"Rigor Mortis"-The life after death RP(Started/PM for participation)-Arc 4: Closing Loose Ends

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"I think you are confusing the idea of an alias with a lie, Spencer. What is a name- something that gives people reference to another person. A name like a piece of clothing, you can take one off and change it depending on the situation. My legally given name is Benjamin Debue, yet you knew me as Brendan. Does that change who I am? No, it doesn't change anything, except you now have a second reference in which you can call me. I never once lied to you, I changed my name because I didn't trust you. I had just died and was meeting with several strange people that I knew nothing about. So a new name was needed, just in case one of you wanted to find out about my past. So what if you knew me as Brendan. I still am who I am, I didn't change my personality. I have concealed, but never once did I lie. My identity remains unchanged, and what you have learned of me hasn't changed either. You now have a different way to reference me."

Ben looked at Spencer with cold emotionless eyes.

"That's my spiel. And never threaten me with death again."

As hard as he tried, Spencer couldn't find any faults with Ben's explanation. Paranoia was a completely justified feeling, especially in their situation, but that still didn't make him any more trusting of him. His name was now the only certain truth, and everything else could be pure fabrication.

"Just in case one of you wanted to find out about my past."

There was something about that statement that made Spencer wonder. What could this man have done to feel the need to "conceal" his identity?

He kept his eyes focused on the road, but he noticed Ben staring at him. If he were still alive, he might have been afraid of his threat. But he had already experienced the darkness, and nothing else could compare to that. Brushing off Ben's last statement, Spencer kept quiet for the remainder of the trip.

Adrian's body tensed up as he felt Frank's touch on his shoulder. He didn't like the unwelcome contact but he didn't shy away from the smoking man's hand. When Frank spoke, Adrian recoiled slightly in surprise and confusion.

"I think you have a gift, Adrian. I think you can control life-"

His sentence was interrupted before the thought could be finished. Frank moved off to assist Klaus after his display of strength, leaving Adrian with nothing but questions.

Gift? Controlling life?

Adrian had heard about the surfacing powers that the others had exhibited and seen the feats exhibited by Frank and Alice. But the thought of having some sort of ability himself? He had considered the possibility but he couldn't fully bring himself to believe that he had any sort of power.

And what had Frank meant? What exactly was it that he thought Adrian could control? How would controlling life...or whatever...even be possible?

He shuddered when he saw Alice wound the two people near the wrecked car. However, now was not the time to invoke an encounter with these beings so much more powerful than himself. Now was the time to get away from the mall.

Both Mira and Marcus were unconscious and needed to be taken back to the apartment. He looked between the two and shook his head.

"How am I going to drag these two back to the car?"

Klaus managed to sit on a stool nearby and lean on the wall. He watched Adrian standing over his two comrades and remained silent. Frank had taken his cane and walked to Alice. "Jolie Rouge likes you, boy", Klaus spoke to Adrian. "Don't resist. You would make it much easier", Klaus said and looked back at the pair walking to the mall.

"Teach the boy", Frank told Alice, "I want to see how far he can go". Alice turned around, her hands covered in blood. She smiled at Frank and said happily, "Of course I will!". Alice walked to the mall and away from the two bleeding victims. Frank followed Alice and they both entered the shop.

"Adrian", Alice raised her hands in the air and smiled, "Lets see what you can do". Frank stood at the entrance and exchanged glances with Klaus. They both knew that Alice was stepping out of bounds. They both knew Alice was hurting Frank yet again. But it didn't matter now. All that matters is to stay alive and do your job. Do what you are told.

The rest of the trip back to the apartment was quiet. Neither Evey nor Spencer had spoken. When they finally reached the apartment, Ben hopped out of the truck and opened the back. He grabbed one of the cots and started heading up, to the apartment, knowing that Evey and Spencer were behind him. Once they fully unloaded the truck Ben turned to Spencer.

"You should go drop the truck back off. We don't want them to report a missing truck, just to find that the driver is legally dead. We're not going anywhere, we'll just get started getting everything set up."

With that, Ben grabbed the fridge and started looking for an outlet to plug it in with.

Spencer thought about the incident at the mall as he was driving to the rental. Whatever it was, it should keep the others busy for a short while. He turned around and left for another location.

