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Hallowed be Thy Name

By AbsoslutVodka

Replies: 39 / 90 days ago

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[Jost Gravity Falls meets Little Hope.
Set in 1972.

[pic https://i.pinimg.com/originals/df/05/5d/df055d7f9f56b418aeb1f895c07b4960.gif]

Somewhere in Salem, is a place with a dark history, a paranoia that pervaded a settlement at the centre of the 17th-century witch trials. But now the town has been restored and turned into another historical town filled to the brim with plenty of history.

Cold Springs is the name of the town. A small town of only 600 in Salem, Massachusetts. Plagued by the witch trials that killed 50 innocent people, including women and children, in 1692. Some say the town is cursed and haunted by the spirits of those who died. The town is slowly dying due to the shutdown of multiple factories and important workplaces that kept the town afloat, forcing many of the town’s residents to pack up and abandon the town in hopes of better opportunities elsewhere, though many still remain, clinging on to the last bit of hope they have left for the town itself.
[hr ]
[u [b Cold Springs Notable Landmarks]]

[u The Black Cat Bar] - The town’s one and only bar where you’ll find half of the town’s male population. Sells the once iconic alcoholic beverage - Witches Brew.

[u The Church] - Built in the 1800s after the original church had mysteriously burnt down.

[u The Museum of Witchcraft] - The town’s original church remains renovated and turned into a museum. This historical church once offered information on Cold Springs past, especially its sordid history dealing with witchcraft. Still up and running, but dying alongside the town.

[u Execution Site] - A gallows where most of the witch trial executions took place. Said to be the most haunted part of the town and many of the residents steer clear.

[u Massacre Memorial] - A place to remember all those were wrongly accused of witchcraft and sentenced to death. The second most haunted place in town, but many still visit, unlike the execution site.

[u The Graveyard] - Split into two. One side of the graveyard is for the more recently deceased, the other is for all those who died during the witch trials. The third most haunted place in town.

[u The Courtroom] - Where all those who were accused, judged, and sentenced in 1692. Rarely ever used anymore for modern crimes, and mostly just functions as another historic landmark for tourists to visit.

The rest is what you’d expect for a small town; the local grocery store, another historic landmark dated back to the 1600s, the police station, the timber factory, and the local homes.
[hr ]
So, I imagine this to be a paranormal story that follows themes of ghosts, witchcraft, satanism, and possibly cults too. The town is highly religious and still believes that witchcraft is evil and of the devil, including astrology, paganism, and more. I imagine that there are a few people in the town who have gathered together to form a small cult centred around hunting down and prosecuting accused witches. But that won’t be the centric plot as our characters will be discovering the secrets and mysteries of the town along the way, including the origins of the supposed curse, possibly paranormal activity, witchcraft, and satanic imagery too.

This will be following at least two or four people who live in the town and are interested in the history surrounding the town enough to want to seek it out. I will accept one character being a visitor or tourist to the town instead of living there if you want to go in that direction with someone.
[hr ]
[b ROMANCE] is allowed but should never take over the actual plot. I also ask that the romance is a slow burner and at least realistic enough to be believable. If I feel that two characters aren’t fit for each other and have zero chemistry, I won’t continue their romance. PM me if you want to romance any specific characters.

[b CHARACTERS] can be whoever you want. I ask that you at least make a small and vague profile for them in your application. I just want to make sure the characters actually suit the role play. I also ask that you be open to doubling and playing as multiple side characters as I will be doing this too. I will not be responsible for every single character in the role play apart from your single one. Characters can either already know each other prior to the role-play or be strangers, but this is a small town with only one school, so they’ll most likely at least be aware of each other’s existence.

[b POSTING] should be at least once a week, but I’m extremely understanding. I will wait for at least a month until I lose all interest in role-playing further with you. Communicate with me if you are struggling to post.

[b THREAD] is open for a lot of planning and development, and because of that, I ask that you are open for regular communication and plot development with me. I will deal with all the big stuff, but if I’m the only one creating conflict and moving the plot forward, I will grow bored and lose interest very quickly.

[b MATURE CONTENT] such as explicit language, death, violence, intimacy, and disturbing topics are always allowed in my role plays as long as you abide by standard ES rules. If anything ever goes too far and you are becoming uncomfortable, always let me know.
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/vQPx1VH.jpg?1]
[size12 Any willingness to hold back the secret seemed to slip away from Lisa. She just... needed to talk. She felt stressed since the whole day started, beginning with those damned pictures. She loathed how they made her feel, and she hated how Calvin's words had irritated her. What sucked the most, though, was feeling like she wasn't Kim's confidante anymore, something the two had shared to survive the first couple of years of college.
Elodie had always been her best friend, though. It seemed ridiculous to hide her frustrations from her. Sure, she was a Catholic girl, but she would be compassionate, right? Certainly she would put her disagreement aside because, like God, she loved everyone!

[b "It's Kim,"] Lisa admitted. [b "We're not really together..."] Lisa glanced at her door. It was open a little, so she stood up and looked down the hall. After confirming it was empty, she closed the door completely and reclaimed her seat next to Elodie. [b "Look, you can't get mad at anything I say, and you have to promise not to tell Kim that I told you. He's really sensitive about it."]
Lisa took a deep breath. How did she tell Elodie the dirty details without it seeming like some big conspiracy?

[b "Kim's... ya know..."] She futilely waved a hand toward an old poster on her wall with the Beatles on it. [b "He likes, say, Paul McCartney more than he likes Chere..."] She cleared her throat and wiggled her fingers in the direction of the old poster again, trying to make the point stick.
The kid was gay.

The language was a bit more blue than Kim was used to, causing him to feel a bit flustered. Granted, any swearing at home would get a smack from his grandmother as well as a cold reminder to talk respectfully in front of the elders. Still, the blunt language was charming in its own way. It felt more honest. Joe was being genuine with him, which was great! Kim spent so much time sneaking around that this kind of freedom was thrilling.

[b "It's okay, Joe,"] Kim assured him, moving a little closer to the man. They were standing next to each other now, but Kim kept his eyes ahead of him on the ruins of the old factory. [b "I've heard a lot worse from people who actually knew me well enough to hurt me."] His smile was a bit rueful, but he didn't divulge any further details on that statement. It was always better to avoid touchy subjects for Kim, who didn't process those feelings well.
Kim actually snickered at the comment. [b "There isn't a lot of difference on campus,"] he pointed out. [b "I'm still the only Korean guy in most of my classes. They don't think that I was actually born in New York."]

While Kim's grandmother and parents were from South Korea, they moved to the states shortly before he was born. His father had gotten some pretty good work in the city through an old family friend. His grandmother insisted on coming along... and thank goodness she did!
[b "I really did come because of Lisa, though. I'm her boyfriend for as long as her parents are asking her to get one."] He shrugged. [b "She's helped me keep some things under control, so I kind of owe her one anyway."]
[pic https://i.imgur.com/8whgcP6.jpg?1]
| Hallowed | / Straud / 62d ago
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/WQg7M5v.jpg]] [center [font roman [size12 [b "A curse?"] Elodie managed to pipe in before the conversation had completely diverged. She didn't sound entirely convinced, but the idea wasn't far fetched. Still, Elodie didn't want to believe that any curse existed. She mulled on the idea briefly but shook her head lightly, not necessarily in disagreement, but Elodie didn't want to admit that any form of malediction was at play yet.

With another topic at hand now, Elodie let the curse talk sit, and relaxed enough to stare at Lisa in playful disbelief at her comment about Shawn. [b "What?! Shawn's the bomb. He gave me a full tub of ice-cream last week after Sunday mass. What'd you think Calvin got me?"] She let the silence sit between them for a bit. [b "Exactly."] She then giggled lightly, but her facial expression turned solemn and almost wistful as a long sigh blew past her partially parted lips. [b "I wish earlier didn't happen. It's not like him, you know, to be like that. He's complicated and a complete jerk, but Calvin's not a bad guy. I'm sorry you, and Kim had to see that side of him."] In truth, Elodie blamed herself for the whole incident, because of what Calvin had said, or screamed, at her earlier. His words echoed in the back of her mind, [i [b "I knew this was fucking bullshit the second you told me about your new friends,"]] and everything made sense.

