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Assimilation



 
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Gideon Abernathy

The commune was quiet, reserved in the face of their newcomer. They collectively held their breath, waiting for the outcome that would mean a new member of the Grove or a ritual. Sacrifices in this community meant a time for celebration, a break from their work load, and the only reason they were permitted to consume alcohol.

Ignatius would not be thrilled with their preferred outcome, undoubtedly.

As for Gideon, he was still uncertain toward the man. He was pleasant, willing to help at every turn, and he seemed to get along well with everyone he came into contact with. The building on his house had been ‘delayed,’ as it were, which was a calculated move. Ignatius needed to be watched, and what better way than to house him under the Abernathy roof. It was a little more work on Quinn, but nothing she couldn’t handle. With her husband’s help, of course, whenever she needed it.

Surprisingly, Ignatius had an affinity for cooking, and he helped as much as he could in that regard. Rather, as much as Quinn would allow, being the somewhat prideful caretaker that she was. Seeing as there were no real cooking roles in the community, aside from rare, special occasions, Gideon took him under his own wing and gained in assistant in the garden. Not an easy feat, either, considering how private and secluded he preferred to be in this particular domain.

It proved a good way to get a read on the man, and as much as Gideon didn’t press his personal life from before, Ignatius didn’t seem keen on bringing it up. A good sign indeed, as they didn’t want him missing it and attempting to return. No one left, not if Gideon had any say in it.

And he did. All the say, in fact.

That particular morning, they were in the garden checking the vegetables for picking. They were expecting a bountiful harvest; the California soil had been good to them and provided a good yield, though Gideon had been scrambling at the beginning of the year, late as he was for planting. Chalk it up to uprooting an entire village in the space of two weeks.

The talk was idle chitchat, and the psychopath found himself strangely easy-going around Ignatius. Strangely, considering his role in this community, and who he was to these people. It was an uncomfortable feeling, and it made him all the more cautious.

He heard the commotion before it even reached them, and a commotion it had better be. The Grove knew better than to disturb their Shepherd when he was in the garden; it was his safe haven, a place where he did his meditation. That’s how they understood it anyway, so suffice it to say, the glances afforded to Ignatius were a little more than curious as the pair was set upon.

A boy, probably fourteen at the most, was thrust at Gideon, where he stumbled and fell to his knees. A quirked brow was offered before that blackened gaze rose to the leader of this mob, Rosco. Gideon suppressed the urge to roll his eyes; but of course. “What’s so important that it couldn’t wait?” There was a definite note of coolness to his tone.

“Caught him stealing, a whole notepad from the school.” How mundane, and yet, how dangerous. Anthony came to them as a child runaway from an abusive foster family, some five or six years prior. There was no clear reason as to why the kid would steal a notebook, except perhaps, to secretly communicate with the outside world.

“Is this true, Anthony? Did you steal it?” This procured a nod from the boy, who won’t look up from the ground. Annoyed, Gideon hooked a hand beneath his armpit and forced him upright, gently as his temperament would allow.

Anthony’s shaky visage rose upward until they locked eyes. Manipulation being a key trait to who Gideon was, he donned a disappointed look before turning to Ignatius and waving him closer. “If you don’t mind...”

An encouraging smile was extended, and he prompted the man with a question. “Could you tell this young man what this community offered you, that day at the market when you and I first met?”
September 06, 2018 05:43 pm

Ignatius Reed

Shepherd's Grove had invited Ignatius with an openness that was entirely alien to him, but something had shifted in the atmosphere. There was a sudden sense of reservation in everyone around him, almost as if they anticipating something from him, but he couldn't put his finger on it. It was only natural, he convinced himself, that nobody could be so open to a stranger until they learned the content of their character.

