Disclaimer: Resident Evil is the property of Capcom. I claim no ownership rights therein.
This was taking forever.
He sat on the steps to the yard, looking at the trailer. Took a swig of Johnnie Walker blue label; Old Man'd kill him if he knew Lucas was in his stash, but he was pretty sure he could replace all his booze with varnish and dad wouldn't notice the difference. His parents no longer had any appreciation for the good things in life. Just hung around the house, eating shitty rotten food, serving that little…
He'd wanted out of the goddamn house for a long time. Hell, before the storm. Before Eveline, right? Doing fucking yardwork on a goddamn plantation sucked. Wanted to be out a long goddamn time ago, and it just didn't fucking add up; he was bright, good at building stuff, gotten a degree from a good school, but he just couldn't get fucking hired. Had to stick around; under the Old Man's roof he had to follow the Old Man's rules, fucking jackass. He'd vent to Ma, she'd have some halfassed job search suggestion that wouldn't fucking work.
Now? The original house was fucking totaled, rotting. The new one was slightly better, but that wasn't saying much. Plus, the cellar and parts of the upstairs were starting to look real long in the tooth, too. He wanted out.
But he had a job to do. One with a big payoff promised. He had to just keep his eyes and ears open while the Boss's men wanted to know what Evie was up to, how she was doing. What the folks were doing. Keep doing that, and sooner or later he'd be out of this hole. Sooner rather than later, it looked like. Eveline wasn't doing all that well.
Still, he was trapped in a rotting house, stuck waiting on his little "sister" whenever Ma and the Old Man were too busy running other errands for her. Had to do it to maintain the 'façade of normalcy', the boss had said. Phones and internet didn't work either; aside from e-mails to the bosses they didn't want anything getting out. Really, whenever the folks weren't creating a mess he had to clean up it got real fucking boring.
Yeah, there was plenty of time to tinker and screw around with his projects. But it got boring. Testing out his inventions on watermelons or mannequins was fun and all, but really, it all got samey.
Of course, if he was lucky, he'd get a chance to have some fun with the "recruits" Evie wanted for her family. He didn't know why the kid kept at it; nobody really worked out. Granted, a lot of the time it was due to his parents losing their tempers or the guests getting a bit too clever and having to be put down, sometimes with Zoe sticking her nose into their business, but so far Eveline's "family" remained just her, the three of them, and maybe Mia and Zoe.
Kinda. Mia was either freaked out and trying to get away, apparently, she used to work for the same people he was working for; they weren't too keen on rescuing her, or she was just as crazy as Ma and the Old Man. She was Evie's favorite, sometimes he thought the folks resented her a bit for it. Whatever; the more she bugged Mia, the less she bugged him.
He had half a mind to ask the bosses what they wanted to do with Zoe. Since somehow, she wasn't with the program, despite what Eveline could do to a person and upwards of two years' time. Guess being a stubborn bitch just couldn't be brainwashed outta her. Evie's makers would have to figure that she could be important, but didn't seem interested for whatever reason.
Evie was her usual annoying little brat self, but she didn't suspect anything. Definitely didn't know that he was onto her little trick. Ma and the Old Man still treated her like the little girl she acted like. Had to watch the language around the little bitch, and bit his tongue when they talked about her illness like she wasn't a goddamn thirteen-year-old senior citizen. Hell, maybe she was younger than that; she came to them looking ten and was now eighty, who's to say how old she was?
Anyhoo, she shot up in age fast, and unevenly. Her hair turned white long before he spine got bent and her face got wrinkled, though those happened pretty quickly. And she still acted like a goddamn little kid. He could barely stand little kids, especially if their parents spoiled them. And Evie? The Old Man and Ma spoiled her rotten, moreso than the food they'd all been eating. Hell, he had to get in on the act, keep up the charade, and avoid being punished by his parents. Only instead of toys and movies, what little Eveline wanted was more and more people.
And he'd have to clean up the mess. Ma and Pa weren't too concerned with staying quiet, and more than once he'd have to chase some idiot through the bayou in the middle of the night to drag them back.
