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Author Topic: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)  (Read 3899 times)

BerkaZerka

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Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« on: June 09, 2016, 09:02:47 pm »

Arlington Virginia; Friday April 1st 2016
The funeral services for Howard Kent Hardman were as dreary as the rain outside the funeral home. Isaac's father, a powerful and well-known businessman in Arlington, had suffered a fatal heart attack two days ago. It had happened in the morning, as he was getting into the Jaguar - he just up and died right there at the wheel. The gardener found him an hour later, when he had arrived to tend the lawns.

Hardly anyone was here for the services though. Just Isaac, the funeral director, his assistant, and some rail-thin elderly gentleman with a red leather attaché that sat in the back looking rather bored. Isaac's father had chosen to be cremated, and now sat in a decorative porcelain urn at the front of the small chapel, as the funeral director gave the eulogy. It was a short few words that sounded hollow and insincere.

Howard Kent Hardman had been an important man in this town, but 'important' didn't mean he was liked. Not even Isaac's mother, Beatrice, had shown up - though that was no surprise. Howard had shamelessly cheated on her with every secretary he'd ever had over the years; and she finally left him about three years ago. Why she had stayed with him so long, Isaac couldn't fathom.

The services came to and end and the elderly gentleman got up and left, as the funeral director brought the urn of ashes over to Isaac.

"I'm sorry for your loss." was all he had said.

Leaving with the urn, Isaac was surprised to find the elderly gentleman outside under the driveway awning, standing out of the rain - waiting for him.

"Mr. Hardman," He said, walking forward, but offering no hand to shake, "I am the executor of your father's estate. I was hoping that you would be able to meet me at my office this evening, 11:37 PM sharp - do not be early, do not be late - to go over the final stipulations of your father's will."

With that, the man held out a fancy gold-edged business card for Isaac to take. Shivers ran up Isaac's spine as he reached for the card and noted a distinct chill in the air around the man's hand. It startled him enough to almost drop the urn of his father's ashes, but he managed to juggle it back under his arm, before it slipped out of his grasp.

Something about this man's eyes were... off. The gentleman certainly looked of old money and sophistication, but his eyes seemed unnaturally cold and unsettling somehow - like when you saw the look of madness in the eyes of a depraved serial killer on the news. You could tell, just by the eyes...

Tearing himself away from such disturbing thoughts long enough to look at the card, Isaac saw that it read: "Blume & Blumenthal, Estate Panning PLLC," with an accompanying address to an office building uptown.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2016, 12:29:19 pm by BerkaZerka »
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killa_robot

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2016, 08:53:01 pm »

Isaac gently plays with the card in his hand as he considers the man in front of him. Something about him doesn't seem right. Is Blume & Blumenthal even a company Issac recognizes?

"I'll be sure to make it there on time. Did you know my father well?" He asks, fishing for information while trying to get a proper read on the man (motives).
« Last Edit: July 07, 2016, 08:58:40 pm by killa_robot »
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BerkaZerka

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2016, 12:56:38 pm »

The man's queer gaze wanders down to the urn in Isaac's arm and he tilts his head like an inquisitive dog might do.

"Quite well," he answered with an ever so slight smirk.

Isaac got the feeling the man was telling the truth, but his mannerisms and the way he answered seemed predatory in some way.

What was this man's game?

As for the card, Isaac could quickly determine Blume & Blumenthal's legitimacy with a search on his cell. While the name of the company wasn't familiar to him, there was one thing Arlington was certainly full of: an unending abundance of lawyers.
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killa_robot

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2016, 10:25:33 pm »

While it's clear the man is hiding something, Issac has no reason to suspect he's anything more than a lawyer out on the prowl. Still, there's too much off about the man to leave just yet.

"Quite well? It's rare to meet someone that could say they were that close with my father. He didn't make many friends outside of business partners", he replies with a hint of spite in his tone. "What brought the two of you together?"
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BerkaZerka

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2016, 09:00:51 pm »

“My associate and I got along with your father famously,” the man replied, righting his head with a thin-lipped smile.

Then resuming a rather rigid posture, he added, “Even a tyrant must protect his legacy. And there is the matter of your inheritance to sort out.”

Then looking at his watch he reminded, “11:37 PM sharp. A stipulation of the will, mind you. I do hope to see you then.”

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killa_robot

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2016, 02:14:25 pm »

"I'll be sure to make it there on time", Isaac replies, extending his hand to the man.

"A pleasure meeting you, Mr...?" He asks, expecting to hear the man's name in response.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2016, 02:17:29 pm by killa_robot »
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BerkaZerka

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2016, 04:42:00 pm »

"Roger Blume, Esquire," the elderly man answered, leaving Isaac hanging for a moment. Then, with a flourish of what had appeared to be an empty hand, he produced a large brass key in his fingers.

"Let yourself in," he said, placing the key in Isaac's outstretched hand and closing his fingers around it. The gesture was so unusual that Isaac found himself just sort of going with it, for lack of a better response. That and the man's icy fingers against his skin had momentarily stunned him.

'This guy has a serious circulation problem,' Isaac found himself thinking.

