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The rudderless ship

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Jump in anywhere with any character (or several), as the title mentions this roleplay has no planned direction and is just intended as getting back into writing/collaborative writing. The setting while not largely defined is current day.

It was a beautiful spring morning when Torben Amundsen strolled into the small police station in rural Sweden, still fresh blood covering his hands and staining his shirt. He was not surprised at the interest the on-duty officer showed in him. He did not object to being handcuffed, seated next to a featureless table with just a glass of water and being made to wait for a detective to arrive. He did not ask for a lawyer and wanted to answer the questions he was being asked. The trouble was, he did not remember anything that had happened. He did not know why his hands were covered in blood. He did not know why he had chosen to walk into a police station. He didn't even remember that his name was Torben Amundsen.


The wallet police had taken from his jeans had contained identification for Torben Amundsen, a couple norwegian coins and some british pound notes and a scribbled message of "I love you xoxo" signed by 'Lily'. The picture had been scraped off the identity card, so he couldn't even know for sure that he was Torben Amundsen.


He knew what year and what month it was, he knew who was the President of the United States, who had won the Premier League and could apparently sing a couple pop hits from the last year. He also apparently spoke perfect Swedish, Norwegian, German, English and French, with some notions of Spanish and Russian.


"What's the last thing you remember?" - the police psychiatrist asked him on the second day of his interrogation.


"Bretzels. I remember buying bretzels at a small cart. It's just a flash...but it must have been cold, I think I remember wearing gloves."


"When was this?" - the psychiatrist asked gently.


"I...I don't know...", he tried to remember, he tried really hard...

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"Giraffes!" he suddenly blurted out.


Several seconds ticked by. "Giraffes?" asked the police psychiatrist.


"Yes... I remember giraffes."


"Does this seem like a recent memory?"


The answer was immediate, "Yes. Very recent."


"What do you remember of the giraffes?"


"There were a lot of them... A lot of them in a very small pen."


"Is it night or day?"


"I can't tell - it's indoors."


The police psychiatrist raised his eyebrows and proceeded to make some notes. "What else do you remember?"


"Ummm... someone was handing out broccoli... it was dripping with a lot of cheese, dripping everywhere - all over my hand, all over my shoes..."


The police psychiatrist stopped writing. After a moment, he opened his mouth to speak, but just then...

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...Torben interrupted him.


"I'm sorry, I know this isn't really helping", he said before suddenly breaking into German. "Sind alle tot...alle tot."1


"What was that?" the psychiatrist asked.


"I guess I just said that everyone is dead. No idea what I was talking about. I hate not remembering!" He smashed his fists on the table in frustration. "I want to help, believe me when I say so. I just don't..." He seemed lost in thought for a long moment and the psychiatrist was just about to interrupt when he continued. "But if I really killed someone...I...wouldn't I be better off not knowing?"



1: They are all dead...all dead.

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Torben gave the psychiatrist a look as if he was pleading with him and once again the psychiatrist was about to speak when the door opened and a woman entered.


She was a small, petite woman. About 5' 1" and early, middle aged. She had dark red hair that reached midways down her back and her eyes were a dark brown, with emerald green flakes scattered around the bottom, outside edge of the iris of her left eye. She wore horn rimmed glasses and a simple, yet expensive looking, business suit with heels that made slightly out of tune clicks as she walked over and stood next to the psychiatrist. Torben noticed that she favored her left leg for some reason, causing the heel of that shoe to be just a bit more worn - which in turn led to the slightly out of tune clicks.


The fact that he noticed so much about her in such a short time. . . surprised him.


The fact that he deduced she favored her left leg from such a minute difference in the height of her heels (he wondered if one leg was actually a hairs' breadth longer). . . disconcerted him.


He felt a cold chill run down his back as he realized that he had also noticed (at the same time) that the pinkie finger on the psychiatrists' left hand had begun to subtly tremble.


She looked at Torben and said, "Ask him."


He was unsure if it was directed at him or the psychiatrist. . . but he did notice that the psychiatrists' left eye gave a microscopic 'almost' twitch as she said it.


Torben began to think that, maybe, neither the blood covering his hands and staining his clothes nor his inability to remember how it got there, despite his apparent preternatural perception and attention to detail, wasn't his biggest worry.


That's when. . .

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That's when the psychiatrist asked, "were you there when the log was thrown?"


A flash of memory. A wrinkled grey limber tentacle releasing a log. The bark was rough, peeling, and the yellow wood, fine-grained, was exposed in places, like a teasing tart, small stubs of branches had been shorn as closely to the trunk as Samson's hair.


"I... I think so?"


They whispered together, and he leaned forward to listen. They stopped. He explored this new power, leaning forward and back in the chair, to the limits of the handcuffs, controlling the pace of their conversation.


Only one wisp of meaning came through to his awareness.


It hadn't been human blood on him.

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The door to the small room opened. All eyes turned towards it. A middle-aged man in a sergeant's uniform poked his head in. "Inspector, when you get a minute, I got a message for you."


"What is it?" asked the Inspector.


"When you get a minute..." replied the sergeant, his eyes glancing at the blood covered man and the psychiatrist.


