\ Realm Beyond - Eternal Office /
“Uurrgghh!” Vic exclaims, throwing her hand forward in a fit of anger, the photograph she’d attempted to throw no longer within her grip. Quickly growing privy to her new surroundings, Vic’s frustration begins to descend from its height, the young woman discovering herself to be stood in the centre of a long, near-endless corridor.
Summoning her service weapon, Vic bathes the wide passage in crisp, blue light, the country club-like display cases that line the hallway appearing too preppy for the architecture much of the realm holds preference to. “Hello!?” Vic exclaims, the sound of her voice triggering lights throughout the aisle’s length, one small bulb lighting up over each individual vitrine.
Startled, Vic steps back at the sudden burst of light, her back pressing into a sturdy, nondescript wall, an entire half of the corridor rendered impassable. Struggling to comprehend where she is and what’s happened, Vic peers back toward the passage’s depths, her destination- however far away- occupying such incredible depths that it evades the girl’s line of sight.
Left with little choice as far as she’s been made aware, Vic begins her descent upon what lies ahead, each step forward taken with as much caution as the one before it. “You wanted me here- now you’ve got me” Vic proclaims, recalling the advice she was given with intentions set on putting it to use, “if I’ve really got your ear- tell me what you want from me.”
Her request unanswered, Vic proceeds onward, the irritation she’d held moments prior beginning to reappear. Plenty of questions encircling her frazzled mind, Vic favours to keep them trapped inside of her head, the lack of answers she’s been receiving leaving her little room to expect a change to occur.
Uninterested in the ephemera that lines each wall, Vic’s advancement persists, her earlier inquiry finally earning the response she’d hoped for. A few metres ahead, a single lightbulb burns out, easily catching Vic’s eye as she nears, little else to challenge her attention. Drawn to the light’s absence, Vic diverts course, her chary approach of the gallery’s end placed on hold for the moment.
Able to see her reflection in the glass, Vic peers into the mantle, just beginning to lift her weapon toward the showcase before the burned bulb gets its convenient second wind. With the cupboard aglow, Vic stares through the glass panel, her sights latching upon a photograph taken from afar, its colour faded as if it’d been snapped decades prior and exposed to the elements.
Though the quality remains poor, Vic’s interest only increases, faces she shouldn’t have the ability to recognise somehow appearing undeniably familiar. Dismissing her service weapon, Vic opens the shadow box and reaches for the picture. “I wouldn’t do that” Suzie murmurs, watching from directly behind Vic, the henchmen she refuses to wander without no longer beside her.
Interrupted before she can fulfil her goal, Vic glances back, her service weapon summoned once more as she looks Suzie in the eyes. “What are you doing here?” Vic calmly asks, the tone in her voice- though not off-putting- making her willingness to engage in conflict clear. “I could ask you the same thing” Suzie replies, taking one look toward the hallway’s abyss before continuing, “this isn’t for you.”
“Well, I’m here” Vic quickly interjects, her previously poised tone falling out of favour, a defensive and angry tone having taken refuge in her vocal chords. “Yes- yes, you are” Suzie replies, beginning the journey Vic had set aside, the passage’s endpoint commanding her presence, “and that’s a damn shame.”
Obviously taken aback by the woman’s demeanour and reaction, Vic watches Suzie walk away, the mysterious throne-seeker leaving with a declaration of disappointment. “Why is it a damn shame?” Vic calls out, continuing to watch the woman descend upon what lies at the corridor’s end, ignoring the questions she asks. “Hey!?” Vic exclaims, again receiving no answer, Suzie’s hands tucked into the pockets of a fleece jacket, her advancement continuing, “hey!”
Propelled into action, Vic begins to march onward, her service weapon reclaimed as Suzie remains unresponsive. “I asked you a question!” Vic exclaims, reaching her hand toward Suzie’s shoulder as she nears closer, her attempt at turning the woman around falling well short. As her fingers grace Suzie’s shoulder, the invasive spirit vanishes, again leaving Vic alone in the corridor’s depths.
