2011-02-14: Teaser



Guest Starring:

Chloe, Owen, Hugo, and Kieran

Date: February 14th, 2011


Smile for the camera!



The red REC flashes on and off on screen.

Sunlight brightens the room brilliantly through wide, unadorned windows, casting everything in warm, dusty hue beams. Lop-sidedly, the home movie bounces cheerfully about the room.

The camera catches the bright day outside. A tall tree empty of its leaves scrapes twigs against the house outside. It has a greener companion in a nearby pine tree. The window looks down on a lawn and garden neglected in the winter, but its neat design under melting snow speaks of lush greenery in the coming months. A sturdy, arching wooden fence bars view of the road; certainly not Greenwich. It's quaint — and private.

It swings back. Figures run back and forth in front of the screen busily. "Are you recording?" Chloe's voice. The camera focuses on where she's attentive to a laptop, until she looks up to fill the camera with her overflowing enthusiasm. She smiles, but bats at it. "Turn it off until we're ready! You don't have to even be in here, I have this under— …" It ricochets off her hit to Owen's picture-perfect face, sitting nearby at another computer screen. He smiles reflexively for the camera, but he realizes its pointlessness, scowls and turns away a second later. Onward to a shaggy head over by the door; Kieran's glum, restless pacing proves uninteresting.

Unlikely videographer Hugo lets his lens fall away and the reality of the Valentine's Day morning sets in. It's almost time. He affixes the camera to the tripod that now stands at-the-ready — giving the camera direct eyes on the main attraction, the man they have tied and chained to a chair, stabbed, beaten, and duct-taped. The room is too long chilled for the sunlight to truly warm it; the harsh light of morning instead illuminates cold metal chains.

All of Laurie's captors are dressed down since the night before — or up, depending on one's point-of-view, for the occasion: plain black shirts and pants like a bunch of cat burglars sans masks, but the day is young. Cords winding to the arsenal of computers are attached to the camera after a few
fumbles by Hugo. Chloe's hands clap together when Laurie suddenly fills three screens spanning the makeshift desk. She leaps up, practically running to their camera shy star-to-be to give a proper: "Good morning!" Even kidnappers can be morning people. Chloe never seems to tire. The young men glance over and boggle at her. She gets her little fingers at the corner of Laurie's duct-tape. "I hope you weren't too bored!" Unapologetically, yet with such cheer, she tears the tape off in a single vicious rip. The familiar knife appears from pocket to hand, shiny and new, looking sharper in the daylight. "Today is a big day!"

Ripped off tape leaves behind remnants in a few red lines, a horrendous taste in the mouth adding to the compilation of others forming in the back of his throat. On his released lips, the barely healing cut of the brawl before — agitated earlier by vastly different circumstances — springs open when one side of the split becomes tapeless before the other, which drags along with the sticky a second long enough to gape the whole thing open. Instantly on freedom, Laurie snaps his head to the side, gallantly sparing Chloe the wad of saliva he spits onto the floor by the chair. He's fast to turn back of them, swilling his tongue around his cheek, swallowing around the discomfort. Laurie's eyes have been open since industrious movement first started in the room, but those narrow eyes only now seem to find the people causing it.

It's been all night. In a chair. Alone.

"Yes. Oww. Happy Valentine's Day!" Are his first celebratory words to Chloe, eyeballing her scandalously up and down — all of them, actually. Not a necessity; he's been able to see them since they came in, though without gestures he's down to only a look to emphasize — his hand has otherwise occupied itself by tap-tap-tapping on the arm of the chair. "Day of love and affection." Tappity tap tap, in perfect rhythm… to something. "You all wouldn't look amiss at a funeral… or a…" sideways over to Owen; hey buddy, "bad… poetry reading…" Kieran.

There's a hard cough that's contained in his chest. Not all it's held onto; there's been no more fresh bleeding, the wound beneath possibly clotted. The gleam of the knife attracts his eye faster than it did before.

