an unmarked truck pulls up to the Jaundice Press building.
a figure wearing an animal mask steps out.
A Red Hell-aligned psychic who now goes by the name of Fifi Cherish
detonates her first experimental bomb from the top of Jaundice Press tower, the largest building in North Mural. The explosion – later known as the "dirty mother" incident – leaves the tower standing, but crumples the immediately surrounding structures. People within a four hundred feet radius of the blast are incinerated outright, although the structures beyond this are left intact. The half-mile perimeter is left intermittently scalded, and though most outside the blast survive with no injuries, fires and burns claim hundreds of lives, and the property damage cannot be calculated.
"Oh, huh..." I guess that was before I came back.
"Okay so!!! Things were sort of weird for me at the time so I wasn't exactly sober... it kinda took a while until I figured out why everyone was freaking out."
"I was staying with a friend of mine while I was working on getting my certifications! I wanted to volunteer, but..." Yeah, they didn't want my help.
"I was drawing all day... I had the news on in the background constantly." The footage looked strange...I watched it every time it was on.
"I had a test I was supposed to take, but I slept through my alarm...the test was rescheduled though, so it worked out pretty well for me, I guess."
"Why, are you saying I had something to do with it? (laughter) I'm glad you guys can handle a joke."
"I was editing a paper on the heat-based applications of assorted organic polymers, and following news updates via newsgroups."
"I was out of class sick that day!! I thought it was really sad about the people and the animals that died, though..."
"I was in my old apartment...just kinda doing the usual, I guess...it was tragic." I felt kind of numb. That's probably bad to say...I didn't care too much.
"..." that's not really any of their business, is it.
"I was totally freaking out!!!! Don't you know that my cousin had a job interview in that building? I didn't hear from him for hours!"
Following the explosion, the bomb’s corpse lies in the center of the blasted out beams which frame it all like the Parthenon. The bomb's metal shell is cleared away by an unknown party, and moved to an undisclosed location.
but, who is Fifi Cherish?
It's not really clear. No one can really say for sure. So far, the public doesn't even know much about strangers – so they certainly don't know about psychics, sensitives, or anything like Blue Hell, either.
now listing: posts containing "motherbomb"
FIFI IS A JERK!!!!! MY FRIEND IS DEAD CUZ OF HER
@ ▝▗▖▟/▝▘/▚▞ 06:13AM
It was meant to be this way.
@ ▚▚▗▘/▘▗/▗▟ 09:38AM
Memorial collage, find out how to join in!
@ ▝▙▞▟/▟▙/▙▝ 01:14PM
Full list of the dead, and still missing users
@ ▘▗▗▗▘/▚▚/▟ 03:25PM
New strains since the bombing - patrol notes
@ ▟▟▗▘/▚▟/▟▘ 06:30PM
The perpetrator (now also known as "the Terrorista") is presumed dead amongst the hundreds of others whose bodies are never recovered, and civilian trust in the government declines after a botched attempt to explain the "bombing" as a malfunction of the national defense agency's perimeter "blink" protocols.
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We now take a glimpse into a place that's neither fully urban, nor natural. Walls of concrete; a half-demolished structure, and cracked pavement. Grass here and there tufts up from between shifted cement slabs, and small buds (Trifolium repens) grow on patches of dirt. There are a few bottle shards and license plates, but no plastic.
Within this place that will become more familiar to us later, a sensitive by the name of Virgo
(who goes by the screenname of
) meditates after another sweep. He's always looking for strangers to yank out, and he's taken out a few tonight.
The buzz of his phone interrupts his meditation.
Yeah, I got the message. What are you moving this time? ... Alright. I've just got to unload something first.
He's got a stranger waiting, caged; he drives it out of town. His truck is a pickup, and it's not the first time it's carried this cage. He take it offroad, pulls up to a secluded spot, and opens the door with a creak. Black boots (industrial) crunch down on the earth and its dry dirt. Now it's almost winter and the leaves are grey-green, dry.
The one inside the cage is snarling. It looks sick already...His hand reaches through the bars to touch1 its side, and its footing steadies. That'll hold it over for a bit.
1 a projector's touch temporarily stabilizing an otherwise degrading stranger in this manner.
It's a clearing overlooking the city where he opens the cage, and the moon is high and bright. It hangs low, like it's reflecting the streetlights. The crickets are quieter this time than the last, and he doesn't hear a road owl's hoot. He opens the cage.
He watches as the stranger staggers. It doesn't act the way it does in the city; it's seething, really seething, and it's scared too. And just like that, he watches as it dies. Its voice that doesn't sound like a human being's or an animal's voice covers up the trill of the crickets, but it also covers up the low hum of the cars and trucks below.
Now, it's time to attend to that phone call.
When he's not working as a shifter (or at home with his girlfriend and cat), Virgo oversees the sale and trade of illegal animals, weapons, and drugs, as conducted in the basement of a factory-turned-dance bar called The Hanging Gardens. He does not like the club where he works at, but a job's a job, and he's better off than some. It helps him keep up barriers; the two sides never mix.
Tonight, it's a cage of birds and a suitcase of guns. It's a big shipment this time, and it makes him uncomfortable. He doesn't know where they're going and he doesn't care. Some Butcherdale millionaire's private indoor garden, for the birds. As for the guns...
