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Sidney Black

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Attributes
Power Intelligence ●●●○○ Strength ●○○○○ Presence ●●○○○
Finesse Wits ●●○○○ Dexterity ●●●○○ Manipulation ●●○○○
Resistance Resolve ●●●○○ Stamina ●●○○○ Composure ●●●○○
Mental Physical Social
(-3 unskilled) (-1 unskilled) (-1 unskilled)
Academics (Art) ●●○○○ Drive () ●○○○○ Empathy () ●●○○○
Computer () ●○○○○ Firearms () ●○○○○ Persuasion () ●●○○○
Crafts (Sculpt) ●●●○○ Stealth () ●○○○○ Socialize () ●○○○○
Investigation () ●●○○○ Survival () ●○○○○ Subterfuge (Spot Lies) ●●○○○
Medicine () ●●○○○        
Occult () ●○○○○ Size: 5 Health ●●●●●●●
    Defense: 2 Willpower ●●●●●●
Danger Sense ●●○○○ Initiative Mod: 6 Morality ●●●●●●●
Resources ●●●○○ Speed: 9    
           
Apparent Age 38 Height 5'6" Hair Black
Age 36 Weight 130 lbs. Eyes Brown

The tape began with the usual rigmarole, delivered by the good cop. “This is Officer __________________ at the ___ Precinct, ________ __, 20__, recording witness Sidney Marie Black.”

The dark-haired woman passed a hand through her hair, pulling it roughly back, dragging on the ends with her fingers. “Do we really have to do this again? I already told you all I know.” Her eyes were as black as her hair at that point, huge and rimmed with red. Her lips were blanched pale without makeup and her tired, small voice had a raw edge.

“Our field notes were only the first step, Mrs. Black,” the officer intoned in a kind but routine way. “We need to record this for our case files.”

“Ms. Black,” she responded, her voice losing steam until it’s a whisper.

“Excuse me?” the good cop asked, confused, and wanting her to repeat it for the microphone.

Sidney gave half a cough and said, “My husband died five years ago. It’s Ms. Black now.”

“I see. I’m sorry, Ms. Black.” A diplomatic pause. “Can you tell me about the events of the last twenty-four hours, starting when you got into town?”

“I came to see my parents. Get away for the weekend. Nothing was wrong, we just…wanted out of the city for a while. So we packed up and left early…traffic was good…” Her eyes stared out into space.

The officers glanced at each other for a half a second, and the good cop leaned forward to bring her back around. “About what time did you reach your parent’s house?”

“Noon, I think. I’m pretty sure it was noon?” She squinted into the light, trying to remember something that happened about fifteen hours ago. “We had lunch right after we got there.”

“Did you notice anything strange along the road? Anyone following you or driving suspiciously?” Good cop’s brow creased just enough to show that he was concerned.

“No,” she replied hollowly. “Nothing. No accidents, nothing.”

“And what did you do when you got to your parent’s house, Ms. Black?”

“We had lunch. Went out and picked some fruit for dessert. They watched a movie with Jay while I cleaned up. It was good.” A pale hand struggled into a pocket of her button-up sweater, almost of its own accord, and came up with a tissue. While she dabbed her eyes, good cop poured her a glass of water.

“Did anybody stop by the house before bedtime?” He said it very carefully – before bedtime – because he’d heard her story in much louder tones before. Somebody had been at the house that night, that much was clear. This woman had been half out of her mind an hour ago. But too many questions were in the air unanswered: who, when, why, how?

“No,” she said simply. “My parents weren’t expecting anybody, either. Just us.”

“What time was dinner?”

“Six o’clock. We were in bed by ten.” Sidney swiped a curled hand over an eye like a child. A ghost of the girl she’d been passed over her face as she gave a half-hearted smile of apology and said simply, “It was a long day.”

“Did you get up at any point during the night to go to the bathroom or get a drink of water?”

“No, but I woke up a little when I rolled over. So I wouldn’t roll on him.”

Good cop could sense his partner taking a deep, silent breath next to him. He pressed on: “At what point did you notice something was wrong?”

“I turned over and he – Jason wasn’t there.” She looked as confused by it as if it had happened just that moment. “I called out for him a bit, keeping quiet, but he didn’t answer.” There was a deep silence, just the way it must have been when she lay in bed, coming out of sleep to a bad feeling. “He wasn’t in the bathroom. I checked my parent’s room and they were…they were…”

Good cop’s brow furrowed deeper as her eyelids slipped a little wider. He was sure she was about to say she thought they were dead. There was that kind of horror in her face.

But instead she said: “Jay wasn’t there, and they were still asleep. I went back to the guestroom and there was nothing. Just this – sound.” She shuddered deeply and drew into her sweater like a turtle into its shell. The white tissue, like a flag of surrender, fluttered up to her mouth as she groaned softly and started to rock in her seat. “Oh God…”

Bad cop finally leaned forward, trying to mask his impatience. This was where she went all to pieces when she told the story at the scene. “Can you describe the sound? Was it a car motor, or an animal of some kind?”