The garden was a good pick for him. Ignatius had a sense for plants that was nearly uncanny, and he could tell that this crop would yield generously. He would dig his fingers through the loamy soil at the base of their tomato plants, trying to discern what made this plot of Earth so fantastically fertile. While he was tempted to ask Gideon if they used any special fertilizers, he felt that maybe prodding him with so many questions would annoy him. The last thing he wanted was to alienate the man who'd extended his roof over him.

Gideon Abernathy seemed like a dependable man, the longer he chatted with him. He had kept his digging shallow and sincere, and felt relieved when the man seemed to take to him some. His mother had been an excellent conversationalist, and imparted on him the secret behind learning things... She might have been a terrible gossip, but she knew that a person would spill their heart to you if you would only allow them to.

When the boy was brought before Gideon, Ignatius felt himself tense up. You could judge a leader based on how he handled his subordinates, and it appeared he'd have that revelation thrust upon him early. His stomach threatened to lurch when Gideon called on him, but he'd swallow his anxiety about the situation and clear his throat. "A set of knives that I'd never be able to afford." he explained, trying his damnedest not to seem disjointed.
September 16, 2018 02:19 pm

Gideon Abernathy

“A set of knives that he’d never be able to afford.” Gideon repeated the statement, his blackened eyes flashing a dangerous glint as they bored into the boy’s own frightened hues. Dancing just behind his stare was the truly gratifying sensation that came with this sort of power. The psychopath fed off it, needing it almost more than the air he breathed.

“You stole from your community, your family.” There was a collective murmuring of agreement, some going so far as to jeer in the boy’s direction. Animalistic in their basest nature, given the opportunity, they would and could turn on the most loved of the commune. Not having been sated in quite some time, their bloodlust made them all the more feral. Anthony would have known that, and still took the risk; his fire must be stamped out. “Anything is yours, if only you ask. But you chose to steal. So I’ll give you one chance.”

He took a single step toward him, relishing the chain of emotions that flitted across Anthony’s face. Gideon remained stoic, a learned and perfected poker face having been essential to this sort of life. “What did you want it for?”

Something akin to a whimper prefaced the stuttering explanation, but he couldn’t seem to get his words straight. Rosco swung a hand into the back of his head, as if trying to get a television set to focus the picture properly. To an extent, it worked, and Gideon almost laughed at the hilarity of the gesture.

The boy tried again. “I-I-I... I just wanted... To tell my foster siblings that I was okay... I w-wanted to... maybe help them... to tell them about this place...”

A quirked brow set the tone for Gideon’s thought process, but it was the only indicator. The mob was hinged on his judgment, the hive mind holding their collective breath. The ensuing silence was a symphony, soothing a mind that craved quiet.

Had the boy been telling the truth, it was still a dangerous move. Anyone knowing about their community and its whereabouts was a threat, and one that wouldn’t be tolerated. But Gideon couldn’t find a grain of truth in such a contrived story; he hadn’t cared about his foster siblings before, so what changed?

The answer was a resounding nothing.

Finally, deliberately, he leaned forward ever so slightly, if only to force Anthony’s coveted gaze to his. The desire for that fear was a heavy weight, only alleviated when their eyes locked, and the boy saw the verdict before it was even delivered.

“You’re lying.”

Anthony hung his head, shamed, before he was carted off by the rambunctious, sneering collective to his punishment. Gideon wouldn’t follow, not immediately; they knew to wait.

An inconspicuous glance was cast toward their newcomer, and he found himself wondering how he would take this. Only time would tell, and Gideon wasn’t concerned with how well he could stomach it. No, his interest was staked in how well he could assimilate. His life depended on it, after all.

A sure gait would lead them away from the garden, and toward the distant noise that indicated a disturbance in the Grove’s day to day life.
October 06, 2018 12:21 pm

Ignatius

For a brief moment, Ignatius found himself questioning his decision to move into a mysterious compound in the middle of bum-fukked NorCal. Gideon had given him the impression that he always conducted himself like the thoughtful leader, but he saw another layer of cunning in his display... He could only choose to accept it; this was not his world yet. The outside world could threaten a place like this; a certain amount of ruthlessness was necessary. That much was evident.

