DAMNED || LANDEL'S INSTITUTE

A Multifandom Asylum RPG


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Day 56: Tasty Burger (Early Afternoon)
but the lock will not open
poorexample wrote in damned
Speaking with Aigis had been enlightening in a number of ways, but when they had run out of things to discuss, Castiel had managed to dismiss himself. He didn't know if it had been "smooth," as Dean would have called it, but they had exchanged the words that they needed to and that had seemed reason enough to end the conversation.

More than that, he was starting to develop that tugging feeling in his stomach.

He had walked the whole length of the main street here and still didn't have much of an idea of which shops to go into. He could enter each one as a way to be thorough, but he didn't know if he would have the time to inspect each store as carefully as he would want to. Who knew what secrets were hidden in this place? And if there were none, then he would feel as if he'd wasted his time.

Getting himself some food before he continued his search seemed like the best plan at the moment, mainly because Castiel knew exactly where to go for that. Maybe after he ate, the sheriff's would be open. As Castiel made his way back through the snow toward the fast food place, he grabbed for the appropriate coupon, seeing that it would grant him "1 Free Tasty Meal and Ice Cream."

Ice cream. It was a shame that Gabriel was now nowhere to be found, as Castiel would have gladly given his brother that portion of it if he'd gotten a second burger in return. Still, there was no point in dwelling on it, and so the angel entered the restaurant and waited patiently in line. At least his hunger was no longer so great that he had to order five or more at a time. That had earned him some odd looks.

[For Dean.]

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Mele had watched to see where Taura was headed, then shrugged and headed there too. Must be the rituals of the asylum getting to her; she was feeling hungry. After picking something that sounded like it was something edible and handing over all the coupons (prompting the cashier to give most of them back), Mele took a page from Taura's book and took the tray over to a table.

Guess I should eat some of this, Mele thought, but she wasn't feeling adventurous just yet. And it had been her luck that she'd picked something fried, and the smell of something burning hung faintly in the air—or was that just her imagination?

Was the poor bastard still alive, had night ended in time, or had he just disappeared like others had? Why had she been the one to find him, anyway? Judging by the institute's record, they'd done it on purpose! ... Yeah, to him, maybe. Pfft. I don't want to think about this anymore, she thought plaintively, staring at the food like it'd answer her thoughts. She didn't want to remember it anymore, either. That or that other thing. Did that place just like putting flamethrowers (in the throws-flames-around sense) in that room or what?

[The Scarecrow!]

The Scarecrow waited impatiently for the nurse to finish with the bandages on his arm, glancing through the front window of the restaurant to make sure Mele was still there. Having parted ways with Sangamon, he'd headed to find something to eat- it occurred to him that anything in town would be more appealing than the pink mush they were being served at the Institute, and he'd better use the coupons he'd been given while he could. Crossing onto the sidewalk, he'd spotted Mele heading inside, but he didn't have the chance to call to her before the nurse caught him, reminding him of his need for bandage-changing.

By the time the Scarecrow got inside, Mele had disappeared from the line at the counter and made her way to a table. The Scarecrow followed suit with the rest of the customers, handing the woman behind the counter the appropriate coupon, collecting his tray, and bee-lining for the empty seat next to his friend. He was careful with the right arm: the fresh bandages were stiffer than the earlier set, and moving against them only renewed the aching from the wounded limb.

"How do you do, Mele?" he greeted, stopping just before setting the tray down as a thought occurred to him. "You don't mind if I sit here, do you? Or are you waiting for someone?"

Sorryy for the late! /)_(\

... This really was a conspiracy, wasn't it? "'Course I don't mind," she answered. She hadn't started eating yet or anything, so it was like, perfect timing or something.

And for some reason, 'm 42' just popped into her head. The heck was that all about?

"There's really no reason to bring us here or anything, is there?" she sighed, resting her chin on her palm again. At least it was a nice change of scenery, but it didn't distance her much from the goings-on in the Entry Room, seeing as day was as far from night as the town was from the institute. ... Something like that. Something to do with the guards playing dress-up or something, so presumably it was something Landel did that they didn't get rid of.

But anyway, on to more important things. "You still okay?"