The house he grew up in was a small family home on the other side of town. Despite the fact that the street was comprised of a row of almost completely identical houses, he could always recognize his own, even from afar. The reason for that was the unmistakeable green door which was so ridiculously out of place with the rest of the house. But what he was looking at now wasn't the home he remembered.

The windows of the house were now covered with black curtains. The lawn was untrimmed, the lights were off, and nobody seemed to be home. There were some flowers on the porch, probably from the neighbors. Spencer parked the U-Haul across the street, not to get too close.

Dead men tell no tales.

He sat in the truck watching the house for about thirty minutes, but nobody went in or out. Not wanting to put his family in danger, he left before he succumbed to his desire to knock on the door.

By the time he returned the truck and got back to the apartment, all of the appliances were already set up.

Everyone was talking so fast. Adrian wasn't fully able to grasp what they were asking him to do.

Don't resist?

How far I can go?

Let's see what I can do?

It was all too much. Adrian was overwhelmed by the statements and demands being made by those standing around him. He didn't even know if he fully believed he even possessed a power. Now they were asking him to use it just like that?

"I don't even know how to start..." he mumbled quietly as he flattened his palm and pointed his arm at his unconscious roommates. He tried to strain his mind, making the bodies placed before him move in some manner. His jaw clenched and his mind began to sting from the amount of concentration, but no movement was achieved.

After about fifteen seconds of this, Adrian's hand dejectedly fell to his side.

"I don't think I can do this."

"That took a long time, considering the U-Haul is just down the street. What happened?" Ben asked as Spencer walked into the door.

They had gotten all the appliances set up, as well as the cots fairly quickly. They had put one cot in the bedroom, and another in the living room- where Ben was laying down at the moment.

"Most of the fridge and freezer chemicals spoiled, but I was able to save some MS222. So yeah, don't consume it, it's an anesthetic, and a bit of a carcinogen. It's sealed though, so you don't really have to worry about it too much either, just don't use it as a spice on food."

Alice stood behind Adrian and moved her hands around his waist, warmly embracing him from behind. The peculiar feeling that Adrian experience stood in great contrast to the fear that overtook him earlier. She rested her head over his shoulder and whispered in his ear.

"Think thoughts of me... Of us... Of love. You will penetrate their bodies like in your mind and you will move them like puppets", Alice whispered in his ear. Frank was visibly unconfortable seeing Alice caress Adrian.

"I went for a drive."

As soon as he heard the blatantly obvious lie that came out of his mouth he felt like a hypocrite. Didn't he give Ben a whole speech for lying just a short while ago?

He took a deep breath and slumped onto the couch, hoping they weren't being listened to as they had earlier suspected.

"I didn't go for a drive. I went back to my house. It looked like nobody was there, so I just... waited. I waited until I couldn't trust myself not to knock on the door anymore, and then I left."

"Your parents mean a lot to you huh? Can't say I feel the same way, I was the forgotten child. The second of three. They doted on my older brother, who had a keen eye for business and sports, and they loved my younger sister, as she was their only daughter. So there I was, left in the middle- intelligent, sure- but my appearance is bland, I don't really have much in the way of athletic skill, and I never really stood out. I had high grades, but they didn't stand out, I wasn't top of my class. So I fell into more or less obscurity. Oh, they gave me money, and took me on trips, but they loved me the least. Then there were my fellow students..."

Ben fell quiet and closed his eyes.

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"Well, well, well, if it isn't little Benjie" David said, standing foremost among the group, "Why d'ya have to show us up in class all the time huh? You wanna' make us look stupid?"

Ben looked at the bully, he had a good three inches on him, and was probably a good ten or twenty pounds heavier than Ben.

"I didn't think that I needed to speak in order to make yourself look like an idiot David. A neanderthal is probably an evolutionary step up from you."

Ben winced as he said the words. He needed to control his tongue better. What he said was going to guarantee to enrage the bully and his friends.

"ASSHOLE!"David yelled and advanced on Ben, his cohorts running in front of him in order to grab the smaller boy. Ben turned heel and ran, he knew it was futile, David's friends were more athletic than him, but Ben had to try.

Sure enough, two of David's friends- Nicholas and Justin- managed to grab and restrain him. David walked up to Ben.

"You're gonna pay for what you said." the bully spat in Ben's face. David rammed a fist into Ben's chest, and a more followed.

