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Night 52: Twin Pines Restaurant
stlg13bomber wrote in damned
[From here.]

"Hey! Hey, hello!" Carter yelled, banging on the Twin Pines Restaurant door. There were a few lights on inside but he couldn't see any occupants and all the chairs were put up on the tables. "There's giant rats out here, let us in!" Still nobody home. It wasn't even that late at night, the hofbrau in Hammellburg sometimes stayed open until near-midnight and the lights were left on so somebody had to have left them like that, so why was nobody answering the door? Things were starting to get weird in the bad way and Carter didn't like the way his shadow kept shifting.

He turned to Claire, nervously biting his lip. "I...I'm gonna break us in again," he said apologetically. "It's okay to do that in an emergency, and it's definitely an emergency right now if there's monsters and funny things like that." Whatever was going on out here, it wasn't something a little sergeant and a lady needed to face alone.

Really, really sorry, the young sergeant thought as he wedged his crowbar into the gap of the door and started heaving. He'd leave a note of apology and explain about the giant rats, the Future people would certainly understand.

Behind Carter, something dark twisted out of the ground and stood up. It lingered behind Carter and waited to be noticed.

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His spirits didn't seem to rise any, but he was moving forward and that was all that Claire could ask for. It was useless to stand around staring at bodies. Whining and wringing your hands over it wouldn't make them any less dead.

The restaurant seemed similarly uninhabited. Not surprising. It looked like it was fairly late, stars beaming from the tar black sky. Claire peered at the large windows as Andrew pounded and shouted for someone to open the door. There was no movement inside. Empty chairs, empty tables, an unattended register. Claire's breath turned to fog in front of her eyes, and she rubbed her arms again. She was beyond grateful when Andrew gave up playing by the rules and suggested breaking in again. "We should barricade the door after we're in, though. In case there's more rats around." She barely suppressed a shiver. "Is America always this cold?"

She kept watch as he worked his crowbar into the narrow crack, thinking quietly that it would be much easier to just chop the whole thing down. It would be harder to fix for whoever owned the place, but it would get them in faster. Frankly, it was far too cold out to be fiddling around with the door for long. Dangerous, too.

Which made the flickering shadows of before all the more unnerving. Claire caught movement in the corner of her eye - right behind Andrew. Fingers tightened around the axe as she searched for the cause. Something hiding in his shadow.

Or rather not.

Her eyes went wide. The dark shape was unfurling from the ground, pushing out of two dimensions and bulging into three. It was as if an inky black hole had been turned inside out. It was forming features, staggering to its feet.

Then her own shadow twitched. Bubbled up from the ground.

Gobsmacked, Claire gripped Andrew's arm with her free hand. Her fingers curled in like claws. She couldn't speak. Even after the first night with that woman and her floating eyes, Claire was nowhere near prepared for this.

The door had just cracked open when Claire grabbed Carter. He turned around with a gleeful, victorious expression, only to have it torn away by the...the thing in front of him.

It was like a stenciled inky blotch punched out like a stamp and set to motion. Carter's eyes kept searching for the trick to it, for where the costume attached to the man or the strings hung on the puppet, but he just couldn't get it to mesh with the rest of the world no matter how many times he blinked. It was him, almost, his thinning hair and his dangling crowbar and the edges of his face, and even the cocky way it stood reminded Carter of himself.

"Guten abend, Sergeant Carter!" said the shadow merrily. "Boy, it's good to be out working again, isn't it? Not really the same with animals, but it's not like Krauts and rats are far apart, right?" It rubbed its hands together eagerly, then threw the crowbar over its right shoulder.

Carter tilted his head and made a confused, wordless grunt. It sounded like him and it almost looked like him if you'd drenched him in ink from shoe to eyeball. In the face of such overwhelming unreality Carter defaulted to the one thing he could argue with.

"You're supposed to be calling them Germans now," he protested. It was polite. Since they weren't at war anymore.

The shadow shrugged and stuck its hands in its pockets. "Krauts, Germans, does it even matter who we're killing? They're all the same when they're fricasseed frankfurters!" It laughed Carter's laugh, and was all the more frightening for how childish and innocent it sounded.

"Don't talk to it!" Claire hissed with a fearful tug on his sleeve, mortified at the talk of 'Krauts' (Germans?) and fricasseeing the doppelganger so easily tossed out. It sounded too gleeful at the thought. "Don't let it talk to you."

Her chilled shivers had ceased entirely. She was so unnerved by the sight that Claire forgot all about the piercing cold. It was one thing when you were dealing with John. John she had spent roughly three years with. She was used to him in all of his forms, so much so that she no longer questioned how it was even possible for a man to turn into a pillar of smoke.

