Categories > Original > Horror0 Reviews
This was additional backstory for a character that I created for a role play game. It grew into something a little more.
My name is Charlie, and I'm a vampire. I've been a vampire for a little over three, four hundred years now, I know, it's a shock to me as well. Then again, it's not...being one of the eternal undead is what I have always known. I don't remember my mortal life, I don't remember my mortal family...all I remember is waking up to find my throat ripped out and that I was missing something that was extremely important to me. In time, my throat healed, and I forgot whatever it was I was missing - I still remember the sensation sometimes, my hand snatching for something that's not there - and moved on with my life.
I have no idea how I was in mortal life, but I'm pretty rowdy now. Age 22 or so as a mortal, frozen eternally. Who's to say I can't have a little fun? Hanging out in bars is the most fun. Germany has some of the best - buy a few mortals some beers and then sit by while they chug. Then I suck the alcohol off of them - it's the only way I can get the alcohol into my system. If I just outright ingest it, I get sick to my stomach and hurl everything back up, including my bloody breakfast, lunch and dinner, and I do mean bloody.
Back to why I started telling you this...don't ever get dead drunk and take a guy home with you. One thing I always forget (which seems to be a talent of mine) is consequence. Consequence, consequence. To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Anyway, when I mean dead drunk, I'm talking about undead sobriety, or lack thereof. One of my favorite things to do is to get drunk, I mean, you try spending a century on one continent. It's boring. To me, at least, I have a short attention span. That's what Thomas always told me, at least, and I am really starting to believe him.
So I was at this bar, I can't remember the name, and I'm on my fourth or fifth pint of blood, knockin' 'em back like there's no tomorrow. I think I was there with Gladys, I don't remember, everything was pretty fuzzy...I do have to say, when I'm drunk, I'm friendly. Maybe a little too friendly. There were a couple of cute guys there, Gladys (or who ever I was with) and I were flirting with them nonstop. Unfortunately, they were all mortals, thus hands off. But when you're drunk, you tend to break the rules.
There was one man, sitting by himself in one of the booths...I had noticed him when I came in. Tousled black hair, and extremely fine German features. He was beautiful, really, but only I'd be the kind to have the guts to describe a man as beautiful when the same man could tear off both of your arms. His head was down, as though he were drowning his sorrows out into the glass sitting about five inches away from his head. I don't think he was drunk, the glass was only half empty, but there were other, more friendly guys who were already eyeing me and my companion. So I went over with them.
A few hours and pints later, I'm drunk off my ass and I start talking about him. One of the guys tells me a bit about him, says his name is Gein, a sour tempered man who works at the local mechanics factory. Of course, all I had going in my little mind was so that's where he got so toned, and I make mention of how attractive I found him, with an added giggle. Of course, one of the guys dares me to go and talk to him, just to prove how awful the guy really is. Never one to turn down a challenge, I get up from my chair, grinning ear to ear amidst ooh's and aah's from the guys, and a frown from Gladys who didn't want to be left alone.
I strolled straight over to his table, and plunked myself down into the cushions next to him. He glanced up, not in surprise, but more in impatience, as if he had been waiting for me to make my way over. This puzzled me for no more than a second - the stupor I was currently residing in passed it off as one of those odd mortal traits - and I smiled at him, and introduced myself in my broken German tongue. He replied gruffly, name only, and yes his name was indeed Gein; he didn't seem sour, parse, but more stand offish. His voice was positively spine-chilling, it was so deep and sensual. Perhaps that's what lured me in at first. I start up a conversation with him, about his work and places to see in that particular part of the country and next thing I know I've left Gladys behind at the bar and taken Gein home to my sanctuary from the sunlight hours.
I woke up the next evening with a huge hangover of the worst kind, naked in my black satin sheets and covered in blood that appeared to half be my own and half not. It wasn't the first time I'd woken up like this, sometimes you just don't remember what you do during the night, especially when you're drunk off your rocker, but then I heard the shower in my bathroom going and noticed the extra scent and indentation in my bed. Oh shit, I thought, as I sat up in bed, realization of my actions flooding my mind. Last night, the bar, Gladys, the boys, Gein...Gein! Was that who was in my shower? Taking a chance, I got out of bed and crossed the room - I didn't care to cover my nudity, after all, I was already dead and anyone who thought the nasty about me was technically a necro, and Gein had obviously seen everything last night anyway - putting one hand out to open the door slowly.
