Code Brown
rating: +32+x

“This is a bad idea,” mutters Dr. Jack Bright, currently in the body of a 54 year old Jewish butcher, who had been sentenced to death for killing his wife, and using her body as extra stuffing in his meat pies. This body was the closest to being what might be considered his own, even if it did knock a few decades off his age. He slides into a seat at the large table, trying to get comfortable. He’d been female for the past several months, and slipping into a differently gendered host always made him feel like bits were hanging out where they shouldn’t.

“I think it’s a fucking horrible idea. But-” O5-6, often referred to as Cowboy, and once upon a time known as Mikell Bright, slips into his own seat. He adjusts his belt as he tries to make himself at home, but he hadn’t felt right since he gave up his guns. He casts a barely concealed, avarice filled glance across the room at the current owner. She’d earned them, he had no right to ask for them back, but no gun felt the same. “You do a lot for family, especially when they get…” He searches for the word, having trouble finding something polite.

“Old, Mikell. She got old.” Jack fills in, never one for politeness. He turns to his other side, making sure his younger brother was safe in his chair, and wouldn’t fall out. He had to take care of TJ. The meeting set up was very explicit, no guards, no nurses, no one who wasn’t family. Period. “It’s weird to think of one of our brood getting old, but… She aged. Kind of quickly too.”

“I thought she’d gotten herself a new body?” Yorick Elroy interjects from where he leans against the wall. As one of the younger members of the family, the roundabout grandson of Dr. Bright had chosen a standing position, preferring to let the elders get comfortable. The fact that it also allows him to monitor all the exits to the conference room, and get to them fastest, probably also factored in. “I feel like she was involved with the ruckus at Site 23, someone said.”

“Might have been wish granting from 239,” opinions the youngest member of the troupe, Special Agent Serra Argent. She too chooses to stay standing, but, as opposed to her laconic cousin, she was pacing the Foundation side of the table, her hands never far from the pearl handled revolvers that were, if not her birthright, then her due. “You know, like with…” Her gaze drifts to where her father was drawing with his crayons. Everyone followed her gaze, and then glances away, almost as one. The family that guilts together…

“How long do you think they’ll make us wait?” Cowboy asks as he fiddles with his belt for what feels like the hundredth time in five minutes.

“Not long,” says a voice by the door. The Foundation side of the Bright family turns their attention to the door, and frowns as one. Was there someone speaking? It was hard to tell. Nobody was there.

She was Asian, and young, and kind of wide. It was hard to keep these facts in mind. She was dressed kinda like- and she was about- the only one of the group who could keep his eyes on her with any reliability was Jack, but then, he kept his mind outside of his body, so she really doesn’t work on him. “They sent me first, to make sure you guys were abiding by the rules.” She walks down the other side of the table, looking at chairs, checking underneath, in general, being a suspicious brat. She doesn’t bother looking at any of the people, they didn’t interest her. “No Sarah?”

Bright snorts, as his family continues trying to find the source of the voice. He just stares at her, his chin propped on one fist, his eyes watering. “Looks like someone’s gone up in the world, my dear.” He offers a brief smile to his great grandniece, secure in the knowledge he was the only one who recognizes her. “And no, no Sarah. We wouldn’t have been able to bring TJ, no it’s okay, keep coloring.” He strokes his younger brother's hair to calm the boy, who looks up when he recognizes his own name. “If Mikell hadn’t gone out on a limb, with a ‘new experimental treatment.’ Sarah would have just been over the top. Besides. It’s not like she would’ve noticed.”

“That girl notices more than you might think,” says the mature woman who follows her daughter into the room. Claire Lumineux the Second, or Junior to friends and enemies alike, was almost as bland as her daughter, but it’s more of a practiced blandness, borne out of a need to not stand out, to not be caught. She was thin, and her hair was almost completely white. She has a glare for everyone at the table, except for one. Her face softens when she sees TJ, and she visibly has to stop herself from walking around to that side of the table to touch him. A brilliant arc of electricity leaps from her fingers to ground in the chair as she pulls it out. She offers a wry grin as explanation. “Too much static.”

“Now now auntie. Don’t go trying to scare the poor Jailers. You know our blood doesn’t run easily.” The next man through the door wears heavy shades, to hide his eyes, and walks with a red tipped cane. He’d left the dog at home, because he knew it would have tried to bite someone. David Blindman, often called The Legitimate Son, or the Legal Heir, was there to speak for the Unnumbered Brood, the many children sired by O5-6 in his younger, wilder days. Some of the Brood claimed descent from others of the Bright family, but they were all lumped together under one banner, for better or worse. David nods to his father, and easily settles into a chair. “Father. I’d say it’s good to see you, but you made sure that’s not true.”