“Pretty freaky, huh?” Suzie queries, reappearing behind Vic for the second time to an obvious result, startling the one occupant in the gallery with the realm’s blessing to be present. Beginning to respond, Vic feels the ground beneath her soften, taking a quick glance toward the floor to find little explanation, its sturdy foundation entirely unchanged from what she’d known it to be.
“Just wait until the air gets thicker” Suzie warns, recapturing Vic’s ear, the young woman looking back to her, “it’ll be like every breath costs a dollar and you’re running low on funds.” Almost on cue, Suzie’s premonitions reign true, forcing Vic to speak before the ability to do so is taken. “What do you want from me!?” Vic growls, only able to voice a few words at once before her lungs plead for another inhale.
“I want what’s mine” Suzie replies, dropping to one knee just before the ground softens for a second time, Vic soon forced to mirror Suzie’s stance as she falls to one knee. Before long, Vic attempts to respond, her lips parting with nothing to say, physically unable to respond. Treated to silence, Suzie slides the photo Vic had intended to steal from her pocket, holding it before the breath-stripped young woman.
“Guide this realm” Suzie remarks, her voice changing drastically, more reminiscent of the fuzzy spirit that had enticed Vic to the depleting paradox she now strives to leave with her life. “You are chosen” Suzie declares, her face now becoming distorted, the picture she extends toward Vic starting to fade rapidly.
Her eyes going bloodshot as her lips turn a faint blue, Vic stares into the picture, her consciousness fleeting. Searing the picture into her mind, Vic gives into the game she’d become the centrepiece of, snatching the photograph out of Suzie’s hand as she throws herself forward, unable to ease the impact as she crashes into the ground.
Letting out a roar as she collides with the floor, Vic struggles for air, filling her lungs as quickly as she depletes them, the room having left her in total darkness. Repeatedly slamming her hand into the carpet, Vic’s palm meets solid ground, her breaths no longer budgeted, the twisted reality painted now straightened.
Returned to a room vacated by light, Vic pushes herself upward, uncertain of what lies ahead. “Hello!?” the young woman exclaims, retracing her steps from earlier, an act that quickly pays off. Her orders more direct this second time around, the passage remains unchanged, the issue of its softened ground and thick air indeed repaired, but it’s tasteful display cases and distant conclusion remain intact.
Flickering, a single lightbulb burns on command, its cabinet the only one of countless others to present itself to the wanderer. With another swift peek around herself, Vic approaches the mantle, right hand pressed against her head in an effort to shield her eyes from the fulgurating bulb. Confused, Vic moves closer to the showcase, her attempt at discovering a better vantage point failing to change the cupboard’s vacuity.
“What the fuck?” Vic whispers beneath her breath, the glass-covered shelves equally empty to that of the wall they’re nailed into. Her head shaking, Vic steps back, the bulb continuing to flicker, filling the room with darkness at will. “This-” Vic begins to mutter, her focus altering as she pauses, pulling her sights past the barren mantlepiece and closer toward what resides before it.
Moving closer, Vic looks into the window, barely able to make out her own reflection in the solid pane, the lambent bulb not helping matters. Caressing the side of her face, Vic looks into her face, familiar with the smooth skin that runs along her jawline and to her square chin, her soft nose and symmetrical cheekbones.
However similar her face appears in the brief moments she’s allowed to view it, one feature fails to align, a canvas of familiarity rendered entirely foreign with one flaw. Staring back at herself, Vic’s green eyes assume a deep, extraordinary shade of blue, depleting the young woman of any sound reasoning she may have entered this hellacious lobby with.
Her mouth widening, Vic backs away, unable to take her eyes off the reflection despite her deep desires to do just that. Through the air, a soft breeze rolls in, Vic’s hair thrown toward the corridor’s recesses as her reflection vanishes, the lightbulb above it joining the rest in darkness.
“You shall guide” a soft, distant voice mutters from afar, stealing Vic’s eyes with as much ease as the mantle had. Recalling her failed attempt at confrontation earlier, Vic restrains herself from answering, allowing the realm to guide her where it sees fit.
