Firstly, to You. Yes, You. The police were a nice touch, but your timing was horrible. I'll be expected better next time, my sweet idiot.
To the rest of you... well, I've been having fun lately.
There will be no poetic mutterings this time - tonight I'm cutting straight to the main attraction. I will apologize to Dia, however. Because I'm ignoring her request. That Spook assignment was nothing to take note of. Typical tears and blood and pleas and mindless threats and such. Nothing all that interesting. I've since been on two Eliminations and a successful Conversion. In this past week, I've been busing myself with something of a... Spook/Elimination mix.
I was assigned to a girl in the Ohio area. She'd been on the run for nearly fourteen months. Scared out of her wits and tired. Ragged. Absolutely dragging. I had been ordered to flush her into a certain area at a certain time, where one of her old time friends/a coworker of mine would conveniently be at the right place at the right time to "save her" from me.
Who doesn't like dramatics, after all? Honestly.
I had started toying with her a bit right from day one - keeping at a distance at first to heighten the paranoia. Took a thing or two. Slipped other reminder-type-objects in her pockets to flush up old memories. I even got into my Disguise for this case - that is to say I wore what would be considered "normal" clothes to blend in. Hadn't done that in a while. It's amusing what one can do when no one sees the blood-trail you've left behind you. I even had a friendly chat with the father of a boy I Eliminated months ago. I had thought that I knew him when I was standing next to him at the bus-stop, but I couldn't place it. Then I saw the horribly scarred cheek and forehead on the side of his face opposite of me, and I knew.
Russell has himself a glass eye now. And the limp is barely noticeable. Few more months and he shouldn't need the cane anymore! Good for him.
As for Alicia, I had thankfully arrived with plenty of time and the Highers weren't bugging me for once about future projects, so I was able to enjoy myself fully as I prepared scenarios for her. I'm not usually one to get tacky, but for this sweet girl... I couldn't resist. She used to be quite the "goth" type, if you know what I mean. Her obsession with the darkness brought it straight to her front door. Brought Him to her door. She had her story. Now it was time for the conclusion.
I had left her several presents over a stretch of days. They each consisted of two things: a black feather (not from my ravens, of course. Crow feathers. From the park. I knew she wouldn't notice the difference.) and lines from a certain poem we all know and love.
When I decided to begin, I took the first verse and etched into her motel room mirror with the finger of my gauntlet - laying the feather on the edge of the sink.
A couple days later, I wrote the second verse directly into her journal - using the feather as the bookmark.
A few days went by, and then the third verse... the third was when I started having fun. It went up on the wall in blood - the window pulled open to let the wind in for that dramatic effect you're only supposed to get in movies. When she came home, I crept in behind her as she read the verse... and promptly slammed the door shut behind her, revealing verse four carved into the back of the door by my knife amongst smears of blood. I then used that very same bloodstained knife to pierce through verse five, which I left hanging on the front of the door. It took a few moments, but eventually she gathered enough courage to open the door and find it. When she had braved the empty hallway enough with her anxiety only on the rise, she ducked back inside with a hard slam of the door. All I had to do was just wait for the scream... and then I heard it as she found verse six.
It was burned into the chest of a young woman who was a nearly identical match... to dear Alicia's departed girlfriend. Her lover. Dominique. Four black feathers were tucked carefully into the corpses short, blonde hair. I had positioned the stranger with the torturous face on the floor - collapsed back against the wall in the same pose Alicia had found her old lover in. Dead eyes staring out. Wrists slit. Suicide. Or so the police reports say. In front of the body on the floor, written in her own blood, was the very last sentence of the verse: 'Tis the wind and nothing more.
Alicia called the police, but bolted before they arrived. Running fast and hard through the city. Tears streaming. Too choked by painful memories to pay attention as to where she was going. A fool's mistake. I easily followed. Eventually, exhaustion gave in... and she let her weary body collapse against a wall. Sliding down to sit amongst discarded coffee cups and cigarette butts on the concrete sidewalk. Entire frame trembling against the tears she was trying so hard to keep silent as she drew her legs into her chest. I leaned against the telephone pole across the street from her, fully visible... and proceeded to send her verse seven by text.
She looked up at me. I smiled in return. I expected her to Run again.
She did not.
After several minutes, she focused back on her phone - tapping away. And, in a moment's time, my own phone hummed with a reply. I couldn't help but grin.
"Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave & stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn & shaven, thou,' I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim & ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!'"
I replied: "Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'" Then I immediately sent off another. It was time to move the game up to another level. "Though I do find 'Nightscream' has a better ring. Wouldn't you agree?"
Silence was my answer for a while. "What do you want?"
I considered my options for a brief instant before I snapped my phone shut and walked over to the girl. She didn't run, but I could see her tensing more and more as I approached. It was late and we were the only ones on this stretch of road. Mistake #2. But I wasn't interested in making her pay for that yet.
