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In-character posts may contain disturbing or explicit content.

Moderated by Cetasaurus
Conspiracy (Open RP)
Posted: Posted July 29th, 2017
Edited July 29th, 2017 by Cetasaurus

A man in his early 30s left his apartment at 6:45pm on Tuesday, October 31st. His name was Castel Salgado. He had dark hair, dark eyes, and brown skin. His parents were Argentinian. He was American. His face still portrayed youthfulness, was round with gentle features. His body was lithe; he took care of it, though was certainly not physically gifted. He was dressed in a costume. The costume was Sigmund Freud.

Castel Salgado was going to meet an old european-american friend, Jared Patterson. They'd met in college. They'd both been psychology majors. During post-grad, Salgado went into clinical practice, while Patterson went into research. Salgado ran his own psychotherapy clinic now. Patterson worked for the government.

The pair lived in different cities, but kept in touch via email. They liked to exchange articles they stumbled across during their various reviews of the current psychology literature. These articles were ones they found noteworthy for being either good or bad, or otherwise topical. The two men sometimes talked about their personal work as well, but Salgado couldn't break confidentiality, and much of Patterson's work was classified. Occasionally they would, like everyone else did, make a genuine effort to talk about movies, television, and current events.

Sometimes they had periods where they didn't talk for a while. It never seemed to bode ill for their friendship. They both were quiet men, and didn't much bother each other with vacant well-wishes. It was during a particularly extended period of quietness that Patterson emailed out-of-the-blue, saying his research had brought him near Salgado's area of residence, and that he'd like to meet "as soon as convenient." The email excited Salgado, but also left him curious. There was one line that briefly stood out to him: "There is a matter I have wanted to discuss with you for some time now." Salgado wondered why his friend had never brought up this mysterious matter in their emails, which seemed an appropriate medium for discussing most topics, especially for two introverted friends living at a distance. Fortunately, Salgado did not address this point in his reply, stating only that he was excited to meet.

Castel Salgado got into his Volkswagen and turned the ignition. The fake, scruffy white beard he wore as part of his costume was already starting to itch again. He'd taken it off after work, but knew his friend would get a kick out of it, so had donned it again with an impish thrill. He was looking forward to seeing Jared very much.

Castel found a place to park about a block away from the building they were meeting at. He locked his car and began to walk down the busy sidewalk, fingering the chain of the pocket watch he was using as a prop. Some of the people he passed were also dressed up for Halloween. Castel smiled at a pair of werewolves as he walked by. His spirits were light with the fancy of the holiday and with the prospect of seeing Jared again for the first time in years.

He entered a restaurant, which was on the ground floor of a moderately-sized skyscraper. Castel didn't know or care what the other floors hosted. It was a hotel building, maybe. He saw the side of Jared's head in the back of the room, and moved swiftly to take the seat across from him, smiling happily. "Hello!" greeted Castel. "It's so wonderful to see you again!"

Castel was slightly taken aback when Jared looked up to meet him. His eyes were puffy with sleeplessness, and his unshaven face helped to frame his haggardness. Jared replied without humor, "The hell are you wearing?"

Castel bounced back from the lack of cordiality. "It's my Halloween costume!" he said with a grin. "Do you like it?"

"Freud's theories were highly sexist," said Jared flatly, reaching for a sip of water.

"Well, my patients seemed to like it," retorted Castel, feeling put-off. "Besides, no one would have recognized me as like Kurt Lewin or– or Margaret Floy Washburn."

"You're also not white enough to be a famous psychologist," said Jared.

"That's racist," said Castel.

"Obviously that's my point." Jared shook his head. "You and I both know the field of psychology would be half of what it is without the contributions of scientists of color, like Francis Sumner and the Clarks – both household names to us esoteric nerds. But institutional oppression, especially before these historical figures fought to change the field's attitudes, certainly wasn't working to turn them into recognizable Halloween costumes." Jared's interest in the topic suddenly vanished, replaced with a dark stare directed at some distant thought. "Look, I don't have time to debate a goddamn outfit," he muttered, and met Castel's eyes with an accusatory expression.