Her sadness had overtaken her then, but Lisa had already left to see Kim, which gave Elodie enough time to dwell on her regrets and guilt. She was too engrossed with herself to eavesdrop on the conversation. Still, when Lisa had returned without Kim and looking rather annoyed, Elodie raised a curious brow and wrapped an arm around her shoulder. [b "What's with Kim?"] She asked, pulling Lisa from her lean into a warm hug, mostly to subtly comfort her about whatever was frustrating her. [b "Is something wrong?"]

Joe's nerves racked up as soon as Kim had finally arrived, but the casual smile on his face and his overall mannerism made him appear about as nonchalant one could get; it was his unique talent, the whole Hulls family seemed to have at least one. He smoothed out his brown waves, disguising the attempt to neaten up his appearance once again as simple autopilot, and turned his body to face Kim. [b "The same thing that happens to every Fucktown, in the good ol' U.S of A. Shitty mayors and the dreaded workers' exodus; tale as old as time."] It was almost as if Joe had expected this to happen all along, for Westwood Timber's factory to shut down and the workers' exodus almost to eradicate Cold Springs' population. Still, the reality of losing his home did hurt a bit.

[b "Sorry I had to drag you out to this boom shack. It was either that or the bar, and I don't wanna spoil your first day in Cold Springs. First impressions matter, right?"] He said, with a chuckle, more than realising that an abandoned factory was the worst rendezvous spot ever, in the existence of humankind. Still, Cold Springs was notoriously impartial to people like [i him], and that's just by pure speculation and folk talk, by God if they saw him with another man, who wasn't even white for that matter. He shuffled uncomfortably and scratched the back of his neck, umming before finding his words.

[b "I also came to say that, well, I'm sorry for Calvin's outburst back at the diner. I don't know what happened, and honestly, I don't want to."] He knew, his little brother's homophobia was like a stab to the gut, but a stab that Joe ignored, even as the wound bled out all over the floor. [b "I know I'm probably the wrong person to say this, but you know, I wouldn't count on him to say anything. He's a different breed, that's for damn sure. Just try and cut him some slack, you and you're- girlfriend. I think he's just going through a rough time right now."] Joe said, sincerely, but was that really enough to warrant such behaviour, though?

He knew that Calvin had problems that no one knew about or could even try to understand, but Calvin was still his brother at the end of the day, and a person that Joe cared about the most. He really didn’t want to see him fail or ultimately deteriorate his relationships because of some mysterious problem, but Calvin was a bomb waiting for the fuse to be lit, and once that was done, Joe knew there would be no going back. He didn't want to dwell on that right now, that would just ruin a perfectly good night for no good reason. He tried to switch his overall air and manner back to casual and relaxed, but the awkwardness was there.

[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/igyO4Xy.gif]] [b “Anyway, enough about that. What brings a man like you into witch country? And please don’t say your ‘girlfriend’ unless you wanna be sappy like that. You don’t see much variety in our lovely white bread neighbourhood; everyone’s cut from the same dough here in Fucktown, USA.”] Okay, that felt really forward. Joe second-guessed himself a little, but a conversation was a conversation, and this was normal, right?
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/vQPx1VH.jpg?1]
[size12 There was that pressure again. As Elodie continued her rant on the new information they were now forced to process, Lisa could feel a press against her head, like there was something banging to get out. Sometimes it was a word or a flash of something familiar. Something Elodie was describing was ringing a bell, but she couldn't quite put her finger on it at the moment...
No, there was a word for it.

[b "Like a curse,"] she pointed out to Elodie, but it appeared the conversation was shifting. Shawn? Yeah, she certainly remembered him. [b "Gross. I hate that old goat."] She rolled her eyes. [b "You know he used to give me the dirtiest looks when I did volunteer work at the tourist center. Always called me names under his breath too like I couldn't hear them."] She huffed and crossed her arms over her chest. [b "Honestly? I like Calvin more than I like Shawn, and that's saying something."] She gave a rueful smile, thinking over their last interaction. She wasn't certain how to explain to Elodie why she got so heated! She really could use Kim to help smooth that over... Where had he gone anyway? [b "Ah, keep looking things over. I'll be right back."]

Kim was still tucked away by the phone, planning his secret meeting with a bit of excitement. He didn't really do things so impulsively! It was scary... it was [i thrilling]!
[b "I'll meet you there,"] he confirmed with Joe. As soon as he hung up, that thrill dropped to dread faster than lead in the water. Where in the world was this factory?!
He exited the bedroom and headed toward Lisa's room, contemplating on how to get her to share this information without giving away too much in front of Elodie. It appeared as though luck was on his side, however. Lisa was exiting her bedroom, about to close the door when she saw him. She left it ajar as she rushed to catch up to him.
[b "Where did you go?"] she asked accusingly. Kim held his hands up.

[b "It's... complicated. Can you give me directions to the old factory?"] he asked. [b "I'll tell you about it when we're alone. I promise."]
Lisa looked a bit hurt, unaccustomed to Kim keeping secrets from her. They had gotten so close, had become amazing friends, and now he was hiding something! She knew it was something to do with his predicament too, seeing as he kept his voice down and was avoiding even the most basic details.
[b "Fine,"] she reluctantly agreed, looking a bit annoyed. [b "You owe me, Kim."] She stomped back into her bedroom and snatched a notebook from an old shelf on her wall, knocking down a couple of books. She wrote down directions for Kim and ripped the page out for him. After folding it, she brought it back to her friend, who had caught up for her at the door. He took the paper and tucked it in his pocket, giving her a kiss on the cheek.
[b "Thank you, Lisa. I mean it. I'll see you later."] Then he was gone. Lisa rolled her eyes and planted herself next to Elodie again.

[b "That boy is going to be the death of me,"] she mumbled, hardly thinking about her words as she said them. They barely felt like her own, and her eyes even glazed over a bit. Then she snapped to. [b "He can be so secretive sometimes!"] She pouted and leaned against her friend.

Kim didn't have time to worry over the slight, though. He put on his shoes and coat and headed in the direction of the old factory. When he arrived, he noticed a car already there. Kim parked next to it and got out to look around. Joe wasn't hard to spot, being only a short distance from his own vehicle.
For a moment, Kim panicked internally. He had just abandoned his friend to meet a strange man near an abandoned building. This was how you died in horror movies! On top of that... what was he even doing here? He couldn't confirm this man was like him! What was he thinking?!
[b "Why was this place abandoned?"] Kim asked as he approached, hands tucked into his pockets. He felt a little awkward now as the anxiety settled.
[pic https://i.imgur.com/8whgcP6.jpg?1]
| Hallowed | / Straud / 64d ago
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/WQg7M5v.jpg]] [center [font roman [size12 She shook her head in clear disagreement with Lisa, the whole idea of this merely being about the witches fell too shallow, this was clearly by someone who truly believed that someone trustworthy was driving the whole town into a massive hole and that nobody else could see their true intentions, like lambs to the slaughter, oblivious to their fate until it was too late.

[b "No, not witches, someone you can trust, like the priest or the judge, maybe even some random farmer. Witches wouldn't make sense, most of them were accused out of spite and malicious intent, like, if someone wanted claim over your land or you forgot to say good morning to them one time. This person actually sounds afraid of something, [i [u someone]] evil."] That all made more sense to her than a simple fear of witches, a fear of innocents accused of wrongdoing, but then who was the true false prophet? She turned her attention back onto the photos to lay her question to rest for a bit and let them simmer to see if the end result made more sense.

