Rugton 2: Electric Boogaloo
Rain pounded down upon the dreary city of Rugton, covering the windows in a sheet of water as it turned the hustle and bustle of people on the street into a comical game of bumper cars with umbrellas. The door of the apartment slamming behind Seth sounded victory as she finally escaped the day long storm that was only too telling of the coming turmoil. She stared at the milky colour of the water that was pooling on the table in front of her, dripping down the strands of hair hanging in front of her face. The gel and colouring had turned it a milky blood colour, sending a chill down her spine. But her body already felt numbed to her bones, as though the can of beans on the creaky stove was drawing the heat from within her. She peeled the thin cotton sweater away from her skin and threw it onto the floor; it had soaked through within moments of going out into the rain. It had only been a short trip, and her beat up converse had carried her as fast as they could. Her sweater landed with an over pronounced squelch, embodying the rainy coast Seth hated so much in a single sound. Seth stepped over her sweater with a scowl and cranked up the thermostat. Winter would be coming soon anyways, the thermostat would just have to get used to it. She tossed the rest of her clothes to floor with another squelch, and went to have a warm shower.
As the water ran down her head and back, and the numbness began to leave her limbs she was vaguely aware of the 5 dollar hair dye rinsing out entirely. The numbness in her mind would not seem to leave. In the next room she heard a murmuring she assumed must be Aubrey, either talking on the phone, or to himself. She hoped for the former, he was too young to be turning into a crazed artist. As she squeaked the shower knobs to a close, her name was cursed from the kitchen and she determined to take an extra-long time drying off.
"Weren't you a red head last night?" Aubrey asked, running a mop over the cracked linoleum as Seth peeked around the door jamb sheepishly.
"Yeah, so is the shower now. Oh, and this towel. " Seth replied emboldened, and catapulted the towel where Aubrey was mopping from the door from.
"Seth…" Aubrey started, his shoulders visibly tensing up as he prepared to give his good roommate speech. But Seth had heard it enough times to know it by heart now. 'I promise to be a good roommate, to do my best to not make any messes and do even better to clean any messes I do make. I promise to be considerate of my roommate, because even though he's my lover he will find a better roommate if he needs to.' Seth feared having to hear it again would cause her to roll her eyes so hard they'd pop out.
"Yeah, I know. I was only kidding. Let me do it." Seth smiled weakly, and ripped the mop out of Aubrey's hands. The man had no sense for sarcasm. Seth swirled the mop where she had thrown her clothes, Aubrey's hazel eyes coolly appraising her from behind. The young girl's hair dripped red onto the floor as quickly as she could mop it up. She seemed to be in a daze, and willingly followed the endless loop. Mop mop mop, drip, mop mop mop, drip. He chuckled to himself a little and scooped up the towel, and put it over Seth's head.
"You're hopeless. Where's your head right now?" he smiled, as he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her in close. She sighed and nuzzled her nose into his arm, revelling in the moment though the coloured droplets, cold against the nape of her neck only fought to bring her back to the harsh reality. The thermostat was being cranky about having to work early in the year, if anything it was colder in here. Perhaps the beans on the creaky stove were drawing even more heat- The beans! Ripping away from their damp embrace, Seth rushed to the stove.
It was a brown guck of a mess. The spoon she had been using to stir it could not be pried from bottom. She turned off the burner and tossed the small pot to the side with a clatter, before throwing herself onto the floor and crossing her arms, uncrossing her arms, then resolving to simply attempt to shove her fists through her eye sockets. Aubrey kneeled in front of her, attempting to examine her face through her clenched fists, wrists and arms.
"Seth, what's wrong?"
"What makes you think something is wrong?" she asked thickly.
"Oh… I dunno," Aubrey said having found his sarcasm gland, "you haven't been so far off in a fog since your dad died. And you just ruined my makeshift fondue pot too." He tried to force a smile. The fists in front of Seth's face did not smile back.
"Alright, come on. Out of there. Or I'll show everyone the painting of you naked."
"Oh wouldn't I? Care to try me on it?"