Castel shifted uncomfortably. He removed the beard and stuck it into his pocket. "What's gotten into you?" he confronted. "Halloween was our favorite holiday back at–"

"Would you shut up about Halloween already?" Jared cut in. "Like I said, I don't have time for this–" he made a dismissive gesture with his hand "–frivolity."

This was not the Jared that Castel knew. The clinical part of his mind began to churn. Symptoms of mood change and agitation could come from such a myriad of both biological and environmental factors that Castel wasn't sure where to begin. Normally, he'd press the patient for more information. He decided to do so, but cautiously, lest Jared catch on to him and become more upset. "Since when don't you like a good debate about psychology's history?" Castel asked.

Jared sighed. "Sorry," he said, sounding truly sorry. "I still would, I've just…" His voice trailed off momentarily. "There's something else I need to talk to you about." They met eyes, and Castel felt like he was being truly seen for the first time in their exchange.

"Okay," said Castel softly. "Wh-what is it?"

Jared lowered his head and ran a hand through his light hair. "Let me think of a good place to start," he muttered, staring at the tablecloth.

There was a long silence while Jared thought. Castel looked around, wondering if a waiter was ever going to come offer them menus, at least. He didn't know that Jared had ordered some appetizers then requested that the waiter leave them alone as much as possible. Catching Castel momentarily off-gaurd, Jared issued an order, "Give me your phone."


"Just give it here." Castel placed his cell phone into Jared's open palm. Jared stood up and brusquely disappeared with it, then came back empty-handed.

"Umm," said Castel.

"I just put it in my car," said Jared. "And in the din of this restaurant, we're too far away for anyone else's phones to pick up our voices. We should be safe to discuss sensitive intel now." Jared reached into a coat pocket and pulled out a small audiocassette recorder. "This will give us a secure recording, which you may want later," Jared explained, pressing the record button. "But promise me you'll guard it well. In fact, tuck it into your coat pocket right now, before anyone sees."

Castel's concern for Jared's mental health was only increasing. "Jared," he said compassionately, picking up the recorder and putting it in his breast pocket. "I don't know if–"

There are 6 Replies

Jared ignored him and began talking, "In 2016, Elon Musk warned at a conference that the advent of artificial intelligence would require vital safeguards if the human race wanted to maintain a relative balance of power."

"Isn't he the guy who builds rockets?" Castel interjected.

"Just listen," said an irritated Jared. "He said that any AI must be democratized – its software should be open-source so that all people can know how it works and make decisions about what it should do. He didn't want AI to fall into the hands of the few, or else those few could end up wielding unchecked power. It was supposed to belong to the people – be by the people and for the people."

"Has something changed to prevent that?"

"Please! just– Just let me finish." Jared unclenched a fist he didn't realize had been tight, then resumed, "Musk also believed that, if we didn't want AI to surpass humans in ability, we'd have to enhance our ability. Specifically, we'd have to increase our data output capacity.

"At any given moment, humans are taking in and processing vast amounts of data through our senses – you've heard it said that our brains are the ultimate supercomputer, I'm sure. But our output of data is relatively restricted. We can communicate with language by exerting controlled thought, and we do communicate nonverbally to an extent. But compared to how much data we're taking in every second, these quantities of output are virtually nothing.

"In order to increase our output capacity to that which might match a full-blown AI, we'd need new technology. This hypothetical technology has been referred to as a 'neural link.' It's a computer, essentially, that works in tandem with the brain. We can navigate our phones with our minds, but we need to physically use our hands first. This 'neural link' would take out that extra step and allow to send data to one another almost automatically. In doing so, we might be able to match AI machines that would otherwise be faster than us in every way. Are you with me?"

Castel nodded, relieved that, at least thus far, Jared seemed to be speaking logically. "Your research has been with all this AI stuff, right?"

"Yeah. I studied cognitive psychology in grad school, as well you know. I was employed by the US Department of Defense to help with the development of artificial intelligence. Listen, Castel, what I'm about to say is treason: we did it."

