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Blood & Bourbon

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Milo I, Chapter IV

Sneaking Out

“Just tell me what I’m up against. Who’s doing this to me?”
Milo Glass

Date ?

GM: The darkness is patient.

It was there before the first lights went on in the universe.

It’ll be there after the last lights finally gutter out.

Milo opens his eyes. He thinks. He might as well have kept them closed. He stares ahead into that preview of after the end. Maybe his end. There’s a faint rustle.

“Wake up, kid.”

Milo: He already is.

“Where am I?” He does his best to keep his voice calm. “Who are you? FBI?”

GM: The darkness laughs. Rough and sore. Even a little hot. Like spent cigarettes flicked onto gravel.

“No. I’m not FBI.”

Milo: He calms himself. The worst has already happened, more or less. He just needs to roll with it.

“Oh. Good. Why did you abduct me from my apartment?”

GM: “I’m here to give you a piece of advice, Milo. And I want you to listen to me very carefully.”

Milo: Milo strains to see through the dark.

“Are you doing the thing where you giving me advice is really a roundabout threat, or do you genuinely wish for my well-being?” He pauses. “I’m sorry if that’s direct, I’m not really used to these situations.”

In another situation he might be embarrassed, but the words tumble out without any heed for his insecurities.

GM: It’s like trying to see past the end of the world. There’s nothing past. Nothing before. Nothing here.

Just the dark.

“I don’t need to make threats, Milo,” the rough voice answers. “The advice is yours to heed or ignore. And it’s this.”

Milo: Man. That is way cooler than anything I could come up with on the spot. Goddamn.

GM: “This business you’re tangled up in. Forget about it.”

Milo: Milo takes a deep breath. “The business of… who broke into my apartment?”

GM: “Milo, your life is in danger. Forget who broke into it. Forget the apartment. Crash with your folks until you find a new place. Better yet, skip town.”

Milo: Ohshit.Ohshit.

Aloud he says, “They came to my apartment. They choked me out.” His voice gets strangely hoarse, almost, for a second, like his father’s. “They used my brother’s name.”

There was no reason for him to be angry about that, maybe. But maybe if he’s as crazy as he suspects, he doesn’t need one.

GM: “Your brother’s dead, Milo,” the voice answers heavily. “You know that.”

Milo: Silence.

GM: “But you’re still alive. So, everything to do with this. Lock it up in the farthest, lifetime-paid anonymous storage unit of your mind and throw away the key.”

“Walk away. Live your life.”

Milo: For a moment, his interviewer might almost think he didn’t have anything to say at all. Then:

“What life?”

His hands tighten into little, impotent fists. “What life? The one where I can’t be happy for my best friend because I think his wife’s a spy? The one where I read one book, over and over, to remind myself of him? The one where that one fucking night ruined everything, and I don’t even get to remember it?”

He never yells. His isn’t a yelling voice. He doesn’t need to for every ounce of pain to hiss through.

GM: “Whatever life you make for yourself,” the voice answers. “That’s more than Malcolm can do right now. More than a lot of people can do.”

“We’ve all got problems. Only people who don’t are six feet under.”

Milo: His shoulders slump. “I’m not going to walk away from this. If you know what’s happening… I don’t know who you are. But you wouldn’t have told me to save myself if you didn’t care. If you can do this much, please. Just tell me what I’m up against. Who’s doing this to me?”

GM: The darkness sighs.

“It’s not that simple, Milo. You’re a programmer. What happens to a file’s right-hand bar, with the date and time, after you’ve changed something in it?”

Milo: Milo stares into the dark. “It… updates. To reflect the date of alteration.”

GM: “That’s right,” the dark answers. “You can see when someone’s modified it. But even if you open the file and don’t change a thing, the ‘date accessed’ field changes. It’s only a few extra clicks to see that. To see that all you did was look.”

Milo: “I get the implication of the metaphor, but have no idea how that applies to this situation.” He laughs, nervously. “I know nothing about this situation.”

