Intracranial Snowfall

Adrift Entry #1

rating: +4+x

His greedy hands reach out.

Tightly, they grasp onto the cold glass jar.

Carefully… the lid fights his prying, making him put more effort into it than he would like, carefully…

… he opens it.

The metallic scrape of the lid as he tries to gently twist it off makes him jump, almost dropping it.

He looks over to the bedroll laying on the ground, trying to steady his ragged breathing. Still sleeping, undisturbed.

Though it couldn't be seen beneath the wraps of cloth around the culprit's head, he was grinning wildly.

The thief quickly goes back to task, slowly unscrewing the lid the rest of the way, his mouth salivating.

It's off.

He has to steady his breathing once more, finding himself panting like a starved animal.

The scent wafts up from the now open jar, pungently sour. His nose instinctively wrinkles at the assault.

He holds the jar in one hand, sliding parts of the cloth on his face away from his mouth. The cold air immediately assaults his chapped lips and rotting teeth, cutting into them like knives, but he doesn't care.

He removes one of his gloves, careful to not let the jar slip as he tries to multitask. It too is met with the needles of cold now that its shielding is gone.

Slowly, he dips the naked hand into the jar, the cold liquid within only making the chill worse, but he knows his hand will go numb soon so it doesn't bother him.

The man fishes around, his fingers quickly bumping into a mass. It takes a few tries, the wet thing slipping out from between his jittery fingers, but eventually he takes hold of it, his few long fingernails digging into its flesh.

Slowly, slowly, he pulls it out, his exciting breathing rising once more alongside the sound of excess liquid falling back into the jar.

It's a strange, oblong green food, sliced into a wedge. He could swear he knows their name, but his brain is filled with fog and coated in hoarfrost, bashed and bruised.

He takes a silent bite of it, the exposed nerves under the worn enamel of his teeth protesting against its acidic nature. His tongue stopped working… at some point. He can't remember. He can't taste the thing, but the satisfaction of eating is enough to send chills down his spine, ones finally not caused by the wasteland's breath.

In his excitement, the jar slips from his hand, falling to the tarp floor with a crash, shattering.

He stands still for a moment as the liquid from within the jar soaks into his threadbare shoes.

It's that moment of stillness that does him in.

He tries to run out, but it's reduced to a hobble.

It's too late.

A burly and scarred hand missing two fingers grabs his shoulder as metallic teeth grin in delight.

Couldn't help it. Couldn't help it.

An emaciated man sits on a dirt floor in the corner of a tiny room, the walls made of rusted sheetmetal. Lines of rust are scratched off, blood soon replacing it as the scratches continue on across the walls. The caged animal licks his fingernails, cracked and bent. Tasting the iron. Lapping up the orange and grey. They'd cut the fingers off of his gloves, leaving them exposed.

Couldn't help it! Couldn't help it!

He cleans the eight fingers he has before drawing his knees to his chin once more, arms wrapping tightly around his legs, rocking gently. He knows he shouldn't do that, he's already gnawed on his knees enough to leave them raw and red, bleeding from points where a tooth broke through the skin. But he needs to keep the growling in his stomach at bay, he needs to hide it away before he makes poor decisions. So he keeps his mind off of it as best he can, resisting the urge to roll his pant legs up to gnaw.

Can't beg, can't let them know you're dying.

I'm dying?

He stops rocking for a moment, blinking quickly. A pressure grows in his chest, his eyes starting to burn hot.

no no no no no don't cry don't cry don't cry

He clenches his jaw, grinding the teeth he has left. He hears a crack, but doesn't know if it was his jaw popping or a tooth cracking. He feels so numb, the cold is sewing itself into his skin. Ice needles, frosted thread. He swears he can see it: the trills of vapor in the air weaving in and out of his flesh.

I couldn't help it I couldn't help it someone please please come save me I'm dying I'm dying I'm dying

He doesn't say this to anyone, it rises and dies in his brain. Rotting like the clothes on his back, patchwork and shoddy. The tears well up in his eyes in spite of his protests. The warm drops slide down his face before quickly freezing to his skin. The tears keep flowing, building up on his cheeks and below his eyes.