"Did what?"

"We have functional AI. It's more than our society has even known to prepare for. It's extremely classified."

Castel felt his mouth open in a blend of surprise and confusion. Before he could formulate a single question, Jared kept going. "Before we reached this relative success in the development of AI, we started experimenting with the neural link. We knew from our earliest prototypes that our AIs would far exceed us in terms of computational processing, and we worried what levels of control we would be able to maintain over them considering our inferior processing capacities. I was moved to the neural link project long before we ever developed a truly autonomous AI, but by extrapolating the progress we'd been making, I'm sure that by now the AI project will have been successful."

Jared fell silent for a moment, allowing Castel to speak. "Well, that's good news, right? Your research is on track. The technology is being developed just as planned. It could make a lot of lives much..." Castel stopped spouting his naïveté when he saw Jared shaking his head in dismay.

"The government did not develop this for the people," Jared spat. "This has all just been about increasing their control over the people."

Now it was Castel shaking his head. "That just sounds like technophobic conspiracy theory. The government wouldn't withhold secret technology and use it to– to what? Spy on us? Is that what you're saying?"

At that moment, the waiter began approaching the table. Jared started noticeably then kept quiet, signaling the approach of the waiter with his eyes so Castel would do the same. The waiter spoke, placing a basket of calamari and mozzarella sticks on their table, "Let me know if you need anything else!"

Castel nodded friendlily and said, "Thanks." The waiter walked away.

Jared was quiet and rock-still until he was out of earshot, then answered Castel in a low tone. "I don't know exactly what the government is doing with their AI technology, but I do know they have no plans to declassify it. They won't use it for good, but to further their control over citizens. I'm sure you remember Snowden, and what he revealed about how the government uses technology."

Posted July 29th, 2017 by Cetasaurus
Formerly KM8

"Jared," Castel began, gently. "I think you might be a little, well, paranoid. I understand, the stress of the job is–"

Jared interrupted, apparently a recently acquired behavior that Castel was being forced to adjust to. "In every documented plan the government has developed for a doomsday scenario, the primary goal has been the continuity of their governance. If the apocalypse came today, the people would be left to fend for themselves, while the federal government would put into action a plan to ensure they kept power."

"That sounds reasonable to me," countered Castel. "A society that dissolved into chaos wouldn't be able to survive an apocalypse. Governance is important."

"Have you heard of Project Greek Island?" Jared asked. When Castel shook his head, Jared went on to explain, "In the 1950's, the US government formed a classified partnership with the Greenbriar Hotel in West Virginia. Beneath the hotel, they built a top-secret bunker to be used in the event of a nuclear holocaust. This bunker was designed to withstand nuclear blasts, and it was equipped with a six-month supply of food and water, kept continually refreshed for over 30 years. It was to be used to shelter the Congress, no one else. The citizens of the United States would be let to perish. The facility was only decommissioned in 1992, after it was exposed in a newspaper article."

"So what?" asked Castel. "My previous point still stands. The government certainly couldn't keep enough food continually stocked in underground bunkers for 320 million Americans, and any survivors would need guidance from the government more than ever."

"First of all," said Jared tersely, "they could easily have developed some kind of plan that included their citizens. Even if it didn't involve everyone living in bomb-proof bunkers for six months, they could have built temporary bunkers as well as evacuation plans to areas that hadn't been targeted. And they definitely should have kept seed banks in their bunker to ensure the country would be able to re-establish a stable system of agriculture. The fact is, Congress didn't come up with any plan, for any of its citizens, whatsoever." Jared tapped a finger on the table for emphasis. "Greenbriar was for the government alone," he said, "and this 'neural link' is the new Greenbriar, only this time, the citizens aren't even aware of the threat." There was some commotion in the kitchen, and Jared leapt in his chair. Castel felt for him; he was clearly on edge, and by the looks of it, had been for quite some time.

"The threat..." Castel began, not sure if he was feeding into his friend's delusions, "being the AI?"

