othersdie: happy in present good, pale from evil past (Almost a smile)
Electra, a small tabby cat

✔ Worn notebook (contains the contents of all entries that are filtered or "off the network")
✔ Box of cards collected in the City
✔ A number of books, including:
        ✔ The Complete Works of T.S. Eliot
        ✔ Rimbaud: A Collection in the Original French
        ✔ The Prince
        ✔ Poe: The Complete Works (Unabridged)
        ✔ All of the works of Friedrich Nietzsche
        ✔ Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (from Neil)
Painting by Carla
Photo from home, courtesy of a curse

✔ Glock 9MM
✔ A variety of flowers in a miniature greenhouse
✔ Absinthe and marijuana, in varying amounts

text;

Jan. 8th, 2013 07:34 pm
othersdie: the low-hanging sun speckled with mystic horrors (Uneasy)
The deities are calling them an infection. "Unwanted, unregistered guests." Beings that the deities didn't let into the City and, apparently, can't force out.

Considering their lack of control over the situation, I have my doubts about their suggested methods of extermination. I've seen fire in action. The infected catch fire well enough, but the ashes only breed more of them. Do not set the infected on fire.

Corralling them is ridiculous without superpowers. A human who tries to herd these things into a stadium will end up dead or, if they're lucky, just bitten. And why corral them? What does Fice want to do these infected monsters that wear the faces of people we've known?

My recommendations:
- Stay in a reinforced building if you don't fight. Avoid windows.
- Don't be a hero.
- Keep your distance if you can.
- The infected don't always die. I was only able to kill the two I knew.
- Destroy the heart or destroy the head.
- Hearts are difficult to shoot. Aim for the head.
- Remind yourself that this is the City. The City doesn't import undead versions of people we know, but it has a history of torturing us with specters of loved ones. This is a trick.
- If you need help, call someone. The police are doing what they can.
- DON'T BURN THE INFECTED.


[COMMENTS]
othersdie: are you exiled in those bottomless nights? (Confused)
[There is a bird standing on top of this camera--no, pecking this camera. If it wasn't talking, it would be an unremarkable little brown bird.]

I just want a chance. I want to start over.

[For those who have been following the network today, it shouldn't be surprising to hear a bird using Justin's voice (or what sounds like Justin's voice; he doesn't usually sound quite so desperate).

Peck peck peck.]


I just want a chance. I want to start over.

I just want a chance. I want to start over.

[Peck peck--click!]

Private Text // Off Network )

[ooc: Video is entiiirely accidental and Justin won't know about it until he's informed. Additionally, my notifs are kind of wonky; please forgive me if replies aren't quick!]

[video]

Nov. 11th, 2012 01:03 pm
othersdie: are you exiled in those bottomless nights? (Curse)
[Justin wakes up in a place that is definitely not his room. This, however, is a thing that he notices only after the initial wave of agonizing pain subsides. Looking at the video feed, a careful observer will notice that this doesn't look like Justin. There's something different about the face, the hair...]

What...

[He's in the Welcome Center in one of the guest beds. Therefore, it shouldn't be much of a surprise that Penny's voice can be heard in the background.]

Jimmy? Do you need more medicine?

I don't-- [Oh. Oh. Realization dawns--and is immediately derailed by pain. What the hell did Jimmy do?] Yes. Please.

Just give me a minute, okay?

Thanks.

[He notices the device's recording light. With a sigh that becomes a groan as moving proves to be a bad idea, Justin grabs the device. Before turning it off--]

Jimmy. I have something that belongs to you.

[COMMENTS]

[video]

Nov. 3rd, 2012 12:24 pm
othersdie: are you exiled in those bottomless nights? (She never notices)
[This is Justin making a post. Reluctantly. If there weren't people he hopes to see again, he would happily spend the day in his room with his cat and a book. As it is, he's in the garden with his cat and a book.]

For those of you who are new to the City, don't panic. This happens periodically. It's temporary. Anyone who arrived today and hasn't been here before: Don't panic. You'll go home soon.

"Don't panic" is actually the best advice I have.

If you're looking for me, I'll be in Xanadu.


[Private to Ken Ichijouji]

I'd like to discuss something with you, please.

[COMMENTS]
othersdie: are you exiled in those bottomless nights? (Default)
Basically everything is headcanon or extrapolation. I have over five years' worth, so this Justin isn't the same as the one I'd play if he was directly from the movie.

Body and Appearance
1. Describe the character's height and build. Is he heavyset, thin, short, rangy?
Justin is five-foot-ten (and a half); this is, according to the internet at large, Michael Pitt's actual height, so I'll roll with it. In canon, he's lean and on the slighter side of average. In-game, he's a bit thinner (jail time and being dead will do that to a person). He has never managed to gain any lost weight back.

2. How old is he?
Seventeen in canon. Following my headcanon, Justin was executed in the latter half of his nineteenth year. Therefore, factoring in time spent dead and all of that crazy stuff, he has just over twenty-four years of existence under his belt but is physiologically twenty.

3. Describe his posture. Does he carry himself well or does he slouch?
He's a terrible sloucher out of habit, but Justin consciously attempts to sit up straight in public.

4. How is his health? Is he fit or out of shape? Any illnesses or conditions? Any physical disabilities?
When he's alive, Justin has mild asthma, a handful of allergies, and is prone to anemia. When dead, none of this bothers him because breathing and ingesting appropriately nutritious foods aren't exactly on the agenda. He's not particularly fit, being cerebral rather than physical, but he's not a far cry from average.

5. How does he move? Is he clumsy, graceful, tense, fluid?
Justin is a klutz (canon). In the time that has passed since he was seventeen, however, he has lost a good deal of his coltish clumsiness and is capable of being almost graceful--provided he isn't made to dance. He's always tense.

6. How attractive is this character physically? How does he perceive himself in the mirror?
YMMV. Other characters in Justin's canon seem to find him at least moderately attractive in spite of his button-up shirts, khaki pants, and loafers. Some find his full lips attractive. Personally, I think he has very pretty eyes but would put him at a six out of ten. Justin doesn't perceive himself as either attractive or hideous; as long as he's neat and clean, he doesn't care about his appearance.

7. Describe his complexion. Dark, light, clear, scarred?
He's vampire-pale with a tendency to redden easily when alive. When dead, he looks about the same (minus the tell-tale blushing). I would go so far as to describe Justin's complexion, dead or alive, as sickly and sallow with dark under-eye circles.

He has scars (tidy, horizontal cuts) on both wrists from an experiment performed at the age of fourteen (headcanon!). Justin wanted to see if he could garner his parents' attention by "attempting" suicide (although, as he told the paramedic who treated him, he would have cut vertically if he had wanted to die).

8. Describe his hair: color, texture, style.
Justin has hair that walks the line between blond and brunette. I would call it dishwater blond bordering on a mousy brown. It's fine and he tends to keep it pushed back behind his ears in a cut that's too long to be stylish and too short to be cool. He's averse to getting his hair cut and it has grown while he's been in the City.

9. What color are his eyes?
Very blue, although they look quite green against the right background. I could say something vaguely poetic about how his eyes look like a stormy ocean, but I'd rather not.

10. Does the character have any other noteworthy features?
His eyes are striking and his lips are quite prominent... assuming you can see his face through his hair.

11. What are his chief tension centers?
Upper back, chest, and the back of his neck.

12. What is the character's wardrobe like? Casual, dressy, utilitarian? Bright colors, pastels, neutrals? Is it varied, or does he have six of the same suit?
Justin hasn't outgrown his habit of dressing like an adult going to a reasonably dressy work environment. Khaki pants, loafers, and button-up shirts in a variety of drab tones are the usual. He has an unremarkable gray jacket for cold weather and a few t-shirts that he only wears if he's staying home.

13. Do his clothes fit well? Does he seem comfortable in them?
His clothes fit well, but he still manages to look hopelessly uncomfortable in them. In his skin. In general.

14. Does he dress the same on the job as he does in his free time? If not, what are the differences?
See twelve. He has, however, reached a point where he occasionally takes off his socks and loafers in the garden or on the beach.

15. You knew it was coming: Boxers, briefs or commando?
Briefs. He's not exciting.


Speech
1. What does this character's voice sound like? High-pitched, deep, hoarse?
Justin's voice is smooth and, in casual conversation, very quiet. He's capable of speaking loudly and distinctly when necessary. Overall, he has the kind of voice that forces a person to turn the volume on the television up if they want to hear what he's saying.

2. How does he normally speak? Loud, soft, fast, evenly? Does he talk easily, or does he hesitate?
As a rule, Justin's speech is soft and hesitant. He can be remarkably eloquent when talking about something he's familiar with, but tends to trip over his words and stammer when trying to convey thoughts on difficult things like emotions or, you know... interact with people. He's getting better.