By the time they were done, Ben was left a bruised, bloody and sobbing mass of quivering flesh. The bullies grabbed his knapsack containing the day's homework, and left him.

When Ben finally managed to get home, his mother worried over him, treating his wounds. But it was too late, Ben had already lost something that couldn't be reclaimed. A cold, hard rage glimmered in his eye, unnoticed by his mother.

Ben was only thirteen at the time.

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Ben shook his head and dispelled the memory. He had never opened up to someone like this before.

He focused on Spencer.

"So what's your story?"

"Think thoughts of me... Of us... Of love."

Adrian closed his eyes as he felt the woman's soft hands dance across the form of his body. Her blatant advances had initially made him uncomfortable but the words that the old man had spoken to him before suddenly hung in his mind.

"Don't resist. You would make it much easier."

No. I won't resist. I will harness.

As the sensual instructions were whispered into his ear, his mind drifted back to a simpler time. A happier time.


"I don't want to be anywhere else," the girl whispered into his ear. He looked back over his shoulder and gazed into her beautiful watery eyes. The snow fell silently around them, putting a cold white blanket over the earth. Adrian couldn't help but smile at her as she attempted not to shiver against the chilled air that hung around the couple. He pivoted his body to face her and wrapped his arms gently around her hips.

"Are you sure?" he chuckled. "It looks like you would rather be inside."

The girl smiled sweetly and raised her body to peck the boy on the lips.

"Maybe...but you're out here. This is where I want to be."

A warm feeling spread through Adrian's body as those words passed through her mouth. He had never expected to find a love like this. He was just a simple graduate student who was struggling to pay all of his bills on time. What had he done to deserve a girl as perfect as Alice?

Wait.

No...that isn't right. Her name wasn't Alice.

He took her hand in his own and walked with her for a while. Adrian had always felt more comfortable outdoors and had been excited to share his passion with someone he could be passionate about. The uniformed crunch of the snow underneath their feet seemed both profound and soothing to the young man. He couldn't help but steal a glance at his infatuation every couple of steps. The butterflies in his stomach were aflutter from simply being in her presence and having her walking beside him.

Before too long they were back in his apartment, locked in each other's arms like tomorrow would never come. In all honesty, Adrian always wished the nights he had with Alice would never end.

Not Alice. Her name wasn't Alice!

But what was it?

The two laid together in bed, both satisfied by their current lot in life. Adrian looked upon the beautiful form of the girl as his thoughts drifted back to ancient works of art. Were this an ancient age, Adrian fully believed that this woman would have been immortalized in marble. Her cheeks were flushed and her body was positively glowing in the dim light of the cinnamon scented candle that was burning to its end on the nightstands.

She looked back at him with those luscious hazel eyes and spoke the four words that he had never expected to hear in all of his life.

"Adrian, I love you."

"I love you too, Alice."

DAMMIT! MY WIFE'S NAME WASN'T ALICE!


As he drifted back into memories of a life long left behind, Adrian wistfully lifted his hand back into the air and started again. This time, there was no straining to make the unconscious people lying before him move. Adrian merely felt.

And what a feeling that Adrian was able to experience when he let go. He was suddenly aware of a surging energy that seemed to crackle from every living person around him. Every action that the masses engaged in seemed fueled by this invisible power that filled their bodies and coursed through the outside world.

Mira and Marcus sat before him, emitting an energy far more powerful than the innocents who had gone back to their shopping outside of the store. As Adrian moved his hand, he noticed that the force seemed to move subtlety with his motions as he saw fit. More interestingly, their bodies seemed to move based on how he interfered with that energy.

Suddenly, it began to make sense. Everything that Frank had said and Alice had done began to click in his mind.

He rose his hands, a conductor before his orchestra. As he did this, the energy within the bodies of Mira and Marcus shifted, causing them to awkwardly rise to their feet before him. A slightly satisfied smile curved over Adrian's face as the possibilities and implications of this power rose to meet him.

Maybe these people won't always be out of my reach.

"I'm ok with this."

Adrian looked back at Alice, still latched onto him from behind. He smiled victoriously.

"I'm going to take these two back to the car and get them out of here. I'm certain I'll be seeing the rest of you again before too long."

Spencer sighed.

