The Shifting Tide: A short by Tyrud

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tyrud
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Re: The Shifting Tide: A short by Tyrud

Postby tyrud » Fri Oct 14, 2016 8:08 pm

I'm slowly (read 'very') working on the next part of this short (which is more of a long now, lol) which relates more to Colin. In the process, I got around to thinking about a thing or two as it relates to the whole story and I'd like an opinion from you guys.

Should Valerie and Colin have a child or should it always remain just them?
"Humankind cannot bear very much reality." ~ T. S. Eliot
(⌐■_■)

coinsruledude
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Re: The Shifting Tide: A short by Tyrud

Postby coinsruledude » Fri Oct 14, 2016 11:52 pm

*Church drops down to the third worst parent in C3O*
"You can only talk rubbish if you're aware of knowledge." ~Karl Pilkington
"**** it, it's late. Change it later." ~Me and Teddy

TheTeddyguy
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Re: The Shifting Tide: A short by Tyrud

Postby TheTeddyguy » Sat Oct 15, 2016 12:48 am

I don't see why not.
"**** it, it's late."-Coins "Change it later."-Teddy
"She had a face like a bulldog licking **** off a nettle."-Jingles
"so he resigned himself to dying in a trash can."

tyrud
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Re: The Shifting Tide: A short by Tyrud

Postby tyrud » Fri Dec 30, 2016 11:47 pm

Chronicles of a New Age:
Strings


Colin was somewhere between worlds, stuck in a dream he couldn't get out of and that was robbing him of any rest he wanted to gain from closing his eyes. He was marching through the swamp trees when he heard a voice behind him.

"You thought you could get away, didn't you?" a familiar voice said. He turned around to face it and saw none other than Valerie standing behind him, dressed in black, as per usual.

"You shouldn't have followed me, Valerie." he stated as she closed the distance between them. "This game of yours is over. You're better off just leaving now."

"Nonsense. It's not your decision to make, Colin."
she answered firmly and without altering her path.

"It is, and I have, so I advise you not to come any closer."

"And if I refuse?"
she asked as she stepped nearer. She got to within a few inches of Colin before he suddenly struck forward and impaled her gut with her own silver dagger. Valerie seemed stunned for a moment as she looked down at the wound, but it was only a brief pause before she stared Colin in the eyes, seemingly over her initial shock. She grabbed Colin by the arm that was still holding the blade in place and suddenly tightened her grip, digging her nails deep into his arm until they touched bone. The pain was excruciating, but Colin couldn't yell out. He could only stare back at Valerie, who looked displeased with him to say the least.

"It was a valiant effort, Colin, but you've already made your choice. Now, you must live with it." From the shadows under Valerie's sleeves, Colin watched as snakes crept out and slithered onto his arm, until he couldn't see it anymore. As roots slowly tied around his ankles, he followed a viper with his eyes that positioned itself for a strike, and then jumped at him. He awoke without so much as a gasp, and found himself staring at a wooden roof. The smell of damp lumber and the zest of citrus fruit penetrated his nose, and looking back at him was Valerie. It seemed he had fallen asleep on the couch, and his head was resting on her lap.

"You were dreaming something." she said, her head propped up by her hand as she leaned on the arm of the couch, looking at him. "It seemed unpleasant."

"That's one way of describing it."
Colin answered without getting up or even lifting his head.

"I don't dream much anymore. I can't really remember when I last did."

"You're not missing out on much."


It was certainly a strange feeling for Colin to co-exist with Valerie in the same house. To simultaneously feel both free and trapped at the same time wasn't very healthy, and yet he couldn't describe how he felt in any other way. Contrary to his nightmares, Colin could probably leave if he really wanted to. Both he and Valerie often spent significant amounts of time apart as they both went out into the swamp to look for things they needed, and Valerie never inquired as to where he was going or even when he'd return whenever he left. Nevertheless, he always returned, almost always to find Valerie home, acting as though she still lived here alone. Something always drew him back, and he hadn't yet decided whether it was fear of this surreal woman or if it was some attraction to her. Was he suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, in love with his captor? Was it simple lust? Some might say he would never know, as he had never loved anyone. But he had loved once before, though perhaps not the same love he may or may not have for Valerie.