The mirror was misted over and there stood this bear of a man, completely naked and standing in my shower. I was hit again by the beauty of him and stopped for a moment in the doorway - long enough for him to notice me in the doorway.
"Join me?" Those two words, spoken in his deep, throaty voice in perfect German, hit me like a perfume aphrodisiac. What was more, he had put it in question form, rather than a command, as if giving me an option when there obviously was none. I stepped into the hot spray of the shower, and began to rinse the blood off of my skin - showering? Once again, I'm perfectly comfortable in my own skin - when he wrapped his arms around me and started to lick the blood off. Kinky little bastard, aren't you? I thought in my mind, and I got the scare of my life.
"Perhaps. You seemed to like it well enough last night." I jumped away from him, my wet hair sticking to the shock shown plainly on my face. His own, Gein's face, was smirking, and my eyes traveled down to his neck, where a delicate bite mark graced the juncture of neck and shoulder. Shit. Shit, shit, shit, fuck, damn, and more fuck. I turned and literally started banging my head against the wall, which compounded my already raging hangover, and doubled the trouble I was in. SHIT. What will Thomas say? What will the coven say?? Gein, still able to hear my thoughts, stepped forward and took my head in his large hands and stroked my cheek with one thumb. He didn't even say anything, yet this strange sense of calm settled over me - later, after he had left, which I shouldn't have let him, I was so calm that it was eerie. He was a newborn vampire and yet he had such control of his powers.
I didn't tell the coven about my big mistake. No one asked about it, not even Gladys - she was angry that I had left her there on her own with the mortal guys. And I didn't care, she could get over herself and learn to take a hit or two.
A few years later, I forgot the guilt of creating Gein and generally forgot all about him as I moved from Germany to other places, and eventually had my near-death encounter with a vampire slayer. Might I mention, I was only eighty years old when I made Gein. I was young, impressionable, naive, even...and just as quickly done, it was forgotten. I moved from Europe to the Americas, and really never looked back. The coven had kicked me out for my behavior, not to mention my mouth and Gladys' help. So I moved and took myself and my mental baggage to the US. It was in the twentieth century and I found plenty to do in this new place - but it seemed that my problems weren't quite done with me yet.
I was in New York, the big apple, the hubbub capital of the Western Civilization, as they called it in Europe. To me, it was a city filled with the most despicable life imaginable and I loved it. I met more of my kind, more open-minded and loud mouthed vampires, as well as older ones who chided me gently and treated me like a favored child - and when compared with them, a child is what I was - but all together, I got on quiet well with this New World and it's version of vampires. I even got a job working at a local haunt in the underground part of the city, serving my kind and other preternaturals, as well as the occasional mortal that managed to find their way into the bar now and then. I enjoyed the work and the regulars, feeding off of their energy as they fed off of the spirit of the bar - it was my life and my lively hood. Too bad it was the same place Gein would end up being.
He was sitting the same way in the booth in the far corner - usually reserved for the owner of the club, but I knew that the owner let his friends and associates use the prime spot from time to time. He was bent, his chin-length hair covering his features. The owner bid me take him a drink - of course he didn't have to mention that it was vampiric clientele, I could tell that from a mile away. As I approached the table, I set down the glass of A positive, and slid it towards him.
"Compliments of the -," It was then that he raised his head, right in the middle of my sentence. Couldn't even let me start walking away, no, he had to catch me with my breath in my throat, Gein, looking exactly the same as I last saw him, naked in my shower in Germany. I dropped the tray filled with other customer's drinks, spilling the mix of blood and alcohol all over the floor. First time I've done that, in the two centuries that I worked at that bar. Around me, stares were growing as the regular patrons took note of my carelessness and knew that something was up. I didn't move to clean up the mess, I just stood there and stared at Gein. My one-night-stand-big-mistake.
"Ge...Gein?" I asked in a voice not unlike a child's. He simply nodded and gave a small smile, softening his features incredibly. I would've started crying, and almost did when he slid out of the booth and helped me clean up the broken and still whole glass bottles and cups. Carefully carrying them to the back, I glanced at my boss, the owner, and he nodded, giving me the rest of the night off - I wasn't the only bartender working there, just one of the few vampiric ones. Gein took my hand and we left the bar, walking through the streets - at three in the morning, there were few people still out, even in a city that hardly ever sleeps. I pulled away from him, clutching my coat around myself and stared at him.
