Page name: True Life House [Exported view]
# of watchers: 5
It was a barn this time. A couple dozen miles out of the metropolis on an empty farm. It had been scouted by someone, on the market for a few weeks, the owners long gone, no new owners yet, no security of note. The barn was wooden and cleaned out as the house had been, black out curtains added to the shuttered windows for further protection. He had barely seen it from the road heading in, you had to appreciate the care some of them went to to make these meetings a success. The wood and fabric muffled so much sound he was practically inside before he heard anyone talking and inside the chatting was in full swing. Familiar members were catching up however they could, new members were talking with their 'sponsors', the only people they currently knew. That's what they were here for though, that's why a silent location was important. Older members could be trusted to listen attentively. Newer ones tended to get riled up and it could be a problem if anyone heard. No one would though. Too far from the city- too far from the road
- to attract any attention. Phone tree members had organized carpools, arrival times, so to attract even less
attention. He had to admit, he was truly impressed by, and appreciative of, the lengths they went to every time they did it. Electric lanterns gave a bit of a spooky atmosphere, however. He could do without that, but flood lights were just not an option. They lit with what they could carry here. Even if the electric worked here they couldn't risk using it. And so it was perhaps a little dim, but they were safe here, so the darkness didn't seem so frightening. A tree member at the door, checking knocks before letting anyone in, she counted, then her gaze cut accurately across the building straight at him. An almost imperceptible nod. Ah, so that was the last of them. He supposed they should get started then. The rabble of conversations fell to deafening silence as he stood. A few short steps brought him out of the shadows of the corner of the barn where he had been observing/resting silently and onto the makeshift stage of a few hay bales. Squishier than he would like but he couldn't really complain. Unless he fell off. But he would not do that and certainly not in front of the just-short-of-one-hundred people in the building. A small meeting, but it was an introduction so there wouldn't be start up members here. Those were sizable, sometimes three hundred people at once. He smiled at them, almost each in turn, and drew a breath, almost collectively with those gathered here, and prepared his first words.
Lucy had been one of the first to arrive at the meeting place, as always. She mingled with the other members. She was fairly shy, but the younger members seemed to gather to her, she supposed the Messiah had something to do with that. Their founder was always telling her to be an example to the young and new members. She fell silent when the man who called himself the Plague Doctor stood to begin. This was the man who would succeed their beloved founder. She hoped that day would be a long time coming though.
"Hello, everyone... As always it is wonderful to see so many with us tonight. Some new faces as well. I welcome you all, on the behalf of the Messiah, and extend our collective heartfelt sympathies. Because that is why we are all truly here, is it not? We are unified in our loss, in our injustice." He paused as a couple of people nodded and took another breath, addressing a bit louder. "We have all felt a grievance so unnatural we know in our hearts-" Fingers together, he motioned to his chest with a hand for emphasis, "-that it can not simply be coincidence. Good people are not raped- tortured- murdered- imprisoned- while those who are 'sworn to protect us' turn a blind eye. The guilty... do not go free simply because they can afford to- afford to let us pick up the price." He dropped his hand so he could motion to everyone, both palms up. "Odds simply do not work that way. The scales of justice are not balanced-" He let one hand lower a fraction as the other raised. "They favor a select few lucky enough to have ties to their inner circle. But..." He smiled again. "We have our own." A few cheers. "And so shall we restore the balance." He waved a hand at a small group of a few young men with clenched fists and raised voices, quieting them, then turned a gentle smile on everyone again. "How many among you feel slighted, ignored, by those would-be-protectors? How many were told they were on your side? How many... were told everything was going to be ok, only for your happiness to be ripped from your very arms?..." A few somber faces, but quiet. "You are right.. what you are thinking... It isn't fair. We hear it too often: they protect their own. Police, judges, lawyers, jailers, inspectors, juries- Why should they share what they have 'earned' with you? The safety of their inner circle? Why should they, truly, protect-and-serve equally? Let us show them why! Fortune and Misfortune must favor us all, without prejudice, and those who would go so far as to disrupt that balance must be made aware of the consequences! All too many of us have tasted the bitterness of having our true life ripped from us, the happiness, the peace, the completion- We will earn it back, and no one is going to take it from us. This week... We saw another step taken on our path for righteousness. Our Messiah has brought us one step closer to our true lives by ridding us of one more obstacle. One more brick has been removed from their wall, and soon we will see their carefully constructed sanctum fall, their dreams disillusioned, and they too will truly have to earn their true life, just as all of us have. Let us give thanks, in our hearts, and remain strong in our minds, for what the Messiah and his Disciples do for one, they do for all, and in the end, we will find our Paradise- We will have our happiness."
Even after the several years Lucy had spent in the cult's meetings she teared up a little when the Messiah or the Doctor talked about the system and the true life, when she thought about her sister. She saw a young woman about her own age crying softly and wrapped her arms around her, comforting her. That had been her at her first meeting and now she found herself among the Messiah's own inner circle. "The Messiah will bring the system crumbling down around them and then we will rebuild a better one." She whispered to the girl. That was what they were doing, that was what she went to school for.
