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Nightshift 42: Mystic Healing Spa and Acupuncture
scarefaux wrote in damned
The day had been nice, albeit a hungry one. The Scarecrow had given his breakfast bag to Scourge, then he'd apparently missed Lunch by wandering about and contemplating his existence and coming into the Spa and such. Thinking took up so much time, and massages seemingly took up even more. It didn't seem like it'd been very long- maybe the strong odor of the place had some sort of special effect on the human body where it made time pass faster somehow. There were so many things he couldn't explain, and he didn't feel like trying at the moment. He sat in the comfy chair with his eyes closed, attempting to learn how not to think so much. This seemed so backward. It should be thinking that was hard, not not-thinking.

At least the whole 'massage' experience had been nice, and made his body feel a lot more like his old self: loose, less stiff, more free, as strange as it sounded. The kind lady had left him to his thoughts when she was finished, encouraging him to relax for a while. Maybe that while was where all the time had gone; by the time he opened his eyes, most of the light had disappeared from outside. Surely he'd not missed the bus ride back to the institute- one would think the nurses would notice a missing patient, despite how many of them there were.

He sat up from his chair, hearing noise from the front room. Maybe it was the woman who'd led him in here, or the other one who'd given him the massage, or maybe another one of the institute's residents had come into the establishment. It didn't seem to be any of those options, but a different person altogether- someone who seemed to be having some trouble walking straight as they sort of shambled around the lobby. The Scarecrow was naturally inclined to help him- after all, he'd needed help learning to walk right, himself. Maybe this guy was also some sort of a non-human who was adjusting to a human body? That'd mean they'd have something in common, and making new friends was always high on the to-do list.

Climbing off the chair, the Scarecrow walked into the entry room and toward the unbalanced man. "You need some help, sir?" he asked, using his more formal tone. The poor guy seemed ill, and far beyond a simple lack of balance and walking grace. As the former strawman neared him, the stranger lurched at him with an unusual movement, his teeth gnashing wildly as he let loose a ghastly moan. He caught the Scarecrow by surprise- thankfully, his own unbalance was his saving grace: his ankle twisted awkwardly has he stepped backward, causing his leg to collapse sideways underneath him. The lurching man missed and fell face-first to the floor, but that didn't hinder him much. He was already making it to his feet again as the Scarecrow scrambled toward the door, still attempting to regain his own footing.

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Sora would have been more than happy to continue chatting about Demyx's band, but he was hardly so lucky. If he had been paying attention, he might have started to get worried about how much time they had to get back up to the institute before night came, but it didn't take much to distract Sora. His talk with Demyx had been enough.

That meant that when the building suddenly warped, he felt like he'd just been plunged into some kind of bad dream. It wouldn't have been the first time it had happened to him (not by a long shot), but the fact that Demyx was still at this side meant that the change was real. That included the torn-apart furniture, the coatings of dust, and the inhuman moans coming from what had just been normal shop clerks.

"Demyx!" Sora yelled, drawing closer to the Nobody out of instinct. As far as he knew they were the only two people in here, which meant that they were going to have to deal with this monster (was that even the right word?) problem on their own. "They're not human anymore!" he warned. "Like the nurses!" He wasn't sure if Demyx had ever seen a nurse at night, but he didn't have any more time to explain.

A banging sounded from behind them, against the door that led out, and Sora knew that couldn't be a good sign. Had they really been trapped down here in the town? It had happened on the buses before, but that was different. Both of them were lucky enough to have weapons that never left them, but that didn't mean this was going to be easy.

However, then Sora heard a muffled voice followed by a yell, and he immediately stiffened. Someone else was here. His eyes shot to Demyx. "Stay here and try to fight them off, okay? I'm gonna go help!" With that, he raced further into the store, preparing to dodge around whatever got in his way. He trusted that Demyx could take care of himself - regardless of what the Nobody thought, he was strong.

[ooc: I'm assuming Scarecrow is a little further into the store - hope that's okay. :X]

[You've got it- he was a couple of rooms in the place. :D]

The Scarecrow made it to the door leading to the lobby, but stopped before he grabbed the handle- it was already turning, only sort of halfway before the grip on the other side released the knob. A gurgling, sickly noise came from behind the closed door. It was unsettling, to say the least.