Sometimes he just wanted to get behind her wheelchair and give little sis a big ol' push down the steps. But again, duty called; couldn't do that. Had to play nice and avoid suspicion; both Evie realizing he wasn't with the program, and make sure nobody outside looked too closely. He tried, tried to convince the boss that with the number of people they were nabbing, that'd eventually fall apart. Some dumb cop was already snooping around every so often, ever since that one time, so they all had to play hide-and-seek to make sure the place still looked abandoned. Might as well cut losses and clean up the mess, but nope, had to play along.
So no pushing Eveline down the stairs. Had to make due with tying one of them college girls to an office chair and sending it careening into the basement. Not exactly a Goddamn Picasso like some of his projects, and definitely not getting rid of Evie, but damn it was fun. Especially when one of Evie's toothy little pets came on up to investigate the racket. That was priceless.
Okay, the job was annoying a lot of the time, but there were some definite upsides…
It had seemed like forever.
Almost nightly, well, not nightly, just whenever she fell asleep, Zoe had the dream. The day after the storm. They were all gathered around the table, Dad talking about the mess the storm made. He and Lucas were gonna check on the boathouse, she and mom were supposed to check on the house. He glossed over the original house, the one that sat on these lands for over a century; Mom had gotten misty-eyed seeing the state it was in right after the storm. All that family history... Dad assured her they could fix it, but it still hurt Mom. Lucas was his usual sullen self.
It was a normal breakfast for them. Maybe unusual that they were all at the table at once; not flitting in at different times to grab a bowl of cereal. But it was normal. Dad and Mom were themselves, kind, hard-working, willing to help anyone who came to their door, and Lucas… even if he was messed up back then, it was infinitely better than now.
Then she showed up.
Eveline was there. Eveline hadn't been there. They hadn't found Eveline yet. But she was there.
She was always trying to creep in.
It wasn't just that dream, although that one happened the most. Other times; thinking back when she broke her ankle, or when she was a little girl with the flu and Mama was checking up on her, Eveline would show up. Sometimes she's stay on the periphery, ruining a fond memory just by being there, an out-of-place monster invading her warm memories. Her just being there at graduation, or that family camping trip to Yellowstone would drain it of all its meaning.
Other times the dreams would go off track. Mom would start that maniacal cackle and lean in close, tearing at her throat while insects spilled out of her mouth and nostrils, crawling all over. Or instead of helping her up when she fell off the swing and hurt her ankle, Dad would grind his foot on the injury and laugh at her tears. Or Lucas… he was always still an asshole, just instead of just teasing her and doing petty sibling rivalry bullshit, it'd be worse. A lot worse.
Eveline was always trying to creep in. Whenever Zoe let her guard down, Eveline would show up. The trick was not to be caught off guard by her, which worked if she had a task at hand to work on. Something to focus on instead of that thing letting out a sing-songy "Siiiiister". Scrounging up supplies. Trying to talk the next person. Running from Mom or Dad. Sometimes she'd try and find Mia, although that was like a game of roulette; sometimes that woman would be on board with getting out but had no memory of anything helpful. Other times… she'd lost count of the times Mia'd tried to take a knife to her right after panicking and talking about getting out of the place.
But as dangerous as dealing with her family and Mia was, it kept her busy. When she wasn't doing anything, it got worse. Then Evie could show up much more easily. Get in much more easily. Steal her way into Zoe's head and show her all the sick things Dad and Mom and Lucas were doing and trying to make her do the same.
It felt like forever since she could last relax.
She couldn't leave, either. She tried, God she tried. She'd realized there was no way to save her parents or Lucas, and the best idea was to get away. A few times she'd managed to slip past the front, she'd have fucking walked to New Orleans if she had to in order to get away, but then things happened. Pressure would build behind her eyes and fire would run through her veins. It was gradual and obvious; the further she went, the worse she got. And one of them, usually Ma, ranting about her being an ingrate, would invariably show up and she'd have to give up. Eveline didn't want her to leave, even if she wasn't any fun to play with. She couldn't leave the family.
But she had to. Evie was wearing her down. Little by little, Eveline was managing to gain more and more of a foothold. It wasn't that she was alright while her family was insane; she was just getting there slower than the rest of them. And she didn't want to end up like them.
He was thinking.