[b "I told Calvin to keep it for a bit, I mean, his family has some military connections, but I think you know the rest. It's just weird though, they both look exactly alike, and that smile, I've seen it before. It's [i his] smile. And you and that woman are almost identical."] It wasn't impossible for two people to share the same appearance, Elodie had watched a cable show about doppelgangers once out of boredom, but there was always a trait that one person had that everyone else lacked, even their doppelgangers, and for Calvin, that was his smile. It was about as simple as the word cup, but nobody else could replicate it, not even some mysterious twin.

She thought back to what Lisa had said in the diner, about someone from their school pranking them for a joke, and tried to weigh out the option in her head, but it just didn't make any sense. [b "How could anyone prank us like that? It's impossible."] She mostly mumbled to herself, before focusing back on the journal to try and decipher more of what the writer had written. She couldn't help but focus intently on the mention of purgatory, a word that was thrown around by religious folk, but here, the word felt like it had some importance, but Elodie just couldn't for the life of her guess what. She underlined the word with her finger and looked at Lisa, bouncing her eyes between the journal and her as the words began to spill out of her mouth.

[b " Look, this person believes that whatever it is the false prophet is doing, it's leading the town and its people into an eternal purgatory, like a shepherd leading his flock. So, purgatory is like the waiting room of the afterlife, a line between Heaven and Hell, right? It's a place that you're forced to stay in forever until your sins are weighed out, but some regard purgatory as like a pattern you're forced to endure until a certain point."] Her eyes narrowed in complete concentration and Elodie held the journal in her hands, going over the sentence again to affirm her train of thought.

[b "Okay, follow my thinking for a minute, imagine you're a vinyl playing on a record player over and over again, and someone keeps restarting your song before you can fully finish, that's what purgatory is. Until you can atone for your sins, you will never be able to finish your song and you'll sing the same words every single day and night, no matter what happens."] Her eyes were bright with discovery as the pieces to the puzzle inside her head began to connect to form a coherent enough shape, but that still didn't feel like enough, there were still many pieces left missing that made the whole picture incomplete. [b "We could really use a Calvin right now."] She said quite crestfallen at not being able to completely conclude it all herself, and also at having lost the one person who could really tie things together, at least in her mind. Her brain was beginning to absolutely ache at playing detective over some photographs and an old book from centuries ago. Her eyes, for a moment, absently surveyed the room and settled on the alarm clock on the bedside. Realising it was getting quite late, late enough at least, Elodie sighed.

[b "I'm probably just talking nonsense, lately this whole town has been weird with stuff like that. You remember Shawn, right? I heard him mumbling something about the courtroom the other day to Old Timms, weird stuff. "] She tried to recall what exactly they were saying to each other, but nothing came to mind, but the memory of them both huddled close near the old courtroom stuck in her mind. Nobody in the town really had any secrets, at least not until recently.
[hr ]
Finally, without some miserable demon looming over his shoulder, silently judging him and purposely making him uncomfortable over something as small as a phone call, Joe finally relaxed and spoke more clearly, it wasn't like anybody else could care, Abigail was too young and Gabe was too self-absorbed to even try and listen. He was mostly just expecting a small conversation between them, not a sudden rendezvous, but it was most certainly appreciated and Joe's heart almost thundered with a mixture of excitement and nerves at the idea of meeting up with Kim, for the potential of a new friend, of course, at least that's what Joe told himself. It would also be a good opportunity to apologise for his bitch baby of a brother's meltdown too.

[b "Oh, uh, how's the old factory sound? It's practically abandoned, no one goes there."] Was the secrecy of the location too obvious? Whatever, this was purely platonic, nothing else, but then wouldn't the bar be best? No, too many close-minded old folks, as if that mattered. He explained the directions to the factory to Kim, said his goodbyes and ended the conversation, before hooking the phone back and immediately going to grab his shoes and coat to leave again. but Calvin rounded the corner, glaring at him again.

[b "Tell ma I'm going to the bar, won't be long."] He just nonchalantly instructed Calvin, who rolled his eyes and pushed past Joe to run upstairs, completely ignoring his instructions. As if Joe could fool him after that moment in the diner. Joe then finally left the house, rushing to his car to escape the evening frost and prep himself to drive out to the old factory, which was nestled right on the edge of town, on the left this time, besides the historical ruin. After the shutdown, the place became almost abandoned completely, only frequented by the few other teens and young adults in town for delinquency or questionably romantic endeavours.

[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/igyO4Xy.gif]] The drive out wasn't long at all, nothing was in a town built around a single main road, and Joe exited his car to lean on the hood after parking right outside of the factory building, trying to look about as casual as one could get, fixing his brown hair and brushing off any flaws from his coat in a subconscious effort to groom out any noticeable flaws. Whilst waiting, his eyes scanned the surrounding area for no particular reason than out of boredom, noting all the old protest boards that littered the ground, all clearly against the shutdown of the factory. Damn, this place seriously needed a clean-up, not only that but a whole renovation. It was the worst part about living in a drab old town, but now wasn't the town to ponder on that stuff, Joe just wanted to concentrate on the main goal at hand.
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/vQPx1VH.jpg?1]

[size10 Lisa offered a little wink as Arawn purred in her lap, tail drowsily swaying back and forth. [b "What can I say? I had a little help."] She gave the cat a comforting pet. [b "Here..."] Lisa realized she wasn't going to keep the battered journal from Elodie, and she honestly couldn't blame her friend. Lisa was curious about the work as well, but Elodie looked almost possessed by her fascination.
Together, both girls scoured some of the pages that had yet to be viewed. Lisa recognized the writings of the religious person, noting the same passage with her friend. False Prophet? Well, the biblical trivia would be Elodie's forte. Lisa had long since stopped attending church, already releasing herself from typically Christian values. They always felt comical to her, seeing as this faith was ripped from another.

[b "Well this journal was recorded around the time of the Cold Springs witch trials, right? Maybe this person was scared of witches."] Lisa wiggled her fingers in front of Elodie, brows quirking a bit. What a silly notion! Witchcraft was the least terrifying thing to Lisa, who felt more comfortable reading about that than the gore of the Old Testament.
Lisa eyed the photos as Elodie mentioned how the two hardly connected. Her stomach tightened again as she picked up the photo of Linda and Clarence, staring hard at them.
[b "It has to be coincidence,"] she told Elodie, feeling a little sick as she noted the happiness. [b "I mean, they look a bit older than us anyway. Maybe my mom knows who this is."]

Kim held his breath as he recognized the voice quickly enough. That was Joe, but what he didn't expect was the sound of bickering over the other line. Still, it made sense. Kim had to frequently stay out of sight as well. Kim looked around the bedroom, checking again to make sure no one was listening in.
[b "I understand,"] he told Joseph as the yelling calmed down. [b "Let's see each other. Where is a safe place?"] It was quite a risk. If they were to be caught, things could go south pretty quickly.

But why should it? They were just two guys meeting up and hanging out for a bit. Grown men talked all the time. Men were friends with other men. Kim rationalized the secret meet up, but he knew what he was really seeking. It was a sort of comradery that came from seeing in person that you weren't alone.
Lisa would kill him if she saw him sneaking off without a word, but with Elodie lingering, how could he tell her? Sure, Lisa was nice enough to keep the secret, but he couldn't trust that Elodie wouldn't let the cat out of the bag.

[pic https://i.imgur.com/8whgcP6.jpg?1]
| Hallowed | / Straud / 70d ago
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/WQg7M5v.jpg]] [center [font roman [size12 After the whole fiasco and the wonderful dinner that managed to let her forget about the fight from before just a little bit more, Elodie sat on Lisa's bed and pulled out the framed photograph from beneath her sweater, pulling out the crumpled up photo from the centre too. She was engrossed in both of them and too focused to hear Lisa mumble her name, but from her peripheral vision, Elodie caught a glimpse of the journal, instantly recognised as the one from the centre. [b "Sneaky."] She quipped with a mischievous smile, holding no ill feelings for Lisa smuggling the journal prior, but there was a slight hint of frustration at having completely forgotten about it.