"Yes," said Jared, seeming to sigh with relief, as if all of this had been a weight he'd been bearing alone for a long while. "The same way that the US government developed the technology for nuclear warheads, then spent the following decades trying to protect themselves from it, they've now developed powerful AI. Again, like the nuclear warheads, this new technology is probably capable of dismantling entire societies. Naturally, Congress wants to ensure their control over the AI. So, yes, they will prevent knowledge of it from going anywhere, and yes, they will keep the neural link – the only way to control the AI – to themselves, the same way they only cared about themselves with Greenbrier."

Jared seemed to be waiting for an affirmation that Castel understood. Castel chimed in, "But you already said you don't know what they will use the AI for. It could be totally benign."

"Right," Jared said satirically. "The same way they designed nuclear technology for the purpose of clean energy. The same way the Patriot Act protected us." He shook his head, shoulders drooping. "They're just going to sit on their AI technology until they figure out how to weaponize it, use it to control the population, or use it for profit."

"What about Elon Musk?" asked Castel. "I mean, what's to prevent private companies from writing their own AI, open-source?"

"The government," Jared said flatly. "I think they've acquired a patent on AI, and therefore can slap any outside developers with a lawsuit. If they haven't, they have other means of coercion. Trust me." Jared was staring listlessly at the floor. "I haven't even gotten to the most insidious part yet."

Castel regarded his friend in silence for a moment. His agitation, his paranoia, his sudden shift in personality – Castel was thinking this was a case of stress-induced psychosis, but he couldn't be certain. "What's the most insidious part?" he asked.

"To develop the neural link, they're testing it on unsuspecting citizens," Jared said.

"That sounds impossible," scoffed Castel. "How, exactly, would they do that?"

Jared put his head in his hands. "You're going to think I'm crazy," he murmured, then straightened up and looked Castel in the eye. "UFO sightings around the country have historically and predictably peaked during times of war and growing global tension. Close encounters occur in clusters, concentrated in time and location."

There was a massive pause as Castel tried to guess where Jared was going with those statements, and Jared tried to gauge his reaction to them. Eventually, Castel cleared his throat. "Well, that makes sense, psychologically," he said. "In times when one's own mortality is salient, they're demonstrably more likely to look for external meaning and greater truths. Nothing like the existential terror of war to prompt the interpretation of lights in the sky – of which there are many – as UFOs. Also, we rely heavily on social information to guide our own perceptions of what's real and what's false. If people in your community are propagating the myth of UFOs, you're gonna be far more likely to believe it yourself. It's a fundamental tenet of social psychology."

"You're right," admitted Jared. "But there could be another explanation. The government is abducting its citizens from specific populations, and using them to test the development of new weapons. These abductions, if they're remembered at all, are interpreted as UFOs by the citizen. The government occasionally stages a show to perpetuate the myth of UFOs so that they can escape blame themselves. We've seen that with the Roswell UFO and the Battle of Los Angeles – both historic UFO sightings, both smokescreens by the US military. Their involvement is written all over the facts."

"I saw that on an episode of the X-Files once," Castel commented.

"This isn't a joke, Castel!" Jared said angrily.

"Look, I'm sorry! But what do you want me to say? You show up looking like a hobo insomniac, totally on edge, you steal my phone and start talking about government conspiracies and alien abductions. Jared, I'm not in the business of delivering unsolicited diagnoses, but you're talking like a paranoid schizophrenic. I think you need help. I think the stress of the job got to you, and–"

"I'm not insane, Castel! And frankly, it's an affront to your integrity as a psychologist to deflect any threat to your safe little reality by deeming it abnormal."

"Maybe! But really, I can't believe that our government is abducting its citizens and running illicit tests on them without them even knowing it!"

"Would you just listen to all the facts?" Jared asked, eyes looking up in desperation. "Please."

"Fine," agreed Castel, jaw clenched. "What more have you got to say?"

