VIII. Philotherianism [1]

VIII. Philotherianism [1]

A Chapter by Writer #00

VIII. Phi~lo~ther~i~a~nism

            I sat in the living room of the Mess Hall, the sounds of chopping and the clanking of metal hustling out of the kitchen-dining room area to my left, hurried footwork and muffled, sharp voices from the ‘infirmary’ upstairs.  My head was in my hands, eyes cast down at  the beige carpet poking between my feet, but anyone who past by would probably assume I was asleep and leave me be.  But that was the problem. 

            There was no one to pass by. 

            The event at South Icthyes beach decided to show its face again, all deformed with crazed, blood-red eyeballs and well-tended-to swells of purple-ish hue.  I wouldn’t look it in the eye, so it took its mutilated, cut-webbed hand to my chin and lifted me so that I’d be forced to look it in the eye.  But I simply shut my own, gritting my teeth to fight back the uncomfortable churning brewing in my gut, so it squeezed my jaw tighter--until I heard the bone it was start to fracture--and I gave in to what it wanted, peeling my eyelids apart and matching my pupils with its own.  A sea of clear turquoise, beginning to stir with salty tumult clashing against a sea of dark, coagulated vermilion. 

            Listen to what I have to say,” it breathed, thick, warm, red fog blowing out of its breath and brushing over me, turning my nose into a crinkle of flesh.

            “I’ve already heard what you have to say,” I told it, its words coming back to the surface of my mind in bright red flashes of imagery.

            It tightened its grip on me once more.  Listen to what I have to say, listen again, and again, and again, until you’re ears have drank it and you’re drunk from it as if you’ve consumed too much wine.  Listen, listen, listen and never stop listening.

            I didn’t protest.  I would have to listen to it again.

            It told me what I already knew, its words spinning a tapestry stained with crimson droplets.  Images of them--my teammates--entranced by something unseen, something that slithered into their ears and took hold of their brains, monitoring and altering their mtions, emotions, and desires.  Images of me fighting and pushing, struggling to make it out, finding purpose in rescuing, failing to save the fallen, hiding those I’d rescued, being knocked unconscious, reawaking on the sand and stones, alone and searching the scraps of torn uniforms and splinters from ligneous bats for something--a message?  A clear sign as to what had happened? 

            It isn’t your fault,” it breathed into my ear, “but you could have done something.  Something more than saving a few of your teammates--what was it?  Five, correct? Five out of the dozen plus people who’d been afflicted by that terrible, terrible song.  That’s less than half.  You could have done better, right?  You could have done something to snap them out of their hypnotic insanity.  You are the reincarnation of Trogon.  Whatever did this did this in hopes it would get you not them.  If you’d just given yourself up…

            I felt the seat cushion sink beside me.  I didn’t look up, but I could tell by the proximity of my body to his that it must have been Felix.  He patted me on the back, hooking his lightly muscled arm over my neck and pulling me into the side of his chest for a stomach-twisting hug.  I felt queasy at the smell of his sweat badly masked by an even more obnoxious deodorant scent, but I welcomed the feeling; allowed it to push the event of this morning out of my mind.  I’ll talk to you again, later, it told me as its grotesque form faded out temporarily.

            “You can’ jus’ sit aroun’ ‘ere, Laddie,” Felix insisted, apparently seeing through my feigned sleep, “there’s plen’y to be done with so many people up in th’ infirm’ry.  Why don’ you help gather ev’ryones’ luggage.  We’ve got the closes’  law enforcemen’ group comin’ over by boat in ‘bout two-n-a-‘alf-hours.  They’ll be investigatin’ the cause of the anomally an’, ‘opef’lly, sendin’ us to civ’lization.”

            “What about the ones who are missing?” I muttered, the feeling of guilt crowding my body at the recollection of waking up on the beach with only vestiges of my teammates remaining by the fence.  Blood and fabric.  Broken bats and left-behind shoes.

            “Don’ worry ‘bout that.  The guards’ll find ‘em, they’ll find ‘em an’ take ‘em ‘ome where they’ll be safe.”

            “But what if it’s too late?”

            “Pardon me, Laddie?”

            “What if, when they come here in an hour, they find that it’s too late.  That all of them are…” my words drifted into silence as the heaving of sadness threatened to juice my eyes of all their tears.  I’d thought of it before, but now that I was about to say it it somehow felt only a needle’s-length from reality. 