She slipped from the bed and kneeled on the floor on her knees, placing the two photographs beside each other to compare them, but Elodie then placed her fingers on the journal in Lisa's hand, clearly itching to open it despite already knowing what the journal entailed, but the journal had many other pages they had yet to read, and surely old English wasn't that hard to understand. She had figured that perhaps the journal could explain a few things about the town and the supposed curse the author had mentioned before, and Elodie still believed that had something to do with the two photographs, but what that was, was completely unclear. It was merely feeling more than a notion, but it somehow made sense in a way that didn't make sense at all. Both of them finally opened the journal, and Elodie carefully flicked to another page, one that was an inked paragraph that could've been mistaken for a mad man's scrawlings, but Elodie knew there had to be something more. She read carefully through the words past the smudged ink and aged yellow pages, and noticeably pepped up as the paragraph became clearer to her.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Caveat]
[size13 [Caveat [b [i 'Anyone who believeth in the fusty man's brabbles hath been madeth a fool, lambs readied for the slaughter as ye art forced to endure an endless purgatory, a false prophet in thy very midst.']]]]

Elodie questioned herself whether this was from the same person who had written the previous page as the writing had seemed different somehow, but the writing itself and what it held had caught her attention before anything else. [b "The False Prophet? Wait a minute, I've heard about this, it was in one of those masses, hold on."] She quickly regathered her thoughts to remember what the pastor had taught her about the one they called the 'The False Prophet', but the memory had slipped, Elodie only managed to gather up the very basics which had mixed with other teachings. [b "The false prophet is, like, a person who falsely claims the gift of prophecy, like speaking to God or using religion for evil claims, sort of like some scummy priest who's actually a servant to the Devil. I remember someone using a false shepherd as some example, [i 'The False Shepherd seeks only to lead out lambs astray,'] and the lambs are supposed to be us, the children of God. I did some weird play on it back in elementary, [i The Witches of Andover], or something like that."]

She became more and more enthusiastic over the discovery as the pieces that were coming together began to form a clear picture in her head. The False Prophet was for anyone who used religion for their own personal gain, mostly for evil acts that would end in death and misery, a person who was being led by the devil to commit such evil deeds. In a way, a curse and a false prophet went hand in hand, but curses had been associated with witches and the Devil and had nothing to do with the bible and those who used the bible for selfish reasons back then. Despite her grasping the meaning behind the writings well enough, Elodie was growing more and more confused.

[b "So, this person, whoever they are, believes that the town is being led by someone who is leading them to their doom because of some lies, and that's what the trials were built upon back then, lies and false claims. But that doesn't explain the other stuff."] Her eyes flickered over to the two photographs that were laid side by side, clearly connected in a way that was completely normal, but Elodie believed there was something more going on. It was strange, usually, her beliefs always overshadowed anything that would go against it, such as curses and witchcraft, but this felt different and her faith was already beginning to wain. All of this was Calvin's territory, the encyclopedia of unexplainable shit, but now wasn't the time to go calling him over, damn.
[hr ]
Speaking of, Calvin had made it home after sulking through the witch trail alongside Black Phillip (who wandered off into the darkness as soon as Calvin got close to his house) until the sky darkened into a miserable dark blue, slamming his way through the door which had prompted his mother to loudly scold him, all of which went ignored as Calvin skulked into the living room where Gabriel and Abigail were sat, the youngest sat directly in front of the TV and the other admiring his collection of records spread across the floor, one already inside the record player playing a smooth rendition of [i Witches Promise] by Jethro Tull. Calvin carelessly slumped onto the couch almost as soon as Joe came through the front door, taking a moment to kick off his shoes and hang up his coat on the wrack beside the door, before walking into the kitchen for what Calvin guessed was a cold beer.

He was still fuming from earlier, bubbling with rage like an old pot left to simmer for way too long, but enough time had passed for him to realise that maybe the situation was escalated a little too far, but for what? He wasn't exactly in the right frame of mind to try understanding Lisa's point of view or sympathise with Elodie, and really didn't understand why Lisa had splashed soda all over him, but there was a feeling of guilt inside, behind a door with about thirty-seven locks to which all the keys were missing, but the guilt was there.

[b "Get your goddamn shoes off, will ya? And haul that shit back into the attic if you're not gonna use it, Gabe."] Came the shrill voice of his mother to conveniently interrupt his train of thought, who had poked her head through the dining room just for the sole purpose of scolding everyone. It seemed her point go across though as Gabriel begrudgingly gathered up his records and Calvin went into the main hallway to kick his shoes off, but what was meant to just be an action done in autopilot became a little something more as the phone began ringing right next to him on the cabinet beside the stairs.

[b "I'll get it!"] Abigail excitedly announced, but Joe came bolting from the kitchen, practically shoving Calvin out of the way to grab the phone off the hook. [b "No way, if any of you shitheads cut the phone line again, I'm gonna cut you."] He threatened, aimed mostly at Calvin who was stink-eyeing with suspicion, slowly backing up into the doorway that went back into the living room. It wasn't like phone calls were unusual at this time, but they were never important enough for any of the Hulls kids to answer, they were all mostly for the matriarch, everything else was usually sent by letters.

[b "Hulls residence."] Joe affirmed, his voice bored and lazy until the person on the other side finally spoke. Calvin still watched from the doorway like a hawk, which only bothered Joe slightly, who had lowered [right [pic https://i.imgur.com/pUEVxq4.png]] his voice to speak quietly, covering the phone to shield Kim's voice from any prying ears. [b "Whoa, uh, Ki- What's up?"] He tried to play it off as if only a friend was calling him, curse the house only having one phone in the least private place possible, but Calvin was no fool, and the Freudian slip was more than obvious. [b "Sorry I'm, uh, kinda under the radar right now."] He practically whispered, glancing over at Calvin who was no longer backing away. He clearly wasn't letting this one go, almost outright sabotaging the call by his presence alone. [b "Get the fuck outta here, you psycho. Ma! Come tell your fucking beast to leave me alone."] Joe yelled, holding the phone away from his, swatting and gesturing at Calvin to leave as if he was nothing but a mere gnat. He only did as he was told when their mother stormed in, dragging him away into the living room to leave Joe in relative peace as if that'd change anything.
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/vQPx1VH.jpg?1]

[size10 Lisa's explosion was followed by another one. Calvin. He was quick to storm after Lisa, though more to escape the humiliation it seemed than to yell at her. It didn't matter to Lisa either way. She would lock Calvin out of the car if she had to! As she approached the left side of the sedan, she heard a low growling that was aimed toward the cat in the car.
Arawn was haunched by the window, hackles risen and hissing into the glass. Lisa glowered at Black Phillip. That dog was always bad news! She rubbed the side of her arm without thought, remembering one of her encounters with the beast.

In what could only be described as a childish moment, Lisa opened her mouth, lips rolling back a bit, and hissed at Black Phillip as well. The dog eyed her as if to challenge her... but dashed off after Calvin instead, more interested in the angry young man now yelling at Elodie. As Calvin left, so too did the beast, and Lisa found herself leaning against the side of the vehicle, looking so exhausted and a bit confused.
Why was it so easy to explode at that toad?! She and Kim had withstood homophobic comments before, and she knew how to politely redirect the conversation. She didn't have time to think on it.

Kim had left the diner with Elodie, attempting to keep up with the group and not be left in a small diner with a bunch of strangers. As Joe parted from the group, he and Kim bumped shoulders. Kim felt a small tickle on his fingers, and without hesitation, he snatched up the small sheet of paper that was slipped to him. He didn't even look at it, shoving it into his pocket for safekeeping.
[b "Thanks,"] Kim murmured to Elodie, not really sure how to respond. Lisa took the lead there again, hooking an arm around her waist and giving her a tight hug.