"Happy marriage, two children. My sister's the smart one, though. From spelling bees to straight A's to award-winning essays. She's in med school right now, and everyone's got so much hope for her. I on the other hand was just... regular. But it was never an issue among us. You know... just a typical suburban family."

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Spencer quietly poked the food in front of him with his fork. As hard as he tried, he couldn't bring himself to eat right now.

The square wooden dinner table had place for exactly four seats. It was the place for the Kane family to relax after a long day. Share stories. Laugh. On this particular day, however, if someone were to walk in, they'd think the Kanes were the poster family for dysfunctionality. The silence was deafening, and you could cut the tension with a knife. The pictures on the fireplace seemed to depict a whole other family.

"Pass me the salt, dear."

Lauren Kane seemed satisfied with the situation. For her, it was... different than usual, but it was something she would deal with in her own way. Her husband Anthony quietly reached over the empty seat and passed her the shaker. The seat where Melanie usually sat.

"So we're not even going to talk about it?"

"Spencer, honey, eat your peas."

Lauren quietly placed the shaker on the table, as if trying not to wake someone. Spencer vigorously stabbed a pea, scratching the plate with the fork as he did so. His mother shivered at the noise.

"Right. Because everything goes away if you ignore it, right? It's not going to go away. You can pretend it didn't happen, but we all know it did. The neighbors saw the ambulance."

"Spencer, listen to your mother. Eat your food."

"How can you be ignoring this?" He was having enough of the charade. He knew his family was afraid of problems. Their philosophy was "If we don't mention it, it never happened." He knew it was wrong, and he was slowly becoming more and more sick of the whole thing.

"Spencer, this is neither the time--"

Spencer stood up and slammed his hands on the table.

"Your daughter tried to kill herself, and you're discussing peas!?"

Lauren dropped her fork on the word "kill". It ricocheted off the table and fell to the tiled floor with a loud clank. Nobody spoke up.

Spencer's hands were shaking. He took a deep breath and walked away from the table, leaving his parents in utter silence.

Just a typical suburban family.

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"And yeah. I guess my parents do mean a lot to me."

He couldn't look Ben in the eye while saying that.

Adrian strode through the mall with both Mira and Marcus flanking from either side. The trio were likely quite the sight be behold. Adrian's face was tensed and his hands were up by his shoulders as he manipulated the life energy of his friends. However, controlling them was still a difficult feat even while standing still. Trying to get used to his power while moving was proving to be more difficult than he would have realized. Their bodies were moving in the direction he intended, but they were shambling like zombies instead of walking like normal human beings.

It was rather fitting, actually.

They moved through the parking lot toward Marcus' car. A sudden realization dawned on Adrian as they approached the vehicle. Marcus still had the keys to the car in his pocket. Adrian sighed and leaned Mira against the hood of the automobile. He rifled awkwardly through the pockets with one hand while keeping Marcus unsteadily upright with the other.

Yeah...so glad the poor kid isn't awake for any of this.

When he found the keys, he loaded the two into the back of the car and drove off back towards the apartment. The ride was silent but Adrian didn't mind. It gave him time to think.

His mind drifted idly back to Alice. The very thought of her set a fire in his heart. She had done something to him...something cruel and unusual. She had altered his memories drastically in the few moments that she had pressed through the corners of his mind.

His wedding day had been replaced by images of her. His honeymoon had been replaced by her. The birth of his daughter had been replaced by her. Every strong memory he had of his wife now had the woman in red in her place like an understudy to the star. The implications of this left Adrian infuriated. His family had been Adrian's whole life and this harlot had toyed with all he had left of it.

Adrian briefly considered driving back by his old home. He just needed to see them again. He needed to remember what his wife looked like. Maybe the name would come back then. Maybe he would be able to see his life as it had been...

No.

Adrian kept driving. Seeing them again would put everyone in danger right now. He would have his chance after he found a way out of this accursed deal.

There had to be a way somehow. There just had to be. None of them could be safe until he found his way out.

Before too long they were back at the apartment. Adrian parked the car right outside and removed the key. He didn't fear being discovered like Brendan had seemed to. There didn't seem to be any need to be so careful anymore. The tracks had seemed covered by Alice.

He walked through the front door of the apartment with his staggering hordes close at hand. He noticed Brendan and Spencer talking out of the corner of his eye but did not stop to speak. Adrian simply walked the two to the bedroom and manipulated the two into bed. He placed the keys near Marcus' cot and walked back out into the living room.

