Monday, April 1, 2013

Chapter 15: Control

What were some ways The Compound tried to control you? We've discussed some of the obvious ways, such as curfew, the tattooing, and set class times, but were there other subtle ways that you may not have known about until now?

I notice things now like little mannerisms and terminology that were used frequently. After being exposed to the same monotonous behaviors and words repeated day after day, it had become second nature. It had become a way of life. The Leader also controlled us by only letting us see what he wanted us to see, and sheltering us from everything else.

"Class, today we will be discussing washing away impurities. Occasionally, residents will face situations that will taint their purity. Don't feel like this means you are a lost cause. You are still one of our loved ones and we are always here to help you become clean and pure again."

"Miss Teacher, that means there is hope for me?"

"Yes, Zinfandel, you are learning from mistakes. It is okay to make them as long as you accept the consequences and promise never to repeat them. We will help you regain your purity. You have already taken the first step by cutting off communication with Barry until you understand how to love him at a platonic level again. I trust you will also never give anyone else a hard time in the Intimacy Room?"

"Yes, Miss Teacher. I understand now that my pain was caused because I wasn't cooperating with Barry."

"That's correct, intimacy is a place where you should work together with your fellow resident so that you both get fun and satisfaction out of the experience. I would suggest that the next step in your healing process be to hang out with Abilene. She has been a long time resident and she is very wise. She can teach you many things."

After class, Zinfandel finds Abilene waiting outside the room for her. As they walk to the Comfort Room, talking the whole way, Zinfandel is finding similarities between her and Abilene that she enjoys, much like the first time she met Barry and found out he liked classes and volunteer work, although Zinfandel thinks Abilene is much more advanced in her purity. Zinfandel looks up to Abilene as a role model.

Zinfandel and Abilene arrive in the Comfort Room and Abilene tells her to pick a movie for the night while she makes some coffee.

"What should we watch, Abilene?"

"Well, any of those movies would work. The Leader approves of all of them. He bought them specifically because he knew there was no offensive content in them. These movies are also safe for us residents to watch so that we can remain pure."

"Offensive content?"

"Yes, Zinfandel. Even though these people who come to us are originally Strangers, they have stayed with us because they want to shed that part of themselves and become pure like us. Offensive content simply means things The Strangers are used to seeing. The less a Stranger is exposed to the things they were used to before they came to live here, the purer they can become, until one day, their impurities will be washed away."

Zinfandel is in awe of Abilene's wisdom. She wants so much to regain purity after her problems with Barry. Abilene seems to have extensive knowledge about the ins and outs of The Compound. Zinfandel is sure that Abilene can teach her many things and purge the impurity from her heart.

Titanium and Absolon are taking regular break times together, like Verona and Camo do. They usually meet in the break room of the bookstore.

"Hi Absolon."

"Hey. Did you know that I saw you looking at me on the beach long ago?"

Titanium is a little embarrassed as this new piece of information gets fed to him. He thought the first time Absolon noticed him was the day he saw Absolon at the Weekly Gathering.

"Um, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have been staring at you. That's rude."

"Hey, it's okay. I guess I mentioned it because I wanted you to know that I saw you too."

"You did?"

"Yeah. My mom was getting free food from the community party at the beach and she brought me with her so I could eat too. I was done and had no interest in the discussion that the guy grilling hot dogs was holding. That's when I went down to the beach and saw you swimming."

Titanium is fascinated by the new things he is learning about Absolon. He had thought that they were strangers, but it turns out that Absolon had always known who he was.

I walk into the living room and find Mother reading a book. I keep her in my peripheral vision and try to sneak past her unnoticed to make myself a cup of coffee and go sit by the pool, but she looks up and sees me. Damn it.

"Verona, darling, will you come here for a moment?"

Well, at least she doesn't have some dumbass sitting with her this time. I admit defeat and go back to the living room and sit.

"Your father has expressed his discontent with me trying to find you a suitor."

"Find me a suitor? Mother, why do you talk as if you are living in the 1800s?"

She can be so uppity sometimes. It drives me insane. Why the fuck can't she talk like a normal human being?!

"I love you very much, Verona, and that's why I do it."

"You love me, so you control who I date? That doesn't make much sense to me. Dad loves me, and he talks to me, not at me. He tries to get to know and understand what I'm doing. Then, if it's wrong, he tells me why and then lets me decide what I should do. Most of the time I end up doing the right thing."

