|Gabriel Bautista (xochipilli) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2017-09-05 08:55:00
|Entry tags:||hermes, xochipilli|
fairy tales are more than true
Who: Gabe & Percy.
What: Gabe's looking up stuff about naked winged women, and Percy is in the same market for some Greek know-how.
Where: Modern Times.
When: Backdated to Aug. 18.
With a quick, offhand smile at a greeting sales associate, Gabe ducked his way toward the back, looking for a mythology section.
It already seemed odd enough to be researching current events out of an assumedly folklorish source, but he didn't have much more to go on. When another sales associate saw him glancing around, he accepted some direction for the section he was looking for, but then gratefully dismissed the young woman with a courteous nod and smile. He started to browse, his hand hovering just over the lip of the shelf as he murmured titles and names aloud, eventually selecting one that seemed promising.
Flipping open the obviously titled Greek Mythology book, he allowed himself to sink into the words, flipping through until he came to a section on mythological beasts. Just as he'd found online, harpies were front and center, although no less real than they'd been when he'd done research on his small laptop at home. Frowning to himself, he found he was re-reading the same passages he had on various websites he hadn't allowed himself to trust until he'd verified the information himself. It seemed his trip might have been for nothing.
Between a giant head monster formerly living in his closet, his neighbor going feral goat on him inside of a church, and dreaming yet again of losing another poker game to a man who insisted on carrying around a staff with live snakes curled around it, Percy had exhausted his limit of potential research opportunities at home.
The internet was wonderful, the sheer amount of information at one's fingertips proving to always be incredibly intoxicating.
But Percy needed more information than what he'd found online. He needed cold, hard facts that were tangible. As tangible as they could be upon printed pages, of course. He'd gone to the bookstore looking for clues, looking for more answers than he had questions--especially after his most recent unsettling dream.
Besides, he'd somehow managed to find a book with Native American folklore, and within it, an index of creatures and beings that could in no way be considered humans. There was a page in the book that gave a brief paragraph outlining giant heads with feet, not unlike the beast that had spooked both him and Lucas.
He was making progress, but he still needed more details. Heading back to the mythology shelves to return his book and choose another to rifle through, Percy hummed determinedly to himself as he looked through the selections. He noted with casual interest that another man seemed to be reading a mythology book with fervid intent, his eyes glued to the pages in front of him.
Leaning over slightly, Percy attempted to read the book's title, but failed. “That's a nasty looking bird,” he observed in light of his temporary defeat, face scrunching in repulsion at the small illustration of a creature that seemed all foul and no play. “I’d hate to feed one of those at the park. I imagine it'd be likely to eat the pigeons.” He shivered in affected horror before grinning, stopping only to pull out a copy of Bulfinch’s Mythology. “This looks like a definitive primer if you want to defeat harpies,” he murmured to the stranger, opening said tome with unashamed curiosity.
Gabe looked up, startled, though not necessarily put off by the man's intrusive manner. Fight off? A particular set of words, and he nodded as he closed the book he'd been paging through around a finger to hold his place.
"Yeah, they're.... They're certainly not fun. I mean, they wouldn't be, if they were real." He felt instantly stupid for his slip up, and he nodded down to the other book the man had been leafing through. "Research? You're definitely digging into something that not too many are tapping into these days, at least, not mainstream anyway. Are you a writer?"
He caught the sincerity in the other man’s tone before it could be safely hidden within more common, conversational questions. Percy smiled to himself, and paused on a page in the book he was quickly scanning--something about one of the Greek god Zeus’ many flings ending in a horrific manner, yada yada. He wasn’t overly concerned about this particular myth.
“You can’t tell me that,” his gaze shot down quickly to the open page, “the world doesn’t want to know about a cow named Io, the “beloved” former mistress of the Almighty Zeus?” Percy shrugged, knowing that despite his jest, it wasn’t as if the man was entirely wrong. While some of the stories in the book he held seemed vaguely familiar from grade school, the world certainly no longer functioned by strictly adhering to old stories and fantasies.
“Actually, I do write for The Orange County Register. Usually, I prefer to write about cases of up and coming fraud, but my level of interest in it has been...distracted lately,” he admitted. It was mostly true. He didn’t feel like telling the fellow myth connoisseur that as of late he’d been saddled with fluff pieces at work more often than not, ever since the hot summer months began their downward spiral into cool breezes and falling leaves. “I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say my life has become incredibly interesting since I moved into a new place. As one does,” Percy smiled wryly. “I’m not looking to step over any boundaries here, but you seemed really focused on those harpy things. Thinking of getting a new pet?”
Gabe barked a dry laugh, opening the book again to show an impressive side view of a harpy, talons bared toward some poor passerby. He could not deny that the likeness to the creature he'd encountered in his apartment was extremely unnerving. Percy let out a low whistle at the overly descriptive picture, privately deciding he’d rather deal with a closet head monster than a giant bird-lady any day. That is, if harpies were real on some plane of existence or another.
"Uh, no," he admitted, trying to see the humor in the situation and failing. "I've got a dog and that's more than enough. I just... Call it a strange interest. I've been having a lot of weird, uh, dreams, and I've just been trying to see if there's something my brain is trying to tell me." It was close enough to the truth; of course, his dreams were nowhere near Greek mythology, but this man didn't need to know that.
"So what's a reporter doing in the mythology section? I think this is about as far as you can get from finance, without venturing closer to the children's section."
“It turns out that we happen to be in the same boat,” Percy grinned, darkly amused by the stranger’s circumstances so similar to his own. This particular familiarity was becoming common place in southern California, and he was no longer able to pretend as if it didn’t, or couldn’t, have some type of underlying meaning. “I thought I’d trade in financial thievery for bad dreams and,” he paused, flipping randomly through the book in his hands, “--three-headed hell dogs. I’ve never liked cats, so it doesn’t bother me.”