[b "I'm sorry, El,"] Lisa apologized. [b "Not to him. He's a jerk. I'm sorry that it put you in hot water, though. It's not your fault."]
Kim stood awkwardly by the car, unsure what else to do, but the apology wasn't long, allowing everyone to depart back to the new center for the remainder of the afternoon. No one felt curious anymore, in regards to the strange records and pictures they packed away. Arawn even looked bored, drifting lazily between the three of them for occasional affection.
When evening crawled into the sky, and as the third truck load of items disappeared toward the museum, Lisa stretched on the deck of the center and rolled her shoulders.

[b "Let's eat at my place,"] she told Elodie. [b "Mom's probably gonna go all out."]
The party of three made it back to the Grammercy home, where Mrs. Grammercy had, in fact, gone all out with a homecooked meal that evening. It left most of the family in a food coma, lounging around the house and relaxing after the hard day of loading and unloading.
Lisa was in her bedroom with Elodie, holding the journal she had smuggled from the house. [b "El,"] she mumbled. [b "Come look at this."]

Kim was in the bathroom, finally glancing at the secret note left to him. For a second, he was confused. Then he realized what it was.
It was a phone number and a time. The safest time to call, and the way to reach the handsome young man. He had a few more minutes, but he wondered if he could sneak the call in. Kim left the bathroom to poke his head into the living room where Mr. and Mrs. Grammercy sat on the couch, peacefully watching a show.
[b "May I borrow your phone?"] he asked the Grammercy parents. [b "My grandmother will be worried if I don't check in."]
[b "Sure, sweet pea!"] Mrs. Grammercy answered. [b "It's in our bedroom. Do you know how to get there."]
[b "Yes."] The one word was filled with relief. He dashed to the bedroom and picked up the receiver, nervously dialing in the number to see if maybe Joe would answer.

[pic https://i.imgur.com/8whgcP6.jpg?1]
| Hallowed | / Straud / 70d ago
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/WQg7M5v.jpg]] [center [font roman [size12 It all seemed to be going well, aside from the disgusting comment from Calvin, but that was, unfortunately, a pretty common thing to hear in the town of Cold Springs, Elodie had learned to ignore the phrase itself. But everything had gone to shit as soon as Lisa had responded, rightfully so, by chucking the glass of soda into Calvin's face. Elodie didn't catch it right away, but as the table harshly rocked from Calvin shooting up like a bullet, and soda dripped all over the table, it was obvious. [b "Are you fucking kidding me? What the fuck!"] He angrily yelled, almost in shock at the sudden assault, dripping in soda that soaked through his jacket and drenched his hair.

He didn't waste any time, Calvin thundered right out of the diner, bashing through the door with enough force that a few posters loosened from their tape and glided to the floor before Aida had approached them. Elodie was close behind him, rushing to catch up with him. Joe, on the other hand, who had witnessed everything, just concentrated on handing out his number to Kim after reapproaching him again, as if none of this bothered him at all.

Calvin, still stomping his way through the parking lot, then stopped and turned to glower at Elodie who had managed to catch up with him. It was at that moment that Black Phillip, the local stray dog scrounging around for scraps in the diner's trash heap, was barking and growling at Arawn; teeth bared, hackles raised, spittle flying all over the place, looking about to tear him apart. His own animalistic rage over Arawn completely mirrored Calvin's own with Elodie. [b "I knew this was fucking bullshit the second you told me about your new [i friends.] Have fun with your fucking chickenshit group."] He yelled out, mostly at Elodie who was getting the full brunt of his rage, finger jabbing, spit flying in her face and everything. He did sort of blame her in a really fucked up way, none of this would have happened if she had just left him alone in the first place. Elodie just stared back into his eyes that were dark with rage, her own eyes almost fearful at the barrage of insults coming her way. Calvin then whipped around, whistling for the black dog to come to his side, which the dog happily did, and flipped the group off, storming down the road back into town.

[b "No, wait, Calvin, Calvin! Come back, come on. She didn't mean it! You were just being, uh, Calvin! Goddammit."] She futilely called out to him, jogging after him down the road, knowing full well her efforts were in vain and giving up quickly as soon as it was really confirmed that Calvin was not coming back. [b "Can I at least have the photo back?"] She called out again, sounding about as emotionally exhausted as you'd expect of the peacekeeper of the group right after a heated argument. He just responded by roughly digging in the back of pockets and carelessly dropping the crumbled up photo on the ground, not even bothering to turn to face Elodie or anything like that, the black pooch trotting dutifully by his side, completely unphased by all that had transpired.

[b "Leave the little fuckwit, not your fault. "] Joe approached Elodie from behind, laying a soft hand on her shoulder and squeezing it lightly in comfort. [b "He'll come 'round. I think something's just been bothering him, haven't seen him this moody since pa got shipped off to 'Nam."] He seemed too casual about his brother's outburst, but having lived with him for his whole life, Joe was used to them. And blaming Calvin's wrathful emotions on daddy issues was just the default at this point, but really, Joe was pretty stumped too at what was wrong with him.

[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/pUEVxq4.png]] [b "Thanks, I guess."] Elodie said, sounding completely defeated and tired. Joe then gave her a side-hug. [b "Don't worry about him."] Before returning back to the diner, but his words rang in her ears. [i Don't worry about him,] that's all Elodie ever did and this just made it worse. She turned back to the group, eyes downcast towards the frostbitten road, and shrugged her shoulders. [b "Welcome to Cold Springs."] She sarcastically said, mostly to Kim, finally showing her own attitude for once, it was almost uncharacteristic. After grabbing the photo from the floor, soaked in puddle scum, Elodie headed for the driver's side of the car. [b "I'll take us back to the centre, not much else to do."] Especially now they were one short.
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/vQPx1VH.jpg?1]

[size10 The conversation seemed to close then, and the table returned to semi-normal. It was much quieter, sure, but at least the conversation around the creepy photo had ended. Lisa quickly scooted out of her seat to allow Elodie a moment to escape into the bathroom. She contemplated joining her friend, but decided not to leave Kim alone with an easily irritated and annoying Calvin. After seeing that damned picture, his every move crawled under her skin more, like she wanted to smack him in the face just for breathing!

Their silence wouldn't last, though. The newer group seemed to splinter. Three people shuffled off to a booth with Aida, and the young man Kim assumed to be related to Calvin approached, looking at ease in the diner. Confident. It drew Kim's eye again as he took in the handsome features and felt a small pang.
There was always a way to tell, but it was never certain. If someone was on the same level, there were always subtle mannerisms. Just a shift in their demeanor, the way they introduced themselves or said your name... It was small, but Kim had learned to sniff it out when he started college.
Elodie had rejoined the party at that moment, greeting the now christened "Joe", family to Calvin (that was easy though), and resident of the small town of Cold Springs.

Lisa gave a polite nod, familiar with the man. She didn't seem to intent on making friends, however.
When introduced, Kim smiled shyly. There it was. The shift in his smile and the quick change to mild disinterest.

Lisa smirked and quipped back, [b "Anything is better than Cold Springs."] The words felt hollow, but it kept her from appearing unfriendly by not responding at all. As soon as Joe departed, Kim let go of a breath he hadn't realized he had held.
For the moment, Lisa and Kim were fine with the bickering, but as soon as Calvin dropped the hateful word, Kim noticeably stiffened. Lisa looked personally offended. She stood up and looked around, finding the nearest glass of... something. It appeared to be soda. She picked it off of the table it was from, disrupting the dinner of another guest, and tossed the drink on Calvin.