“You shall guide” the disembodied voice repeats, growing closer this second time around. Pressing her feet into the ground, Vic lets her hands hang, waiting patiently. “You shall guide” the voice shouts once more, its declaration providing answers this time around, revealing the gallery’s furthest point to Vic, shone beneath a single, well-lit spotlight.
“You shall guide” the voice repeats, this time given a mouth and little more, the rest of the thin figure’s face a slate wiped of all definition. Her mind flooded with questions as it normally is, Vic chooses to remain silent, the figure that calls to her sat upon a throne carved from stone. “You shall guide” the figure remarks for a fifth time, its throne moving closer to Vic, the corridor shortening before the young woman’s eyes.
Only a few metres away, the throne’s advancement halts, immediately granting the spectre permission to disembark. Pushing itself from the seat, the spectre descends a set of stairs before reaching Vic’s level, what’s present of its face taken toward Vic’s direction. Refusing to escalate the situation any further, Vic keeps to herself, watching the apparition’s chin lower as a result.
“You shall guide” the spectre professes, their tone souring, almost angered at the statement they, themselves, make. Unprovoked, the spectre rushes forward, speeding in Vic’s direction with violent intentions, the chance at peaceful resolution no longer possible. Prepared, Vic lets the figure close in, her left hand wrapping around the ghoul’s wrist as it grabs her by the throat, answering with the same manoeuvre to an equal result.
“Die!” Scarlett shouts, losing her grip on Vic’s throat as she flies through the air, her friend’s attempt at reversing the phantom’s velocity making for a clean separation. “Scarlett, what the fuck!?” Vic exclaims, watching her friend glide through the air as they levitate high above the ground, their respective illusions not only crumbling, but reconnecting them. “Wh- what the fuck!?” Scarlett screams, snapping free from her paradox and discovering herself to be returned to the realm beyond.
“What the fuck just happened!?” Vic exclaims, sharing in her friend’s confusion, unable to make sense of what had just happened. “I don’t know- I- I don’t fucking know!” Scarlett staggers, trying desperately to recapture her thoughts, “I was in a- carnival- and there was this person and these things- I just- fuck!”
Hovering high above the ground, the girls float a short distance apart, each trying to comprehend the experiences they’d just interacted with. Unable to put together her thoughts let alone a coherent sentence, Scarlett looks toward the security blanket across the air from her, seeking comfort in the equanimity she looks to Vic for.
Uncharacteristically, Vic’s face reads just as Scarlett’s does, a mixture of profound uncertainty and horrified shock contained within her expression. “Vic, what happened?” Scarlett pleads, breathing heavily as the question is raised, her friend’s eyes looking into her own with equal cluelessness. “I don’t know, Scar” Vic replies, shaking her head with widened eyes, forced to hold back a deep breath of her own, “I don’t know.”
= Dream Sequence is created by Zachary Serra, all rights to the series belong to Zachary Serra and the entity of Pacer1 Media from the start of Season 1 onwards =
\ Realm of Reality /
Unlocking a large, metal door, Jared and Rachel’s abductor enters a large, concrete-encased room, a pair of food-covered trays floating beside him. “Wakey wakey” the brute mocks, letting the plastic platter fall upon the thin cushions made to mimic a bed, “the two of you have plenty to keep yourselves fed for the next couple of days, right?”
Sat where his pillow would be, Jared leans against the wall with a grimace, his left leg bent whilst the other sprawls out upon the foam-filled sack he’s seated on. “I’m gonna kill you, Lincoln” Jared murmurs, his left hand pressed against the side of his head, the only thing held between his skull and the wall he sits against. “Such a thing is just not possible” Lincoln replies, completely unphased by the threats wagered against him.