3. Does the character have a distinct accent or dialect? Any individual quirks of pronunciation? Any, like, you know, verbal tics?
He has no pronounced verbal tics and no definable accent.

4. What language/s does he speak, and with how much fluency?
Justin's a native English speaker, fluent in French, and not wholly unfamiliar with Latin and Greek (but not the least bit fluent in either).

5. Does he switch languages or dialects in certain situations?
Never.

6. Is he a good impromptu speaker, or does he have to think about his words?
He has to think about everything, words included. This makes him a dreadful partner when it comes to casual conversation.

7. Is he eloquent or inarticulate? Under what circumstances might this change?
See two. On the rare occasion when he becomes angry, Justin can be rather good with words. When he's otherwise upset, however, his ability to string words together deteriorates.


Mental and Emotional
1. How intelligent is this character? Is he book-smart or street-smart?
Justin is described as "a genius" and "the smart one." He regularly tutored other students in high school and has a broad store of general academic knowledge. He learns quickly and, if I had to guess, has an IQ in the ballpark of 130. Booksmarts come more readily to Justin, but, being the prodigious learner that he is, he does have his fair share of streetsmarts.

2. Does he think on his feet, or does he need time to deliberate?
Although he has gotten better at taking action without going through an agonizingly long period of deliberation, Justin is and always will be the sort of person who needs time to think things through.

3. Describe the character's thought process. Is he more logical, or more intuitive? Idealistic or practical?
His thought processes are relatively flexible. Justin is, first and foremost, logical and pragmatic to an almost Vulcan degree. Beyond that, it depends on the day. He considers idealism the territory of the naive. Every now and then, intuition creeps up on him and he can't ignore it. He has come to trust his intuition when it comes to making character judgments, but is generally careful to keep emotion from interfering with logic.

4. What kind of education has the character had?
Justin never finished high school; he was imprisoned his senior year. It might be argued that he has learned more on his own than he has in school if his great knowledge of criminology and forensic procedure is any indication. He has continued to study forensic science, criminal procedure, criminal psychology, and botany. One of those is not like the others.

5. What are his areas of expertise? What, if anything, is he interested in learning more about?
He's the go-to guy for information on French poet Arthur Rimbaud, any form of science or psychology related to criminal or forensic studies, and plants. Justin is always learning, however, and absorbs new information wherever he goes.

6. Is he an introvert or an extrovert?
He's extremely introverted.

7. Describe the character's temperament. Is he even-tempered or does he have mood swings? Cheerful or melancholy? Laid-back or driven?
Justin is reliably calm and melancholy. Apathy and an almost obsessive devotion to anything he considers his duty--traits that should, logically, rule each other out--are constants. That said, he has no ambitions to speak of and is, therefore, not the most driven of people.

8. How does he respond to new people or situations? Is he suspicious, relaxed, timid, enthusiastic?
At one point in his life, Justin was intensely suspicious of new people and nervous when placed in a new situation. He never has managed to get over a reluctance to trust people, but repeated exposure to new situations has all but obliterated any nerves. He now meets new situations with an almost alarmingly cool detachment. Suspicion is forever.

9. Is he more likely to act, or to react?
Justin is and always has been slow to act; he tends to be slow to react, too, if he reacts at all. He's so passive that reactions aren't always a guarantee.

10. Which is his default: fight or flight?
His default is to agonize between the two, weighing the costs and benefits of each option carefully before doing anything... and by then it's too late. When push comes to shove and Justin can't simply avoid doing either, he can put up a decent fight.

11. Describe the character's sense of humor. Does he appreciate jokes? Puns? Gallows humor? Bathroom humor? Pranks?
At first brush, it might seem that he has no sense of humor. Astute observation will reveal that Justin does have a sense of humor, albeit a very dark one.

12. Does the character have any diagnosable mental disorders? If yes, how does he deal with them?
Justin is afflicted by some form of depression regardless of his state; the depth of his depression varies with his circumstances, but it's never gone. Since the murder, Justin has developed obsessive-compulsive disorder (perhaps in response to guilt or the feeling that his life is out of his control). The degree to which this disorder shows varies and tends to be most noticeable at times when his level of depression is lower.

In the City, he has also developed post-traumatic stress disorder. It's been a slow thing rather than a sudden one, with each horrific curse, each death, and each abandonment building and building upon a psyche that was damaged to begin with. This has manifested itself primarily in the form of numbing (which can be hard to distinguish from Justin's natural awkwardness) and a relatively poor memory of past curses. His difficulty experiencing and categorizing emotions has, if anything, increased. It's difficult to get a rise out of him but immensely easy to arouse his suspicions. Justin doesn't sleep well, even when alive.

In addition to the above, Justin has an aversion to being touched and a tendency to shut down completely when a situation overwhelms him. When things get bad, he copes by smoking pot and drinking copious amounts of alcohol. He's slowly overcoming his dependence on these substances... largely because he doesn't care.

13. What moments in this character's life have defined him as a person?
The murder of Olivia and his confession to Cassie (along with her subsequent betrayal). They aren't good defining moments, but they're what he has. He also considers the moment he told Euphie that he loves her important, but not, perhaps, defining.

14. What does he fear?
Justin has a persistent illogical fear of dogs.

He has no fear for his own safety, but he's capable of fearing for a select few. Justin is afraid of both leaving the City and never leaving the City--the latter because he can't be sure that the afterlife will be the nothingness he needs it to be, the former because he has little desire to live and no desire to be alone after everyone he knows has left.

15. What are his hopes or aspirations?
He has abandoned hope and aspires to the nothingness that he needs death after the City to be--or so he thinks. Justin isn't at a point to realize it consciously, but he does hope to find more time with Euphie, to see the best friends he has ever had, Neil and Todd, somehow remain happily together and alive, and to prevent Ken, who reminds him too much of himself, from ending up the way he has.

16. What is something he doesn't want anyone to find out about him?
He has no secrets that he can express in words now that the fact that he helped murder a woman is relatively well-known, but he doesn't want anyone who cares about him (and he's skeptical about whether or not such people exist sometimes) to know how bleak his existence is and how tired he is of existing in limbo.


Relationships
1. Describe this character's relationship with his parents.
Distant. Prior to his parents' divorce, they were either engaged in work or arguing with each other. Justin never wanted for anything material, but he never had the full attention of either parent. His father did, on occasion, take time to notice him, and they shared an interest in literature and French cuisine. After the divorce, his father disappeared. His mother hardly registered his existence.

2. Does the character have any siblings? What is/was their relationship like?
Justin is an only child.

3. Are there other blood relatives to whom he is close? Are there ones he can't stand?
I've invented a paternal grandmother for Justin. Like his father, Grandma Pendleton was fond of literature. Unlike his father, she took an active interest in his life and bought him books she thought he would like. She also recognized the somberness and interest in death that had characterized Justin throughout his life and encouraged him to write, hoping that such an exercise would give him an outlet. Grandma Pendleton also gave Justin his first anthology when he was eight--The Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe.

There aren't any other relatives to speak of.

4. Are there other, unrelated people whom he considers part of his family? What are his relationships with them?
Abby adopted him as her brother, but she's long gone; Angela was something of a mother figure, but she's gone as well. At the moment, Justin feels a brotherly sort of concern for Ken and would consider Neil and Todd the closest he has to family right now.

5. Who is/was the character's best friend? How did they meet?
Justin's only friend--and this is for a certain definition of "friend"--in life was Richard Haywood. They met when Justin was assigned to tutor Richard in biology. The nerdy loner and the popular rich kid found a common interest in crime... and in power plays.

6. Does he have other close friends?
Since entering the City, Justin has made a number of close friends: Abby, Todd, Neil, Shilo, Angela, Euphie, Ken. Todd and Neil are the only ones left. Justin is reluctant to get close to anyone else for fear of losing them, as he feels he inevitably will.

7. Does he make friends easily, or does he have trouble getting along with people?
It's complicated. Justin is a polite young man, but he's quiet, not one to instigate a conversation for strictly social reasons, and a loner by nature. This makes making friends something of a challenge, particularly when he doesn't want to become friends with more people who will leave.

8. Which does he consider more important: family or friends?
With his grandmother both dead and in another universe, friends. He does realize, though, that even friends are transient.

9. Is the character single, married, divorced, widowed? Has he been married more than once?
Justin is single and, barring something bizarre happening, always will be.

10. Is he currently in a romantic relationship with someone other than a spouse?
He's not looking for one and it's... complicated beyond that. His heart belongs to Euphie, who is dead and not in the City (excluding fourth wall days). Justin doesn't consider himself in a relationship, but he's also completely uninterested in anyone who isn't Euphie and would feel that seeing someone else is cheating, somehow.