"I just feel like you make reckless decisions, Verona. You are too impulsive for your own good and you will make mistakes that might ruin your life."

I start to get upset when my mother starts picking apart my character and then just assumes I'm going to screw up. Does she really think that little of me? At least I'm living life and exploring things, which is more than I can say for her.

"So what if I'm impulsive?! I'm also smart and I know well enough what is bad. I'm eighteen, Mother, I'm not a child anymore!"

"You have to prove you are capable of finding a decent man."

I throw my hands up in exasperation. Mine and Mother's definition of decent is not the same. Therefore I see no need to continue this conversation because it is futile.

"Fine, Mother, may I be excused?"

Mother nods her head as I leave the living room. I go out to the backyard where my dad is grilling some hot dogs. It's a beautiful sunny day today. I was enjoying the thought of sitting out in the sunshine until Mother ruined my day. Now I'm just irritated. I make myself a fruit smoothie and aggressively dump the ice into the shaker, catching my father's attention.

"Verona, what's the matter, baby girl?"

"Mom. It's always Mom."

"She didn't bring another guy here did she?"

"No, but she says I need to find someone decent before she will stop trying to do it for me."

Dad shakes his head as he grills the food. I'm glad that he's at least on my side and I wonder what it was about Mother that he fell in love with.

Camo notices Verona seems agitated at work today. She's slamming things down a little harder than necessary and not smiling as much. He's concerned for her because he wants her to be happy.

"Hi Verona, do you want to take a break?"

"Yeah, I think Titanium is done now, he can take over the sales floor."

Titanium walks out of the break room with Absolon and smiles in Camo's direction.

Camo takes Verona into the cafe and makes some coffee for her. He puts a cup in front of her and looks into her ice blue eyes.

"What's wrong? You're mad about something."

Verona nods and stares into her coffee cup. She takes a sip and then replies to Camo's question.

"My mother is a giant pain in the ass. You're lucky your parents weren't around to run your life."

"I do have someone who bosses me around, even though he's technically not my parent."

"What? Shelters have people who do that? I thought shelters were just places to get some food and live till you got back on your feet."

"I can't speak for other shelters, but the one I'm in has a distinct person in charge who dishes out rules and punishments, I guess like a parent would do. What's your mom doing to you?"

"She keeps trying to set me up with guys. It's so annoying because I want to date, but I want to pick who I go out with, you know?"

Camo doesn't really know because he's not technically allowed to pursue romantic love, but he nods in response to Verona's question. However, he's totally unprepared for Verona's next question.

"Camo, will you be my boyfriend?"

Camo thinks for a minute and doesn't really know how to answer because he has no idea what it means to be someone's boyfriend. He really likes Verona, though, and he likes this opportunity she's giving him, so he answers honestly.

"Yeah. What do I have to do?"

Verona looks confused, but answers Camo.

"Just like me for who I am, don't try to control or change me, and support me."

"Ok. I'd never change you. You're perfect."

One day my mother had a black eye. I think I already knew that my dad was the one to blame even though I'd never seen him hit her before. Their first big fight was the day I saw Titanium at the beach, but apparently the fights had been increasing in frequency and intensity. I didn't know what the hell was going on between them, but my mother's suspicious attitude was the main problem.

"You are cheating on me, Enigma."

"What the hell are you talking about? Do you have any proof? I come home, don't I?"

"Not until weird hours of the morning. What do you expect me to think when you sleep elsewhere most of the time?"

"I can't stand you! Every time I come home, you interrogate me with your cold eyes, and then as if that wasn't enough, you always start yelling at me!"

"Fine. Then look into my eyes and tell me that you aren't stepping out on me."

Enigma takes Andromeda's shoulders in his hands and looks her in the eye, just as she asked. For a split second, their eyes connect and they genuinely look at each other.

"I'm not bloody cheating on you."

"Then why are you always coming home late?"

"I just told you, I can't stand you yelling at me. You never talk to me, you just get all defensive and scream."

"Well I wouldn't have to if you would just- just be that nice guy I fell in love with long ago."

"What do you want me to do?"

"Give Absolon a chance. He's not a child anymore. I don't understand why you can't just go talk to him."

"No. I'm not doing that."


Enigma's cheek stings as he feels Andromeda's hand make contact with the sensitive skin on his face.