“I don’t care” Jared replies, watching Lincoln’s eyes take toward him, rolling before doing so, “I’ll either kill you or I’ll die trying, and I’m perfectly fine with that.” With a frown, Lincoln stares at Jared for a moment before entering the bunker, sliding the entrance shut on his way inside. “Why are you so angry?” Lincoln inquires, a cotton sweatshirt covering his upper body whilst a pair of ripped grey jeans serve the same purpose below.
“I’m locked in a basement, why wouldn’t I be?” Jared groans, never raising his voice past a grumble, trying to remain considerate of those he suffers alongside. “It’s a bunker, not a basement” Lincoln corrects, sitting himself at the opposite edge of Jared’s bed, hands folded atop his lap, “sure, the living conditions aren’t great. But why else?”
“Why do I need another reason?” Jared quickly responds, his answer received with equal speediness. “Because it’s a contributing factor, but it’s not why you’re actually mad” Lincoln replies, his eyes kept level with Jared’s own as the conversation continues. “I don’t need a reason to be angry” Jared reiterates, Lincoln again partially agreeing with him.
“You don’t need a reason to be angry- but you do have one” the confident brute replies, his hands unclasping as their palms rest against each knee. “Even if I did, what would it change?” Jared inquires, Lincoln’s answer not coming off with as much speed as the previous ones had. “Well, not much” Lincoln answers, watching Jared’s eyes trail across the room, no longer invested in the discourse.
“It’s better to get that kind of stuff off your chest, though” Lincoln adds, successfully regaining Jared’s attention, “as it turns out, you might be able to focus a lot better when you do.” Though depraved of energy and high spirits, Jared’s environment fails to strip away his preference for sarcasm. “What am I supposed to focus on, exactly?” Jared inquires, staring at Lincoln with repugnance, “there’s not much down here to keep me busy.”
“Try to kill me” Lincoln swiftly responds, watching as Jared looks to him quietly, almost unsure he’d heard the man correctly. “Try to escape, plot my demise, sneak a phone in here and call your cop friend- I don’t care” Lincoln doubles down, Jared’s eyes lighting up at the suggestion, almost starting to think Lincoln’s offers are more intended as dares.
“Your sheriff doesn’t startle me and breaking out of here only puts you in more danger than you realise” Lincoln explains further, his audience held captive in more ways than one. “As for the dying thing, it’s not going to happen- but who am I to crush someone’s dreams?” Lincoln traunts, the smile he’d attempted to respectfully conceal now reaching the surface, his left eyebrow lifting.
“Obviously, it’s not my favourite outcome- but I’d be lying if I said it wouldn’t be a reprieve” Lincoln further clarifies, “I’ve lived a lifetime’s worth of bitter hatred, and I’ve seen fates worse than hell itself- death doesn’t bother me.” Able to interrupt freely, Jared keeps himself silent, allowing Lincoln to make whatever assumptions he pleases without dissuasion.
“Go ahead- conjure up some brilliant schemes to break out of your purgatory or whatever” Lincoln remarks, preparing his departure to little fanfare, “it’s not the most outlandish thing you’ll-”
His back turned to the boy, Lincoln pauses mid-step, the conclusions Jared had allowed him to make leaving room for a revelation to dawn. Looking to the opposite side of the room, Lincoln’s eyes take to Rachel, the girl’s cuts and wounds bandaged, her face bruised and at peace as she sleeps. “I see” Lincoln mutters, turning back to Jared, the young man already having returned his sights to their captor.
His eyes filling with anger, Jared recognises the look in Lincoln’s face, making peace with the likelihood that the man’s discovery is true. “You’re mad about her” Lincoln declares, his right hand pointing at the injured girl, his smile brought back, this time with little effort to restrain it.
Lip quivering, Jared holds back tears as he look to the young woman he- regardless of their history- still considers a friend. “She can’t remember my name” Jared responds, pointing to the sleeping body as Lincoln returns, drawn back to his prisoner from a place of intrigue. “That’s usually what happens with a concussion as bad as she had” Lincoln replies, retaking his seat at the edge of the bed, “I’m sure it’ll stay that way for as long as I have to mop up her vomit.”