Adrian looked out at the two talking to each other. He didn't see Evey immediately around but he simply assumed she was doing her own thing. The exhaustion was evident as he placed the bag of cell phones on the kitchen table and moved toward the couch. As he sat down, he groaned. Every part of his body was just calling for rest.

"So this is our life now. Heh...nothing is ever going to seem normal again, is it?"

"I'm pretty sure normal took flight out of our lives the second we died, Adrian." Ben stated flatly, "So far we've seen Marcus do crazy healing stuff, and we've had Mira hulk out on us. And who knows what the rest of us can do?

"So what are Marcus and Mira doing now? Sleeping? They looked like zombies, barely aware, when they walked through the door."

Ben got up and checked the bag. Seeing the cellphones he grabbed them and started them up. He went to the contacts list and started manipulating them. When he finished, each phone had a name, with contacts to all the other phones. He pocketed his and handed Spencer and Adrian's phones to their respective owners.

"Alright, that gives us our phones with quick contact to the other phones. I hope that I don't have to tell you not to contact anyone outside of our group. That goes especially for you Adrian, I know you love your wife and all, but you can't call her, it risks your new life, as well as the lives of the rest of the group."

"They looked like zombies, barely aware, when they walked through the door."

"Yeah, something like that. They should be better in the morning."

Adrian didn't feel like bothering trying to explain what had happened to Brendan. Everyone was back and safe right now. There was no need to muddle the evening with discussions of life forces and manipulation. He would probably get enough of that when trying to explain to the other two why they were suddenly back in the apartment.

Brendan programmed the phones and handed them to those still in the room. Adrian couldn't help but frown at the young man's strange initiative. It was like he needed to be in control of everything around him. Usually Adrian would have counted this as a good thing but there was something truly disturbing about that drive combined with his darker schemes.

"That goes especially for you Adrian, I know you love your wife and all, but you can't call her, it risks your new life, as well as the lives of the rest of the group."

Adrian sprung to his feet, his eyes ablaze.

"Are you kidding me?" he said softly, his tone quivering. "Please, tell me that was supposed to be some sort of funny joke Brendan, master of subtle comedy. Because if it wasn't, then boy oh boy do we need to come to an understanding."

The volume of his voice increased and the speed of his flow accelerated as he continued.

"For one, I am not a fucking idiot. The things that I witnessed in the past couple days have made me abundantly aware of the forces that we are dealing with. My entire family was already threatened this morning by a madman who murdered innocents last night to pay off a debt. I watched a woman crash a car into the mall with her mind just to light a fire under our asses. I had the same woman probe the creases of my mind and do..."

Adrian shuddered.

"...horrible things to me. I am more than fully aware of just what is going on here. Why would I ever want to bring my family into this world? What good would it possibly do for me to endanger them like for a stupid reason like that? So before you pull the 'I'm obviously ready to murder people because I keep chemicals in my trunk and am ok at lying' card on me, I cordially request that you make one consideration."

Adrian's voice lowered back to a whisper as he moved closer to Brendan.

"I am not some sort of sheltered buffoon. I see all too well the severity of the situation we are in. If you want to give orders like some sort of god damn mastermind, then be my guest. But don't assume that I don't see what you for what you are. And don't think that I'm going to just lie down and take it when you try to put on the kiddie gloves."

He moved towards the door to the apartment. He needed air. As he opened it, he turned back towards Brendan.

"Oh, and one more thing. Don't ever speak of my family again."

With that, the door slammed behind him.

"Hmmm, must have touched a nerve. Anyways, I'm off to bed, wake me if Frank or Alice arrive." With that, Ben grabbed Marcus' and Mira's phones and headed to the bedroom. He placed the phones with their belongings and lay down on the cot. It was surprisingly comfortable for a cot.

Oh Adrian, if you see me for what I am, you know that I'm all the more dangerous because of it.

Ben closed his eyes and promptly fell asleep into a dreamless sleep.

Spencer opened the window and took his old phone out of his pocket. Hesitating for a moment, he threw it out as far as he could and watch it smash into a million pieces upon hitting the cold concrete.

There goes the rest of my life.

He laid back down on the couch and fell asleep in a matter of minutes.

