Log Title: The Gatecrasher
Location: American Midwest, Shattered Glass Universe
TP: Shattered Glass
On a chilly autumn afternoon, some citizens of Indianapolis might opt to shelter from the elements in a Borders bookshop. Or they might be there to hear a local author speak about his work.
Sebastian Bludd, known to the writing world as James Sterling, sits behind a desk near the rear of the store, smiling to people and happily chatting with them about his two previously published novels. "Yes," he says with a chuckle to a twenty-something young man, "Artro /is/ a jerk." Others in line laugh at this admission. "I can't stand him myself. Thanks," he adds, handing back a signed copy of one of his books.
Standing just shy of six feet tall, this unassuming man looks out at the world with a calm expression. His black hair, streaked with grey at the temples, is tied back into a short ponytail that just brushes the back of his neck. Though obviously not a young man, his clean-shaven face lends him an air of youth.
A pretty young thing in her mid-20's is next in line, pushing a baby stroller. Inside is a baby boy about 6 months old, staring around curiously and sucking on his pacifier. "Well I think Artro is the best kind of jerk," she laughs. "I love your books, sir. They keep me sane through many a sleepless night."
Bludd laughs, grinning down at the child. "Very kind of you to say," he replies. "And I'm happy I can do something to help with regard to those sleepless nights." In a slightly lower tone, he adds, "My son was the same way." He looks up at the fans in line. "And besides, what good's a story without /somebody/ to muck things up?"
"Exactly! It would be very dull, that's what." The young lady grins as the baby watches Bludd with keen curiosity. Then, she pulls a copy of Bludd's first successful book out. "This one's still my favorite...I was wondering if you could sign it," she says a bit bashfully.
Bludd gently takes the book from her, opening it to the title page and picking up his pen. "My pleasure," he says. "How would you like it made out?"
"To Heather Vanderpool," answers the young lady. "And put a little cartoon of Artro at the bottom, shaking a fist. Nono, I'm kidding!" She laughs, and hands the baby a toy key ring to play with.
There's a rumbling sound which is growing gradually louder -- kind of like a large truck without a muffler.
The pen scratches momentarily as Bludd signs, "To Heather Vanderpool -- may Luna grant you restful nights," a reference to the benevolent power in the novel he's signing. He signs 'J Sterling" at the bottom and hands it back. "Thank you for reading," he says sincerely.
"*Awesome*, thank you so much! Keep writing them, and I'll keep reading them!" Heather says happily, taking her book and pushing the stroller back toward the exit. Shortly after the young mother leaves, but before the next person gets a chance to approach the table, a semi truck suddenly careens through the front wall and windows, spraying the patrons with splintering wood, broken bricks and shards of glass. The noise is explosive, immediate, and absolutely terrifying.
Bludd instinctively leaps up from his chair, staring toward the destruction at the front of the store. He stands there for a moment in stunned surprise, unable to act.
The semi doesn't immediately stop, but instead plows a line of destruction through rows of bookshelves before finally cruising to a leisurely stop beside the signing table. Then, the engine finally rumbles to a stop. People are screaming, fainting, running away, or staring in shock, simply not believing their eyes. The door to the semi opens with an exhausted hiss. As it does, a bunch of trash falls out of the cab: empty spaghetti cans, plastic soda bottles, empty liquor bottles, used drug paraphernalia, and other sundry litter. Then, Deadline pushes himself out of the trash heap, grinning as he hops out of the cab. "Damn, this place is like one big suburban...ghetto. A ghetto of pseudo-intellectuals! Where fake people come to pretend to be interested in boring sh-t. Yeah." He looks around in appraisal, grinning cheekily, then turns toward Bludd. "...What's up."
You see a man in his late 20s - early 30s, who stands a few inches shy of 6 ft. tall, and has an average build. Despite his slightly below-average height, he seems taller at first glance, because of his rather imposing appearence.
His waist-long hair is dark, snagged into a wild, raven ponytail which hangs down his back. A 5 o'clock shadow adorns his lower face, and there's usually a lit cigarette dangling from his lip when he speaks. His wild brown eyes are partially obfuscated behind green-tinted prescription glasses. Both ears are outfitted with countless piercings, bars, and chained adornments.
He's dressed in a dull grey 'wifebeater' style tank top, which is tucked into a pair of form-fitting camo pants. Over the tank top, he wears a black leather jacket shell with the sleeves ripped out. His exposed arms are adorned with all sorts of tribal tattoos, from his biceps down to his wrists. His hands are covered with black leather fingerless 'biker' gloves. These seem to match his knee-high, black leather steel toe boots.