[Wednesday, January 24, 2019 - 11:35 PM
Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan-Manitoulin Safezone]


The wind whipped across Ashmun street as Colin trudged through the snow on the street towards his apartment. He had only in been back in town for a few hours, having returned from an extended expedition to the Traverse City area with a few others. He had received his payment and was eager to get out of the cold for a while. The streets were empty, as they were most days when the weather was like this, and given that this winter had been particularly rough, the only time people ever seemed to be out was in the mornings when they were clearing the snow from the entrances to their homes and businesses.

Even though he was well dressed for the weather, Colin could still feel the dull cold piercing through his wool clothing. He stepped up his pace as he had less than a hundred yards to go before reaching his apartment. But something stopped him suddenly. It was a song he hadn't heard in a long time, and it was one that brought back the one memory he wanted to forget. He looked around for the source, and upon looking left he spotted the entrance to the town theater. The doors were open and it was clear that the music was coming from inside. He diverted from his path and headed towards the entrance, where he found a gruff looking man standing outside. He was apparently guarding the entrance to the theater because he got in between Colin and the door when the former tried to enter.

"Sorry, the show's sold out."

"How much to get in?"
Colin asked, undeterred. The guard didn't seem too keen on giving him a number and it looked like he was going to tell Colin off, but instead he gave Colin a rather obscene price in exchange for an opportunity to get inside. Colin took off his rucksack, searched around in it for moment, and produced twice what the man was asking for in the form of neatly stacked, rubber banded bills. Colin shoved the money into the gut of the rather surprised guard and made his way into the theater.

When he reached the auditorium proper, he found that the theater itself was old and uninspiring. It reminded him of the auditorium of his old high school in many ways, and looked like it could fit about 500 people. There were scarcely fifty people in the whole theater. It was hard to make out who any of them were in the dark from the back of the theater, but they certainly had to be folks with money and time. Colin stayed in the back, leaning against the wall with his arms crossed and watched as a young woman seated on a spotlighted chair in the middle of the stage played the very same song he had heard so faintly the day he found Gerrit dead, nearly two years ago. She displayed a mastery of her violin that Colin hadn't seen before, and for the next hour he watched the rest of the show, which involved a number of other musicians and instruments. There were a few solos as well as some songs that involved more than one musician, some of which also included the young woman with the violin.

When the show was finally over, all the musicians came on stage and took bows as the small audience gave them a rather hefty applause and cheered. Colin took the opportunity to leave the theater and headed outside, where he found that the guard was gone, and that the snow was still falling though the wind had lessened. Instead of walking home, he went around into the rear parking lot and stood outside the back exit of the theater, leaning against the brick structure under a covered light. Eventually, the different musicians came out with their instruments stored in cases with some getting into cars together and driving off while others walked off out of view. None of them paid Colin any attention, which was fine by him. For a while afterwards nobody left the theater and soon the snow and wind picking up again. Colin considered going home, when two people finally came out of the back door. One was the violinist whose song had compelled him to drop a large sum of cash to get into the show. The other was a man who was much taller than her, with a large muscular build and dressed similarly to the guard he had encountered earlier.

"Excuse me." Colin said aloud. Neither of them noticed Colin as they walked past him until he called out. The action seemed to have startled them, as the woman turned around and took a step back behind the man, who promptly pulled a pistol on Colin.

"She's not signing any autographs, ****. So, you should turn around and **** off if you know what's good for you."

"Well it's a good thing I didn't come here for one. Otherwise, I'd be pretty disappointed."

"Wait a minute, is that who I think it is?"
The woman's bodyguard said, squinting into the light. "Is that you Colin? Yeah, I thought I recognized that voice."

The bodyguard put his pistol away, which the young woman took as a sign to relax. Her face changed from one of unease to one of curiosity when she heard the name. Colin now got a good look at the two of them. He had never met the woman before, but he vaguely recognized the bodyguard as being associated with Morais, one of the men he had done work for previously and almost certainly a top boss among the city's shady oligarchs.

"What the **** are you doing out here?" the man asked, his tone still angry even though he wasn't threatening Colin anymore.

"I just wanted to say that the show was excellent, and personally give my compliments to the young woman who played the violin. It really put the show on another level."