But this was new to her. Much more like magic, because it was something that had never been alive to begin with. While John had been there since the first day on the island exactly as he was, these were their own shadows. Growing out from the ground and talking to them when moments before they had been flat and lifeless. This was not supposed to happen.

Andrew's shadow was laughing at him when Claire's had finally materialized. In the strained light of the street lamps she could see that the thing was her double, down to the last frizzy hair. Claire watched, horrified, as it stared at her, jet black axe in hand. The mouth twitched as if to speak.


Claire's axe sailed right through it. Her breath hitched in her throat. There was nothing more than air in front of her, nothing to chop, nothing to hit. And yet it was still there, keeping on with that icy stare.

"Where were you?" it asked. Its voice was her own, deadpan and matching pitch for pitch.

"...What?" Claire nearly squeaked the word out.

"Where were you when the helicopter came?" it repeated. Its eyes seemed to narrow. "Three years ago. When you left your baby - my Aaron in a bush. You just wandered away. Where did you go?"

"I..." She was drawing blanks. Three years...the last day she had seen her friends. Sawyer and Miles, and her with Aaron. They had made camp for the night, and then...and then... "I - I don't know what you're talking about."

"You left him." The words were poison. "You left your son behind and wandered away. It's your fault Kate took him."

"I don't remember - I would never!"

"Shut up. You dropped him off in a bush and wandered away to where no one could find you. That's why they left you behind. That's why you were on the island and they were all gone. You went mad and left them all behind." The shadow's axe rose, gripped by both hands now. "You're too dangerous to be a mother now. I won't let you touch him."

"I'M NOT MAD!!" Claire shrieked. Her axe poised sky high again, she darted forward and swung with all her might.

She wasn't mad. She wasn't. She would never leave her Aaron alone.

"Looks pretty mad to me," Carter's shadow mused as he and his double watched Claire's breakdown. Carter was cringing now, one step over the threshold of the restaurant, and he clutched the crowbar more as a security blanket than a weapon. When it turned back to him he flinched and made a little handwave gesture. Shoo. Go away. Bad dog.

The shadow snapped its fingers, as if inspired. "Hey, remember the Adolf Hitler bridge job? How that little package of yours nearly went to Dusseldorf instead of the bridge?"

"Uh...uh huh." Carter remembered Claire's warning and covered his mouth with his hand, canceling out further questions. Why was it talking in his voice? How did he know about Carter and the bridge? What were these things? He didn't understand the one by Claire but she acted as if it was telling the truth, the dark thing knew about her too.

"Boy, wouldn't it have been great if Colonel Hogan hadn't stopped him The entire town square, sky-high, boom!" The shadow threw his hands up excitedly. "With a bomb that big you'd have killed hundreds of them! One measly little messenger boy and a bridge, that's barely worth the gunpowder, am I right?"

Carter shook his head firmly, forcing his hand to stay at his mouth. That wasn't how you went about it. That wasn't good. He didn't do that, he just blew up the right places and people. Everyone understood that.

Again the shadow laughed. "I mean, if the timing had really been perfect you might even have gotten Schultz's wife. Wouldn't that have been a laugh riot. The fat pig would be blubbering for weeks."

"I wouldn't do a thing like that!" Carter burst out in horror. He stumbled over the doorstep and grabbed the wall for support. "Schultz was our friend! I wouldn't do that!"

The shadow stepped forward, forcing Carter further back into the restaurant. The bright lights made the shadow's featurs stand out sharper and highlighted (if you could highlight darkness) its proud half-smirk. "All the Krauts you murdered had families, Andrew. Why worry about just one?"

Claire might as well have been chopping up clouds for all the good the axe was doing her. It sailed right through the figure's head in a blow that should have cleaved its skull in two. Claire screamed her frustration and brought the axe up for another go, blind to anything but her burning need to kill it. Rip it apart for even speaking of Aaron, for being a freak of nature that she couldn't touch, for its sharp words and steely stare.

This time, the thing made a grab for her axe as it came down. It caught the blow mid-swing with both hands, its own weapon vanishing as soon as it had let go. Claire hollered wordlessly and tried to yank it back. The grip was too tight. Inky fingers squeezed the handle and pulled with the force of an ox. Claire's feet skidded on the pavement. While Andrew was being pushed further into the restaurant, she was being pulled back out to the street.

"Andrew!!" she called. She needed help - he had to come and help her, because this creepy thing was just as strong as she was and she couldn't get a hit in.

