lowreaches: (Stop)
The Low Reaches ([personal profile] lowreaches) wrote in [community profile] the_low_reaches2017-01-13 07:38 am

The beginning

Who: The cast
Where: The Belfry's front yard and parking lot
When: Morning
What: A bus has arrived, empty, causing quite the stir.

The storm fell over the town like a pall, and with it came the fog.  
It was a hungry, curious thing.  So thick and wet it licked at your clothes and skin when you stepped out into it, tasting you, and stealing sight and color from the world, leaving it slick and oily.  Shadows festered in its recesses, coiling and dancing beneath it like living things, greedy in the low light.  Above was no better:  the angry thunderheads hung mountainous over the city, spitting rain and blooming with lightning.  Storms were fierce in Sinjoh, and this was no exception, booming and growling its discontent, threatening to shake the bones from bodies.  The rain fell in heavy sheets, gutters and creeks swollen and fast with it.  Little rivers streamed across Blackbell.  It choked the city.  It blinded it.  
Maybe that's why no one noticed until it was too late.  
Out of that grey, pitiless gloom rose the old (new) crooked Belfry, and beneath it, a mass of children and their beleaguered teachers, their rain slickers and jackets shiny in the rain, whispering and sharing glances among themselves -- those who weren't transfixed on the cloudbursts of red and blues in the fog and the occasional ghostlight that meandered clumsily through it.  Police sirens chirped, sharp against the dull grey fog, and sometimes a walkie would crackle to life.  
Worse still were the keen wails as whoever stumbled out of their car up to the police barricade were turned aside, told the news, and lost themselves.
Because everyone remembered the cargo ship.
Everyone remembered what washed up to shore, only a short few weeks ago.  There were pictures all over the internet:  strange, pale figures.  Motionless.  Their mouths toothless gapes.  Their eyes worse.  Empty.  Nothing staring at nothing.  They were human shaped, but too slack, too soggy, too translucent.  They would burst if they tried to move.  Some had when the authorities had gone to collect them.
The bus was submerged in the fog, its bright yellow coloring strange and forbidding now.  Nearly twenty minutes ago it had lurched into the parking lot, and died.  It went still, lights and engines snapping off, and no one had noticed anything amiss -- the steady beat of the rain and growl of thunder drowned out everything else the fog didn't cover -- until a few minutes had gone past and no one had stepped off.  The door had remained shut.  Eventually someone investigated.  Called out and knocked on the side door, frowned into the empty inside.  They managed the door open, and a gentle rush of fetid, dark water spilled out.  Inside, the rows and rows of bus seats were empty.  Just backpacks and toys, even a few pokeballs, sat lonely and abandoned.
When the authorities arrived, they found the teachers trying to shoo the children away from the bus, many of them lifting on to tiptoe to try and get a glance inside at the back door, or smashing their faces into the side door.  The first cop car was soon joined by another, and another.  EMTs were called:  a child had fainted.  A barricade was constructed, and some order was restored.
Until the first parent arrived.  
And then the press.
The Belfry hunched over the small circus forming on its parking lot, bell toning with the start of the school day.  Its crooked arches and spindly lengths, occasionally thrown into fierce shadows from a lightning strike, were skeletal in the gloom.  School had been cancelled for the day.   Parents were being called to pick up children.  A line was queuing near the western port of the parking lot.

pay_day: (worry)

[personal profile] pay_day 2017-01-13 10:33 pm (UTC)(link)
No sooner had she joined the mass of students outside than Anastasia's umbrella fwooshed open (collapsible and spheal-patterned, complete with a beige underside; which, she reflected not for the first time, kind of undercut the effect of the pattern, if she herself couldn't see it). She felt like the fog was actually kind of pretty, in its own way, despite being, yes, gloomy and creepy.

Only, it was a bit hard to appreciate thoughts about Sinjoh's aesthetics when this whole... situation was ongoing. Anastasia had taken to shuffling back and forth, near-ish to the front of the crowd, aimlessly. She was as morbidly curious as anyone what was going on with that bus, but at the same time kind of... didn't want to know.

Like being afraid of the dark at night and burying her head under the covers, because even if the monsters (in her closet, under her bed, right behind her) were real, so long as she didn't look at them they might not be.

As usual with such things, her imagination was doing a decent job of filling things in (was that one of this school's buses? was it supposed to have been bringing people to the Belfry today? if so, and nobody was being allowed to look at it... -- but maybe everyone had gotten off already and they were just cancelling classes because of the weather; so long as she didn't know better, there might not be anything really, terribly wrong).