GM: “That’s right.” The voice seems to nod. “You know close to jack and squat. That’s the safest place for you to be right now. You’re not going to find your brother. You’re not going to find a prize-winning story for your job. You’re not going to find the truth, whatever you believe that to be. You’re just going to find one thing.”

The word is as flat and unmistakable as a bullet to the head.


Milo: “Why are you helping me?” Milo whispers.

GM: The voice grimaces.

“And maybe worse.”

Milo: His breath stills. “If Mal—” He swallows. “If Mal is dead, and I accept that,” Milo says, slowly. “Then they either killed him or they know why he’s dead.”

GM: “Or they just know you lost a brother and are fucking with your head.”

Milo: “Prove it.”

GM: Milo tosses the challenge into the dark. But the dark has no pride to goad. It’s just there. Patient. Enveloping. Smothering.

“You’ve got my advice, kid. It’s yours to take or ignore.”

The darkness shifts.

“Time for me to eighty-six. I’ve done what I can.”

A feline hiss splits the air.

“Ah, fuck-”

There’s a maddened yowl. Another curse. Something tearing. A flash of anger.

“You stupid-”

A thump. A yowl. A thud.

His cat.

Milo: “Wait, don’t—”

GM: The panic attack hits Milo in the throat like a sucker punch, cutting off further words.

Milo: Not Toto. Please. God, he’s pathetic. But he just wants his roommate to live.

GM: Milo sways and staggers like a wounded boxer determined not to go down for the count.

Milo: “To… to. Stop.”

GM: The darkness snarls, jutting fangs and claws.

“Lot worse out there than me, kid.”

Milo: “P-please. Please don’t…”

GM: A cat’s mewls drip from their ends.

“Lot worse can happen to more than just your kitty too.”

The darkness pants. The claws don’t go back in.

“Lights out, Milo.”

There’s a sudden sense of pressure. Like he’s falling. Drowning.

Milo: But they’re already out, Milo thinks.

It’s already blacker than black.

Date ?

GM: The lights are on when Milo comes to. He’s lying in his bed. Like it was all just a bad dream.

Milo: Immediately, he surveys his apartment. “Toto?”

GM: The tabby cat is crouched on top of his fridge, one of the apartment’s highest vantage points. His ears are flat. There’s a sharp banging against his door.

Milo: Milo, without thinking, staggers to it. “Hello?”

Then he bites his lip. Why did I do that? That was literally one of the stupidest things I could have done. Goddammit, Milo.

GM: “I eviccin’ ya!” comes Mrs. Quách’s voice.

She doesn’t ask him to open the door.

“Ya bling tloubre. No good. Ge’ out or I call poreece.”

Milo: He blinks, too emotionally and physically exhausted to do more than say, “Can I pack my shit up first?”

GM: “Be fas’! Or I car poreece!”

Milo: “Quách, I’ll go. You don’t need to threaten me. But we both know I’m entitled to…I think it’s five days notice? I’ll be gone in one, in a few hours if you want, but if you call the police they won’t do anything. If anything, it’ll cause problems for you prematurely evicting me. Neither of us wants that. Please calm down for a second?” His mind is moving too fast for him to even cringe at his nerve.

GM: “No! Ya go now, or I carr poreece! Ya tlouble! Dey arres’ ya, spen’ da nigh’ in jair!” his landlady shouts.

Milo: Milo sighs. “Give me time to pack everything up. Three hours.”

GM: “NO! Ya get our’ now, or I carr poreece! Ras’ chance! Bleak my rinows, dey lock ya up!”

Milo: Milo opens the door, stares down at her. “Windows?”

GM: “I carring cops!” the (thankfully) nightgown-wearing Quách exclaims as she turns around and shuffles off.

Whether out of desire to finally follow through on her threat, or to avoid an actual face-to-face conversation with Milo, is anyone’s guess.

Milo: Milo sighs, and heads back inside.

GM: Quách’s shuffling footsteps recede. Toto stares down from the fridge. Milo feels a draft.

