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WILDERNESS

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started 10/20/18
ended .. n/a


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imbroglio
noun
an extremely confused, complicated, or embarrassing situation.
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song
broken whiskey glass; post malone
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edited.

Tyler's jaws widened in a yawn. He hated school, which was often just a lot of indoctrination, as his mother called it. They could never say that out loud without risking being punished. Thankfully, Tyler wasn't a snitch. He stared at a lone bug on the edge of his old oak desk, resisting the urge to flick its small body off. After looking for a while, he couldn't help himself. He moved his arm to get a better shot at the back of his friend's head. Tyler flicked the boxelder bug, cracking a smile as it landed directly on the raven-haired boy's back in front of him. Glancing down, Tyler noticed that some bug guts had spattered the tip of his finger. His nose wrinkled in disgust and he wiped it off on his jumpsuit. It only smeared white paste on the grey fabric.

Gross.

Tyler looked back up, but the bug that he'd flicked onto Brendon's back was gone. It must have fallen off after dying. He frowned, scratching the back of his head. Tyler glanced down to the ground, looking for the bug corpse. Instead, something that glinted in the light caught his eye. The brunette boy looked back up, checking to make sure the teacher wasn't looking, then quickly leaned down and grabbed the circular object off the ground. Holding it up for a second in the light, Tyler realized that it was a button. He chuffed, shoving it in his chest pocket.

Tyler's gaze wandered to the clock, which was only a few seconds away from the end of the last class of the day. His breathing froze on the final second, making the release feel even sweeter as the loud, wailing siren that signified the end of the school day broke out. He practically jumped out of his desk, grabbing his jet black backpack and tossing it over his shoulder hastily. He felt Brendon grab the back of his bag, trailing close behind as they both pushed through the crowd. They hurried out of the giant concrete building, giving way to a bright blue sky and piercing cold air that made Tyler shiver. Brendon now sped up his pace to meet Tyler's as he walked beside him.

"Where are you working today?" The raven-haired teen asked, his voice bright with enthusiasm. He always managed to sound happy even when talking about the most mundane things.

Tyler shrugged a shoulder half-heartedly, "I think I'm on press duty today. My luck, it's the most boring job, and I have a five hour shift." He muttered.

Brendon shrugged as well. "It's alright. I got press duty too down in Scarver district." He replied with a toothy smile, hooking his fingers in the handle on Tyler's backpack. The two walked side by side all the way to the Lisden district, where Brendon and his family resided. Tyler always walked his best friend home every day, said hi to his family, and then walked back home. Today was no different.

Their conversation died out until they got to Brendon's complex. Tyler gave his good friend a parting way hug, offering a small smile and then heading on his way back to Keons district; his home. His family would be waiting, and he honestly couldn't wait to see his mom. Tyler's mom was one of the only things that kept him sane.

The Josephs all held the same beliefs, ones that could easily get them killed. They all believed in freedom of thought, freedom of expression, freedom in general. If Dema didn't have something, it would be any kind of freedom.

That was what drove Tyler crazy.

He didn't understand why freedom was so limited. Why couldn't they wear anything other than their assigned jumpsuits? Why was it such a big deal that it resulted in punishment? He wouldn't ever understand, it seemed. His skin wore the scars of a troubled adolescence, an adolescence of disobedience. He was quite the troublemaker when he was younger, but as time passed, Tyler's desire to 'show them' disappeared. It didn't ever seem to amount up to anything. No matter how much he tried to get under the skin of the Bishops, nothing ever came from it. The only thing he recieved was pain, and trauma from early beatings. He would never hear the crack of a whip the same way ever again, or the distant buzzing of a power line. Besides cheetahs, being electrocuted took a very high spot on the list of Tyler's greatest fears.

It had a reason to be there, unlike cheetahs.

Tyler let out a defeated sigh as he stood out front of his complex. He was exhausted by the time he got all the way up to the sixth floor, where the only home he'd ever known was. Tyler didn't even get the chance to reach for his keys. The door opened, showing that his mother must have been waiting for her oldest son already. She immediately pulled him into a tight hug, seeming relieved to see him. It made Tyler's heart warm up with joy to see her happy for once in a long while. To be fair, Kelly had been through so much more than any of the others of the Joseph family. Ever since Chris disappeared, Tyler's father, she wasn't the same. She clung so tightly to her oldest, one of her closest and only reminders of her deceased husband. Tyler was glad that he could help her recover from losing the only man she'd trusted to share her beliefs with. The only man she'd loved, and lost.

"Hi, momma'." Tyler murmured softly, pressing a kiss to Kelly's forehead.

"Hi, sweetheart.. do you work tonight?" She asked quietly, pulling back from the hug to let Tyler come in.

Tyler didn't take his shoes off, as he was planning to just go to work early today so he could finish his shift early as well. He nodded his head. "Yeah, but I'm due back before it gets dark. I wanted to just go now and get it over with so I don't have to walk home after dark." He replied, feeling a pang of guilt from leaving his mother so soon.