The inspector frowned - it had been a busy day, and he really didn't have time for this. "What is it sergeant!?"


Without glancing at the note in his hands, only letting it show from behind the partially open door, he related, "Big disturbance down at the abandoned Forest Hole Oceanic and General Genetic Weird Science facility. The people at the new one have no idea what it is about. Some trespassing kids discovered a pen of giraffes, and blood, lots of it, all over the place - and some kind of gooey yellowish substance..."


The Inspector sprang from his chair. Torben stared, his eyes wide, a range of emotions washing over his pale features. The police psychiatrist observed this vigilantly, noting every motion, every tic...

Edited by The Portrait of Zool

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The police psychiatrist, Erstman Thorne, was not having a good day. First, he'd spilled his coffee and was subsequently late to work, and now he was saddled with this obvious lunatic. Attempting to document the myriad problems and emotional triggers of this man was an absolute nightmare.


Sighing, he absently licked the tip of his pencil and dutifully scribbled, "Left eye twitches when surprised."


Across the table, Torben ran possible answers through his brain. So much depended on situational information though! Were the giraffes still alive? How much blood? Were they testing the unknown substance? Growling to himself, he lightly stomped the floor in frustration. This not knowing things was getting old very quickly.


Thorne noted this in his ever-expanding list of tics. Never hurt to be too well informed.

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Jennifer West smoothed her short skirt on the elevator ride to the fifth floor interrogation room. She hadn't had time to iron it this morning and small things like this always annoyed her. The call had came just as she was having breakfast, a good friend of hers from the police department tipping her off that they were interrogating a suspect without a lawyer present in some rural village up north, hundreds of kilometers from Stockholm.


She had finished her breakfast on the flight to Umeå furiously reading through all the information she could find on the case. The police would certainly not get away with bullying her client! Even if he could not pay, the case was way too interesting to pass up.


A bumpy flight and an even bumpier taxi ride later she had arrived grumpy from the trip and determined to make things right. Just as she stepped from the elevator her phone rang.


"Hi honey," the voice on the other end of the line said in broken English. Johan was the typical tall, blond, Scandinavian charmer and had swept her off her feet fifteen years ago. He had even made her move to Sweden from her native California. He still loved to tease her with the bad English he had known when they first met. "How was the trip?"


"Crap," she answered, holding the phone between shoulder and ear, while she shuffled papers, looking for just the right one. "Call you back in a bit, I'm heading in."


The door was open when she reached interrogation room two, a police sergeant poking his head in. With a quick "excuse me" she was past him, not even giving him time to get past his surprise.


"Mister Amundsen," she started in her own accented, but otherwise perfect Swedish, "I would like to inform you that you have a right not to answer any questions these gentlemen may ask you. You also have a right to have a lawyer present during questioning. Actually," she shot a venomous glance at the inspector, "a lawyer should have been present right from the start." She did not pause, not giving anyone a chance to reply. "Now, if I might have a while alone with my client?"

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While everyone in the room was startled by Jennifer West's entry and order to leave her alone with him, no one was more startled than Torben.


He stared at her, slack-jawed, as she sat down across from him, opened her brief case and started to say, "Now, Mr. Amundsen. . . "


That's as far as she got when Torben reached out his hand to touch hers as he softly asked, with a look of utter surprise, "Jen?!"


She froze at the way he said it - he KNEW her.


The way he said it gave her no doubt that that was an absolute fact.


Her mind raced as she tried to remember if she had ever met him and she stammered, "How. . . how did you know my name? Have we ever met?"


A look of disbelief came over his face as he said, "Jen, don't you know me?!"


She replied, "I don't believe we've ever met. I was told you are Torben Amundsen and you were in need of Council. I have no idea who you are beyond that." While she appeared to be calm, she was starting to get very worried.


Torben could see every slight, infinitesimal tightening of her features and knew she was starting to get nervous - despite her outward calm.


He pushed back from the table and stood, saying in a loud voice - rising to a shout, "I have no idea IF I am Torben Amundsen! I have NO idea WHAT is going on! All I KNOW is that YOU are Jennifer West and we've been together for fifteen years!"


Jennifer sat in shock as the door burst open and several men in Military uniform came in, followed by the psychiatrist and small, petite woman with the horn rimmed glasses. The woman calmly said, "This is getting out of hand. Get both of them and let's go."


Both the police psychiatrist and Inspector spoke up:


Psychiatrist (Hesitantly): "This man is under MY care!"


Inspector: "There's no way you're taking this man, he's under MY jurisdiction!"


The small woman said to the Inspector, "Answer your phone." - a second before his cell phone rang.


He answered, "Hello?. . . How did you get this number?. . . Who are. . . Yes. . . YES. . . I see. . . my SINCEREST apologies. . . YES. . . IMMEDIATELY!"


His face had drained of all color as he said to the psychiatrist, "It's out of our hands." Turning to the small woman, he said, "I'm sorry." and moved to let them go.


Torben caught sight of the Inspector's warning look as he motioned the psychiatrist to step aside - neither one of them could look Torben or Jennifer in the eyes as they were led from the room.

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