"Well first, I think abductions do happen. Eye-witness accounts are remarkably similar, even amongst people who have had no contact with one another and have not heard the other's stories. Furthermore, they almost uniformly include descriptions of being tested upon in a lab – the apparent motive for the abductions. I'm not claiming I know how the government is managing to physically and discreetly transport people to their labs, but there's no reason to think they don't have the means, a claim I make based on my empirical observations made while working with them."

"Alright," said Castel. "So let's say the abductions are actually happening. The government performs tests on citizens during wartime, probably to develop new technology. I'm only humoring you, by the way. What makes the abductees unable to remember anything, or only to remember details so vaguely that they think it must be aliens, not their fellow kind?"

Posted July 29th, 2017 by Cetasaurus
Formerly KM8

"It's actually very simple," said Jared. "You know that information is stored in short-term memory, and only through a process of encoding does it enter long-term memory. If that process were interrupted, it would never be stored for longer than sixty seconds, and that's speaking generously. Interrupting the process is easy enough using transcranial magnetic stimulation. You may know how it works – a magnetic field generator, or 'coil', is placed near the head of the subject. The coil produces small electric currents in the region of the brain just under the coil. These currents can interfere with the brain's signals and disrupt cognitive processes. This isn't an invasive or secret procedure; cognitive psychologists have been using it to understand where certain processes occur in the brain for decades now. It's safe and straightforward. It took some modifications and specific conditions, but the government has definitely been able to use transcranial magnetic stimulation to prevent memory formation. I've seen it myself."

Castel was quiet as he thought about the offered explanation. He couldn't find a way to dispute it. "Ok," he said tentatively. "I just still can't believe the government would do something that– that heinous."

"You know about the Tuskegee syphilis experiments? Or Project 112?" Jared asked.

Castel shook his head no.

"Both are well-documented instances of the government deliberately afflicting its people with harmful biological agents. The Tuskegee experiment took advantage of impoverished african-american men in order to study the natural progression of untreated syphilis. The participants were lured into the study by the promise of free healthcare. A third of them did not have syphilis, but wold contract it during the course of the study. Those who were already infected were promised treatment, but funding for treatment was lost. The study continued without informing the men they would never be treated in its course, and the scientists prevented participants from accessing syphilis treatment programs available to other residents in the area. None of the men infected were ever told they had the disease, and none were treated with penicillin even after the antibiotic was proven to successfully treat syphilis. It took a whistleblower to expose the operation."

Castel felt a chill overcome him. "What about Project 112?" he asked, a dark curiosity running through his brain.

"Project 112 was a biological and chemical weapon experimentation project conducted by the United States Department of Defense from 1962 to 1973. It primarily concerned the use of aerosols to disseminate biological and chemical agents. Innocent civilians in cities, on subways and at airports, were sprayed with aerosols containing bacteria and viruses, or were exposed to a variety of dangerous chemical, biological and radiological agents. To this day, documents have not been fully declassified. Precise information on the number of tests, experiments, and participants is not available and the exact number of veterans exposed will probably never be known."

Castel's mouth felt dry. "I- I don't believe you," he said.

Jared shrugged. "Look it up. I speak the truth, Cas. The government is not above testing their neural link on unsuspecting civilians."

"But what does that mean?" asked Castel, feeling at a loss. "As in, what are the implications for us?"

"Well, for starters, it means there are people running around with prototypical neural links stuck in their head. Most of them, if not all, won't even know it. You know why you're job is in such high demand?"

Castel blinked. "Well, a number of reasons. I–"

Jared interrupted him again. "Rates of depression and suicide are climbing. Even psychosis and mania are being more and more documented."

"That's been true since the turn of the century, at least. There are a lot of complicated social factors involved in these numbers, some of which suggest these illnesses have always been there – they're only now being reported more consistently."

"I'm not talking about any of that," Jared cut in. "What I mean is, within the past year, there has been a statistically observable increase in suicides. And symptoms of depression. Anxiety. Psychosis. Mania. But not everywhere. Just here, one of the country's most densely populated cities."