Milo: Before anything else Milo walks to his roommate and starts to stroke him. “Shhh. I’m sorry. I’m really glad you’re not dead, Toto. We’ll get you fixed.”

GM: The tabby quietly stares down in that distinctive way only cats can stare.

Milo: “I mean, really glad. That you aren’t dead. I don’t think people say that to each other often enough.”

GM: The cat seems to look past Milo.

Milo: He sighs, and first gives his apartment a once-over to see if his visitor a) really was here and b) left him anything.

GM: It is immediately apparent, after a more than cursory glance, that Milo’s window is broken. No glass fragments are visible on his floor, suggesting that it was broken from within. It’s also where the draft in his room seems to be from.

His computer screen is blank. Someone either removed the paper his masked intruder placed over it, or the intruder, for whatever reason, simply never left it.

The virtual clock on his phone continues to tick. 10:11. Milo does not have forever until the cops arrive.

The nerve-wracked young man watches as the minutes slip away like sand in an hourglass… or fissuring cracks across his already frayed sanity. 10:21.

It’s at once a relief and slowly-building dread that a navy-uniformed lawman isn’t yet pounding on his door.

Milo: He finally starts to move, starting with his essential gear—his spare laptop and his portable hard drive, packing them into a duffel bag and using his clothes for cushioning.

GM: His cat watches with neither approval nor disapproval, but simply a feline’s knowing stare.

Milo: Everything gets put in the bag, wrapped in clothes for cushioning and zipped—including his anxiety. He doesn’t have time to be anxious. He can afford to leave most of what he has here. It’s all meaningless corporate-pissed junk anyway.

He leaves it, and beckons Toto into his arms. “Shh. I know it hurts. We need to run.” He waddles out like that, his bag almost cripplingly heavy, his cat in the crook of his arm.

GM: Toto mews as he’s picked up and starts to squirm after a few moments. Milo makes his way down the un-vacuumed, crud-littered hallways. A squeaking mattress and woman crying “Oh! Oh! Oh!” sounds from one of the nearby units. He opens the front door and closes it behind him. The night looms ahead of Milo, dark, patient, and hungry.

Milo: He doesn’t even flush at the overheard coital exclamations of somebody happier than him. He simply sits outside for several minutes, stroking Toto’s fur and letting the night numb him like anxiety meds never seem to.

Then he pulls out his phone, and calls a number, tired.

GM: Toto stops squirming as he’s set down, though Milo has to keep an eye on the tabby to make sure he doesn’t wander off. Several rings go through before the newly-evicted man is greeted with a,
“Hey Milo, what’s up?”

Milo: “Hi, Zeke. Are you busy tonight? I just got evicted.”

He holds out his fingers for Toto to lick, keeping him close.

GM: The cat lies down and lets Milo stroke him, but he doesn’t purr or lick his owner’s fingers. He simply stares silently ahead into the night.

“Wait, what? How did that happen? You’re the tenant who never bothers anyone!”

Milo: No, but somebody bothered Quách, all right.

“It just… did. Quách evicted me, definitely illegally, and she’s just stubborn enough to call the cops, and I don’t want trouble, and…”

The words run out. He sighs. “I’m really hungry, and tired. Are you hungry? I’m kind of in the mood for Vietnamese.”

GM: “Zeke, what is it?” sounds a muffled female voice.

“It’s Milo, he got evicted.”

“Wait, how did…”

Zeke’s voice sounds again. “Well, it’s gotta be a misunderstanding. Emily and I already had dinner, but if you wanna crash at our place until you can clear things up with Quách tomorrow…”

Milo: “Nah, I don’t want to put you out. I’m sorry if I woke you up.”

GM: “No, no, we’re still up. Do you have anywhere to stay for tonight?”

Milo: “My h—my Mom’s house. I’ll be fine. Really. I didn’t mean to freak you out. Just…kind of out of it, at the moment. Wanted to hear a friendly voice, you know?”