“David,” Six rumbles. He shifts uncomfortably in his chair, hands once more on his belt. “We’ve had this argument. I wanted to save you-” He glances down the table, at his youngest brother. “From everything.”

“You’ve always had a funny way of protecting people, son.” The two seated Foundation employees jump to their feet as a young, dark skinned woman, dressed in a traditional hijab and form-hiding dress, floats through the door. I feel the need to point out that ‘floats’ here is only used as in the sense that it appeared so, not that she was actually levitating. You have to be specific when describing these people, you never know what they can actually do. She smiles at the men behind the table, and gives each of them a big hug, and then does the same for TJ. He just seems annoyed that she was keeping him from coloring. “Hello boys, it’s good to see you,” she says, still grinning as she makes her way over to her side of the table. Once called Evelyn, and sometimes called Two, since her defection and rejuvenation she tended to go by the name Echidna, or, when she was feeling romantic, Mother of Monsters. It was a title she came by both naturally, and artificially. She slips into a seat with the grace of a queen, her voluminous dress bulging oddly in places, before she smoothes them out.

“Your father couldn’t make it?” She addresses the question to Mikell, but it’s Jack who answers.

“Dad’s retired. He made it quite clear he didn’t want to get involved with any of this, even if it was family business.” The lady who creates creatures for a living arches an eyebrow at her son, but lets it pass. If her husband wanted to retire, well, good for him. At least he got out.

The last person to enter the room was the only one who was trusted by all of them. A tall, thin ginger fellow, dressed in purple, Arabian style robes, he was known by many names. Dr. Joseph Tamlin. Yosef Bin Tamlin. Yoshua bin Yosef. Time. That Asshole. O5-13. The Wibbly in the Wobbly. Oh Fuck, Why Is He Here. The Wall Breaker. And dozens, if not hundreds, more, spread across thousands of years of human history. Many people theorize that Tamlin is not a name, but a title, passed on in secret. These people are wrong. Probably. Possibly. In most timelines. It gets weird, y’see? Time is happening, all at once, together- “Don’t bother, they won’t understand,” Tamlin comments to the room at large. Both sides of the table exchange a glance, but don’t say anything. They were all used his random outbursts. He was pushing an old TV-on-a-stand set up, like people of a certain age will remember from grade school, with the VCR on a shelf below TV. He glances over the assembled personages, mentally checking people off on his list, and nodded to himself. “Good! We’re all here, we can begin.”

Yorick does his own mental count, and then raises a hand. “Ah, pardon me, but I don’t think-”

He is cut off by Tamlin. “Yes, Claire is not present, despite having been the one to call this meeting. The reason why, is here.” Gesturing with a video tape. “Claire gave this to me in 1981, to be played on the occasion of her death-” A collective gasp from both sides. “Which, according to her notes happened-” He pauses, his eyes on the far wall. As if drawn by some dread magnet, all eyes, and faces in David’s case, turn towards the wall, and the clock upon it. The hands tick forward, until they point at the 12 and the 5. “Just then.”

David, Claire the Second, Jack and Serra all lower their heads for a moment, in sorrow and respect. Nobody would lower her head for her grandmother, but since no one would have seen, she doesn’t bother. Yorick keeps his eyes on Tamlin, while TJ just continues coloring. Evelyn buries her face in her hands and sobs at the thought of outliving her child. Mikell just grumbles, like he always does. “God damn precogs. And her with her flair for the dramatic, waiting until we were all gathered to die. Ow! What the hell was that?” He rubs the back of his head, glaring around the room. But Nobody had hit him, so he quickly forgets about it.

“Anyways,” Tamlin continues. “This is her last request. Any objections to me playing it? No? Good.” He carefully inserts the tape in the VCR and hits play. He makes his way over to the light switch, to allow better viewing, then pauses, looking at how tense the other occupants of the room have become. “Yes, let’s leave the lights on, shall we? Don’t want anybody getting ideas.” Although he was most definitely looking at Nobody when he said it. She just shrugs, and tries to look innocent.

The tape starts with a view of a young African woman, her hair done up in long beaded braids, dressed in a simple yellow dress. She sits, staring at the camera, her hands clasped in front of her.