"Thank you."
the young woman responded in a coy fashion. Though she was probably used to being complimented, it seemed like Colin's had caught her off guard with what he said. She was about 5'4" and svelte with hazel eyes and long, reddish-brown hair that was lightly wavy. During the show, she had been wearing some kind of dress, but now she was dressed for the weather outside. Her coat was particularly note-worthy in that it looked very expensive. Whoever this young woman was, she was someone of significance.

"You just got back from Traverse City, right?" the bodyguard asked Colin.

"A few hours ago."

"Make sure your schedule's open. Morais has an idea for a job and he wants you on it."
The man's tone seemed like he was ordering Colin to stay clear of any jobs, rather than suggesting it.

"So you're 'the' Colin Salisbury then?" the young woman asked him, stepping forward a little closer. It was an odd thing to say, as Colin didn't think he was a legend. He had done enough jobs that he wouldn't be surprised if his name was floating around, but he certainly wasn't notorious or famous. "I've heard Morais talk about you a few times. He says you're pretty good at what you do."

"Colin here isn't ****. He's just stupid enough to take the jobs that nobody else is crazy enough to do. That he keeps coming back to take more suicide jobs is pure luck."

"I'm just out here trying to make a living like anyone else. If I could play an instrument as good as you, I'd probably be doing that instead."
Colin said simply. Truthfully, he'd probably be doing seeker jobs regardless, as nothing else really interested him.

"Alright Josephine, we've already been out here too long. We need to go."

"Actually, Rylan, I'm okay to walk home from here."

"You know I can't let you do that, Josie."

"It's fine, Rylan. I can take care of myself, really."

"I have my orders straight from Morais. You're not supposed to be alone."

"I won't tell him if you don't."
Josephine answered simply. Rylan stood there thinking for a while, occasionally looking at Colin who wasn't exactly sure what was going on. After a while, Rylan lifted his hands and spoke.

"Fine, but if something happens, we're both in a world of ****, and so is he." Rylan said, pointing at Colin.

"It'll be fine, Rylan. Trust me." Rylan gave Colin a last dirty look, before he turned around and headed towards a car in the parking lot and drove off. As the wind really picked up, and visibility began to worsen significantly he stood there alone with Josephine, who looked back at him with bright eyes. She definitely seemed to have more of an idea of what was going than he did.

"They were saying a blizzard was going to hit tonight, and I live on the other side of town. It probably wouldn't be a good idea for me to walk home." she said with a smirk.

"Probably not." Colin answered simply. He hadn't planned to have anyone over at his apartment, but it looked like he was going to have to make accommodations.

[1:22 AM]

Colin opened the door to his pitch-black apartment and felt around for the light switch. Flicking on the lights further inside once he found them, he walked into his apartment with Josephine in tow. It was significantly warmer inside and the two took the opportunity to remove some of their heavy coats. Under her coat, Josephine was wearing a fisherman's sweater that explained why she hadn't been in as much of rush to get indoors. Colin on the other hand was more than happy to be home, with little more than a wool shirt and a couple of cotton t-shirts under his jacket.

"Quite a cozy little place you have here." Josephine said as she looked around. The apartment was well furnished, if seemingly underused, with many surfaces already beginning to collect a thin film of dust.

"It's alright." Colin answered plainly. "I need to head upstairs for a moment. Help yourself to whatever is in the fridge."

He took his bag and disappeared into the upstairs loft, leaving Josephine alone to explore the contents of the kitchen. It was a galley style kitchen with all the essential appliances and even a washer and dryer, though they seemed to have been lightly used, if they had been used at all recently. The cupboards lacked food, though they were stocked with utensils and other usual housekeeping items. When she finally checked the fridge, she found it to be mostly empty except for a pitcher of water and various types of alcohol, all of which were full and unopened. She took out a bottle of red wine, the only one in the fridge, and set it on the table. As she gathered some glasses and began pouring the wine her mind raced with questions. When she finished, she set aside the bottle and grabbed the two glasses, turning to see Colin was just now returning from the upstairs.

"Are you selling this place?" she asked, handing Colin a glass. He took it, despite not having had any intentions to drink upon his return, and he took a second to think about the question as they clinked the glasses and drank.

"Not for the time being. Why do you ask?"