            What if all of them--Young Cho, Conifer Heights’ first baseman for three years, Diego Northwood, the wickedly fast second, Pacer Javed, our catcher who could throw just as well as he could catch a missed ball, Arnav Malik, he wasn’t the star pitcher, but the one game he threw a stop ball sure made him star for a day, I went on and on in my head--from Bobbie Benson and Mich Wilson to Coach Jung--running through memories of those who were now so mysteriously named ‘missing’, unable to smile at them because I knew they could all be dead.

            I broke down, wetting Felix’s shirt with my crying.  It was my fault.  I could have done more.  Why didn’t I?  Why didn’t I stop Mill from climbing that fence, or try to stop Coach from going after him, or even run to catch Mill when he fell to his death?  Why, Harrison?  My stomach twisted more, like a towel being rung of its water, and I soon found myself feeling even more queasy.

            “It’s not too late, Laddie, and it won’ be too late,” Felix assured me, “I’m positive.”


            “You can mince the onions, and when you’re done with that peel and coarsely chop the potatoes,” Rosa told me, sliding the bowl of said vegetables across the island to me, “the knives are in the drawers to your left.”

            Felix reassigned me to the kitchen with Mrs. Castillion and Rosa, switching my task with Dale’s, probably because he figured the act of repacking everyone’s things would be too much for me to bear.  Especially when it came to Mill.  I shuttered at the thought, pushing the image of his death out of my mind.

            I found a small-ish knife where Rosa’d told me they‘d be.  It looked like it could cut vegetables and wasn’t rusty or anything, so I placed an onion on the island and began executing my task.  Rosa walked over to the stove, placing a large saucepot on the stovetop, dropping in some butter and turning the fire on low to expedite the melting process.

            “I’m going to need those onions soon,” Rosa said, already starting on another part of the meal by preparing a head of cabbage with salt (for coleslaw?), then she stopped what she was doing, her eyes widening into walnuts at the sight of something she must’ve deemed horrific.

            “Harrison!” she shouted, pointing her knife at me.

            I jumped, accidentally skimming my fingers with the blade of my knife. 

            “My gosh!  What are you?--a barbarian?! Get a cutting board!”

            “Now, Rosa,” Mrs. Castillion chided, “no need to be so rough about it.”

            “But he’ll damage the island!”

            Mrs. Castillion reached into the cupboard at her knees, stopping whatever she’d been doing that involved lemons and milk, and produced a little white cutting board riddled with scratches and, well, cuts.  I walked over to her and took it, returning to my workstation and putting the vegetables on it.

            “Thank you, Ms. Castillion,” I mumbled, unsure of whether she heard me or not.

            Rosa rolled her eyes, and when they came back around to their normal position they were full of mirth.  “When you’re done mincing, just add them to the butter, it should be just about melted by now, so make it quick, okay?”

            I nodded, chopping all of the violet bulbs until my cuts stung and my eyes watered from their spray (…of the onions); then, I swept them into the liquid butter and got to potato peeling.  It took me a good five minutes to peel one, and when I was done the potato seemed significantly smaller. 

            “Harrison,” Rosa began, reaching into a drawer near her, “use a peeler.”

            She tossed the tool over to me, which I clumsily caught, then continued complaining about how inefficient I was and how Dale was a much better assistant than I.  Once I got into the groove of peeling the red skins from the baked roots, I ignored her and let my thoughts drift.  I wondered where Kami was, if she’d heard about what happened to her father yet.  And Cane and Henry, how were they?

            “Harrison!” Rosa’s tone brought me out of the depths of my thoughts, “the potato is skinless.  Get to chopping already.”

            I looked down at the vegetable in my palm and the curl of yellowish-white potato peeking through the inner blade of the peeler.  I turned the potato over in my hand.  Indeed it had no more skin.  I set the potato on the cutting board and commenced chopping--at least I thought I was chopping until Rosa (who was about finished with making the coleslaw) came over to me with another critique.

            “May I see the knife?” she asked, and I could hear the vexation crouching beneath her words.

            To be honest, I didn’t quite trust her with anything sharp--especially not when she  was in her less amiable mood--but I figured that her mother being present would stop her from doing anything brash…like plunging the knife in my chest or something…so I handed her the knife.  She swiftly slid the cutting board in front of her and brought the blade rapidly down onto the potato, transforming it into a three dimensional oval to a pile of varying prisms in under half a minute.

