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Tiber Loche

At what point had he reached such a pivotal low?

Tiber had a hard time differentiating between his good moods and his bad moods. He couldn't remember the last time that there'd been a distinctive line between the two. Since Caleb had shown up, everything had been a whirlwind. It felt like he'd gone through each stage of grief all over again. And again. And again.

It was never ending.

The moonshine helped at first. When he was drinking around the clock, and having a good time with the people around him. There were countless late nights on the back acres of The Den property. Fires raged while a handful of 'the boys' drank the night away- hunting, scavenging, and doing whatever it was that wolves did when no one else was around.

Ceremonious, almost. Freeing.

Tiring.

The nights started getting colder, but Tiber welcomed them with open arms. The forests of New York had the kind of frosty winds that nipped relentlessly at his hot skin. It kept him on his toes. Allowed him to feel, despite the many ounces of liquor that flowed so freely through his veins. He hadn't seen Addie as much as when they'd first started spending time together. It wasn't necessarily because he didn't want to see her, but because they're schedules had been so conflicting... and he hadn't done a damn thing to remedy that.

He certainly could have gone out of his way to make some sort of grand gesture. To remind her that she was one of the only things keeping him tethered to this life.

But. The thing is.
Tiber slips so easily back into that never ending question of what. Of why. What exactly was this life, and why the fvck did he continue to bother?

It was always the same old thing.
The same old sad boy.

The same angry monster.

The only difference was that he had shed his skin. Earned new colors. Grown new stripes. But these shades did fvck all for him, except remind him that no matter the hue, tigers are all the same.

Before him, the road he traveled was all too familiar; both literally and figuratively. Even in the pitch black dark, Tiber hardly struggled to see. The dark asphalt at his feet crunched lightly beneath the tread of his boot. There hadn't been a car for hours, but he hasn't gotten too terribly far. Not yet. Not at the leisurely pace with which he was pushing forward.

There was no telling where he was going. A bus station, perhaps. A working farm. Cellar of an old, abandoned house. He'd end up somewhere, disappearing from the face of the earth- returning months later with nothing to show for his lack of accountability except apathy and apologies.

All he knew for sure, with a belly full of bourbon, was that he needed to get out of there.
October 07, 2019 11:06 pm

Lila Parikh

I canít remember the last time I justÖ did something. Nothing, really. Itís hard, staying in one place. Usually my entire life is a revolving door, turning nonstop for those who can no longer open their own. Itís been shut, and the lock simply hasnít been changed yet. So, they find mine. Or I, them. Lately, that has stopped altogether. The door has slowed to a standstill, no one enteringÖ and him, refusing to leave.

Heís been with me for months. To be completely honest, seeing him go is the last thing I want. Itís an understood fact, as is my selfishness. But he seems to feel the same, and we are both comfortable in this stage of our friendship.

A lot has happened, in the past few weeks.

He nearly killed me. This still hasnít been forgiven, no matter how empathetic I may be. That is important. He needs to understand that what he did was wrong. Do you know how hard it is to punish the dead?

Wait. Sh-t. I missed my turn.

ďYou know, getting out of town doesnít always have to meanÖ this.Ē

ďWell, the GPS said-ď

ďLila. Sweet Lila. The GPS says a lot of things. Never once did it say to travel to the place where people go to die.Ē

ďThatís not funny, Dante.Ē

Yes, it is. Despite everything, I find myself looking into the rear view to find him. Itís useless, really. But if I really try, I can just make him out. A silhouette, but still him. Thereís that stupid grin forming, and he laughs. He knows that he is winning. Iím not staying mad, and itís necessary. Really, he needs to move on. This isnít healthy. Heís completely denied every chance so far and-

ďLILA!Ē

Everything happens so quickly. My palms become sweaty immediately because as my attention turns to the road, there is a man there. I jerk the wheel, but donít even realize Iíve done it. My foot is slammed into the break, and the vehicle skids to a spinning halt. My lips are moving, but even Iím not sure what is being said. All the while, Dante is speaking quickly. Feverishly. His voice is far away. It doesnít matter though, because I am launching myself out of the vehicle.

ďAre you crazy?! Why are you- You could have been-Ē

Reassess. Calm down.

My heart is pounding angrily in my chest, and Iím just noticing now that my hands are shaking.

ďAre you hurt?Ē
October 08, 2019 01:09 pm

Tiber Loche

Tiber hadn't thought anything of the car that had come up on him. There had been many cars over the hours. Vehicles that had come and gone; some that gave him a second glance, though most of them had not. It didn't bother him in the slightest. He wasn't looking for a ride, and had always been more comfortable where he had gone unnoticed.

The sun had set long ago, and the cold air from the Catskills offered him a welcomed embrace. The cool lashings of the evening felt nice against his skin; hot, and tempered, and always ready for a fight. Even as his mind raced, the mild evening helped to keep him somewhat steady. The chirping of the frogs in the bogs that he had passed, and the crickets as they pranced by him were somewhat soothing. He could smell the family of raccoons that lived in a nearby tree hollow. Knew that there had been a bear nesting not too far off.