"This isn't the time to joke Aubrey…" Seth groaned, but nonetheless pulled her hands from face.
"What is it then? Talk to me."
"I- Well- It's-" Seth started, each time stopped by the anguish painted in green through the brown of his eyes. Finally she stared at the chipped nail polish on her thumb nail.
"Something big is going on in Rugton. Something… wrong. Something scary."
"What do you mean? What's happened?"
"When I got to the mayor's this morning, no one answered when I knocked. So I went around back to see if they were still having breakfast or something. I hopped the fence and fucking landed in- I don't fucking know what. If I had to guess, probably Mrs. Spodzieja. Her fucking apron was the only thing I recognized, but it was like a fucking butcher shop. There were just… chunks of… I don't know. Meat? Mrs. Spodzieja? Fuck. I ran up the steps of the porch to get inside and slid through his fucking kids. His little girls' fucking strawberry curls were stuck to the fucking kitchen window…" Seth did her best to not look at Aubrey as she paused. She took a deep breath to try and stop the shaking that had taken over her entire body.
"The door was off its hinges. And there were these claw marks through the wood, and it's the Mayor's house right? Fucking thick, solid wood door, not like our hollow ones so… yeah. Fuck... And inside the kitchen was Spudzie. He was mostly in one piece I guess, but it was like someone just raged on his face before they hit the door; the same claw marks. Claw. Marks." she repeated, finally looking into Aubrey's eyes. Her pale blue eyes blank as the jade danced with disquiet through his. His brow threatened to stay permanently furrowed as he tried to find something to say.
"W-What does this mean?" he finally stammered.
"Well think about it Aubrey. Spudzie was a big guy, there's no way some animal took him out, and then fucking liquefied his kids and wife."
"But you said there were claw marks, I don't-"
"When I moved out here a bunch of people warned me about… werewolves. Said Rugton had a real problem with them. I figured I was in the clear when I'd been here for five years… I guess seven is just my lucky number."
"Werewolves? This isn't a movie Seth. This isn't a fairy tale. Werewolves don't exist." Aubrey scoffed.
"Why? Because we've never seen them? I've never seen a koala bear either. Fuck, for a so called naked-bohemian-hippie-free-spirit-artist you're pretty quick to judge." Seth scowled and stormed out of the kitchen.
"Hey I'm not naked, I'm wearing a hat!" Aubrey called after her, his only defense whenever she strung together all his titles.
At the end of the day, the phone in the small apartment had rung a record number of times. After telling her story four times, Seth stopped answering the phone. Aubrey made annoyed clicks at her every third ring, how he was able to turn 'tch' into 'It's probably important if the situation is as grave as you say' Seth was sure she'd never know. They even resorted to unplugging the phone in order to get some sleep. The instant they plugged it back in, it rang again. Almost as if the phone had been waiting to since they had unplugged it. Seth rolled her eyes in frustration and tore the receiver off the wall.
"Hello?" she answered shortly. "Okay… Wait what? You want me to do what? Well wasn't my story enough? Look, I don't want to see that alright?"
Aubrey made as though to grab the phone from her, but she held her hand out to push him away.
"No I don't think you understand man, yeah he was the mayor and my boss but he was like my uncle or something. I've had breakfast at the table I found him under alright? I've seen enough for my life time."
Aubrey sighed impatiently and Seth dropped her hand, but pivoted so he was opposite from the phone. He prodded her in the side and made a face, clearly asking what was going on. Why was he so good at getting what he wanted out of a gesture or a sound effect? Seth rolled her eyes and started talking extra slowly.
"I don't want to see the body of an owl exterminator who was found like Spudzie. Other people saw Spudzie like that, leave me alone." The phone gave a small ring in protest as she slammed the receiver back onto the wall.
"You were his aid babe, maybe they just want to ask you about his life but they have poor social skills and because you're so you they don't know how to go about it." Aubrey offered up jokingly, his slightly lopsided grin stopping Seth from feeling insulted. She leaned in to steal a kiss, steal a moment of escape from the world, and it was stolen away as the door attempted to jump the jamb with a bang.