Evie was going, sooner or later. Good riddance. He looked forward to her kicking. A big payoff, getting out of this shithole, and he'd be set. Hell, he had goddamn superpowers now. Maybe he wasn't as strong as the old man, but he was still strong enough to set up that rock trap by himself. And as much as losing an arm sucked, it'd suck a lot more if it was permanent. It'd be fun to figure out just what he could do when it wasn't jumping at the call of a bratty old woman. There was a whole world out there to play around with, a whole lot of people in the game when the deck was stacked in his favor.
He took a swig of whisky. First, he was going to fucking empty out a liquor store. After that…
Well, the possibilities were endless for him. Nice fat bank account and absolutely no responsibilities. There was a lot of things he could've been doing had he not had to stick around here. A lot of places he'd wanted to see that he never had gotten around to, because he was stuck here. Not just with Eveline, of course, but before her. Vegas, New York, Indianapolis. Plenty of places he'd rather be. He'd miss the place of course, lord knew how he could get nostalgic, but once he was outta here, he wasn't ever coming back.
Of course, being stuck here gave him some new hobbies he'd get to try out on the road.
Electricity was pretty underwhelming, all things considered. The dancing when the juice hit them was amusing, of course, but other than that you'd get a burn. And while he'd been able to fix up some pretty satisfactory generators, the fact they hadn't paid an electric bill on this rathole limited just how much power he could use. It'd be interesting to see just how much the voltage increase would help.
Stabbings, crushings, and maulings by Evie's little pets were usually spectacular. That thing with the rocks was fucking awesome, come to think of it. Look on the guy's face right when he realized he hit the tripwire, right when he thought he got out of the barn, was hilarious. Like Wile E. Coyote when he just realized he was off a cliff. Except he wasn't gonna be around for another shot at the roadrunner.
He tried catching something poisonous from the bayou, see what happened when somebody was bit. Was it the red-and-yellow-and-black snake or the red-and-black-and-yellow snake that was the Coral Snake? Wasn't the one he got, probably. He had trouble coaxing it to bite anyone, then it got moldy and died.
There was so much more to try when he got out of this house. He'd never seen much snow, and honestly, he'd heard interesting things about what frostbite did to people. When he got out, he'd have to try it to someone one winter.
When he got out.
That made him sad. He was getting himself so excited about leaving this place, then he remembered Evie was still alive, he still had a job to do for his douchebag bosses, Ma and Pa and Mia were still making things as complicated as possible. And sooner or later, they'd bring back some new people, and he'd be the one stuck with disposing of them when they didn't work out.
Admittedly, that'd be fun.
There were so many things to think about.
She'd been considering it for a while.
The gun was an old .45 automatic. An "American classic" according to her father; God made man, John Browning made them equal. He had made sure she and Lucas had a healthy respect for firearms growing up; she'd shot off the .45 at the range more than a few times. She pulled back the slide, bullet was in the chamber.
She was going to get Eveline out of her head.
She took in a deep breath and opened her mouth. Taste of metal on her tongue as she tried to work out the best angle. Brainstem controlled breathing, right? Straight back would work. Then again, a .45 tearing through her skull would probably do the trick no matter the angle. Somewhere in the back of her mind, Mom… as she used to be, not like she was now, was scolding her for getting mud and grass stains on her Church clothes.
There was a video, Lucas had found it on the internet years back. Showed it to her, he was always showing her screwed up bullshit he found on the computer. The video was of politician giving a rant, before pulling out a gun, putting it in his mouth, and pulling the trigger. He had a big hole in the top of his head, and blood was leaking from it and his nose. She cringed a bit as her brother let out a whoop. She asked him what movie it was from.
Apparently, it wasn't from a movie.
She smelled oil; she had freshly cleaned the gun. Cleaning guns gave her something to focus on. Her hands trembled a bit. She rested her finger on the trigger.
Evie was watching. Out the corner of her eye, she could see that thing leaning forward, looking excited. Not that she would've expected the psycho to try and talk her down, but she didn't have a headache, didn't feel a burn. Evie didn't want her to leave, but was just going to let her…
Dad had carved himself open, hadn't he? Tried to drown Mom, then took a knife and slid it across his chest. Then there were the times she heard gunfire in the house when they had kidnapped someone. And Lucas stomping out to the barn, holding a severed arm… his severed arm… and cursing the old man under his breath like Dad had thrown out one of his projects was pretty common. She once had to defend herself from Mia when the switch got flipped, and a few hours later, she saw the woman, one-hundred percent "fine", as much as things could be fine here, sane, and being chased by Ma. Things that should've killed them or left them crippled didn't bug them.