"Mr. Blumenthal and I will be waiting for you upstairs," Mr. Blume continued - "Use the side door with the stairs on the right of the building, next to the alley."
« Last Edit: July 16, 2016, 04:52:54 pm by BerkaZerka »
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killa_robot

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2016, 08:02:00 pm »

Their conversation finished, Issac gives the old man a nod and exits the funeral home. He briefly looks down at his father's urn before entering his car and placing it on the passenger seat.

There was something strange about that man, Roger. Issac remained calm and civil, but that is not a man he wants to ever see again. Unfortunately, he'll need to suffer through it once more to get his father's will over with.

"... But I have no intention of salvaging my father's legacy", he affirmed to himself, before starting his car. The only thing about his father that should be remembered by others is that he was a bastard. A tyrant, just like the old man had said. Now that he was gone, Issac could finally get to righting the wrongs of his father.

Not wanting to leave the house, Issac spent the rest of the evening resting and watching T.V. Finally, when it was the appropriate time, he got ready to leave. Why did he need to be there for 11:37pm anyway?
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BerkaZerka

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2016, 02:21:01 pm »

"Such an weird time for a meeting," Trucy mentioned, mirroring Isaac's thoughts, as he was getting ready to head out. "But then you don't argue when its about your inheritance."

'And all that money from your father's estate!' she though to herself excitedly.

"Maybe we should consider a vacation after all this. You know, get away from the stress for a while."

Trucy Wright was Isaac's live-in girlfriend. They had been together since meeting at the University in their Macroeconomic Theory class.

Sometimes Issac wondered what Trucy really saw in him.

She was smart, beautiful, and a real trophy hanging on his arm (if he let his pride speak for him). He had to admit though, it felt good when his peers would admire her with him, and express how lucky he was to have such a 'hot dish'.

And that wasn't something you messed up by asking too many questions.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2016, 02:24:42 pm by BerkaZerka »
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killa_robot

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2016, 02:55:31 pm »

"You know, after I finish dealing with all this, I think a vacation will be mandatory," Issac replies, opening the front door. "I probably won't be back until late, so don't wait up," he adds as he leaves, giving Trucy a quick kiss goodbye. With that, he enters his cars and heads for the address the old man gave him.
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BerkaZerka

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2016, 06:22:24 pm »

Isaac parked out front. At least you didn’t have to worry about the parking meters this late at night – or traffic for that matter.

No one else was about. The street was absolutely barren, this being an upscale business area, crowded with the practices of both legal and medical specialists.

At least the rain had stopped – though a strong gust of wind nearly whipped Isaac’s door out of his hand as he opened it to get out. The sky was still overcast and heavy, but the lights of the city fought back the darkness well enough.

Looking at the building, Isaac saw that it was a large three story Victorian-style house, converted into an office building. A large wooden shingle out front indicated the establishment of ‘Blume & Blumenthal, Estate & Asset Management’, proclaimed in fancy gold script.

The building itself was dark, except for lights illuminating the sign and a bulb over a doorway to the right side of the building. That must be the one, next to the narrow walkway that went back behind the building into darkness.

No wait, there was also a hint light sneaking out from behind a curtained window on the second floor.

Heading to the doorway on the right, Isaac saw that it was shut and locked. Fancy brasswork adorned the door itself and there was a large ornate keyhole in the center – fashioned to look like the laughing mouth of a devilish-looking jester. It was clearly the match for the large brass key Mr. Blume had given him.

Checking his watch, Isaac saw that it was 11:35pm. Did they mean open the lock at 11:37 or arrive upstairs at 11:37?
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killa_robot

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2016, 07:54:34 pm »

Issac ponders to himself briefly, before deciding to wait until 11:37 to open the door. Even if the man meant to arrive upstairs by 11:37, he would still rather be fashionably late than a few minutes early. He also found himself wondering why the exact time seemed to matter to Roger. If he had a previous engagement, then Issac certainly wouldn't want to intrude on them. Or perhaps Roger is just obsessive and Issac is overthinking things.

Either way, he made his decision.
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BerkaZerka

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2016, 10:43:37 am »

The lock was surprisingly hard to turn, being quite stiff. Isaac imagined that it would be virtually impossible with a normal-sized key.

Opening the door, a waft of bitter incense assailed his nostrils - something he instinctively knew was probably best not inhaled, if at all avoidable.

The staircase beyond the door was lined with a number of ornate brass candle stands, upon which sat huge squat candles with fat ropy wicks. The flames licking up from them burned with an oily sputter, sending ripples of the toxic smoke Isaac was smelling into the air. The candles themselves were a glossy blackish-red and seemed to have bits of a woody substance throughout (no doubt the heady incense taking a toll on Isaac's sinuses).

At the top of the stairs was a wood and glass French door. It had a long brass handle and was closed, with a red curtain drawn over it on the other side. Dim flickering light could be seen filtering through the curtain, as the strange sounds of sitar music drifted down the stairs from the room above.

This all seemed the makings for a séance... What the heck? Did they intend for Isacc's father to read the will himself or something?!?
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killa_robot

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2016, 02:35:38 pm »

Issac continued up the stairs to the door. Roger did come off as a rather creepy person, so maybe this was just how he liked to decorate his office. If he did try and pull something, Issac could simply leave and call the authorities.