The first thing Marcus became aware of was pain. It seemed to pulse out from his cranium across his whole body, making him ache from head to foot. The effort it had taken to reverse Mira's life threatening transformation must have taken more out of him than even he realized.

Marcus opened his eyes to the sight of the bedroom of their flat. He was even more glad to be 'home' (for he might as well start calling it what it was now) than he had been the night before. Privately, Marcus wondered just how many life-threatening situations he would be asked to deal with per week. There was a faint stirring from the bed opposite his. He turned and saw Mira lying there. Relief flooded him upon the realization that she was alright. It seemed that all the last forty eight hours had done was remind him of the people he had lost, and he did not know if he could handle losing anyone else just yet.

Careful Marcus, The voice of reason inside his head spoke clearly, this really isn't the time.

He tried to hold on to the fine details of the dream he had of Naomi, but much like the woman herself, it slipped away from him all too quickly, like water through his cupped hands. He wished she were here. The real her, not Marcus' self-interpretation from memory. As much as he would never admit it, not even to himself, he needed her strength now more than ever. She would know what to say; she had always known what to say.

Marcus sighed deeply and looked up to the ceiling.

"No Naomi, you did teach me one thing." he whispered to himself, "You taught me how to live, but now the rules have changed."

It was with great solemnity, yet also great release, that Marcus allowed it to dawn on him how all this would end. He was going to die, his second chance meant nothing. He could not live forever. In fact, he did not want to. He would beat every challenge set in front of him until he had had enough. Then, he would choose to stop taking Frank's little gifts. Marcus would end their contract, and his life, on his terms. At the end he would be an equal to them, not a slave. One thing was for certain, by then he would probably no longer recognize himself. The years he will have spent on borrowed time would leave no room for the Marcus that had existed before, and the memories he had stored away on that beach would no longer mean anything to him. There would be no-one to put in danger by his decision. He would have nothing left to lose. This, he realized, was the true gift of his power. Not the ability to heal, to save, but the opportunity to remember those he had mistakenly tried to forget. Marcus had no photographs, no letters, nothing physical to remember them by; and so his frequent visits to them through his power would be his way of saying goodbye to them.

It seemed that everyone else in the apartment was asleep. Marcus did not try and join them, as right now he preferred to be alone with his thoughts. Instead he sat up in bed, waiting for what was to come next, and steeling himself for it.

I never break my promises Naomi. You should know that.

"What are you doing! no, No, NO!" David screamed as the flames licked at him.
=============================================================================================================

Ben woke up with sunlight softly streaming through the bedroom window. He lay there for a few minutes, thinking about the previous two days, and sighed softly.

"What a life."

Ben got up, trying not to make too much noise, and headed out of the bedroom. It looked like Adrian had come back sometime in the night, he was sleeping on one of the cots in the living room. Ben grabbed new clothes from his backpack and headed for the shower. He turned it on and got in, allowing the events of the previous two days fully soak in and wash away under the cold water. When he got out, fully changed, nobody had yet woken up.

Ben headed to the kitchen, starting up the Coleman camping stove that they had bought at Walmart, and grabbing the frying pan bought at the same location. He grabbed a couple pieces of bread and buttered each side up. When the pan was hot, Ben placed the two pieces of bread it and turned around and leaned on the counter top.

"Should've bought a toaster."

With Klaus content, Frank took the corpse he had left behind to dispose of. As he and Alice looked at the sun rise, they stared at the dead mangled man. "I was thinking of two days", Frank said without looking away from the corpse of a short Caucasian boy in his late teens, his body showing signs of extreme torture.

Alice clicked her tongue and tilted her head to the left. "No... Maybe I can have a go with him?", Alice said cheerfully. Frank stopped her and broke away from the corpse, turning to Alice, "Enough. I know it's hard but... You can't keep this up, Alice". Alice turned away from Frank and began walking away from the patch of dirt a few meters away from the highway where the corpse lied at. "That boy is mine", she said without turning back.

.

Frank entered the apartment without knocking on the door. "Lock the door", he told Ben as he prepared his breakfast. He took off his fedora hat and put it on the table, revealing his hair. "Nice furniture. You have work to do-" Frank said as he walked to the kitchen, "-But first, where is the coffee?".

Ben walked to the door and closed the deadbolt. He turned to look at Frank

"Morning Frank. We didn't really get a coffee maker, but I suppose we could boil up some water on the stove."