[b "Why are you such a toad?!"] she snapped at him. [b "We're trying to be nice, and here you are acting like some... some... [i demon]!"] Lisa reached into the pocket of her jeans and dug out the cash her mother had given her. After slapping a small bill on the table of the couple who's meal she just interrupted, she stormed out of the diner back to the car, hoping to seek some comfort from Arawn.
Kim looked horrified at Lisa's display. He knew why she had behaved that way, and he was even a little touched by it. Still, it drew so much attention, and now there was a diner full of irritated patrons staring down the group harshly. Aida hurried over to the table.

[b "I don't know what happened, but you guys should leave for tonight. You can come back another day."] Her voice was a bit like stone as she spoke, not so reassuring as it might have normally been. Then she turned to check on the couple who's soda was stolen and thrown by Lisa herself.

[pic https://i.imgur.com/8whgcP6.jpg?1]
| Hallowed | / Straud / 72d ago
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/WQg7M5v.jpg]] [center [font roman [size12 [u [i Clarence]] and [i [u Linda?]] They seemed incredibly familiar, but neither Calvin nor Elodie knew a Clarence or Linda in their whole entire lifetime, but the names brought up a sense of deja vu that was only present for people that had once been in your life, like an old friend. The same could be said for Eleanor too but without a picture to the name, neither of them could be too sure. Elodie listened intently to Aida's explanation, one that seemed way too lacking, whilst Calvin pretended to read over his menu, listening to Aida too.

Aida seemed strangely closed off about the whole topic, only willing to say as much as she did, and Elodie supposed that it was because the memories were soured by their fate, but what fate was that? And none of this quelled her thirst for more information, if anything, it made her even more curious. She knew Calvin still had the other photo somewhere scrunched up in his pocket, and that gave her an idea, but her morals didn't exactly align with it. [b "Hey, I'm gonna head off to the bathroom real quick. You guys, uh, order something."] She was clumsy and the complete opposite of nonchalant about her small plan, and really, there was no need to be as it wasn't like any of the other three would tell, but just in case. She scooted out of her seat as soon as Lisa made enough room for her to move, and made her way to the bathroom, making sure to walk straight past the wall that displayed the photo to quickly swipe the frame straight from it. She held the photo close to her stomach, using her arms as a shield, and pushed her way into the women's bathroom just to make her plan seem a bit more believable.

Calvin had noticed straight away, and the cleanliness of the wall where the photo had once been stuck out like a sore thumb amongst the rest of the grease-stained wall, but nothing was said, in fact, it was actually quite amusing. He would have to teach her the art of petty theft soon because that was just sloppy, but nobody seemed to have noticed a missing photo just yet. He turned his attention back onto his menu, but really, his mind was elsewhere. He faked his casualness about the photo, Calvin really did get a bad vibe from the whole thing, but it was just some dumb photo. He was an enthusiast for all things strange and terrible, but that was almost just a way for him to distract himself from home, his scepticism overshadowed most of his beliefs. He wasn't going to indulge on the topic further, wanting to talk about anything but that stupid photograph of some random dead couple from the 50s.

He was about to say something, but the door opening for the small group of people who had just walked him caught his attention and the sight of a singular person in that crowd made him bug-eyed. [i [u Joseph]], his older brother just had to walk in at this very moment, not that his brother was bad or anything, certainly better than Gabriel, but Joseph just had a knack for bothering Calvin whenever they were in the same place at the same time. He kept his eyes locked firmly on the menu, acting as if avoiding all contact somehow made him invisible, but Joseph wasn't fooled at all and had spotted Calvin right away, a great beaming smile on his face at the sight of his little grumpy brother obviously trying to avoid him. He quickly spoke amongst his group and handed them some change from his pocket before quickly approaching the table, his radiant smile still stretching across his face that highly resembled Calvin's own but Joe seemed to be more angular and handsome whilst Calvin was more rogueish and 'pretty' than anything else.

As soon as Joe had made it to the table, focusing his attention mostly on Calvin but his eyes occasionally flickered from Lisa to Kim, Elodie had returned from the bathroom, the photo nowhere to be found (but tucked beneath her sweater). Her reaction to Joe was a lot kinder and welcoming, the mere sight of him causing her to beam straight back at him. [b "Joe! I didn't know you were coming."] She said excitedly, sitting back into her seat as Calvin leaned back and groaned, staring at the ceiling biliously. [b "Neither did I, but you know. How're you? I hope my little bro is treating you well."] He nudged Calvin's arm who just responded with a sardonic sneer. Elodie responded back with the usual about Calvin, before Joe turned his attention onto both Lisa and Kim, but Kim seemed to be his focus. He vaguely remembered Lisa, once seeing her around their high school and their town was pretty small, Kim was a complete stranger in, well, every single way. [b "Whose you're friend?"] He asked, gesturing towards Kim, his beaming smile lowering as the curiosity hit him. [b "Oh, this is Kim! Lisa's new flame. He's new in town!"] Elodie said, quite eager to gush about them both. But the mention of him being Lisa's boyfriend caused his smile to subtly drop more, his brow creasing into a small frown. [b "Oh, I see. Hah, the town's male selection ain't good enough, gotta go international."] He joked, and Elodie just giggled in response. She just took that as him being disappointed in Lisa being off the table, not that Joe was like that or anything, but that was her only explanation for the subtle saltiness in his voice. Calvin, on the other hand, wasn't as convinced, always suspecting something about his brother, something [i off].

Elodie and Joe chatted amongst themselves for a bit before someone from Joe's group had called him back. [b "Well, I, uh, guess my time's up."] He announced, taking a moment to ruffle up Calvin's hair and smile at the group, turning to face his friends. [b "I'll catch you guys later, huh? And you be sure to bring your friend around the mart soon! Wouldn't be a Cold Springs tour without it."] Elodie smiled and nodded her head but Calvin rolled his eyes. [b "Yeah, yeah. Whatever."] He muttered before Joe had finally left them alone, slumping into his seat and staring outside the window. Elodie turned to him, disapproval [right [pic https://i.imgur.com/pUEVxq4.png]] written all over her face. [b "I don't understand why you get so annoyed at him."] She said to which Calvin turned to look at her. [b "Something off about him, he's such a fag. Can't just leave us alone. Has to set his sights on the fresh meat in town."] He was still muttering, but his voice was loud enough to hear. [b "Don't be like that! Come on, let's just... order something."] She wasn't going to entertain him and have another argument, instead, picking up the menu to mull over all the delicious delicacies the diner had to offer. [b "Definitely get the Martin and Lewis shake and... the chilli cheese fries."] She finally answered Kim, regaining back her positivity and warmth Calvin always sucked out of her.
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/vQPx1VH.jpg?1]

[size10 Lisa could hardly bring herself to glance at Calvin. The photo continued to make her uncomfortable, like a big black hole in the wall of the diner for peeping. It caused her to shiver involuntarily, prompting Kim to finally zero in on what was now being discussed.
He was also bothered by the photo, noting how it seemed to draw much more attention now that it had been pointed out. Things like this were nothing but bad omens. While Kim admired Calvin's ability to brush it off, Kim simply could not. He was relieved when Elodie pulled the waitress over to ask her directly. It saved him the hassle of finding the right words himself.

Aida leaned against the booth seating with her hip, looking at the photo that was pointed out to her. A funny sort of smile twitched the corner of her lips as she registered who they were talking about.
[b "That's Clarence and Linda Hudgeson on their wedding day,"] Aida informed the small group. [b "Absolutely beautiful day too! I remember sitting next to the Maid of Honor, Eleanor, and my mom since they were best friends."] She frowned. [b "Shame what happened to them."] Aida didn't elaborate past that, as a small group of people ambled their way into the diner, talking quietly. She instead gave a small wave to the group and hurried off to greet and seat them.
Lisa had lost her appetite rather quickly after that. It felt... wrong somehow to keep looking at this image.

