2010-02-14: All Fall Down (Phantasm)



Posting Date: February 14, 2010


The grim toll of war is too much for one earthbender after a friend points out the monster she's become.

"All Fall Down"

Susan Smith Memorial Playground - Manhattan

The playground has long since been deserted; the months of strife have taken their toll on the children and their ability to have fun. The swingsets are mangled, their poles bent and leaning at all crazy angles. The swings dangle uselessly from either one chain, or lie forgotten in the dirt. Weeds overrun the place where the grass used to be kept short for playing ball. The slides are cracked in half, and the sandboxes seem to have become nothing short of murky, muddy cesspools. Only one piece of equipment seems to still be functioning; the sad little roundabout in the middle of the tall grass.

In the clear, crisp moonlight, the thing spins slowly. Uneven in its rotation with the central pole bent a little to the side, the thing creaks and squeals as it's pushed around by a lone figure. The tiny woman sits on an edge, moving the thing around with her feet. She sits in a dark little heap, holding her arms tight around herself with her chin pressed down. Over the explosions, the rumbling of war farther away, a little voice can be heard. "Ring around the rosie…"

It's not the greatest time in history for a woman to be walking the streets alone. They're filled with thugs of all kinds, taking a shortcut is especially not smart but the sun has set and everyone who has an ounce of brains has settled into their homes for the evening. Hallis was never accused of having an ounce of brains. This is why she can be found running through the deserted park with two arms full of paper bags, her provisions for the next few days in her apartment.

The store beneath her apartment closed down weeks ago so the young socialite had been forced to cross a few city blocks in order to forage for food. Tonight's venture had started earlier, but she somehow got caught up at the magazine rack and spent just a little too much time perusing the gossip. The sound catches her ears and she slows her pace just a little, before she spies the petite brunette on the merry-go-round. Alexandra. They'd fallen out of touch when the war started, mostly due to Hallis' disagreement with the other woman's unconventional method of dealing with people who disagreed with her. Usually the method involved massive destruction of property and lives.

"A pocket full of posies…" Alex continues. The merry-go-round continues its sad, whiny turning, with her spinning around on it. Hallis is, for the moment, ignored, even though she's perfectly silhouetted in the moonlight. The brunette doesn't even seem to know she's there, for crying out loud! What she's doing out here is anyone's guess, though the argument can be made that she's much better equipped given the state of the world than is Hallis.

Since that day, since the first Evolved were hunted down, half the city destroyed by bombs, Alex has never seemed to be the same. Her sane, happy little life went right out the window. All she had to live for at that point was what she is. THAT was the day the tremors and other things started in the city, a sure sign of her presence. Tonight, the overgrown grass around her shows another sign of her presence; some patches of the mostly-uniform overgrowth have been knocked down, and replaced with something not quite as nice.

The moguls of dirt make Hallis' travels a little slower, rather than zig zagging around them, she climbs over each and every one in order to cross the playground. Since the brunette hasn't acknowledged her, she doesn't feel that she should really disturb her… or should she. When she passes by the roundabout, she turns and heads straight for it, she has groceries and Alex is likely hungry or at least might appreciate the kindness.

"Alex?" she calls out softly, trying not to startle the other woman at all. "Alex, uhm.. do you want a banana or something?" Shit. Banana for the woman that seems a little bananas. "Or… I have some chocolate pudding?" She should have started by offering her some water or something.

That, at least, seems to be enough to drag Alex out of her little…whatever the heck it is. The merry-go-round (not much merry about it anymore) slows and comes to a stop, with Alex facing Hallis. It's been quite a while since the two have met face-to-face, and boy have things changed for them. The look that Alexandra gives Hallis, one of the few people in NYC that she would've called a good friend in her brief time there before the war, is something in between confusion and terror. Her eyes are wide, and she looks dazed and confused. Her face itself is smeared with dirt and blood; cheeks, under her nose, forehead - it would seem she's been in some sort of scuffle. "H-Hallis?" she calls out, timidly. "Is that you?"

Frowning, Hallis starts hurrying toward her once friend. "Yeah, it's me Alex, are you okay?" Once she reaches the merry-go-round, she drops the bags softly to the ground and pulls a bottle of water from them. The scientist looks like she's been hurt. "Here, let me help you clean up… You're covered in blood…" The young blonde's face contorts with worry and pain for her friend. She takes off her thin jersey jacket and pours some of the water onto it, handing it over to Alexandra as a makeshift facecloth. "I have more water if you're thirsty. What happened? Are you alright?" She doesn't really want to know, she doesn't want to know if the woman that used to be so kind and gentle has killed more people.

"It's…it's not my blood Hallis…" she replies, ignoring the offer of the facecloth. Covered in dirt is her perpetual state now. "It's…theirs…" she says, holding out an equally dirty hand toward the mounds of dirt that surround her throughout the playground. This playground is now a graveyard, apparently, and Alexandra is the executioner. "Not thirsty…no," she says while she shakes her head. Something about these deaths seems to have shaken her up pretty badly. She's killed before, to protect others like her, but these are different, somehow. Unfortunately what makes them different is quite literally six-feet under, and hard to discover now.

When the offer of the jacket is denied, Hallis simply lets it hang from her hands. When Alexandra begins to talk about the blood and points toward the mounds, something in Hallis clicks and she furrows her eyebrows together. The bile begins to rise in her throat at the thought of what she just did, something unholy and morally wrong. She crossed over fresh graves without evening thinking about it. "Wh-who is they Alex?" The mounds seem a little small for the woman's regular choice of victim. "Alex, who's buried here?"