As it should; in Chloe's hand, the knife is not an idle toy. Its purpose — she clearly has one — is delayed as she twirls it, teasing her intent. She's attentive as ever to all his comments, but smiles right through them. Twirl of the knife, twirl of the young woman. She's at the table in one spin and, with another, back with the same bottle of water from last night. Presented: knife and water. It's as though he's being given a choice, except he only truly has say over one of the two. "It's your last call
for water for awhile, Laurie! We're going to be very busy!" The bottle is held out in reach of his mouth, tipped nearly to spilling. An icy touch trickles down his chest. Not droplets of water — no, the tip of the knife, trailing down to the barrier of his bloodied shirt. In contrast to the practical — questionably thoughtful — task of offering Laurie water, Chloe grips the weapon so tightly it pushes hungrily against his skin until it gives slightly, as though she's aiming to plunge it into him at any second.

Owen appears as well, rattling chains, tightening them, his extra certain measures amounting to extra roughness, checking the ropes and the locks here and there and everywhere — on Laurie. Displeasure seems engraved on his face except when a hint of smugness arises when the man seems well and truly still trapped. "Secure," he says. Hugo crouches his hulking frame behind the comparably
fragile-looking tripod and adjusts the camera — on Laurie. "We're set to roll," he adds. With people bustling all around him (all except Kieran, on the sidelines), Laurie is the center of attention, the movie star. Chains and knives in place of hair and make-up.

Water offered is not shoved away. Though his query was never answered, Laurie indulges in the liquid thrust at him without any shame for his thirst, nor reluctance to accept charity from captors. It's water; he wants it; he drinks it. Not entirely well, given the circumstances, but Chloe's hand at least keeps it available for gulping. Excess, slipping away, trickles at his chin. Split lip whines pointedly at the pressure of the bottle, but is given no heed. He isn't unaware of the other pressure, but blithely attends to this one first. That is— until an extra hard — extra certain — yank of the chain at his arm jerks his body in effect. His last attempt gurgles out of the bottle, and, scraped at his cheek, he decides he's done with it.

The yank has put him eyeing Chloe around it, and he keeps this jaunty angle, shoulders giving a tiny straighten against the chair back. This camera is in no way candid; he might as well shape up for the unavoidable spotlight. There's a rattle of chains — Hugo's gone, but Laurie has slipped forward, less than before with his bondage checked, but as taut as it goes, his whole weight bearing on thick metal loops, the threads of rope cutting indented shapes in flesh as well as the knife she holds at his chest. And it is Chloe, all Chloe, that he bears in on with pointedly raised eyes out of a lowered head: not meek; it makes him look almost teasing. "I," he states, not maliciously, but as fact — a fun fact. One that he believes Chloe to already be aware of, "am going to do whatever I can to ruin this." It's a challenge.

"You're not getting love and affection for awhile…" comes Owen's mumbled input before he vanishes to the hall along with Hugo for last minute preparations, leaving Chloe to her star prisoner, and Kieran to linger uncomfortably at the computers.

A rapid, doe-like span of blinking is what Laurie receives for his fun fact. Despite the precarious pressure of the knife, Chloe appears remarkably innocent. She tries to understand, she does — she's not clearly not stupid — but the fretful little wrinkles in her young brow are nothing short of ingeniously confused. Looking down, she remembers her purpose, and sets to it.

She sets the bottle on the floor. To the ominous tune of Owen and Hugo just out of sight behind the half-closed door, rattling— is that more chains they've found?— she gets both hands around the knife, lifts, and plunges it with a determined force.

Laurie is bared brutally open by the blade.

The intrepid young kidnapper sends the knife downward, not inward. It's fabric that is forcibly sheared from flesh. It's a harder job than it sounds, and the knife drags and pulls against the clothing; thinking all the while, she saws at it, bumping and scraping and slicing the body beneath without pause to
consider being gentle. When she tears Laurie, instead of his shirt, her eyes light up at the glimpses of red. What was that she said about people being like sharks?