GM: “Yeah, I know. Look, stuff like this happens in comics! Everyone goes on about what a huge dick Silver Age Superman is, and posts all those Internet captions of him doing stuff like using his laser beam eyes on that bathrobe his adopted son Jimmy, then anyways, gives him for his birthday. But there’s always an explanation! It’s his evil twin, or the guy he’s being a dick to is the evil twin, or something else that’s totally reasonable. This is like that! You just need to show Quách the page after the crazy caption.”

Milo can make out what sounds like a laugh from Emily. She might now be mussling Zeke’s hair if they’re in bed.

Milo: Milo grins too, despite everything.

“Maybe, Zeke. Maybe. Have a good night, man, okay?”

GM: “Live long and prosper,” the other nerd wishes as he hangs up.

Milo: Mixing genres a bit there, bud, he thinks.

He sits at the bus stop with his cat and his few possessions and he holds his head and breathes, and tries not to think that he probably won’t be living long or prospering. He’s also not Superman. He’s not even a Tin Man. He’s nothing at all but a scared child who never grew up. There is no crazy caption. There is no happy ending. There’s nothing but darkness with teeth, and strange men watching you through cameras.

He breathes, and tries not to scream, because somebody might actually hear him.

Wednesday night, 9 December 2015, PM

GM: Milo places off the call to his mother and sits down to wait by the bus shelter. The seat is hard, the wait lonely, and the night dark. Toto doesn’t mew, or even squirm when Milo picks him again. He just stares silently ahead into the gloom.

Two headlights finally pierce it, causing Milo to involuntarily raise his hand over his eyes to ward off the glare. He can just make out a navy sedan like the one his mother drives.

Milo: He gets up, and walks towards it, slowly. It’s her, right? Not a plant?

GM: “Milo, is that you?” he hears his mother’s slightly scratchy voice call. The volume is a little distant.

Milo: Probably, yes. “Yeah, Mom. It’s me.” He head there, popping the trunk and putting his bag. The cat stays in his lap as he enters.

GM: The navy sedan in front of Milo drives away as swiftly as it appeared.

“Come on, I’m parked over here,” her voice calls. In the distance, and within another parked car, he can make out what looks like his mother’s wide frame. The interior lights are off.

Milo: He staggers over to the car, numb. “M-mom?”

GM: The door chimes as Milo pulls it open, turning on the inside light.

Jasmine.jpg His mother Jasmine Hailey (she hasn’t been Jasmine Glass since 2002) is a woman whose appearance is best described with a lot of ‘used to’s and ‘not quite’s. She used to have a curvy figure (from the old photos he’s seen), but it’s not quite obese. Just wide. Her black hair used to be thick and wavy, but right now it’s done up in a set of curlers and tinged with gray. At 11 PM she hasn’t bothered to dress up in anything past a pull-on t-shirt and pair of jeans, or wear any makeup, and the visible wrinkles around her mouth and eyes make her look her full age of 53 years. Still, she gives a tired smile as she sees her son.

“There you are. Set down Toto so I can give you a hug.” Her voice is the part of her that’s aged best, although at the late hour it sounds more scratchy than smooth.

Milo: “Okay, Mom.” He does, though it’s a trembling hug. “How are you? Is everything okay?”

GM: “Yeah, just fine. I’m not on air tonight,” she remarks after he’s pulled away and brought all of his things inside. Toto notably tenses as the car takes off. “Now what was it you said your landlady did, kicked you out?”

Milo: “Uh. Yeah. Illegally.” He stares at his hand, still not quite sure if he believes what just happened.

GM: “You’re better off without her,” his mom snorts as night sky rolls past the window.

Milo: Much like everybody who calls into your show, huh?

“I’m sorry to call you like this, Mom. Even if you aren’t working tonight.”

GM: “It’s your landlady who should be apologizing. I’m sure there’s some agency you can call to make her life harder.”

Milo: “Maybe. But not without making my life harder too, probably. It’s a bad apartment, and I’ve been meaning to move, anyway.”