With every flex of a muscle on his face, the icy trail left behind by his tears cuts into his skin, not enough to bleed but enough to hurt. Enough to remember that they're there. The clench of his jaw gives way to chattering as he huddles closer to himself, the cold the penultimate enemy, restless and omnipresent. He tucks his head between his legs, desperate for warmth. They'd taken his comfort and cut off and ripped his hair out before throwing him in the punishment. He can see his bare feet, his shoes also confiscated. They're a hideous gradient, gray to purple to red to yellow. The soles of his feet and toes bathed in the gray and purple before slowly transitioning back into a pale yellow. They called him Gait after an injury that never healed right that made him walk awkwardly. If he made it out alive he would truly earn his name, he feared.

He hates the name Gait. They mock him with it, kicking his knees out and tripping him for their sick, twisted pleasures. If he ever showed a sign of normalcy in his walk, they'd beat and twist his leg until his screams turned to whimpers and tears, making sure that their beloved jester remained crippled. Oh, how they loved screeching with laughter about how his right leg twisted inwards from the knee down, making him hobble about the camp. Every jeer, every insult, he'll remember. He's forgotten so much in this life, so much of himself, but he'll never forget what they'd done to him. He'll slit their throats in their sleep one day. Poison their food. Steal their heat while they sleep so they freeze in the night. Tie them to their bed, gag them, cut their eyelids off, and make them watch as he gnaws their fingers off one by one. He laughs to himself, a guttural wheeze that sounds like a death rattle.

As he sits in an anguish suddenly gilded in a lust for retribution, the latches on one of the sheetmetal walls creaks in protest to being undone. The wall is pulled back, a rush of fresh air replacing the stale atmosphere of the punishment. Reeds, a thin and jittery woman, stands outside it, her wide eyes peering at sorry sight. One eye twitches as she sizes him up. She leans into the punishment, quietly whispering to him.


The lost mind doesn't respond, huddled in a world of his own.

"GAIT!" Reeds screams at the top of her lungs, jolting him out of his stupor.

"I'm free? Free to go?"

"Yeah, Yu says you can go. Not free though."

The perplexed simpleton tilts his head, squinting at Reeds. "Not… free? I can go, but not free?"

Reeds nods quickly, her dirty, crusty hair not moving an inch.

The animal who'd pissed in his cage stares back. "I don't wanna go."

"Yu says he wants to talk to you."

"Why doesn't he come here then?"

"He's scared of the punishment, probably."

"Seems unfair. Keeps putting folk in it."

Reeds shrugs. "Not my problem, never get put in the punishment."

He twists his numb face as best he can into a scowl. "You… do things for him. It's not fair."

"Whad'ya mean?" she asks, genuinely confused.

"Don't wanna say. It's awkward."


"People say nasty things about you. Whore."

"People call you gimpy. Kept calling you that even while you were in here."

The red-faced prisoner fights back tears once more, rage building. "I hate you," he manages to spit out between taunt lips and clenched teeth.

Reeds keeps blankly staring at him. He begins to cry again, losing the internal battle. She quickly leaves, no longer interested in him. She'd had her fun poking and prodding him and had done as she'd been told. The withering creature sits in the small box for a while longer, chewing on his thumb as he thinks about what Yu is going to do to him. He doesn't want to see Yu, but it was inevitable. The pathetic roach is living in Yu's existence, he has no choice.

As he crawls out of the punishment, he finds that they left his shoes and comfort in a pile outside of it. He hums an impromptu tune of his own making as he gleefully slips his decaying feet into the shoes and wraps the comfort around his head, leaving only his eyes exposed. The warmth and security the pieces brought him was overwhelming, he could've almost forgotten that he would soon be facing Yu. He still felt a cold core in his chest though, so cold it burned. Dread oozes within his skin.

The nervous creature stands in Yu's tent, waiting for him to arrive. There are places to comfortably relax, but he doesn't dare to sit in any despite his feet crying out in pain. If Yu came in and found him sitting down, he'd beat him within an inch of his life again. It was better to stand.

The temptations don't end at the seats: there were heat crystals scattered about that kept the room warm, preserved foods stashed away from drooling mouths, and shiny knick-knacks with no immediate apparent use. The kleptomaniac's hands twitch as he stares at the goodies, the instinct to hoard slowly overtaking over his remaining rationale. The stretch of time spent in the punishment fades from memory as his feet began to slide forward on the tarp floor of the tent, ready to sin again. The thief began to raise his hand up to grab a jar of some unknown goop when a growly voice came from behind him.