11. Who was his first crush? Who is his latest?
Justin has had two "girlfriends" (not counting Lisa, who was more of a pawn--and, to be fair, Justin was little more than a pawn to her, too): the first was Shilo, the second was Euphie. He was/is romantically attached to both, but not sexually attracted to either. Both relationships were marked by considerable amounts of trust and openness and some awkwardness.

Justin has considered what he had with Shilo gone since her last visit to the City when she didn't remember him and, in retrospect, thinks of that relationship as a sort of "puppy love." It wasn't as intense as whatever he feels for Euphie, and he is still very much in love with Euphie. I don't imagine that will change for a long time.

12. What does he look for in a romantic partner?
He doesn't look. Justin experiences no sexual attraction and, therefore, isn't sure that he can fall in love (in spite of labeling his feelings towards Shilo and Euphie as love). In truth, I would classify him as a romantic asexual--perfectly capable of having a romantic relationship, if wholly uninterested in sex. His two romantic partners were both sweet, patient, generally upbeat, and hiding some dark secrets, so he certainly has a type.

13. Does the character have children? Grandchildren? If yes, how does he relate to them? If no, does he want any?
Nope, and he never wants any. The cat is enough.

(It's almost a shame since he does have a nurturing side... as evidenced by his success with delicate flowers and his forays into cat ownership.)

14. Does he have any rivals or enemies?
Richard could have been considered a rival or enemy at times, and Cassie was most definitely an enemy. In the City, Justin tries to maintain a low profile, thus avoiding too much animosity. Being more active with the police force, however, has earned him several enemies. His least favorite is Luke Valentine.

In following the pattern established by Richard, Justin tends to have more "frenemies" than outright enemies. He has a certain fascination with people who are psychological nightmares, which has led to... interesting relationships. Justin had an antagonistic friendship with Road at one point; he now has an odd something-or-other with Carla, who is, arguably, crazier and more dangerous than Road. He fears her on a deep, instinctual level but is almost fond of her intellectually. She truly terrifies him sexually; after his unhealthy and vaguely homoerotic relationship with Richard and his time in prison, her sexual advances are far more frightening than anything else about her.

15. What is the character's sexual orientation? Where does he fall on the Kinsey scale?
Justin's an asexual (although he doesn't know the term and assumes there's something wrong with him). There is no sexual attraction.

16. How does he feel about sex? How important is it to him?
Justin has always been uncomfortable with physical intimacy that he doesn't initiate, even something as casual as touching. Richard used this discomfort against him, and his experiences in prison twisted unease into revulsion. Sex does not happen. (He has relaxed his fear of casual contact and, fairly recently, has found that nonsexual human contact can be reassuring. Justin enjoys kissing and cuddling Euphie, and he's not wholly averse to strictly platonic physical interactions with Neil and Todd.)

In spite of all that, he's fairly neutral in his attitude towards others having sex. It is, after all, completely natural to seek out sexual relationships. If anything, Justin thinks that being disgusted by sex is unnatural and indicates some kind of problem or psychological damage.

17. What are his turn-ons? Turn-offs? Weird bedroom habits?
Justin doesn't have weird bedroom habits (unless you count his tendency to stay in his bedroom for extended periods of time when things get rough). He doesn't have sexual turn-ons, but he does like hair. In his relationships with Shilo and Euphie, his favorite form of contact was toying with their hair. Again, it wasn't anything sexual, he just... likes long hair.


Beliefs
1. Do you know your character's astrological (zodiac of choice) sign? How well does he fit type?
Chinese Zodiac: Justin was born in the year of the Rat (yang/wood). According to Wiki, Rats "are intense and powerful individuals, capable of great good or great evil. They make great leaders [...]. Frustrated when hampered, these signs are ruled by highly potent energy and unpredictability. At their worst, Rats are ruthlessly power-hungry, vindictive, and Machiavellian [...]. They are intelligent, magnanimous, charismatic, charming, authoritative, confident, eloquent, and artistic. They can also be tyrannical, bombastic, prejudiced, deceitful, imperious, and ruthless." Wood elements are considered strong and flexible, as well as idealistic.

Justin isn't "ruled by highly potent energy," but he can be unpredictable and most parts of this description have suited him at various points in his development. Even though he doesn't consider himself a leader ("Who would follow me?"), Lisa's nickname for Justin is Bonaparte and it doesn't take a great mental leap to imagine a Justin who is a competent leader. Considering Justin's earlier philosophical ideas, he would make a fine cult leader as he has, in his life, been of a Machiavellian bent and, under different circumstances, could have been charming, charismatic, and tyrannical.

As things played out, Justin wasn't raised in an environment that bred power-hungry and confident leaders. While he did enjoy his power plays with Richard and still, to a much lesser degree, prefers to have power over a situation, he has no desire to lead. What idealism he was plagued with has been crushed. What has always been and continues to be true of Justin is that he's an intense individual when his attention is focused. This lends him a certain kind of creepiness at times.

Try as he might to deny it, he does have good attributes. Justin is undoubtedly intelligent, eloquent at times, and, although he's not artistically gifted, he has an artist's soul--an appreciation for beauty, however fragile and brief. He is confident when he's talking about something he knows about, authoritative when the situation calls for it, and stronger and more flexible than he would give himself credit for. Justin has been through hell and back and, although he considers himself a weak person, he has had to be strong to adapt to the scenarios life has presented him with without breaking.

Western Zodiac: Justin is a Capricorn on the cusp of Aquarius. Capricorns are generally considered brave, tenacious, and rather ambitious in their chosen fields. Criticism doesn't bother them; they can come off as rigid and impatient. They're energetic, not prone to self-doubt, solitary, and, as a rule, clumsy. Justin isn't a terribly good Capricorn (although he is solitary, clumsy, rigid, and brave in the way that only someone with no regard for personal safety can be). He does have some Aquarian attributes: autonomous, brilliant, occasionally paradoxical, and freedom-loving.

2. Is this character religious, spiritual, both, or neither? How important are these elements in his life?
Justin goes through phases. He was raised Catholic (although neither of his parents were terribly devout), typically considers himself an atheist, but, in truth, leans towards agnosticism. He frowns upon organized religion and spirituality, but they don't play large enough parts in his life to warrant much concern. He's more worried about practical things such as whether or not he'll finally get to stop existing once he leaves the City (or, if he must exist in some fashion, can it be with Euphie?).

3. Does this character have a personal code of morals or ethics? If so, how did that begin? What would it take to compromise it?
His morals and ethics are ever-evolving things and it would take hours to sum up the history of his personal codes. Justin's moral and ethical codes are very important to him and, at one point, were to be rigidly adhered to. His understanding of the world was built on philosophy--a specific vision of morality and ethical behavior. This came crashing down, but Justin has never quite managed to escape the mindset that there is a Right Way to live; what differentiates him as he is now from his former self is a great deal of uncertainty as to what is Right.

Justin currently espouses a rather rigid moral code (albeit very quietly) while suffering a great deal of moral ambivalence.

4. How does he regard beliefs that differ from his? Is he tolerant, intolerant, curious, indifferent?
Justin has always been fairly tolerant as long as those differing beliefs don't interfere with his current agenda or clash too completely with whichever high-minded philosophy he's following. Curiosity has long since dwindled into indifference... unless he's presented with truly out-there beliefs. There's a reason Justin is drawn to psychopaths.

5. What prejudices does he hold? Are they irrational or does he have a good reason for them?
He likes to think that he's relatively free of prejudice, but Justin does continue to hold a grudge against the effortlessly popular and the thoroughly manipulative. He used to harbor a grudge against female cops (for good reason, I'd say), but Beckett broke him of that, for the most part.


Daily Life
1. What is the character's financial situation? Is he rich, poor, comfortable, in debt?
In life, Justin's family was (I gather) wealthy, but not to the same degree as Richard's. He has always been materially comfortable. In the City, Justin's modest mode of living coupled with hard work, clever investments, time, and various inheritances from those who have left has made him rather wealthy.

2. What is his social status? Has this changed over time, and if so, how has the change affected him?
Justin was low on the social totem in life. He came from a decent family, but being a loner-intellectual put him at the bottom of the high school pecking order (unless his peers needed help with their studies). His years as a convicted murderer were, naturally, not ones in which he enjoyed much in the way of social greatness, although he was assigned a twisted kind of value.

After years in the City, Justin has attained an almost respectable status in spite of his past, primarily by virtue of being a fairly knowledgeable, honest, and polite long-term resident.

3. Where does he live? House, apartment, trailer? Is his home his castle or just a place to crash? What condition is it in? Does he share it with others?
The Pendleton house was quite nice in a thoroughly suburban sort of way; his family's money was never as showy as, say, that of the Haywoods'.