            “You’re too slow and you were cutting not chopping.  Now watch me do the next one, I’ll do it at your pace so you can keep up,” she explained, taking another peeled potato and butchering it.

            I guess her right hand was tired of chopping (she’d been doing some knifework with the coleslaw, I think) because she shook out her wrist and changed hands.  I hadn’t really been paying attention before, truthfully, but when I saw her left index finger something stood out: a silver ring banded with amber; an engraving with the Greek letters mu, epsilon, rho, iota, sigma, and alpha.  Merida.  The name of the angler’s wife.

            “…and you have to make sure you chop the potato into approximately equal sizes--are you even listening to me?!” Rosa fumed, realizing I’d spaced out.

            “Where’d you get that ring?” I responded.  Yep, ignoring the question entirely is definitely what you do when a girl asks of the whereabouts of your attention.

            My inquiry got her somewhere, though, because she instantly switched chopping hands, brushing past the question. “Th-that’s none of your business, now finish chopping these potatoes so we can finish the soup.  It’s just about to be time for dinner.”


            Dinner was coleslaw and red baked potato soup, which Mrs. Castillion had ornamented with green onions, cheddar, parmesan cheese, and sour cream (apparently she’d been using lemon juice and heavy cream, not milk).  Dale had returned to the kitchen a few minutes after the meal was ready, so he  helped divvy up the soup and spoon the coleslaw onto plates.  Mrs. Castillion wanted the three of us to deliver the injured their meals before we ate.  She had Dale and I carry the food up while she and Rosa quickly threw together a drink of lemonade.

            We walked in silence for a bit, passing through the empty dining room and ascending the stairs to the above hallways, then I decided to ask what had been nagging me ever since I arrived back at the Mess Hall.

            “Do you know where Kami is?” I asked him as he opened a door with his foot.

            “Cabin,” he told me, stepping into the room, which contained Nate and Phayton who were propped up in their beds with a sort of confused and/or absent expression plastering their faces.

            We set a plate and bowl on each of their nightstands.

            “Eat up, guys,” Dale told them, placing the bowl of soup in Nate’s hands, “it’s nice and hot.”

            Nate obeyed, but that seemed to be all he was doing--obeying; following orders--not thinking for himself or even really registering what was going on.  I tried to see if I could get Phayton to eat, but all he did when I handed him the bowl was stare at it.

            “Come on,” I said, “eat your dinner.  I helped make it.  It smells pretty good.”

            Staaaaaaaaaaare.  Those brown eyes of his didn’t even blink.

            Dale watched me fail for a tad longer before coming over to Phayton’s bedside and guiding his hand to the spoon by his wrist.  He closed the third baseman’s long, thin fingers over the utensil’s handle; then, he led the first scoop of creamy soup to Phayton’s mouth.  The soup hovered in front of his lips, the smell swirling beneath his nostrils, before he decided to open his mouth slightly and slurp the potato soup down.  After a few more guided slurps, Phayton seemed to begin remembering how to eat soup and Dale’s assistance was no longer needed.  The pitcher got up from his knees, walking past me and down the stairs to the kitchen to get another batch of food.  I followed, still mildly mesmerized by his…I dunno, would you call them people skills?

            As you may have grasped by now, the only people I’d managed to bring back from the South Icthyes beach were Nate, Phayton, Zion, Sasha, and Josh.  I’d dragged them to a place behind a cluster of rocks to hide their bodies, then reentered the chaos.  I suppose someone’d knocked me out with a bat, because the next thing I knew, my vision was fading out of blackness and everyone had disappeared and the music had ceased.  The five I’d hid behind the rocks were still there, beginning to come to, but when they awoke, their eyes were glazed over and they looked about the landscape in a dazed ‘where am I?’ fashion.  I’d been able to lead them back to the Mess Hall, but it took a while as they kept stopping and zoning out.  When they finally made it to relative safety, they all collapsed unconscious again and only reawoke ten minutes or so ago.  The only person still unconscious was Cane, and Mrs. Diaz was starting to think he was in a coma.