Taking two backward steps away from the door and the disturbing noise, the Scarecrow found himself in the arms of the man he thought he'd left on the floor. The man's torn fingernails dug into the Scarecrow's shirt and skin as his mouth made for his prey's shoulder. What followed was a feeling the Scarecrow couldn't fully describe, but it felt a lot like those somethings that had attacked his legs at the institute.

Well, it felt like that only in the sense that he didn't have time to think about it and tell himself not to panic, but he knew he wanted this man off him and to stop this unpleasant feeling as soon as possible. He was sure this had to be the human equivalent of being on fire- the sensation caused him to let out a yelp and flail in every direction possible in an attempt to get this man and whatever was wrong with him off his shoulders. He ran backwards as fast as he could manage, slamming the ill stranger into the wall as hard as possible.

"Whoa, what?" Demyx stared wide-eyed after Sora as the boy more or less left him to fend for himself against spa staff that'd started looking...well, honestly, everything had started looking as though they'd suddenly wound up in Halloween Town. Only...well, Halloween Town was creepy, yeah, but in a festive way. The creepiness was a celebration of itself.

This particular brand of creepiness - lurching stiffly toward him, with bloodied mouths - wasn't frightening in the morbidly cheerful way of the Pumpkin King's world. It was frightening in the way that things that could and would kill you in horrible, gruesome ways were frightening.

Since Demyx's kneejerk reaction to fear - running away - wasn't really viable(he couldn't just abandon Sora!), and he didn't feel right somehow killing the things when they'd been normal people only a couple minutes ago, that left keeping them away from him the only option. The water shield he'd made the night before had been good, but - as that squid monster had demonstrated - too personal and inflexible; once it had gotten close enough to beat on the shield, there'd been no way for him to drop it without giving the thing a chance to attack. He needed something that kept the zombies at bay, but at a distance.

Lucky for him, somebody had put a fountain right in the lobby.

The water cascaded out of the fountain in a thin, sparkling ribbon, broadening and flattening as it came closer to Demyx and encircling him in a wide strip of water. Although it could hardly be seen moving, he kept it spinning at a rapid rate; if the zombies touched it, the force would hopefully knock them back, if nothing else. It certainly wouldn't let them through.

Nervously, he yelled in the direction his friend had vanished. "Hurry up, Sora!"

It wasn't that Sora had wanted to abandon Demyx, but he certainly didn't intend on leaving the Nobody on his own for longer than he had to. Maybe they weren't really friends and maybe Sora had done something unspeakable to Demyx before all of this, but he wasn't going to let anything like that happen again.

As he reached the door that led into the next room, he found that there was another monster (zombie?! wasn't that what Jack had called them?) trying to get through. It didn't seem like it was actually smart enough to turn the knob on its own, but it was still in Sora's way.

Luckily, his Keyblade was more or less demanding to be summoned at the moment. Sora was surrounded by danger, and that was the requirement for calling his weapon to him these days. The flash of light that came with it seemed to disorient the zombie for a moment, and Sora used that split second to smack the thing aside with his Keyblade.

It was a good thing his wounds weren't bad enough to bother him much anymore. If he'd been in a worse state, there was no telling what might have happened. Not giving the zombie any time to recover, Sora quickly yanked the door open and raced into the hall. What he found was the patient who'd cried out pressing another zombie against the wall as if his life depended on it (and it might). Sora's eyes widened. That was one way to stop them, but definitely not the safest one.

"Get away from it!" he yelled, more a plead than an order as he ran toward the two, intending to beat the zombie back once the man got out of the way.

Thankfully, the creature released his grip upon a second pounding into the wall, allowing the Scarecrow to follow the directions called to him. He pushed away from the sickly man, tripping on one of his own feet and landing on the floor a few feet from him. He spun on the floor, trying to figure out who his rescuer was. The door he'd not wanted to open was open now, and there stood a young man with a sword that sort of resembled some sort of giant key. Hey, so long as it was a viable way to defeat these... whatever they were, he couldn't complain.

He put a hand on his shoulder where the thing had- well, what was it he'd done? Whatever it was, that stinging, awful sensation wasn't going away. He only lightly touched the wound, only to pull his hand away. He wasn't sure what exactly had happened. Everything had been going so well, and now this!