GM: His mother frowns a bit in the dark, but finally settles for, “Well, you gotta move on. There’s better places you can live on your job’s salary.”

Milo: “I know, Ma. It’ll be a good thing.”

He pinches his nose, then blurts, “Somebody broke into my apartment, the other day. It scared me. A lot.”

He flinches. Why did I tell her that? Selfish, selfish.

GM:What?” his mother demands, her tone a confusing melange of simultaneous irritation and concern. “You weren’t hurt, were you?”

Milo: “No. Not really. He just ate a bunch of my food.” Milo actually laughs. “It was so… it made no sense. At all.”

GM: “What?” his mother exclaims again, though now with more irritation than concern. “You’re sure that wasn’t just a lowlife tenant trying to save on groceries?”

Milo: “I… honestly can’t be sure of that, no.”

GM: “What a dump,” his mom repeats, shaking her head. “Gentrification’s crowding those places out at least.”

Milo: “Yeah, but then the dumps just move somewhere else,” Milo says. He shakes his head. “Hey, Mom?”

GM: “Yeah, hon?”

Milo: “I love you. I’m sorry I don’t call.”

GM: His mother’s face softens. “Forget it. Love you too, Milo.”

Wednesday night, 9 December 2015, PM

GM: In his teens, Milo had to get used to moving.

There was the first family’s house, with his brother, back in Bywater. His parents’ marriage didn’t survive the strain. He was eleven or so when they sold that house and his father moved to Gentility, while his mother relocated to Mid-City. He was twelve when his mother met her next long-term boyfriend, and thirteen when they got married. That involved a move to Touro. He was sixteen when they split up and his mother moved to Carrollton. He was in college by the time his father sold the Gentility house and moved back to Bywater with Cousin Jerry. His mom has since been thinking about selling her current house and buying a cheaper condo, now that he’s moved out.

He has to wonder how different his adolescence would’ve looked if Malcolm hadn’t disappeared. Dying, or at least disappearing, never affects just one person. It affects everyone.

Rows of cloned houses stretch as far as Milo’s eye can see in the gloom past the window. Carrollton is a middle-class suburb that looks like every other suburb from California to New York, but for the especially tall and venerable trees. It’s not far from Tulane. Like all students there, Milo was required to live on-campus for his first year. If he chose to, he was able to save on room and board by staying with his mom for the next three years. There’d be no more moves during those years, she said. After three divorces, she’s learned her lesson: bank accounts stay separate, houses and assets stay separate, everything stays separate. She’s been starting to think marriage is overrated. “It puts pressure on you. Easier just to have a boyfriend and not bring money or property into things.” Maybe there’s something to that, at least for her. Her current boyfriend has lasted a while.

His mother’s car pulls into the driveway. The two get out and walk into the house. Milo’s bedroom looks more like a guest room after he moved out his things, but it’s still his room. His mom asks if he could use a lift to pick up the remainder of his stuff from Quách’s. Or to work the next morning, for that matter, Carrollton being further away from his job than Mid-City. Once those questions are out of the way, she tells him to help himself to food from the fridge if he’s hungry, then bids him a good night. A light drizzle has since started and steadily plunks against the home’s windows.

Outside, the dark patiently waits.

Milo: He thanks her, both for the lift (to work) and for… everything. He feels hollow, after the theft, and walks up to his room, which makes him pause. He didn’t like things in the walls. Just a bookshelf, full of L.Frank Baum, and the ghosts of the things that Malcolm might have hung if he hadn’t… disappeared.

“You know he’s dead, right?”

They took his brother. He suddenly knows that, in the pot of his stomach. Someway, somehow. They took Malcolm away. And now? Now they’re finishing what they started. It’s insane, childish, irrational—but this is a nightmare, and nightmares demand childish answers, because no adult answer has ever made them go away.

They took his brother. And they took his hard drive. Which means they made a mistake.

Milo opens his phone, plugs it in to charge, and types in the keycode for the GPS chip.