"Stop screaming! He isn't going to help you. You're crazy." The shadow snarled and gave a vicious tug that almost had Claire stumbling over her feet. "Why do you think they left you? You tried to kill Kate!"

"She took Aaron from me!!" Claire cried frantically. "She took my son!"

She shoved at the shadow, but it held its ground and shoved her back. "Kate took Aaron because you wandered away, you stupid bitch! She had no choice! She came back to help you, and all you did was try to put a knife in her neck!"

"SHE CAN'T TAKE MY SON! AARON'S MINE, HE'S MINE!!" Her screams had been infected with sobs. Angry tears that should have been hot prickled with the cold as they rolled down her cheeks. She was terrified. So afraid, and this thing needed to shut up right now or she was going to burst. With a beastly growl, Claire put her all into pushing the shadow into the ground. The thing grimaced and turned, and then suddenly it was Claire who was on her back gasping for air. Her momentum had been used against her, carried her away. The shadow fell on top of her. Neither had let go of the axe.

Claire gritted her teeth and bucked her hips. Pushed with the axe, kicked at the back of its legs. It was tangible now, strangely enough, but it wouldn't budge. It continued to push the axe against her chest, relentless. "GET OFF ME!"

The shadow let go with one hand, dropping down to use its elbow to help hold her down with the remaining hand. The other reached into the dark imitation of the tool bag. The light glinted as she withdrew something long and sharp. A coal black knife, long and gleaming like marble, exactly like the one in her own bag. Claire's eyes widened. She acted quickly, following her doppelganger's lead and letting go with one hand to grab at its wrist. The knife quivered in the air, drifting slowly and surely towards her throat.

"You should have stayed on the island," the shadow hissed. Its breath was rank and salty on her face. Like something that had rotted in the ocean. "Just die. Go be with Charlie."

"Don't-" Claire whimpered. A sunny face flashed through her mind. Boyish laugh, lilting accent, fingers wrapped in tape with letters drawn on in marker. Songs by the beach on a wooden guitar and imaginary peanut butter, scooped out from an empty jar and licked clean off the finger.

"Would he even want you now? You're disgusting. Just like Rousseau."

"Don't talk about Charlie - you don't know anything!!"

"If I don't know anything, then neither do you! He died for you, you know that right? Everything he did was for you. The whole time, just for you. What did you ever do for him?"

It's what needs to be done to get us all rescued. I'll be fine, Claire.

The knife came closer. Claire couldn't breathe through her tears.

Edited at 2010-11-11 10:48 pm (UTC)

Carter stumbled again and tried to make a dash for Claire, but the shadow's crowbar snapped out and blocked the doorway. "You can't rescue her. You don't know a thing about helping people. All you know about is fire and screaming and shrapnel."

"We help plenty of people! We help them escape!" Carter yelled back, having completely forgotten now that he wasn't supposed to be talking to it. It was their job.

The shadow shook its head, spinning the crowbar idly. "The other guys do, you can't. And why would they ask you? You're a useless idiot when you're not blowing things up. None of them actually respect you respect you. They treat you like a stupid little kid until they need you."

Carter tried to think of some clever rebuttal but found himself coming up gaping and clueless. Bombs were really the only thing he was good at and his teammates did have a habit of mocking him when he did something foolish. Corporal Newkirk was especially cruel, and Carter was fairly sure he outranked him. It wasn't fair but it was what they did and he just went along with it to be friendly. They only teased him because they liked him...right?

"You're not real," Carter insisted helplessly. "You're a figment of my imagination or a hallucination or, or something. So I don't have to listen to you!"

He rushed at the shadow, thinking he'd go through it the way Claire's ax had gone through her assailant. Instead the shadow shifted to let him through the doorway, only to bring the crowbar down at the last minute and smash Carter's right hand. Carter screamed and fell to the ground, clutching his crushed hand to his chest. It hurt. Oh god, it hurt worse than acid and falling rocks, it hurt worse than anything. Carter found tears coming to his eyes at the pain, augmented by the building horror as the fact that something was horribly wrong kept working its way into his psyche.

This wasn't fun anymore.

"Really? You're trying to think? Don't think, Carter. You're no good at it," the shadow mocked, standing over his wide-eyed, sobbing, terrified double.

Andrew was screaming. Claire's eyes flicked over to the door even as she grappled with the knife, inhaling sharply as his shadow crushed his hand with the black crowbar.

They were both dead. They were both dead from the start. These things couldn't be touched unless they let you touch them, and even then it was only to try to stick a knife in your throat. Her eyes met the shadow's again and she gave a thin choke. They were pitch black. No pupil, no iris. Now that the light wasn't shining on it's inky face it was impossible to tell if it had eyes at all. They looked like empty holes. What her own skull would look like if it was dipped in tar.