He barely was able to take a step further into the apartment before his youngest brother, Jay, came running out to greet him. Wrapping his small arms around Tyler's legs, he offered a toothy smile. "Guess what? Guess what?" He exclaimed, releasing Tyler so he could jump up and down.

Letting out an amused laugh, Tyler responded with a simple, "What?"

"I made a new friend today, and he's super cool! He gave me a cookie." Jay chirped, his smile only growing as he probably thought back to how good that cookie tasted.

"That's awesome. Keep friends that give you food around, especially cookies. You can never go wrong with cookies." Tyler said, his voice stern as if he was giving an important life lesson. Well, food was important to Tyler, so he was giving a life lesson in his eyes.

Jay lost interest in the conversation when he heard Madison yelling about something in the other room. He bolted off further in the apartment, shouting unintelligible words as he ran. Tyler let out an amused snort of laughter, but his smile faded when he saw the look on his mother's face. His expression dropped, knowing exactly what she was going to say.

"Do you really want to go early?" She asked, her brow furrowed in confusion.

Tyler nodded, scratching the back of his neck nervously. He definitely needed a haircut soon. His normally shaven head was now messy with tousled brunette locks. He had been putting it off as long as possible, not wanting to look like everyone else. That was Tyler's problem. He wanted to be different. He wasn't. He was just an average citizen, another slave to the Bishops. He didn't even realize that Kelly was talking to him because he was so deep in thought for a bit.

She sighed.

"I worry about you, Tyler." His mother said, shaking her head. "You either pay too much attention or too little."

Tyler stayed silent.

"One of these days, they're going to get you, and I won't be able to help you anymore. You're almost eighteen. They're going to be much stricter when you're no longer a child. I can't protect you forever." Kelly whispered. The teen didn't expect their conversation to turn into a lecture, but he nodded regardless. He had to admit, he was terrified of becoming an adult, at least in the Bishop's eyes. Soon enough he would be responsible for his own, and it wasn't that far away as it used to seem. Only a month. One more month, and not even. Two and a half weeks.

Tyler felt nauseous.

"Just be careful. Stay quiet. That's one thing you're good at that can help." Kelly added, turning back around to go find her youngest son somewhere in the apartment. She left Tyler standing at the front door. An emptiness that Tyler could never seem to shake suddenly filled him from head to toe, which was ironic. You couldn't be full of emptiness. It was impossible. Not to Tyler, he guessed. He felt like his whole body was empty, yet full of something at the same time. Some feeling that he couldn't identify. Perhaps it was the loss of belonging.

Tyler left the apartment without even going inside to grab a snack for work.

He was much too queasy to want to eat anyway.

The sun was starting to dip in the pale blue sky, cold air blowing through the entirety of Dema. It always got freezing at nighttime, especially when autumn was lulling to an end. Soon winter would set in, and snow would begin to fall. Tyler hated the snow. It made him feel cold on the outside, when he already was cold on the inside. Tyler continued forward, heading across the courtyard that separated the districts to meet back up with Brendon in district Scarver, where they both had press duty. Thankfully, the bishop that ruled Scarver wasn't as bad as the rest of them. Usually they were just referred to as the district they ruled. Tyler finally found Brendon in the crowded courtyard. They locked hands so one wouldn't get pulled away from the other in the mess of citizens all hurrying to get to their required places for work. Dema seemed a lot bigger when there were so many people crowded together in one place.

The rest of their trip to Scarver was silent, the two walking side by side through the concrete passageways that lead to each district.

Brendon opened his mouth to say something, but he was quickly interrupted by the looming figure of something that towered over the two teens. They both stopped in their tracks, eyes wide with surprise when they saw none other than Scarver. The long, flowing blood red robes gave Tyler chills to see up close, not to mention the unclear faces that seemed to always be watching you no matter how you looked at them. They were stunned into silence as they waited for something to happen. The tall bishop approached them, unwavering, not speaking for a solid thirty seconds as it only stared. Finally, Tyler saw the veil over its face move as it spoke.

"Where are you two going?"

Tyler was much too scared to say anything, so Brendon spoke up for him. "Uh.. this district. We have press duty." He mumbled, not daring to make eye contact with the massive figure that blocked their path.

"Numbers."

Brendon did as he was told immediately, pulling the hem of his jumpsuit down and showing the bishop the tattooed number just above his collarbone. Tyler hesitated, the watchful gaze of the bishop making him much more terrified than he could have ever imagined. His blood seemed to run cold with fear, freezing him to his spot. Tyler's hesitation caught the attention of Scarver, exactly the opposite of what the brunette wanted.

"I said numbers, please."

Tyler swallowed thickly, bringing his trembling hand up to his neck so he could pull down his collar just enough to see what Scarver wanted. Seeming to process what it was shown, Scarver went silent for a while. Tyler could hear his heart thudding in his chest.