The rusty door creaks as it opens, and then the oh-so-discreet Virgo's sensitive and non-sensitive lives collide when a figure he recognizes from that world walks in.
It's that mouse. That celebrity. But he doesn't recognize her just from the songs on the radio, the television specials, the big billboard in front of the ZONY store downtown. No, he's met this woman before. She's another sensitive
She looks him up and down, and smiles.
Small world after all, ain't it?
Clubs in Harborside hide dirty secrets – authorities ready for a new wave of sweeping deportations
Careful investigations have uncovered a shady realm of human trafficking, hostage-taking, and abusive "forced live shipping" for illegal immigrants ...
Endangered wildlife trade's link to vast crime network revealed – but it can't stop a public hungry for these luxury animals
Security footage shows masked figures carrying crate after crate – one with a tiger, the next with a great blue heron, into the maze of crowded hallways ...
One of those nights, right
lot a tension going on.
that other world, you know
and all its monkey business.
yeahhhh theres always some bs.
i'm with you man, today that engine noise came back
you need anything?
You interested in a drink?
We can meet at Sharkey's in a half-fifty
and I'll tell you what I found out this morning
about the city limits.
ooooh yeah cool. k i gotta shower so i'll just catch you there, peace bruv
Later that night, he and Chuck Rockwell
(a sensitive friend, and popular local wrestler) meet up for a drink, and Chuck shares his theories about Jaundice Press.
Shortly after, Virgo receives a message from a source too preposterous for him to reveal, and he begins to collect the thirteen lines of a poem, the meaning of which is still unknown to him.
The story begins with an artist; ▚▟▟ ▜▖▖▞ ▙▛▜ There can be no reconciliation, and in a final act, the shared files are pulled apart, the public areas are made private or deleted, and the project is disbanded.
As he leaves that world behind, the figure now known as Default
moves in with one of his few remaining friends, Valeks Tomasi
. In his time there, he plays and mods video games, browses obscure websites, and attempts (unsuccessfully) to establish himself as an experimental media creator, with his main impediment being his crippling self-doubt and low self-esteem.
But, now's not the time to dwell, Valeks decides, so he buys the two of them tickets to attend the Yellow Road; a thousand-car, five-night nonstop caravan across the wastelands and back again, the stage-barges and clubhouse truck-ships pouring out their melodies across the sands.
The enormous mobile stages, large enough to hold a thousand dancers, one example of the spectacular technology made possible by James Killjoy's discoveries in the decades prior.
Meaty Mouse to play this year's Yellow Road
This year's festival is shaping up to be ...
now listing: posts containing "yellow road"
EYYYYYYY IT'S OFFICIAL!!!! FIRST SENSITIVE-ONLY ROAD SHOW
@ ▚▞▚▗/▘▙/▛▞ 09:09PM
Looking for a better trip?? how to find me on da road!!
Do you like electronic music? Sign-ups for private cabin group
@ ▗▘▜▙/▚▗/▙▞ 10:26AM
How to take yr strangers on the road, a short guide
@ ▙▟▙▙/▛▚/▗▘ 04:33PM
You could be a star. Want to join our sensitive bus?
@ ▝▙▜▜/▟▞/▝▜ 11:48PM
Who wants to take me along? Travel with a celebrity, wow...
Let's find all the trains! WE CAN EXPLORE!!
@ ▜▟▟▚/▜▘/▛▛ 04:23PM
private cuddle cabin, cozy times and life toys!
@ ▖▚▛▚/▘▖/▞▘ 05:58PM
There's a few things you should know about the Yellow Road. The first is that once it starts moving, it never stops – literally. So there's the really big vehicles in the center, that hold the stages - and the moving campground pyramids and towers all around the end. There's walkways and platforms, and all kinds of vans and winnebagos and motorcycles.
The second thing is, if you thought that it wasn't dangerous, you'd be wrong. The ticket itself only guarantees safety on the main barges – if you follow all the rules. And they don't try to keep other rigs from matching speed and catching up – that's all part of the draw. It's a place to really, really go wild, and that's just what Default and Valeks do, atop the massive train-car stages, amongst the thousands of people, beneath the sun, before the desolate mountains, and within constant shifts in space between safe party area and moving gears.
The sensitive rapper Meaty Mouse is one of that year's performers, and on the second night of the tour, she hosts a massive and heavily vetted show and afterparty party for non-standards only, which Default attends. The psychic meanders the edges of the party - overwhelmed by the spectacle, but connecting to nothing. He takes a moment to draw an abstract 'poem' on a designated graffiti wall, while across the room, the dissembler Bracey Wray
– who is there to sell drugs, get high, and hook upᏘ
– scrawls his own asemic non-words.
Their "handwriting" is nearly identical, though they each write with opposite hands. Each notices and is drawn to the other, and they begin to converse and flirt as they wander the festival together, bonding in particular over the game Sonic & Eggman
(released on June 23rd, 1996, for the Sega 64 Entertainment System).
Later that night, they return to Bracey's cabin, where Default tries psycholy
for the first time.
The Yellow Road reaches the end of its journey, and Default soon moves in with Bracey to his apartment in North Mural. There, he loses himself in the obsessive relationship and the chemical highs, and creates over a thousand crayon drawings within the first three weeks of his voluntarily captivity.