Justin has inhabited more than one apartment in the City and currently lives with Neil and Todd. He doesn't concern himself with the apartment overall; his room is his kingdom, and it's a very tidy and meticulously-organized kingdom at that. While Justin's room in his mother's house was a front--a carefully-constructed "typical teenager" room that didn't give away anything about his actual personality--his current room is in keeping with his fastidious (sometimes, when agitated, to the point of obsessiveness) nature. It isn't somewhere that invites something so informal as "crashing."

4. Besides the basic necessities, what does he spend his money on?
Justin is careful about his money and typically only splurges on others. He's from a family that expressed affection through money; this has led him to express his own affection through gifts, when he can think of something appropriate to give. More often than not, Justin finds it easier to throw money at his friends' problems or flat-out offer them cash than to come up with a gift.

5. What does he do for a living? Is he good at it? Does he enjoy it, or would he rather be doing something else?
His occupation has changed considerably during his time in the City, although he has kept his work within the police department. He has gone from junior forensic scientist to head of forensics to second-in-command to head of police; with Steve Rogers' ascension to Chief of Police, Justin has stepped back into a more paperwork-oriented position. General disdain for the police and, more importantly, the fact that the police are ultimately fighting a losing battle against the City have made his job incredibly depressing. Justin would like to quit--he doesn't need the money--but he feels obligated to stay on, being the most senior staff member insofar as time spent on the force goes.

If he didn't feel duty-bound to stay with the police (and bound to the force through Abby, Beckett, and others he has, in a way, cared for), Justin would give it up and help Neil with his bookstore. Perhaps he would find more time and energy to devote to encouraging Neil to start up that playhouse he's been dreaming of.

6. What are his interests or hobbies? How does he spend his free time?
The police force eats up more and more of his time--another reason Justin would like to get out. Now that his interests are drifting away from forensics and crime, Justin's other loves--literature and botany--are becoming more appealing. He gave up on botany for a time (the City's tendency to, say, turn into sand, makes investing copious amounts of time into plants that can crumble away at any moment illogical), but his interest is slowly being rekindled. Justin never lost interest in literature, particularly poetry.

His devotion to his hobbies does wax and wane. Naturally, deeper spells of depression lead to an apathy towards things he generally likes, although he soldiers on with his plants (he can't just give them up on a whim).

7. What are his eating habits? Does he skip meals, eat out, drink alcohol, avoid certain foods?
This varies. When he's dead, Justin doesn't always bother with meals because they aren't vital. When alive as he is now, he usually only eats because it's necessary; the act of eating isn't pleasurable in itself, and he doesn't care enough about his health to eat well.

At times, Justin doesn't drink at all (most notably when he has had a recent visit from Euphie, as he thinks she deserves better than a drunk). In general, he's a light drinker and may, on days when he doesn't have to work, mix absinthe with marijuana. During depressive episodes, Justin drinks steadily and indiscriminately (never enough to get drunk, since underlying paranoia encourages him to keep some of his senses about him) and is more prone to drug abuse (not that anyone can tell when he's stoned, as a stoned Justin only differs from a normal, melancholy Justin in subtle ways).

Justin is a fan of French cuisine, particularly caviar. Food might not be that important to him and he might drink anything when depressed enough, but caviar and absinthe will always be his first choices.


Associations
Which of the following do you associate with the character, or which is his favorite:

1. Color? Drab, olive-green
2. Smell? Ivory soap
3. Time of day? Evening
4. Season? Autumn
5. Book? Nietzche's Beyond Good and Evil
6. Music? Classical
7. Place? Abandoned library
8. Substance? Absinthe
9. Plant? Orchid
10. Animal? Cat


{{ Get the HTML here so you can do it yourself. }}

[audio]

Oct. 2nd, 2012 11:53 pm
othersdie: are you exiled in those bottomless nights? (Not pleased)
The police department has received several dozen phone calls regarding wounds inflicted by mysterious falling objects today. Please don't report any further incidents. It's a curse and it's beyond our control. And if you inexplicably live through what should be a fatal accident, don't complain; consider yourself lucky.

Try to keep a solid roof above your head for the remainder of the day if at all possible.

[A click signifies the end of the recording... or not. It clicks back on.]

Angela Montenegro appears to be gone from the City. I've only been to the Hall... if someone would--could check...

[A pause and then a final click.]
othersdie: every moon is atrocious and every sun bitter (Underwhelmed)
[A very wet hand grabs the recording device. After a moment of darkness, the device is set down (with absolutely no gentleness whatsoever) on the edge of the fountain. From off screen:]

I'm not surprised you're here.

[After a few moments full of drippy noises--the sounds of someone wringing his shirt and hair out, maybe--the device is retrieved and turned to show a wet and unamused Justin.]

It hasn't been a year, has it?


[COMMENTS]
othersdie: are you exiled in those bottomless nights? (WTF)
[As they sometimes do, the network device turns on of its own accord. There's nothing interesting to see; Justin is hunched over a never-ending pile of paperwork, still trying to put the police force back in order in the only way he knows how.

A group of laughing officers comes into view. One of them--a rather pretty woman--breaks away to set a piece of paper on Justin's desk.]


We found the person responsible for the break-ins.

Thank you. Where is he?

Being held.

And the items reported as stolen?

Found those, too. We just need to get things back to their owners.

Good. Please keep me--

[The officer grabs Justin by his shirt collar and kisses him, effectively cutting off that particular sentence. The device only offers a view of the back of the female officer's head until she breaks away. Justin looks horrified; her expression isn't visible.]

...Updated. Please keep me updated, Johansen.

[The other officers are trying not to laugh. Johansen returns to them, blushing furiously.]

I--yes. I'll do that.

Thank you.

[As the officers retreat (one of them slapping Johansen on the back in a congratulatory fashion), Justin glances at the network device. Of course it would turn on. Thank you, City.

He reaches over to turn it off without comment.]


[ooc: Purple is an npc officer named Johansen, apparently. Action is welcome. Really.]


[COMMENTS]
othersdie: are you exiled in those bottomless nights? (Cursed)
[action]

[Justin, looking older and more worn than usual, is in the garden. If his rumpled appearance or the cigarettes don't indicate a cursed state, his complete inaction should. He's seldom idle, usually, and the police force has been keeping him occupied lately.

But right now, he's sitting under a tree. Smoking. Looking either bored or blank--it's difficult to tell. He's not going anywhere soon.]



[text]

This again. And again, and again, and again. The details change but the plot repeats itself. Not just one weekend a month or even here alone. Listen to the clock. Each tick is just like the one preceding it, like the one following it. Tedious second after tedious second. Identical seconds, adding up to minutes and hours and days and years that blur together into a single unremarkable life until, finally, we have the privilege of dying.

I wonder why we bother living through the tedium.

Why do we consider life so valuable when it ultimately comes to nothing?


[ooc: Cursed with The Years That Never Were. This is a Justin I've been working on for a while, so there's an explanation for the curious. Responses will come from the curse journal, mostly.]

[COMMENTS]
othersdie: as fragile as a butterfly in May (Anxious: Anywhere but up)
Welcome--or welcome back--to the City.

I'm around if you need me.


[Action]

[It's a lackluster post to the network, but Justin isn't worried about making the strangers feel welcome. There are a very few, very specific people he's looking for. He delayed the post, unsure if seeing them would be a good thing or a bad thing.

Better to regret, perhaps...

Justin can be contacted via his network device or found in any of his usual haunts--the fringes of Xanadu, the police station, the apartment that he's currently sharing with Neil and Todd. He's exceptionally melancholy today (and has been, for some time), which is no small achievement considering his usual disposition. Approach at will. Should anyone choose to check the apartment, they may have to face Justin's recently-adopted tabby in addition to an abysmal mood.]


[COMMENTS]

[text]

Jun. 15th, 2012 07:12 pm
othersdie: are you exiled in those bottomless nights? (Defeated)
What do you believe happens to the dead once they leave the City?

I won't contest religious beliefs.


[Flagged to Dean // Open to Police Force Members and Affiliates]
I'd like to request a few days off, assuming no one else gets murdered. Please.

[COMMENTS]
othersdie: shadows withering the flowers (!Multipurpose)
I don’t remember the curses on a weekend like this being so uniform. It’s a comfort, almost, knowing that so many others are afflicted with the same thing.

It’s also startling to wake up and find that, not only is your body not your own, but someone you know is living a radically different life than they were yesterday. Startling, not surprising. Living in the City makes surprises few and far between (and those few surprises are almost inevitably unpleasant)—or so I think.

If you’re unhappy about your situation this weekend, remember that it won’t last. Nothing, good or bad, ever does.


