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Unread 14th of August, 2008, 21:48
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Bad Luck Charm (Sara Dreshdale) - prelude

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Unread 21st of August, 2008, 02:47
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Another anonymous tip. Truancy and abuse. She hated anonymous tips. Officially you were supposed to presume innocence, and anonymous tips were either usually very good - the real deal - or very bad - someone's vindictive attempt to harrass the suspect, using the power of the State.

Sara drives her state car up to the house, a nice townouse in the southwest area, full of commuters to DC or to downtown. She brings her clipboard. She finds that anyone with a clipboard seems more official.

From the outside, the townhouse looks perfect. Neat, clean, well-kept - better than some of the nearby places, in fact. She takes a deep breath, rings the doorbell.

The door opens almost immediately, but stops on the security chain. The face of a child, a boy of perhaps eight years old, pokes into the crack. "Momeee! Somebody's at the dooor."

"Roger, I told you not to open that without me." Footsteps approach, and a woman's face appears above the boy's.

"Yes? Can I help you?" The chain stays on.

Last edited by Wired*Nun; 21st of August, 2008 at 23:48.
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  #3  
Unread 21st of August, 2008, 04:27
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This is the part of the job she didn't enjoy, how do you tell a parent that you are here to judge them on their parenting abilities? The government provided training and ingrains several different approaches and greetings when you first join the CPS, but most of them are very blunt and direct. Sara learned over the years that none of them really help, and usually make the situation far worse than it needed to be.

"Good evening miss," she says with a friendly smile. "My name is Sara," she pulls out her government ID badge and shows it to the woman. "I'm here on behalf of Child Protection Services," might as well get that part out in the open, as soon as you identify yourself as a government agent people tend to slam the door on your face. "I was hoping I might have a few minutes of your time," she looks around to see if any nosy neighbors are watching, "in private perhaps?"

Great...she thinks to herself...go with the government textbook introduction, not the best way to start this off.

Last edited by Bad Luck Charm; 21st of August, 2008 at 05:06.
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Unread 21st of August, 2008, 23:58
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The little boy's face beneath his mother's is wide-eyed, staring at her peculiarly. She's seen plenty of children, and this one seems strange. Special needs? Doesn't look like Downs, but there are a lot of disabilities.

"I'm sorry, miss. You can't come inside. I'm standing on my fourth amendment rights to privacy. Is that clear? You can't come inside."
Interesting that she had that response ready. Most people don't know what their own rights are, or how to communicate them. Has she had encounters with CPS before?

Sara thinks she's going to slam the door, but actually, just takes off the chain to open it wide.

Inside, Sara can see a well-kept house, with a few toys on the living-room floor. There's a little girl of perhaps three building something out of plastic blocks there. The woman pulls the boy back to stand beside her. He still has that wierd stare.

No signs of abuse, though it's hard to be sure. No signs of neglect. Truancy though? School is in session. Why isn't he in it?

Last edited by Wired*Nun; 22nd of August, 2008 at 02:23.
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Unread 22nd of August, 2008, 00:30
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((What time of day is it? I assume a weekday))

"If that is your wish you have that right," she responds politely. "Have you had an agent such as myself come here before? And might I have your name please, with picture identification of course."

((If it's possible to notice, is the woman wearing a wedding ring?))

Last edited by Bad Luck Charm; 22nd of August, 2008 at 00:39.
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Unread 22nd of August, 2008, 02:38
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((11am on Thursday, 28 June 2007)))

The woman is wearing a ring. There are man's shoes in a rack by the front door. The woman and the children are barefoot.

"My name is Stephanie Piloso. I don't have to show you ID in my own house unless you have probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. Is this another anonymous tip? People see my son, they don't understand. We homeschool, we've sent the school district the notice, which is all we are required by state law. I'm sure you mean well, but there's nothing here for you."

The boy suddenly speaks up. "Bitch. Bitch bitch slut cunt bitch." His eyes are big, boring into hers. If she didn't know better, she would have thought the child possessed.

The woman looks distressed, but not shocked. "I'm sorry. His medication helps, and he's in therapy every afternoon, but he can't always help it. Roger, sing the song for the lady, will you?"

The boy bursts into childish song. "I'm a little teapot, short and stout..."