It was only times like these where Tiber was truly at peace.

All things considered, anyway.

He can hear the car before anything else. Doesn't see the headlights a good twenty seconds. Car needs an oil change. Not the fanciest. Going, maybe, just a little too fast. He's not nervous, however. Would assume that the driver knew the roads just as well as everyone else who had passed him that evening. None of them had succeeded in taking him out yet, and he wasn't hopeful at all that this would be the one.

Not, until, he hears the breaks begin to lockup, and the wheel of the vehicle makes a sharp jerk off to the side.

Tiber turns on his heel to face the car, jumping off the pavement and onto the grass padded shoulder that would happily have lead him down into a ditch. But his reflexes are better than that. Even now- even desensitized as he was, from the copious amounts of moonshine he'd ingested over the prior months. He's raking a thick hand through unkempt strands of flaxen hair, and soon his cornflower hues are fixated on the angry red glow of break lights.

From where he stood, he could hear the emergency break screaming, just as the door of the car flew open and a pair of slender legs pivoted off the seat. A couple of strides could carry him into the woods, and he'd never have to deal with this. He'd be gone in an instant, and some poor person would find themselves entirely unsure whether or not they'd actually seen what they saw. But he'd not feeling that sh!tty tonight. Doesn't need anything else taking up any more of his time. So he'd allow his legs to carry him forward, across the dull pavement to the woman who closed in on him.

"Will you just-"

A hum of irritation bubbles in his chest. It vibrates through his vocal chords and eventually sounds out into the night air.

"I'm not hurt." It's almost pathetic how hard he has to work to keep the sarcastic edge from his voice. It wasn't like him at all. Tiber wasn't this person who was short with people, or easily irritated. The fact that his first instinct was to berate her for her concern frustrated him immediately. "To be fair, I wasn't even in the road. You must have been distracted."

Though his words seemed accusatory, his tone most certainly did not.

Honestly, he didn't give a single sh!t.

"These roads are really dangerous to be driving this late at night." It's not like he's intentionally trying to flip the script. Honestly. "You should be more careful."

Careful.

*Snorts*.
October 08, 2019 08:29 pm

Lila Parikh

The man in front of me is talking, but that isn't who holds my attention. Instead, it is the specter close behind, berating me now for being so careless. You could have killed yourself, he insists. Why do you assume it was this sh-thead, he questions. He always had a jealous streak. And I get it. Truly. This particular guy has the misfortune of being remotely attractive, and Dante simply cannot stand anything nearly so pretty as himself.

Right now, though. It's not the right time for this. And maybe later, when I am of rational mind, I might realize that what he is displaying is genuine concern for my safety.

On and on the two go until I finally just cannot take it any longer.

"It was an accident!"

That came out far louder than intended.

Let me make this abundantly clear. I'm not crazy. I'm not haunted. I'm not troubled. I don't need to seek help. But I'm not the best at driving, and yes, I am tired. Yes, I was distracted.

And yes, I said that out loud. Because it was an accident.

"Lila...

...it was a skunk.
"

And with him, my car would smell like the bog of eternal stench.

Dante is laughing a little, despite this circumstance. Yet another dangerous, terrifying thing that has happened. God, it only makes me more upset. I just want to.. laugh? Yes. Laugh. I'm laughing. It's soft, and breathy, because I definitely just had a heart attack... but it is happening. These things are infectious, and in times of stress, who knows how someone might react.

Not crazy. I swear. Please, believe me.

"How are you even alive right now?" The question comes out in a giggle, and there is no suppressing the urge to cover my mouth with a hand. This isn't funny. Not even a little. "If it's dangerous to drive, why are you walking?"

"The f-ck? Have you been drinking? Did I miss something?"

"Shhh," I wave off my consistent company, watching the strange man who somehow caught my attention fast enough to confuse the crap out of me. To be fair, he's much larger than any friend of Bambi's. "Okay.. listen. This never happened, right?"

It's time to go back to the car. It's time to go home. Wherever that is in relation to here, I'm not sure but...

"I know that look. Don't even think about it."

"It's fine. Totally fine." Not completely clear if that is for me, or him. Or even the other him. Whatever the case is, I've stopped at the drivers door and something is making me turn to face the wandering, perhaps even bumbling, man who nearly died because of me. "Listen. Let me give you a ride to...wherever. There's bears and stuff out here."

Holy... there it is.

The skunk.

"...You should get in the car. Slowly."
October 08, 2019 09:09 pm

Tiber Loche

Peaceful, yes.

But tired. So, so tired.

As much was written all over his face. It was the way his bright blues sunk into his face, and the red rings around his eyes. He'd paled slightly as the days passed. His hair had grown longer, and had been far less kept than he'd preferred in the past. But it was his demeanor, perhaps, that rendered his defeat above all else. The soft slump of his shoulders. He'd done his best to stretch his lips thin across his visage. Tug them up into a smile. Those hard edges of his had no place here. Not tonight.