"Most places aren't usually this well-kept, and yours goes a little bit beyond that. You don't even have any food in the fridge."

"I'm not exactly around enough to make a mess or even enjoy any food. It'd just go bad if I kept it around."
Colin explained. He elected to have a seat at the dining table while Josephine sat down on the couch next to the end of the kitchen. She looked quite relaxed, her eyes burning with the fires of curiosity, though it was Colin who asked the next question.

"You know Morais well?" Colin asked, figuring the girl had some connection to Morais and his enterprise. He couldn't help but think back to what Rylan had told him about keeping clear of any contracts not from Morais in the coming days. He hadn't told anyone he was going to Traverse City or that it was even part of a job, yet it seems Morais found out nonetheless. Clearly it was going to be more difficult to stay independent than he first thought.

"Sort of. He takes care of me and I play at his shows."

"Are you two related to each other?"

"No."
Josephine answered tersely before taking another drink from her glass. She could tell the answer didn't satisfy Colin, so she elaborated a little more.

"I came here with a group of people from out east near Toronto about three years ago. The group split up between the different families once we got here, but I didn't have anyone so I was alone for a while until a cousin of mine found me. It turned out he was working for Morais and my cousin let him know that I was very good with the violin. So Morais set me up to play and he seemed pretty impressed, especially when people started coming back more often."

"If you're making Morais fat stacks of cash, I'm not surprised he has you under protection. Does your cousin still work for Morais?"

"No. Hammond died while out in the woods. They told me he got bitten and burned up from the fever. He wasn't even supposed to have been part of the group that went out that day."
she stopped for a moment to drink from her nearly empty glass. She didn't seem particularly torn up about the loss of her cousin, though that may have been simply due to the separation of time between then and now.

"I think Morais must've felt really bad about it because he started personally taking an interest in my well-being. He set me up in a nice apartment on the western part of town and always made sure someone was protecting me. He started doing that a lot actually; taking care of the families of the people who work for him if they get killed or hurt. Probably helps that most of the people who work for him don't have families. In any case, he's really quite nice."

"It's good that things worked out in the end, despite your loss."
Colin said as he stood up and refilled Josephine's glass and then his own. From his few interactions with Morais, Colin certainly wouldn't describe him as being nice. He paid well and on time, but those weren't equivalent with 'nice'.

"Thanks, I guess. Anyway, enough about my boring life. Tell me about you, Mr. Seeker. What do you seekers even do?"

"They pay us to find stuff."

"No ****, Mr. Holmes. What kind of stuff?"

"Anything and everything. Materials, vehicles, guns, cash, equipment, tools, photos, food, pets, jewelry, people. You name it, someone's paid me to look for it."

"Wow, no wonder this place is so dusty. You must always be out there."

"This place isn't exactly cheap, and people will pay good money for mundane things, so yeah I get as many hours in as I can."

"Sounds like easy money."

"Only sometimes. Take Rylan's word for it when he says it's not a job everyone's willing to take. It only works because people like Morais don't want to do it themselves."

"Tell me more."
Josephine said with sincerity. Colin described to her a number of different expeditions out of the safe zone that he had undertaken as a seeker, mostly the few missions he had done for Morais and a few he had done for well off, but unaffiliated individuals. He couldn't be sure how much Josephine would share with Morais, or if the two even talked at all, but Colin thought it best to leave out the times he had worked with Morais' rivals. The conversation went on for couple of hours, and by the end of it, the bottle of wine was empty.

"I envy you, Colin. You get to go out all the time and see the world. Morais always has me cooped up in the city and never lets me go anywhere."

"Trust me, there's nothing to envy."

"The hell there is. Your life is so much more fun than mine. All I do is play the same songs for assholes with more money than they have any right to have!"

"Our clientele isn't all that different by the sound of it."
The two were quiet for some time. Colin was tired and the wine wasn't helping him stay awake or alert, but he pushed on to oblige Josephine a conversation, one which didn't yet seem to be over as she broke the silence.

"Take me with you the next time you go out."

"What?"

"Take me with you on your next seeker mission or whatever."

"I don't think so."
Colin said with a scoffing laugh. "Besides, it sounds like that's the kind of thing Morais doesn't want you doing."

