The Drop: Brought to the Light

OOC: Joint Post Between Blitzen and Turk

The hinge of the door opened as she peered around the corner. She imagined what could be lurking around the corner, what horrors could have broken Chuck in such a way to leave him jabbering on a sickbed. Peaking through the stack she could barely see what figure had made his way through, but something squeaked and a casual whistle filled the crushing silence. She leaned further into the hallway and saw no monster, no beast, no bloodthirsty killer; the maintenance staff member from earlier before wheeled in a small laundry cart full of equipment he likely salvaged from the club sports lockers.

London laughed at herself, at the absurdity of what she imagined, letting out an audible sigh of relief.

However something then caught her eye, a detail she could hardly believe but one that made her heart sink down to her feet. The shadows outside the door had remained as dark and thick as before only now...now the edges of the shadow reached out into the room and gripped the wall with an all too human shaped handprint. Shortly after another appeared along the top of the door frame and then the rest of the darkness began to fill in along the walls and into the room like a smoke. The white haired man appeared totally unaware of the goings on behind him as he slowly wheeled in the cart and pulled a plastic baseball plate and threw it into the appropriate stack.

London gasped a sharp breath, fear squeezing her throat closed like a vice. “Look--” she stammered. “Look out!” But look out for what? She rubbed her eyes with the palm of one hand, blinking to see if this was another hallucination. She hoped against hope that it was. What IS that?

The shadow continued to grow and expand into the room, nearly enveloping the maintenance worker as he cocked a head toward London’s row, “Hello...is someone there? Tommy? You didn’t call in before, Tommy?” He continued to move into the stacks as he barely stayed ahead of the darkness. London had to only watch as it slowly reached the top of the room and began filling every crack and crevice of the entrance.

“Tommy? No - don’t you see the --” She ducked further behind the lockers. “You should get out of here, before… I don’t even know what it is!”

“What the hell?” The man continued moving closer in toward the stacks and away from the darkness, completely ignorant of the danger behind him. “Who’s there? You better not be trying to ransack the place like the club lockers! You try anything and I’ll have campus security here faster than you can-” The man was stopped as London could barely make out what occurred. The darkness had rapidly expanded to just a foot away from the man’s back and a rounded metal object had struck hard into the back of his head, sending him crumbling to the floor. The metallic ping was sickening as blood and bone seemed to splash across the room. As she lost sight of the older man’s body on the floor she thought she could see a singular unclothed arm extending from the shadow which seemed to hold the murder weapon, a now bloody metal bat.

London covered her mouth to not scream at the sight as bile burned her throat, She cowered further into the lockers. The bat! Just like Chuck said. But what -- how? This was madness, shit like this didn’t happen in real life, did it? She willed herself to be silent, though her raspy breath threatened otherwise. She wished she’d stayed with Sirah. Safe in their room. Instead she was trapped, paralyzed by fear and self preservation.

She could hear footsteps now, at least two and the sound of blood softly dripping from the bat was interrupted by a second sickening ping as the bat once again connected somewhere with the man’s body, she couldn’t be sure from her position. A third came, then a fourth, and she swore she could hear the man’s body sticking to the bat as it pulled back this time. A grunt alerted her that another would be incoming but it was stopped and she heard another pair of footsteps. “Stop” the voice said, she could tell it was male by the pitch, the tone was one of dreariness and perhaps fatigue. But she found her thoughts nearly wiped clean when she heard the new voice say, “He was calling out to someone in here, perhaps he was crazy but we cannot risk another witness. Especially not after this mess...we’ll have to call the vulture….” she heard an exhale as if this was to be some kind of chore rather than covering up a murder.

The Vulture? Who was the vulture? She wanted to peer out and see if she could catch sight of either killer, but didn’t, knowing full well the risk that would put her in as well. Instead, she found herself cowering like a child, cursing her inaction but there was nothing, absolutely nothing she could do to have saved him. Taking a quick glance, London crept from her hiding place around the far side of the lockers, tiptoeing further from what she’d just witnessed, determined to get to the doorway, to escape.

A loud crash of metal on metal sent a shiver down her spine as she heard an all too familiar voice call out in surprise. “Damn I’m strong, what have I been doing lately huh? Hahaha” The groan of the equipment stacks across the room soon gave way to the collapse of the entire row as what was undeniably Jack Norworth’s voice filled her head. “Hey if anyone’s in here you better come out fast! Otherwise when I find you I’m gonna take my time with you!” The calmer voice could barely be heard as she made her way to the outer hallway, “Don’t go crazy you fool, we have to be able to find the artifact in here...that is if it’s in here…”

London skirted into the hallway, only managing to hear the “there they are..” before clearing the doors, her sneakers not making a sound where they should have squeaked on the fresh waxed floor as she rounded the corner. She didn’t stop until she was outside of the building, past the boathouses. Only then did she stop to catch her breath, and to throw up the contents of her stomach. That order of business completed, she sank back against the wooden frame of the building. What artifact was Jack after? And why was he willing to kill for it?

The sounds of the night slowly filled in around her as adrenaline subsided. For a moment it was as if every little sensation was a gift, a kindness that had so easily been stripped away from her. She fell back onto her ass and caught her breath, doing her best to try and piece together what had occurred. But the small boathouse offered little shelter from a crushing new stimulus, the sound of a metal bat pinging against pavement across the lake.

She scooted back to scramble to her feet, the sick feeling once again returning to her stomach as she took refuge inside the boathouse, covering her ears against the sound. But what could she do? The campus police? And say what? She saw an arm with a bat emerge from a cloud and beat someone to death? And she knew the arm belonged to Jack Norworth? It sounded crazy because it was crazy. And she had no idea how to stop it. Where the hell was the voice telling her to go to the lockers? And why didn’t it tell her what to do next?”