Serra frowns, looks at Claire 2, and peered at Evelyn, shook her head, and leaned forward, mouth opening to ask her Uncle Jack a question. He just presses a finger against her lips, not looking at her.

“I’ll explain later,” he reassures her.

She crosses her arms over her chest and leans back against the wall, pouting only a little bit.

On screen, Claire nods, seemingly in Jack's direction. “Yes, that would be best, thank you. Hello everyone!” she says with a bright smile, her gaze seeming to rove those assembled. The others kind of nod in response, aware that, on some level, she was seeing them, or had already seen them, or whatever.

SCP-590 doesn’t look up from his crayons. He just lifts one hand to wave at the screen. “Hi Claire! I miss you!” His brothers stare at him in shock, unused to him being verbal.

Claire on screen smiles wider, looking towards her beloved brother. “I miss you too, TJ. You keeping an eye on your big brothers?” She doesn’t seem to expect a response, as she returns her attention to scanning the company. “Hello, again, my family. It’s lovely to see you all together, even if the circumstances aren’t the best. So. Let’s get the legal-eze out of the way. I, Claire Lumineux Senior, born Claire Bright, most often known as The Little Sister, being of sound mind, and currently, sound body, do hereby declare this to be my last will and testament, and do declare Joey Tamlin to be the sole executor of my estate.” She takes a deep breath, and pauses, cocking her head to the side. Her gaze falls on where Jack was shifting, looking like he was about to speak.

Jack frowns at the screen, and closes his mouth. For several minutes, there is silence, the real life Bright staring at the onscreen Bright, as if each was seeking to outlast the other. Everyone else shifts nervously, unsure of what to expect. Finally, Claire, her eyes narrowing into a glare, speaks again. “If you don’t say it, I can’t respond to it, you know how this works.”

Bright blows out a mouthful of air, a great long exasperated sigh. “How can we be sure you’re dead?” At that exact moment, every cell phone in the room rings in with their individual ‘picture text’ ring tone. Jack tries hard not to look embarrassed as the gentle strings of the Macarena overrides the other tones. He flips his phone open, looking at the gruesome photo therein. “Well. At least she died in bed.”

“Yes, I’m sure that was a great comfort to me,” Claire replies with a wry grin, shaking her head at her brother. “I have passed, although my shadow will rest long upon this world. After all, what good is being able to see the future, if you can’t go on changing things after your death? Ha! Dark won’t have nothing on me, you can bet your britches!” Her eyes rove the table, her grin threatening to split her face in two. “Not even Hari Seldon will match my machinations! But, right, not gloating.” She clears her throat, trying to pull her features to a more sedate, neutral expression. “My will. Yes. Let’s do oldest to youngest, shall we?”

Her gaze turns to her still weeping mother. “Mom.” Evelyn’s head lifts, staring at her daughter, her eyes red from crying. “I have so much to thank you for. You gave me life. You got me out before certain people-” Her eyes drift towards her older brothers. “Could make my life a living hell. And you gave me a new body, when the old one failed.” Absently patting her braids. “So, I have decided the only way to reward you, is with life. Joey?”

Dr. Tamlin reaches into a bag beside his chair, which he didn’t walk in with. Very carefully, he pulls out a small box, smaller than a breadbox, bigger than a ring box, and walks around the table to set it in front of Evelyn Bright.

She reaches out slowly, hesitantly, and flips up the lid. Her face is a mask of wonder as she stares with-in, multi-colored lights reflecting on her face. She carefully turns the box so the rest of the family can see it, and is rewarded with gasps of delight. Inside the little box is an egg, no bigger than a chicken's egg, but the shell is covered in a slowly shifting array of colors. It glows from the inside, a warm, healthy glow. Evelyn closes the box with some reluctance, and draws it back to her, her hands clasped above it.

“It’s called a Mundane Egg. According to the dealer I got it from, it’s supposed to contain another universe inside, another little big bang, waiting for entropy to spiral out of control so it can have its turn. I don’t foresee it hatching in your lifetime, but I think it’s still something fun for you to have. You were a fantastic mother, as much as you could be. Thank you mom.”

Echidna lowers her head, and pulls her veil across her face, to weep in solitude.

Turning her eyes from her mother, Claire’s brow furrows as she eyes her eldest brother with some distaste. “Mikell. What do you get the man who’s taken everything?” She gestures calmly to Tamlin, who rummages in his bag, before pulling forth a case roughly two feet long, maybe a foot wide, hard shell and flip open latches, like for a musical instrument. He slides this down the table to Mikell, who stops it with one hand.