"My records have Tyler Robert Joseph and Brendon Boyd Urie in the mines today. Please proceed to Nico, citizens." Scarver rumbled, raising one arm and pointing a gnarled finger towards the passageway that lead to the mentioned district.

Nico.

"Please! P-please don't hurt him! He didn't mean to!" Kelly begged, trying to thrash her way out of Chris's grip. Chris was stoic, his eyes reddened with past tears as he watched in silence. There was nothing that either of them could do without getting punishment themselves, but that wouldn't stop Kelly from begging for mercy for her son.

Tyler wasn't even sure what was happening, but all he knew was that he was in dire trouble. Nico had a tight grasp on his arm, and he had something else in his unoccupied hand.

" He should have thought about that before he disobeyed. " Nico growled, pure venom dripping from his voice as he readied the object that he had in his other hand. There was a click, and then suddenly Tyler's whole body was on fire. Everything burned, and he screamed at the top of his lungs. His vision went blurry as Nico pressed the object further into Tyler's back, keeping a tight hold on the young teen so he couldn't get away. After what felt like forever, but only was about seven seconds in reality, the constant burn stopped. Tyler collapsed to the floor, his fingers twitching from the leftover electrical current surging through his veins. He let out a sob, tears springing to his eyes as he curled up into a ball on the cold concrete.

Nico wasn't finished.

He grabbed Tyler by the throat, easily picking him up until his feet were off the ground. Tyler gasped for breath that he couldn't supply, clawing at Nico's arm to try to get him to drop him. Tyler let out the loudest scream he could muster when he felt the metal object connect with his side, scorching the skin straight through his pale grey sweater with a molten hot surge of electricity. He could hear his mother screeching, pleading, begging for Nico to let Tyler go.

Brendon grabbed a hold of Tyler's shaking hand, pulling him in the direction that they were told to go. Muttering a quick, 'thank you', Brendon pulled Tyler out of his frozen spot and kept him walking in the right direction. Tyler felt numb, the memories fading from his mind. He was barely able to get his legs to move to follow Brendon. Once they were out of the sight of Scarver, and on their way to Nico, Brendon spoke.

"Dude. You can't do that. You have to do what they say, when they say it. Or you're gunna' catch the attention of them and get them suspicious." Brendon scolded, letting go of Tyler's hand and stuffing his own back into his pocket to warm it up. "I know they're super fucking creepy and all but you have to."

Tyler knew that, he just couldn't stop thinking about the way that the bishops would look at them. It was terrifying, straight terrifying. He wasn't sure why their gaze would always send such horrible shivers down his spine and completely freeze his body. It always made him think back to his punishments.

He shook his head clear of those thoughts, trying to get the memories out before he had another episode. Tyler could barely find the words to respond to Brendon. "I'm sorry. I just spaced out for a second. Let's just get to the mines." Tyler said, speeding up his pace to match Brendon's.

Brendon didn't have the nerve to ask Tyler what had actually happened. He knew that Tyler had a troubled past, but he couldn't ever imagine the full extent of the trauma that Tyler went through at such a young age. His first punishment by Nico was when he was only thirteen. And it was far from the last he'd have to endure. He couldn't ever forget what it felt like to think that you were burning alive, the sheer amount of electricity surging through his veins like fire burning memories into his brain that he would never be able to shake.

They finally arrived at the mines, the dusty air threatening his lungs as he coughed. Tyler tried to ignore the dirtied faces of those being punished instead of working, their emancipated bodies and sickeningly pale skin that hadn't seen the light of day in way too long to be humane.

The Judge was anything but humane.

He was the one who sentenced those to punishment, and he never gave anyone a second chance. He was the one in charge, the top command, even above a bishop's jurisdiction. He seemed to enjoy the look of pain on someone's face. Nobody had ever lived to see his own face, though.

Tyler was letting his mind wander again.

He continued down the mineshaft, walking over to his station. On the partially broken oak table was a pickaxe, and a lantern. Tyler let out a sigh, shaking his head and reaching into his pocket for a lighter. He pulled his old silver lighter out, but something else came with it. Tyler heard the faint clutter of something hitting the stone below. The brunette glanced down, a look of confusion crossing his face. He dropped to his hands and knees, reaching under the table once he spotted what he'd dropped. It was his button from earlier. Feeling a pang of guilt for dropping it, Tyler reached for the button. For some reason, he felt guilt for an inanimate object that had no feelings. Tyler got a hold of it, but he saw something else under the table that caught his eye. He shoved the button back into his pocket, but then went back under the table for whatever else was hiding beneath the old oak. His fingers brushed something smooth, almost leathery. He grabbed the object, pulling it out from its hiding spot.

Tyler was confused, the object seeming to be a book of some kind. It was as thick as a school textbook, and it had a severely worn cover and torn bindings. The brunette didn't get the time to check even what the book was, as he heard something coming down the mineshaft. He didn't want to get it taken away from him, so he quickly slipped the big book into his backpack.

He would check it out when his shift was over.