[Justin is—like much of the City, it seems—not the same gender as usual. Also like many others in the City, he has decided to distract himself by drinking. After stopping by the police station to grab some work to do, he heads to one of the smaller bars in town. It’s not quite a dive, but only just. On a normal day, he would hide in the corner. Cursed, however, he feels confident enough that no one will recognize him and instigate a conversation.

Should anyone meander into this bar, they may see a young, willowy woman sitting alone, staring morosely at a stack of papers and drinking almost absently.]



[COMMENTS]
othersdie: truly, I have wept too much (Lost)
[Justin isn't a fan of talking out loud when typing will do, but this is video for a reason. That reason is a thin orange tabby who is curled up quite happily in Justin's lap, sound asleep and purring.

Does this cat belong to anyone? I hu--I... I mean, I found her. On my way home from work. Please message me if she's yours.

[The video feed ends, but Justin keeps talking in a rather melancholy monotone.]

This curse--many of the curses--are harmless, but no one in the City should become too... compliant. It's tempting to become accustomed to curses, to--to death. In a place where death is seldom more than a temporary and upsetting setback, we shouldn't be careless. We shouldn't assume that, if we die, we'll come back.

Not everyone comes back, not every time. Death can be permanent, even here. Some of you know that--maybe you've heard, or maybe you've been here long enough to see someone die and not return--but if you don't, keep it in mind. Be careful. Don't take unnecessary risks during curses or... or take the life that you have for granted. Even if you're dead within the City, you still have this existence; don't treat it lightly.

[There's a breath as if he's getting ready to say something else, but he evidently thinks better of it and ends the feed.]

[Filtered to Police / Unhackable] )

[Private / Unhackable] )

[COMMENTS]
othersdie: the low-hanging sun speckled with mystic horrors (Uneasy)
If you see someone who looks like me today, be cautious. It may not be me.

[And that short, cryptic message is all that Justin has time for. Now that he's (almost) certain that he is, in fact, awake, he has a nightmare to find. Specifically, he has to find himself.

Anyone out roaming the City and its various dreamscapes may unwittingly encounter something that isn't quite Justin. This Justin, usually a part of a reoccurring dream, is stronger, faster, and deadlier than the real Justin could ever hope to be. He doesn't talk. He doesn't think. This nightmare version of Justin just stares... and, occasionally, kills. Perhaps you'll be lucky and the nightmare will pass you by. Perhaps you won't be lucky...]



[ooc: Naturally, Justin has nightmares about a more monstrous form of himself... and those nightmares end with the monster killing someone (that someone has already volunteered, so no need to raise your hand). Justin will be out trying to stop his nightmare from ending as it usually does, so feel free to have your character run into either Justin or nightmare!Justin. Try not to provoke nightmare!Justin.

Action tags from nightmare!Justin will be coming from [personal profile] ohcurses.]



[COMMENTS]
othersdie: truly, I have wept too much (Lost)
Police Filter // Unhackable )

As anyone who has been watching the network likely knows, there has been another murder. If you're going to be out, please be cautious, stay alert, and try not to walk alone.

I'm alive again today. It's too soon for this to be another curse.

Filtered to Euphie, Neil, and Todd // Unhackable )


[COMMENTS]

[text]

Apr. 10th, 2012 08:15 pm
othersdie: are you exiled in those bottomless nights? (Deskwork)
Police Filter // Unhackable // The Shakespeare Murders )
I don't know if the deities give us our lives back every so often to be kind or to be cruel.  Being dead isn't that bad, provided you aren't given reminders of what you can never truly have back.


[Filtered to Friends]

If possible, try not to travel around the City alone. 


[COMMENTS]


[ooc: If your character has talked to Justin more than once or twice in a friendly sort of way, they're probably considered a friend (or close enough to one).  Please correct me if I've mucked anything up/missed anything where the murders are concerned!]

7 [text]

Mar. 27th, 2012 09:22 pm
othersdie: are you exiled in those bottomless nights? (Glasses: Reading)
Police Filter // Unhackable )

Filtered to Dean // Unhackable )

For those who haven’t heard, Todd Anderson has written a play called “Like Clockwork” that will likely be performed in May. If you are interested in helping with the play’s production, contact Neil Perry. Please consider attending.

Additionally, in light of recent allegations, I would like to issue this reminder: the police officers in the City are as susceptible to curses as anyone else. Like everyone else, they cannot be held responsible for actions they take while under the influence of a curse.


I wonder if the rest of spring will be as eventful as its beginning.

Private // Off Network )


[COMMENTS]
othersdie: are you exiled in those bottomless nights? (Confused)
Jan. 13th, 2010
Curse: NIGHTMARE

[A dream pops into being—not dramatically, but quietly. Hesitantly, almost. The surroundings are vague and indistinct; they’re irrelevant. The ground is solid enough to walk on, but it feels unstable as if it might tilt away at any moment. Justin is present, staring at the featureless walls, barely there himself. He appears to flicker like an image on a television with poor reception. He can’t be touched. He can’t hear anyone.

Justin begins to talk, quietly and entirely to himself. As he speaks, a blurry image whirls into existence. It’s a boy—Justin’s age, perhaps a little older, certainly more handsome, wearing a red leather jacket, a cocky grin, and possessing all of the confidence in the world.]


What would he say? If he were here? It would involve a derogatory remark, and possibly a suggestive sneer. He'd wonder why I'm not drunk or high, then he'd say something idiotic to draw me into an argument or get too close and tell me that he knows how—

[Justin’s voice dies and he stares at the other boy, face blank. The boy in the red leather becomes more solid—more real, perhaps, than Justin—and addresses him directly. He has a charming smile and a charismatic presence. Justin doesn’t react to him.]

Do you hate me? ...I had to do it. I didn't want to hurt you, but I had to show you what she's really like. She's not good enough for you. She doesn't appreciate you. She's like your mom, and dad, and everyone else. I'm the only person who really cares about you.

[Justin eyes the boy—Richard—critically, skeptically.] Philosophy's dead. Richard's dead. I'm dead, even if I'm still functioning.

[Richard continues as if he didn’t hear Justin, reaching out to brush Justin’s hair back. The gentle gesture abruptly turns violent; Richard grabs Justin by the back of the neck, pulling him close.]

I think I'm the only person who sees how incredible you really are. Don't go away, Justin... come on. What we did... together... how many people can say they've done that?

[Justin doesn’t flinch or, indeed, show any sign of being moved by the words. He making no effort to get away.]

If the monsters were people, they must be people who had the capacity for evil. How like them am I? I was almost convinced that I could be entirely forgiven and escape what I did. I'm unsure now. Maybe the City feeds on the wicked, draining them and warping them into monsters to guard the clock. No one who is good and innocent--no one like Shilo or Abby--could become monsters. The monsters are people like me. Perhaps nothing I do can change that.

[Richard reverts to his initial gentleness, still oblivious to Justin’s words, practically radiating a concern that, while convincing, feels deceptive.] It's safe here, okay? You don't have to worry about anything anymore...not your mother or your father or school, or anything. It's all moot.

[Justin lifts an arm. It’s an almost imperceptible movement, but Richard vanishes abruptly. Justin gains solidity, becoming more real in the absence of his friend.]

What’s going to happen to me? [Justin sighs and apathy changes into melancholy. The change is subtle and his voice is still flat.] He's the Verlaine to my Rimbaud. Rimbaud gave up writing when he no longer had Verlaine... he was twenty-one.

[He glances over his shoulder, not seeing anything.] I like plants. They're predictable, quiet, and not prone to cannibalism or murder.

[A woman appears. She has a gun at her hip and a confidence that rivals Richard’s. As happened before, Justin becomes a little less tangible as she approaches him and begins to circle, not unlike a vulture waiting for a sick animal to die. Her words are short and cold. Justin remains calm and stone-faced.] The person who actually killed Olivia Lake is gonna be executed. But the other one, who didn't actually kill her, if he cooperates... will have a chance at a real life.

What's going to happen to me?

Since you weren't the actual killer... with what you did down there for me... don't worry about it. I'll take care of you.

[Another image appears. This one is two-dimensional—a movie. Justin’s in it, body fully covered, saran wrap over his hair, and goggles on. Richard is sitting, looking at Justin searchingly; there’s a woman on the ground, face indistinct, feet and arms bound. Richard hands a frightened-looking Justin a pair of latex gloves. The Justin in the dream—the one still being circled by an apparently anxious female cop—watches, speaking.]

One cannot live fully without embracing suicide and crime. A pact made with relentless fire... that requires that while some live... others must die.

[In the dream-movie, Justin takes the gloves and, mechanically, straddles the bound woman. He wraps his hands around her throat and squeezes. His eyes are locked on Richard. Tears threaten, then fall. The woman with no face is still and dead. Richard nods. In the dream, the cop—Cassie—walks away and fades into the surroundings.]