"Did you follow me here?" I instantly accused. Gein simply stood there, silent yet relaxed. He seemed to soak in my words, but he neither moved nor spoke.
"I don't have anything for you - if you're looking for some explanation, it was a fucking one night stand!" I nearly screamed the last words, trying to goad him into talking.
"Say something, you bastard! Don't just stare at me!" A sense of desperation was rising in me - I don't know why it was suddenly so important for me to know why Gein had sought me out, or to just find out if he had. I kept my distance but I badly wanted to throw myself at him and beat him into a bloody pulp - he was the embodiment of all that was wrong with me, all my mistakes and failures. Finally, he spoke.
"It's chilly out here. I know where we can go for some privacy." He said it with utter seriousness, as if he didn't have other motives in mind, and for a moment I wondered if he truly did or if my own mind was playing tricks on me. He led the way and I followed at a distance. Eventually, we reached an apartment complex, and he led up a staircase, waiting on the second step for me to follow him. I did so, hesitating before setting my foot on the first step, but I eventually followed him. I had to. And, I have to say it wasn't exactly of my own free will. I literally felt compelled to walk up those stairs as though some invisible string were pulling me.
Finally, I sat in the rather well-decorated living space of his small apartment. He didn't offer me anything, not that I would've taken it anyway. Karma, anyone?
"Well? Is there a reason you dragged me out here?" I broke the silence rather rudely, but I frankly didn't care. I wanted to know why, and I wanted to know right then and there. Gein was standing by this tall chair of his, leaning on it though I knew that he couldn't really be leaning on it or he'd probably break it. It looked antique, old, and extremely breakable. He ran one hand through his black hair, that long black hair that I had - keep your mind on the moment, idiot, I strictly told myself.
Charlotte? I had introduced myself as Charlie, those two hundred years ago. Sure, he could've deduced that it was a nickname for Charlotte, but on the same level, Charlie could've just as well been my name. I frowned at Gein.
"I told you my name was Charlie. How do you know my name?" Gein sighed, as though burdened. I felt an intense longing for him to release himself from his terrible burden, and I knew that his release lie in telling me what was on his mind.
"I know because I know you, Charlotte. I know so much more than you think I do. I know who made you, I knew the coven you belonged to, I knew the vampires you knew, I know everything about you - but only after you were turned," he quickly said, crushing any hope that he might've known me in my former life. I glared at him, because I knew exactly where this was leading.
"Are you saying you used me? You used me to become a vampire, Gein?" He ran a hand through his hair again.
"I read books, I knew the folklore." I just loved how he avoided my questions. "I studied metaphysics, I was born with a small amount of psychic power - that's how I was able to speak mind to mind with you directly after you made me," he said in his sensual voice. He was answering my questions starting with day one. I wasn't here for him to explain two hundred years worth of history, I wanted the short version.
"Gein, just tell me. Did you use me?"
"Yes." I fumed. How could I let something like this happen? Let my guard down so low that someone could take advantage of my misfortune in order to better themselves? And I had thought I was so far above mortals after I was reborn. My face must've betrayed my emotions, but Gein continued.
"I followed your coven for the better part of a year, picking and choosing between you to see who I could steal the gift from. I can't explain why I wanted to become a vampire - I'm not afraid of death, and, well, you can obviously see that I didn't care for material possessions and God and things like that. I have no answer for why I used you, but I knew the moment I saw you that you would be the one to turn me." He came over to the couch and sat next to me, hands lying in his lap gently convulsing in the air.
"Was it because I was young? There were ones far younger than me, much prettier. Elaine, or Harold, both were lookers, depending on your taste." My words were twisted with spite and hate for what Gein had done to me. It was as if he had planned the whole event - gotten me drunk, took me to my own house and raped me. I suddenly felt uncomfortable in his apartment and I wrapped my coat tighter around me, looking away from him.
"You raped me, Gein, you fucking raped me." The silence was thick enough to cut with a butter knife. I finally glanced up, with shaking eyes, to look at him and found him staring at me. His face was utterly blank but his eyes were filled with what looked like a deep remorse. Still, I couldn't shake off the thought of what he'd done to me.