"Oh, I'm fine," the Scarecrow answered almost immediately, having had a feeling the question was coming. "Really!" And as though to prove just how fine he was (or perhaps just to avoid the topic of his fineness altogether), he prepared to get started on his meal. There was a moment of hesitation before he scooted his drink to the left side of his tray in the most inconspicuous fashion he could, keeping his right hand in his lap. It was fortunate one didn't require silverware to eat a burger.

Still, even if he was avoiding the subject because he knew Mele would worry (and likely get angry, and that didn't do any good), he felt he needed to let her know about the danger.

"Though there is something I ought to tell you," he added belatedly to his last statement. "You remember the room at the front of the Institute? The Entry Room?" Though he knew the chances were good that she did remember it, being that she'd been in there herself the night she'd been brainwashed, the Scarecrow felt he needed to preface his story. "Well, you'll never guess what I saw in there!"

... Wasn't Scarecrow right-handed...?

Oh, well. "A dead body?" Well, night had ended right after Mele had left that room, and she hadn't seen or heard anyone go in there, so maybe not. "I don't know. What?"

If the thing in question was a trap of some kind, she'd know Scarecrow had tripped it, since that guy had said it was invisible. Then again, that guy had also said that he'd walked into it when he had been outside, and had he ever answered her question of how he got the doors open? Maybe he hadn't been as badly burned as she'd thought. How sloppy, she thought, then immediately took it back. If whatever it had been hadn't been as sloppy, that guy wouldn't have warned her. Sucked to be him, though. At least Mele hadn't actually managed to burn anyone—

"You sure you're okay?" Just checking, was all.

Actually getting to his meal, the Scarecrow nearly bit his tongue off from shock at Mele's initial guess, but had time to recover as he finished the mouthful of burger. He was relieved that she wasn't serious... or at least he hoped she wasn't, given how close she'd gotten to the truth. The former strawman did not want to be the one to tell Sergeant Carter he actually had killed the Burning Man, especially after all the encouragement it had taken to convince him otherwise.

"Oh, absolutely!" the Scarecrow reassured her, dropping his burger on his plate in favor of grabbing his drink to wash down the nearly-choked-on bite. He assumed having food stuck in his throat as a human would be bad.

"But you definitely shouldn't wander through there anytime soon," he continued with an earnest look. "We were headed for the front door, only to find ourselves stopped by a man who could conjure fire, sort of like you did that one time. We don't know if he was a patient or one of Landel's guards, but something about that room just attracts flames, it seems."

Was it something she said? "Seriously, though," she said, handing over some napkins, "you okay? Is it that bad?" She didn't know; she hadn't tasted the food yet. Though she hadn't thought that pink stuff had been that bad either, so maybe it was something like that.

And, well, if the Entry Room thing had been like that time with her, then it was a patient, wasn't it? And she'd been under the impression that brainwashed patients were Landel's guards. It didn't fit into what that guy had told her, though. "Did you see him leave? Through the front door or something?"

And if the Entry Room really attracted flames, maybe they should just burn it down someday. When the revolution came, that room would be the first to go! ... Heh. Feeling a little better, Mele looked down at her food and started picking at it. Come to think of it, it resembled the food the institute served before, a little bit.

"Just fine, believe me," the Scarecrow answered with a cough, taking another sip of water to assuage the knotted feeling in his throat. "No, the food is fine. It's just that you surprised me when you wondered if there was a dead body in there. I thought for a second you'd seen him after we did."

Oh, that did require more explanation, didn't it? "You see, he attacked us when it was apparent we were headed for the exit. Sergeant Carter— thank goodness we decided to travel together after all— hit him from behind, and he burst into flames. It was just awful." There was a pause as the Scarecrow tried not to remember the exact image of the Burning Man, his body being eaten away by his own magic. It was a grim reminder of just how dangerous fire could be, whether one was made of flesh or straw.

"The point is that we got away, but Carter thought he might have... you know. He was pretty shaken by the thought, and I can't say I blame him." Another pause, then the Scarecrow put on a small smile. "I'm sure he's fine, if he was a patient- the nurses do a remarkable job of patching us back together."

Still didn't match up. Mele took a break from poking at her food and frowned. "The guy I saw said it was a trap. And that he'd been outside, so I thought..."