There's a quick pause. She tilts her head. "Why would you ruin it?" she finally asks. She resumes; the knife cuts raggedly past Laurie's stomach before she clamps the handle sideways in her teeth and takes to tearing the two sides of the shirt apart with her hands until it gives. "Wow," she says around the knife before politely pocketing it. "I knew you'd have a lot of scars, but wow, that's a lot." All of which she seems captivated by. Wide-eyed and openly staring, she's bewildered despite her logic, horrified despite her penchant for wanting to make more of those marks of violence.

"Well— it just wouldn't be as interesting if you got it all your way." But the retort is distracted, passingly distant. Chin down, Laurie's been watching the see-saw of knife through polo with a hesitation on his good-naturedness. The blade leaves behind footprints of blood that spring to the surface in shallow cuts, but he's eyeing its future trail. He spurns this alternate baring by swiftly glancing away, timed not accidentally to the finalizing tear of fabric apart. A lot: callous at the end of the blood smear from his chest, a burn along one side, the entry wound of a gunshot at his shoulder. Scabs, welts, permanent discoloration; it's like nothing's been allowed to heal right. Least of all… a distinctive arc-shape against his ribs. Constant wearing and scraping, inside and out, has left a bruised grave-marker for the cause underneath skin. His finger has stopped tapping, leaving only a curled grip against wood. Laurie's stiff head-turn brings him around to the front, only to spy past Chloe, the doer, to the currently dormant threat of the camera lens. "Chloe." It's not affection that softens her name anymore.

Chloe snaps out of her daze of staring. "Yes?" she pipes up eagerly with a politeness attributed to being called upon in her favourite class. She regards Laurie's face curiously. Nothing seems to change — for her. She spreads his shirt's jagged halves wide open. It's little more than a rough vest now; his
upper body is as good as exposed. Ready or not.

The jangle of metal still sends ghostly echoes in from the hall. Now the sound abruptly stops, the only sound between Chloe and Laurie that of the ever-present technological buzz. Strange faces appear in the doorway of the all-important room, kidnappers transformed. Identical elegant Romanesque masks
seeming carved from an eras old sculpture hide their true features. They're perfectly sculpted but lack characterization: smooth, ivory-colored, androgynous. The facades look distinctly sinister despite their carefully crafted neutrality. Their small, almond-shaped eye-holes just appear as black slits, uncaring and inhuman.

Anonymous gods.

The figure recognizable as Owen from the black-clad neck down is swiftly at Chloe's side, handing her a mask of her own. Just as quick is Hugo behind Laurie's chair. He has a long length of chain between his two hands, which without fanfare is dangled in front of the prisoner's face only to be pulled tight with a rough yank around the front of his neck and up just under his jaw, a threatening choke for
all of a few rough seconds — an unnecessary call to attention. Look alive!

The mask should be a cue. For Kieran, it is; anticipating action, he sits up nervously, hovering over the REC button on the computer screen for the linked-in camera. But although the group's apparent director has her mask in hand, she doesn't join the others' anonymity just yet. She's staring at them, and staring at Laurie — it's not hesitation or indecision that gives her pause, no, it's a clear need to know that points at her prisoner. The eyeing of her disguised comrades is slightly resentful, and she borders on suspicious— to the watchful eye.

Owen pulls a mass of black material out of his equally black pocket, but Chloe juts a hand out to delay him — to delay everything, just for a moment. "Get the rest of my stuff," she instructs him, and after what might be an annoyed eyeing behind his mask, he obliges, stepping outside, leaving Chloe to toward Laurie. Hugo keeps the chain in place like a choker-style dog collar, but she ignores the man holding such a leash. Her hands plant around the ropes binding Laurie's wrists to the chair, a personal touch blocked by the tight scratchy fibers.