"Don't bother explaining anymore - just stay the fuck away from me, do you understand? Stay the fuck away from me." I got up and walked out of his apartment without a backward glance. I ran all the way back to the bar, where my sanctuary was located with the other few vampires, including the owner, who ran the bar. I threw myself in my coffin and cried until sun-up.
I didn't see Gein for another year and a half - I guess it took him that long to get up the balls to come and see me at the bar again. I was behind the counter, cleaning glasses, wrapped up in my own problems. I'd done a few messy killings and was getting my name unintentionally in the papers, and now I had to hold off feeding locally until it died down. Not like anyone could convict me, anyway, considering I was legally dead. He came right up to the bar, and sat down at the end of it. I'm sure he didn't want me to see him right away but I noticed him soon enough. I ducked into the backroom, hopefully before he saw me, though I doubted it. Still, I needed a moment to think.
I never did find out what it was he wanted from me. Well, yes, I did, but now? What did he want now? He obviously had better control over his abilities than I had over my own. He had said he was psychic - to me, that meant little, but it obviously gave him advantage over me. I had been eighty at the time I had created him and still didn't have complete use over my powers, and here he was, a few hours old and already in complete control. Wiping at my face with the towel I'd brought from the bar, I decided that I would go out the backdoor for some fresh air - that combined with the view of the night sky always worked wonders to calm my friend nerves.
I let the door slam closed behind me; I didn't care if passing mortals glanced into the alley way, all I cared for now was that Gein wasn't there. I was alone, and I looked up to the stars scattered across the night sky. I don't know what it is, maybe in my mortal life I was into astrology, but looking up always fills me with a sense of calm and peace. Weird, huh?
I was standing there for maybe a minute or so before I realized that I could hear the crunch of gravel under someone's shoes - I didn't even bother to look behind me to know who it was. I just wrapped my arms around myself and kept looking up, silently counting the stars in the sky and picking out constellations - Big Dipper, Little, Cassiopeia...
"Charlotte." That voice, his damned voice. Always sent a shiver up my spine, and him speaking my true name didn't help matters at all. I finally looked over my shoulder at him, glaring. There he was, Gein, black hair falling over his eyes and hands in his coat pockets. Identical to the Gein I'd known a year and a half ago, as well as more than three centuries ago.
"My name is Charlie and I'd like for you to remember that."
"Charlie is a man's name and you are not a man, Charlotte." I turned, hands becoming fists and falling to my sides. The nerve of some bastards!
"Charlie is my name, damnit, Gein, and you will respect that. No one, and I repeat, no one calls me Charlotte anymore." He took a few steps towards me and I stepped back just the same, keeping the distance between us equal. I wouldn't go near him for all the memories of my past mortal life, not this self-centered bastard who acted so nice but only to get what he wanted.
"Gein, I told you to stay away from me, and when I said that I didn't mean for whatever length of time you needed to think of another scheme. I meant forever." I gritted my teeth - once again I was doing most of the talking. Men, I snarled inside of my own mind, keeping my thoughts to myself. He was simply watching me like a predator watches it's prey. Silence fell around us for a moment of time.
"I need to talk to you." He stressed the second word with an emotion that I could not recall him using before. He stressed need with utter and complete need. His face, while almost entirely apathetic, gave way under his eyes as the familiar remorse found their way through. I flexed my hands and folded my arms across my belly.
"And why in Hell would I want to listen? Give me one good damn reason, Gein. Just one." He did what he normally did, he ran one hand through his hair, how I knew he was exasperated with something. It was too obvious, really. He stepped towards me, and I didn't move this time, just holding my ground. He just kept walking towards me. My heart beat faster, thinking that just maybe this wasn't a good idea. But he stopped about a foot in front of me, looking down at me like I was some kind of statue that he was analyzing.
"Charlotte...I didn't finish..."
"You didn't finish because I walked out, Gein. It's over. Finished. Let it go." I kept my voice even, as much as I wanted to scream at him. I wanted to beat him into a bloody pulp and leave his corpse for the sun to finish the job I hadn't the heart to do centuries ago. That night when I should've brought Gein before the coven, been punished for my impudence, and Gein would've been slaughtered or used for worse. But where would that have gotten me? Stuck with the coven, with the naturally-born-with-a-stick-up-their-asses leaders? Did I really want that? I must've faded into thought because the next thing I knew, Gein's hand was touching my face.