"To hell with Morais! I want to go out there and see something other than this damn city. Come on, I promise I can take care of myself."

"It's not happening."

"Oh come on, Colin! You could use someone watching your back out there."

"I said no, Josephine."
Colin said, no longer amused and growing irritated at the girl's persistence. "I don't need anyone else out there with me."

"Why not!? I bet you think I can't handle it. Well, you're wrong! I was out there by myself for a while before that group even found me and I was doing just fine. Isn't that enough?"

"I said no, goddamnit!"
Colin said angrily, smacking the fist that was holding his empty glass against the table. The glass shattered audibly, but it stayed contained in Colin's grip. The room went silent, with Josephine staring at Colin in awe. He glanced down at his hand and saw that it was bleeding. He took a deep breath and sighed.

"I-I'm sorry, I-" Josephine stammered, still a little shocked.

"No, it's... it's fine." Colin assured her, raising his other hand. "I lost myself there. I'm just tired and have had a little too much to drink."

He was quite embarrassed to have had an outburst like that, as it wasn't characteristic of him. Worse still, he had probably made a rather poor impression on his guest, who seemed to be done asking questions and making requests.

"Let me go take care of this." Colin said, standing up and going to the bathroom to tend to his cut up palm.

After removing the glass and bandaging up his hand, he returned to the hall with the intention of thoroughly apologizing. He found Josephine had laid down and fallen asleep on the couch. Checking the time, it was nearly four in the morning. He walked over to her and took a good look at this expert musician who wanted nothing more than to do something else. She looked scarcely twenty years old. Shaking his head, he picked her up as gently as he could and carried her to the loft where he set her down on the bed before heading downstairs and knocking out on the couch within a few minutes of lying down.

[2:08 PM]

When Colin woke up, his head aching, he was alone in his apartment. There were no signs of Josephine around and signs of anyone else having been around either, indicating that she had left of her own accord and very discretely too. Serving himself some water, he noticed the apartment wasn't as dusty as it had previously been and he wondered if Josephine had anything to do with that. After a hot shower, he headed back up to his loft to change into some clothes to head outside and found a folded up note on his nightstand. Picking it up, he started to read the note in its clean, print handwriting.

Dear Colin,
If you're reading this and wondering where I've gone, I simply left home. I didn't want to wake you because you looked like you needed the rest. I want you to know that I had a wonderful time last night, and still wish I could see the world like you do. I know it won't happen, but it's nice to dream. The reason I'm leaving this note is because although I enjoyed our time together, I'm afraid we can't speak to each other anymore. Morais would never accept me talking to anyone, especially not you, because he says it's bad for my image. It's stupid, I know, but it's just the way things are. It's nothing personal, Colin, but know that regardless of what anyone says, I admire you. Perhaps we will see each other again, or perhaps we can figure out a way to correspond. Until then, take care out in the world.

Yours truly,
Josephine Moore

P.S. For both our sakes, please burn after reading. Seekers don't get the luxury of privacy.


Colin went ahead and grabbed a box of matches from his cupboard. After striking a match, he put the flame to the corner of the note and watched as it started blackening and then burning. He dropped it into a bin and made sure it had burned completely, a slight smile on his face as he began scheming a way to get a message to Josephine in some way.
"Humankind cannot bear very much reality." ~ T. S. Eliot
(⌐■_■)

TheTeddyguy
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Re: The Shifting Tide: A short by Tyrud

Postby TheTeddyguy » Sat Dec 31, 2016 12:55 am

Great post, can't wait to see where this all goes. If it's heading where I think, then that's plenty good reasoning for why Colin bugged out of that lifestyle so hard.
"**** it, it's late."-Coins "Change it later."-Teddy
"She had a face like a bulldog licking **** off a nettle."-Jingles
"so he resigned himself to dying in a trash can."