His anger only continuing to build, Jared provides the silent treatment yet again, his intentions already cleared by this point. Trying to shatter Jared’s composure, Lincoln continues, his head inching closer with every few seconds, imposing his control. “Do you think she’ll ever get better?” Lincoln questions, the look in Jared’s eyes not giving Lincoln much trouble in deciphering the emotions behind it, “from an intelligence standpoint, I mean?”
“Fuck you” Jared mumbles, buried nearly so far beneath his voice that Lincoln almost mishears it, striking whilst the iron’s hot regardless. “I’ll tell you what- I’m not putting my money on it” Lincoln continues, his smile only widening the longer he speaks, “I have to be honest, I’d be a horrible doctor. I’m pretty sure I skipped a few steps in her recovery that’ll really jeopardise my future chances at getting into medical school.”
Slapping his thigh, Lincoln feigns laughter, practically able to watch the malicious thoughts build in Jared’s mind, his brain swelling with thoughts of violent retribution. “Oh gee, these really are the times where humour makes a difference, eh?” Lincoln wonders aloud, watching Jared’s nostrils flare and chest expand.
“What’s not funny, however, is betrayal” Lincoln continues, his attitude changing, the fake laughter shelved for pure, bottled wrath. “That part’s the exact opposite of humour. It’s- it’s- it’s misplaced power” the man remarks, the air getting quiet by the slightest amount, the air conditioner’s ventilation wafting through the room just a little bit louder than before.
“You’re not the one laughing at the joke- you are the joke” Lincoln endures, the rage he’d built within Jared’s eyes not settling. Looking in Rachel’s direction once more, Lincoln pauses, the sight of the much younger girl sparking memories from his past. “Do yourself a favour. Live the last few months of your life correctly” Lincoln urges, looking back to the young man across from him, speaking from whatever heart he has left, “don’t let yourself be a joke.”
Seemingly gifted with an unbreakable cool upon birth, Jared maintains his composure, responding to Lincoln in the most amusing way he can concoct. Leaning forward, Jared matches the man’s posture, the ire built by Lincoln appearing to have granted the young man with a newfound passion.
“I’m going to kill you” Jared vows, reiterating the threat he’d made to Lincoln minutes preceding. His smile falling into a grin, Lincoln continues to take humour from Jared’s declaration, though he listens for the power behind his statement, forcing himself to take the hazard seriously.
“I know it’s laughable to hear coming from a moody, disadvantaged teenager with a police record, but don’t laugh- because I won’t be” the kid continues, bravely pushing his face closer toward Lincoln’s, their noses only a few centimetres apart by the time he concludes. With a deep breath, Lincoln waits for the young man to finish his thought, almost taking a strange sense of pride in the reaction.
“I’m gonna help Rachel recover, I’m gonna break out of this shithole, and I’m gonna come back to find you” Jared closes, spacing his last few words apart, “then, I’m- gonna- kill- you.”
Nodding, Lincoln maintains his eye contact as Jared pulls away, returning to his seat in the room’s corner. Silenced, Lincoln pulls away and follows through on his original attempt to leave, the door sealing shut as he departs.
\ Realm of Reality /
“Of course it doesn’t make sense, I never said it did” Vic replies, sat across a sofa from Scarlett, the three-cushioned seat still wrapped in the plastic it had been delivered in. “Do you think it was even real?” Scarlett inquires, sitting against the armrest with her legs across the cushions, “I know- or, I think- I remember Suzie saying something about our minds getting messed up. I’ve got no reason to want you dead, so-?”
“Are you asking me if this was the realm fucking with our heads?” Vic inquires, almost insulting the implication on impulse. “I’m asking you if this could be the start of what Suzie was talking about-” Scarlett responds, sharing Vic’s style in having a towel wrapped around their wet hair, “-of the realm driving us mad.”
Attempting to refute Scarlett’s claim, Vic begins to shake her head until second thoughts arrive, her initial pessimism noticeably lowering. “Don’t even try to talk your way out of this one, Vic” Scarlett warns, locking eyes with her realm mate, “I know what that look means with you, and it’s never sunshine and rainbows.”