"Fuck it never ends…" She stomped to the door.
"SETH PETERS?" A voice boomed as she touched the door knob.
"What now?" The disdain layered so masterfully in her voice the most apathetic teenager would be jealous as she pulled the door open. A squad of men in dark blue uniforms filled the space instantly.
"You're coming with us. Aubrey Griffin?" They called into the apartment; Aubrey poked his head into the hallway slowly. "You too, let's go." The man barked, but clearly faltered when he stepped into the hallway naked.
"He's a nudist-bohemian-hippie-free-spirit-artist, please be strong enough to look past his attempts to outgrow us all." Seth snickered and walked past the once imposing man, whose neck had flushed a deep red.
"Hey hey, I am wearing a hat." Aubrey argued as he breezed past the men in uniform.
The men in uniform led Seth and Aubrey to the city multipurpose multicultural multigrain center. In the auditorium what seemed like the entire adult populace of the city of Rugton had been gathered. Every seat had been filled; the front of the stage had been filled with people sitting. The rather flustered man who had come to collect Seth and Aubrey led them down through the stadium sitting, through the rows of people sitting and bickering about why they were here, up the steps and onto the stage where a few chairs had been set up. A local baker was already sitting there, and there were only two more seats open.
"Dibs!" Aubrey called over his shoulder to the crowd, pushing Seth aside to sit in the middle seat. There was some murmuring in the crowd when he sat down and spread his knees out, and he indignantly crossed his legs. Seth turned to look at the man who led them there.
"What's going on here?" she asked.
"IT HAS COME TO THE ATTENTION-" The man began thundering as Seth ducked her head down and sat in the last chair.
"Jesus man, give a warning when you're going to do that." She muttered. He shot her a glare and continued.
"THAT RUGTON IS UNDER THE PLIGHT OF A WEREWOLF FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MANY YEARS. NOW THOSE OF YOU THAT HAVE BEEN HERE LONG ENOUGH WILL REMEMBER WHAT MUST BE DONE."
A buzz broke out near the top of the auditorium, a large section of senior citizens. A couple of women Seth had seen when the mayor had to deal with the PTA. Had they been sat in order of how long they had been in the town?
"ALRIGHT, SETTLE DOWN." The called out over the crowd.
"This is madness, what happened last time didn't work at all!" Someone near the middle called out, appreciative whoops following it.
"THIS IS THE PROTOCOL FOR DEALING WITH WEREWOLVES IN RUGTON. IF YOU DISLIKE IT I SUGGEST YOU MOVE TO A TOWN THAT DEALS WITH WEREWOLVES IN A MANNER YOU'RE MORE COMFORTABLE WITH."
"Or move to a town without any werewolves at all! What the hell man?" Another person burst out.
Seth turned to Aubrey uneasily. Why were people who had been here through it all so against what was going on? But Aubrey looked just as lost with the happenings. Hadn't he always said he was 4th generation Rugton-er? The front few rows of people in the crowd seemed equally confused, so Seth turned in her chair to look at the man in the uniform and made a face at him. He returned a face that clearly meant 'What is it you want?' Seth rolled her eyes, now it was everyone who was better at getting what they wanted from a single look.
"What is the protocol?" she prompted.
"Yeah! We're not all from 'round here!" someone shouted. Someone in the back of the room had started a low grumbling conversation, and it was spreading through to the front.
"ALRIGHT NOW SETTLE DOWN. IN ALL PREVIOUS DEALINGS WITH WEREWOLVES PROTOCOL HAS BEEN TO HAVE A LYNCHING EVERY NIGHT UNTIL THE PROBLEM STOPS."
"What?" Seth and Aubrey exclaimed in chorus with numerous others from the front of the auditorium.
"Doesn't that seem a little arbitrary to you?" Seth turned to the man again incredulously.
"No, not really. I mean we usually only have problems with werewolves after time has passed and our population has swelled again. It's usually pretty good to cut off the fat. You know neighbours that won't rake their leaves and what not." The man answered rather nonchalantly.