Periodically, she checked her phone--
("school got canceled, i think because of the weather" ; "Do you need a ride home?" ; "idk will msg you when they say something" "message*" "I don't know*" "they want parents to come pick us up. i don't know if they'll have buses for the kids whose parents can't come. there are police here" ; "I'll talk with your father, and one of us will be over as soon as we can. I'll let you know when to expect us." ; "k" "okay*" ; and that had been... several minutes ago, at least, though time felt like it was just stretching on interminably)
--but mostly she shivered and rubbed her arms for warmth. She was really not dressed for the chill or the moisture, only a light and medium-sleeved cardigan warn over her regular clothes. The chill and the damp did at least provide a distraction from the other aspects of the situation, it wasn't nearly enough of one, not with that bus just... looming there.
sail_away: (8)

[personal profile] sail_away 2017-01-13 11:57 pm (UTC)(link)
It got maybe a little more chilled after a moment as one of the other kids drew nearer. Shizuka's Amaura was out in the open, the girl having it walking next to her right about then like an old family friend. It was an unspoken sign of just how nervous she was that it was out unless one of the adults told her to put it away. She didn't have it out at school almost ever, knowing that they were still too young to really be out on their own. But, it was comforting to have the pokemon close...

Even if it was basically like having the refrigerator door open near you.

She walked up closer, looking at Anastasia and frowning. "Are you alright. Is anyone missing from class?" she asked, keeping her voice from sounding as nervous as possible. Of course, she didn't mean whatever was going on with the bus. She was talking about the other people in their class, of course, not the bus up ahead. She didn't want to sound callous, but she was a bit more concerned about their immediate classmates.
pay_day: (um?)

[personal profile] pay_day 2017-01-14 02:09 am (UTC)(link)
A particularly vigorous shiver arrested Anastasia's back-and-forthing, and no sooner had she finished giving her arms another brisk rub-down (tucking her umbrella between her arm and torso to keep it more-or-less in place) than Shizuka was upon her. "Oh, um..." the girl's Amaura got a somewhat perplexed look, but Ana quickly returned to the question. "I don't think so?" And, at that, she glanced around, looking for familiar faces... though not really to the point of trying to tally them up.

"Though I haven't actually checked. Oh, and yeah, I'm, um. I'm doing fine. A bit cold, but..." she shrugs, and forces an almost-smile... and promptly spoils it by gnawing at her lip. "Are you? Doing alright, that is?"

She kept her volume on the low side of conversational, hushed out of a sense of... well, really nothing in particular. It just would have felt somehow wrong not to, what with the overall... atmosphere.
sail_away: (6)

[personal profile] sail_away 2017-01-14 04:13 am (UTC)(link)
They totally needed a class president, someone to take roll at times like this. It felt almost silly not to have one. After all, if someone wandered off, there could be all kinds of trouble tracking them down. Still, the teachers were here, so there shouldn't be a problem.

"Cold never bothers me much. But Peanut's kind of like a portable air conditioner, so I'm used to it," she said, grinning away. "Just be glad she has Refrigerate. If she had snow warning, we'd be in the middle of a hail storm right now." Always a chance to offer 'wisdom.' Frankly, though, she liked that ability on her pokemon so much better anyway. She thought the Snow Warning Blizzard combo was such a cheap trick.

Her voice was a bit more subdued than usual. It was, perhaps, louder than Anastasia's, but it wasn't exactly loud. This place was somber enough that it felt wrong to draw too much attention. And, besides, there was a possibility there were kids missing, right? Better to lighten the mood, but not too much. Otherwise, people might break down, and that wouldn't do anyone any good.
pay_day: (um?)

[personal profile] pay_day 2017-01-14 05:37 am (UTC)(link)
Anastasia's eyes didn't quite glass over when Shizuka went into the finer details of variations within members of a particular pokemon species... but the abrupt change of topic did leave her at a loss for words for a few seconds. "Oh. Um. Well..."

"...Couldn't be that much worse than this weather," she eventually went with, what was meant to be a bit of levity coming out almost as a complaint instead. With a shiver, she pulled her sweater against herself a bit more snugly.

"So... um..." her attention was, inevitably, drawn back to that bus that just... loomed there, its door open like a--
She gave an almost-imperceptible shake of her head, swallowed heavily, and forced her attention away from that. Dwelling on it was only going to make it bother her more, so instead,

"...Do you wanna get under my umbrella while we wait?" True, that might mean the invitation was de-facto extended to Shizuka's amaura (brrrr), and the girl had a rain coat, but... still.
phasephoros: ([ 04 ])

[personal profile] phasephoros 2017-01-14 07:00 am (UTC)(link)
Emme really doesn't like the look of that bus. It scared her, and so it's not something she wants to think about or even look at. Anastasia's umbrella is certainly something that catches her eye, cute in a way that it almost offsets the dark grey sheets of rain. Almost. Emme's own umbrella isn't patterned or themed, but plainly in sight on the side of her schoolbag meant for a water bottle, and this she pretends doesn't exist as she invites herself under the cover Anastasia's umbrella provides, bumping shoulders with the other girl with a wide grin that Emme hopes can convey the 'Don't worry! It'll be alright!' she can't come to believe herself.