Ben looked at the Coleman, smoke was leaking out of the bottom of the pan.

"SHIT!" Ben ran over to his toast and flipped it, underneath was a dark coating of black char.

"Well, this isn't going to be a fun breakfast. Anyways, as I was saying, I'll boil up some water. Actually I think we have a Bodum, so you can have some in that, but it's still going to take a while for the water to boil up."

Ben looked at the bottom side of his toast- nice and brown. He picked it up and placed it on a plate. Grabbing a pot, Ben put a bunch of water into it and put it down on the still hot stove plate.

He grabbed his plate and sat down, taking a bite of his toast. He grimaced at the char taste. He swallowed, it was painfully bad.

"You said something about work?" Ben said, taking another bite. He would finish it, they didn't have that much in supplies.

Frank's eye twitched as Ben said 'shit' out loud. He walked to the cupboard, opened it and bent down, taking two brown envelopes from the bottom and putting both of them on the table. "Two different tasks. You need to find a thief and you need to conduct an inventory count", Frank slid one of the envelopes to Ben. "Inventory count for you. Take the boy and girl with you, you won't have much of a challenge", Frank looked back at the boiling water. He took a disposable cup and poured some of the water in it. He searched for something in his pocket and took out a small disposable bag, tearing it and tossing the contents in the cup.

"Are the others asleep?", Frank asked Ben.

Ben finished his food. It was foul tasting, but he'd survive.

"Not yet. They should be soon though." Ben turned around towards the wall connecting to the bedroom and bellowed, "OI. GUYS" Ben continued in a more normal tone, hearing stirring on the couch and the cots, "That should wake them up."

Ben took the envelope and looked at the cupboard.

"Where are you getting these from? We've been using the cupboard for storage and we've never seen them before you just picked them up."

Frank dragged the chair away from the table and sat on it. He took a sip from his cup and sighed. "That's Caroline... She's a magician". Frank looked at the window and stared out to the street, watching the filth in the air float. It didn't mind him. Health issues mean nothing to a dead man. He gulped the entire drink in one movement and put the cup back on the table.

"I don't think you want to know her voodoo".

"And another name joins the fray. How many of you are there?" Ben asked Frank, "No matter, we'll find out eventually."

Ben poured himself a cup of the hot water. It was cooling down now, enough to drink. He took a drink and felt the warm liquid flow down his mouth.

"And Voodoo eh? Frank, I do believe this is the closest to intrigued I've ever been. Well done."

"OI. GUYS"

Spencer twitched in response to the unpleasant awakening. He attempted to sit up as best as he could, but only managed to awkwardly prop himself up with his elbow. Once again he found himself waking to the sight of Frank in the apartment. Aside from Frank, Ben was in the room, holding one of the infamous brown envelopes.

"Did we get an actual job this time?"

Ben opened the envelope and pulled out the papers. On them there was a location of the warehouse where they would do inventory, as well as the mission parameters. The picture of the contact was paperclipped behind the parameters. He laid the papers out on the table. He heard Spencer speak, he looked up and saw him propped up on his elbow on the couch.

"Yeah, we have to check inventory. Frank told us it would be an easy job, but considering what yesterday was like, and that was an off day, I'm not as sure.

"Papers are here, there's some cooling water on the stovetop right now, it's still fairly warm, you can boil it up again if you want some coffee or something. Bread and butter are in the cupboards, we don't have a toaster, so you'll have to use the frying pan."

Ben continued to study the mission. It was hard to plan for Murphy when so little information is given. They would have to make do.

"The other task is to track down a thief. A hacker that stole information. Give it to the rest when they get up", Frank explained the situation to Ben. He looked at the frying pan and back at Ben, "You need to get a proper kitchen".

"Well, I maxed out my daily withdrawal yesterday, and we weren't given enough money to get everything. We're working on it, Ok?" Ben explained, "If we have time after today, we'll pick up a toaster and a coffee maker."

Spencer buttered up a piece of bread, poured himself some water and sat at the table.

"If we have time after today, we'll pick up a toaster and a coffee maker."

Shit.

He had planned on having some time left after the mission. He knew he would simply have time to leave later, but the more time the better.

"Honestly, I'm up for anything, as long as we don't run into that psycho from yesterday."

He took a sip of his water and leaned in over the table to take a better look at the mission details.