[ooc: We're skipping Demyx until we get back to him. :3]

Sora was grateful that the man had listened, although he hadn't intended for the poor guy to trip over his own feet in the process. Sora knew that he wouldn't have the time to run over, help the man up, and run back before the zombie reached them, which meant there was really only one other option.

Luckily, fighting was second nature to Sora -- even though the Heartless didn't usually get quite as grotesque as this. Still, the forms Ansem had taken on during their last battle hadn't exactly been pretty, and so the Keyblade Master wasn't deterred.

He rushed the zombie, swiping at it with his Keyblade. As expected, all he could really do was thwack the thing with it. The blade didn't slice through the zombie like it had when Sora had fought Xigbar a few nights back, and he was ashamed to admit that he missed the feeling already. The zombie started to reach out for him, but Sora quickly ducked.

"Run toward the front room!" he called over his shoulder. "I'll catch up!" He should at least be able to keep the zombie at bay until the other patient could get to Demyx.

[Can do~]

No time to think about that nasty wound! The Scarecrow got back on his feet and adjusted them accordingly and made a dash for the door, staying out of the way of the key-wielding lad and the monster who had attacked him. He was amazed at the skill this boy had with his weapon, and figured he'd have to learn some sort of similar tricks to defend himself. Simply trying to avoid things didn't seem to be working well as far as keeping his human body in good condition.

Speaking of avoiding monsters, he really wasn't doing so good of a job of that, either. His dash into the hallway landed him in the arms of the creature who had been outside the door, and had apparently also made it back on his feet. The Scarecrow's dash was a little faster and less controlled than anticipated, and he ended up shoving the monster down by accident. He caught himself on the wall as the monster hit the floor a second time, uttering an apology reflexively before making his way toward the front room.

The sight that greeted him there simply added onto the bizarreness of the whole situation. "A... a wizard?" he asked himself quietly, not sure what he was seeing exactly.

Thus far, Demyx's water centrifuge (there wasn't another word for it, really, or at least not one he could think of - heck, he was pretty proud of himself for recalling the word 'centrifuge' in the first place; he thought maybe Vexen had mentioned it once) was working pretty well at keeping the zombies at bay. It took a lot of concentration to keep the water moving at a speed too intense for them to penetrate when they lurched against it, powerful enough to knock them away while simultaneously not powerful enough to simply rip through their flesh when they touched it; it was kind of a delicate balance, and Demyx could feel his ability to maintain it wavering dangerously.

So when a not zombified person appeared, gaping at him, he was a little relieved - hopefully that meant Sora would be reappearing any second, too, and they could get out of here. "Uh, hey," he offered with a vaguely sheepish grin. What was he supposed to say to a normal person in these situations? Someone who apparently hadn't been forewarned about water-controlling Nobodies? After a brief pause for thought, he said rather weakly, "Don't mind me?"

Sora was relieved to hear the stranger's retreating footsteps. If he'd stayed around to argue about it, that would have just distracted the boy, which was the last thing he needed right now.

In a way, it was a good thing that he'd gotten into that fight with Xigbar the other night; it had sharpened his reflexes and put him back into practice with fighting things that were humanoid. Compared to Xigbar, this zombie was as slow as molasses, and so Sora was able to get another strike in with his Keyblade as he stood from his crouch.

Even though he had the thing cornered against the wall, his attacks didn't appear to be doing much damage. The thing didn't even make any pained noises; it just kept up that loud moaning.

Sora heard a noise from behind him and realized that the zombie from before had finally made its way through the door. That at least meant that the other patient had made it back to Demyx safely, but now he was cornered.

Well, nothing said he had to kill them. He wasn't even sure that was possible, and he'd rather return to the other two as quickly as he could. Sora broke away from the zombie he'd been fighting and then raced back toward the door and the other approaching zombie. At the last moment, he fell into a baseball slide, crashing into the thing's legs and knocking it over before scrambling to his feet and rushing through the opening into the front room.

He slammed the door behind him.

Both Demyx and the stranger seemed all right, but there were still two zombies left in the room: the clerks from before. Sora tightened his grip on his Keyblade, ready to continue the fight.

"Demyx!" he yelled. "We need to figure out if they have a weak point!" He started for the Nobody and couldn't help but be reminded of when he and Axel had fought side-by-side.