She still had no answer and she could hear the pings and laughter growing closer, now coming to the main bridge across the lake. She could spot the very edges of what must be Jack Norworth’s form at the edge of a large black cloud of shadows that slowly enveloped the lights around them. But there was another sound, one she hadn't realized would factor in but her phone was buzzing softly in her pocket.

“Shit!” she swore, near doing just that as she hurredly checked her phone. She was shocked to see it was nearly 1:30am but more so than that an unfamiliar number had come up on her screen.

<This is Sirah, your roommate. You are not in bed at this time and with no formal excuse I am forced to presume you went on with your investigation. To avoid any negative repercussions to both of our academic standings due to poor decisions on your part, I request you return to your room immediately.>

<Jack Norworth. Boathouse. Killer.> she texted back. If she was going to die like the janitor, at least one person would know who did it. She retreated further back into the boathouse, hoping it had a second exit, just in case.

She stumbled as she entered the boathouse, not much more than a storage shed for a paddle boat that the school liked to pull out for alumni events. But in the darkness she at the very least could feel somewhat less exposed and potentially safer. Another ping came through on her phone <Please do not share details of any sexual exploits over phone communications.>

Ugh! Stupid Sirah! <Not lol, Jack killed someone at the sports lockers. Call for help!?>

She sat in the dark for a bit waiting for a response but found none. Outside she had lost the sound of the bat pings and could do nothing but wait in the darkness of the boathouse. One minute, two minutes, she quickly lost track of time now, too afraid to light up her face with her phone in the small dark room. Tucked in she imagined the scenario, Sirah might have called for help but what would she tell them? Certainly nothing more persuasive than she had come up with. More time passed and London’s confidence slowly grew enough that she made a peak toward the door of the boathouse. The lake was still and she couldn’t see the cloud of darkness or Jack Norworth anywhere. Suddenly though a hand pushed itself against the small window on the door where London’s face was.

London shrieked and backed away from the door, scanning the darkness for something, anything that could be used as a weapon. So this was it, she was going to die at the hands of that ass Jack Norworth cowering in a boat shed like a mouse in a trap. No, if she were going to die she’d at least have a sporting chance. Mustering the last bit of courage she pushed hard against the door and got ready to run.

The door had just begun to open as London slammed against it. Unfortunately, it opened to the inside so she wasn’t able to fully open it, but fortunately the figure on the other side seemed to be surprised by the force and was knocked back from the door, leaving the doorway unblocked. As the door swung open into the boathouse London was able to see the figure knocked onto the walking path near the boathouse beneath the light. Sirah was on the ground gripping at her shoulder with a pained expression on her face, “What the hell!” She shouted.

“What the hell me? What the hell you!” London shot back, a mix of relief, anger and adrenaline. “I didn’t run back to the room because I didn’t want to lead it to you, and now here you are? He’s a KILLER, Sirah!” Her tone was high pitched and near hysteria.

“You have no proof of that and have been exhibiting several strange behaviors since your arrival. I’m not the one who was asking about spore and things that might affect the mind this evening.” She brought herself to a seated position on the floor, “Now if you’re done trespassing on school property that you have no right to be on currently I believe we should both retire to the room for the evening so that you can get some rest. In the morning you’ll go to the campus psyche department and talk to someone about these episodes you’ve been experiencing and how you might want to begin dealing with them.”

“I DO have proof. I saw it, in the sports lockers!” London cried. “There was a shadow and an arm with a bat and he beat the janitor to death, and he said they were looking for an artifact and the vulture! I don’t need the psyche department, what I need is a way to stop it!”

Sirah adjusted her glasses and stood fully upright now, clearly agitated. “I will not hear any further debate, please follow me back to the room right now.” She took a few steps down the path back toward their dorm and looked back, “Now London.”

“He could be out…there --” She started to say, but something about Sirah’s voice was urging her to just listen. Worst case, she’d have to protect Sirih from Jack. Best case? They’d get back to their room, but that just made them easier targets.

“London, follow me.” Sirah’s tone was plane, authoritative, and simple. She walked over to her and grabbed firmly onto her wrists and began to pull her along with her.

“But -- “ She started to protest, but relented. Sirah was oddly calm, but odd was the way she’d describe Sirah to begin with. Still, London’s mind was exhausted from panic, and it was a welcome break to just shut down and follow. Her eyes still darted from left to light, her ears pricked on full alert for the sound of the aluminum baseball bat as Sirah led her back towards their dorm.

Despite everything they had seen, everything she had experienced, Sirah and London quickly and quietly made their way back to their room. London noticed that Sirah’s grip, while certainly tight, had an almost maternal quality to it as she used it more to guide than to tug her authoritatively. The trip back gives London time to think and reflect on everything she’d seen, Jack was a killer, there was some kind of shadow..thing that had helped him do it, and he was after some artifact that she didn’t have any clue about. And the voice in her head from earlier? Where the hell had he gone?

Maybe Sirah was right, maybe she was going a bit crazy. The cold air from their room welcomed her in a way she never thought it would. Sirah let go of her hand as she now stood in the small entry foyer to their shared room. She was in a daze as her fears and thoughts swirled about her. Unfortunately though this meant she barely registered Sirah’s soft yelp as a foot stuck it’s way in before the door fully closed. She turned just in time to see a shadowy figure pull back on what looked like a bow and release as a dark cloud of shadows emerged and began to engulf the room. The world went into slow motion as she saw something shiny and golden emerge from the back of Sirah’s head and streak straight toward her. In a moment safety had been taken from her and as the arrow struck, her world went dark. She never imagined death would be so quiet.

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