othersdie: shadows withering the flowers (!Multipurpose)
Justin Pendleton ([personal profile] othersdie) wrote2015-01-18 01:58 am
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Ah, wretch! Today he says: I know it all,
And goes away closing his eyes and ears.
And the gods are no more! Mankind is King,
And Man is God! But Love is the only faith...

[Rimbaud, "Credo In Unam"]


[player name]: Veda
[personal journal]: [personal profile] not_as_it_is
[plurk]: cheatreality
[other characters currently played]: N/A

[series]: Murder by Numbers
[character]: Justin Pendleton

[character history / background]:
Justin Pendleton was born to a relatively wealthy family in San Benito, California. After his parents separated, his father left for parts unknown and Justin lived with his inattentive mother. In his teens, Justin cultivated the outward appearance of a naive, tightly-laced scholar even as he began experimenting with absinthe, the poison of choice for the writers he admired. In the privacy of his room, he read poetry, philosophy, and, after taking Nietzsche's philosophies to heart, books on criminal science.

Justin attended Jefferson High School where his introversion and academic talents earned him a reputation as a dork and an existence as a loner. His life took an abrupt turn when he found himself tutoring rich and popular Richard Haywood; the two boys, as different as night and day at first glance, discovered a mutual interest in crime and quickly formed a tight, almost symbiotic relationship. Richard relied on Justin’s knowledge, Justin on Richard’s ability to turn thought into action.

Justin and Richard met, formed a suicide pact, and plotted the ultimate crime—a murder that would never be solved by the San Benito police—in secrecy. After they executed their murderous plan successfully, their lives became complicated by two women: Cassie Mayweather and Lisa Mills.

Lisa, one of countless girls to visit Richard’s bed, took an interest in Justin and asked him to tutor her. Justin’s lack of experience with girls made him vulnerable to her charms. In an attempt to woo the pretty, popular Lisa, Justin took her to his greenhouse and, in a moment of uncharacteristic boldness, kissed her. Richard wasn’t pleased with this development and took it upon himself to show Justin precisely what kind of a girl Lisa was by way of a video showing Lisa and Richard in bed--a move that created a gulf between the boys.

In the midst of this drama, Officer Cassie Mayweather was intent on connecting Richard and, later, Justin to a murder that was, as far as the rest of the San Benito police force was concerned, solved and closed. Through dumb luck and a number of legally questionable maneuvers, Cassie managed to reveal their nearly flawless plan.

Justin and Richard, aware that they had been found out, resolved to end their lives—or so Justin thought. Richard attempted to worm out of their suicide pact by emptying the chambers of his gun. Justin, plagued by a guilty conscience and determined to see the pact through, was prepared to end his own life when Cassie interfered. In the ensuing shootout, Justin was injured protecting Cassie and Richard fell to his death. Cassie tricked Justin into admitting that he had been the one to physically murder Olivia and had Justin arrested.

The movie's narration of events ends here, but this version of Justin has lived through what I deem the logical aftermath of the movie. After his arrest, Justin was taken to prison. His trial was arranged quickly, due in large part to his parents' considerable financial resources, and Justin plead guilty to all charges. He was summarily convicted of premeditated murder and executed in California's gas chambers at the earliest possible date.*


[character abilities]:
Justin’s talents lie in the mental realm. He has extensive knowledge of criminal investigation techniques (acquired by excessive reading), an aptitude for planning, and an academic genius that makes him a brilliant student and a quick learner. Justin enjoys defending philosophical positions, even those that he is not fully convinced of himself. He thinks every argument, problem, and action through so completely and obsessively that his insightfulness and intelligence is sometimes thoroughly obscured by indecision and internal conflict. Justin is at his intellectual best when emotion doesn't interfere with logic.

Outside of above-average intelligence, Justin's abilities include knowledge of the French language, something of a green thumb where exotic flowers are concerned, and strategic competence.

Justin is a keen observer of human behavior and, in spite of his general social awkwardness, naturally tries to understand the minds and motivations of others. When his judgment isn’t thrown off by lingering naïveté or anxiousness, Justin can readily piece the psychological profile of an individual together with a fair amount of accuracy.


[character personality]:
Justin is quiet and withdrawn, often preferring books, plants, and engaging in virtually any other solitary activity to human company. His demeanor typically ranges from apathetic to melancholy; when in a rare good mood, Justin may display a dry sense of humor. His primary interests are philosophy and crime, although his broad array of secondary interests includes classical music, psychology, gardening, linguistics, general problem-solving, and poetry. When forced to be among other people, Justin tries to remain as inconspicuous as possible.

He is a diligent study, polite--if somewhat awkward--when spoken to, and more inclined to think than to act. Justin lives primarily in an inner world, keeping the vast majority of his thoughts and ideas to himself (or in private journals). His visible reactions to events are often subdued and passive, giving him a detached and occasionally emotionless demeanor. This is immensely helpful in a crisis, as Justin isn’t one to lose his head in an emergency. At times, however, his own thoughts overwhelm him and render him unstable.