"Gait, what're you doing?" It asks coyly, speaking to him as if he were a disobedient pet.

The guilty party turns around, quickly twisting his arms in front of himself to try to hide his shameful hands. "Nothing."

Yu stands in the opening of the tent, the hot air within being sucked out into the cold through the open flap, grinning widely at his prey. His teeth are almost entirely comprised of fake ones, the remaining naturals yellow and pocketed with cavities. The artificial teeth are made of various kinds of scrap metal, the shaped pieces attached to his gums through various, brutal means. Some of the teeth were entirely rusted over, the attached flesh swollen and inflamed.

"Gait, Gait, Gait. You just got out of the punishment and you're already about to steal again?" Yu saunters into the tent, making his way towards a table piled with old, rusted tools.

"Wasn't gonna steal. Learned my lesson."

"That so?"


Yu sifts through the tools, his back to the nervous mass of shivering muscles. "I'm gonna be honest Gait, I'm still upset about you taking my food."

The man shifts in place, finding it hard to look at Yu, even just his back. "Was hungry."

"We're all hungry, Gait. Difference is, the others know their place."

"I'm sorry."

"I don't want 'sorry' Gait, I want what's mine."

Yu turns around from the table, holding a rusted pair of pliers. He taps them to his lips as he walks over to the thief, "But I can't exactly get it back, now can I?"

The two were now inches apart. The cowering fool caught the foul scent of Yu's breath, rolling out over a tongue that was scarred from cutting itself on his roughly cut metal teeth over and over again. Yu suddenly grabs the lesser creature's chin, using the other hand to push the man's comfort away from his mouth.

"Y'know, I thought for a bit about taking some these," Yu says as he taps the pliers on the subservient's teeth, "but I'll be damned if they aren't worse than mine!" Yu laughs. He sticks a dirty thumb in the man's mouth, pulling his jaw open. He takes the pliers and closes them on one of the man's front teeth, rhythmically squeezing it. The pressure on the pincushion's already degraded tooth hurts, groans and yelps rising up from his open mouth..

"It'd be so easy to just yank one of these out. Or crush it."

Yu squeezes the pliers more. The plaything writhes in place, his tongue futilely trying to slip the instrument from his tooth.

"But that'd be no fun. I've been getting bored of this whole thing, Gait. You were fun to push around for a while; hell, the only reason I didn't just kill you when I found you was because the people wanted a punching bag. But it's gotten boring, Gait. You don't even fight back anymore, you just sit there and take the abuse. It isn't any fun."

Yu twists the pliers a bit, just enough to make his toy shriek without loosening the tooth too much. He was trying to savor the moment.

"You don't kick and scream, you don't throw those pathetic punches like you used to, you don't do nothing. You just lay there and cry. Cry like the pathetic snow-eating mongrel you are, but denial is so much more entertaining than the truth."

Yu releases the pressure he had been applying, letting him slip away. The abused animal falls to the ground and crawls away, huddling underneath a table. Yu tosses the pliers back onto the pile of tools, sighing. "Since I can't get back the food you took from me and you aren't any good as entertainment anymore, I've decided to put you out to pasture with one final performance."

Crouching down, Yu reaches under the table where the coward is hidings and grabs his face again, turning it towards him. "I'm gonna drop you in the pit with Ebner. You win, you get to stay. You lose, I toss you out of the camp."

The mongrel's eyes widen, the name sparking memories of broken bones, spilled blood, and pleas for mercy. This wasn't a means to redeem himself, this truly was a final performance for the ungrateful masses that found such pleasure in his suffering. Yu lets go of his jaw, his head sinking back into the cradle of his knees as he squeezes his eyes shut, warding off reality. Wishing it gone, hoping the final bit of himself will slip off the edge.

He doesn't know how long he laid under the table, curled up, but eventually abrasive hands grabbed hold of him. Yu had brought in two of his muscled thugs to drag him away. The primal core of his brain, one of the only places completely untouched, kicks into overdrive and he begins kicking and screaming, clawing and biting as he fights his fate, but it's no use. The two drag the petulant rat out from underneath the table and grapple him, securing his hands in front of him with some rotting rope to keep him from thrashing about.