Two things happened. First, a shock went through my body like electricity, sending chills down my spine, causing my neck to tilt back so his hand would move along my jaw line. That lasted for about five seconds before the rational part of my mind sent my right hand up to slap his away, and then I slapped his face. He didn't move, just stood there, the red mark of my hand coming and fading within moments. But what had happened had really scared me - here was the man who'd followed me and my coven, studied us like insects under a microscope, selectively picked me in what seemed like at random, and then waited until I was drunk enough that he could steal the gift that wasn't mine to give. And now, he had the nerve to not only seek me out, but to...
"Gein, leave. I'm warning you, now, leave. Get out of my face." I was afraid of what might happen next, I was afraid of not what he would do, but what I would do. I turned to walk towards the door to go back into the bar, to get back to work, but Gein grabbed my wrist and slammed me against one brick wall of the alley way. He grabbed my other wrist and held me in a lock against the wall with wrists pinned above my head, my weight spread unevenly and his steel grasp holding me down. Half of my brown hair had come undone and was hanging in my face, slashing my view of him. His face was close enough for a lip-lock, but hell if I was going to let him that close again.
"Let me finish. I need to finish." I didn't reply but instead kneed him in the groin, sending him doubling over in pain and I took off for the door, but he grabbed me by the ankle and I was on the ground, being held down by one hand. He flipped me over and pinned my hands down by the wrists, one of his hands for each of mine, and put his knee on one of my legs, securing me to the ground quite well. I would've laughed and called "uncle" if I wasn't so pissed at him.
I tested the limits of my bonds, wriggling and writhing but it was to no avail - he had me securely pinned and I was stuck. Whatever the hell he has to finish, I might as well let him finish, if I want to get out of this in one piece, I assented to myself. I sighed, blowing up long strands of curly brown hair. Gein was staring intently down at me, I guess waiting to see if I would try anything funny.
"Fine. Fine! I'll listen. Just let me up, or I will kick your ass into the sunlight." He didn't move, still watching me. "Gein, let me up! Now!"
He shook his head. "I can't trust that you won't run. Just listen. Please." I had a snide remark ready, but when I heard that one little word, all remarks died in my throat. Please? Was he that desperate? I stared up at him, studying his face. It was...remorseful, as ever. What the hell was he so sorry for?
"I did so much more than just follow your coven. I followed you, I studied you in particular. I knew that you would be the one to turn me, so I had to know everything about you. I found your name on a gravestone in your hometown - don't ask me how I found it, because I don't like the things I had to do. I found your gravestone with your name on it - "Charlotte Madeleine Fairica. Beloved of God"." I was completely speechless. He'd accomplished what I had dreamt of doing but what the coven forbade me from doing. So, like a good little urchin, I had respected the Elders and followed the rules, for the most part.
"Be...beloved of God? What the hell is that supposed to mean?" He shrugged.
"That's all I ever found out about your past. Everyone else was dead or gone. Most of the stones were unreadable. So I went back, and found you again, and laid my plans. I knew you'd come to that bar that night, I knew because I drew you there."
"What?" I was confused. I went to that bar because Gladys had picked it out, it was on her list of things to do...
"I told you I was born with a measure of psychic powers - telethapy is one of my stronger suits. I slipped the name into your companion's mind, and she added it to the list and then disregarded all the other names. And then, when you were at the bar, I drew you to me. It took so long for you to be drugged enough, and your mind was considerably stronger for some reason, I couldn't get through like I could with everyone else's."
"Drugged? You fucking drugged my drinks?" I was livid. I hadn't been drunk, I'd been drugged and then he had taken advantage of me! This was no longer coincidence, this was a fucking hit and run. I moved under my constraints, wanting to tear my nails at his face, that stupid, beautiful face...he shifted, keeping more of his weight on me, holding me down.
"Yes. I planned all of it, to become immortal, to become like you and your coven. But what I didn't think..." He trailed off, either thinking inwardly or reconsidering his decision to tell me his whole plan.
"Didn't think what? What? You didn't come all this way to stop in the middle of the fucking story, you didn't just fight with me to keep me here to listen for nothing. Tell me, or so help me, I swear I'll commit your remains to the sunlight." He snapped out of it, looking at me like a child threatened with a belt by it's parent.
