[center [font "High Tower Text" 2013 Deadwood, South Dakota. Population: 1,263]]
[center [font "High Tower Text" 25th January started out as a normal day for most of the people in this small city. Men and women went about their daily routines, clocking in at work or going to school…normal things on a normal day.]]
[center [font "High Tower Text" However, it was not a normal day. No one could have been prepared for what was to come that evening. John Roberts planned on making a name for himself and he was not going to let anyone forget the 25th January. That evening he looked over his plans one last time, checking for every last detail to make sure that he could pull off his plan without too much interference. His target: Gold Dust Casino and Hotel. It was the perfect place really. Many of the residents of Deadwood spent their Friday nights drowning in liquor and emptying their pockets so there would be plenty of people there but with it being such a small city, security was not exactly as tight as it should have been. He would be able to get a gun in there without any problems.]]
[center [font "High Tower Text" That night, at 10pm sharp he walked straight into the bathroom stalls and looked at himself in the mirror, smiling to himself as though he was about to commit a grand act of righteousness, when really it was a massacre that he was about to ensure. He reached into his bag and pulled out his assault rifle and pulled on the ski mask and took one last look at his reflection. It would be the last time he would see it. At that moment he walked out of the bathroom and unleashed his weapon upon innocent employees and customers.]]
[center [font "Ideal Sans Medium" John Roberts, age 19 was shot dead by officers at 10:28pm this evening. Final deaths and casualties are not yet know but we can confirm that 23 have been found dead and 102 have been injured or are in critical condition.]]
[center [font "High Tower Text" We are the survivors, the family of the murderer, the officers who attended the scene on that terrible night. It is now 2019 but the city has not forgotten and many have not moved on. Whoever you are, you have a story to tell. What is your story?]]
[center [font "High Tower Text" Were you a survivor? Were you an officer? Are you related to the murderer? Did you lose someone special? Were you simply a person who switched on the TV to hear about such a horror?]]
[center [font "High Tower Text" I have a very specific plot in mind for this. One that I will introduce through my two characters but I want people to pad out this story. If you are interested, please message me. I haven’t got a skeleton for you to complete because I want your characters to develop throughout the RP but I want to know who you are planning on playing before we start. My two characters will be introduced through an introduction post. One is a survivor, the first to call 911. The other is a mystery…for now...the introduction posts will give some indication about the plot too!]]
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Willow never imagined that this would be the kind of greeting she would get from her father. An apology. Something that she had been craving for all these years. She had not expected it and it hit her like a slap on the back. It was like it had pushed out a breath she had apparently been holding for the last two years, at least. It was as though she had something wedged in her throat and it had been dislodged, allowing the oxygen to flow freely through her body. Of course, this was only the first step to mending bridges. He was only one half of the duo she had besmirched when she packed up her car and moved to Maryland. She still needed to appeal to her mother’s better nature and she was fully prepared for a challenge.
[b “It’s okay Dad. It’s done. I’m home now.”] At least things were not going to be too difficult with her father. He would accept her for the person she was now. Neither of them had been there six years ago. Neither one of them had been prepared for how such an ordeal would change their daughter, nor did they offer her the support she had needed in the aftermath. She had been hounded by the press, asking for statements, dubbing her a hero when all she really wanted was to be left alone. They had tried to encourage her to talk about it then, to speak to the press as though she had saved the lives of all the people who had walked out that night. The only person she had wanted to speak to was a professional. Someone who could help her deal with her the emotional turmoil she had become trapped in but they cared far too much about image. Speaking to a professional would bring into question her mental state and one could not have that. In Maryland, she didn’t have their boundaries and restrictions. There she enlisted the help of a shrink throughout her studies, she had started to piece herself back together.
[+blue “We should have listened to you. We should have helped you instead of chastising you for your decisions. I hold so much regret for the distance between us and I take responsibility for it. We are your parents. We were supposed to protect you.”] Willow could hear the sincerity of his regret lacing the tone of his voice. It was obvious to her that he had been thinking about this for a long time.
[b “Why didn’t you come to see any of my shows? Why did you not try sooner to reconcile with me Dad? I would have accepted you with open arms.”] The man shook his head and held up his hands in defeat.