As they shove him forwards, out of the tent and into the open air, the rabid animal begins to gnaw at the rope around his wrists, drooling onto the old thread. The drool quickly freezes, making the task more impossible the more he tries. He becomes so focused on his chewing that he forgets to close his mouth often enough to keep the saliva in his mouth warm and he begins to feel the interior of his mouth freeze over, his tongue getting stuck to the bottom of his mouth. Still, he keeps trying to break through the rope and frozen saliva, blood pooling as he keeps tearing the soft tissue after ripping it away from being frozen to some part of his mouth. All he needs to do is close his mouth, let the fluid warm up, and quit trying to gnaw through the ropes, but he doesn't. He's so overwhelmed with fear that he lets himself fall further from his humanity, reduced to a rabid animal that will break its leg to escape a trap.

The sounds of a small gathering suddenly breaks through the one-man cacophony of growling and panting, taking the ensnared animal away from his task. They were close to the pit and it seemed that the rest of the camp was waiting. The execution dolled out to him by Yu hadn't been spur of the moment, it'd been planned for who knew how long. Though he'd gone completely still when he heard the sound, he just a quickly began thrashing again just as he had when they'd pulled him out from under the table, shaking and kicking, swearing up and down that he'd murder the two men who were dragging him to the pit. The crowd parts ways for the three, some spectators taking cheap shots at the jester as he passes by, most aimed at his crooked leg. They reach the edge of the pit and throw the entertainment in. He lands on his back, knocking the breath out of his weak lungs, the snow rapidly soaking into his ragged coat.

The pit is a hole dug into a slab of ice, the perimeter lined with sharp scrap metal that point inwards. There is only just enough room to allow two people to fight and deep enough that someone inside couldn't easily quickly climb out without skewering themselves or being pulled back down by their opponent. The man stumbles to his feet, his senses overwhelmed as the sound of the camp yelling at him piles on top of the crushing fear. His breathing grows rapid, eyes wide, adrenaline courses through his system. He doesn't bother to look around, assess the moment, before shuffling to a jagged piece of metal and sliding the ropes across it, the old stuff easily giving way. He's just managed to slip one hand free when he feels a hand grab his comfort and rip it away, leaving his scabbed, hairless head exposed. Swinging around, the man finds that his opponent is already in the pit, now holding something he holds dear. The ambient light from the heat crystals in Yu's tent had left his eyes unadjusted to the perpetual night that hung over the outside, but now they were back in working order and he can see with clarity the threat before him.

Ebner is a monster of a man. He's much taller than the other man in the pit, his burly figure hidden by the amount of clothing he wears to keep the cold out. His eyes are covered by goggles whose lenses were so roughly cut the observer couldn't help but wonder if his eyes were being stabbed whenever he saw him. Most peculiar about him is the loops of rags he wore, wrapping from the bottom of his head to the top multiple times over, his top-front teeth hanging over the bottom's edge.

Ebner throws the stunned animal's comfort into the crowd, ensuring that he'll never get it back even if he somehow won. But the inevitable failure knows that he'll never win, he's been a part of the crowd before, watching from above and screaming till his throat was raw as he witnessed another ragged wastelander get skewered on the metal or pummeled into a bloody pulp. Ebner's a fan favorite because he isn't just another fighter forced to duke it out, he loves to be in the pit. He takes pleasure in torturing his victims. The hypocrite had seen it time and time again, grinning and cheering as he watched Ebner brutalize his opponents, laughing and stomping his feet. Now he stands on the other side, facing down the very same torment he once derived entertainment from watching.

Animalistic instincts takes hold of him once more as Ebner begins slowly walking towards him, ever so slightly angled to his left to try to get a good position on him.

Predator stalking prey.

The man does what many prey do to try to survive: mimic a predator. He begins walking to his right, flicking his eyes up and down on his opponent. He tries to hide the rapid beating of his heart, the sweat that threatens to seep from his pores. He's confident, he's in control, he's unfazed by the hellish gaze of his opponent.

Ebner takes a quick few steps towards the faux-predator, feigning an approach, stripping away the prey's veneer as he stumbles backwards, slipping on the ice.

The crowd laughs at him. Ebner grins as best he can.