            I watched Dale as he communicated with these, no offense, bodies (I can’t claim they were much more than this in that state), and how they would gradually seem to recollect whatever it is he was trying to help them do, in this case, eat soup.  I couldn’t help but wonder if he’d be able to get any of them to zone back in to themselves if he really tried, so I decided to propose my idea to him.

            “You’re pretty good at this,” I began as we headed to the last room where Sasha and Cane were being treated (Sasha had a broken arm that needed setting).


            “Um…well, you saw how terrible I was trying to get Phayton to eat, right?”

            Terrible?  You were not.”

            “Well, you seem to, I dunno, connect with them or something, give them memories of their motorskills.  I was wondering if, maybe, you just told them to remember who they are and what’s going on that they would.”

            “Um…okay.  I guess try it Sasha.”

            “Pardon…oh, try it on Sasha.” Seriously, I felt like I was translating Shakespearean to post modern English when it came to this guy.

            Sasha’s room was at the end of the hall and the door was already open. A stool was at Sasha’s bedside, Mrs. Diaz medical clipboard resting on it.  Sasha was up, playing with a spider that’s crawled onto his bed.  Although he was as spacey as the others, seeing that he retained some part of himself was reassuring.  Maybe Dale would actually be able to get through to him.

            Dale moved Mrs. Diaz’s clipboard, sitting where it had been, then he did  what he did with the others to get them to eat (it was quite remarkable, really, watching such a heart-level connection take place; the subtle differences he implemented based on who he was addressing--quite inspiring, and, for a moment, I almost, almost, forgot the horror that resulted in the need for this mode of communication), then, as Sasha was eating his meal, Dale looked up at me (which was an interesting perspective on my part given it was usually the other way around).

            “What now?” he asked, the light from the ceiling lamp casting a glare over his glasses.

            “Erm…” I didn’t know what to do now.  I wasn’t the one who’d been making any progress in the department, “T-talk to him…I guess.”

            Dale’s lips parted in a mild smile, not as full-blown and pearly-teeth as I’d seen him smile when he was pep-talking the team before a game, or congratulating someone on catching a homerun ball before it fulfilled its alternate destiny, but it was a definitive smile nonetheless.

            “W-what?” Yeah, I know I made it sound…I dunno, for lack of a better word, ‘appealing’, but seeing him partial-smile wasn’t actually a necessarily pretty sight.  It was a tad disturbing, to be frank, given I was used to seeing him with a straight and/or awkward expression (you know, parted lips, but not curved, quivering eyebrows, darting eyes, all that good stuff) whenever he was within a three-foot radius, and it was only made worse when he dropped his head and began to shake with a deep, borderline maniacal laughter (yeah, let me give you an audio: imagine Edward Hyde plus Frankenstein’s monster and a good dose of sulfur hexafluoride).

            “A-are you okay?”  I asked, backing away from him and into a cabinet behind me, which just made his laughter escalate.

            “Seriously, Dale, what’s wrong with you?” I inquired.

            He managed to settle down, looking up at me again, his eyes having begun watering, and said, “It’s just that, you’re nervous for once.”

            “What do you expect?!” I replied, “You sound like a mad scientist!”

            He shrugged, breaking eye-contact with me and turning back to Sasha. “All the same, it was nice to see.”

            Wait a sec.  Backtrack.  He laughed because I was nervous ‘for once’…implying that all of his speech gaffs when it came to me were a result of…nervousness? 

            “What about me makes you nervous?” I asked him, hoping he wouldn’t ignore the question as he had on the bike ride.

            He gave me a sideways glance, then averted his gaze all together, focusing on getting Sasha started on his coleslaw.  “Do I have to answer now?”

            I opened my mouth, knowing that there was nowhere for him to run to and that, if I said “yes” he’d probably tell me.  “No,” I told him, “You don’t have to answer ever.  Just work your magic.”

            “It is not magic,” he corrected, “it’s just perception.  You pitch to whose at bat.”

            “Well, not everyone can do that.  It’s magical to me.”

            He mumbled something, then began talking to Sasha, “Do you remember when you heard we were going on an island retreat, Sasha?” There was no answer, just the slow, mechanical movement of Sasha lifting a spoonful of coleslaw into his mouth, but Dale continued talking as if he’d made an actual response. “You were really happy because you thought there’d be a bunch of tropical animals living there.  Well, we’re here now, and we’ve been here for about three days.  We’re about to leave, so you’ll have to say goodbye to all the animals that live here--“ I don’t recall seeing any animals out of the ordinary “--so that they won’t miss you as much, okay?”