"It gets him focussed on something else, and bypasses the condition. I'm sorry, miss, you'll have to go now." She hands Sara a card. "Call our attorney if you have any more questions."

The card reads:

T. Franklin Price, JD
Morton, Price and Sterns
Family Law

It lists a phone and fax number, and a dot-net e-mail address

Mrs. Piloso closes the front door gently but firmly in Sara's face.

Last edited by Wired*Nun; 22nd of August, 2008 at 03:43.
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Unread 22nd of August, 2008, 03:11
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"Well that was productive" she grunts to herself as she heads back to the car.

She starts writing up her report on the clipboard, which will be passed up the chain to her superiors for review.

She makes sure to write the name "Stephanie Piloso" as well as the boys name, "Roger", and make mention of the little girl. After making note of the people, she concludes the report with:

"Visual assessment reveals nothing of concern. The boy, Roger, appears to suffer from mental illness but without further investigation I cannot identify what it may be. Both the boy and the girl appear to be healthy, and their home was well kept. No sign of physical mistreatment.

While Mrs. Piloso was unwilling to cooperate and deferred me to her lawyer, I do not see anything of immediate concern. Judging from the behavior of the boy and the reaction from the mother, I would suggest that neighbors are uncomfortable with him and have had other CPS agents approach them.

It is my recommendation that we do a brief follow-up with their legal counsel to verify their credentials and do our due diligence, but I do not believe the children are in danger."

Last edited by Bad Luck Charm; 22nd of August, 2008 at 03:14.
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Unread 27th of August, 2008, 03:58
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Notes in order, she pulls away from the curb after programming her next visit into the GPS. She glances up to a horrifying sight.

A large truck is bearing down on her at high speed. There's only a second to react, just long enough to instinctively raise her arms to protect her face when she is steamrolled by ten tons of steel.


A near-death experience is supposed to follow a script - the floating, watching from above, the tunnel of light, the warmth of invitation and love. This script must have been rewritten, somehow.

She feels herself to be standing on the curb, looking at the mess in the road. People are pouring out of the houses. Some of the braver souls are approaching the mass of twisted metal, calling out to see if anyone responds.

She sees the driver of the truck stagger out of the mostly-intact cab. He's hispanic, maybe, wearing work clothes and boots - unremarkable, except for his actions. He pulls out an old-style Zippo lighter. Before anyone can react, he flips it open and lights the flame, walking around the front to the crushed automobile half-under his bumper.

It looks like people are yelling at the man, but she can't hear anything - no sound, nothing. She feels a presence behind her, and turns. Roger, the boy from the house she just visited, is standing there, looking up at her.

Quite distinctly, amid the silence, she hears him say calmly, "You had to die." The look on his face is...evil...distilled contempt and glee.
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Unread 6th of September, 2008, 06:09
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((8 posts in and you kill me? I'm on drugs, what's your excuse? lol))

Having trouble processing the events is the first problem. Sara is absolutely dumbstruck by the sudden lack of life as it were, but she also has trouble accepting such a claim. In her studies, she's read up on dozens of documented "near death experiences" or "NDE" as scientists call them.

In such reports, it was common for victims of massive trauma to undergo an "out of body" experience. The feeling arises from the sudden influx of adrenaline and other body-made chemicals that are put on overdrive during a crisis.

Still...facing it in reality is so much different than reading about it in scientific cases.

After a few moments she finally speaks, terrified, "This...can't be real." Completely lost, her body trembles as her mind struggles to justify the situation and races through dozens of scenarios that could at least try to explain this.

She turns to the boy, "How?" is all she can get out in her stupor.
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Unread 9th of September, 2008, 05:01
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(((Art imitates life)))


The boy-child snorts, contemptuously.

"Stupid cunt. Did you expect to live forever? And what good did you think you were doing, anyway? People don't want their children to be stolen by government drones. Children don't want to leave their parents. Like follows like. And no matter how many you rescue, more get born every day. More crack babies, more pathetic parents, more squalor, more abuse, more pedophile priests and fat domineering warthog biddies that play with little boy's piddles, more lifeless zombies that only care about the reports and regulations and their next two-point-one-percent pay increase so they can have a few more coins to drop in the bottomless hungry hopeless slot machines. What the fuck did YOU ever do for the world?"

