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[personal profile] lb_lee
Hi everybody!  This story was prompted by [livejournal.com profile] ysabetwordsmith and [livejournal.com profile] nevacaruso who wanted a headspace adventure and someone being offered a choice and taking both paths.  It takes place prior to One Step Ahead, but requires no context.  Happy Journeython, everybody!

The Choice

Remote did not like having to improvise hostage situations.  Lousy way to get a host; he might get a poor fit, a feeble geriatric.  But his meatsack had been discovered, and that meant the cops would find him any minute, and his current host had diabetes, which Remote had not known beforehand.  God only knew where the insulin was and the dosage; better to just get a new host.

So Remote put the gun to his head and declared, “I am Remote Control, and I have taken this woman hostage.  Listen to me, and no one will get hurt.”

Bad.  This was bad.  The only people in the bank were two middle-aged tellers, an old woman cashing her social security check, and a short man in dirty overalls.  Lousy hosts.  At least nobody was playing hero; everyone was silent and still.  The situation was still salvageable.

“Thank you for your cooperation,” Remote said. “I want a host, with powers.  If you don’t volunteer, then I will kill this woman and one of you will become my hostage.  The game continues until I get powers.  Understood?”

Silence.  Remote felt his host start to sweat.  Come on, come on, let one of these people have some totally trivial but useful ability—teleporting across the street, minor super-strength, something

The short man stepped forward. “I volunteer.  I’m—I’m Tank.  Please put the gun down.”

“The new street vigilante?” Remote glanced at the dirty workshirt. ‘Lorry’ was embroidered on the pocket.  Hard to tell, under the baggy clothes and without the mask.  Could be.  Powers, what were his powers… “You’re… what, invulnerable?”

Tank—Lorry—looked as nervous as Remote felt. “Just durable.”

Good enough.  Remote was in no position to be picky—powers or no powers, this guy looked miles better than the other people in the bank.

“Thank you for your cooperation,” Remote said. “Catch.”

He tossed the gun to Lorry, and as the man automatically moved to catch it, Remote hopped to his body.

There was a lurch, impact, flesh.  Remote pushed, forced his way in…and found himself in a living room.  Hardwood floor.  Cheery fire in the fireplace.  No windows.  The body he was wearing wasn’t his either; it was Lorry’s.

Shit.  Normally, Remote’s hosts were just bodies, meatsacks to be filled and controlled.  Imaginary landscapes were children and daydreamers.  Whatever, chalk it up as a learning experience, just find the control before the cops caught up…

Where the hell was the real world?

The door slammed open, and Remote found himself glared down by a woman with big shoulders and a wicked knife.

You,” she snarled, and dived for him.

Remote shrieked and hastily put an armchair between him and her.  Oh, hell no, this was bad, he was so not prepared for an imaginary protector right now, fucking fuck—

Oh god she was fast.  Stuffing was flying everywhere.

Mind.  This wasn’t real, so physics could be bent, and sure, Remote didn’t know the rules of this place yet, but who cared, he could still leave.  He reached out mentally, felt the space and shifts around him, twisted—

And now he was in a psychological linen closet with a pile of imaginary towels in his face and a hamper of subconscious laundry wedged between his legs.  The position was unnatural and uncomfortable, but at least that madwoman with the knife wasn’t there.

Okay, rewind.  What the hell had just happened?  Who the hell was that woman?  Why was this place so fucking elaborate, he could even feel a cramp in his symbolic calf…

Suddenly an alarm siren went off—on the other side of the door, but Remote still jumped and knocked over a stack of toilet paper.  An intercom said, “Lorry’s down; locking front.  Lucinda, find this asshole.”

Remote tried to calm his racing heart. (Did he even have a heart in here?  Why did everything feel so real?) Salvageable, he told himself, this situation was still salvageable, these people weren’t real.  They were just psychological fragments, a defense mechanism; he’d dealt with them before, just never so well organized.  Once he found the real world and got control of it, everything should fall into place.

He’d have to be quick about it too; even mentally, he didn’t have time for this shit.

Taking deep breaths (and stubbornly not thinking about what that meant in an imaginary world), Remote forced himself to scan the headspace, feeling the corners and ripples and warps.  The vague consciousness of Lorry tried to resist, but he just stomped it flat and squeezed the information out.

There!  Control panel, right at center.  Perfectly reasonable, really…

Remote reached for that center, and yanked himself towards it.  Control, everything would be under control…

He found himself in a room filled with screens and control panels.  All the screens were black.  Hunched over the control panels was a white woman in leg braces, swearing and muttering, trying to get things working again.

A hostage!  Oh thank god.  Remote grabbed her by the hair. “Listen to me, and no one will get hurt,” he said.

The woman’s head rotated at an unnatural angle, and he found himself staring into deep, dark, whirlpool eyes.  She was smiling.  And facing him now.

“Stupid,” she said in the voice of the intercom, and shadows began crawling the walls.

Remote recoiled away from her.  It was starting to dawn on him that this situation was maybe not salvageable.

The woman smiled, and her teeth were filled with nightmares. “This is our house,” she said, and her voice was chthonic terror. “And you’re outnumbered.”


Lorry opened his eyes to a crowd of spectators, a superhero in a hover-chair, and a very nervous EMT.  He felt groggy and stupid; he really wasn’t supposed to leave the front.  No memory of what happened with Remote either; someone would have to fill him in later.

“How long was I out?” he asked internally.

“Half an hour, tops,” Kara replied. “Don’t pull that again.”

“Are you all right?” The EMT asked.

“Ungh,” Lorry replied.

“Oh good,” the superhero in the chair said, and extended a hand. “All-Seeing Eye, Law and Justice.  That was a heroic thing you did, and I have a job opportunity for you…”

Yay!

Date: 2014-06-17 03:06 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I just LOVE this story. "You are so outnumbered" is always funny. I want to do something like this with Damask someday, but they are nowhere near ready for that yet. Anyway, I've linked to this from my blog.

This is great!

Date: 2014-06-17 03:35 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Really wonderful, really easy to guess what was going on while still LOVING the progress. FABULOUS!

Date: 2014-06-17 04:02 am (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
Woot! NICE!

Date: 2014-06-17 04:13 am (UTC)
ext_12246: (smiley)
From: [identity profile] thnidu.livejournal.com
Yeah yeah yeah!!

Date: 2014-06-17 04:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] starcat-jewel.livejournal.com
Very nice. Reminds me of Wait Until Dark, which I have always liked because of its message. When you have an edge the bad guy doesn't expect, use it for all it's worth!

Date: 2014-06-26 04:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nevacaruso.livejournal.com
Thank you for writing this; it was awesome!

Date: 2014-09-21 03:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] clare-dragonfly.livejournal.com
Oh, this is very cool. I'm going to have to read more of this story!

Date: 2014-09-21 08:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lb-lee.livejournal.com
We're glad you enjoyed it! If you're interested, the installments in the series so far are here (http://lb-lee.livejournal.com/205815.html#cutid7). You're also more than welcome to prompt for more installments at the next writeathon!

--Rogan
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