The only way to purge the world of unfairness, corruption, lethal ideologies, and hypocrisy is to murder the unfair, the corrupt, the idealists, and the hypocrites.

[Abruptly, the two-dimensional scene flickers and disappears. The prison—the one that sunk in the City not so long ago—closes in on Justin and the rest of the dream scene. Everything is clear and solid-looking now, with none of the nebulosity of the beginning of the dream. Justin sinks to the floor, hands around a now-bruised throat, blood sluggishly dripping from numerous vertical cuts on his exposed arms. He’s crying, shaking—almost whispering.]

I could have let her die, but I didn't. I saved her, and she--she didn't save me, and she killed him. We paid. I just want another chance... to start over. I haven't hurt anyone else. I wouldn't... I'm not like that. I'm not…

[Cassie comes back, clad entirely in black. If she was cold before, she’s fully frozen now. She looks down at Justin contemptuously as he stammers out a defense.]

You have to believe me! When I went over there...I had no idea. I never thought I'd... I had to show him. I just want a chance! I want to start over! I want--

It doesn't work that way. You get one life, and whatever you do with it, whatever's done to you... you gotta face that. There are no second chances.

[Cassie and the prison dissolve into nothing. Justin returns to his normal state, uninjured, hair neat and long-sleeved shirt buttoned. He stands, blank once again.]

I wonder if the dead can disappear. If no one can see or hear us, and no one thinks about us, do we fade?

[Faces materialize—faces from the City. Friends long gone, like Lan. Abby, grinning broadly and holding a Caf-Pow. Shilo, a shy smile on her face. They’re quickly overwhelmed by darkness, leaving Justin with a person who, in spite of the foggy quality of her features, can only be Road. She smiles sweetly and proceeds to cut herself in half—very literally--with a knife. There are voices—familiar ones, City voices—but they’re too numerous to catch. The voices rise to a dull roar. Road is replaced by Justin—another Justin, mirroring the one present in the dream. This shadowy Justin pulls a bound woman into view and holds a surgical scalpel to her cheek. His voice is low and quiet.]

Try not to cry.

[The shadow Justin aligns the scalpel’s sharp edge with the girl’s cheekbone and cuts. That image cracks and shatters into nothingness, leaving Justin alone once again in his featureless dream world. Abby’s voice echoes in the nothingness.]

I'm very proud and I don't even know you.

[And then Shilo’s voice, clear in the fog.]

Can't a person wake up and decide to start over? Of course it won't be easy. And it will take more than a day, but that makes them special. Worth appreciating. I guess I like the idea of a new start.

[Justin stares at the featureless world around him, his face just as unreadable as his surroundings. Blankly, he begins to talk to himself.]

It can take up to ten minutes for the condemned to die in a gas chamber. Potassium cyanide pellets are dropped into a holding tank of sulfuric acid, resulting in the generation of hydrogen cyanide gas. …This gas kills via metabolic asphyxiation. Accordingly, the brain is one of the first organs to suffer its effects.

[He looks bothered by this momentarily. That emotion is fleeting.]

Convulsions and hallucinations may precede unconsciousness and death.


Oct. 22nd, 2010
Curse: NIGHTMARE

This nightmare is a chaotic roar, a confused jumble of moments that may or may not have happened. The world is fractured like a broken funhouse mirror and, in each distorted shard, a story plays out. Sounds and sights and emotions overlap. It’s overwhelming. If, however, the mind can focus on one of the multiple and simultaneous shards of thought…

Here, Justin sits in a bleak cell that has no defining features. It could be anywhere, at any time. It’s cold. Justin’s face is as blank as the nondescript walls around him. There have been no visitors, and there is no hope that any will come. It’s just as well. Visitors might bring emotion with them, and it’s simpler to sit and feel nothing than to let the germ of emotion into the sterile environment. Emotions feed fear. Better to accept the inevitability of death with cold apathy than with fear.

Over there, Justin stares down at a body that has broken on the same rocks that break the ocean waves. The waves are deafening, crashing like thunder and drowning out all other sounds. Fear, anger, guilt, pain, and despair linger in the air, nearly tangible entities.

In another fragmented moment, Justin pulls the trigger of a gun. The bullet moves impossibly slow and its target is ever-changing. It hits a bleach-blond head that those who have visited Justin’s nightmares will recognize; it goes through Sorrow’s face; it passes through a young woman’s neck. Blood is everywhere—in the air, on the floor, beating against every sense organ. The gunshot echoes on and on.

A faceless woman is speaking to Justin here. She’s wearing an officer’s uniform and her voice is cold. You get one life, and whatever you do with it, whatever's done to you... you gotta face that. There are no second chances. She pauses; the silence is louder than her voice was. I'm not really interested in what a murderer's idea of just and unjust might be.

And here Justin is being torn apart by monsters that look like corpses in varying states of composition. The sounds from the creature’s mouths are inhuman.

There, Justin in is the forensics lab performing an autopsy. He looks sick to his stomach. The corpse’s face is visible and shifting—a rotting skull, Abby Sciuto, Shilo, Neil, Todd, Zia. Its identity changes relentlessly and endlessly until it settles, and, for a moment, Justin is dissecting his own corpse.

There’s a final Justin amid the chaos, fruitlessly trying to shoot himself in the head. The gun’s chambers are empty, but every click is as loud as a gunshot.

Numerous Justins, numerous horrors, numerous nightmares all playing out simultaneously. Sounds, emotions, and images are confused, difficult to pull apart. The shattered-mirror dreamscape howls… and collapses into silence. The shards fall, splinter further, and then come together in a single image. Many Justins become one. A broken world turns into a dark, broken-down building with creaking floorboards and empty window panes. After the auditory chaos before it, this scene is a remarkably quiet one. The ocean murmurs faintly in the night. Justin—a singular Justin—sits on the edge of a dilapidated balcony, feet dangling out over the rocky coast far, far below.
othersdie: truly, I have wept too much (Lost)
"And death--death is either oblivion or an eternity with our minds. Oblivion is fine. Eternity..."


May. 13th, 2010
A beginner's guide to hunting killer sheep.

[The following is all but whispered.]

If you haven't read Dr. Chase's recent announcement, please do so immediately. Avoid the sheep if possible. Refrain from fighting them unless you know what you're doing. Quarantine yourself if you are bitten.

These sheep apparently hunt in flocks; the attacks I've seen were carried out by anywhere from four to a dozen sheep. Unlike most sheep, these have teeth on both their upper and lower jaws as well as--if their bites are any indication--sharp canines. If you are outside, please keep in mind that sheep have remarkable auditory and olfactory senses. Don't try to sneak up on them. They can see behind themselves without turning their heads. Their depth perception, however, is limited, making darkened areas and hilly terrain difficult for them to traverse in--

[A pause. The sound of baaing grows louder before fading, allowing Justin to continue.]

Shooting them in the head is, as far as I can tell, the most effective way to kill them, but use caution. The sound of gunshots seems to attract rather than frighten them. Since these sheep seldom move alone, be prepared to face several even if you only see one.

Finally, the sheep appear to be selecting their victims. I've seen them ignore several easy targets to attack well-armed individuals or groups. Make of that what you will.


Jun. 15th, 2010
Dear Deities: A short essay on pain.

There are a number of questions that might be asked about pain: Is pain a purely subjective experience or an objective condition of a physical object? Does pain exist outside of perception? Does pain have a purpose beyond the biological? Is pain something to avoid or something to embrace? I could present the answers of philosophers and poets (Nietzsche, haunted by pain, had a lot to say on the topic), but that isn’t what the deities want, is it? They don’t want recitations and paraphrases; they want to know our thoughts and feelings. The subject with no secrets is easiest to manipulate and torment.

The prize they’ve offered is, I hope, worth a small surrender of our power.

There is no single definition of pain. We’re all familiar with physical pains—the brief sting of a cut, the useless throbbing of a bruise, the urgent scream of a serious flesh wound—and the more insidious pains of the mind and emotion. Physical pain is, I would argue, more straightforward and easier to overcome than emotional pain. Our bodies are equipped to handle the pains they suffer and our minds are strong enough to distance us in overwhelmingly painful situations. When the mind is tormented by pain, however, there’s nothing to save us. Despair, betrayal, jealousy, desolation, internal conflict—we’re not equipped with natural analgesics to combat these pains or a desire to extract ourselves from the situations causing pain. There’s something desirable about mental and emotional pain. At times we savor our bleaker, darker emotions, fostering their growth rather than distancing ourselves from them. Who hasn’t felt a sense of satisfaction in jealousy’s slow burn? Who can say that they haven’t found a certain amount of solace in an agonizing fit of sadness?