He then closed the book abruptly, holding the thick volume in one hand so that he could offer up a handshake. “My name’s Percy, I live in the area. Can’t seem to get a decent night’s worth of sleep, either, unless it’s filled with creatures sort of like those in your book. I knew I should have paid more attention to my apartment’s brochure, because it might’ve mentioned lack of sleep and reality denial.” He was smiling, almost out of relief; misery loved company, as the old saying went.
Everything coming out of Percy's mouth was a far stone's throw from comfort, though the words lived right next door to familiarity. Gabe's brows arched in surprise above his glasses, his mouth curving slightly.
"You wouldn't by any chance be talking about Pax Letale, would you? Because, ah, I live there, too." He stopped, unsure of how much he should say. There was absolutely no way there could be two buildings with such similar problems. He put out a hand. "Gabriel Bautista, 801. And three-headed dogs? I feel like I got off easy."
“Well, now I don’t believe in coincidences anymore,” Percy drawled with a distinct lack of surprise, shaking Gabriel’s hand in turn. Another new neighbor, another random encounter--but nothing was ever random anymore, not even the people Percy met. “I live in 301, and I occasionally accept being a Chapman, though it’d be nice to be a Pitt or a Jolie living outside of Hollywood.” He sighed deeply, as if it was a matter that truly was heartbreaking. His cheerful mood said otherwise.
“And I can’t say that I’ve actually seen three-headed dogs. Not yet.” Shooting a glance down the book aisle, to ascertain no one was venturing down towards the realm of the uncanny and sublime, Percy lowered his voice by a pitch. “But I have seen other things. Apparently, the monster shaped like a head with feet that lived in my closet last month was an Iroquois creation.” He held up one hand, to ward off any potential offense. “Not that I think any First Nation people care about punishing Pax Letale. But I’m definitely not the only person that dealt with monsters on their floor.”
He frankly didn’t care if he was being overly familiar with his newly found neighbor; at this point, no one else but a current resident would bother believing what he said.
Gabe's face turned worried, eventually melding into a thoughtful expression that considered Percy's answer. He had to bite back a laugh from the absurdness of it all. "You think our building is cursed, or something? Built on a Native American burial ground? I guess that would explain a lot of things, except I'm not entirely sure how harpies and....oversized yeti heads factor in together. Did anyone else see what it is you saw?"
He quickly held up a hand. "Not that I don't believe you; trust me, I definitely do. A neighbor on my floor... He saw the harpy in my apartment as well, and I saw a lot of complaints on the network regarding a couple different creatures on each of the floors. It's a lot like..." He paused, measuring how far back he should reach. "How long have you been in the building?"
Percy shrugged, allowing himself to nod as an answer to Gabriel’s question concerning the number of people the closet monster had terrified--then decided he’d better follow through with words instead of simply an action. “A good friend of mine saw the closet monster, too. He lives on the tenth floor. Maybe you know him--his name’s Lucas, and he spends too much time saving lives.” Percy’s brows furrowed in memory of the unveiling event, the closet monster more than happy to leap out of whatever small space it could magically fit into, and annoyingly so.
“I moved here in February, so at this rate I’ve been in town a little over half a year.” He inclined his head towards Gabriel, curious in turn. “What about you? If you’ve lived here longer than that, you’re doing better than most of the other neighbors I’ve met. It seems like no one’s lived there before this year.” Frowning, Percy corrected himself. “Not out of this group of residents, I mean.”
"This group?" Gabe's brow furrowed in confusion, but he followed up with Percy's other question. "I definitely haven't been there as long as you have; it's only been a few months for me. I moved in around April, when... When those weird gifts showed up for everyone." He closed the book he was holding, and shelved it, his hand lingering on the spine.
"I don't know Lucas, but it was Rafe—he lived on the fourth floor, at the time, but he's on my floor now—though it sounds like everyone is seeing weird things at the apartment complex.
"But it sounds like you know a little bit about the building's past? What happened to the previous tenants?" He let his hand drop to his side, fingers couched in a half-curl against his pants.
At mention of the gifts, Percy took a slight moment to think fondly of the one he’d received; it had been far less confusing and...problematic, so to speak, than what some of his neighbors had found on their doorsteps. He considered himself fairly lucky, and had found a distinct lack of desire within himself to throw away the lockpick--what if he needed it again?
But there’d be time to reunite with the gift later, take it for another spin.
“Seems like there was an accident. Not that I know many details, but something terrible happened, and it didn’t end well for one of the residents.” Percy shrugged, as if it was all beyond his understanding; he mirrored Gabriel’s actions, looking down at his book choice one last time before replacing it in its home. “I assume everyone packed up and left shortly afterwards. I probably would, too.”
He paused, glancing over Gabriel’s shoulder at a college-aged woman approaching the aisle, peering at the book stacks and possibly--who could tell?--wanting to read about harpies or three-headed dogs. No matter her intentions, she’d be within hearing range. For all his measures of carelessness, Percy doubted the necessity of allowing an eavesdropper to investigate the ongoing mysteries of Pax Letale.
“Speaking of leaving, looks like we’ve got a visitor. Probably shouldn’t scare her with our personal horror stories, huh?”
Glancing in the woman's direction, Gabe's head bobbed in agreement. He looked back at Percy, his brows rising incrementally as he jerked his chin toward a little add-on coffee shop that was set up in the corner of the book store.
"How about I spot you a coffee, or whatever your poison is, and you can tell me a little more about the apartment complex? It sounds like I should have done my research before moving in..."
“I never say no to coffee,” Percy stated with easy conviction, his interest now officially piqued--as if it hadn’t already been beforehand. “It’s a deal. Let’s get out of here before we’ve convinced her to move in, too.”