"Carry on with it then!" An elderly man shouted down at them.
"Right, right. OKAY, AS PROTOCOL DICTATES WE HAVE THE ACCUSED HERE. WE SHALL GIVE EACH OF THEM A CHANCE TO OFFER A DEFENSE!"
"A defense for what? You just admitted it's arbitrary!" Seth turned to Aubrey to try and gauge if she had gone insane, or if the town had. He seemed to have the look of utmost concentration on his face.
"Aubrey!" She whispered, giving him a small shove in the shoulder.
"What? I'm trying to think of a defense!"
"For what?" Seth exclaimed again.
"Well we do accuse the person we lynch of being a werewolf. I suppose that's a pretty vital piece of information…" The man in uniform's nonchalance was beginning to get to Seth.
"This is ridiculous." She gasped, leaning back in her chair and glaring to her right as Aubrey continued his highly concentrated thinking.
"ALRIGHT LET'S HEAR THE DEFENSES NOW!" the man interjected. "SIR, IF YOU WILL" he gestured to the Baker.
The small round man stood from his chair with a drawn out creak. His scalp glistened with beads of sweat, what was left of his dark red hair already matting at the back of his head. His black pants were smothered in flour, making it only probable that his white chef's jacket was as well. He cleared his throat meekly,
"I- am but a humble pie maker. Good people of Rugton, not only am I a pie maker, but I am the only pie maker of Rugton. Sure Suzie's mom can bake a mean Strawberry Rhubarb but who will you turn to for the Bumble berry? For the Lemon Meringue? It will be years before any of you pick up the skills I have already honed." The pie maker began, "Also, I've been out of town for about a week; I actually just got in today so my alibi is solid."
A few people from the back hooted and hollered, a few grumbled. The front of the auditorium was relatively quiet, their eyes peeled and riveted on the three chairs on the stage.
"SOLID DEFENSE SIR, ALRIGHT NOW YOU, BOY." The man gestured uncomfortably toward Aubrey. "NO NO, I THINK YOU CAN STAY SITTING." He spat quickly as Aubrey went to stand up.
"It's just a penis you know." Aubrey muttered, looking down at his hands in mock disappointment before attempting to smirk to himself, and grinning widely at the audience.
"I have a fairly simple defense. I'm the city's painter. I've been to art school, I've been tortured emotionally, a little, and thus I'm of great importance to Rugton. What if I become famous? I'll put Rugton on the map. Plus, who else will you get to paint things for you?"
"Someone who knows the difference between purple and mauve!" Someone yelled from the back.
"Hey, it's you who doesn't know the difference old man. Also, I'm a really nice guy. Why would you want to vote for me?"
Seth attempted one last time to converse with merely a look. 'Did you really just say that?' But Aubrey turned to her and smiled.
"I love you too Pookie." He said, tapping her on the chin. Seth slumped back against her chair again, coming dangerously close to slipping out of the chair entirely.
"ALRIGHT NOW IT'S YOUR TURN MISS." The man in uniform gestured to Seth. She frowned for a moment and then pushed herself off from the chair arms.
"People of Rugton, I haven't been in your city long. This is true. But," she paused and scanned the crowd another time, "well fuck you know? Spudzie was like family to me. He took me in, and you think that becoming a werewolf would be enough to turn me against him?" The crowd was filled with murmuring, and Seth turned to the man in uniform. "Well, would it?" she asked. He nodded his head, shook his head, and merely shrugged. Seth began to fear her eyes would roll out of her head entirely again.
"Plus, the owl exterminator. I don't even know who that is. Where did it happen? Not a clue on my part. Probably a nice guy though, am I right?" She asked, gesturing out to the crowd. There was a quiet drone for a moment.
"He was an Owl Exterminator." Someone yelled.