Posted July 29th, 2017 by Cetasaurus
Formerly KM8

Castel dropped his eyes to the untouched appetizers sitting in front of them. They had gone cold by now for sure. "What's that got to do with the neural link?" he asked, a wave of tiredness suddenly washing over him. He thought he might know the answer.

"It's the cause of these symptoms," Jared answered, confirming Castel's suspicions. "I work with software developers writing the code for these things. My job is to find a way for the neural link to harmonize with the brain's natural cognitions, such that the brain doesn't reject the foreign item. I base all my ideas in sound theory, but truthfully, we wouldn't know if it worked unless, well, unless we tested it on someone. Anyway, if the neural link failed to synchronize perfectly with one's natural cognitions, it basically becomes a disease."

"I see," murmured Castel. He stared downward as he tried to process everything he'd just been told. "What is the neural link, like, physically?" he asked, looking up with an expression of interest.

"Well, I technically don't have the clearance to know that. The idea is that it's like a hairnet that goes over the brain, aligning itself with the paths of the neurons. But it's inserted through the blood stream in the form of many particles. It gets carried into the brain – somehow circumventing the blood-brain barrier, I guess – and then constructs itself on the surface of the cortex itself. I'm not really authorized to collaborate with the team's engineers and neurologists, who might offer a better explanation. I have made the argument that collaboration might make our research more efficient, but the government is more concerned with keeping the specifics of the project from being known by any single individual."

"How would we know if we had a neural link in our brain already?" Castel asked.

Jared laughed bitterly. "I don't know!" he said. "I'm permitted to see so little of the programming, and half of what I see, I hardly understand. I guess if you ever experience any ESP-type moments – psychic connections with others who have the link being most likely – that's a safe bet you've got one in you! Like I've told my supervisors, every individual's brain would respond differently to such a thing. I can't imagine its effects are going to be very predictable, not at this stage of development."

The restaurant had been quieting down for a while. They were the last guests inside. Castel leaned forward, "Why are you telling me all this?" he asked in a low tone. "Isn't this all still – treason?"

"I needed someone I could trust. Cas, I don't know how, but this whole operation needs to be stopped. It's not right – it's just not right. People need to know, at least. I really need your help." Jared's pleading was heavy in his tone and in his eyes. Castel was moved, felt deeply sympathetic. He believed his friend needed help. He wasn't sure which parts of his story to believe, or what he and Jared might do about it if it were all true, but he could tell Jared had been suffering.

"We'll figure something out," said Castel reassuringly. "Would you like to spend the night at my place? I can give you a ride if you're ok with leaving your car here."

"Please," said Jared, voice suddenly frail and timid.

"We'll–" He was cut off by an approaching waiter. It was someone different than before.

She smiled at them forcibly. "So sorry, but we're trying to close up," she said.

"Oh!" said Castel, feeling embarrassed. He glanced at Jared, who nodded slightly and took the bill from the waiter.

"Will you be needing a box for that?" she asked, looking at the uneaten appetizers.

"No, thank you," said Jared curtly. The waiter grabbed the tray with a distasteful expression and left them to sort the bill.

Castel looked outside the restaurant windows, where the city lights lit up the sidewalk in a ghoulish white glow. The sidewalk was empty now. Castel had almost forgotten it was still Halloween, and he was still mostly in costume. He took out his beard again and put it on, offering Jared a warm smile. Jared looked up from the receipt he'd been signing, and almost seemed to smile back.

All at once, a body hit the pavement outside, and Castel felt a sharp pain in the front of his head for a split second. He jumped from his seat and looked around wildly. Jared, too, looked ready to bolt. His eyes fixed on the body out the window, staring in transfixed horror. Seeing no one else was around to help, Castel ran outside to see if the man who had fallen was still alive.

As he approached the man, it became increasingly clear there was no way he'd survived the fall. His body was mangled, his head was split open. More footfalls were running toward them as a crowd began to gather. "I saw him jump!" Castel heard someone say. "I'm calling an ambulance!" shouted somebody else. Castel looked down at the gore in front of him. Although he was beginning to feel like he would vomit, he couldn't look away. In the soft gray tissue of the brain that had spilled out of the man's cranium, Castel saw little lines of silver trickle into a pool of blood where they seemed to disappear.