"I wonder who Mr. Blumenthal is," Issac found himself thinking as he climbed the stairs. Roger had mentioned he would be here as well, and his name is on the building. Issac could only hope he was less creepy than Roger.
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BerkaZerka

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #14 on: July 19, 2016, 05:30:55 pm »


---

The next thing Isaac knew, he was waking up on the couch in his living room.

He was in a seated position against the back cushions, with his head lolled to the side and a long trail of drool going down his left shoulder and arm.

His neck was cricked something fierce and righted with a loud crack. As Isaac's fuzzy vision slowly cleared, he found himself looking directly at his father's urn on the fireplace mantle.

When had he put that there?

Light coming into the living room from the bay window announced the dawn.

Wait a minute... When had he come home?!? Everything was a complete blank from heading up the stairs of Blume & Blumenthal's till now.

As Isaac's mind struggled to put together pieces of the puzzle that just weren't there, he pulled the handkerchief from his breast-pocket to wipe the drool off his arm.

As he did so, a white index card flung out of the pocket with it, landing face down on the floor.

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killa_robot

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #15 on: July 20, 2016, 06:51:25 pm »

With the white card being his first hint as to what happened the night before, Issac picks it up and reads it.

"What the hell happened to me...?"
« Last Edit: July 20, 2016, 07:03:37 pm by killa_robot »
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BerkaZerka

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #16 on: July 20, 2016, 07:50:22 pm »

Turning the index card over, only deepened the mystery. Isaac recognized his own handwriting, having apparently written himself a note. It simply read -

'My birthday is Dec.4th, 1984'

Wait a minute, that wasn't his birthday... why would he have written that?

His birthday was... *blank

Why couldn't he remember his date of birth?

He certainly remembered all the parties that he had over the years, but for the life of him an exact date eluded him. It was like trying to recall a common word and it just wouldn't come to mind - being stuck on the tip of the tongue.

'December fourth...' Isaac considered. He did remember snow. Maybe that really was his birthday?
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killa_robot

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #17 on: July 20, 2016, 08:22:27 pm »

Issac shook his head and stood up, heading to his room. Temporarily not remembering his birthday is unimportant compared to not remembering last night. It's possible he was drugged and made to sign something he would normally not be willing to sign. His father was a wealthy man, something that old man would have been well aware of.

The whole situation was strange to begin with. "I should have been more careful," Issac said to himself, as he walked to take a quick shower and get dressed. Once finished he'll have to head back to the building from last night. That's the only way he'll figure out just what has happened.
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BerkaZerka

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #18 on: July 21, 2016, 10:04:49 am »

"Feeling better now darling?" Trucy asked, as Issac got out of the shower and started to get dresed. It struck him as a somewhat odd thing to ask first thing in the morning.
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killa_robot

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #19 on: July 21, 2016, 08:42:28 pm »

"I'm not sure... What happened last night?" He asked, figuring Trucy probably had some idea.
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BerkaZerka

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #20 on: July 21, 2016, 09:01:25 pm »

"What do you mean 'what happened'?" Trucy asked, "You and I cleaned up a space on the mantle for your father's ashes, then you wanted to be alone for a while, so I went to bed."

"You must have fallen asleep on the couch."
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killa_robot

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #21 on: July 21, 2016, 10:07:04 pm »

"...Right, of course," Issac replied, as he finished getting dressed. No need to ask further as that would probably just worry her.

"I need to go back to finish things concerning my father. It shouldn't take too long," he adds, heading to the door. This was a strange start to the morning, but he should get all the answers he needs out of Roger at that building he went to last night.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2016, 10:14:49 pm by killa_robot »
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BerkaZerka

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #22 on: July 22, 2016, 12:56:30 pm »

Driving out to Blume & Blumenthal's, Issac pulled into a parking spot and dropped some coins into the meter. He then turned around and flinched at what he saw - or in this case, what he didn't see...

There was no side door.

No brass door. No stairs. Nothing but an alley heading around back.

The rest of the building was like he remembered - three story Victorian - converted into office space. The sign out front was the same. The main doors out front were the same.

Just nothing on the side...
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killa_robot

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #23 on: July 24, 2016, 07:11:27 pm »

Confused but not deterred, Issac entered the front of the building. From there he'd look for any sort of brochures or map of the building to determine if the Blumenthal office existed. Once finished, he'd look for the receptionist, to ask them about the office.
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BerkaZerka

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #24 on: July 24, 2016, 10:37:51 pm »

The front doors actually opened right into a large receptionists office. Isaac's eyes however, were immediately drawn to a fire-escape map on the wall.

No extra entry, nor stairs, on the side of the building by the alley.

"May I help you find something?" the receptionist's voice called from behind the counter.
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killa_robot

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #25 on: July 25, 2016, 05:21:12 pm »

Issac takes one last look at the fire-escape map before walking to the receptionist.

"Yes. Is there an office for Blume & Blumenthal's around here?"
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BerkaZerka

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #26 on: July 25, 2016, 06:24:04 pm »

"You are in the right place," the gorgeous young lady behind the counter smiles; "Are you looking for a consultation?"
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killa_robot

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #27 on: July 25, 2016, 06:29:08 pm »

"I... no, I had a meeting last night. I was wondering if I could get in contact with Mr. Blumenthal so we could carry on where we left last night," Issac replies, deciding that bringing attention to his sudden memory loss would only distract from his goal here.