Pain can heighten our perception and sharpen our minds, leading us to epiphanies that would normally escape us. Pains can send us into a creative fervor, igniting thoughts and words that are only accessible in the depths of apparently inescapable agony. The antithesis of pain—not pleasure, for pleasure and pain appear to be inextricably intertwined—is ahedonism, or a complete lack of the pleasure-pains that spawn genius and an appreciation of existence. Nothingness may appear preferable to pain to those who can’t find an end to their suffering, but, to those who find themselves devoid of all feeling, pain is a treasure. Without some measure of pleasure or pain, life is a wasteland. There is no hope, no brilliance, no drive, no goal, and no reason for being.

We shouldn’t seek life without pain. Instead, we should master our pains—channel the raw emotions they create into something of value and learn to express pain appropriately. Unchecked pain is a weakness. It dims our minds, impairs our judgments, and makes our actions artless and overhasty. Pain controlled, however, can be beautiful. It can be powerful. Someone who has mastered his or her pain experiences a true freedom. Pain, as Nietzsche says, is the greatest tool that the strong can use to manipulate the weak. If we have control of our pain—not of the cause of the pain, perhaps, but of our reactions to it—then we are impervious to all attacks. Those who cause pain do so to assert their power. If the subject of pain doesn’t react favorably, then the victim gains power over the aggressor.

Pain, whether it’s physical, mental, or emotional, shouldn’t be avoided. What doesn’t destroy us wholly only gives us strength, and the pain that we master gives us freedom.


Jul. 4th, 2010
Depression and a holiday lead to drinking and rambling.

Growth, and then they send snow. The deities appreciate irony. If it's like last year, however, the garden will keep growing after the snow melts. The sudden snowfall doesn't kill most plants. It insulates. Still, I wonder about the connection to their prompts.

The flowers are all inside this year. This happened last year (June--I lost a pot of orchids to ice), and it seemed reasonable to assume it would happen again. Everything repeats itself here. The carousel turns, the clock keeps ticking, curses revisit us, there's constant leaving, entering, leaving again, re-entering... there's something to it. It means something. We can't even die without coming back. It's a city of self-perpetuation--of circles and repetition. Is that why time doesn't move at home when we're here? Does time run in circles here, too?

The clock and carousel mean something. Maybe time is bound in the clock.

What's the line... flottaison blême... et ravie, un noyé pensif parfois descend. "I bathed in the Poem / Of the Sea, star-infused and churned into milk, / Devouring the green azures; where, entranced in pallid flotsam, / A dreaming drowned man sometimes goes down..." Rimbaud. "The Drunken Boat"... Le Bateau Ivre.

A dreaming drowned man. I've wondered if this is a dream a thousand times since I came here, and I still expect to wake up and find that none of it happened. I don't know where I would wake up. I don't know where the drowned man goes once he's done dreaming. "Deliriums"... "under the gleam of daylight." Is there more to the City than that? A clock spinning in endless, delirious circles while we dream, convinced all the while that we're not dreaming?

The snow feels real. It's beautiful--snow. I never saw it at home. Not snow like this with icicles hanging off of the frozen flowers. I appreciate the illusion of purity it gives, however fleeting it is. It'll be gone in a day or two. The snow melted quickly last time.

When I used to dream, the dreams melted as soon as I was awake. I've never been a poet. I couldn't hold on to a dream long enough to write it down.

If this is a dream--and a persistent one--I should be able to write, but its dreamlike qualities come and go. Most days are like any waking days and, on those days, I'm convinced that this is real. The curses don't matter. It only becomes dreamlike when I think about it and try to understand. If I just experience, I feel awake; if I think, I feel like I'm dreaming.

Experiencing or thinking, I can't understand the symbolism.


Aug. 5th, 2010
After dying and buying his life back from the Keeper.

Asters. More specifically, these are Eurybia divaricata, or white wood asters. They flower in mid to late summer and early fall and are, to some, a symbol of patience. It takes approximately two years for an aster to flower fully, as this one has.

This was the second plant I had in the City. The first was an orchid, but Neith killed that last year. I'm surprised by how well plants do indoors with standard fluorescents; prior to the City, I had a greenhouse that received more than enough natural light for my purposes. They thrive, however--the plants--in spite of the artificial lighting, the occasional curse, and the insects they coexist with.

We do well as transplants. It takes time for us to adjust to this environment, but we do adjust eventually. Some of us do better here than at home...

For those who have wondered what the cost of a life is (I know I've given it thought), the answer, in my case, is eighteen eyes. Five pairs from cattle, four from pigs, all available for purchase in the City.


Sep. 20th, 2010
A curse induces over-sharing!

I don’t remember how old I was when I saw a cat catch a bird on the school playground. It must have been in kindergarten… first grade. It doesn’t matter. I was reading when I heard this noise. It was—there’s nothing to compare it to. I dropped my book and went to find what had made it and, under the old jungle gym that no one played on, there was a cat with a small brown bird in its mouth.

I just watched. I didn’t know what else to do. The cat released the bird and we both watched it as it tried to escape, wings fluttering and head turning this way and that. It was frightened. There was a moment when I felt as if I was watching something important… something strangely relevant. Some part of myself trying to run from the inevitable.

The cat killed it. I watched that, too, even after the bell rang and everyone else went inside. No one noticed, and I couldn’t make myself leave. Even after it was dead, that bird—I didn’t want to leave it. I chased the cat away and just stared at the bird’s body. It was sickening, but compelling. I felt like I had made a discovery, although I didn’t know—I still don’t know—what that discovery was.

Someone found me eventually. The gym teacher. He asked me what I was looking at, so I showed him. He called me a sick little fucker, picked the bird’s body up with a tissue, and threw it in the dumpster.

I cried. It’s idiotic in retrospect… slightly ironic. That was the same day that I learned that boys aren’t supposed to cry and parents don’t appreciate being asked what “fucker” means in certain contexts, but the bird was the worst of it. That was the first time I saw death—when I first began to understand it outside of vague childhood euphemisms. I didn’t fear death, and I didn’t regret not saving the bird… but I had a new awareness. Worthlessness. I had a glimpse at how meaningless an individual life is, and how little impact death has on the world as a whole.

Idiotic…


Oct. 8th, 2010
This follows a supposedly apocalyptic flood, Beckett's abduction, shooting someone...

I prefer sins to threats of floods of Biblical proportions. Sinning--if you believe in sin outside of the context of curses--is part of being human. Even if you don't believe in the concept of sin, we're still inescapably flawed creatures that allow our base instincts to overwhelm our social conditioning.

Assuming this string of curses isn't followed by a Biblical punishment, it's not that bad.

Watch me jinx the entire City. I still think that atheists should be exempt from strictly religious curses.

I've been thinking about religion, though. I don't believe any of it--I have yet to see convincing evidence that a divine power exists--but, at times, I wish I did. Imagine having a set code to follow. Roman Catholics have seven sins that they must avoid and seven virtues to uphold; their world, in life and in death, has order and certainty. That's why I've read so much philosophy. It must be. I've been looking for secular codes of conduct--anything to give existence clarity, meaning, and structure.

Knowing what is moral and what is amoral is difficult regardless of what rules one follows. Many philosophies and religions provide ethical decision-making tools, but who can truly stop, analyze, and determine the best route under pressure? When I was given the choice to face Myrnin or find Beckett, what should I have done?

Almost two years ago--and before that--I wouldn't have made a choice. I would have stood there weighing the pros and cons of each decision until it was too late to act on either. I wouldn't have replied to Ken's message. I wouldn't have shot Sorrow. I was so obsessed with finding a philosophy and following it that I couldn't make decisions, even when it was necessary. I never realized how rigid life was. Go to school, study, read, think. Repeat. There were no decisions to make until Richard, and even then... even then I was too inflexible. The structure changed, but I was still trapped inside of it. It was religion. We were gods and, in this framework we--I--created, we had a course to follow. We had a path to enlightenment and perfection--oneness and power.

That's what it was to me. I don't know why Richard went along with it. Was it the thrill? I don't understand minds like his.

I regret being alive. It's taken almost two years to realize that. I regret building a cage around myself and becoming trapped in my own idiocy. Life's framework left no room for emotion. Decisions had to made intellectually and gut instincts were base things to master and control. In a way, it was useful. All of the emotions I could have felt were discarded. Any pain I could have experienced was stifled with reason. The emotions were still there--looking back, I can remember them--but they didn't fit into my rational worldview.

What would have happened if I had acted on the fear that I dismissed every time Richard and I broke a small law? What if guilt had kept me from strangling that woman? What if I had stopped thinking for a moment and started acting outside of the designated lines?