[+blue “I have no excuses. I have no justifiable reason for letting you walk out of those doors feeling the way you did. I should have flew out there to see you. I know I should have but…”]
That was when she saw her mother. She didn’t seem to hold the same relief as her father did. In fact, it seemed as though her presence here was an unnecessary hassle. The woman looked her over with obvious contempt and that was when the pit in Willow’s stomach seemed to deepen. Here mother was not as pleased to see her as her father was.
[+green “You’ve lost weight again.”] What a greeting.
[i Thanks Mom. Good to see you too. Are you going to take that stick out your ass and actually show some emotion towards the daughter you failed?] How she wished she could say something like that to her.
[+green “I didn’t think you would actually come home. I would have prepared your room for you but…I didn’t believe you’d be here.”]
[b “It’s fine…I can…”] She was interrupted.
[+green “Why now? Why even bother?”]
[+blue “Georgina! That’s our daughter you are talking to.”]
[+blue Well Sebastian, should I be happy after everything she put us through?”]
[b “Dad, it’s fine. I’m obviously not welcome here. I’m…going to check into a hotel. This is for the two of you.”] She handed him the wrapped box and hesitated for a moment before kissing his cheek. [b “I’ll text you.”] She turned to look at her mother, obviously without a care that she would not be staying at home and with a heavy heart she walked straight back out of the door.
Perfect! What a great start!
Climbing into her car, she tried not to let the anger consume her as she drove towards the center of town so that she could check into one of the few hotels in town. Once she parked her car she climbed out, throwing her bag over her shoulder and made her way into the town. It felt strange being here again and that feeling in the pit of her stomach returned as she neared the casino. She had to walk by it to get to the hotel but she didn’t expect it to make her feel like she did all those years ago. Her pace slowed and she stared at the building, feeling that familiar fear begin to creep in.
[center It was so easy to get caught up in everything. The familiar sights, scents, moments. Much of what Octavian was experiencing reminded him of how things used to be when he was still there, and he almost ached to turn back time. Set things right. Avoid what he knew to be unavoidable. But such notions were pointless with no means of executing them, so it only amounted to self torture. Sipping graciously at his water, he vaguely wondered where Saoirse had gotten off to.
“Come, come. Into the kitchen, I’ll fix you something small before dinner.”
Well, he sure as hell wasn't going to complain about that. “Maybe keep it light, Mama? I’m still a little unsettled from the ride.” And the thought of going into town. Suddenly, being here with his parents posed no threat, so the ever looming fear of town and all its mourning was all that haunted him.
“Sure thing. Maybe just apples?”
Fair enough. He nodded, trailing after her with his water.
Here, everything felt to be in order, unlike what was going on beyond their property line, and something about that sense of control was almost too good to give up. But they couldn’t hide here forever.
Which was precisely why he and Saoirse stayed through dinner, decided to forgo unpacking until later that night, and had made the drive into town. There were really only a couple of things that had changed as far as shops or anything else. The rest remained the same. Well, almost the same. Something about the atmosphere here was heavy. As if they were looking at a shell or shadow of what their town used to be.
“Come on, it’s not that bad.”
“It’s like walking through a morgue. It’s not the same energy. Everything’s too quiet. The magick’s gone.”
“That’s all in your head.” Saoirse insisted. “If that was really the case, this place would be a ghost town.”
“Yeah, well, not everyone can afford to just leave their lives behind, you know?”
Okay, he had a point there. Not everyone could just pick up and leave. Some had their entire lives wrapped up in this town, too close to the heart of it to cut themselves free.
“Let’s get something sweet and visit that old shoppe we used to like?”
“Sure.” They should’ve stayed home. This was a huge mistake.
Pulling up to her old house, Willow could not help but allow the feeling of trepidation to swim over her. It was not simply being back in the town that had changed her life but the idea of seeing her parents again. It had been at least two years since they had seen each other at all, which in hind sight was a long time when it came to seeing the people who were responsible for giving her life but it was not just on her.