"We finally get a day off from school, and all I want to do is go back to bed after being drenched in this rain!" She gives Anastasia a little more space at that, half in and half out under the umbrella, not really minding because it's not like she can get any more soaked. Better standing outside than drowning in the school bus... Ugh, her stomach clenches just remembering the glimpse of the when the door opened, the dark liquid spreading across the ground like it'd been bled out. It makes her feel sick, and all the more determined to get her mind off it. "Curled up under the sheets— and doesn't hot soup sound good right about now?"
pay_day: (um?)

[personal profile] pay_day 2017-01-15 08:00 am (UTC)(link)
Emme's abrupt appearance elicited a startled "Ah!", and the shoulder-bump sent her momentary wobbling (she'd had her feet pressed close together, trying to huddle in on herself to conserve heat)--but, quickly enough she found her balance once more, and found herself flashing a grin back at the new arrival, albeit one that was awkward (on account of Emme's rather... assertive arrival) in addition to being rather forced (on account of the circumstances in general).

"Um--hi." While Emme's almost belligerent friendliness bordered on off-putting... after a few moments for Ana to regain her composure, it was a welcome enough diversion from.... other things, that she found herself not minding terribly much. "Ah, yeah, that..." another shiver, "That sounds pretty great about now. Ugh, it would've been nice if they could've canceled classes before we got all the way out here, yanno?"

It was an absurd sentiment, of course, with the rather obvious reason for the abrupt change of schedule hardly a stone's throw away from them--but that was sort of the point. Just proactively ignore it until it goes away.
sail_away: (4)

[personal profile] sail_away 2017-01-16 04:31 am (UTC)(link)
Shizuka took Anastasia's offer right about the same time Emme did. Allowing Peanut to sit outside and collect frozen raindrops, she nodded over at her and shook her head. "Hail hurts, trust me. I've seen it at work before," she said, before relaxing some and waving over at Emme, turning back to watch the proceedings as she talked. The weather didn't seem to be as much of a bother for her, not with that nice slicker covering her whole body up properly.

She shrugged. "I don't think this is the sort of thing we can ever really plan for. But, it would be nice to get in out of the rain," she admitted distantly. "I just don't like the idea of not knowing what's going on right now. You think they're really going to tell us at some point?"
phasephoros: ([ 06 ])

[personal profile] phasephoros 2017-01-17 02:20 am (UTC)(link)
"Not a chance they're going to tell us," Emme replies at once, because when do teachers ever tell them anything important? They've already been shooed away from the bus, and she can imagine the teachers telling them off for gawking, saying it's none of their concern, and why don't they wait over there for their parents to arrive? At the thought of that, Emme turns to Anastasia once more, recalling that the girl had been on her phone before Emme bulldozed her way into the group.

"Hey, you were talking to your parents, right?" she asks, lighting up a little. "Maybe if they ask what's going on, we'd be able to get a better answer."
pay_day: (somber)

[personal profile] pay_day 2017-01-17 03:11 am (UTC)(link)
Anastasia found herself suddenly feeling rather crowded under her own umbrella, though the resulting flicker of irritation was smothered before it had time to properly set in--she was too cold and miserable to sustain it for long, and so awkward wound up defining her response as she did her best to position the umbrella to cover the three of them.

"I bet we'll hear about it on the news later," she chimed in a bit sourly, her lips curling in distaste. "They probably just think we'll 'panic'," complete with air-quotes made by her free hand, "If they tell us anything."

"Ugh, instead we're just going to die of hypothermia out here or something." A bit melodramatic, but... "Um, yeah, I was. Talking to my parents. They're at work right now, though, so I don't know when they'll get here. Um..." she scratched at the back of her neck, lips pursing thoughtfully. "I dunno, if it's still raining when they get here, they'll probably just want to go instead of standing around trying to get someone to tell them what's happening. But, um..." she eyes the bus. Gnaws anxiously at her bottom lip. "...Maybe."

"I mean, that was..." there was that ugly, gnawing sense of dread that made her stomach feel hollow and raised prickles along her arms (...though the cold had already mostly taken care of the latter bit). "...A bus for our school, right?" Her voice lowered at that, hushing as her expression turned queasy. "So, I mean, that could've been... you know..." She didn't have it in her to say 'us'.
sail_away: (2)

[personal profile] sail_away 2017-01-17 04:11 pm (UTC)(link)
"I doubt we'll find out what's really going on from the news," Shizuka muttered a little acridly. It wasn't like they wouldn't find anything out, but they weren't going to get the details that they needed or wanted. It all felt like a cover up, and the biggest worry was the possibility of it happening again, to them, or to someone else. "Though there's no point panicking. It wouldn't get us anywhere fast."

She looked at the bus, listening while Anastasia allowed herself the sort of gallows thought that none of them were voicing. She frowned and pursed her own lips, her arms folded in front of her. "Yes, I think it was. So, I guess we need to be careful. I wonder where they were going last. It's not like things like this just happen out of the blue, is it?"