Something happened near the end. When the plan crumbled and the framework collapsed, there was nothing between me and my emotions. There was no nihilistic philosophy to fall back on. There was fear, disgust, anger, loathing... a sense of self-preservation. The dam broke and all I wanted was to erase my life and write it again. Cassie must have known that I wasn't motivated by selflessness when I saved her, both from the bullet and from falling. She must have known. I was weak. I wanted to save my life, even if it wasn't worth saving.

I still don't know how I feel about Richard. In the end, I couldn't sort out the emotions--assign them to events and people. I felt betrayed when he backed out on the suicide pact, but there was more than that. The knowledge that he would have watched me blow my brains out after all we had done...

But I'm not angry. When I think of Richard now, all I feel is guilt. If he hadn't had me as a tutor for biology... if we hadn't started discussing crime... I don't know what would have happened. I would have stayed trapped by idiotic dogmas and he would have gone on to do something remarkable. Then again, if he hadn't encouraged me--if he hadn't translated my abstract ideas into actions--it wouldn't have happened. We destroyed each other. That is undeniable. Cassie might have been the one to throw him off of the balcony, but I was the one who killed him. He killed me. I think I was dead--dead in all of the important ways--before I set foot inside the state jail.

We built our own framework. I provided the blueprints, he provided the labor. I'll never know if Richard believed in becoming more than human and unity or if he was ever serious about the suicide pact. I think it was a game to him--one he could quit if it became too difficult. I don't think he had any intention of dying. Then why did he play? He said it was me, but at least half of everything that came out of Richard's mouth was a lie. I did believe him, at least to a degree. I wanted to believe that I was special and worthy of the power we were seeking, and he almost had me convinced. I regret that, too--not feeling where Richard was concerned. Maybe he was manipulating me. Maybe he meant some of what he said. If I would have let myself feel before the plan was made, we might have been friends. It seems unlikely, but if he saw anything in me...

When I saw Richard's body, it was like having every emotion I had repressed up to that point hit me simultaneously. He meant something to me. I don't know what--I never will know--but he did.

After that initial outpouring of emotion, emotions ceased entirely. I wasn't afraid of prison. I wasn't afraid of dying. I wasn't thankful to my father for flying back to California, hiring a decent lawyer, and moving my execution date forward so I wouldn't have to spend an extended amount of time surrounded by other murderers. In retrospect, prison could have been hell. A seventeen year-old on murderers' row. I was fortunate. I didn't realize it at the time because I had already decided to die. If the Haywoods' lawyer hadn't been so convincing and I had been given a light sentence, I think I would have died anyway. There was no plan and no philosophy to save me. There wasn't a point.

There weren't visitors. A few months of isolation--I think they drove me insane.

And now I can see how far I've come. When I came to the City, I was a shell. Even with Richard here, my emotions were remote and all I had was a shoddy reconstruction of my prior beliefs to guide me.

When did it change? When did apathy--an almost self-destructive apathy--turn into feeling? When did I begin to listen to emotion and reason instead of reason exclusively? What was the catalyst? Did it happen when Road showed me what kind of a monster I had been intent on becoming?

What good has it done me?

Feeling doesn't result in wise decision-making. I could have apprehended Myrnin, assuming he had been willing to surrender. That would have been logical. That would have been right, I think, according to the police code. I went after Beckett instead. I could justify the decision... had Myrnin resisted, I wouldn't have had a chance against him; my position in the department doesn't require that kind of activity; locating Beckett was as much a priority as capturing Myrnin. I followed my emotions--fear that Myrnin would kill me, concern for Beckett. It wasn't noble. A couple of years ago, I would have considered my choice a weak and cowardly one.

And the debacle with Sorrow. I didn't have to reply to Ken's message; Tuesdays are my days off. I didn't have to respond in person because I'm not trained to handle violent situations, but it seemed like the right thing to do. There was no time for analysis. There was no time to analyze the situation before I shot Sorrow. I thought he would kill Ken. Emotion prompted a hasty and regrettable action.

I had meant to kill him--Sorrow. I had aimed at his head, but my hands were shaking. There was rationale behind the decision. If he was dead, Ken would be safe and Sorrow would return, presumably not as a vampire. Simple. I didn't think it through before I shot, but I can justify it.

I tried to kill someone. I've never shot anyone before. I used to practice at home, and I was good, but I didn't shoot anything living. I'm a terrible killer.

Richard ran over a cat when he was fifteen and he had his learner's permit. He drove to school even though he wasn't allowed to and, one day, he hit a cat in the parking lot. I cried about that--about a cat. I was fourteen. Three years after that, I strangled a woman. I think I cried then, too. The emotions associated with the events were, and still are, vague... detached. I had mastered the art of detachment. But something about them still hurt.

I threw up when I dumped the body. It wasn't the gore. I can tolerate blood. I don't remember throwing up, but it must have been guilt. The same thing happened with Sorrow. I can't tell the difference between guilt and nausea anymore.

It would have been kinder to kill Sorrow. I saw his post on the network tonight. If I had had better aim, I could have solved his vampire problem. I could have prevented whatever pain is involved when a jaw is reconstructed. Better yet, I could have been a more efficient leader during Beckett's absence. I could have done something to capture Myrnin and Sorrow, making the above decisions unnecessary. I could have been kinder to Shilo and Zia. They both wanted me on the ark, but reason said no. Reason told me to hold my position.

I've made more mistakes than I can count in the last few weeks. I've thought about them; when I think about them, all of the other mistakes I've made come back. I don't even know how to feel about them. Part of me is still controlled by reason and part of me feels things with an urgency that I can't fully deny. This must be normal--how normal people are. Part reason, part emotion. I'm not used to it. I'm too weak to listen to both parts.

Road has known that since we met. I've fought her about it, insisting that emotion strengthens rather than weakens. Maybe it does in most people, but it's a lie when I say it about myself.

I'm weak. No matter how I try to refute it, it holds true. The worst things that Richard said about me might not have been true then, but they are now. I thought I was becoming stronger, but these last few weeks--I've done nothing but make mistakes. I've hurt people. I joined the police, in part, to repent--to make up for what I had done. Now I've undone any progress I might have made while I was here. I don't even know if that apparent progress was authentic or if I had simply convinced myself that redemption was possible. Not religious redemption, but a way of making up for my past mistakes. Of erasing them.

Cassie told me that it isn't possible to escape past mistakes. We all have one life to live, even if a dimensional crossover intervenes and gives us the illusion of a second chance.

Even without the rules and philosophies that I depended on--even without the repression of emotion that was more an instinct than a conscious decision--I'm a destructive force. Some defect in me--in my mind, maybe--will keep me doing more harm than good. I'm wrong. Fundamentally, genetically, however. The world would have been better if I hadn't been in it. Richard would have graduated by now... he would have done something with his life. He could be cruel, but he could also be sincere and kind, albeit in a warped way. The woman--Olivia Lake--would still be alive. She would still be able to shop for groceries and do whatever else she did. Lisa and my parents might have been better off. There's no way to know.

After I shot Sorrow, something strange happened. I don't know if it was a kind of magic--I have to accept that such things exist here--or a trick of my own mind, but it was terrifying. There was fear, pain, loneliness... guilt. A worried face. I think the thoughts were from Sorrow, but I can't be sure. Other than the faces, the feelings could have been mine. It must have been him.

It could have been me.

I couldn't avoid his entry on the network, and I was compelled to read Beckett's reply to him. "I'm not really interested in what a murderer's idea of just and unjust might be." That's what she said. She said it to someone who could have been me, and she said it with such disgust. Do I need to remind her? Does she know that I'm the one who mutilated him?

Sometimes--usually when I've been around Shilo, Neil, and Todd fairly frequently--I believe I've changed. I believe I'm a good person. When Beckett trusts me to handle paperwork, I feel like I've accomplished something. To have someone like her trust me--surely that means something. When the other officers treat me like a peer and not a socially awkward killer... I lie to myself. I lie convincingly. I've been building a new framework in the City, and something tore it down.

I want to run. I've made too many mistakes. Thinking that I could redeem myself somehow by trying to enforce the City's nonexistent laws was idiotic. There aren't second chances, and Beckett could say that to me as easily as she said it to him. She would be justified in doing so. Shilo--I don't understand why she doesn't have someone better. I've hurt her before; it's only a matter of time before I make another mistake. I barely know Zia and I can't fathom why she seems to care. Is it because I bought candy for her?

The only company I deserve is Road's.

If I was convinced that death--the true death that comes after the City--was annihilation and not another chance to ruin more lives... if I thought that death was enough to escape...

Would I do it, or am I too weak?

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othersdie: are you exiled in those bottomless nights? (Default)
Justin Pendleton

January 2015

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