"It's not supposed— to be easy— it's supposed to be authentic. You can't ruin it." Can't, impossible? Won't, he surely wouldn't? "You know that— this experiment, it's important… you— it's all important." Chloe's close stare turns askew as she tilts her head. Her intent eyes seek strange approval from the man she's made a prisoner. "You understand." Right?

Casual around the present threat of the chain, postured as if ignorant that it's there, Laurie faces Chloe, the two bared, true faces — but one is not so tell-tale for its unmasked features. Pleasantly, he drags his mouth around a slightly pouted lip, eyebrows raising in allowance. Perhaps she's right. It's no affirmation of understanding to assuage her. Beneath her hands, his wrists have stilled, giving their worn skin rest from the wear and tear of rope. Calmness has eased over his face since she parted his shirt, and he'd be almost bored except an engaged light in his eye. Playfulness, "Give a man a mask, and he will tell you the truth." A smile blooms; he must be ready for the camera.

If he's ready, that should mean Chloe is. She studies him, searching with that hopefulness of hers. Her lips press together pensively, too hard. Whether reassured or not, she seems to err on the side of optimism. To Laurie's playfulness, her eyes light up, but can't be said to match. That glint is too possessed to even be considered mischievous, let alone playful. "That's the plan!" she beams. She leans in closer to sincerely confess: "I really think you're going to like it."

She straightens and places the mask against her face, loops its elastic around the back of her head, over brown curls, and her identity — for the camera — vanishes.

The kidnappers coalesce again. The space around Laurie becomes filled with figures in delicate white masks, purposefully moving, coordinated. The three — the other, hidden behind the barrier of technology — barely speak. Everyone has a purpose in this room as well as out. Everybody has their reason.

Chloe has most of all.

"Recording in three…" Kieran calls out. The chain around Laurie's neck constricts further. Owen drifts closer. The black material in his hand is some kind of hood. "Dramatic effect," he murmurs.

Chloe's knife makes another glinting appearance in the sun just before the material is pulled fully over Laurie's face. The camera is about to see everything crystal clear, but all he's allowed to see is impenetrable blackness.


The kidnappers go dead quiet.

And then there's a strange hissing noise.

It becomes more of a small, steady roar. Still, silence from the others from several long, heavy moments. The air suddenly gets warm near Laurie's bared abdomen. Warmer. Hot. Scorching. The next step is searing, as metal heated to a fiery temperature is pressed flat against scarred skin that's felt the pain of a burn before today.

"Really?" Into the somber, readied silence — hark, a voice — slightly muffled by black fabric, "We're going to be this cliche?" A beat. Accepting: "Well, okay…" Deprived of sight alongside his various physical entrapments, Laurie absorbs the dense black in front of his eyes that keeps the world out, and keeps it from catching the heralding twitch at the corner of his mouth; not the smile they've all been flashed with; it's agitation and, even blocked by the hood, mostly denied at the surface.

A breath in: musty, thick. Before being on his head, the cover was a glorified pocket-liner, and it doesn't smell any more pleasant than possible. It's already warm inside, filled quite quickly by a few of his breaths and circulating the puffs of used air. The rest of it filters out through tiny imperfections in the black. In their quiet. Not his.

"Alright, let'see…" It takes a slightly raised voice to keep it carried into a room he can no longer see, but only sense in vague shifts, or sounds. "Just do whatever they want! Please, I promise I won't say anything if you just let me go. You have twenty-four hours to get them the money! I won't cooperate until I know my daughter's alive— wait, hold on," a rustling; he can feel himself, every overstrained muscle moving in a hypersensitive range. "I'm overreaching a bit…" Digging on his throat. Constant binding on arms as he rubs his shoulders backwards, what tiny stretching they can do. The armrest feels twice as full beneath his fingers. His head twists against the chain collar, rubbing the Adam's apple it catches on where he glances side to side, seeking one invisible masked presence after another. "Hey, so— am I being the scared or the defiant type?" Prickling sensation everywhere could be from the not long past taser lingering in a body frozen, numbness radiating from his chest, stiff complaints over sitting in the same position — but it's not; it's preparedness.