"However, I can't seem to find the office where the meeting was held."
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BerkaZerka

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #28 on: July 25, 2016, 06:42:02 pm »

"Um..." a blank expression came upon the girl's face - "You couldn't have met with Mr. Blumenthal last night... unless you were in New York."

The dumb look was then quickly replaced with another helpful smile.

"Both he and Mr. Blume have been there the past week, on business with a large Metropolitan client. They won't be back for a couple more days."

"Would you like to speak with one of our Jr. Associates in the meantime? They would be able to pass along any pertinent information to the Owners as needed."
« Last Edit: July 25, 2016, 06:45:00 pm by BerkaZerka »
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killa_robot

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #29 on: July 26, 2016, 05:55:28 pm »

This isn't good. Maybe the men I met last night weren't associated with this business at all.

Issac thinks to himself. If that's the case it means he really was drugged and swindled out of his inheritance somehow, explaining this odd situation. Wanting to confirm this, he describes Mr. Blumenthal to the girl, to make sure he matches the person Issac met.

He'll also checks his phone for the current date, to make sure he hasn't somehow missed more than just last night.
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BerkaZerka

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #30 on: July 26, 2016, 07:54:40 pm »

The date on the receptionist's phone jived with Issac's cell and what he thought it should be.

"That sounds more like Mr. Blume," the receptionist replied to the description, motioning to a large painting on the wall over a fireplace off the reception area.

Looking, Issac saw a portrait of the man who had met him at the funeral home, standing shoulder to shoulder with another tall thin gentleman, who looked even older than himself (if that were even possible).

Other portraits on the wall depicted the various Junior Associates of the Firm.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2016, 09:06:39 pm by BerkaZerka »
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killa_robot

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #31 on: July 28, 2016, 04:41:20 pm »

Figuring that's all he'll find out here, Issac thanks the receptionist then leaves. With no where else to turn, he heads back to his place, to lay down and try to think things through.

This whole situation just doesn't make sense. Amnesia of the meeting, the location it took place no longer existing, the men he met not even being in town at the time. If he didn't know better he'd think some sort of conspiracy was going on.

And why the hell can't he remember his birthday?
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BerkaZerka

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #32 on: July 28, 2016, 06:30:48 pm »

Arriving back home, Trucy noticed the lines of concern on Issac's face, as he came in.

"Darling, what's wrong? Is your father's passing bothering you? I didn't think you were that close."
« Last Edit: July 28, 2016, 06:37:19 pm by BerkaZerka »
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killa_robot

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #33 on: July 28, 2016, 06:51:34 pm »

Issac wanted to avoid worrying Trucy, but now he doesn't think he'll be able to continue pretending nothing is wrong for much longer. She'll find out soon enough, so he might as well tell her now.

"We weren't," he replies, a hint of disdain in his tone. "It's just that I can't remember anything from last night," he continues, taking a seat on the couch.

"Nothing is making any sense. I can't even remember my own birthday!" He finishes, exasperated.
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BerkaZerka

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #34 on: July 28, 2016, 07:23:49 pm »

"You can't remember your birthday?" Trucy asked with a half weirded-out smirk on her face. "How does someone forget their own birthday?"

She patted Issac on the shoulder; "It's December 4th, 1984, silly," she smiled.

It dawned on her that Issac wasn't kidding.

"Hey, I know!" she then offered enthusiastically, "There was this Hypnotist, Harold Guzman 'Extraordinaire', that the girls and I saw last week. He did all sorts of amazing tricks. I bet he could get your memories back."

"He's still performing uptown. Why don't you let me see if I can set you up a private appointment?"
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killa_robot

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #35 on: July 28, 2016, 07:38:51 pm »

Issac didn't believe that this hypnotist had any chance of helping, but he wasn't about to turn down the help of his girlfriend. Besides, maybe taking his mind off of the matter for a while would help.

"Sure, sounds good."

 
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BerkaZerka

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #36 on: July 28, 2016, 09:21:05 pm »

Arlington Virginia; Monday April 11th 2016
The Hypnotist was doing his show for another week, but agreed to a private consultation on the following Monday, before heading on to New York.

In that time, none of Issac's lost memories had returned on their own. He did find out however, that his father's will had not been handled by Blume & Blumenthal at all.

A certified letter had come in the mail, from the lawyers of his father's corporation, indicating that they had executed the will in accordance with Howard Hardman's final wishes. It included a copy of the will, which divided all of Howard's assets among the corporation's board of directors. A stinging footnote in the will, was a single highlighted sentence that read: 'To my son, Issac Hardman, I bequeath only my everlasting pity.'

Trucy seemed especially insulted by the letter, when she found it tucked away in Issac's desk. He hadn't wanted to share the news with her, but she found out anyway and was livid that she Issac wasn't getting his due inheritance.

By the time Monday had come around, Issac was actually glad for the distraction.

The doorbell rang and Issac went to answer it. The hypnotist Harold Guzman 'Extraordinaire' stood at the door. The man had the look of an entertainer all right. Perfect hair, a little too dark a tan, and stage clothes.