There was nothing to worry about here. Not yet, he didn't think. This kid just made a mistake and needed to be taught not to do it again. A rousing feeling crept up his gut, and his thoughts turned gray... It wasn't too long ago that he had last attempted to kill himself, after being consumed by his insecurity and loneliness. A few weeks ago blank walls and silence had been his only companions. A crawling void awaited him when he slept, riddling him with miserable dreams that robbed him of his day's vigor before the Sun could even crest the skyline.

Now he was a part of a community. He slept soundly in the home of this man, who had invited him in.

"Gideon," he started, keeping pace with him. "Before Shepherd's Grove, I had nothing. What you've built here has given me catharsis, honestly... That kid didn't seem like he knows how much to appreciate that." He paused long enough to look ahead, making sure they hadn't rounded on the group yet. Something as simple as corporal punishment or imprisonment wouldn't suffice here... It wouldn't make him feel secluded enough to realize what he was trespassing on.

"Let him be alone, with everyone around him. Show him what people are like out there... Nobody should give him so much as a glance until he learns."

He looked to Gideon as they encroached the posse, his eyes full of resolve.

"Think about it."
November 23, 2018 10:30 pm

Gideon Abernathy

The smile he greeted the conversation with was enough to soften his dark features. Genuinely interested, the expression was welcoming of whatever Ignatius had to say. After witnessing such an event, the eagerness in his voice was, admittedly, surprising, and he had earned Gideon’s fleeting attention. Mindful of what they were approaching, he slowed their gait to a meandering pace, taking in each word of praise, and each syllable of reproach. Ignatius had been a keen observer, and it might just pay off.

Or it might not.

Think about it, he prompted, and Gideon tapped the side of his temple. Having held up the role of justice for too long, he wordlessly beckoned Ignatius along as he led them forward once more, displaying their private discussion for all to see. Let the Grove think what they would; the newcomer exuded potential, an affinity even, for cult life, and Gideon was undeniably drawn to that in some way... or another.

Whispers died upon their rejoining, the crowd having parted and, in a fluid motion, closed in around them once more. In the center stood Anthony, guilty of petty thievery and awaiting a punishment that some might deem cruel. It’s a delicate ecosystem they keep, and the good of one didn’t outweigh the good of the entirety. This would break him or make him stronger, as intended.

Think about it, he’d said, and Gideon couldn’t get it out of his mind.

A few steps separated him from the mob and brought him to closer to the accused, who couldn’t meet the Shepherd’s dark gaze. There, Gideon stood, staring down at the boy and letting the silence surround him comfortingly. He took this moment to think, faced with an interesting prospect and how best to deliver it.

With a bit of a flourish, he turned to face the crowd.

“It saddens me to know that one of our own has turned on us.” Anthony hung his head. “Perhaps he got too comfortable, perhaps you all have. So easily we forget what it took to come here, what it takes every day to live this life we fought for. It’s hard work, yes, but we are free from society’s constraints and the mundane. A single letter to the outside world, no matter how well-intended, could spell the end for us. Society doesn’t want us out here, living the way we want to, the way we were meant to, off the grid. They will come for us, and they will put an end to it.”

Pausing, he looked around at the assembled. Some of them were shame-faced; others, concerned or afraid. Most had grown up in such a life, but the rest knew full-well what the outside world was capable of. It was the driving force that brought them there initially, and what inevitably made them stay.

“I want to remind you.”

Extending an arm, he drew their attention to Ignatius, his own gaze bright as he looked upon him. “This man sought us out himself, after the world beat him down over and over again.” He motioned him forward once more. “As such, I want him to explain to you what’s out there. As such... I want him to deliver Anthony’s punishment.”

A hush fell over the collective, and Gideon seamlessly molded himself into the folds of the crowd, waiting and listening to all actions and reactions.
December 06, 2018 01:11 pm
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