Hallis' question is met with a shaking of Alex's head, and an immediate production of tears. "No…I can't say…no. No. No. No. No…" she begins to sob, shaking her head and moving her hads up to her temples, pulilng on the hair a bit. "Too little…too young for war. Already turned…already brainwashed though!" Her head sinks even lower, and the sobbing continues. "Guns. They had guns. So I killed them, Hallis. I KILLED THEM!" When she confesses the scope of the horror to Hallis, the hands gripping at her hair begin to pull…before she sets to scratching and clawing at her own arms. Primal sounds of hate and confusion, horrible screams and growling sounds come from her. The blood on her face might not be hers, but the blood on her fingers would definitely seem to be - now.

The young blonde takes a step backward and trips over one of the bags of groceries, landing on one of the mounds. "They were kids?! Alex what did you do?" Hallis scrambles back to a stand an moves away from the mound that she just landed on. Her eyebrows are furrowed in fear and worry, creating a crease in the middle of her brow. It's something that the vain young woman would have tried to avoid at one point in time, but these days looks just don't mean as much. She's healthy and she's normal. "They had guns?! Are you kidding me? Children on a playground had guns?!" It's something she's never heard of before, something that couldn't be true.

"They…knew who I was. They wanted to kill me…everyone wants to kill me. People like me," she adds. "I didn't have a choice…they were caught in the middle. Nothing could be done to save them." Tears streak down her face, turning the dirt there into mud, clearing it off, leaving streaks of cleanish skin in the middle of the dirt.

In the middle of all that, though, Alex suddenly takes a deep breath, gasping. Her gaze is turned back to Hallis. "W-what have I done, Hallis? I killed kids." Then she holds out her hands and stares tat them, as if they were the offending parties. "I killed kids Hallis. W-who am I anymore? WHAT am I?" she muses.

The groceries left where they lie and Hallis begins to back away from Alexandra. "I don't know, you're not the woman I was friends with… you're a monster. You've turned into exactly what they said your kind were. You didn't have to kill them, you could have just run away. They were kids Alex, what is wrong with you?" The accusatory tone, something she's never had the courage to use with the tiny brunette before. Undoubtedly, the unassuming woman is one of the most powerful entities in the city, but Hallis isn't afraid anymore. The once gentle earth mover has become a very angry bulldozer.

Hallis' words once again reduce Alex to intensified sobs. "I know…I know…" is all she seems capable of saying at the moment. At the moment, she looks gentle enough, remorseful over what she's done, but she's confessed. "I…I have to end it Hallis. I can't do it anymore," she declares. Her voice quivers a bit; one hand snatches up the metal rail of the merry-go-round, and she hauls herself to her feet.

"I don't know who I am anymore…I don't know who I am, but I know I don't like her," she chants a little, marching through the overgrowth to where it seems she was standing when she made those graves. A little twist back and forth of her feet gets them sunk down into some of the softer soil, and she starts to breath quite deeply. Immediately, the ground around the two of them begins to quake. It's not just something local Alexandra is shooting for though. No, tonight she's got other plans.

That's it, Alexandra has officially lost touch with what Hallis would call reality. When the ground begins to shake, the young socialite just lets out a little scream and starts trying to run. "Alex stop it! You don't have to do this!!" A ripple of soil causes the blonde to lose her footing and she falls back to the ground, only to scramble up to her feet again. "Stop it Alex! Just stop!!" It's like a nightmare, the one where her feet won't move or let her run. She feels sluggish and gravity just isn't allowing an escape. "Please Alex!! Please don't do this!!"

From where she's standing, Alex just shakes her head. "I can't stop…this has to end. I have to try! For everyone." The tremors don't stop…they get stronger. Her hands are balled into tight fists; the dirty nails are digging into her palms tight enough to break the skin and draw blood. It's not stopping her though, as she holds her arms out at her sides. Gritting her teeth, pressing her eyes tight (tears continuing to run down her cheeks), she pours everything she has into creating the biggest, stronger tremor she can. Knowing that Manhattan is an island, she's avoided this in the past; now, it's her focus.

Huge cracks in the ground splinter out from where she stands. Clouds of dirt erupt from within, like some strange volcano. The playground equipment, sad though it may be, finally falls over, swallowed up by the widening crevasses in the ground. The quake is strong enough that seeing straight now is difficult, if not impossible.

Hallis is shrieking in terror and trying to scramble to safety. Unlike Alex, she's unable to stay standing and ends up crawling up one of the larger mounds of dirt… one of the ones host to a child. The recently massacred face is unearthed and turns its grey face toward the young socialite and falls on top of her. Together, the young blonde and the little boy tumble into one of the crevices and are swallowed up.

Hallis is swallowed. The recently buried are swallowed up. They aren't the only ones though. Alex seems hellbent on fulfilling the declaration that she's going to stop things for everyone. Her body quivers with the effort, trying to create the most powerful earthquake she can…

Throughout the city, people out and about, some on missions to hunt, kill, steal, kidnap, whatever, some just trying to hunker down in their homes and hope for the best, all stop what they're doing as they begin to feel the quakes as well. From the epicenter in that sad little playground-turned-graveyard, Alexandra is intently focused on doing something extreme. The massive gashes in the earth soon bubble up with water, as she quite literally tears the earth apart, creating holes and cracks where the water can seep through.

Sweat pours from her brows as she pours everything into it. As the streets begin to flood, as water begins to pour up through the ground, the buildings shake and glass shatters. Car alarms go off. People scramble around in panic, but collapsing buildings and tunnels trap hundreds or thousands. Flooding from all sides, Manhattan island is literally sinking, crumbling away with thousands of people trapped or crushed, and fated to drown.

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