She had been travelling across the US and even spent a small fraction of time in Paris for her art exhibitions. Her art was so important to her and actually seemed to provide her with an outlet for whatever emotions she had been bottling up. For the most part, she owed a lot to the medium she had chosen to partake in, even if her parents didn’t seem to value her career choices. For each one of her exhibitions, she had extended an open invitation to her parents but every single time they ‘politely declined’ and sent flowers, yet when she did the same for birthdays, she was the bad guy. Since when did the relationship become such a one-way thing?
The issue was that she didn’t become a doctor or a lawyer like her parents wanted. They wanted a profession for Willow, yet she chose to make something of her hobby and while they would never admit it aloud, they hated the fact that she had become so successful within her field because that meant that all their arguments about her never amounting to anything were void. She amounted to a lot in the art world. People paid good money for her work and her exhibitions attracted and lot of attention.
Perhaps her gift to them would go some way to making a mends. Willow worked with clay mostly, allowing her hands to bring the material to life in a way that no one else could. Her gift to them was a model of the three of them, based on a picture that she treasured throughout her travels across the US. Hopefully then, they would see that she didn’t leave because of them, but because if she did not, she might have lost who she was entirely.
Willow took a deep breath as she climbed out of the car, locking it after picking up the wrapped gift box. She did not need to unpack her things now and this town was relatively safe…at least from petty crimes like theft. She shuddered at the thought of this town even coming close to safe but in the six years since the disaster she could honestly say that the rates of crime here had not increased. One major disaster. A blip on the almost unblemished record of Deadwood criminal activity.
She didn’t even knock on the door. Her parents had told her not to. Perhaps that was too formal, something that would make it seem as though there was too much distance between them. As she entered she was instantly greeted by the familiar scent of the burning candles that her mother always lit to ward away evil spirits. Willow wasn’t much of a spiritual person. At least not since…
A deep breath had her calming her nerves as she heard movement in the kitchen.
[b “Hello?”] She called out quietly and the movement all but stopped, her father’s face popping around the door frame, greeting her with a smile as if there had been no hard feelings between them all this time.
[+blue “Pumpkin, you’re home.”] He wrapped his arms around her and held her tight. Willow could have sworn he had breathed in the scent of her too, as if to remind himself of what it was like to have her in his arms. [+blue “Welcome home. I’ve missed you.”] The sentiment made her eyes sting and she had to close them to stop the tears from falling. He pulled back from her and looked her over, tears threatening the corners of his own eyes. [+blue “Oh…Pumpkin…I am so sorry! I was wrong… about everything!”]
Validation. Oxygen…She could breathe again.
[center This was going to be an experience. They’d hardly arrived and already, his parents were hurrying out to greet them. It was such a stark difference to the sight he’d been left with on the day of his departure—imprinted on his memory to ream him with guilt at every spare opportunity. Now they looked as though they couldn’t have been happier. Instead of sad, pain-laced contempt, their eyes were bright and hopeful, and oddly, that made his eyes sting.
He blinked away the sensation, straightening up out of the car and automatically accepting his mother, as he had so many times before, to exchange a warm hug. She lingered for as long as she could before turning her affections on Saoirse, and the moment she released him, his father moved in to take her place.
“It’s good to see you. Well, what’s left of you. Where’d it go?”
“My diet’s changed a lot.”
“Didn’t know air was a diet now, but I guess there’s a fad for everything nowadays.” He joked, ruffling his son’s hairs.
Saoirse was babbling away with Octavian’s mum, already linked arm in arm with her as they made their way for the door. Which meant he and dear old dad had the privilege of bringing up the luggage. There wasn’t much anyway, thankfully.
“Any idea how long you’ll be with us?”
“Hopefully for a while. You know, spend some time and all that.”
“Well, you know you’re always welcome here at home.”
Yes... now, he guessed he did know. It still felt so strange. Perhaps time really did have a way of mending things. At least, some things. Not perfectly. Not completely. But [i enough].
“Heard you bought a house?”
“Yeah, we were both just over the whole lease thing. If one of us moves out first, the other would stay of course, but it’s our place, you know? A home until we decide otherwise.”