Leaning forward, Mikell unlatches the case, and studies the contents with a look of confusion, before turning it to face his family. Inside are the remains of a broadsword, nestled in a fitted red velvet casing. A foot and a half of handle and blade fill the bottom, while the top holds several shards of the blade strapped in with elastic. He turns his quizzical gaze to the screen, one eyebrow arching. “What the devil is this?”

“The name of my little underground railroad, or, at least, the one that stuck, is the Little Sisters. I’ve always loved it, because it works on so many levels. On the one hand, everyone love to make the 1984 reference, with the Little Sisters forming to help keep an eye on, and harass, the Big Brother that is the Foundation. And, on a more personal level, it was always a jab from me, at you, saying little sister is always watching her personal big brother. With me gone, while the name lives on,” the video nods to her descendants, “I am no longer here to give you my personal attention. So I had to leave you with something that would always remind you of me. That,” one dark hand pointing towards where Mikell is inspecting the damaged blade, “is the original sword of Damocles. Let me tell you, it took a fair doing to track down a work of fiction, and, as you can see, it’s been through a lot. But now, whenever you look at this, you will feel the weight, hanging over your head, and remember me.” A cruel smile passes over her face. “Who knows? It may save your life, if you keep it nearby.” And she winks; knowing that even that little bit of a hint at forewarning would keep it close by him.

“Which brings me to the middle brother, and my mixed feelings.” Her gaze shifts to Jack, who is caught in the middle of making sure TJ doesn’t spill his juice box. He glances at the screen with a face that is devoid of emotion, unsure where his sister is taking this. “Jack. My brother, my friend, my greatest enemy, and often ally.” Jack doesn’t look at his older brother, and at-work superior. Mikell, however, lets his glare travel between screen and brother, scowling deeper and deeper. Claire continues, as if nothing was happening. “For you, my dear brother, I offer my silence, as I ever did.” A glance is shared, between the brothers, and their sister on screen, and you can almost see all three mentally agree to never bring it up. “And this. I know you thought you had accounted for all of them, but I managed to squirrel one away.”

Dr. Tamlin pulls a bottle from his pack of many things, a bottle whose very shape causes Jack to gasp, and his face to light up in delight. The bottle appears to have been made by a glass blower with a bad case of the hiccups, and the liquid within it is dark, a little syrupy, and has a deep blue tint to it.

Yorick makes an interrogative noise as Jack reaches out and pulls the bottle to him, cradling it as if it was a fragile, porcelain doll, or a baby. When the noise does nothing, he clears his throat. When that fails to illicit a response, he rolls his eyes and speaks. “Yo, gramps. What’s in the bottle?”

Jacks head jerks up, a little guiltily, and he looks around the table. “Ah, yes. This. Well. This is a bottle of the first whiskey I ever made, back in my first life. I’ve got two bottles put aside for special occasions, but a third! Well!” He carefully pulls the stopper; just enough for a half an inch of cork to clear the rim, and even with that much exposed, the smell of fermented apples quickly fills the room. He laughs, and grins at the screen. “It just gets better with age! Thank you Claire. I’ll drink to your memory.”

“I wouldn’t expect you to do anything else. Which brings me to me favori-“

“No.” TJ is sitting upright in his chair, his eyes on the screen, paying attention for the first time, his eyes unusually aware, and intelligent.

“Ah, TJ.” Claire clears her throat. “I have something very special for you.”

“No,” TJ repeats, his voice stronger, his gaze focusing on her face. “Move on, sister.”

There is a threat in his voice, that shocks those who have only known him as the mostly brain dead SCP-590. Even his closest relative, his darling brother Jack, seems to be at a loss for words at this reaction.

“It’s okay James, I knew she’d try this. We prepared.” TJ snakes a hand out to grab Jack's hand, squeezing it lightly.

Claire’s brow furrows, staring down her younger brother. Then, she shrugs it off. “If you don’t want it, I’ll make sure someone who needs it, gets it.”

TJ nods once, and his face goes vacant, back to the senseless smile that normally accompanies him. He pulls his hand from his brothers, as he once again focuses on his drawing, without a care in the world.

“My dear daughter. You knew this was coming, we’ve already discussed most of it.” Claire looks, and sounds, slightly disgruntled, her exchange with her brother clearly weighing on her. Junior glances up, dabbing at her eyes. “To you I leave everything. The safe houses, the deeds, the boons we are owed, all this and more is now in your name. The Runners will listen when you call, and the Deep Beneath has pledged itself to your service. All of the rest of it is in the case.”