"-so stand strong, and keep faith! Every step is a step we take for all of our futures- our just reward- our True Life!" the Doctor finished his lecture to a surprising amount of applause, whistling, and cheers for so few people. Perhaps it was too much? He was used to speaking to larger groups now so perhaps it had been too heavy? Ah, but from their faces he could see relief, and new conviction. At least it had done some good. Still, there were a couple of uncertain or down-turned faces and he knelt at the end of his hay bales to speak softly with one of his own Orderly, his personal inner circle, and mentioned them. With a small nod the member was gone, off to gather the concerning members and speak to them personally. They would let him know what the problem was and he could then take care of it himself. The Messiah would not stand for him not cutting the root the moment he saw it growing. Concerning, but still he stood and smiled at the crowd as the cheering died and held his arms up again, out to the sides with the palms up in welcome. "To our returning members, it has been wonderful to see your faces again, and to our newest arrivals, you are always welcome here. Whatever your questions or concerns, we are always here for you, the others, my Orderlies, and myself, we are all here for you whenever you need us. We are a community, and we support one another. Please, have a safe trip home, and I hope to see you all again at our next meeting." There was more clapping, but it was more polite and less fevered now as he made his way off the make-shift stage with a surprising amount of poise. As soon as he was on the ground again a half dozen people came to speak to him and he patiently spoke with them all, having their own personal meeting as others broke into groups to talk for a few minutes before heading home or otherwise made their way to leave.
Lucy rubbed the woman's shoulders as though to warm her up as she regained her composure. The woman thanked her and told her that her brother had been wrongly imprisoned and was awaiting trial. Lucy nodded understandingly and introduced her to an older couple whose son had had the same thing happen. Finding herself without anyone interested in talking to her, she turned to watch the Plague Doctor. She found herself wondering once again who he was. She had known him as the Plague Doctor for years, been to regular meetings and meetings of the Messiah's inner circle with him, but she still knew little about him.
With only two people left talking to him, the hair on the nape of his neck was tingling and the Doctor glanced up to find the source. Lucy was staring at him. Again. She seemed to do that a lot. He politely excused himself from the final two of his group who bid their farewells and left before striding purposefully across the barn to Lucy, keeping his pace unhurried. Somehow his posture kept others at bay as he walked past them and he ignored the few who had perked up interest to where he was going. People were always staring and he supposed in this outfit he did draw a lot of attention. As he got closer he slowed his pace until he had stopped near Lucy, offering her a little smile. "I can feel you staring," he commented mildly, his voice calm and warm, the kind that could block out the rest of a room if someone were to try and listen too hard. "Is there something on your mind, Miss Lucy?" He motioned with a hand that they could step out of the way of others leaving and to a slightly emptier corner of the barn which the two people still there quickly vacated their seats on a hay bale to offer them to the Doctor. He thanked them though it hadn't really been necessary to move. It had been a long time since he stopped fighting that reaction from the followers.
Lucy looked up at the Doctor, "Sorry, I was just thinking." She said, walking with him, "It was a good sermon," She looked around, "I wish the Messiah came to more meetings, I think he would like to see this."
"He's a very busy man who works very hard for the happiness of all of us," the Doctor replied gently. "I think his time is better served as it is now than coming to meetings frequently." Of course, he shouldn't have to say any of this. As one of the Messiah's inner circle, Lucy should know better than most of them. They stood nearly on par with each other. The Doctor wasn't one of the inner circle, he stood apart, in a position filled by one, but apparently the Messiah favored his young girl in a different way, some way that made her valuable enough to be one of his chosen. He had heard of her schooling, he understood the Messiah was playing a long game that would come to the most fruition in the years to come. Slowly but purposefully taking over seats in the lawful organization, replacing them with his pawns. What an honor that must be. "I will pass along your thoughts so he knows he is missed." He offered her a small smile, peeking out from beneath his mask. "I am sure he will appreciate your devotion."
Lucy was young but she wasn't stupid, "I'm well aware of all that, Doctor. I only meant I wish he had more time for this, not that he should put aside other things." She shook her head, "He knows my thoughts, I see him as often as you do." Possibly more she thought. She didn't dislike the Plague Doctor, but sometimes he talked like he was the only one with a direct line to the Messiah and that bothered her.
"It is good you tell him then," the Doctor replied simply, undisturbed by her mild hostility. He wasn't talking down to her, on the contrary it seemed he was being appropriately attentive. "He speaks just as highly about all of you when you are not around, that is a true sign his love is genuine." He paused to wave goodbye as the last few left. One of his orderlies would wait with a car for him outside, but otherwise it was just Lucy and himself. "Though I did not doubt it, nor do I think you did," he assured her, offering another smile. She had no idea how often he saw the Messiah, but he knew it was a great deal more than the older man saw most anyone else. He was an excellent distraction. But if he counted the times they were only together as Messiah and Doctor, yes, she probably saw their leader a great deal more than he did. But he didn't only have those times. "If only there were more hours in a day."
Lucy nodded, "Was there a reason you pulled me aside?" She asked curiously. It seemed like he generally spent the time at the end of the meetings mingling and answering questions, he didn't usually seek out other members of the cult's leadership.
The Doctor masterfully hid the annoyed twitch, but there was a half a moment's pause before he answered, and when e did the little frown that had made it to his lips was replaced with a small, gentle smile again. "No, I suppose not. I only wanted to chat a little. Thank you for humoring me, Lucy." He didn't talk with Lucy often, but when he did he realized why. It was like talking to a fish. It had no real interest in anything other than what was on its mind and its eyes were pretty lifeless. "Thank you for coming. If you'll excuse me. Please get home safe and have a good evening." Another little smile and he turned, his dark robe swirling just slightly with the motion before he headed out of the dark barn, lit now only with the light of the moon through the windows the followers had uncovered and reopened. God was he glad for the fresh night air. This outfit could become a little stifling sometimes. He would get home and get it off immediately before calling the Messiah.
The frown didn't escape Lucy. Something about the Doctor rubbed her the wrong way, but the Messiah had chosen him for a reason. "Of course, have a good night, sir." She said pleasantly. She watched him go and sighed before looking through the barn beiefly to make sure no one had left anything that could identify anyone who had been in the barn. When she was finished she went out to her dad's car and began the long drive home
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