She coughed, the front sight of the gun pressing into her tongue.
She took a course on bioterrorism once. She needed an elective, and with the way the world was looking, the course looked useful. It wasn't, but she did get an A on the final research assignment. One of the few things that had stuck was that a lot of monsters that could survive a gunshot wound to the head. Some could even get better from it right fast.
That's what Mom, Dad, and Lucas were.
That's what she was. Whatever made Evie tick, whatever turned her parents and brother into murderous psychopaths, whatever twisted Mia into a rampaging berserker, it was in her.
She pulled the gun out, running her tongue along her top teeth. Took a deep breath and glared at Evie.
The fucking thing pouted. "Red's my favorite color."
Zoe let go of the gun, letting it drop to the floor. Ran a hand through her hair. Did she want to kill herself, and Evie just wanted to watch? Or did Evie want her to shoot herself, and she went along with it? She fished out her lighter and scoured the room for a cigarette. She needed a fucking smoke. "Maybe not today."
"C'mon, you'd get better!" Evie whined. That was good. Her being a brat made it easier, she wasn't trying to sneak in anymore, she was just bashing her face against a gate. "If you'd just try it, you'd see! You'd be fine. You'd be okay, Dad's tried it!"
"My father just does any dumb thing you want him to now, don't he?" Zoe muttered, flicking the lighter. The flame danced, and for a second Zoey had an urge to just burn it; burn the fucking trailer and herself inside it. She took a deep breath, dropped her cigarette, and closed the lighter. Maybe smoking could wait a minute. "He and Ma and Lucas."
"Our daddy." Eveline corrected. Then corrected again. "My daddy."
Zoey grimaced. She was angry. This fucking thing. It stole her parents. It stole her brother. It was doing its best to rob her of everything. And she would have none of that. Maybe there wasn't a way out. Oh yes, there was that serum that Mia wrote a note about; the one that she wasn't able to get the ingredients for because of Ma. Would it work? Maybe, maybe not. She didn't really think it could work, much less she'd be able to get to make it. There wasn't really any rational hope left that she could get free.
But fuck it, she was going to hold out, if only to spite the little monster. "Get out of my trailer."
"Make me" Eveline said, crossing her arms and grinning. Looking smug and petulant and Zoe hated nothing more than her. Zoe picked the gun back up, and glared at Evie again. This wasn't real. The thing in front of her was just Evie messing with her head. She wasn't actually in the room with Zoe. So she'd stay in the room as long as she wanted, because Zoe couldn't kick her out.
Eveline's eyes brightened when Zoe picked up the gun, but she deflated when Zoe took a deep breath and headed out.
He was thinking things out. The rock trap was fun, but it was time to come up with something new. He wanted something new. Maybe it was time to try something with fire? They did do a fair share of cremations, hell, fire was fun. Even before this whole thing, he liked fire. But he'd never torched someone alive. Hm… next time they had some new people, he'd see about just soaking them in gasoline and lighting them. Nah, the best part was when they got themselves killed thinking they had a way out… what if….
His careful deliberations on his next project were interrupted the door to Zoe's trailer being kicked open and her stomping out of it. His sister glared at him, then stomped off, towards the ruined old house, cautiously looking over her shoulder to make sure he wasn't pursuing.
Eveline's shrill whining, suddenly right behind him, made him jump. "Zoey's being mean to me!"
"She's like that a lot, Evie." His face twitched. She startled him a lot; something to do with being able to be anywhere, any time, he guessed. He looked around; the old woman wasn't nearby, it was just the kid version of Eveline. The hallucination. "Always stubborn. You know that."
"It's not fair. She never does anything fun!"
He couldn't deny that. Zoe was still herself. Fucking holier-than-thou. Didn't seem to even realize there were no consequences for her actions… she'd be a lot more tolerable if she wasn't always trying to fuck things up. Although, honestly, it was endlessly amusing fucking with her; leave a severed arm in her room in the house, leaving a radio playing his "greatest hits" on full blast out of her trailer, that sort of thing.
Still, if it was annoying Evie, he'd have to play ball and be the good big brother. "What did she even do this time?"