Joey Tamlin pulls a thick hefty leather briefcase from his bag, and forces it down the table. He struggles a little bit, it’s clearly heavy.

“I’ll look at this later. Thank you mom.” Claire the Second smiles for a moment, placing her hands on the hefty luggage. A glance at her elder relatives is all it takes to make it clear that any of them who try to peek inside will get quite a shock.

The dark gaze turns towards David, who stares back, ahem, blindly. “David. While we’ve never been what you might call close, you are the only member of the family who understands what it’s like to see more than others, to always be that one step ahead.” His head inclines gently towards the screen, as if to indicate she has a point. “But we’ve never seen eye to eye, no offense intended, about the problem of the Unumbered Brood.”

David stirs, sitting up a little straighter. “We just want recognition. To be part of the family.”

“You ARE part of the family, dash it all!” Mikell interjects, slamming his hand against the table. “You have ALWAYS been my son, I will ALWAYS be there for you!”

“And the others dad? Hmm?” David leaps to his feet, staring down his father. “All your other children, all the bastards of the Bright blood, who have been left out in the cold? Will you be there for them? Will your protect them the way you tried to protect me?” He whips off his sunglasses, revealing the gaping craters where his eyes should be. “Will you neuter them when they begin to show up as anomalous? My brother, screaming Heebie Jeebies, would you tear out his vocal cords, so the Foundation wouldn’t come for him? Doesn’t always work, removing the source of the power, does it? What about Poor Tessie Shakes? Gonna cut her spine, keep her from moving so she can’t make things fall? Huh, Dad? Gonna find some way to control all my brothers and sisters, and if they can’t pass for normal, lock them in some cell like-“ His finger darts out, pointing at TJ.

Who is looking back at him, those young eyes dark, a grim frown on his youthful, freckled features.

“Will… Will you…” David's rant falters, as 590 does not cease his staring. Even a blind man can feels the weight of that gaze on him.

“David-“ Mikell begins, but he too falls silent when the hefty gaze of his youngest brother turns to him. The three are silent, two of them unsure of what is going on, the third sure, but unwilling to speak on it.

“That will be enough, from both of you!” Claire's voice cracks like a whip in the quiet room. “You both have your differences, and they will NOT be worked out here, thank you very much.” She glares back and forth between them, cowing them into respectability, even from beyond the grave. “Now, as I was saying. We do not see eye to eye on many things, David.” She winces at the unintentional reference, but continues. “But I do agree with what you are doing. Therefore, I have deeded you the safe house in New Orleans, to act as a home base of sorts, for you and yours. Along with that is a list of several of the Brood you may have missed.” Her eyes turn from him, to her mother. “Because none of us have ever been the least bit careful with our DNA.”

Dr. Tamlin carefully walks over to the blind man, and hands him a small folder of papers. “Everything you need is in here,” he says, before returning to his place at the head of the table.

“Yorick Elroy!” Her voice cracks like a whip, causing the named individual to jump, startled, from where he is trying to peer nonchalantly at David’s documents. “I know you’ve always thought of me as the aunt you never wanted, in a family you wish you didn’t know. But I foresee I will always have a soft spot for you, due to our time together in Tibet.” She smiles at the young man, while most of the other family members do a slow ‘turn and stare.’

“When did you-“ Jack begins, before being interrupted.

“It was something I was doing for the Insurgency, back when. You know, Clef's special Task Force?” Yorick lies rather easily, but that’s a common survival trait amongst these relations. “I’m not allowed to talk about it.” Heads nod in response to that information. They all have things they cannot talk about.

“Because of that, I did want to give you a small memento, a reminder of me, and a warning.” She gestures to her lackey Tamlin, who takes the opportunity to hand Yorick a small black stone. “It has no special properties. It’s just a chip off a certain gravestone, I’m sure you remember the one. All it is a reminder. Oh, and the warning, of course.” She straightens herself, letting her eyes adopt a fair away gaze, her voice deepening in the matter of cheap fortune tellers worldwide. “Do not go seeking immortality, it will find you.”

Yorick shivers, and slips the stone in his pocket. “Thank you, Claire.”

“You’re welcome, boy! Which, of course, leads us to the youngest member of the family. Hello Serra, we’ll never meet, my name is Claire, as I assume you’ve figured out.” Claire smiles beatifically at the young Miss Argent.