"OW! Bitch!"

Enigma punches Andromeda in the face and she falls down. Then he walks out the door.

Absolon and I sit and eat some dinner. He eats so much faster than me.

"Titanium, I like your new hairdo. It makes the blonde in your hair stand out and I can see your sexy blue eyes in their entirety."

"Thanks. The stylist wondered if we should change it up since I always wear it the same way."

I'm still reminiscing about today's segment. I find it funny that he knew who I was all along.

"You know what Titanium? I am really glad you were there at the beach staring at me."


Absolon pulls me close to him and kisses me till my knees go weak.


  1. Even though they are totally brainwashed, I like Zin and Abiline. They really want to be good people, they just are taking instructions about that from the wrong people. And I think it's really sad they convinced Zin that her pain in the 'intimacy room' was her fault.
    Titamium and Absolon, taking those steps, getting closer. <3

    Poor Verona, her mom won't back down even after the talk with Charles.
    And Camo was so cute, asking what he has to do as her boyfriend. I'm glad she asked him. =D

    Absolon's parents make me sad. =(
    Of course she's going to suspect Enigma of cheating when he doesn't come home.
    I know having a kid is not what he wanted, and Andromeda sprung that on him. But that is the height of selfishness to not even talk to your own child jut because you didn't want to be a parent.

    Love the kiss at the end, Titanium and Absolon are just lovely together.

    1. Cults are awesome at telling you that you suck, and twisting your words to make it seem like everything is your fault. It's part of the 'breaking you' process.
      Enigma's a jackass. He feels like Andromeda somehow betrayed him when she got pregnant, (like in the previous chapter when he accuses her of skipping her birth control) but more on that in the story... ;)
      Kalya has only been confronted once so far about her meddlesome ways. Charles won't give up trying to help her, even though she might not see it as help, and he will always stand with Verona.
      Heehee.. romance is something new I'm trying to write because I'm not really a romantic myself.. I'm glad that it's working well. :D

  2. Kayla is still really annoying and controlling, but at least she's trying to cooperate. I think maybe, deep down, she has that little part of her that doesn't want to be the snobby rich girl, but the normal girl she use to be...maybe, she thinks she really is helping Verona...Kay had to work to get everything she had and she doesn't want her daughter to have to face her hardships. When she tries to find a so called "suitor" maybe that's her way of sheltering and showing she cares for Verona. Or it's completely unsentimental and Kayla's trying to find someone so her stupid rich person status isn't downgraded when Vera starts dating, after all "Fear is either your worst enemy or your best friend." (~Mike Tyson. I'm in a philosophical mood today, therefore thou must quote-ith...huh you really can't bring humor into philosophy or explaining why you like quoting people to make you sound like you possess an excess intellectual level.) She fears she won't receive acceptance, therefore all her actions are spout out of this fear, including here matchmaking tries.

    Either way, I'm glad she and Camo are dating :) I'm worried though about what will happen back at the Compound if Camo says something. Or should I say when, since it seems the residents are trained to be...what's the word? Open? Not secretive? How will the Leader react when he finds out what Camo did? Camo didn't know what a BF was,really, so I'm wondering if he'll be let off with a warning and brief punishment. (Maybe something similar to Zinny darling and her quandary?) I wonder the same thing with Titanium and Abs. I don't think Titanium will say anything, though. Camo seems more class clown then rebel, but he doesn't seem to strike me as the type of person that would know what he was doing was viewed as "wrong" by the Compound's terms, since he had no idea what a boyfriend was. Titanium might not say anything, since he seems a lot less of an open book.

    I feel so bad about Abs parents. It must be rough...I was going to say something more, than I typed up this long novel of a comment and lost my separate train of though concerning Abs situation... :)

    1. Kalya is scared of being poor. That's what is driving her to go all control freak on Verona. In a way, Kalya is not taking her wealth for granted, which is good, except that she's taking it to a bad extreme. She's the opposite of the rich people you hear about who go broke because they spent all their wealth. I suppose you could say Kalya has a Scrooge personality, she wants to keep her wealth, including her status, which she fears she could lose at any moment. Sadly, this makes her unable to enjoy life because it keeps passing her by every moment she keeps freaking out.
      I'm glad you're concerned about Camo. I can see how you see him as a class clown rather than a rebel. I wrote Camo as a smart rebel, meaning he knows The Compound is wrong, and occasionally pushes the teacher's and the leader's buttons. Remember in a previous chapter when Titanium tried to talk about freedom while they were in their room and Camo stopped him? That was supposed to show his smarts. Talking about The Strangers or feeling trapped, or any kind of dissent for that matter, gets you thrown in Isolation, and Camo knows that. He's managed to avoid Isolation his entire life, whereas Zinfandel and Titanium have not been so lucky. That is his special ability, for lack of a better description. :)

  3. I can't figure out if Zinfandel is in love with Barry or not. I think maybe she is, but then the intimacy room incident sort of dulled that glow... and then the way he was towards her later.