The jester scrambles to his feet, Ebner giving him ample time to recover. There was still more poking and prodding to be had, he wasn't ready to finish his entertainment off yet.

Trying to take him by surprise, the man suddenly rushes Ebner, screaming as he charges forward. He digs his shoulder into Ebner's chest, jolting him backwards, but nowhere near enough to knock Ebner off his feet. Ebner grabs hold of the assailant's neck before he can get away, pining it between his chest and bicep, squeezing tightly as he uses his free hand to beat the sack of meat.

The fist crashes into his face as he squirms, trying to slip free. He has no chance of breaking it through strength, so he has to try for a feat of dexterity.

His nose crumples under Ebner's fist, blood gushing out of it and quickly coating his lips and chin, creating an artist's red stroke of ice on his face. His eye is jabbed a few times by a wayward knuckle and his forehead feels as though it could cave in at any moment. He's slowly worming his way free from Ebner's grip, his ragged ear dragging on Ebner's chest catches a clothes pin before breaking away at the cost of some of the precious little cartilage left. His lip is smashed in again, a tooth comes loose in the fray. He just needs to wiggle a bit more, twist just the right way.

Finally, he slips through, reeling backwards, but the worm manages to catch himself before he falls this time. Now standing behind Ebner, the man has a brief window of opportunity while Ebner is still surprised that he managed to get away, so he takes it.

He leaps forwards and climbs up Ebner's back, clawing any exposed flesh he can, digging into it, creating his own clefts. The desperate blitzer wraps his legs around Ebner's chest and hangs onto his head, trying to pry away his goggles so he can gouge out his eyes. Ebner's muffled cries of surprise ring out as he pulls at the man's legs and arms. Every time he manages to pull one loose and moves onto the next one, it goes right back to attacking him.

The manic prey manages to slip his left index finger under the lip of Ebner's goggles, quickly worming its way towards the socket. He feels the dip inwards and plunges backwards, his nail digging into Ebner's now closed eyelid, trying to pry it open so he can get to the vulnerable, squishy bounty hiding within.

Ebner stops tugging at the gouger's limbs, giving him pause.

Then he begins moving backwards, quickly gaining momentum. He was going to skewer the prey on the scrap metal.

In the precious few moments he has, the man makes the choice to let go, using his legs to push off of Ebner's side, away from the perimeter, lest the inertia finish the job Ebner started. On his way down, the thief's hand grabs onto the cloth loops around Ebner's head, taking it with him as he crashes onto the well worn ice.

As he's tumbling on the ground, he hears Ebner cry out in pain. Looking up, the man sees that Ebner was unable to come to a complete stop, metal spikes stabbing into his back, arms, and legs, but it wasn't the end. Ebner pulls himself off of the metal, showing that they'd only gone in maybe a third of an inch in at the deepest. Ebner would most likely die in the coming days to whatever illness lay on the rusted metal, but that isn't good enough. He needs to die now.

What caught the gazer's attention more than the impalement was what had been revealed now that he held Ebner's cloth loops in his hands, now unraveled. Ebner's bottom jaw was entirely missing, the flesh near the skull black and degraded, his tongue hangs naked in the cold. It instinctively lifts up and pushes itself on the roof of his mouth to hide from the cold, but there was nothing to close it away. Already, unable to keep adequate pressure in the right places, saliva leaks from the sides of his mouth as it fights the dry air.

This was the most Ebner has ever been hurt in a fight. Fury courses through his veins. His goggles askew, tongue wriggling around, blood running down his legs and arms. The fallen jester tries to stand up to complete the fight, but finds that he tweaked something near his hip in the fall, causing a spike of pain to run through him as he lay flat again.

Ebner stomps to the him, his fists clenched tightly, eyes alight with the intent to kill. The punching bag tries to stand again, but the pain comes again and he slips.

Ebner towers over his prey as he lays in fear, staring up at him. Ebner places his boot on the weakling's neck, pressing down. The choking animal claws at the boot, gasping for breath. Ebner digs his heel in, leaning onto his knee. Every choked gasp brought with it more and more fear that at any moment his throat would collapse and that would be the end of it. Ebner leans down, bringing his face closer to the man's. A guttural laugh rises from his decayed throat, viscous saliva dripping down onto his face. Ebner puts more weight on the writhing creature's neck.

Before releasing.

