DAMNED || LANDEL'S INSTITUTE

A Multifandom Asylum RPG


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Day 47: Lunch
taking matters into my own hands
idontregret wrote in damned
Heat was able to ignore the still faintly throbbing spot on his head as he was led back into the cafeteria for another meal he had no intention of eating. He kept himself from rubbing at what he knew would be a small bump because dammit it didn't hurt that much. It was embarrassing, was what it was.

At the fishy odor filling the room when he entered, the demon wrinkled his nose. How that was supposed to be the slightest bit appealing he had no idea. Then again, it wasn't always the taste that mattered. Whatever this cod was, it could very well taste better than the rotting flesh he'd gotten down the night before.

His nurse made some comment about his lack of appetite, but he wasn't paying attention. She could eat his damn lunch if she was worried about it going to waste. It wasn't his fault they didn't inform their staff properly of their patients' eating habits. The room was fairly empty too, so Heat wasn't picky with where he sat. He just hoped one of his tribemates found him before he was stuck with some other pest for the duration of the meal.

[Sasuke?]

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When the intercom went off -- and where the hell were the speakers piping it onto the field -- S.T. stood up. He brushed the gravel off his sweats. It couldn't have come at a better time.

Screw sitting around with a dude who wasn't even listening. He ignored the logical explanation. The one that pointed out the use of common reference points in triangulating a conversation. This was something S.T. had a great deal of experience doing. Communal housing would do that to a man.

He looked out again. The Scarecrow was just climbing to his feet. S.T. put a half-assed tail on him into the cafeteria. It wasn't like he had many options. If the guy wanted to sleep, S.T.'d let him. He let the cafeteria line fill his tray for him, and then executed a complex series of foot-traffic lane changes to avoid three seats his nurse tried to jostle him towards, before parallel parking his ass directly across from the target.

[for the Scarecrow]

The Scarecrow had lost sight of Sangamon in the crowd to get inside for the shift change, but just as he took his seat, he was surprised to see exactly the man he'd been trying to catch take the seat across from him. It was a pleasant surprise, but one that caused him to nearly drop his tray.

"Sangamon!" he said excitedly, regaining the balance of the tray before setting it on the table. "You must be a mind-reader. I was just trying to find you. I still can't thank you enough for the other night."

"Not unless they dicked around with more than I'd noticed." He was skimming an explanation by slivers. Like someone trying not to take the last slice of vegan chocolate cake. "Thank your roommate. He was ready to make a one-man, " (one-robot?) "strike force. All I did was keep him company."

He looked down at his plate. Mercury and PCBs, flaky and deep-fried. Cod wasn't one of the worst offenders, but it was on the chart. He grabbed a couple of French fries instead and dipped them in tartar sauce.

Are you O.K.? was not a question guys like Sangamon asked. Not when there was any possibility the answer wasn't than of course, asshole. Under the circumstances, that would be a flat-out lie. If the Scarecrow could even tell one. So he went with another open-ended question. "You wanna talk about it?"

Twiddling his fork between his fingers (and thankful for being able to feel it), the Scarecrow pushed the food around his plate. He wasn't sure why, but he just wasn't feeling hungry. It probably wasn't a good thing, but he had other issues on his mind.

"I'm not sure what else there is to talk about," he said, eyes on his tray. He was starting to suspect thinking about the clever little thing might have been what activated it. Oh, and there he was again thinking about it! The fork in his hand still felt smooth though- maybe that wasn't it after all, but it was too soon to rule it out.

"I don't mean to sound so defensive," he added. "I'm not really feeling all that well today, and I think there might be something wrong with my brain."

"You don't have to." Shellshock, or whatever fancy name it was going by in the future, wasn't out of the question. Everyone here was a little twitchy.

"But." There was always a but. No way was S.T. leaving a mystery buried when the boundaries of small talk gave him at least one more shot. "I'm a scientist. I work with things that would melt your brain out your ears on a regular basis." That was a stretch. But toxic buildup that would turn any human tissue into a feverish heavy-metal swamp studded with precancerous growths probably qualified him as an expert. "I'm just one of the good guys."

He loaded up a few more fries with canned cholesterol and flavor enhancers. Twenty years, and the FDA hadn't banned MSG? Maybe there was hope for the future after all. "The more we know, the more we can figure out what the fuck Martin Landel wants. Like that parable with the elephant. Oliphaunt? Whatever. Stop me if you've heard this one." It would have been a more believable statement if he hadn't barreled right into the story. "Five blind guys, one elephant, each of them groping a piece. Mister Ears says he's got a flying monowing. Mister Trunk thinks he's found the first warm-blooded snake. Misters Sides are sure they're on opposite sides of a wall, and Mister Tail's comment is unprintable. But none of them can see the big picture."

Funny how his brain pulled out that analogy. So many of the modifications involved sense. He had been trying to ignore the fact that a half an egg salad sandwich and his hindbrain was convinced he'd set up a picnic over a volcanic vent. It had been mostly successful, mainly because he had years of experience putting away food on jobs. Where it really did smell like someone had taken a dump in the Rice-A-Roni.

While the fable was unfamiliar to the Scarecrow, the moral Sangamon was pushing was perfectly clear. The more information the patients had on the Wizard Landel, the more likely they were to find out why they'd been kidnapped in the first place, how they could stop him, and maybe how they could get home.