The scene outside seems mired in a thick molasses, except for herself and this devilish child-shaped creature. In her present shellshocked state of mind, it's very hard to resist his relentless allegations, his recitation of evils both monstrous and mundane.
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Unread 9th of September, 2008, 12:19
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Listening to the "boy" go on about life starts to shift her from feeling depressed and confused to frustrated and angry. Who the hell is this boy? she keeps thinking.

"But...I've helped people. I've saved more children from abuse and violence in the past year than I can remember!" she practically shouts back at him. She thinks for a moment, trying to get a grasp on her flailing emotions, "Who the hell are you to say if what I do matters or not?!" Tears running down her face, she feels her muscles cramping up from her frustration.
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Unread 10th of September, 2008, 01:41
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He smiles that enigmatically evil smile, again. "If the shoe fits, stick it in your mouth. I'm just telling you what I know is true. You bailed a few buckets in a flood. Woopee-frickin-doo. Doesn't matter anyway, your life is over. You'll find you're better off now anyway."

He points at the truck driver, stumbling toward oblivion with the lighter in his hand. The scene regains motion like a special effect, and she watches helplessly as he steps into the pool of spreading gasoline and diesel fuel, and lowers the lighter until the fumes ignite. He is instantly immolated, and she sees herself - her body, anyway - catch on fire as well. The crowd screams in horror, silently, and pulls back as the flames billow.

Her vision goes blank then, and she fells herself floating, strung on marionette's cords between sky and earth. She waits there an unknowable time, unable to touch anything or attain motion, flailing in a weightless seas of sensory deprivation.

Gradually, she notices two distinct sensations, perceived as a mixture of sensory input.

One is a feeling of warmth, coming perhaps from above, or away far away, accompanied by the promise of welcome, pleasure and belonging, joyful music, the smells and tastes of Samhain feast, the feel of a soft bed or the touch of a lover.

The other is a sound of ringing challenge, coming perhaps from below, or nearby, a silver-brass trump call, the feel of steel in her hands, the pounding of a horse beween her thighs, the strike of her hand as it breaks a board, the promise of pain and failure and achievement and hard lessons learned.

She has a distinct feeling that she could move toward, or perhaps embrace and accept, either of these two alternatives, or paths. That she is free to choose, and that the Universe doesn't care either way.

Last edited by Wired*Nun; 10th of September, 2008 at 07:09.
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  #13  
Unread 10th of September, 2008, 04:30
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"How could I possibly be better off this way?" she asks before seeing her body burn.

With the choice before her, she chooses the path of the warrior, something she has been long before coming into the light of the Goddess. Maybe it was her pride that made her decision for her, wanting to fight back against the little bastard that is spouting off at her, or maybe it was her destiny all along, either way she knows the path she wants to walk and accepts it graciously.
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Unread 11th of September, 2008, 00:45
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There is no reply to her question, save a chilling laugh.

As she makes her choice, her consciousness fades.

An indeterminable time later, she wakes to something like awareness. She can sense cloth on her skin, a bed beneath her, the sound of electronic machinery and the smell of a hospital around her. She tries to open her eyes but there's something covering them. There is little pain, but she has a sensation of being drugged, a detachment and floating feeling different from what she so recently dreamed of.

The dream of the vision, the child, the conversation - it's all mixed up right now, but seems somehow more real than other dreams she has had.

But I lived, obviously. I'm in a hospital. Burned? What's my condition?

She can feel her heart rate rise with concern.

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Unread 11th of September, 2008, 05:21
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She breathes a sigh of relief after realizing she is still alive. "It was just a NDE" she thinks to herself.

Realizing her situation, she tries to lift her head up and look at her body, wiggle her arms and legs around, and get a general idea of her physical condition. If she sees one, she'll push the page button to see if a nurse or doctor will come in and explain what happened to her, and maybe make some sense out of this chaos.

Last edited by Bad Luck Charm; 11th of September, 2008 at 10:09.
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Unread 13th of September, 2008, 00:16
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When she begins to stir, she hears, "Welcome back, Sara-san." The even baritone voice of her sensei is so very welcome right now. "I was...concerned."