"I didn't think...I'd be so sorry afterwards." He stopped again, looking at me for a reaction. "I didn't think..."
"You didn't think you'd have a conscience? You didn't think you'd still be fucking human? Is that it, Gein, we're all just monsters and you wanted to give it a test run. It doesn't work that way. Get off of me." He was still staring at me.
"Please, I just...will you ever..." He kept trailing off - evidentially a full sentence was difficult for him once he got to his main point. His eyes looked at me pleadingly and it suddenly hit me. What he wanted. Oh you son of a bitch, you son of a bitch! I screamed at him in my mind.
"You want me to forgive you! You want forgiveness, you want me to forgive and forget so you can fade into the background like everyone else and live on with a clear conscience!" I struggled under his hands, kicking with my free leg but none of it was getting me anywhere. "If you wanted forgiveness, you should've just left me alone and let me forget you like I had! You brought this on yourself and now you can rot in hell for it!" I stopped squirming, staring into his shocked and unbelieving face. He had actually thought that all he had to do was confess and he would be forgiven - fuck that! I wasn't a damn drive through confessional! Let trespassers be damned!
"Gein, let me up! Let me up, now!" Still he didn't move. I had no idea what was going through his mind, but I was done. I was so done. I moved my free leg into an uncomfortable position and kicked up at his head, simultaneously kicking him in the head and possibly dislocating my hip, it hurt that bad. It snapped back in just as quickly and I was on my knees before he grabbed me again, grabbed my shoulders and I tried to shake him off but one hand held fast to my shoulder and the other went to my face, his palm right on my cheek. My eyes snapped up to his and his hand slid down to my jaw, tilting my head up and his lips came down on mine. It was like getting to breathe again after being underwater long after your oxygen supply has run out. My hands went to his hair, grabbed fistfuls of it and pulled at it, while his hands moved down my body and around my waist.
Don't ask me about the sudden change in weather - I still hated his guts. But he remembered everything, from that one night, where to touch and where to press and what to just run his hand lightly over. Never mind that we were still in the alley way right behind my bar, never mind that we probably would've done it right there on the cold, hard, gravelly ground if only my boss, the bar owner, hadn't come outside to see what had me holed up for so long. So I had to push Gein away, and go back inside. I glanced at him, once, apathetically, before I closed the door on him and went back to work. My mind was running at a million miles a minute and I spilled quite a few drinks. The owner just rolled his eyes at me, and let me go early.
First place I went to? The little apartment that Gein had first taken me to, a year and a half ago. I practically ran there, holding my jacket closed with my arms cross over my chest. I got to the apartment and ran up the stairs to the door and I rapped my knuckles against the cold wood. A light came on and a man in blue pajamas opened the door, looking very sleepy. I was confused and asked if there was a man named Gein living there. The man responded that the prior tenant had moved out, and no, he didn't leave a number or forwarding address. He closed the door on me, looking very pissed, but I was utterly depressed. I took each step down the stairs carefully, and walked back to the bar slowly.
He left. Why did he leave? Because you wouldn't give him what he wanted. That's why. I didn't know if that was really it or not. Maybe he had wanted something else, maybe he didn't tell me something. What the hell could that be? It was more than clear that he wanted more than your forgiveness, idiot. By the time I had made it back to the bar, the sun was within an hour rising. No one asked any questions as I went straight to my coffin and closed the lid, still completely dressed with shoes and all.
And so...I haven't seen Gein since that one night. Since he explained his dilemma to me. I've no idea if my one and only fledgling has committed himself to the sun, or if he's still wandering around out there. I like to think that he's watching me, maybe, as creepy as that is, and sometimes I imagine him out of other customers sitting at the bar. But they're never him - they might have his eyes, or his hair, but they're never him. My beautiful Gein. Oh, did I ever screw up bad with that one - Gein was truly the embodiment of my mistakes, my failures. He was everything that was wrong with me, everything I couldn't do. And somehow, I needed him to be there. I had assumed he'd come back, to try again, but no, he never did. I felt an odd pang on the anniversary of that day, the fact that I had denied him and now I longed for him. More than just for him, for his touch. I'd barely known him, but he'd known me through and through.
And that is why I say to never get dead drunk and take a guy home with you. Consequences, consequences.