Issac had to wonder what help, if any, this man could actually offer. Trucy seemed excited about it though, and after some small-talk in the parlor, Harold set up a chair and explained how the process was going to work.

"Now, Mr. Hardman," he began, "You will sit in this chair and I will induce a near REM-like state in you. It will be through this state, that you will re-live your lost memories. During the session, you will subconsciously describe what you are seeing/experiencing, and I will record it."

"When the session is over, I will play back the recording, and hearing it, should trigger the permanent return of your memories."

"Any questions, Mr. Hardman?"
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killa_robot

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #37 on: July 28, 2016, 09:32:35 pm »

"No," Issac replied, sitting in the chair. He then looked at Trucy. It seemed odd that she still cared to go through with all of this, let alone that she was excited. While he certainly cared about what happened during that night, she didn't exactly have anything to gain from it.

Regardless, he was curious enough that he had to take this chance to figure out what actually occurred.

There's no way this could end badly after all.
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BerkaZerka

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #38 on: July 29, 2016, 11:26:21 am »

The hypnotist, Harold Guzman, took out a watch and began swinging it slowly in front of Issac's face.

"Listen to my voice... You are getting sleepy..." he droned; "When I count to ten; you will be asleep... yet you shall hear my voice and follow my instructions, 'to the letter'."

"One."

"Two."

"Three..."

'Really?' Issac found himself thinking, 'How cliché.'

---

The lock was surprisingly hard to turn, being quite stiff. Isaac imagined that it would be virtually impossible with a normal-sized key.

Opening the door, a waft of bitter incense assailed his nostrils - something he instinctively knew was probably best not inhaled, if at all avoidable.

The staircase beyond the door was lined with a number of ornate brass candle stands, upon which sat huge squat candles with fat ropy wicks. The flames licking up from them burned with an oily sputter, sending ripples of the toxic smoke Isaac was smelling into the air. The candles themselves were a glossy blackish-red and seemed to have bits of a woody substance throughout (no doubt the heady incense taking a toll on Isaac's sinuses).

At the top of the stairs was a wood and glass French door. It had a long brass handle and was closed, with a red curtain drawn over it on the other side. Dim flickering light could be seen filtering through the curtain, as the strange sounds of sitar music drifted down the stairs from the room above.

This all seemed the makings for a séance... What the heck? Did they intend for Isacc's father to read the will himself or something?!?

---

Issac continued up the stairs to the door. Roger did come off as a rather creepy person, so maybe this was just how he liked to decorate his office. If he did try and pull something, Issac could simply leave and call the authorities.

"I wonder who Mr. Blumenthal is," Issac found himself thinking as he climbed the stairs. Roger had mentioned he would be here as well, and his name is on the building. Issac could only hope he was less creepy than Roger.

---

Opening the door at the top of the stairs, Issac went in.

Something about the floor was off, but before he could even look down, the oddity of what he was seeing, right in front of him, caused him to freeze in his tracks.

The room was a richly appointed office space, lavished with ornate paneling, dark-stained wood accents, columns of heavy-laden bookshelves, a stamped-tin tile ceiling, and a huge black desk facing the door.

More of the ornate brass candle stands, with their huge squat candles and fat ropy wicks, sat in each corner. Casting their eerie glow about, they filled the place with a cloying smoke that seemed to dance with the sound of the sitar music playing in the background.

Behind the desk sat a man that Issac had not seen before, but he resembled Roger Blume in both build and manner - only being much older looking. He smiled at Issac's discomfort, seeming to enjoy it with an almost wicked glee. Mr. Blumenthal, it would seem.

Between the desk and the door (in the center of the room), Roger Blume stood, next to a wide brass brazier filled with glowing red coals and - Oh God - was that a hot branding iron?!?

It was!

Every instinct Issac had, was telling him to flee this strange scene immediately - but his legs were not responding in his shock! He couldn't even turn to face the door, which he could now hear creaking shut of its own accord. His heart sank with the loud click of the latch engaging the doorframe.

A primal fear gripped Issac - something in him knew, without a doubt, that these men meant to do him grave harm. Try as he might, all he could do was stand there, stammering for a moment, like a dear caught in the headlights.

"So glad you could make it," Roger Blume smiled, which seemed to give Issac his head and voice back.

The floor still felt off, so he glanced down. Oh no! He was standing on plastic sheeting, rolled out over the fancy rug beneath!
« Last Edit: July 29, 2016, 10:33:56 pm by BerkaZerka »
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killa_robot

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #39 on: July 29, 2016, 03:54:53 pm »

Issac attempted to take a step back, begging for his legs to listen to him.

"What the hell... is this?" Is all he managed to say in between laboured breaths. This was too surreal. Who the hell are these people? Is it some sort of cult? Is he about to be made some sort of sacrifice?
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BerkaZerka

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #40 on: July 29, 2016, 05:28:43 pm »

Issac managed to shuffle back a few inches - before abruptly going ridged once again. It felt as if a giant unseen hand had just clenched around him, rooting him to the spot.

"Mr. Hardman," Roger went on, "Forgive the theatrics, but we once gave your father Howard Hardman a gift. One that he used quite well to his advantage. It was, shall we say, 'the secret of his success', haha!"