GM: Milo’s hard drive reads as coming from a set of GPS coordinates one zip code away from his address at Quách’s building, but still within Mid-City’s approximate boundaries.

Milo: He breathes. Once, twice. He doesn’t care how. He doesn’t care who.

He’s done running. It ends tonight.

He sits in his room, and for the first time in years, waits for his mom to fall asleep.

It’s been forever since he snuck out.

GM: Milo waits until 1 or 2 AM. The house is still, quiet, and utterly dark. His mom doesn’t stop him as he leaves. This likely would’ve terrified him as a little boy. Parents are a child’s entire world. They know everything and can do anything.

Leaving like this in the middle of the night like this would be a super secret mission. It’s almost banal, now. She’s simply one woman asleep in an average-sized one-story house, who doesn’t notice when someone else leaves without making a racket.

But Milo’s demons have grown with him. The terrors outside could fill the entire world. The night alone blankets half of it.

Children are lucky to only contend with a single dark house.

Thursday morning, 10 December 2015

GM: In the morning, Jasmine Hailey wakes up and finds her son missing. Calls and text messages go unreturned. She calls the police and reports him missing.

She tells Zeke and the rest of the extended Glass clan. Everyone talks to the cops about their last communications with Milo. They talk to Slim Ray, too, about how Milo took the day off feeling sick. He was evidently lying about that, if his visit to his dad was any indication. Or maybe he just felt better after some time in bed. Who knows. Is that suspicious? Is that a clue?

The police can’t really say. They look around Jasmine’s house and conclude there wasn’t a break-in. It looks as if Milo took his things and simply… left in the middle of the night, never to return.

They don’t make a serious effort to locate him past that. He’s just another missing person.

Milo’s parents pay for a private detective. The investigation doesn’t turn up much either. It looks as if Milo just took off and never came back. Something must have happened to him. Maybe he was kidnapped. Maybe he got shot by killed by a gang that got rid of his body. They can’t know. They never do know.

Milo’s parents grieve their missing son, torn from them just as inexplicably as his brother. Eventually, he is declared dead in absentia.

Just another vanished Glass.


If that seems like an abrupt ending, that’s how it goes sometimes. Milo’s player decided he wanted to spend his time on his other PC, Emmett, so Milo’s narrative ends where play ends.

Milo I, Chapter IV

Pete Feedback Repost

GM’s Note: This feedback was written prior to Milo being retired as a PC.

Milo’s pick up in activity is a big plus. He’s got an interesting story, and I’m interested in seeing where it goes. Who’s his guardian angel? Who has plans for him? Why are they doing this? Questions we can only get to the bottom of through play. I’d said it before, but I’ll repeat it here, characters only grow through play, and an imperfect post is better than no post at all in almost every circumstance (with rare exceptions).

I’d previously expressed that I both think he’s potentially the most capable, but also the most difficult to play, among the newer PCs we’ve seen. I stand by that. He has opportunity to succeed mostly when he can plan and take action on his terms. That doesn’t seem to be where Izzy is going, and it’s my largest concern. I feel like Izzy is somewhat frustrated or tired with mortal scenes and wants to ‘cut to’ the Kindred stuff, which in turn is driving Milo in some directions that don’t narratively jive, and set him up for failure IC.

I can sympathize with that, if it is the case, and I think jumping over to Isa as a whole is both a good and intelligent direction to go instead. Caroline was at a point where I was pretty much willing to throw in the towel for a while before we settled into trying to advance things to get to a part of the game I had more interest in. That’s not really an option with Milo, but if Isa can scratch the Kindred itch and let Milo take his approach more coherently and shrewdly, I’ll call it a win.

I’d like to see Milo succeed. I also think that him succeeding, as noted, relies on shrewd play and knowing the resources available to him. Make sure he’s proceeding coherently. Make sure he’s making smart choices with the information he has. Don’t assume things are going to work out. We’ve seen well enough in this game that working out is rarely a thing that happens without significant effort and savviness by players.

Milo I, Chapter IV
False_Epiphany False_Epiphany