I guess it's true... a month really can pass in a blink of an eye when you're having a good time.
The Highers have been keeping me rather busy, but not so busy that I'm unable to enjoy the Hunt. In all honestly, it has been of my own choosing to not update here. I really couldn't help but notice how my last post read as a touch of a rant. Discontented. Irritated. Combine that with reminding myself of the increased rate of defective servants amongst those who venture into this online Community as opposed to those who do not... and I concluded I needed to step back for a moment.
The problem, I think, lies in the fact that writing is, in itself... therapeutic.
But then again... so is Hunting.
It's safe to say I know which I prefer. Especially with the... drama on here, as of late. It's been good to keep myself involved in His Service instead of slacking off. Posting useless rants that everyone has already heard a good billion times. No, I stepped back and sorted out my mind. Made my opinions. Got together a 'To Do' list. All while meeting such interesting people. Spooks, Eliminations, Conversions... and the friends and family of the targets as well! Each task I take on is so incredibly unique.
There was this one man - I believe his name was Raheem - who would have made such an excellent proxy. He was sharp. Educated. Fit. Had military training, including torture techniques that he himself performed while under the service of his home nation before he ran from the army, claiming refugee status in America. He became an accountant over the past years. Went to his psychiatrist every Friday.
Then he found Father. So I found him.
The poor man was down to living in a nest of paranoia that was only going to break his mind - his house having become a mere cage to keep the world out. To keep Him out. He looked frail to my eyes... but, then again, most Runners do. I could see his potential, however, when he'd look at me. Despite his withering body from the stress of being Haunted, he still had fire. Spark. Brilliance. He could still BE someone. Something. If I could manage to take him passed the anger and fear, passed the hundreds of notes that laid balled up across the floor and the tell-tale pictures and words drawn and burnt onto every surface... he could be one of us.
After the initial "leave or die" reaction I received upon my arrival which brought a knife to my throat, I ended up sitting with him on the edge of his bed. Close enough to pose as a friend, someone he would already know well enough, but not so close to make him so uncomfortable so as to remember I was not. The entire job, after all, is about finding the balance. Placing yourself correctly. Understanding how a brain responds to human contact. I was his friend, there to help. There to lean on.
We talked for quite some time. I listened for the most part. Prompted him when needed to continue. I let him tell me what he needed to. Every thought that was tearing him apart. Every piece of anger he wished to lash out with. Every shred of agony and guilt he had kept within himself. I listened. I placed a hand upon his shoulder, and I continued to listen. Until he finally fell silent. Until he had finally relaxed in my presence with his face in his hands, utterly exhausted. I felt for him. I truly did.
Then it was my turn to speak. I told him the truth. I sympathized with him at first, before giving a light tug at the anger inside him. The anger he held against the world itself. Against people. Civilization. Mankind. I told him how he deserved better than what he'd been given in life. How he was treated. I told him how others like him deserved so much better...
I told him what he could be. I invited him to become a part of our family. No one judging him. No one sneering or glaring simply because of his race. How we would accept him. How we could help him make a difference. How he could forget the pain he'd burdened for so long and help change society for the better, one piece at a time. How it would be difficult, but not impossible. All he had to do was serve our Father as He was meant to be served. Without question or hesitation. With pride.
Oh, how we underestimate pride these days. So many would kill by the hundreds just to know the feeling...
So many already do.
He was silent for a moment, before he turned that sharp stare back at me. He proclaimed he had spent enough of his life bringing pain to others. That he was sick and tired of being defined by an art-form he wished he didn't have. He raved about the nightmares that plagued him even before he had stumbled across word of Father. Of the screaming and the blood and the pain and the tears and years of living that equaled to years of dying for countless others... of hating his reflection. He questioned me. Tried to peer past the fabric of my mask to my eyes. A pointless attempt. He would see nothing.
He demanded for me to tell him if I look in the mirror anymore without "that fucking mask" or if I wasn't able to at this point in my career. When I just kept smiling, his hand lashed out and grabbed me by the collar of my torn-up hoodie, pulling me up as he stood as well... until his yelling suddenly went silent. His tongue stilled by his own teeth as he bit down to keep from screaming. I squeezed the hand of my gauntlet closed a bit more, carefully watching his expression change as I grazed bone around his forearm.
I'd already grabbed hold of him before I'd even been completely to my feet.
Out of all the skill-sets I have, quick reflexes is the only one I was born with.
I remember his next remark perfectly. He spoke through gritted teeth. Glaring at me with that fire I'd admired since the first time I saw him.
"Forg...et... this 'Nightscream' crap. Who the hell ARE you? Who WERE you?! Until you sold yourself. Until you be...became... this."