Ebner grunts, taking his boot off of the man's throat. The nearly anoxic victim takes gasping breaths, coughing and rubbing his throat, poking and prodding as he searches for significant damage. He begins to lean up, taking it slow to try to avoid causing more damage, before Ebner rears back and kicks him in the cheek as hard as he can, sending him crashing back down to the ground.

Ebner laughs again, walking away to climb out of the pit.

The loser is awash with confusion, having just narrowly evaded death. Spared by the very same brawler who had executed many before him.

A voice calls out. "Get up Gait, it's time to go."

The confused animal lays with his cheek on the ground, the skin completely numb, as blood leaks from his mouth and pools on the ice.



Go where? Where am I going?


He slowly stands up, his head jumbled and thoughts disoriented as his adrenaline wanes.

I don't want to go. Not again.


The errant thought slips from his grasp, lost to the ether.

Yu stands at the edge of the pit, grinning madly as always.

"Your time's up, Gait."

He's been walking for what seems like hours to his cold addled mind. Wandering the barren wasteland.

Made an example of.

A threat to others, a deterrent.

His fate is a reminder that Yu is in charge.

The outcast trudges through the snow, eyes dead ahead at the blurring horizon. His arms hang limply by his sides. They'd been clasped to his chest before but he no longer felt the cold, he had even stopped shivering.

He was freezing, a slow progression that began with his drenched feet, snow leaking through patchwork shoes, and slowly climbed up his legs with clawed hands that numbed the flesh they dug into. None of it he felt anymore.

The stomps had turned to steps had turned to dragging. He isn't walking through the snow, he's pushing thought it.

I'll kill them.

He's walking away.

I'll slit their wrists with metal from the pit.

He doesn't turn his head.

Cut tendons.

Doesn't look back.

Depress windpipes.

He stumbles, falling into the snow.

The boiling pit of hatred slowly picks himself up, stray snow falling from his twisted form. The skin under his eyes is almost a deep hue of purple, contrasting bloodshot scleras.

I'll rip out his teeth. One by one.

Forward again.

I'll twist his leg until his knee is completely limp and loose.

Impulses call for a scowl, but deadened, dying muscles can't respond.

I'll let him hobble around, crying out in pain with every step.

His fingers twitch, almost betraying a sense of liveliness.

And I'll laugh and laugh and laugh.

His foot catches a stone hidden by the snowfall. He doesn't even feel the impact as he is slams into the icy drink, engulfed by the hellish sands of an endless void, a purgatory of white.

and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh

The snow melts into his eyes, his mouth, his nose. He can't hear anything anymore, save a voice that reverberates through the deluge.

And laugh?

Laugh until your lungs collapse?

His weak thoughts stop, he's overwhelmed as a presence saturates the world around him.

Is that what you want, Gait?

Gait. He hates that name. It drives him mad. He wants to scream.

Shh, shh… quiet now. There is no need for mindless anger, not yet.

There will be ample time for that.

For now, Gait, rest.

Gait. He hates that name.

Don't call me that.

Who are you then? Please, tell me.

Who is he?

The question lingers, weaving through his consciousness.

A strange calm washes over him.


I don't know.

Do you know?

That is not for me to decide.

I don't want to be Gait.

I'm not Gait.

Then you are not Gait.

Who're you?

I am not too unlike you.

A fledgling memory.

Left to rot in cold solitude.



I've forgotten so much.

And you will be forgotten.

The unnatural peace that overcame him gives way to dread.


Please help me.

I don't want to die.

I don't want to die.

I don't want to die.

I know, I know.

No one wants to meet an untimely end.

The snow gives way and he begins to fall downwards in to a pitch black void, the edges forming into a fractal pattern.

He falls down, down, down into the abyss of the fractal.

But that is simply the way of nature.


Your body is so frail.


Hanging on the edge of oblivion.

I can't die here!

The thread of your mind is worn, frayed, ragged.


You are so, so weak.


You do not have to be weak.

The voice is a cacophony now, spilling into every corner of his senses, filling them. He's falling, falling, falling…

You can be more.

The fractal never closes, never ends. Always descending, always falling away, a new horizon below the horizon below the horizon below—

Dulcet tones ring out, louder than the ones before it, leaving and leading him to oblivion.

So much more.

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