    I don't know why I keep getting shocked at how holier than thou the Leader guy thinks he is. It makes me wonder how Camo and Titanium get out of there. Does somebody kill the leader? *rubs hands together at the delicious thought* You don't have to answer that, I just had to ask.

    1. Zinfandel doesn't even know if she loves Barry or not, since she doesn't know what love really is. All she knows is that he liked the same stuff she did. Your shock of The Leader's douchey-ness doesn't surprise me. Just when I thought they couldn't impose any more rules on me, they found yet another thing to pick on. I was shocked by it because I didn't think there was anything left to control, but they always found one more thing.

  4. Poor Zinfandel...
    I've been there, wanting to believe something I've been told -
    and feeling like a failure because of it...

    It's so messed up...

    I'm happy for Camo and Titanium that they're finding people they can get close to outside of the compound.

    1. It sucks so bad, so bad. I still have days where I feel like a failure because of residual memories telling me I suck at everything.
      Camo and Titanium are smart and are trying to make friends in a different environment so they can gain new perspectives. Thanks for reading and commenting! =D I always like it when you stop by.


  5. "Yes, Miss Teacher. I understand now that my pain was caused because I wasn't cooperating with Barry." >.> ....She needs to wake up and smell the coffee. It takes two to have consensual sex, it takes one to rape someone. Just because she didn't tell him to stop doesn't mean that what Barry did was okay...It's not about just lying around on your back and accepting everything (LITERALLY). STAND UP FOR YOURSELF ZINFANDEL...GOD DAMNIT! Lol

    I love Verona's...umm..ermm..Outgoing-ness? Lol I can't think of a good word to describe what I'm talking about without it sounding too harsh or insulting towards her character... but yeah basically, I like how she wasn't afraid to ask Camo to be her boyfriend....Gender flip lol. Most girls don't do that kind of stuff. "Yeah. What do I have to do?" Lol I laughed my ass off...When I read that.

    Titanium and Absolon are like soul mates *sigh* they look good together and I love Titanium's new hairstyle.

    Unfortunately I understand Absolon's parents were never abusive with each other but things always got heated between them and I will never forget the night there were glass shards and blood on the kitchen floor...My dad still never replaced the chandelier we had :( but it doesn't matter. Every time I read about Absolon's parents it's all too familiar for me...It's a shame to see things go sour between your parents but Absolon's father kind of over-reacted...Punching your wife in the face? Come on... :/

    1. LOL, forgive me for laughing, but I find it amusing how much Zinfandel pisses you off. XD She's a character who in the eyes of us here in the real world, never develops because she keeps doing the same stupid shit over and over again. In Zinfandel's tiny brainwashed world, she just wants to be a good resident, so she's going to be accepting of everything she thinks The Compound does for her. Cults are very good at manipulating and twisting your words and making you think you're the problem. *sigh*

      How about bluntness to describe Verona? :D I think that's what I gathered from what you were trying to say? :) Gender flips are fun, aren't they? LOL. I enjoyed writing that one. Verona's a strong girl despite all the shit she has to deal with at home. She also knows Camo isn't really a normal guy, as far as him living in that wierd shelter that does wierd stuff to him. LOL. She kind of has an idea that she has to inform Camo about how the world works because she sees the naivety in him, so that's also partly why she asked him to be her boyfriend. :) LOL, I loved having Camo as comic relief in this story. :D

      Aww thanks. :D Titanium and Absolon have a love rooted in deep stuff, as you'll find out later. :)

      Yeah, Enigma punching Andromeda, it was kind of an impulse because she hit him first. Not right of course, but Enigma's not abusive in the sense that he would come home every night and hit Andromeda or anything like that. In this case it was his reaction, defense to her slapping him.


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