Marcus, who had not since fallen asleep after his night of soul-searching, listened intently to the others. However, he was in no hurry to go and join them. Every second that he delayed meeting with Frank, was a second that he could use to prepare himself, and make himself at peace with whatever acts of cruelty he may be asked to perform today. He gathered that they had a new mission, and Marcus had no doubt that these things were only going to get tougher. He felt like a soldier on the eve of battle, only hoping that he would return as whole as possible at the end of the day.

He didn't know if Mira or Evey had been woken, and decided he would prefer not to check. While they were asleep, they could still be free to be human, and Marcus couldn't be the one to rouse them from that state of blissful ignorance, not today. He paused at the doorway for one last, lingering moment, before he walked through to the kitchen.

As soon as he had done so Marcus felt the change in him. Gone was the doubt, and the premature remorse; even the physical pain seemed to lessen. In its place was a hardness that made him walk taller than he had before. He was ready.

He had no interest in questions and polite conversation, he had heard everything he needed to hear from the other room. He walked over to Frank and gestured towards the envelope.

"We'll get it done." he told Frank.

"Mornin' Marcus. I assume you were eavesdropping, so you don't need to get caught up." Ben didn't look up from the papers. There was no such thing as too much preparation.

"Make yourself some breakfast, chances are it'll be a long day, you'll need the energy.

"I can't get any more information out of here. You take a look at them Spencer."

Ben shifted the dossier over to Spencer, then looked at Marcus.

"By the way Marcus, considering that Spencer and Evey already found out about it I suppose I should tell you guys. My legal name is actually Benjamin Debue, and I figure it's best that you find out from me, rather than one of them."

------------------------------------------------

Mira's back was on fire. She could feel the searing heat press hard against her exposed skin. Another piece of metal jabbed against her arm as she tried to move it. It was all silence at first, so silent that Mira thought that she was deaf. The light from the Semi that had hit their SUV shined into her eyes and snowflakes slowly fazed through the beams of light.

She turned her head to see the car behind them had made its way upwards towards the seats. The entire front of the car behind them was wedged into their SUV. Mira could feel the heated hood of the car slowly burn her back but at the moment she couldn't feel a thing. She could even smell her flesh roasting but that didn't concern her. She was concerned for David.

Both of them had taken the backseat with Mira behind the driver's seat and David the opposite. Now everything was twisted. She gazed upon David. Some of the glass fragments from the blinker had carved David's shoulders and the hood was pushing David's stomach further outward.

Mira wanted to cry, she wanted to scream but she saw David's eyes were wild with movement so why couldn't he speak? Then his eyes looked her own. Even in his paralyzed state, the impact of his look remained the same. His emerald-green eyes simply told her, without words, to not worry because everything was going to be okay....

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Mira twisted in her bed until she fell out. The floor greeted her back into the world that she now occupies on borrowed time. In a heartbeat she left the room and went to the bathroom without even giving the others a peep of thanks, for now.

When Mira was inside she locked the door and immediately undressed. She looked on her naked body to see that she was normal again. No bulging muscles, no tearing skin, no bleeding, and no pain. She was once again normal for the time being. She sighed, thinking who could have done such an act and why it had happened to begin with. It happened so quickly but the pain was horrible. She couldn't even believe that it had happened to her but it started to become a reoccurring theme nowadays.

After taking a long needed shower she stepped out in new clothes and went to the living room. She looked to see that Frank was just about done talking to the group for the time being. While she was changing she swore that he said for them to get a proper kitchen. When Mira got out he already left so she went to the couch to talk to the rest of the group.

"Thank you...all of you." Her eyes looked for Marcus but she made it a courtesy to look to all of them. "What did Frank say?"

"We have jobs. You, Adrian and Marcus will be tracking down a hacker, and Spencer, Evey and I will be checking up on inventory at a warehouse. Other than that, he told us to get a better kitchen. We don't really have much of one yet, we still need a toaster and a coffee maker apparently. We do have a fridge, freezer, microwave and stove however.

"How are you feeling? You looked beat when you walked into the apartment yesterday, like you and Marcus were more or less zombies."

Ben looked at the pair. They still looked tired, Marcus particularly, the man looked like he had a pair of black eyes, from the set of bags under his eyes.

"Hell, you both still look like your eyes are about to go on a trip."

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