            “…Are you going to say more?” I asked him after Sasha’d failed to respond.

            Dale did, but only once Sasha’d finished eating.  “You’re done with dinner, now, Sasha.  Isn’t there something you need to do, quickly?  I’ve seen you rush off right after you finished every meal.  Don’t you have to do that now?”

            There was a flicker of something in Sasha’s grey eyes, like a lfash of lightning amid storm clouds.  Understanding?

            “What is it you do after every meal, Sasha?” Dale asked, leaning closer to him so that he could drop the volume of his voice to something more therapeutic, “What is it you desperately need to--“

            He muttered something.  A name?

            Sasha‘s eyes widened abruptly, the life and energy returning to them.  Realization slapped him in the face, and he hurriedly, unexpectedly, threw off the bedding, rushing past us and down the hall.

            “I have to go the restroom!” he shouted, not even bothering to put on his shoes.

            Dale and I swapped blank ‘what-just-happened?’ expressions.

            “I don’t think he’s going to the restroom,” I stated.

            Dale nodded his agreement.  “Yeah…he mentioned someone--a Coral--before he came around fully.”

            Wow, Dale was very perceptive, I hadn’t even been able to make out what Sasha’d mumbled and I had a tendency to mumble myself.

            “I’ll go after him,” I said, leaving the room, “if he ends up going back to South beach who knows what could happen.”

            “If my Mom comes?  What say I?”

            “Uh…” I picked the first excuse I could think of, “tell her I went to the restroom.”

© 2013 Writer #00

Author's Note

Writer #00
Yeah, it looks like splitting up my chapters into parts is becoming the norm. They're just a bit longer, now, I guess ^^' Anyway, this is SOS's eighth chapter part the first. I'm not sure if I'm having Harri react properly to the event that happened in the last chapter...I'll explain that later. I'm thinking it might have to do with how young he was when someone close to him died. As for the weird bit in the beginning, what did you guys think? Too much? Too confusing? Too random? Thanks for reading and making suggestions and the like. Now on to

Some notes:
lemon + whipping cream--> this is actually a quick way to create sourcream, here's the link where I discovered this phenomenon:
Edward Hyde--> that's right, Harri's referencing Mr. Hyde from the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Edward is the evil Mr. Hyde's first name. Not so menacing sounding now, are you Eddie?
Frankenstein's monster-->contrary to common misnomer, Frankenstein is Victor Frankenstein the CREATOR, the monster is never named
sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)-->that six should be subscript...this is the name for that gas that makes one's voice deeper

My Review

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What an eerie chapter. About the beginning, it was a bit confusing, but rather in a good way, the air of mystery and a yet unspecified threat filled the screen of my laptop. Now this chapter was keeping me on edge the whole time even though the pace wasn't break-neck. However, shouldn't the people be much more panicked? I mean when I was on school trips people were freaking out when one of the kids got a cold. They seem too calm, especially Harri. If I was in his shoes, I would definitely show a more emotional response to all the strange happenings.

Posted 10 Years Ago

Writer #00

10 Years Ago

I know, my reactions are terrible ^^' and unrealistic. Mrs. Castillion, Felix, and Mrs. Diaz didn't.. read more

10 Years Ago

Mrs. Diaz reaction is fine, there are people who have guts to keep their cool in such more
That voice telling him to give up? I wouldn't do that, but I guess there was no other way to handle it. I kinda get the feeling that Harri is in a controlled enviornment in someway. In fact, the other characters will be eventually, I get a feeling. Something is weird with Dale and it's not something they wanna know but we all gotta know what it is. Nervousness..... interesting!

Wait was Dale one of the people who was affected by the music? If so he must probably have long term conditions from it.

Great chapter by the way! I hope for part 2

Posted 10 Years Ago


10 Years Ago

no problem. I understand now! Im working on Episode 6 Intro for the volume 2 now

10 Years Ago

did you just send me a message just now? my gmail says so
Writer #00

10 Years Ago

I sent a message through WC not too long ago.

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2 Reviews
Added on July 19, 2013
Last Updated on July 22, 2013
Tags: song, of, the, sirens, SOS, fantasy, retreat


Writer #00
Writer #00


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