Kim was about to return his attention to the now confused and worried group, but one of the people coming in caught his eye. It was a young man, handsome, also familiar in features but just different enough that he could tell this was no doppleganger. No, it was someone likely related to Calvin, if the eyes were anything to go by.
For a moment, Kim just stared. Then he felt a gentle tap on his shin, reminding him that this wasn't the place to be enjoying the view. The look of sympathy from Lisa wasn't helpful, but he understood what she was trying to achieve. Sure, she was accepting of him... but not everyone would be.
[b "That's weird,"] he said simply. [b "This is very bad, too. My grandma would"]-

[b "Would probably tell you it's for hanging out with the white girl,"] Lisa interrupted quickly. [b "This is just someone's idea of weird prank. How long have I been talking to my mom about coming to Cold Springs for the week? Some jerk from her class probably overheard her going on about it and got carried away."] Lisa felt something like pressure in her head, though. She knew that was wrong. She knew the photo meant something, damn it! It was like an instinct that pounded in her skull, causing her to gently rub one of her temples to soothe the bizarre sensation.
Kim kept his mouth closed after that. He had seen Lisa get these types of headaches before. She had always described them as "pressure like a kettle", where the best way to keep the whistle from annoying you was to take it off the heat to start with.

[b "We should order,"] Kim meekly compromised. [b "What should I get, Elodie?"] It was an attempt at friendly discussion again. With any hope, it would serve as a better distraction than an interrogation.

[pic https://i.imgur.com/8whgcP6.jpg?1]
| Hallowed | / Straud / 72d ago
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/WQg7M5v.jpg]] [center [font roman [size12 Elodie immediately snapped her head up from her menu to stare daggers at Calvin, and straight after Lisa had given him a well-deserved thwack on the shin, Elodie stomped hard on his foot. The combined effort made him yelp out in pain which just succeeded in making the usual diner patrons stare in disgust at the unruly youths over their burgers and coffee, but Elodie was more focused on scolding Calvin than worrying about the prying eyes of strangers. [b "Stop being a jerk!"] She yelled at him in irritants, throwing her menu down on the table to really show her anger, but Calvin was unphased, almost pleased with himself, but his shins really fucking hurt right now.

[b "What, can't a man ask a simple question anymore without the women butting in?"] He retorted back and then they both dissolved into their usual bickering like two annoying siblings who couldn't even live under one roof without one breaking the other's neck. But as soon as Lisa had pointed out the photo on the floor close to them, Elodie had pulled herself away from the squabble to focus on attention on that instead, and her heart thundered in her chest at the mere sight. Chills had run up and down her spine like an army of freezing cold ants and her stomach was sick with nerves. Another Calvin and- Lisa too?!

It was different from the Calvin sat across from her, his face was softer, the smile that graced his features was genuine, his brown hair styled into a short quiff tucked beneath his hat. He actually looked quite handsome, in the same way, that an old photograph of a youthful soldier would look in his prime. Elodie could easily mistake him for someone else, but there was a certain vibe that Calvin carried, one that translated even in photos, and this man had it. It reminded her heavily of the photograph from the community centre's attic, it was possible this man was the exact same one from that photo, but that didn’t explain anything, in fact, it just made things even more confusing for her. And that woman beside him who clung to his arm as if this man was the best thing that had ever happened to her looked exactly like Lisa, there was no mistaking it. But this was seriously fucking strange.

[b "1945. You don't think..."] Her voice trailed off as the implications of this being the same person as before hit her. It wasn't impossible, and under any normal circumstances, wouldn't be unusual at all, but for some reason, this was. She couldn't wrap her mind around it and trying just confused her even more. [b "No way, this is too coincidental. Two Calvins? I mean, I get that some faces are just the same, but this?! How would they be able to capture something as perfect as this, you and Calvin 2.0?”] This somehow didn't feel coincidental at all, it was as if they were meant to see this photo after just seeing the other one only minutes before. That didn't help anything though, and Calvin looked up at Elodie with ignorant confusion written all over his face, puzzled at her and Lisa's reaction to one small photo.

[b "What are you two even talking about?"] He rudely asked and Elodie turned his attention to the photo without saying a word, letting the picture do the talking. At the mere sight of the happy couple standing in front of the backdrop of the forest that was obviously Cold Springs, his stomach dropped and goosebumps rose on his skin. The other photo was just that, a simple photo that meant nothing to him, but this was [i different] and that made him feel sick with a feeling that he couldn't yet comprehend. [b "Oh. Man, that's fucked up."] It seemed like the photo had actually had an effect on him this time, his eyes wide with shock at [i another] doppelgänger staring straight back at him with- Lisa? The whole 'relatives' thing had crossed his mind, but now that didn't seem to make much sense anymore. [b "It's probably just the same guy as before, no biggie. Stop fretting over the small stuff."] No, it was different, it had to be different, but Calvin played it off like the photo was normal again.

[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/pUEVxq4.png]] As soon as Aida had sauntered past their table making her usual rounds around the diner, Elodie had called her over, intent on finding out more about the photo. She pointed to the photo on the wall. [b "Hey, Aida! Sorry, but, we were all really curious about that photo and wanted to know if you knew who these people were?"] She tried her best to fain just being simply interested in the photo for any other reason than the two people looking exactly like her friends, but the awkwardness in her tone overshadowed the casualness. Surely Aida knew, there just wouldn't be a completely random photograph of two random people in a diner, right?
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/vQPx1VH.jpg?1]
[size10 The inside was so familiar! Lisa felt a sudden wave of nostalgia coming from the interior of this heavenly place. It was small, cozy, and lit like a warm cottage in the woods. Inside, an older woman named Aida danced between patrons with grace that should be illegal for a woman her age. When she spotted Lisa, she narrowed her eyes at the girl, likely checking for Arawn, but gave a welcoming smile as soon as she noticed the cat wasn't about.
[b "Table right there!"] Aida instructed the small group with a wink, pointing to the table that Elodie seemed already intent on sitting at. It was a little booth by an open window that allowed you to stare vacantly into the parking lot while you waited for food. The perfect seat, in other words. Lisa followed with glee, and slid into the booth next to Elodie with a small hip bump.

She picked up her own menu as Kim took a seat opposite of El, a bit confused as to the seating arrangements. Wouldn't it have made more sense to sit across from Lisa, his "girlfriend"? Well, no matter. Elodie was back to bickering with Calvin, and Lisa was dutifully ignoring it. Kim intended to the do the same, looking over the selection of food that was extremely American, and extremely covered in grease, by his assumption.
Calvin's interrogation caught him off guard. He looked a bit startled by it, even a bit fearful of Calvin in that moment.
[b "It was in our second year, at the start of the first term,"] Kim answered quickly, causing Lisa to throw him a sharp look over her menu. She had distinctly said first year Literature... but now it was second year and English Comp? Fuck, she didn't even take English Composition.

Under the table, Lisa's foot traveled gently along Calvin's shin. After she ensured it was his, she gave a swift kick to the body part, looking absolutely innocent as she leaned in to point to the burger she normally ate.
[b "They still have my favourite,"] she told Elodie, a smirk on her face. [b "Oh, Calvin, be nice. Sometimes Kim get's his English mixed up."] She sounded as if she hadn't just thwacked Calvin's shin with the heel of her foot. Lisa set her menu down to take in the diner at that moment, trying to realign any changes with her old memories. Her eyes fell on a photo on the wall, one she had probably seen millions of times before. Then she froze.

Her stomach churned, then she seemed to feel a tingle run up her spine. It was as if her hackles were raised, but she also looked a bit... amused? The photo was another like the one they found in the attic. There was another Calvin look-alike, dressed in what appeared to be military dress. He was even smiling! What was disconcerting was who was in the image with him though.
Dressed in a lovely wedding gown, ginger curls pinned to perfection, was her own mirror image. Sure, some of the features appeared to be a bit sharper, more mature even, but there it was. She looked thrilled, and she clinged to the arm of the look-alike as if she couldn't live without that man. Lisa tried to pry her eyes away, but it was difficult to avoid the image now that she knew it was there.