Why that of all things was so important for him to know at that very moment is well beyond my comprehension... but I told him. And now I will tell you.
My name was Sam.
How's that for anti-climatic? Amongst all the... peculiar names we have around, my name was Sam. Sam Freeman, to be exact.
Early-spring of last year, I was still a high school teacher in Small Town, Middle of Nowhere, USA. Still desperately attempting to get the next generation aware of our history, as well as that of the entire world. Well, not just aware. But excited. Enthralled. Like I was. I spoke to my students as equals. Treated them as adults in their own right. Let them debate amongst each other. Encouraged debate amongst each other. Wherever an argument flowed to, I'd allow it.
So many taboo topics landed up being discussed within the walls of my classroom. All to influence the next generation. All to try to change common thought. Change how that small percentage I got assigned to me thought of themselves and the world. Trying to get them to use their heads where the previous generations did not...
That's how I began my story.
As for how I ended RAHEEM'S story... well, I just couldn't talk sense into him. Even as I reminded him that he had never felt more alive than when he held the life of another in the palm of his hand. When he was in control. Everyone wants to have control, so why would he deny it? Tell himself he was what he wanted to be? Just an accountant. Pathetic. Predictable. That's why he was there. He could control it. Then Father came and took his control away again. I offered it back. To be a pawn. To know his place. To control the Runners as He Wills us to. Raheem was DYING. Suffocating. Drowning. Locked himself up too tight... and yet, he still said no.
There was nothing more I could do.
So I dealt with him.
I removed him of the very hands he refused to use to serve our Father and then lit his apartment on fire, locking the door behind me when I left. By the time I returned to ground level, the fire-alarm was blaring and blood was trickling down the front stone steps of the apartment building where Raheem's broken corpse was sprawled out. I suppose he had decided to see if he could fly, rather than burn or bleed to death. Can't say I wouldn't make the same choice myself, honestly.
The people who were filing from the building were beginning to gather around the grotesque scene. The entire crowd was doing its best to fake horror, even though they were really just so fascinated by it. Human nature, really.
I gave the hands to Kali and Loki when I got back to them. Nice snack.
Raheem was not a TOTAL waste in that way, I suppose.
Speaking of waste... I have a few last words to say to my late brother, Morningstar. A touch late, perhaps, but my grieving soul knows no passing of time.
Morningstar... what IN THE NAME OF OUR FATHER do you think you're DOING?! Dying like that?! You lazy, good for nothing codpiece! Ducking out of service and leaving the rest of us to clean up your goddamn mess... Good God, could you BE any more of a pain in the ass? I swear that when I see you in Hell, I will SMEAR you across the walls.
In any case... apology accepted. I will miss you, my brother... little bastard...
When I had found out about his death, I decided my target at the time would die by an anvil landing on his head. Granted, not being used to such methods, it took me three attempts before I actually succeeded in hitting him. Though, after the first two attempts, the boy was so ungodly paranoid it literally PAINED me to go for a third shot! Hilarious.
I've already spoken to the NEW Morningstar. He is an interesting one... though I knew hoping for someone with a sense of humor would be too much to ask from Valtiel. The man presumably went after the dullest people he could think of as replacements... though, after Morningstar ONE, you can't really blame him. Shooter was certainly a proxy and a half. Humorous. Enthusiastic. Brutal. I always told him to pace himself. Lest he burn too bright only to fade out suddenly. Hence the nickname.
Like I hope to with his replacement, the first Morningstar and I got along fairly well. It is... a shame we fell out of touch. I feel perhaps I could have intervened somehow before he was too far lost... but, ah, well. Hindsight is 20/20, as they say. I have to admit, I was angry with him when I saw what he'd been doing... and, in my anger at his lack of loyalty towards the end, I had nearly... thrown away my name.
It does have his flavor to it, doesn't it? That would be because he was the one who came up with it. He named me. Months ago. You see, we had been stationed in New Jersey together at one point near the beginning of the year. He was still rather new. Opinions were exchanged. Insults were made. Blood was spilt. Laughs were had. Eventually, there was a challenge laid out. A bet. It doesn't matter anymore what the bet was, but I accepted the conditions... and lost. Along with a few other details, Morningstar was permitted to rename me. A 'mark', for lack of a better word, from one proxy onto another. A true mockery.
He threw away my original name of "Gauntlet" and turned me into "Nightscream."
At first, I hated it with a passion. Now... the name has grown on me. Much like he did.
Now that he is gone, I will continue to use it proudly. Especially as I seek out the two idiots who removed Shooter from play.
Won't you play with me? I've been DYING to meet you both.
PS: There you are, Dia. A bit about me. Happier now?