The thought mortified her. Andrew's sobs pierced through the pulsing in her ears. She could not die here. She wouldn't - Aaron needed her. No matter what this thing said.

An angry bubble burst in her chest, hot rage spilling through her skin. Aaron was her son. Hers. Not Kate's, not this shadow's: hers. And she would not be kept from him. It could go on all it wanted about Charlie, about how she'd changed, but Claire was not budging. She refused to let it end here, no matter how much it hurt.

She shoved at the knife again. It jerked up, but the shadow kept pressing in, gritting its teeth. Claire kept pushing, snarling at her double until it hollered back at her. "Hold still!!"

Then she raised her left heel and slammed it down on the back of its ankle. The weight hit like an anvil. The shadow jolted up and gave a cry of pain (finally), and the knife raised. Claire wasted no time. She twisted the arm and surged forward teeth first.

The skin tasted like fog. It didn't bleed, but oh, did it scream.

Claire bucked once more and the thing was flung off. She'd bought herself a little time. She leaped up from the ground, axe still in hand and the bag slung around her neck, and bolted towards the door. She needed to get Andrew. They couldn't do this alone.

She raised the axe and swung at his shadow with a strangled cry, but she didn't stop moving. It would have to dissipate to dodge the blow, and then she'd be inside the restaurant with Andrew. There had to be something inside they could use.

For all their smug, unearthly nature, the shadows could apparently still demonstrate surprise. It snapped its head around, dissipating into smoke as she passed through and reforming behind her.

"He's a murderer, you know!" it shouted. "Run if you want but don't try to save a bastard that would turn a Gestapo man's stomach."

Carter swallowed down another sob, forcing himself to breath through the pain. Not a bastard. Not a murderer. If innocent people were there it wasn't his fault. It was lying.

The fingers of his good hand fumbled and closed around the cold metal of his crowbar as he tried to get to his feet. What got rid of shadows? Light. Night lights and doors left open and flashlights under the covers. Those made scary lying shadows go away. "Turn...turn on the lights," Carter gasped.

Whatever that horrible thing was, it needed to just go away and leave him be. He wasn't a Nazi and he hadn't done anything wrong, he was a good boy from Bullfrog who loved his mother and his country and wouldn't hurt anyone who didn't deserve it. Everyone at the institute who'd reacted so badly was just confused and needed to explained to. The horrid crunch and agony of his broken hand was bad but the monster's words were hurting just as badly.

The frenzied denial and justifications for his actions gave Carter the strength to rise to his feet. He kept his injured hand tucked close to his body and said desperately, "Lights."

"She's not much better," came a dark voice from behind Andrew's shadow. Claire's own double had regained its feet, clutching the knife so tightly that the knuckles should have been turning white. They remained as stiflingly black as ever.

Claire paid their words no mind, trying to grasp for Andrew's sleeve before she realized that he wasn't on the floor anymore. She moved in front of him, axe poised for an attack.

"What?" Claire cocked her head to better catch his mumbling, her eyes never leaving the silhouttes in the doorway. The frenzy of the fight was still dizzying her, so it took a moment for the meaning to catch on. Her eyes widened when it did. It was too easy. "Lights - switch! Find the switch, come on!!"

She abandoned Andrew (his legs were still working, weren't they?), bolting towards the till and searching along the wall. There was a panel there, and though the light was dim on this side of the restaurant she could see the outline of a toggle. A frantic cry escaped her and she jammed the thing from 'OFF' to 'ON' with enough force to snap it in two.

The half of the lights that weren't already lit sputtered to life - for all of three seconds. There was the sound of a bulb shattering, and then they died. Only the eerie few lights on the far end of the room remained.


Claire whipped around, eyes darting in every direction. A lamp, a candle - anything. Anything with a light.

Carter made a soft whine when the lightbulbs shuttered out. They needed more light. Bright lights. Really bright lights.

"C'mon, this way!" Carter wobbled further into the restaurant, crowbar and crunched bone held to his chest, and pushed his way past the swinging door into the kitchen. The shadow was right, there were only certain things he could think clearly about when you put pressure on him and explosions were one of them. They had to make it go away somehow.

The door smacked him on the backswing, sending him stumbling into a standing fridge. It was even darker in here and when he pulled open a random cabinet he could barely read the labels on the bottles. Maple syrup, no, not strawberry syrup. The glass bottles crashed on the floor as he shoved them out.