Rolling her eyes, Vic pulls her feet off the ground and stretches her legs against the portion of the couch Scarlett’s yet to occupy. “I’m sure the realm’s gonna fuck with us in some- admittedly odd- ways” Vic replies, still hesitant to believe their experiences weren’t genuine, “we went out looking for answers, and we got them. I think that- right there- is proof that some of it was legit.”
“Then what does that mean?” Scarlett replies, lifting her shoulders as she leans forward, “we’ve got two crazy people and a witch- I think- to deal with. We need to start getting answers instead of ass-load of questions.”
“That’s a great plan, Scar. I wonder why we haven’t started doing that already?” Vic mocks, tilting her head toward the ceiling as her partner defends her point. “I know you’re sick of me asking questions you know just as much about, but-” Scarlett explains, her thoughts derailed by Vic’s sudden interjection.
“Yes! Of course I am, Scar! What do you want me to say!?” Vic exclaims, throwing her hands out as she begins shouting, “figuring this confusing bullshit out is just as important to me! If I had the answers, I’d fucking use them!” Hanging her head, Scarlett makes up for Vic’s irritation, holding her hand out in a show of peace.
“Can you please calm down and just talk to me?” Scarlett inquires, prohibiting herself from continuing until Vic collects herself. “Go ahead” Vic remarks, taking a few seconds to reassemble herself, able to set her frustration aside to recognise her need to step back from the discussion. “I think we need a plan. Not just a ‘we’ll talk a few minutes before bed’ kind of thing, but an actual plan” Scarlett explains, a solution Vic doesn’t wholeheartedly disagree with.
“Great, what’s our plan?” Vic wonders aloud, watching the look on her friend’s face turn quickly to disappointment. “I don’t have one yet” Scarlett replies, immediately prompting Vic to roll her eyes and leave the couch, stripping the towel from atop her head to reveal curly, wet hair newly-dyed her original brunette colour. “I’m going to the store to buy-” Vic remarks, stopping at the door to take a second look at the home, amused at the still near-empty interior, “-everything, it appears.”
“Vic, come on!” Scarlett groans, her plea left answered only by the sound of the front door slamming shut. Slapping the couch’s side in anger, Scarlett sinks further into the couch, her seat quickly becoming a lay down, hands covering her face. With a groan, Scarlett’s hands go limp, falling to each side of the sofa, her knuckles tapping against the floor.
As the home is silenced, Scarlett is left to her thoughts, her eyes tracing unintended outlines through the dots on the popcorn ceiling a decent few metres overhead. “How the fuck are we supposed to be a team if- fuck” Scarlett sighs, stopping her self-doubt before it has the chance to begin. Though her thoughts are no longer put into words, the question Scarlett had begun to raise is left unanswered, attacking her focus like an uneven picture frame to a perfectionist.
In a moment of perceived genius, Scarlett rolls off the couch, the instinct she commonly acts upon beginning to lead her toward the kitchen. Sat upon their countertop and just beside the sink, a small, black plastic bag sits in the open, waiting to be shuffled through as if it were a present on a holiday morning. Removing cans of iced tea, packaged salads and hygiene products, Scarlett closes in on her true intention, an even smaller blue pouch held together by string.
Unfastening it’s restraints, Scarlett slides her finger into the sack, little time needed for a small, ovular, white pill to fall into her palm. Tying the string with her teeth, Scarlett discards of the pouch in the back of a nearby drawer, its placement no longer of importance to her. Filling a glass of water and downing the tablet, Scarlett retreats to the sofa, glancing at the sunset over the Arabian Sea just past her bannister.
With a sigh, Scarlett rests her back upon the cushions, folding her hands over her chest and closing her eyes, attempting to steady her breaths as she lulls herself into slumber. “You’re not gonna fuck with my head” Scarlett mutters beneath her breath, sinking further into the cushions as she prepares to drift off, defying her own suggestions in search of answers.
== Dream Sequence ==