“No!” she said, shaking her head resolutely. “I don’t know what it was. Big. Some kind of humming. It made the crickets quiet. And I heard the screen door flapping.”

Pushing past his resolve that this lady killed her kid and buried his body somewhere in the field behind her parent’s house, bad cop stuck to the facts: “Where was that screen door located?”

“The back of the house. Downstairs. My dad never goes to sleep without locking every door and window downstairs, ever. He says he can’t sleep if something’s open.”

Bad cop wondered what Grandpa was so scared of in a good area, in his golden years of life. Good cop could imagine what Sidney thought just then, hearing the screen door and coming to the conclusion that the kid got outside.

“Did Jason have a history of sleepwalking?” good cop asked. He heard some kids did that. He, on the other hand, had never seen a sleepwalking person in his life, and secretly doubted it was real.

Sidney got very quiet and had a sip of water. “He did, for a little while. Just like my dad, when he was young. That’s why they kept all the doors locked, just in case he tried to get out.”

Bad cop smelled convenient bullshit. Good cop made a mental note to check up on sleepwalking and whether it runs in families.

“I was afraid he’d hurt himself. Jason doesn’t know my parent’s house that well. So I went downstairs –”

- ran, I ran downstairs and Mom and Dad were dead asleep upstairs and didn’t hear -

“- and I didn’t see him anywhere, and the door was open –”

- Jason couldn’t have opened all those locks by himself, not the deadbolt -

Bad cop could tell she was revving up for another freak out. “Mrs. Black,” he said roughly, waving his hand to catch her gaze. Her eyes snapped up, a little dazed but also a little offended. That was a good sign. “What did you do next?”

“I went out back and it was so dark. It was so dark…” She swallowed. “…because there was something up above me.” Her face trembled and then collapsed with tears. “There was something in front of the moon, and the sky –”

- the sky opened up and -

“- the sky was all wrong –”

Good cop fetched her another tissue and could feel her shaking as she took it. Sidney couldn’t see him at that point. Even if she wasn’t blinded with tears, her mind was firmly back in the field.

“You said this before,” good cop said in a particularly gentle tone of voice. “What do you mean by that? What was wrong?”

“There was no moon, and there was this black shape hovering, and the stars were screaming.”

It was basically the same answer she gave before, only now she wasn’t screaming it out. But it still didn’t make any sense? Psychotic break? Hallucinogenic drugs? Roofied somehow?

Good cop tried to clarify further in another attempt to get a coherent answer. “Do you mean that you heard screaming while you were looking up at the stars?”

“No, the stars…the screaming was coming from them. And then the sky changed, and the shape was gone, and…” She made a helpless gesture with her hands. It wasn’t any use; she couldn’t continue. The next thing she remembered, she was in a tangle of arms. She was on her knees in the back yard, screaming for Jason, and her parents were terrified.

In the next few days, good cop and bad cop divided the work and recorded the following:

The boy’s father was indeed long dead, passed away in a very public bus accident. Relations with his parents were good; the kid spent enough time there that there was no reason to steal him away. Teachers were questioned and though one janitorial worker at Jason’s elementary school was discovered to have a prior child molestation offense, he had a solid alibi and a preference for girls around 12. The man was summarily fired but he brought no leads to light.

Ms. Sidney Black was working in an office and had a very stable history, with no mental health issues since a small bout of depression when she was sixteen years old. She was known to everyone as a hard worker, a solid provider, and a strong individual who had gracefully come to terms with her unexpected widowhood. When tested for drugs and alcohol at her own request, Sidney’s sample came up without any medication but with a low level of alcohol. The wine that was served with dinner was also tested and ruled uncontaminated.

No evidence of a struggle or blood was found at the scene or in surrounding environs. Both family cars were untouched and accounted for. Most tire treads were immediately identifiable, and others were later matched to persons who were cleared of any suspicion. The nearest neighbors, though not close, did not report seeing or hearing anything unusual until Ms. Black’s screams as approximately 2 a.m.

The back door and attendant screen door had assorted fingerprints from family members. Neither door was forced open, nor were Jason’s fingerprints directly on or near the locks. Later, Sidney Black’s father would report that he might have finally forgotten to lock one or both of those doors, but he could not be sure. The family opened the front door in search of Jason and later for the police. No other doors or windows were disturbed.

Nothing from the scene was apparently missing or stolen (save for Jason, aged six), but it was a curious fact that a surprising number of dead things were uncovered on the property. This included birds, possums, and other vermin, and just about every insect aboveground, including a great number of crickets and grasshoppers. No human remains were found on or near the premises.

The remains of several young boys have been recovered and tested for DNA compatibility, to no avail. Jason Harris has not been seen since.

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