"It's a kitchen. There's cooking oil, or alcohol, and there's matches somewhere, find those," he gasped. If normal lights couldn't get rid of them, maybe they would go away if he set the whole place on fire.

asd;lkfja Why. Did this. Take. SO LONG. *applies for brain swap*

The dark forms were pushing their way inside the restaurant. They weren't even running. Calm and casual, as if they had all the time in the world. If Claire and Andrew didn't find a way to light this place up, that just might be the case.

She didn't hesitate to follow him, scrambling into the kitchen and flinching when the door slammed Andrew into the fridge. There was no time for fussing though. She could check him over once they were free of the shadows. If they got free of the shadows. Following his suit, she held the axe firm in one hand as she flung open the cabinets and drawers.

"Matches? Matches matches, or a lighter maybe..."

Nothing thus far. Only comical utensils, things that she couldn't understand being used for cooking (or didn't remember), along with ceramic plates and bowls. The doors were slammed back shut with a horrible bang. Claire's breath turned staccato with each dead end. They only had seconds before the shadows followed them in here, and then they'd be done for.

The last drawer shot open with a vicious yank. Claire nearly shoved it right back in on instinct when something slid into view. Her heart pounded in her ears. "Andrew! There's a lighter here!!"

There! A bottle of cooking alcohol with a screwtop, and another bottle of stronger stuff hidden further back in the cabinet. They weren't gasoline, but in a pinch anything flammable would do. Pair it with a dishrag, there was one in the corner, no tape here but it wouldn't have to go far so it should be fine. He'd never made one of these for more than the fun of it and never so quickly but it wasn't hard to do.

"Bring it over here!" Carter tried to get the lid off the wine bottle, only to realize he only had one set of fingers to open with. He had to wedge the bottle under his arm to get the cap off, squirming and wincing in pain every time something nudged his shattered hand. He was shaking by the time the second cap came off and liquid sloshed over his hand while he soaked the rag in cooking alcohol and stuffed it down the neck of the stronger one's bottle.

Carter's shadow was practically sauntering through the restaurant, hand in its pocket. There was no way out of the kitchen and Carter was stewing in his own fear and pain quite nicely, why rush things? When it finally got the kitchen door open it laughed to see Carter's frantic work.

"You really can't do anything else, can you? But it's so sloppy and small, how can you even bear to live with yourself? You're supposed to be a professional!"

"Sh-shut up," Carter moaned, waiting for Claire to hand him the lighter. For the love of God and mom and little baby Jesus, please burn like everything else.

She wasted no time in skirting the counter and rushing to Andrew's side. It was too late to help him with the bottles, unfortunately, and the sour scent of spilled wine tickled at her nose. The dishrag clued her in - for a brief, mad moment she thought they were going to try pouring gasoline or alcohol on something and then light it on fire. This made much more sense.

"Hurry!" Claire hissed as she clutched at the lighter, waiting for him to finish with the rag. Wide eyes kept darting back to the door, keeping a fervent watch. She still jumped when the hinges creaked and the shadows came through.

Andrew's came in first, giving a horrible laugh at their work. Claire inched back. Though she knew his taunting wasn't aimed at her, she couldn't help the way her pulse spiked at the sound. "Shut up!!" she barked at it, thrusting the lighter at Andrew. "We're going to kill you both!"

An exasperated sigh answered her. Claire's shadow stepped out from behind Andrew's, the black axe inexplicably back in its hands. It shook its head, and even with the dim light and its dark face, she could see its eyes grow thin with scorn. "Are you really that stupid? This is your solution to everything, isn't it? Blow it up. Chop in half, stab it, shoot it. I'm not like those Others you killed on the island. You won't be rid of me."

Her shouts turned to a shriek. This had to work, they were done for if it didn't. She pawed at Andrew, screaming. "Just do it!!"

Carter wiggled the cocktail under one arm and flicked the lighter on. Colonel Hogan would have said something impressive here. Maybe a witty quip or a pun, or something patriotic. Carter was just desperate to get the rag lit. He didn't even know if it would work, timers were so much easier, you didn't rely on your arm to do the detonating for you and he only had one shot at this. It needed to work, it had to.

The shadow waved to him with both hands, an inviting gesture. "Come on, let's add to the body count. If it'll work, which it won't. But it'll look real nice while you're trying!"

There. Carter fell back against the corner, sweating, tears starting to come to his eyes again. He felt so panicked that he was nearly sick. "Look, just...just die already!" he shouted, and hurled the molotove cocktail at his doppelganger's feet.

The world exploded in fire and, thank God, just enough light.

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