[ooc: These two zombies are technically bosses, I think, so I'm going to put in an NPC request for them. :3]

Unfortunately, Cassia and Jade's love of inner peace hadn't made it into dusk. The two clerks-turned-monsters launched into motion as soon as they picked up the scent of life, one lunging for the boy with the oversized key while the other made for Demyx. The gangrenous stench of the room was thickened by a sickening hint of patchouli, and though the two clerks themselves were soundless, the air filled with tortured moans that curled up from beneath the wooden floor.

They moved like marionettes, halting but in no way slow, and their formerly tan skin was blotched with coagulated blood. Cassia's hand shot out for Sora's arm, bony fingers twisted like overgrown claws, but Jade didn't bother grabbing. Black lips pulled back to reveal blacker teeth and she lurched forward as if pushed by unseen arms.

Demyx shot Sora a baffled look. "Zombies don't have weak points!" he yelled back - at least, no points any weaker than you could find on a standard human, and probably a few less. He wasn't sure if he was drawing that entirely from his knowledge of them from Halloween Town or if he'd heard about zombies when he was human, too, but that at least seemed pretty obvious.

The two zombies seemed to be more aggressive now; one kept trying to get past his water barrier, while the other lunged towards Sora. "Can't we just run?" he shouted, taking an uneasy step backwards. Why did they have to stay and fight them at all, anyway?

That there might be even more zombies outside didn't really occur to him.

While Sora knew that running was sometimes the only logical course of action, he also knew that it would only work for so long. If they kept running then they were just going to end up with a huge trail of zombies after them - and really, where was there to run to?

Besides, these two zombies seemed even more aggressive than the others. He didn't think they would let them get away so easily.

Either way, he didn't get the chance to answer the Nobody - one of the zombies grabbed him by the arm, pulling it away from his weapon, and Sora had to use his other arm to strike at its shoulder with his Keyblade. He wasn't sure how well that was going to deter it, though.

"Everything has a weak point!" he yelled as he kicked at the zombie's shin with his right foot. That was often how it had worked with the Heartless, after all -- and even with some of the monsters back at the institute. Sora hadn't encountered anything that was unbeatable, so he refused to believe that these things were.

[Hopping back in here!]

A water-wielding wizard, the kid with the key, and now the formerly-kind-ladies-turned-monsters- this was certainly turning into a strange and decidedly stressful predicament. It only got worse when one of the girls grabbed the key-carrier and the other made for the watery wizard with gnashing teeth. They seemed to really like biting folks, like some sort of animal. That couldn't possibly be a good thing, considering how dreadful their teeth looked.

There were bigger problems afoot than the oral hygiene of the massage therapists- for example, they were being attacked. The Scarecrow was thankful to have been saved from the clutches of one of these... well, whatever they were, and now it was time to try to return the favor. That thought in mind, he started looking around for something, anything with which he could try to help the two other patients.

Cassia ignored the bludgeoning for the moment. With one hand still keeping an inhumanly tight grip on Sora's arm, she clawed for the boy's face with the other. She would close a hand over his mouth, and if that failed she'd grab for his hair. After that, biting deep into the flesh of his neck should be simple. The kick to her shin caused a loss of balance and she stumbled backward a step or two but didn't loosen her grip. While that might have deterred a weaker zombie, Cassia's bones weren't so easily shattered.

The other woman-turned-zombie gnashed at the barrier for a couple moments more before abruptly changing course and aiming for the Scarcrow - a far easier target. After a couple lurching steps Jade launched herself bodily, jaw wide open and seeking purchase on the closest limb.

Oh, crap.

As soon as the zombies lost interest in him, Demyx dropped the water barrier - still clinging to control of it, because he obviously still needed it, but redirecting the energy. He didn't know what Sora had planned, but...they couldn't just kill the zombies, could they? But he didn't know why else Sora would want to know their weak points(if they even had them any more than a regular person did, which Demyx still doubted). And, well...destroying things that used to be human was kind of something Sora had done a lot of without thinking too much about it. Especially when those things were hostile.

His control over the water was wavering dangerously, now, and he only had a couple of seconds to think of a way to save Sora and the other guy with it - so, rather than finesse, Demyx simply went with instinct, gathering the water in two round balls and launching them, one at each zombie, each moving with all the speed and give of a fastball pitch. "Don't kill them!" he yelled - mostly at Sora, since the other guy looked pretty much at a loss and unarmed, to boot.