Something has to—

Tsssss— ! The burning of flesh isn't the only thing that hisses. Caught half unawares by merit of his blindness, there's no stopping the initial intake. It truly is familiarity that hones that white shock of pain into something bearable; that spot, that raised spot, is dulled to all sensation, including the one that first caused it to be that way. But searing is searing. Invisible inside shoes — and because, really, who's watching there — feet push fiercely into the floor. Behind the hood, his eyes squeeze shut, then open. That hiss ends in a drastic inhale, greedily gulping any more significant noises of the pain.

"Ooh oh oh ho ho." Then sputtered in an unashamed mash of breathlessness forced through the continued searing, the rising smell of his own scoring, and then turns to laughter. It's about as breathless. Fervent multi-tasking is hidden behind the mask; it speaks no truths; Laurie simultaneously fights down the pain telling him to do anything else but sit there, while not giving himself time to truly cope — he keeps speaking frivolously, ignoring any passing difficulty. "N-now, I'm really toast!" Bada-ching! Head turn: Hugo, are you there? "Who's, ah who's going to tell me I'm still useful even if I only have nine fingers?"

There's a presence besides Hugo at Laurie's shoulder. Chloe's excited, rapid breathing is audible, and leaning over and against him from the back corner of the chair, it's tangible through her body, too. The heated blade twists from flat to sharp and veers up out of its field of burn scarring, cutting a superficial but vicious, burning couple of inches superior. Its sudden violence might seek to put an end to his talking, laughing; there exists a certain ferocity to the knife— but it's Owen's voice turned his voice gruff in annoyance, that brings the literal: "Shut the hell up. Get the duct-tape." Of course no one does; everyone's a little busy. A jerk of the chain about his neck, however, serves as back-up. Bad dog; no speak.

As the blade presses into broken skin, rapidly cooling but still searing slashed edges, another's fingers roughly grasp and seize a handful of slippery black material at Laurie's face. Owen, by the angle. It's the moment of truth, as it were: the reveal for the eye of the camera that's blackened from his sights. A solid tug is given, seeking to tear it right off Laurie's yammering head.

It shouldn't be quite as difficult as it is.

Having something to do with the bizarre amount of fabric that's made it into Laurie's mouth. The commands to quiet — more so, the traveling of the brand to less desensitized skin — made it easy to clench his jaw down. But first, that second hissing, sucking inhale brought with it hood, so that he was nearly breathing it in. Heaving, replying: "Okie dokie." Then, he was. Maneuvering fabric, stuffing the cover along with his teeth as much as he could, a good grip was gotten just in time for— a less than dramatic tug.

Skin on fire only serves as better fuel to aid his unusual toothy grip. The tug heaves rightly uncomfortable against his upper line of teeth; Owen has the advantage; but the effect has been wrought, and it's going to take a few more to win back the black.

Of course he doesn't make it easy. A pull, a struggle — at first it surely doesn't look like much of a hitch — but then the grasping hand keeps grasping without reward. "Is he biting it?" Owen. "Fuck— edit that out," he says of his voice. He resorts to muttering throughout the stall of the reveal, warring with Laurie in an unwieldy tug-o'-war. Metal strikes against the back of his chair; dangling chain ends. Fingers brush and pinch at Laurie's face through the fabric as a better hold on the hood is gained by Owen from outside at Laurie's right. A shuffle of weight; he gives a solid yank; the opposite side of his face is treated to the fed-up force of a fist to help the process.

