the television that cast their features in terrible and mysterious shadows.”
    Me: Well, shit. I’m guessing Ammon got tired of waiting, or of not being as effective with his power as he is used to?

    ““My name is Ammon,” the kid announced to the room before pausing. His gaze met mine. “You should all make her cry.””
    Me: Oh dear.

    “He wasn’t dead, and the knife was no longer in his chest. Ammon was sitting up, staring at the bloody blade in his hand. His shirt was torn, and I could see the wound in his body already sealing itself up. He raised his gaze our way, eyes narrowing as he began to speak. “My name is–””
    Me: Of course he has some form of regen. Why wouldn’t he?

    “It wasn’t him. It was a girl. She stood a few feet from me, face illuminated by the nearby streetlight. She was clearly at least half-Asian and partly something else. Native American, probably. Or maybe French. I wasn’t entirely sure. I guessed her age at maybe a few years older than me.”
    Me: Ah, that is Asenath? Tracked him down relatively quickly didn’t she?

    ““It’s not about what Ammon did,” the vampire informed me. “It’s about what he told your father to do.”

    “What he told Dad to do?” I echoed slowly, staring at her. Scenario after scenario kept playing its way through my brain.

    She nodded once. “He wanted you all to himself. He wanted to get rid of your dad. So he used his power and told him to drive that woman out to a motel. There he was supposed to wait until one in the morning, kill her, and then call the police and turn himself in.

    “It’s twelve-forty now. We’ve got twenty minutes to stop your father from being arrested for murder. So either trust me and let me get you there in time, or drive yourself. Either way, choose.””
    Me: Worst school break ever. That hotel better be close by, because unless Asenath has a way to travel very quickly they are not likely to make it in time. That said, I wonder what Flick will decide on?

    Nice update.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Okay, so this was quite possibly the dumbest thing ever. I mean, I could get our protagonist being a sentimental idiot who made classic horror-movie mistakes, but not the ancient vampire. Could you explain please, Mr. Author, just why exactly they left the vampire alone back there? Because it’s not like he was a threat to the vamp. None of his minions were anyway, and I haven’t seen any indication that he is as strong or fast as a vampire. MAYBE his power works on her (though if just having the edge makes it ineffective, I don’t see how actually being a stranger wouldn’t do the same), but she could have ridiculously easily neutered that power by ripping out his throat.

    So why, the fuck, exactly did they leave ammon free? It would have taken the vamp no time at all to rip his head off his shoulders, and if he could survive that then she could have just brought the head along and incinerated it later. That would have wasted less time than her little talk to flick outside.

    I mean, I’m going to be honest. I know EXACTLY why. Because you want ammon to continue as an antagonist. But is there any actual logic to him still being alive to cause havoc, or is it just because it’s convenient for the story? I mean hell, the vamp’s primary mission was to stop him, not to help flick. Anyone that old would understand the reality of the world, and would prioritize killing the thing that is undoubtedly going to cause endless tragedy if it escapes over saving two people. There is literally zero chance that if they leave ammon alive in there that he won’t destroy at least two more loves before they get another chance at him, and it wouldn’t have even slowed them down noticeably to kill or at least incapacitate him.

    I hope this isn’t just a contrived plot device, but I don’t see how it could not be.

    Like

  7. “My heart’s response mostly a lot of pictures of decapitated girls and wild gestures toward the stacks upon stacks of books about Stranger attacks that were in the Crossroads library.”
    I think you are missing a ‘was’ between response and mostly.

    Lucky Aserath was there. Things could have gotten ugly.
    Question is, why make Flick’s Dad wait before killing the woman? Suspense?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you are missing a ‘was’ between response and mostly.

      I am indeed! Thanks.

      Question is, why make Flick’s Dad wait before killing the woman? Suspense?

      He was going to make Flick know it was happening, exactly when, and watch the clock with her while knowing she couldn’t stop it.

      Like

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