“Definitely. Speaking of, we have to come back out for Artemis and Dahlia.”
“Yeah, I saw them snoozing in the back. I’ll come fetch them once we dump these upstairs.”
The moment they crossed the threshold it was like stepping back about a decade. Nostalgia slammed Octavian from all sides. Down to the subtlest scents, and he found himself missing home—even as he was stood there in the foyer. It was a crazy thing, really. He couldn’t recall the last he’s felt so... comforted. Just [i being] there.
His father dropped off the bags and headed back out to fetch the cats, and he made his way for the salon, plopping down to get comfortable. It was wonderful to stretch out after so long spent in the car.
“Is everything still relatively the same?” He asked as his mother came through with a glass of cool water for him.
“More or less. Things have definitely moved in a more positive direction. Of course, you know it takes a long time for a community to recover, but... we’ll get there. I’m just glad you made it out of all of that safe. I don’t know what I would’ve done. I think often about if I had been one of those mothers speaking of her loss...”
“Mama, don’t think about such terrible things—thank you.” He acceptes the glass and curled upright, propping himself diagonally in the nook of the sofa.
“I’d just say, maybe just prepare yourself for when you go into town. It can be overwhelming, I think. Especially lately.”
[i Great.] That bad, huh? ]
It was not a short journey. Most would have caught a flight from Maryland back to Deadwood, South Dakota but she didn’t want to ship her art home through a courier. Willow didn’t trust anyone else with it so she opted to take the long 24-hour drive. It’s not like her car couldn’t take the journey. It was quite reliable and hadn’t caused her any problems up to this point. After working in two overnight stops and several rest breaks into her journey, she knew that she had done the right thing.
When she was driving, she didn’t have to think. She could have her music blasting through the car with the roof down when it got too hot in the blazing sun. Of course, it would have been easier and probably a lot more enjoyable if she had company but her friends were no longer here to enjoy the luxuries of road trips, or the pure joy that one got from singing Queen songs at the top of your lungs on an open deserted road. It had been one of their favourite things to do when they were younger. They’d take pointless road trips with no real destination just to enjoy the journey, the gossip and the awful screeching of three tone deaf teens.
For the most part, Willow had succeeded in avoiding thoughts of the friends that had come to pass and of the disaster that had changed her life. Although, it was surprising to her that, with the anniversary looming over her, she had managed to go two whole days without so much as thinking about it. The driving had definitely been the distraction that she had needed. Willow had even managed to get some proper food into her body throughout her journey, even if it was simply due to snacking on something as she drove. That was still more than she had eaten in the last five days.
Soon enough though, her distractions came to an end as she drove past the sign that welcomed her home to Deadwood. The creepy image of the cowboy with the ridiculously long moustache still made her screw up her face. She could have produced something that was much less of an eye sore than this but was something that the town would never likely change. Next to it was something new though. Something she had not seen before. Willow frowned and slowed the car, pulling it closer so that she could inspect it further. That was when she pulled her car to a complete halt and climbed out of it.
[b “They finally did it.”] Her voice was barely even a whisper. Upon the new brick structure lay individual plaques; the names of the massacre victims neatly engraved upon each one with their dates of living printing in small text underneath. Some even had quotes or persons anecdotes about the victim who had been subjected to a name on a wall; a corpse in a grave a mile into the town. The sight brought tears to her eyes. Even more so when she found the names she had been subconsciously scanning for.
[center [b Rebekah Evans]]
[center [b Louise Shaw]]
[center [b Harrison Dimelow]]
Best friends. Boyfriend.
At least they were being remembered, commemorated in some way. She allowed herself a minute to shed a few more tears before she gathered herself and climbed back into the car, wiping at her eyes as if she couldn’t let anyone see that she had been crying. Her relationship with her parents had already been fractured by her departure from her home town but if she returned just as depressed as she had been when she had left the first time, they would never let her leave again. Now she forced herself to focus on other things one more, allowing herself to concentrate on the bends in the road until she reached the edge of town where her parents lived. She hoped that she only had to stay with them for a short while until she could find a place of own. Willow needed studio space so for that reason she couldn’t envisage sharing a space with anyone unless she really had to.