The fist becomes overcompensation. It's classic timing; to the full bracing of the grip around his face, Laurie times and obligingly releases his toothy handle on the hood, giving Owen full — and a bit too much — rein on the yank. Voila!— smack. His head whips one side, recovers. He's flexing that cracking jaw when it's revealed to the light of the room again, in more than one way: "Fine! Fine, have it… but that thing makes a really fantastic sleep mask— have you guys ever tried one? Guys— girl?"

The verdict remains out on that one. Camera, meet Laurie; Laurie, meet the camera. The telltale red flashing light blinks steadily at the chair and those who surround it. Owen catches himself after a hard rerouting of momentum and throws the hood once it's free, a ball of useless material falling somewhere on Laurie's restrained person. It's the only tell of any visual human reaction; the masks are otherwise immune and void of all opinion all around him.

The persevering heat and biting edge of the knife vanishes. Chloe, ever-present knife-wielder, lifts her hand — and the point of the blade quickly approaches his sights. Reaching across him, she taps it against the jaw that was not just struck. A thumb sneaks away from the handle to grab his chin. Look ahead. It doesn't matter where he was already looking. Look at the camera.

Her voice whispers at his ear through the permanently closed lips of the mask. "We're sending it to all your acquaintances with the police first. They'll show the whole world. They can't stop the experiment from happening." Her childlike voice is capable of being ominous in a whisper. Her sheer enthusiasm yet leaks through in a moment. Her overexcited smile is invisible behind neutrality, but it finds its way into her quiet voice; a voice that might not even reach the audio recording. "But I hope they try really hard to find you. Especially that— detective— " the knife shifts, turns, its razor edge threatening skin; always excited, curious, never scared, "how— how hard do you think she'll try?"

Knife leads his jaw, but he doesn't strictly follow; his head falls near his shoulder, tipping secretively to share this particular moment with the masked woman, the knife-wielder of their neutral carnivale. Curious and blithe, he stares through the facade to the excitable girl beneath; he certainly isn't looking at the camera. "Hmm— ?" what's that, perhaps she should speak up. He goes on anyway: "Oh, you mean Gigi? She transferred. I really would've thought you'd known that." Scolding, but mostly affected disappointment, as Chloe's research skills lose a point of respect — and in front of the camera, too.

His head swings forward, then, on his own time — cutting Chloe's short, sans response; he's done with her. A bit of useless settling in his shoulders. He's just been terribly burned, but it's hard to know it by looking at him. No fresh new blood springs from overheated cuts, and he bears in on the blinking red light like the genial host of a new reality show. Partially true.

"But this is going to the station! Is that right. A shout-out to the NYPD. La vie! I suppose there will never be a better time to get a few things off my chest," a har har,"— Kotowski. It's true; I stole your pen. I'm sorry. Parker— ah, no, it's nothing. Umm… let'see…" Lips fold in, press; head tip, "Officer Sumner— you said if you didn't leave the police you'd regret it with every breath, and I'm… feelin' you right now, buddy. Oh, and somebody tell him I have his Nabakov. And— " he clears his throat, in appropriate tune to his following, "officially— I'm responsible for this whole PR debacle. It's true. Check the texts." A breathy sigh heaves his chest, all of it — burns, scars, clotted bleeding, he looks back around at Owen and Chloe, "Ahh, that feels so much better. Okay! Hood me. Or— do the knife thing again? I don't actually know what's next… Should I keep guessing?"

As Laurie goes on (and on, and on…), a few shifts of feet mark impatience from all but the smallest figure, Chloe, but her grip on the knife adjusts and readjusts with some manner of restless agitation. Now that Laurie's face is free, it's free to get reacquainted with the heavy-duty tape that ripped his lip open recently— tossed from outside of their little filming zone by Kieran, Owen catches it, loudly tears off a strip, and smacks it on Laurie's mouth with a solid slap.

The source of the knife's heat, for one. The knife itself slides off Laurie's jaw and Chloe holds up what is a very large, red heavy-duty propane barbecue lighter. A flame too high for most practical purposes shoots up with a familiar hiss, bright and blazing. What's next?


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