His interactions with others are, as a rule, hesitant, halting, and as brief as possible. While he’s capable of incredible eloquence, the presence of others frequently leaves him tongue-tied. Justin’s tendency to second-guess everything he says occasionally makes him fumble for words even in friendly conversations.

In spite of his social awkwardness and apathetic attitude towards humanity as a whole, Justin—often to his chagrin—does feel a need to form relationships with others. He has an unhealthy preoccupation with people who live a life free from society’s rules, takes great interest in those he can’t assess immediately, and he can’t help but be intrigued and mystified by others who treat him kindly.

Justin is organized, driven to succeed, reliable unless given reason not to be, and loyal to those who have earned his respect or trust. In spite of any outward signs of weakness, Justin is a surprisingly resilient individual; he might break down under the weight of his own thoughts and regrets or retreat in a distressing situation, but he always manages to pull himself back together.

For all of his quiet bookishness, shyness, and outward submissiveness, Justin isn’t an innocent. He is more than capable of being manipulative, cunning, and, when under intense pressure or in a high-anxiety situation, frighteningly and dangerously devoid of emotion.


[point in timeline you're picking your character from]: Post-movie and post-execution (which didn’t happen in canon, but was the almost inevitable outcome). Justin will enter the City without memories of his previous stay, but regain them gradually.


[journal post]:
[Justin, unaffected by the cold induced by sitting near the fountain that the City had seen fit to drop him into during winter, finally tires of waiting for what he’s convinced what must be a trick of the mind to dissipate and resolve itself into the nothingness of death. For a lack of any other distractions, he fumbles with the device he had found in his pocket earlier.

He doesn’t fully understand why he would bother hallucinating what resembles a tape recorder. The brain is truly a strange and unfathomable thing.]


Am I dead yet?

[It’s a ridiculous question. He still exists enough to imagine things; the answer is clearly no.]

If not, I’d like to know why I’m being delayed.


[third person / log sample]:
Justin was still convinced that he was hallucinating. As real as the winter cold felt and as convincingly animated as the city around him appeared, there was no alternative. To admit that this was reality would be to accept the unacceptable: that death was more than a void, more than a welcome cessation of consciousness.

Unacceptable.

When his philosophies and plans and partner had failed him, the teenager had turned to the promise of future oblivion for comfort. What else could he rely on? He had faltered—had destroyed his own convictions. Freedom from societal rules and human limitations sounded beautifully attainable when it was nothing but words and theories; put into action, the ruthlessness that freedom required was almost impossible. Justin was too weak to be free and too uncertain to know whether or not the freedom he had been after was something an individual was meant to possess. He didn’t know if Nietzsche’s Übermensch was a god or a monster.

But death had never been uncertain. Any hope of dying a great individual rather than an insignificant and anonymous member of the herd had been extinguished early on, but Justin was willing to accept that. After failing so magnificently, he deserved to be forgotten just like every other unremarkable person. After what they had done—

No, after what he had done. Richard might have had a part in the murder, but Cassie had made it abundantly clear that the blood was on Justin’s hands. Justin had come closer to freedom than Richard and he had to pay for that glimpse of terrible greatness in spite of his pathetic attempts to redeem himself. Or had Richard been freer? He was the one who had forsaken loyalty in the name of self-interest. He was the one who had embraced murder in the end.

Justin didn’t know who was free and who was captive. He didn’t know if the structure that had supported his convictions could stand, if greatness necessitated crime, if good and evil were truly subjective, if there was justice in the world. All he had known after Richard’s death was that none of his uncertainty and inner conflict would matter when life gave way to nothingness. Death had been the only certainty, and that had been a welcome thought.

And because death was certain and death was oblivion, Justin continued to tell himself that he was hallucinating. Gas chambers weren’t the most efficient means of killing killers; there was a time between consciousness and death where, in theory, the brain was still active and vivid hallucinations could occur. That’s where Justin was: between life and death, experiencing a false reality created by a brain in its death throes. That had to be it. This wintry city couldn’t be death.

That would be unacceptable.


* Further research has led me to discover that the state of California officially replaced the gas chamber at San Quentin with lethal injection in the year 1994 as it was considered too cruel and unusual.  Justin's year of execution would be around 2004 (following a logical timeline from the movie's end).  California, however, is currently one of five states that, in theory, still allows for execution by gas chamber; while such a death cannot be forced upon anyone, the condemned are able to elect (still in theory) to die in the gas chamber if they feel that they deserve a particularly unpleasant death.  This means that, theoretically, Justin could have chosen the gas chamber over lethal injection.  Given Justin's unflattering penchant for martyrdom, it seems reasonable enough to think that he made such a choice (although it would have caused quite a stir, especially because of his age).