Honestly, Sora hadn't expected for the thing to suddenly grab for his face like that. It wasn't a common strategy, so it took him by surprise. He felt one of its claws cut into his cheek and bit down on his lip to battle the pain.

It was being really grabby with him, and the close range they were at made it hard to use his Keyblade. He needed at least a little bit of space if he wanted to get some good hits in. If he could just force the tip of his Keyblade through its chest, maybe that would do the trick...

Sora struggled to get out of its grip, jamming a knee up towards its torso as he yanked both of his arms back. "Get off me!" he snapped.

He heard Demyx's voice among all of his effort, though, and was forced to pause out of shock. "What?" he yelled. "But--!" These things were attacking them! One of them had already bitten the stranger, and they definitely weren't letting up now. What other choice did they have?

The Scarecrow had barely gotten his hands on a jar of strangely long needles and turned around before he found himself knocked to the floor by a lunging, most vile-looking woman. He wasn't sure if she was one of the ladies he'd seen earlier, but her now-sagging skin reminded him, in a sort of twisted and disturbing fashion, of his own burlap face from back home. Her gnarled teeth looked and smelled much worse close up.

"I hate to interrupt your conversation, boys," called the Scarecrow in a shaky tone as he struggled poorly to keep the snarling lady off him, "But these things aren't getting any friendlier!"

In a desperate attempt to keep her teeth from connecting with him, the Scarecrow shoved the jar into the face of the monster woman, hoping to ram the object into her mouth and keep himself from getting any further damage. He already had one nasty bite and more bruises from landing on the floor several times- he did not need more injuries for his collection.

A release of breath something like a low hiss emitted from Cassia's rotting lips as the wall of water hit her. That, along with Sora's jab, was enough to get the zombie to relinquish its hold on the boy. It didn't go easily, however, clawed fingers digging deep as it pulled away.

Jade's cry of anger was muffled around the jar now firmly wedged into it. It wouldn't hold for long, but for now the Scarecrow was free of her teeth. The water that hit her wasn't as much of a deterrent as it had been to the other, given her current position. Her sharp nails were put to good use as she continued to try and get at the man.

Having relinquished the last of his hold on the water after flinging it at the zombies, Demyx knew the time had come for him to grab an actual physical weapon - and fast, since both of the others were being attacked, which didn't give him much time to find something. It didn't help that the spa clearly hadn't been set up with anything much in the way of impromptu zombie combat weaponry in mind, either. Which, given the town's proximity to the institute, just seemed plain irresponsible.

In the end, Demyx simply grabbed a nearby chair by the legs - but nearly fell to his knees as he took his first step, finding to his own astonishment that his legs were as shaky and tired as if he'd just run a marathon. He hadn't even realized just how much using his water had drained him.

Still, it wasn't so bad he couldn't manage - yet; he didn't like to think what he'd be like if he tried to mess with any more water for awhile - and he didn't have much time to waste. Hoisting the chair, he charged the nearest zombie with it, the one attacking the stranger. But rather than try to actually smack it with the chair(which would have been hard, tiring, and possibly more fatal than he wanted - zombies didn't really hold together too well, as a rule), he simply used it to forcibly shove the zombie away, keeping it at arm's length. "Head for the door!" he hissed urgently at the guy he'd freed. Then, louder, he yelled back to Sora, "They used to be people!" And might be people again, eventually - who knew? Maybe even as soon as the sun rose. But if they destroyed them...

Sora's own efforts combined with the water attack Demyx sent at the zombie was enough to get it to let go of him, but not without giving him a nasty scratch down his upper arm. Sora clenched his teeth in pain, but he knew that he now had an opening to either attack or run.

Through the darkness he could vaguely tell that Demyx had grabbed a chair and was holding the second zombie back with it. Seeing how the Nobody had just helped him, it seemed wrong to keep arguing with him about something like this. Sora knew that the zombies used to be people, but he wasn't sure that killing them would actually get rid of them for good. He knew that countless monster nurses had been killed by patients, and yet the number of them that he saw during the day never seemed to decrease.