"It was your father's will, to pass this gift on to you. It is your father's legacy after all. Your inheritance."

As Roger Blume spoke, Mr. Blumenthal just sat there behind his desk, still looking amused at Issac's apparent consternation.

"This gift increased your father's wit," Mr. Blume continued, "his ability to manipulate fools, and gave him a golden tongue."

"It gave him an 'air of belonging', allowing him access to restricted areas - not because he belonged there, but because he looked like he belonged there, and was too intimidating to stop."

"It made him 'larger than life'. So much so, that no enemy would dare to make an overt move against him."

"It made him 'better than everybody else', turning the odds to his favor in any venture or risk."

"It let him 'know what his enemies knew', causing them to forget they ever knew it themselves."

"It gave him 'the power to cast down foes' before him - rendering them powerless before his might!"

"Your father wanted you to have this gift Issac, so that you could stop wallowing in mediocrity and finally appreciate what it was to be a success in life."

Stepping forward, Mr. Blume touched Issac on the shoulder. As before, his touch was cold, even through Issac's shirt.

"Mr. Hartman, what is your date of birth?"

Issac floundered. He couldn't recall. Probably due to all the weirdness going on at the moment.

"Your birthday is December fourth, nineteen eighty four. I know and you do not, because I just stole it from you."

"See? A small sample of the gift we offer."

Then handing a pen and index card to Issac, who found himself taking them without thought - was he even controlling his own limbs? - Mr. Blume suggested, "better write the date down, since you will have to re-learn it eventually."

Issac found himself writing, 'My birthday is Dec.4th, 1984', on the card; and then tucked it into his breast-pocket, behind his handkerchief.

Once again his arms went limp and the pen dropped to the floor by his feet.

"Should you accept this gift - and let's be honest, why would anyone refuse it? - there is a certain amount of 'upkeep' required to maintain it. But you get used to that sort of thing after a while. The key point to remember in this case, is that the ends really do justify the means, haha!"

"What do you say Issac? Do I have your attention yet?"
« Last Edit: July 29, 2016, 05:31:57 pm by BerkaZerka »
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killa_robot

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #41 on: July 29, 2016, 07:35:01 pm »

Issac glared at the two men. None of what they were saying made any sense. None of what was happening made any sense. Why couldn't he move? These men seemed to be able to manipulate Issac against his will. Such a thing shouldn't be possible. Maybe he's being hypnotized? Issac had heard of hypnotists capable of manipulating people simply by handing them things. Perhaps that was the trigger that allowed them to plant the suggestions that he was being controlled by now.

No, such a thing just isn't possible in the real world. His actions right now could only be rationalized by his fear. He was simply unable to do anything other than what these men wanted him to do due to the shear amount of fear he felt. Issac knew the situation was bad, that he was in mortal danger. Obeying their will kept them from harming him, for now.

"You have my attention..."

Even still, despite rationalizing this was all the result of fear, the only thing Issac could feel was anger. His father was dead and yet he still was managing to ruin the lives of others. How typical of him, the bastard. These men knew his father. It seems they even helped him. They must be like him. There's no way Issac could trust them.

"... and I don't want to be anything like my father. Whatever this 'gift' is, I don't want it," he replied, his gaze fixed on Mr.Blume.

"It seems we won't be discussing my father's estate after all. If that's everything you have to say, I'll be taking my leave."
« Last Edit: July 29, 2016, 07:40:19 pm by killa_robot »
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BerkaZerka

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #42 on: July 29, 2016, 10:31:50 pm »

“You fool!” Mr. Blume spat, his smile instantly replaced with a clenched snarl.

The countenance of the man behind the desk also darkened. His mirth gone, he now glared at Issac with a stone-faced distain; looking very much like a judge about to hand down the death penalty.

“You have no idea what you are dealing with my impudent little worm!” Mr. Blume hissed, “But I will elucidate the matter further!”

Snatching the cherry-red branding iron out of the brazier, Mr. Blume regained his smile. Only it wasn’t a friendly one. It was more like the sadistic grin of a problem child about to do something unspeakable to a helpless puppy.

Once again, Issac’s mind screamed for flight, but he was stuck fast – unable to move or even defend himself in any way.

Beads of nervous sweat formed on Issac’s brow as Mr. Blume slowly brought the brand closer and closer. Issac could see that it was some kind of pentagram-like symbol, about the size of a half-dollar coin.

*K-SHHHHHHhZZzzz…

“AIEEE!!!” Issac screamed, as the hot metal seared into his forehead. The pain was blinding and the smell of burnt flesh now mixed freely with the toxic smoke of those accursed candles.

It was more than enough to force the contents of Issac’s stomach up - and Mr. Blume, apparently anticipating it, had stepped to the side – as Issac hurled all over the floor in front of him.

‘Fark,’ Issac though heaving, 'that explains the plastic sheeting over the rug - unless they mean to kill me too…’

“Now look to whom you speak and cower!” Mr. Blume laughed, sweeping an arm toward the massive black desk.

There, behind the desk sat no man – but a baleful demon – straight from the bowels of hell!