He also wears a fairly obvious belt holster with ammo clips, and a Heckler & Koch USP.
Bludd stares in disbelief at the figure standing before him. His gaze moves to the semi truck and the shattered bookshelves, then back to the tattooed man with the weaponry. His mouth works soundlessly for a moment before he shuts it again. Taking a step back, he blurts, "What -- what the hell?" It's the best thing he can come up with, under the circumstances.
"What, you don't think I can read?? Well I *can*," Deadline says. "I read all kinds of stuff. See, that's the thing: you can't judge a book by its cover." He suddenly draws his weapon. "See, I know some things about you, man. Some interesting things."
Having a gun pointed at him goes a long way toward making a man forget his complaints. Bludd's world shrinks to himself and this maniac with the gun. The fact the man just crashed a semi truck through the wall of a bookstore, potentially injuring a whole lot of people, is a detail that slips away for the moment. He stares at the barrel of the weapon, his eyes wide, then looks into its master's eyes. "What d'you mean?" he breathes.
"Don't play with me, man! I hate that," Deadline grumbles irritably. "You know damn well what I mean. You wanna think that you're Joe Blow from an Indy suburb, with your normal family and your happy life, but you're only deluding YOURSELF!" His pitch goes up a notch, and he gives the stinkeye to some Good Samaritan fan of the author's sneaking up from behind. Just like a pitcher snagging a runner stealing a base, he shoots the fan dead, then turns back around to continue to address the author. "You're trying to *hide behind* this sh-t. Don't deny it. I know your game," Deadline grouses darkly.
Bludd's jaw drops as the maniac kills the unfortunate fan. "I - I ..." He stares at the body, stricken. "I - don't know what you're talking about," he whimpers. "You didn't need to kill that man," he adds in a whisper.
"Oh, so, uh..." Deadline's insane facade suddenly drops, and he gets a rather neutral expression as he looks around at the chaos. "OK, I guess I got the wrong guy. It's happened." He shrugs slightly, looking extremely unconcerned about the dead guy on the floor. "So I guess the name 'Scott' means nothing to you, then."
Bludd draws in a sharp breath. His eyes narrow. "What does it mean to /you/?" he asks, a note of challenge in his voice.
"Maybe nothing," Deadline says coyly. "Maybe I'm just some guy from suburban-f'ing-Indy just comin' in here to get my book signed." He grins as he sees he's managed to get an emotional reaction out of Bludd.
"You smash a semi into the store and point a gun at me to get my autograph?" Bludd shouts, the beginnings of hysteria tinging his voice. Forgetting his danger, he takes a step toward the maniac. "What the hell do you want?" he cries, his voice cracking on the final word.
"I came here to tell you that Scott is destined for great things," Deadline says with a secretive smile, greatly enjoying Bludd's personal pain. It's almost as if he gets off on it, in a way. "We got a great government in this country. Damned great. Some people don't appreciate the greatness, sometimes, and that's just a shame." He looks around again, and admits, "...I coulda used the front door, but I *HATE* these f-in box stores. Also, the semi I been livin' in for about 2 weeks was gettin' kind of rank. 2 birds, 1 stone."
Bludd's face goes pale. "What do you mean, 'great things'?" A shudder goes through his body and his fists clench at his sides. "Who /are/ you?"
"Would it matter if I told you?? Would it matter?? Seriously? ...I don't think it would." Deadline tosses his hair back, and sighs in disgust at the sound of approaching sirens. "...Great, here come the pigs. Listen I gotta go -- but before I do, lemme just tell you this." He leans in towards Bludd, and speaks in a softer tone. "Scott made the cut, I can tell you that much. He's one of few who did. Major project, *major*."
As the police begin storming in, Deadline shoots a few holes in the weakened wall above them, and it gives way, toppling onto them in large chunks. With this distraction going on, Deadline bolts into a sprint, toward the rear doors.
Bludd watches the maniac run off, slowly becoming aware of the sirens and the police. "Major project..." he mumbles, his blood running cold. "What are they planning to do to my son?"
Deadline leaves the poor man to wallow in worry as the authorities flood into the ruined store. Just the idea that he completely shattered Bludd's little world is enough to energize him with a strange excitement. He hides out in a nearby storm drain as the chaos and cleanup ensues, wiling away the time by shooting up a bit of smack. "Who are yooou? Where's my soonnnn?" he makes fun of Bludd's tortured queries, then chuckles darkly.