She feels him take her hand, something he has never done in friendship. Always before, it was a prelude to being thrown or joint-locked, some kind of demonstration or instruction.
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Unread 13th of September, 2008, 02:21
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"Kimosan?" she blurts out with surprise. "What?...How?..." she struggles to voice herself and takes a moment to calm her nerves as tears run down her face, "What happened? I...I thought I was dead...I was hit by a truck and then saw myself dying as the driver got out and set my car on fire...there was..." She hesitates to mention the boy, maybe he was just a hallucination and if she's jacked up on pain killers right now it would make her look hysterical.

She tries to calm herself again, but just thinking about it all gives her the shakes and she can't hold back the tears.

Last edited by Wired*Nun; 13th of September, 2008 at 04:01.
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Unread 13th of September, 2008, 03:26
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He replies in his precise, but strongly-accented English. "Let your emotions flow for a time, Sara-san. The dam must drain, or burst. You will find your center again." He pats her hand once, then lets go...but she can sense him nearby, even so.

"Your injuries are bery sebere. The doctors say you are making remarkable progress. One could say...miraculous progress. They said you were clinically dead when they brought you in, but you revived." He pauses for a moment, and she feels there is something he is thinking about. He decides to speak.

"I prayed for you for many hours, Sara-chan," His use of the intimate form shocks her more than his words do. "I prayed to my ancestors and yours that they would bring you a miracle."

He pauses again, and his voice almost chokes.

"I fear...that they have done so. I fear I have done a terrible thing."
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Unread 13th of September, 2008, 03:43
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She listens intently. I really did die, echoes through her mind.

"What?" she gets thrown off completely about that last statement. "What could you have possibly done Master? You've always been the light in my life, always watching out for me. You are not capable of terrible things."

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Unread 13th of September, 2008, 04:01
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"We are all capable of bad decisions, Sara. Even I. I thought I should - that I could - that I could not lose you. You are the daughter I lost so long ago." He takes a deep breath.

"When I prayed, a kami - a spirit - appeared to me. He told me he could save your life. Like a fool, I grasped at the straw. I told him he could have me, if he saved you."

"Now, I fear, the shinikami have us both."
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Unread 16th of September, 2008, 07:18
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She gets hit by a wave of depression after hearing his response, "But...". She can't find the words, then something pops into her mind - "This spirit, did you actually see it? Did he accept?" Given the circumstances facing her, she lets her usual scientific believes collapse and goes on a leap of faith about the existence of such creatures.

"I really appreciate the thought...but you have given me so much in my life. I don't want you to give yours up so that I could live, I would rather you lived."

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Unread 17th of September, 2008, 02:43
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"I saw the spirit, like a man. He said he would bring you back to the living world, and that you would be given great power - subject to his control. And that I would be hostage to your obedience. So we are bound by chains of glass, of our own choosing."

"It is as the stories always said. Love is a foolish weakness that will lead one to ruin. Only gimu [義務, obligation, duty] is of value."

His voice sounds infinitely sad.
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  #23  
Unread 17th of September, 2008, 14:14
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Unsure of the most appropriate way to respond, she remains quiet for a moment while trying to gather her thoughts.

There may be truth behind his deal with the devil or whoever it may be, it might not have just been a vision. And if that's true, it would be insulting to ask him to take it back and let me die, he willingly offered himself as a savior to me...

"I'm...I'm not really sure what to say. You have been a father to me for longer than I can remember...I...I don't know what I would do without you in my life. The sacrifice you have offered is...a gift greater than anything I have ever been given."

Maybe I should change the subject, she thinks to herself. "How long have I been here?"

Last edited by Wired*Nun; 17th of September, 2008 at 22:29.
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  #24  
Unread 19th of September, 2008, 01:29
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"Two days. You are healing faster than the doctors say possible. They want to study you, bring in researchers. I say no, until you wake and give consent. Since they cannot find next of kin, they wait for an answer from you. They can learn nothing of medical value from a shinikami power."

"Do not despair. Shinikami are not all-powerful. When you regain your sight, and your health, we will see what can be done to break its hold over us."
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Unread 20th of September, 2008, 14:15
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"Researchers? They want to turn me into some sort of experiment?" she starts to panic slightly at this news. "I...I feel so helpless, what am I supposed to do? I can't just sit here while you've offered your life to some spirit while these doctors want to dissect me!"
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