"She was going to shoot herself, then decided not to when she found out I was watching, she stopped!"
Maybe it was the alcohol talking, but that was hilarious. Zoey was the mean one for not letting Eveline goad her into killing herself. Well, that'd would've been the end of one headache.
"Stop laughing!" Eveline pouted. "Daddy did it, and he's okay! And you've lost your arm how many times? She'd be fine! And she won't even try it."
Once again, he wondered what'd happen if he tracked the old woman down and tossed her down the stairs.
Honestly, he was surprised Zoe hadn't tried to off Eveline herself. Like, what did she have to lose? Mom and Dad already couldn't stand her… heh, her being the black sheep ever since Evie came was a nice change of pace. But nope, Zoe just sulked around the manor, dodging their parents whenever they took umbrage with her. For their parts, Ma and Pa would talk a great game about punishing her for being such an ingrate and where did they go wrong and blah fucking blah, but really didn't follow up.
Fuck, as a practical matter he'd probably ended up on the receiving end of their parent's wrath more often than Zoe did. Sucked having to stay close.
Eveline interrupted his thoughts again. "She's never any fun!"
Why keep her around then? Evie probably could've killed her, or gotten Ma and Pa to get serious about disciplining Zoe, but all that happened was she'd piss them off, run or hide away for a while, never actually escape or call the cops or anything, then return to skulking about like a skittish cat. He bit his tongue and asked Evie. "And what do you want me to do?"
"Make her play a game! Something" She whined. God, she was annoying. "Like you do with other people."
He opened his mouth to say that he didn't have anything ready at the moment then paused. Now, there was a thought. Most of his playmates were only good for one puzzle. After that, they'd just be trash to get rid of. Girl at the bottom of the stairs wasn't getting up, guy with the rocks wasn't getting up. But Ma, Pa, Mia, and he were all sterner stuff than that; he'd been dismembered enough times to know that. Of course, there was no way of sending them through a gauntlet without ending up hacked to pieces himself. But Zoe… nobody in the family would mind if something bad happened to Zoe.
It had been a long time since he played games with Zoe. He used to end up having to occupy her when Ma and Dad were busy, when they were grade schoolers. Checkers was fun, he never bothered to learn the rules of Chess, but checkers was great. He was better than it than she was, and never failed to suggest a rematch after he won. Until a few years down the road she started to win as much as she lost. He'd had better things to do then.
Huh, Eveline was making him all nostalgic now. His lips curled upwards. Zoe had to be infected, no way she could've spent so much time here without that. So they'd play a game, and have a rematch. And again, and again. "Zoe's headed for the old house?"
"Uh-huh." The little girl said, hands on hips, looking surprisingly serious. It was something he did a lot, ask her a question he knew the answer to. Evie "helping" him made her feel important, and that kept him in her good graces. He was the dumbfuck she'd brainwashed into being his big brother after all, so of course she had to think she had all the ideas.
He drained the rest of the bottle, wiped his mouth with his sleeve, then hurled it at the trailer. Maybe he should've saved it; filled it with something and slipped it back in dad's liquor cabinet, but eh. The wheels were spinning now. They'd start off small, then scale up… then he reminded himself, first things first, he had to catch her, and given what Evie said, she had a fucking gun. The old man might find getting shot hilarious, but he didn't exactly understand the appeal. Work smarter,harder after all. "Keep an eye on her for me, okay? I'm gonna try something."
He was so happy, even Eveline's emphatic "Hurry up." Didn't sour his mood.
He turned and headed for his warehouse. Before Evie could protest, he explained "I've gotta get some things ready. But don't you worry, Evie, I have a plan."
What he had were some disjointed ideas that were about evenly split between doing violence to Zoe and doing violence to Eveline. Of course, since he couldn't get deal with Evie, that just meant he'd have to apply those ideas to Zoe. What kinda big brother would he be if he didn't give his sister a hard time?
Just something to think about to pass the time.
I wrote up two little pieces for a thread on Spacebattles shortly after the REVII came out focusing on the Baker Siblings, then realized that combining the two might be a bit interesting.
Then I promptly got incredibly lazy and did nothing with it.
Then Capcom went and announced End of Zoe, and I went "…waaaait, didn't I have something involving bad things happening to Zoe on my flash drive?"
Lemme know what you think.