As the crowd began to close in, Castel felt a deep need to get away. He pushed his way back into the restaurant, looking for Jared. His friend was nowhere to be seen. The restaurant looked completely empty. He called out Jared's name a few times, but was given no response. Still reeling, Castel wandered back outside. He continued to call out Jared's name. Meanwhile the distant sound of approaching sirens came ever closer. Castel stumbled a little. He leaned against a building facade, a short distance from the commotion. He felt the tape recorder, still whirring in his pocket. He clicked it off. He threw up through his fake white beard.

Posted July 29th, 2017 by Cetasaurus
Formerly KM8

All units in the Area, we have a suspected suicide at 14th and Ross, please respond

14-Kilo, responding Nashim called out to dispatch. Nashim was a 20 year old, Indian-American cop from Kashmir. Her father was an American and so she was granted duel-citizenship at birth. She grew up in a tribal village and was brought up in the Sikh religion. In October 2014, when she was 16, Indian and Pakistani troops exchanged some gunfire which killed four civilians. Her mother was harvesting grain when this occurred and was unfortunately one of those killed in the crossfire. After that, her Father decided it was time they moved, and brought her to America for the very first time. She fell in love, and vowed to protect her community with her life if need be.

As she pulled up to the scene, she saw the crowd of costumed pedestrians gathering near the body. She never would understand people's fascination with looking at other, deader people. She turned to her partner, a 19 year old white boy with blonde hair and blue eyes named Charles Bennett. They nodded at each other and got out of the squad car. Nashim's Navy blue turban matched her uniform, and she wore a traditional sword on her waist as well as the standard police tool-belt. As they approached the crowd Charles yelled out for them to make room for them to pass. Once the two of them made it to the front, they both raised their hands in the air, yelling out Back! Back! Back!

The crowd slowly moved backwards as two more squad cars showed up. Some of the pedestrians yelled out racial slurs, inaccurately labeling Nashim as a Muslim and a terrorist from behind their masks. She didn't let it get to her, she had a job to do. One of the officers who showed up began to tape off the area and others began to question passerby. Satisfied, Nashim looked around for anyone who might have seen what happened, instead of questioning random passerby as the other cops seemed to want to do. She decided to enter the building, but saw someone a short distance off leaning up against another building a short distance away, watching.

I wonder who that is. Nashim thought to herself, unaware that the strange man would be able to hear it himself in his own head. She began to approach him.

Edited July 29th, 2017 by Nashim Kumar

Through the din of his racing thoughts and churning stomach, Castel heard the authorities begin to usher spectators away from the scene. He looked up, watching the pedestrians get pushed away from the body while police tape was strung up. His chest was heaving as he tried to breathe in the crisp night air. Still reeling, he scanned the crowds again, still looking for Jared. Almost instinctively, he lifted a hand to feel the tape-recorded once more, as if by touching it he could bring his friend closer.

The stench of his vomit was rising to meet him, stirring up his nausea again. He stepped over it and walked forward a ways, still bracing himself against the building wall. The beard of his costume was crooked now, and disgusting. He ripped it off and let it slip out of his hand, onto the cold sidewalk. As it hit the ground, he heard a disembodied voice echo through his thoughts. I wonder who that is, it said. Startled, Castel looked frantically around for its source. His eyes were instinctively drawn to an approaching cop. She was young, and the sword on her hip and the turban on her head caught Castel's attention. He knew, without knowing, that she had been the source of the voice.

Confusion and dismay were written all over his face. What is happening? Castel thought, searching her eyes helplessly as she approached him. He lifted a hand in halfhearted greeting, as if to put on a pretense of normality. "H-hello," he tried to say, though his voice croaked. "C-can I help you?"

Edited August 2nd, 2017 by Cetasaurus
Formerly KM8
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