It was huge, like some bull-chested gargoyle, with sweeping black wings, and great scabrous scales, covering its form like dried hunks of charcoal. It had the head of a ram, only huge, like the stump of an old tree. Upon its temples were two sets of red coiled horns. Its eyes were of dancing flame and fire could be seen burning in its grinning maw of overlarge teeth. Smoke, and the spittle of cinders, rhythmically pumped from its wide nostrils, as it appeared to breath in and out slowly. Behind it snaked a spiky forked tail, wrapping itself python-like around the posts of the wrought iron throne that it sat upon. Even in the seated position, the monster towered over seven feet!

Then Issac noticed its massive arms resting upon the desk. They rippled with taught muscles as thick as a man’s chest. In one great clawed hand, the fiend held a heavy chain. Following the chain with his eyes, Issac could see that it went across the floor and then up to a spiked collar around Roger Blume’s neck.

A number of ghostly black shades danced around the chained man – if there was anything actually human left in him at all. His eyes however, they were no longer human – but hollow black pits. And the skin on his face was stretched way too tightly, pulling his lips well back, to reveal a perma-grin of parched and receding gums.

Issac’s head reeled! His mind couldn’t take any more of this! He wanted to faint dead away – but something was forcing him to remain conscious – like the psychic equivalent of toothpicks jammed between his eyelids!

“Last chance,” the thing that was Mr. Blume threatened, “Accept this gift! Accept our offer! Accept the legacy of your father!”

Intuitively, Issac knew that to accept anything from this demon would come at the cost of his very soul. They might kill him if he refused, but at least he would die his own man – a free man – unchained…
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killa_robot

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #43 on: July 29, 2016, 10:50:21 pm »

A demon. A real, live demon sat before Issac. There was no way any of this could be true, but Issac was forced to accept it as reality. Though he wouldn't have put it past his father to literally sell his soul to a demon in exchange for what he had.

Guess I won't be leaving that easily... He thought to himself.

"I reject your gift... and the legacy of my father," Issac replied, wincing in pain and struggling for breath as he did. His head still throbbed more than he thought possible, but complaining about the pain wouldn't help the situation.

".... And I hope the two of you burn in hell, alongside my father. You assholes deserve nothing less," he added, glaring at what was once Mr.Blume yet again. He didn't want to die, but Issac was powerless in this situation, and he sure as hell preferred death to the current alternative.
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BerkaZerka

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #44 on: July 30, 2016, 02:05:26 pm »

"Huuurrr huuurrr huuurrr ..." The demonic form behind the desk seemed to chuckle slowly, as licks of fire and cinders accompanied each low rumbling guffaw.

The thing that was Mr. Blume seemed to cower at the sound; and immediately slinked around behind the desk, to stand with head bowed low, beside its master.

'That can't be a good sign,' Issac thought; 'Here it comes ...'

Uncontrollably wincing at the prospect of receiving some hell-fiend's wrath, Issac watched, as the demon opened its mouth wide - and unleashed a bellowous roar!

Sallow gray light erupted from the flaming orifice - immediately washing out the entirety of Issac's vision and filling his soul with paralyzing dread! What was happening?!? Issac had never felt such heart gripping terror!

He was helplessness against it. It was like standing in front of the ocean and trying to stop the incoming tide with an outstretched hand! Against this, Issac felt woefully insignificant...

---

The next thing Issac knew, he was hearing a voice, calling to him, as if from a void. "Mr. Hardman? Can you hear me? Mr. Hardman?"

The words seemed so far away, but Issac let his consciousness latch onto them - straining to bring them closer. "Issac! Wake Up! Issac!"

Opening his eyes, Issac found himself back in his living room, seated in the chair that the hypnotist Harold Guzman had set out for him earlier.

Trucy was holding Issac's hand; the look on her face a mixture of worry and thrilled exhilaration.

The hypnotist Harold Guzman frowned, shaking his head. "My sincerest apologies Mr. Hardman," he explained, "You have a remarkable imagination in there, but I wasn't able to put you deep enough under to surpass it."

"I am afraid, that with they way your mind reacts to hypnosis - truly a remarkable defense mechanism, I must admit - I will not be able to recover your lost memories after all."

"Still. Wow! That was amazing! Mr. Guzman!" Trucy gushed.

Then to Issac, she said, "just wait till you hear the story we recorded! I mean, wow darling! You really do have some wild fantasies in there haha!"

Issac was pretty sure that wasn't just his imagination - it had all been way too real. And he wouldn't need to hear the recording. He now had perfect recall of everything that had transpired at Blume & Blumenthal's office last night.
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killa_robot

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #45 on: July 30, 2016, 02:28:54 pm »

Issac felt like he had just awoken from a nightmare in a cold sweat. He was certain that just a moment ago he was about to die. It felt so real... because it had to have been real.

"That's... quite alright Mr.Guzman," Issac began, his hand moving to his forehead to feel for the pentagram-like symbol. "If that's how my imagination will react, it's probably best if I didn't know what happened. Besides, my father's will has already been sorted by now. This was merely to satisfy my curiosity."

With that, Issac stood up. "Thank you for coming. If you could show him out, Trucy, I think I'm going to lie down," he added, leaving the room without waiting for a response. While he knew what happened that night, Issac still didn't know how it all ended. What happened after that demon roared? How did he make it out of there? How did he get back to his house?