"Okay, fair enough. And while I might not be as indispensible as a baker or a painter, I have a good reason to be seen as not a werewolf." Seth paused as there was a hum of indecision in the room. "Okay okay, that's debatable, but if you're just trying to cut the fat obviously it should be the pie maker. Dude wasn't even here and he still got nominated as being the werewolf. It's obvious you want him out of here, so quit going through the motions and get on with it." Seth didn't look toward the baker as she sat down, but the man in uniform was already chuckling.
"GIRL CATCHES ON FAST DOESN'T SHE LADIES AND GENTLEMEN? SOLID DEFENSE! LET'S SEE THOSE VOTES NOW!"
"WHO VOTES FOR SETH PETERS?" The man's voice seemed to roar even louder, but she was unsure if it was just the impending weight of the question that made it so. A few people raised their hands, apparently voting for Seth but it was otherwise met with some muttering. An open ballot? In front of the whole town? How full of hatred were the citizens of Rugton that they formed a tradition of voting to kill people they didn't like in front of everyone?
"WHO VOTES FOR AUBREY GRIFFIN?" Aubrey pulled off his hat and held it to his chest with a pout on his face that could stop even the most prepared-to-scold mother. Again a few people raised their hands.
"WHO VOTES FOR BAKER PETE?" Along the back of the auditorium, the long-time residents of Rugton raised their hands in unison, forming a macabre wave of a death vote toward the front. The pie maker squeaked in desperation, as the remaining men in uniforms marched onto the stage and pulled him off stage left.
"They're not really going to lynch him are they?" Seth asked as a small pang of guilty running through her bones.
"Oh no of course not. Last werewolf bout lasted for quite some time; we got bored with plain old lynching. No, I imagine the man in charge of it will pick something much more fun. We went through a bout of catapulting people, the next town over didn't take too kindly to it though for some reason. He also developed a habit of mutilating the genitalia and keeping them all in a great big bag of di-"
"Eugh! Enough!" Seth interrupted.
"What? It's just a sack of sausages, a pack o' peckers…" The smile on the man's face was suddenly twisted into a grin that would send chills down the grim reaper's spine. Seth tore her eyes from his to look at the crowd, and found relief in their shared horror at the man's words. Some chuckling came from the back of the auditorium.
"Yeah, and don't forget his pool game with the lynched guys' various balls!" One of them shouted jovially.
Seth nearly wretched, and stood up from her accused chair.
"Can we go now?" She asked the man who had been speaking. His creepy smile slipped off his face, and he seemed to recompose himself.
"Yes, of course. Unless you'd like to take part in the lynching." He said invitingly, his face again breaking into a creepy smile. Seth's face slipped in a discerning frown, this guy must be psychotic, right? She looked to Aubrey; wanting support on what she thought should be obvious. No fucking way! Who wants to see a guy's dick cut off and thrown in a bag before he gets catapulted to the next town? Who wants to live in a town that arbitrarily kills their citizens hoping to kill a single werewolf in hundreds of people?
"Hey, why not?" he shrugged back at her. Seth was fairly certain her jaw might pop off if she let it drop like the shock was demanding her to. The world must have gone crazy. Who was this guy in front of her? What. The. Fuck. World?
"You can't go to a lynching!" she shrieked suddenly.
"B-.. Because you're naked!" Seth shouted furiously and ran off stage.
"Hey hey hey, I'm not naked! I'm wearing a hat!" he called after her.
The door of the apartment slamming startled Seth as she escaped the storm. The gel had turned it a milky colour, probably mixed with the pollution in the air in this damned metropolis she thought as she stared at the water that was pooling on the table in front of her. Her body was numbed to her bones, as though the turmoil of the city she had left far behind was still drawing its energy from within her bones. She peeled the thin cotton sweater away from her skin and threw it onto the floor; it had soaked through within moments of going out into the rain. Her sweater landed with an over pronounced squelch, embodying the stormy coast Seth hated so much in a single sound. As the water seeped out from the fabric onto the linoleum, she sighed and walked down to the hallway to grab a mop, dropping her sweater in the tub on her way.
Note: Thanks for reading! I was wondering, I rated this for violence but could this be a Teen rating? I figured it best to rate higher just in case. Hope you enjoyed it!