[b "Hey El,"] Lisa murmured. [b "Do you remember the year of that last photo we saw?"] she asked gently. [b "The one with the doppleganger for Calvin? I think someone's trying to prank us."]
Lisa couldn't imagine how, though. There was no way to manipulate an image like that, plastering someone else's face on another's body. Was it perhaps... a relative? She would have to ask her mother if it was possible there was a grandmother she missed on her father's side.
Kim followed Lisa's line of sight, hearing the worry in her tone. He noted the image, and felt a similar sinking feeling. That was... odd.
[pic https://i.imgur.com/8whgcP6.jpg?1]
| Hallowed | / Straud / 75d ago
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/WQg7M5v.jpg]] [center [font roman [size12 Elodie and Calvin both exited the car in unison and faced the small diner to both walk to the doors together, but Elodie lagged behind to walk with both Kim and Lisa as Calvin began his sluggish tramp to the door littered in old posters from the 60s. Her kind gesture was mostly just for that, kindness, but there was a subconscious need to eavesdrop on their conversation to satisfy her own curiosity on their relationship. Though there wasn't much to listen to, nothing [i important] at least, and the conversation soon turned to her little playful jibe at Calvin.

[b "Darn, I never thought about that. Pastor Morris would be rolling in his grave."] She answered in sardonic sarcasm, approaching the door behind Calvin who seemed to be waiting rather impatiently for them to all catch-up, leg bouncing and all. [b "You're an absolute godsend."] She began with gratitude for Lisa. [b "Taste of Heaven will fatten you back up in no time. Can't resist the allure of chilli cheese fries and Pancake Tuesday."] She ended her banter with a light giggle.

Calvin's demeanour changed little, still about as stand-offish and mean as before, but overhearing the light flirting between Lisa and Kim made him almost uncomfortable in a way that just didn't make sense to him. It was enough to make him step aside for Lisa to get the door instead of him, and lag behind the rest of the group, glaring at the back of everyone's head as his mind tried to comprehend his aversion. Romance, in general, wasn't his forte, always the one to mock throw-up at kissing scenes in movies and full-body cringe at PDA, but the gestures between two couples in real life never bothered him, that wasn't his business. But now, for some reason, this [i thing] between the two lovebirds before him really tugged at a nerve or two.

Elodie had learned to take no notice of Calvin's abhorrence response to things regarded as positive and let him idle behind and sulk to himself as her sights were set on a booth nestled close to the grease smeared window. The diner itself was rather small, almost cushy with the vintage knickknacks and array of black and white grainy photographs stuck to the walls that showed the old age of the greasy spoons. It was about as usual as a roadside diner could get, but Taste of Heaven always carried a sense of nostalgia and deja vu for both Elodie and Calvin that they couldn't shake off. It drove them here each time and not just for the food or the fact that it was either that or the belly-wash and rat poison back at The Black Cat bar.

She scooched into the booth and gestured for Lisa to sit beside her, Calvin catching up to them and waiting for Kim to sit opposite Elodie instead of rushing in himself, not out of politeness, but as an almost suppressed effort to separate him and Lisa from each other to avoid any more of their romance.

[b "You're going to absolutely love this place, Kim."] Elodie wasted no time in gassing up the diner, clearly quite passionate about the entire place. [b "Sure, if you like rats and Mormon food."] He mumbled beneath his breath, almost inaudible, but Elodie caught him right away, her face furrowed into a frown that almost seemed genuine. [b "That's rich coming from Black Cat's number one show pony."] She spat back at him with a scornful glare before picking up her menu and letting the hostility wash over, pretending as if nothing happened as per usual. [b "You've gotta try the chilli cheese fries, Kim, or the showstopper hotdog. Or the waffles- no wait, the knickerbocker glory."] The flood gates have opened...

Calvin took no notice of the menu, which was unusual as the food was a massive priority of his most of the time, but his interest was more on something else, something like [i Kim]. He side-eyed him, eyes narrowed in deep suspicion, and lips pulled into a sneer. [b "So, [i Kim]."] He began, his voice full of mock and spite that borderlined on being malicious. [b "Where [i exactly] did you meet, Lisa? Can't have [right [pic https://i.imgur.com/pUEVxq4.png]] just been some old [i English Composition class], right? Seems a little sketchy to me."] He fully turned his head to stare at him now with a smug and derisive expression that just begged for someone to punch it. It wasn't uncharacteristic for him to show such an attitude towards a person, but usually, this was directed towards someone who deserved it, Kim wasn't that person at all, and in a way, Calvin knew that. But his mouth was fast, his mind even slower, and that deep contempt inside for [i something] just wouldn't leave.
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/vQPx1VH.jpg?1]

[size10 Lisa heard the conversation from the front and chewed her lower lip. She remembered telling Elodie it had been a literature class. Thank goodness she didn't get the mix-up with "English Composition". Then again, in such a small town, would she even know the difference? Bless her dear friend, because Elodie was always such a sweetie, but she didn't really look outward toward the world. She seemed so pinned up in Cold Springs.
Then again, was Lisa any different? She could have been spending her break anywhere else, but here she was, helping gut an old house falling to pieces from the darkest parts of Cold Springs history.

She smiled a bit and leaned forward, remembering their time in that silly Youth Group. Elodie was still a good little church girl, so Lisa wouldn't say anything to offend her, but she remembered how... unreal everything they were taught felt. She remembered the itch to learn something new, something that wasn't from a book translated eons ago by several different people.
[b "I definitely remember camp,"] she told Elodie, using it as a way to distract from Kim's interrogation. [b "We sat under this old tree, and there were fireflies everywhere. We promised to be friends forever."]
It had been corny, but it meant something to Lisa... and it always felt powerful. That single memory seemed to tie Lisa into this place harder and more securely than anything.

Taste of Heaven. The diner was, compared to the town, a stunning place to eat. Everyone came here for whatever scenario or circumstance in their life. Graduation? Taste of Heaven. Engagement? Taste of Heaven. Funeral? Ya, even then, you wound up at this booth.
It felt like a piece away from Cold Springs, even if it was technically a local favourite to eat at.

Lisa got out the moment they parked, and Arawn wailed pitifully at the window. Lisa leaned in and frowned.
[b "Baby, you know the rules. The last time I let you in, Aida threatened to cut you up and cook you herself."] Lisa blew a longing kiss to the cat before turning around to face Kim and Elodie. [b "Oh absolutely. I can promise that half of your meals are coming from this place while we're here."]
Kim looked a bit unsure himself. He liked American food, sure, but he preferred what his grandma made more. It felt like home, and reminded him of his parents before their passing.

[b "This reminds me of Splitsville just off campus,"] Kim noted to Lisa. [b "If your friends come to visit, we can take them there."] He was certain how to add to this conversation, but he felt calmer here. It was enough like home that at least it wasn't as intimidating as he initially made it out to be. Granted, he wouldn't be able to simply be as he wanted to, enjoying the eye candy as he liked, but he could reel it in for Lisa.
Lisa had linked arms with him again, looking a bit moody at having to leave Arawn behind. [b "You know, it's mean to keep playing that prank on people,"] Lisa chastised Elodie. [b "She used to run that one me and another girl from our youth group ages ago. Learned it from her dad."] She winked at Elodie. [b "I'll cover lunch tonight. Mom gave me some money when I got into town anyway. She said I actually lost weight while I was further north."] Lisa gestured to her form. [b "Can you believe it?"]

Kim actually cracked a small smile, accustomed to Lisa's insecurities and need to cover them. [b "You look pretty,"] he assured her. [b "Any man would be lucky to have you."]
Lisa elbowed him, a gentle reminder that technically [i they] were together. [b "Oh right, that's me."] Kim smiled a bit wider and gave her a small side hug before getting the door for everyone.

[pic https://i.imgur.com/8whgcP6.jpg?1]]
| Hallowed | / Straud / 76d ago