Was she just remembering wrong? The more Scarecrow told her about what he'd seen, the weirder it seemed to get. For one thing, had they just met different people? Or maybe the person Scarecrow had met had been roaming outside, too. That seemed reasonable enough. "What was he like? Maybe we can find him sometime."

Mele's guy wouldn't be too hard to spot; his face would be covered in bandages, even if she couldn't see under anyone's clothes to confirm whether or not he was bandaged anywhere else. Or at least, his face would be burned a little. Come to think of it, Mele wasn't really sure where he would be sporting the burn marks. Not so easy to spot, after all. Bummer.

She had been there? The Scarecrow shook his head to himself- surely Mele meant on another night, because she couldn't have possibly missed the remains of the Burning Man lying in the Entry Room after they'd left. Even if she hadn't seen him, the smell that accompanied his fiery downfall would have been hard to miss. Just remembering it made the former strawman lose his appetite.

Oh right, a description. "That's a bright idea," he remarked with an approving smile. "If we can find him, we can not only be assured of his well-being, but we can let him know we're just fine, as well. Why, I met one of the guards on the second floor during the day once— and I'd thought she was a witch the night before, given the way she wielded magic against passing patients— and she not only turned out to be pretty nice, but was glad to know she hadn't hurt anyone too badly. I'm sure the Burning Man would like to know, as well."

The Scarecrow thought for a moment, trying to remember what he'd been able to see in the dim light. "Well, he had curlier hair than mine, but it looked around the same color in the dark. He was wearing a jacket with a shirt underneath. It didn't look like a patient uniform to me, but it didn't look like something the nurses or Aguilar's soldiers would wear, either. He was about..." He stood for a basis of comparison. "He was a little shorter than I am, I think. Maybe— "

His statement ended abruptly as he attempted to show the height of the Burning Man with his hand, and in his enthusiasm to give an accurate description, had unthinkingly motioned with the bad arm. He winced and pulled his arm to him, the quick movement bringing the pain back with renewed vigor.

Well, so much for all that reassurance. The Scarecrow avoided Mele's eyes, feeling guilty.

Mele would have grabbed that arm, but quick reflexes prevented her from doing so. Rather, slower reflexes than usual—by the time she'd thought it, she hadn't done it. Dammit. Good thing or bad thing, even? She didn't want to put something like that into doubt. No—no, it wasn't doubt. It was just that her jumpiness that made her want to react like that. She'd seen plenty of bandages. But Scarecrow's reaction wasn't really any better. "I thought you said you were fine," she said grumpily.

What was the point of hiding injuries? Hmph. Speaking of injures... The description of this 'Burning Man' didn't ring a bell. Maybe a picture would help, but she had neither journal nor pen with her.

—She should have asked for her guy's name! Hello, lack of foresight. Sigh. "Anyway, that doesn't sound like anyone I know. Did he mention anything? Anyone...?"

As predicted, Mele didn't seem happy (though whether it was because he hadn't been very careful and had gotten himself injured, he hadn't been truthful with her when asked if he was all right, or some combination of the two, he couldn't tell). He slid into his seat without a word, his eyes glued on his plate. He let go of his arm, realizing that clutching it to him wasn't helping the pain running through it in the least.

"I hadn't seen him around until last night," he replied when she finally did address him again. "But there are quite a few people at the Institute, so I'm not surprised. He warned us that it was dangerous the way we were headed, and that we were sure to be hurt... or worse." Though he did his best to match the tone the Burning Man had used when he emphasized the worse part, the Scarecrow knew it probably wouldn't have the same impact in his retelling of events. It was hard to recreate that feeling of trepidation he'd felt in the air, the Burning Man standing before them, alluding ominously of what was to come.

"Of course, we didn't think he meant himself as the dangerous part," the Scarecrow continued, forcing his eyes off the table and back to Mele. "We insisted we'd be okay, but that was when he started flaring up. He didn't take it at all well when we suggested he might be a brainwashed patient. He shouted at us to go back the way we came. He lunged at us, and got a hold of my arm."

The image of his arm on fire and the intense sensations that came with it danced in his memory, still all too clear for him. The Scarecrow literally shook it from him. "It was then that Carter came to my rescue." He paused, swallowing a lump that had formed somewhere in his throat. "I don't know much about fire when it comes to human bodies, but I think I'd have been a goner if he hadn't done something."

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