Still, there wasn't the time to explain that now, and it wasn't like he knew for sure. If Demyx was intent on them running, then Sora wasn't going to put them in more danger by digging his heels in. Besides, the stranger was already injured -- it might be best if they tried to find someplace safe, even though he didn't think such a place existed.

"All right!" he yelled back, keeping a hold on his Keyblade as he tried to run past the zombie that had been after him.

Thankful to be freed, the Scarecrow scrambled away from the presumed-wizard and the possessed woman he was keeping at bay with a chair. He clumsily got to his feet with one hand on his wounded shoulder and made it to the front door of the establishment as ordered- he didn't want to insult the wizard, after all. This one seemed like he could back up any threats.

The Scarecrow reached the door, turned the knob, and opened it, only to shut it a second later. "I don't think we should use this door!" he called to the two fighters as he turned around. The door shifted behind him as something on the other side moaned and clawed at the wood. He put his weight into the door, making sure it was fully closed before taking a step away from it. "There's a lot more of these things outside! Surely there's another way out!"

Cassia wasn't finished. Though knocked back by their combined efforts, she wasn't out of commission by a long shot. After he was clear, she simply lunged at him again. Mouth wide open, she had every intention of sinking her teeth into any open bit of flesh she could.

The other zombie was still struggling with the jar, and eventually settled for crashing her head into the nearest bit of furniture. The jar shattered, leaving bits of glass sticking to rotting portions of her face and a single acupuncture needle piercing her bottom lip. That went ignored. She was slower to rejoin the effort then the other woman, circling around the group for the best opening.

Well, the zombie Demyx had shoved away seemed like it wasn't going to rush in again right away, which gave Demyx the chance to shift closer to the path Sora was taking past him and brandish his chair at the other zombie trying to catch the boy. He wasn't quite sure what they should do - especially if they couldn't go out the front door; that was...not good - but at least they'd be able to fight better once they were all in a group, right?

To a given value of 'fight', anyway. A chair was not exactly Demyx's weapon of choice, against zombies or anything else.

"I, uh, don't know if there's another way out," he admitted as he began to back away from the zombies, toward Sora and the stranger. "Do you, Sora?" Oh, this was not looking good. Maybe destroying these things was the only chance they had...no matter how much he might not like the idea.

Despite his and Demyx's best efforts, the zombie still got what it wanted. Sora felt its body press against him for a split second, and then there was the sharp, red-hot pain of a bite that started at the back of his neck and throbbed outward. Sora groaned in pain and then flung himself around to face the thing, jabbing at it with his Keyblade out of instinct. Demyx didn't want them attacking the things, but when it became a matter of self-defense Sora wasn't sure that he could do anything else.

The pain was so bad that he could feel his vision blurring - or were those tears? - and yet he fought to keep control of the situation. Now wasn't the time to panic!

"There might be a back exit," he guessed, holding his weapon in front of him in hopes of warding the zombie off. He wanted desperately to feel at his wound and assess the damage, but part of him was also dead scared to. Just judging by pain, it was bad, and he shivered as he felt some of his blood start to run down his back.

"Either way, we need to either fight or run!" he said decisively. If they didn't do something, they were going to get even more hurt, and they could only take so much.

Not only had the one lady managed to sink her teeth into the boy with the key, but now the other had managed to get the jar out of her mouth in the most painful-looking way possible. Just seeing the pieces puncturing her skin gave the Scarecrow weird, crawling feelings that he couldn't explain and wasn't sure he wanted to try.

No matter- the problem at hand was that they were left without an exit. Running around these ladies seemed like a feasible idea, though the question of how fast could they run immediately came to mind. Maybe running wasn't such a good idea.

His shoulder throbbed most unpleasantly, but he didn't have time to put thought into it- they couldn't stay here, or they'd be sure to get more injuries. "Well we can't just stay here!" he vocalized, agreeing with the key-carrier. "They're doing a pretty good job of tearing us apart thus far!"

Teeth bared in what looked like a horrid, bloody grin on her ruined face, Cassia pulled away after successfully biting Sora. It was as though her desire to tear into them had been temporarily sated, and the boy was no longer her primary target.

It was then that Jade gave a roar and dove for Demyx, knocking aside chairs and a shelf full of lotions on her way. It had become an odd sort of dance of the dead, a ritualistic cannibalization.

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