As he exited the room he reached for the card that told him his birthday. Maybe now he'd finally be able to recognize it.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2016, 02:34:42 pm by killa_robot »
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BerkaZerka

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #46 on: July 31, 2016, 05:57:10 pm »

Looking at the card, it still seemed wrong to Issac somehow. It was really gone - as if he had never known it - Mr. Blume had stolen the memory right from his mind.

On the bright side, he knew Trucy's birthday and a handful of others. That meant there was no reason he couldn't relearn his own with a little effort.

---

Arlington Virginia; Monday April 11th 2016
With all the pressure Issac seemed to be under, following the death of his father, Trucy suggested he take time off, in order to 'get his head back on straight'.

Considering the surreal nightmare Issac had gone through with Blume & Blumenthal, it hadn't taken much to convince him - and the two of them flew down to Miami Florida for a week to unwind.

As far as the office was concerned, it was bereavement leave; but for Issac, it was a chance to forget unpleasant things and get life back to normal. For Trucy of course, it was just an excuse for another vacation.

By Monday morning, Issac felt like his old self again, and even went into work early.

Taking the elevator up to his floor, Issac passed his secretary's desk (she wouldn't be in for another thirty minutes), made himself some coffee, and went into his office. It wasn't some fancy corner arrangement - or a penthouse, as his father would be accustomed to - but it was respectable, for middle management, and private.

A woman was waiting for Issac by the large plate-glass windows to the side of the room, looking out over the streets. Damn... so much for 'private'.

'Now what?' Issac wondered, experiencing a sudden nervous recollection of all the weird shit that had happened to him last week. Thoughts of Mr. Blume branding him in the forehead flashed through his mind. He unconsciously reached up and felt that spot, where the scar would be - had the brand actually left one.

The woman turned to face Issac. She was comely, but not overly so, a brunette, wearing a long black skirt with a white blouse.

'Must be one of the secretaries from upstairs,' he realized, feeling the anxiety slowly beginning to abate.

The woman smiled with perfectly white teeth and spoke with a friendly voice - "Issac Hardman, my name is Sarapheen. I am here to talk to you about what happened at the Office of Blume and Blumenthal the previous Friday night."

"I am afraid that they will not let you go as easily as it seems. But I am here to help you rid yourself of them and their influence forever."
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killa_robot

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #47 on: July 31, 2016, 06:52:01 pm »

"Sarapheen? What a strange name." Issac thought to himself as he headed over to his desk. The only people who knew about that night were Trucy and that hypnotist. This was likely another attempt by his well-meaning girlfriend to make sure he was over it.

"I'm not sure what you've heard, but I can assure you nothing as exciting as what you were told occurred on that night," he explains, placing his coffee on the table. If this was a setup by Trucy though, he should at least humour the woman.

"But I'll bite. How is it that you hope to rid me of 'them' and 'their influence'? You're not another hypnotist are you?"
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BerkaZerka

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #48 on: August 01, 2016, 02:08:06 pm »

"No, I am not a hypnotist," Sarapheen answered, stepping in front of Issac's desk to face him squarely.

"I am an Angel Issac," she proclaimed; and began to radiate a marvelous white glow, with golden wings of light rising up behind her and a fiery burning halo appearing above her head.

"I am the diametric opposite of Blumenthal and his lackey Blume," She went on to explain - and it was true - where Blume and Blumenthal's manifestations had induced great fear and panic, Sarapheen's display invoked feelings of security and peace.

"You have had a glimpse behind the curtain Issac," the angel went on; "an unfortunate consequence of your father Howard Hardman's dealings with the infernal."

"And while Blumenthal is playing by a specific set of rules, you are by no means free of him yet. But in this, I can help."

"I would that you become one of my Disciples Issac. That you help me purge the world of demonic influences, like Blumenthal and his ilk. To fight that battle in places I cannot go."

"If you accept this calling, you shall receive knowledge and power from on high, necessary to its fulfilling. You shall see the world as it truly is - the veil of man's ignorance forever cast from your eyes."

The golden wings of light and fiery burning halo then faded slowly from view. By all appearance, a normal human woman stood before Issac, once again.

"The choice is yours alone to make," Sarapheen said, "but you needn't make that choice uninformed. I am here to answer any questions you have, concerning these things, either way that you might decide."
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killa_robot

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Re: Sins of the Father (Issac Hardman Prolog)
« Reply #49 on: August 01, 2016, 02:24:52 pm »

It was true that everything about her screamed 'Angel', but even so, Issac questioned her motives rather than her existence. He had already seen demons, felt the overwhelming fear and despair that could only be explained by their otherworldly nature. To be told angels exist as well wasn't much of a stretch.

But Issac is a businessman. He knows all too well that if a deal if too good to be true, it is.

"Why? Why make me such an offer? I'm in shape, but I'm not much of a fighter. What do you stand to gain from me becoming your disciple?"

He could determine the how and plausibility of what Sarapheen was claiming later. First and foremost, Issac wanted to determine her motive.

"What makes you think I'm even capable of such a thing?"
« Last Edit: August 01, 2016, 02:28:31 pm by killa_robot »
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