Hadn't he just talked about this with Abe at breakfast? Putting their heads together was the only way to solve things. Even if it made him uncomfortable, made his head ache, or took away his beloved human senses permanently, it was important for him to share what information he had. If he couldn't face his fears and do what was right, he didn't deserve his human body and all the amenities that came with it.

"You're absolutely right," he said finally, sitting straighter with determination. "Avoiding the topic is no better than running away with my tail between my legs. Why, even my friend, the Cowardly Lion, wouldn't do that!" He nodded in agreement with his own words. Sangamon was just trying to help- it was the absolute least the strawman could do to help repay him for his kindness.

He stopped fiddling with his fork, returning it to his tray for the time being. He wasn't feeling hungry, anyway. "What do you want to know?"

Edited at 2010-02-04 02:36 am (UTC)

The ones that called him up to bitch or, worse, cry, he knew how to deal with. He made grunting noises, they went on and on, and when he could cut in, he did, and hung up.

And then got a few beers and filled his head with noise. He wasn't an epidemiologist. By the time he'd been called in, the diagnoses and the soil samples told the whole story. Not here.

"Anything you noticed. Things they did, things they said. Could be specific to you, or about the Institute." The way they grab your worst nightmare and add nuances no-one should be able to guess. "They know stuff they wouldn't get from a dust-jacket bio, so I might need a refresher on the background."

And if you run into the guy who's really running this investigation, do it all over again. He decided that wasn't really something to withhold.

"Javert, the guy I mentioned last night? He might ask the same questions. He's attacking this from the psychological side, me from the scientific." From each according to their expertise. In theory.

The Scarecrow nodded. "I don't really recall you mentioning him, to be perfectly honest," he admitted. "Most the the evening past the stairwell is a little hazy. I'll see if I can get in-touch with him somehow, especially if you think I should."

He tried to think of where he should start and put a finger to his head, his usual pose for heavy-duty thinking. "She- the doctor- said she was curious about something, and that I was going to answer a question for her, but now that I think about it, I don't really know what. She didn't outright ask me anything, I don't believe." He closed his eyes for a moment- what had been after that? Bright light, she was talking to him, tight restraints on his hands, then- that's right, the rattling that drowned out every panicked thought that crossed his mind.

Then there was that feeling that his heart crawled into his head- he could still remember vividly hearing it pounding between his ears. "She had some sort of a magical device," he continued, trying to envision what he could see of the room from his spot on the table, "And this picture appeared in front of me. I could see myself in it, as though I were a fly on the wall. And I could see my brain!" Oh, that had been a flitting moment of joy in a nightmarish evening.

"It wasn't good enough that I had a brain, though," he continued. He could still hear the doctor's piercing laugh. "She said she needed to make adjustments to it. 'What good would it do to leave things unexplored?' I couldn't figure out why someone who has experience with having a brain would say something like that."

He shook his head. "Then there was this... clever little thing she said she'd added to it. She didn't explain what it did, implying I wouldn't be able to understand it even if she did. Bah!" He ran his hand from his forehead through his hair angrily, regretting it once his had ran right over the wound. He winced briefly, putting his hands on the table before him to keep himself from doing that again. "Then she patched me up and said I'd have probably some headaches and dizziness."

He looked at his tray. "After that, she just disappeared without a trace! Then you two showed up, and you probably know more about the rest of the night that I do from that point."

"Brain surgery is an embryonic field. It can't have gotten that far in twenty years." Or the CIA had joined NASA in the legions of government agencies that managed productive science. Where productive was anything that didn't kill people intentionally. "So if they want to maintain the pretense that this is two-thousand and mumble, that fits. But if it were, you'd be flat on your back for the next week." With your immune system ground into chuck and waiting for the fever to either kill you or kill the e coli.

"The rest of it sounds like the usual script." Still, he jotted down an outline. "Any side effects? Far as I know, one out of every one poor bastards strapped to that chair ends up with some lingering symptom. Idiosyncratic. Personalized torture for the Me Generation." Maybe it would be simpler to demonstrate. "Take my nose." He tapped the offending organ with a fry. "Best portable gas chromatograph I've ever tried. Drop me anywhere in Everett and I can tell you which factories have fallen off the wagon in two sniffs." The first was to tare out the net effect of the interaction of rain and sewage drains. Human brains were wired to smell shit, for good evolutionary reasons, but sanitation and modern antibiotics had made that a secondary concern. As long as you didn't swim in it daily, you were fine.

"Now? I'd be hard-pressed to pick out anything beyond car exhaust and cigarette butts. Tinfoil in the radar." That

"Your nose hasn't worked since they got a hold of you?" he asked, surprised. He crossed his arms, stiffening a little at his naivety. It hadn't occurred to him that there were others who had been taken during the night, their senses toyed with and turned against them, as well. He was sure he'd read something about such events on the bulletin board, but he'd never really put two-and-two together. It was as though they wanted to take that best attribute a person had and tamper with it, just to see how badly they could twist it. There had to be a reasoning behind it!

"Aside from this pounding that's going on up there- I think it's more of a result from all that work she did getting into my head, mind you- there was something that happened last night when she demonstrated that clever little thing that's been happening today, too." He took a quick bite of his meal to appease his aching head, mentally prepared himself for it to happen again, just in case the clever little thing was listening somehow. "It's as though my human senses- smell and touch and whatnot- just disappear from time to time. They come back after a while, and you think I'd be used to not having them, but it's certainly distressing to lose them unexpectedly." Especially when he was so fond of them.

Edited at 2010-02-06 03:59 pm (UTC)

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