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Re: The Shifting Tide: A short by Tyrud

Postby coinsruledude » Sat Dec 31, 2016 1:08 am

Good post, but Colin being alive and perfectly fine with Valerie almost takes away some of the suspense of things in Sault Ste. Marie, lol.
"You can only talk rubbish if you're aware of knowledge." ~Karl Pilkington
"**** it, it's late. Change it later." ~Me and Teddy

TheTeddyguy
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Re: The Shifting Tide: A short by Tyrud

Postby TheTeddyguy » Sat Dec 31, 2016 1:11 am

I think that's a given with stories that jump around the timeline. You play through all of Halo Reach knowing it'll end with the planet being glassed, for example.
"**** it, it's late."-Coins "Change it later."-Teddy
"She had a face like a bulldog licking **** off a nettle."-Jingles
"so he resigned himself to dying in a trash can."

tyrud
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Re: The Shifting Tide: A short by Tyrud

Postby tyrud » Sat Dec 31, 2016 5:05 am

It's a weight off my back to hear you guys actually enjoyed it, since this one was more of a a character drama then something with action. I thought you might find it boring.

I'd say you would be missing out on some suspense, but actually there isn't all that much suspense in Colin's story until the end of his tenure in the Soo (in my eyes anyway), and that was resolved pretty early on. For me now, it's a matter of giving a little insight into what Colin spent ten years doing and giving a better picture of the couple of characters who impacted Colin's life significantly while he was there, which are Morais, Josephine, Douglas, Derrick and one last character that I'll be introducing soon (within a part of two).

I'm also probably gonna go back and rejig or alter a few things here and there across my Colin and Valerie shorts, such as when they first meet and such just to make everything fit in better theme wise. Shouldn't be major changes, but some conversations and scenes may play out differently. I'll keep you guys posted in any case.
"Humankind cannot bear very much reality." ~ T. S. Eliot
(⌐■_■)

TheTeddyguy
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Re: The Shifting Tide: A short by Tyrud

Postby TheTeddyguy » Sat Dec 31, 2016 5:09 am

The details and everything kept me plenty engaged. I was at work and kept sneaking away for a few minutes to read a paragraph or two at a time.
"**** it, it's late."-Coins "Change it later."-Teddy
"She had a face like a bulldog licking **** off a nettle."-Jingles
"so he resigned himself to dying in a trash can."

tyrud
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Re: The Shifting Tide: A short by Tyrud

Postby tyrud » Tue Mar 14, 2017 3:01 am

Had this one cooking for a while, but didn't have time to actually write it up until now. Actually came out longer than I expected, but still shorter than what's going to follow it.


Chronicles of a New Age:
Songbird

[Monday, May 25th 2026 - 10:25 AM
Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan-Manitoulin Safezone]


A bell went off in the kitchen, prompting Josephine to hold off attending to her parakeets to go check the tea she was making. Most people would probably wait for the tea kettle to start whistling before they went to take it off the fire, but Josephine preferred to set her own timer and take the kettle off on her own terms. Otherwise, she found that the tea would be too hot for her liking. With her tea ready, she poured it into a mug and placed it on a tray with some biscuits and strawberry jam that she had prepared earlier, leaving the tea to cool for a moment while she finished replenishing the food cups inside her bird cage. The birds had been a gift from Morais and she enjoyed watching them and hearing them sing, even if they did sometimes get on her nerves. They were easy enough to care for and provided her some company in her lonely apartment.

Once she finished feeding her birds, she turned her attention to feeding herself and went to the kitchen to collect her breakfast. She took a tentative sip of her tea, and finding it to be satisfactory if a little short on honey, she took the tray over to the dining room and began consuming her breakfast with gusto. She thought about what she was going to do for the rest of the day as she ate, furling her brow as she did so. Normally she would spend a good portion of her day practicing with her violin to make sure her skill didn't degrade. After all, the performances had to keep drawing people back so that Morais would continue to have a reason to front the money for the associated logistics. Josephine and the other musicians were well aware of this and the fact that if they didn't show their worth as musicians, they'd have to show their worth to Morais in another way. Even though she was under Morais' care and protection, he certainly wouldn't hesitate to have her making money for him in another way if she couldn't do it as a musician. For Josephine that would mean prostituting herself now that she was well overage, especially since Morais would likely get a good price for her given that she was still a virgin.