“Considering I only found out about my relation to this group a couple of weeks ago, yeh, never met. Hey. Nice to know you. Sorry you’re dead.” Serra replies flippantly, brushing a long red lock of curly hair out of her face.

“I don’t actually have much for you, just this.” Claire nods for Tamlin to go ahead.

He reaches into the bag and pulls out a leather belt, a beautifully crafted and tooled thing, with dozens of tiny scenes of fantastical creatures carved into its length. Attached to the belt are two holsters, both clearly made with the same level of care.

Serra snags the belt and frowns. Almost without thinking, she pulls one of her six shooters out, triggering the other side of the table to move back, and shake out their sleeves, then she slips it into the empty holster in front of her. “Huh. A perfect fit.”

“Yes, of course it is. That belt was my father's.” Claire continues, as everyone resettles. “I find it only fitting that you should have it.” She turns her gaze from the youngest to Mikell. “And no Mikey, I won’t tell you how I got it. If you feel she deserves the guns, than I can do no less than give her the belt. Oh, and a name.” Glancing back to Serra, Claire smirks. “You need to look up Alberto Giovanni. In some circles, he’s known as the Gunsmith.”

The last present doled out, Claire once again turns her attention to the room at large. “My family. My loved ones. I am going to miss every last one of you. And I know you’ll all miss me. And the last thing I have to say is a warning. Something is coming, something that will require both containers and contained to handle. If you don’t figure out a way to-“ And the screen fills with static.

“I’m afraid it ends there.” Tamlin says with a sigh, as he leans forward, and presses the stop button. “Either she never finished it, or age has wiped the tape, but that’s all she wrote. Or recorded, anyways.” He stands up, a clear dismissal. “Anything else she may have left, I will be handing out personally. In the end…” He clears his throat, looking around the room, making eye contact with each and every one of his descendants, or ancestors, depending on which way you look at it. Yes, including David, although Lord knows how he manages that. “In the end, she wanted this meeting, not simply to hand out trinkets, but to get you, all of you, together. To remind you that you ARE family.” Again the look at each of them, although at this point, many avoid his gaze. “And sometimes, family is more important.” He sighs, knowing he didn’t reach any of them. “Fine. Do what you will. Go. Remember, the truce holds, until the last has left.”

The first to leave is Evelyn. She gathers her robes about her, walking with a gait that makes it seem as if she has too many legs. She squeezes Mikell on the shoulder, and touches Jack on the head, before ending with a hug for TJ. She shakes hands with both Yorick and Serra, muttering a brief “Welcome to the family,” to the latter. She leaves with the dignity of a queen, already beginning to mask her pain.

Mikell and David stand up at the same time. They both open their mouths to speak, then glance at the black screen, and think better of it. They leave via separate doors, both deep in thought.

Yorick moves to help his grandfather with 590, and his assistance is welcome. Together, the two of them manage to lead the young looking man away, as he cries for his crayons. He wasn’t done drawing.

Claire the Second slips out during the commotion, unnoticed.

Serra throws the belt and holsters over her shoulder, as she leans over to study TJ’s drawings. Simple stuff, a child’s drawings. It looks like he was making portraits of everyone at the table. She frowns, staring at the portraits, then looks up, thinking hard. “One too many,” she mutters to herself, before nodding to Dr. Tamlin, gathering the drawings together, and leaving the room.

Tamlin is last to leave, making sure that no one has left anything behind, pushing the chairs in, and so on. He pauses in front of the TV, and pushes play again, watching the static on the screen. He speaks aloud to the empty room. “This room will cease to be in the next thirty minutes. It was only ever temporary.” He pulls a single blue rose from his sleeve, and lays it on the VCR, in memory of someone who almost understood him, then leaves.

Nobody is in the room now, all by herself. Her eyes stay focused on the screen, her thoughts whirling. She is somehow not surprised when the static goes away, replaced once more by the dead woman.

“Hello Claire. I left you for last, because you need so little from me. Remember to go the the site of the Sacred Fallen on the 13th, as we discussed, and please, please don't forget to get the wine to the temple before the dark of the moon. I wrote the rest of my instructions down, and there's a few simple props in the bag. Everything is set into motion. Remember what I taught you, and follow my words.” She smiles, raising a hand in benediction, and is finally gone for good.

“I remember Grandmother. I couldn’t possibly forget.” She sighs, pulling herself to her feet. She absently grabs the bag as she walks towards the door. She flips the lights off, letting her words echo in the empty room.

“Anything for the family.”

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