She hadn’t wanted to share anything with anyone since that day.
“Turn. It. Down!”
Silence flooded the room, Saoirse posted in the doorway with two mugs of cocoa, still in her house clothes despite the waning morning hour. The disapproval on her visage was too comical to take seriously, and Octavian would have been lying if he claimed not to find her amusing most of the time.
“Well, if you’re keen to deafen yourself, have at it, but try to show a little mercy toward the cats.”
Oh. She had a point there. They’d been housemates for how long now? Few months? It had definitely been a transition from living in exclusively separate abodes. Granted, it wasn’t like they were a couple. This was just something they’d decidedly done together. Save a beautiful old house and get everything they want in the process. Well, and everyone. Most lease contracts tended to ban felines or dogs. Not that it would be a problem anymore now that they were homeowners.
“Nearly packed for the trip?”
“Just finished,” Octavian confirmed, accepting the mug graciously. She always had great timing with these things. He could have cried at the homemade whip that topped it.
They would be out of there within the next couple of hours, and he hadn’t a clue why, but they’d be returning back home just in time for that anniversary. Which happened to be just about the most depressing and traumatic time to be memorialising this way, but he guessed it was mostly for the community to show that the victims had not been forgotten—living or dead.
Except, he very much wanted to forget. Saoirse, thankfully, hadn’t been caught up in that mess, but he’d been there, and it wasn’t exactly something you wanted thrown in your face. He’d had his brush with mortality. All he wanted now was to forget about it and move forward.
“Hey, still there?”
“Where did you go?”
“Oh...” Nowhere special. “Just distracted.”
“Well, not too distracted, yeah? We’re leaving soon.” She reminded him, pointing in mock threat as she left the room. “SOON.”
“Okay,” he chuckled, waving her off. He loved her to death. She had such a bright personality. It was one of the things that had drawn him to her, back when they had first become friends. How long had it been now? Ten, eleven years?
Octavian finished his packing, picked out a set of clothes, and tossed himself into the shower. Apparently, Saoirse was way ahead of him, already squeaky clean and singing somewhere down the hall. He scrubbed madly at his head, sure that it was nervous energy that was making him like this when the door opened again.
“What’s your progress?” Cabinet opened, shut.
“Just washing my hair and then I’m done. Hey,” he began, pulling the curtain a bit. “You think this is really a great idea? The timing?” Saoirse was stood before the mirror, dressed already, towel draped at her shoulders and hair dryer in hand.
“Not the best timing, but about time we went. Maybe this will be good for you. You’ve got to get past all of this shit with your family, and maybe while we’re at it, we can try to get past this whole tragedy, too.”
He was already beyond all that, though. It was that place that kept dragging everyone back into it!
“Finish washing,” She shooed him, waving a hand and flipping the switch to blow out her cropped blue waves. “It’ll all be all right! You’ll see!”
How could he doubt her?
The drive in had been long and relatively without incident. In fact, they’d had a pretty good thing going there. Endless road trip, great tunes, [i snacks]. Now as they passed the welcome sign, Octavian crossed himself dramatically and sank lower in the passenger seat.
“Pfft, you’re ridiculous.”
“Trust me, we need to enlist the help of God.”
“Unbelievable.” She shook her head, navigating the winding roads with ease. They drove through wood, then moors, then more wood, then hit farmland. Farther along they’d hit town, but they would have to stop off at the house first.
“Promise if we get through introductions that we’ll spend the evening in town.”
Octavian cast a suspicious glance her way. “I’ll hold you to it.”
Willow Miller. Survivor? Hero? Saviour? Brave?
There were many words that had been used to describe Willow Miller since the 25th January 2013. Many words. Yet she did not feel as though any of them had come close to describing her. Coward. Deserter. They were closer to the words that she would have used if she had ever been tasked with describing herself. Even six years later, after the rush of articles and requests for interviews she still could not see what others did.