She couldn't bear the thought, or the idea that it could very well become reality any time soon. Her violin had been irreparably damaged during a practice session, and no suitable replacements had been found in over a week. Thus, she was forced to sit out a few shows, something which tried Morais' patience as he considered the lost profits from the lack of her presence. It was frustrating to think that no one had found a usable violin anywhere in town or nearby. How hard could it possibly be to locate a violin with all the strings still attached. So what if the size she was looking for was a little uncommon? It's not like any normal person needed a violin these days. Josephine snapped a biscuit in half before she went to eat it, her aggravation building. She took a breath and hoped something in her situation would change soon. It was times like these when she wished she wasn't held captive by her debt to Morais, but she also couldn't deny that she was better off than most people across the U.S. and even across the world. Given the choice, she wouldn't trade what she had for the alternative of fighting for the bare minimum needed to last another hour. As a matter of fact, she wondered if anyone would.

Once she had finished with her breakfast, she gathered her silverware and cutlery and moved it over to her sink to rinse it and eventually wash it properly. As she sloshed water into the mug, she heard someone knocking on her door. How curious, she thought to herself. She wasn't expecting any visitors, and she had no neighbors in the block of the West Pier Place apartments where she lived. She made her way over to the door and, seeing no one in the door peephole, she tentatively opened the door and looked up and down the hallway. There was no one in sight, only a sealed package sitting outside her doorway. She didn't want to touch it, but knowing that it was definitely for her, she grabbed it and brought it inside. It wasn't too heavy, feeling almost comfortable in her arms, and didn't rattle much when she shook it a bit. Putting it down on her living room table, she took a knife and carefully opened it, hoping she wasn't about to be assassinated by a bomb. The package turned out to be innocuous, and ultimately a godsend. Inside the large square box was a finely crafted violin made from light wood and that was just the size she was looking for. All the strings were present, and appeared to have been only lightly used though there wasn't a bow to play the instrument with in the box. The only other thing was a folded note at the bottom under some of the packing paper.

She picked it up and unfolded it, reading the contents as she took a seat on her couch:

Josephine,

By the time you read this, I will either be dead or I will have left town and might as well be dead. I cannot tell you where I am going, nor will you be able to find out from anyone else where I am going. It is better that way, so that Morais won't persecute you or anyone else to get to me. I am grateful for our correspondence over all these years, and I regret that we were never able to speak in person. I would've liked to stay, but I realized that the life I was living was not one I wanted. Perhaps I'm making a mistake, but I'm willing to make it. I wish you all the best, and leave you a gift so that you can continue to live the life you have for many years to come. I'm not much for words, but I hope I've conveyed myself in a way that makes sense.

Goodbye, Josephine. I'm sorry we won't see each other again.

Colin S.


Josephine took a moment before she went over to her kitchen and picked up an electric lighter. Clicking it on, she lit the paper note and let it burn in her sink. Once she was sure it was unreadable, she returned to the violin and picked it up, getting a proper feel for its weight and dimensions. She hadn't even mentioned to Colin in any of their letters that her personal instrument had broken, let alone what her size of violin was. She wondered were he even could've found such a nice violin in close to mint condition after all this time as she made her way into her bedroom. She grabbed her bow from its case, which thankfully was still very usable, and took a seat on her bed. She thought of a short song and slowly began to play it. The sound was very warm and even, and the instrument projected well. Josephine could feel as tears streamed down her cheeks, and she struggled to hold back the frog in her throat.

It hurt Josephine to know that Colin was gone forever. Ever since her cousin's death, she had no one to talk to or even relate to. The other musicians had their own lives and social circles, and while Morais took care of her basic needs, she never spoke to him on a personal level. He didn't care to hear about her problems, ambitions, or dreams. All he wanted was for her to play well and earn him wealth and prestige. Even Rylan spoke little to her, either out of fear or disinterest. He was not her friend, only her bodyguard after shows. Colin on the other hand had been like her brother, or even like the father she wished she had known, listening to what she had to say and sometimes suggesting a thing or two. Her only family was now gone, and thus she cried. But her tears also indicated joy. Colin was going to be free, one way or another, from Morais' oppressiveness and all the other intractable oligarchs in the city. He answered to no one but himself, and for that she was happy. Happy, and inspired to follow in his steps and become her own woman, her own person moving forward.

"Good luck, Colin." she said, the sounds of her parakeets singing in the living room answering her. "Thank you."
"Humankind cannot bear very much reality." ~ T. S. Eliot
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