Tiberius was a good man. A great man.
But.
Boy, had he been through the ringer.

He'd nodded along swiftly, her words enveloping him in the dead of night. There are little ruffles of leaves among the woods behind them. Soft tussles in the grass from creatures who'd become frightened. They didn't bother him. Not so much as the air of crazy that kind of wafted around this chick. If you squinted a little, it wasn't unrealistic to think that she'd escaped from somewhere. Was running, maybe. From an asylum? A psyche ward?

Internally, Tiber laughed.
The cosmos weren't that cruel. They couldn't be.

"I believe you." He'd waved a hand slightly, before it landed into his coat pocket. "If you'd tried to run me over, I don't reckon you'd have pulled over for a chat, eh?"

He's teasing her. This is a good sign.
Keep that temper at bay.

"It definitely happened." Golden locks sweep to the side as his head tilts, "But I'm not sure we're headed in the same direction."

Not unless she was off to the nearest bus station. Or train.
Or unless she was willing to play taxi across the United States.

"No offense or anything, but New York is sh-t."

The words tumbled over his tongue and out his mouth.
He's not sure that anything had ever felt more true than they did in that moment.

"Besides. Bears are more scared of me than I am of them."
This time, his lips quirked up into a genuine grin. Where is the lie?
"Haven't you ever heard that old saying?"

Then, his other hand finds it's way into the opposite pocket, and Tiber shrugs. Not sure what else he can say.
But then this stranger, she starts to get a bit shifty; clearly on edge. There's a soft demand uttered, and she's insisting that Tiber should get in the car.

He's confused for a moment, because... Was he being kidnapped all of a sudden? Robbed? If she'd taken one good look at him, it'd have been clear that he didn't have a damn thing on him worth taking. Soon, Tiber can hear the soft scratching of little fingernails against pavement, and his bright eyes dart to the side- just in time to catch a little streak of black in the pale neon of the headlights.

"Oh. Fvck."

Not that he was worried about the danger that a skunk posed, but
Have you ever tried to wash the smell of skunk out of your clothes? Your hair? Your SKIN?
No thanks.

Tiber jumped back, darting away from the light and back into the ditch. He's circled around the driver side first, his intentions being to roll around the back of the car. Into the back seat, if he needed to. If he made it before she'd smartened up and redacted her offer.

"Go. Go." He waves his hands at the woman, gesturing for her to get back into the fvcking car, lest she get sprayed instead, and he wind up walking anyway.

"First you try to run me over." He speaks into the air, the fog from his warm breath disappearing into the night. "Now you've attracted New York's largest skunk to try and finish me off."

Tiber was practically dancing as he runs around the back of the car and darts up to the passengers side, throwing the door open without pause. "Who hired you."

He's joking.
Mostly.
October 19, 2019 10:12 pm

Lila Parikh

"Yea."

Because this guy was slow to react, and honestly, I'm surprised. What did he think was going to happen? Did he think me, some tiny thing, was going to take him down? Did he actually assume that I might even attempt to do wrong by someone twice my size and definitely far stronger? Do I even look the sort.

Now, he is ushering me into the car.

Doesn't need to tell me twice.

I slide right in, carefully and slowly closing my door as softly as I possibly can. I imagine that there is a bomb attached to it, and if I make one wrong move, the whole care will explode. It's him that is the problem. The stranger, who cannot quite decide what he is going to do.

Even Dante is judging.

"Just get in!"

It's an easy thing to demand, when you're throwing all your crap from the passenger seat into the back at the last minute. If this were a getaway operation, we'd both be in prison.

Wait. Is that the heat? Did I leave the vents open? Excuse me, endangered stranger, while I move on to more important things. Turn the air off, put the air setting on recirculate, close all the vents I can reach.

Check, check, check.

"Who hired you."

Dante is still mocking him. Apparently he thinks he's super cute. Or, as it seems, not. He doesn't much care for most living men... or women.

"He's in."

A glance backward is all that is passed before I'm watching the skunk as it toddles into the road. Like any other genius, I put the car in reverse and back up slowly. "Really sorry for all that. I'm not hired. I'm just lost. The GPS tried to tell me to go down a road that doesn't exist and now I'm here. You're here. You're not like... an up and coming Dahmer, are you?"

"Because he would tell you, right? Come on, Li.."

Sighing, backing the car up just a hair more, I continue to watch the skunk as if that alone is the source of all my thoughts. It requires full attention. Not the ghost in the back. Not the strange man in the passenger seat. Not even the fact that I am completely lost.

Has my phone even updated, yet?

Oh. It's dead.

I can't even look at the guy.

"If you tell me how to get home, I'll take you wherever it is you need to be..?"

A solid compromise.

"It's the least you could do, after all. I did just save you from certain stench."
October 23, 2019 06:28 pm
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