The fact was, her actions had saved the lives of hundreds of people. If she hadn’t remained hidden and barricaded in the woman’s bathroom, there was every chance that she would not have had chance to put in the call to the emergency services. There was every chance that she might have been killed along with everyone else in that casino. Yet, all she could think about was how she had curled herself up in a bathroom stall and cried while she heard the screams and gunshots, while her friends had been taken from this world.
[b “It should have been me.”] The words seemed to echo in her mind even after she voiced them, looking in the mirror at the gaunt figure that looked back at her. There was no doubt that Willow had once been a beautiful woman but even after years of therapy, she still dreamt of that night as though it had happened only yesterday; she still struggled to eat a full meal without feeling sick at the thought of what John Roberts had done. A beautiful woman, with a beautiful life. She wanted nothing more than to get that back, but a part of her knew that it was lost forever, that she would never be the same person.
Not even her parents could convince her that she was blameless in this. Perhaps one day there would be a person who could walk into her life and change all of that, but she would need to let people into her life for that to happen. So, to avoid human contact, Willow Miller threw herself into her art. She had left Deadwood to attend the Maryland Institute College of Art. She had graduated the top of her class, mostly because she avoided social interaction with most and focused on her studies, far more than she would have if she would have been attending college in New York with her best friends like she had planned. Those plans had been put to death the night John Roberts stole them for her world.
She had put on her lost weight during her time at college and while she remained in Maryland to explore her art further she almost seemed to forget…but she could never truly forget. Especially now that it was time to return home to Deadwood. She had stopped eating and sleeping over the last couple of days but she couldn’t run forever, at least that was what her parents were telling her. She needed to face what she had been avoiding all these years and now that she was staring at herself in the mirror of the bathroom she would never see again, she was wondering whether this would be another occasion where she curled herself up in ball and tried to shut out the world. Now was the time to be brave if she was every going to have a normal life.
She wanted to be able to feature her art in studios, have people compliment her on the work she had completed and be able to accept the compliments without feeling guilty for being alive in the first place. Returning home was the first step. So, she took a deep breath, left the bathroom and picked up the keys to her car and set about driving back to Deadwood.
[b “You were a failure.”] The cold female voice filled the silence of the empty room. It was void of what you would usually expect of an office. There was no comfort here, only a wooden chair and an old desk. The walls were completely covered with photographs, newspaper clippings and police information. How she had managed to obtain such information would remain a fact only she would know for the time being. There was not even a single inch of the wall that remained bare to the original baby pink paint that had once been her chosen colour for the room. It had served as a bedroom once. She had always detested the colour but she needed to appear as a normal teenage girl and she had chosen the colour to blend in.
The woman held the picture of John Roberts in her life hand. Her face contorted with disdain for the man. She breathed in and then spat out saliva so that it distorted his features. The photo fell from her hand then, landing on the desk before her. She had once held so much love for John but now all she felt was disappointment and...hate...she had always felt hate for human life but never for John. It was strange how quickly that had changed after that fateful night in January 2013. After all, he had betrayed her. Not because of what he did, but because of when he did it...how he did it. How could he have betrayed her in the way he did? Had she not been good to him for the time they had been together?
Her eyes flickered from the photograph to those upon the wall of the office. Looking each of the victims in the eye as she scanned them. Some had a red cross through them, others were yet to be crossed. Who were all of these people? The ones who should have died that night. The ones who had survived when there should have been no survivors. It was her job to clean up his mess now. Do what he should have done six years ago. The people who had been crossed out were survivors who had died shortly after the attack, mostly from their injuries, some from suicide and depression. It was cowardly really, at least in her mind it was cowardly, but it just meant that they had started her mission for her.
Six years of planning and she was ready to finally kick it into motion. A sickening smile appeared upon her face as she pulled down the photograph of her first target. This one would be an easy kill. He had no family and had pretty much drowned himself in alcohol ever since he walked out of the massacre alive. She could even make this one look like a suicide or an accident by a stupid alcoholic who was too drunk to know what he was doing. The woman smirked to herself and laughed darkly as she formulated the plan in her mind. It would take a few weeks and she would spend some time learning his routine but before the month was out, he would be dead.
All posts are either in parody or to be taken as literature. This is a roleplay site. Sexual content is forbidden.