When I was near enough, I offered a smile and told her how what I wanted... depended solely on what she wanted. Her response was that she desired to be left alone, so I told her that, if that was the case, then I wanted to perform my job as it was appointed to me. That I wanted her dead. I truly couldn't help but laugh a bit as the color drained from her face. Yet she didn't look away. Nor did she get up. So, I asked if she had preferences. A blade vs a blunt object, for example.
Her only response after a long moment was if I thought she'd see Dominique again. After death.
I studied her for a time. I knew what I saw in those bloodshot eyes, and it wasn't fear. It wasn't the stubborn will of someone pretending to be strong even with tears staining their face. Trying to be some idealistic symbol to live up to of hope and open rebellion. As if being delusional is a virtue. No. What I saw... was curiosity. Temptation. Hesitance - but temptation.
I asked if that was what she wanted. To see Dominique again. I inquired as to if the pain had numbed yet, or if it still stung to just say the name. When she could only close her eyes to prevent more tears, I had my answer. I considered options for a spell - letting the silence drag out - before telling her that there was a possibility... that she could see Dominique again. That some of my brothers and sisters... were gifted in some ways. That they might be able to reach the girl's soul. Though, of course, that would only be possible if she served.
She chose to laugh at me. Calling me a liar. A fake.
I let irritation invade my tone slightly, reminding her that she was in no position to spit on an offered hand. I asked if it really felt so wonderful to have nothing left... so that she could rationalize turning down exactly what she wanted. After all, she was being hunted by a faceless being. It's not as though spiritual-connections are that much of a stretch of the imagination from there.
I told her to make her choice. That I'd find her the next evening. Her last chance. However, within the space of half a day... she chose to Run again. To try to escape one last time. I took that as my answer. I sent her one last text. Verse fourteen. The curtain would be due to fall soon in this little play, so I contacted my coworker. Hangnail. We agreed that a bridge in the park would work fine for the dramatic climax for this stage in the game.
Everything was moving right on time
I manipulated her path to my own gain and sent her towards the park. I pressed her hard enough to exhaust her and make the panic spike in every nerve she had. Making her heart thud in her ears and her legs become more and more weak as we neared the crossover point. Then - in complete perfection for the scenario at hand - she tripped over her own feet across that bridge. Scrapping her hands and knees on the concrete as she fell. I stood directly over her then. On my mark. Her eyes flew up to me - wide in terror as I planted one foot on her shoulder to pin her and rose my gauntlet up for the strike. I like to think the light reflected off the sharp metal. Like some brilliant Hollywood effect...
I should have been tackled. Maced. Otherwise distracted... but nothing happened. At all. I hesitated. Trying to weigh my options. Considering dragging it out a bit to give Hangnail more time. Giving some villain-type monologue like those that some of my siblings are so brilliant at delivering. I've never tried it really. Then I thought of just continuing the act of killing her just to keep it simple...
But that would be when my cellphone decided to ring.
Now, far be it from me to be rude to a victim by letting modern technology interrupt... but I was worried. I flipped open my cell. A text was waiting for me.
"`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'"
It confused me to no end. For it was from my coworker's number. I hesitated back - stepping away from dear Alicia - and called the number. It went to voice-mail. The message called me by name, instructing me to listen to the saved messages on the machine. Curiosity and irritation got the better of me. I did as it told me and what I heard... were the shouts of my sister - of Hangnail - amongst gunshots. I heard the telltale shouts from her opposition: the police. I listened as events took place. As Hang was arrested despite her best efforts. She sounded injured. Then, for the final blow... another message was left at the very end in a voice I didn't recognize.
"`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?'"
I snapped the phone shut. Casting my stare onto Alicia again where she lay waiting. Just sitting there. Confused. I suppose she had been ready to die after all. Otherwise you would have thought she would make like a bunny and scram, no? I almost felt the need to apologize for ruining the dramatic effect, but I had other thoughts on my mind. At first, I wanted to pit the blame on Alicia herself for recruiting help. For pitting someone against my sister in a surprise attack. For getting her injured and arrested and completely ruining our plans...
But the rational side of my thinking kicked in. After all, Alicia would have no way of knowing her friend was in the area - leave alone that she had been a proxy for the last seven months. Also, Alicia didn't run. A simple clue to the truth. For if she had any knowledge at all... she would have at least enough intelligence to take her escape while she still had legs capable of it.
I realized then what I had to do. Whoever it was that had intervened, they desired for me to back off. To leave poor Alicia alone. Now... what kind of sibling would I be if I did that? And so... I put my phone away and leaned against the railing of the bridge, head hanging low. After a moment's pause, I slowly let one arm fall to my side - turning slightly to face the poor girl. In a bare whisper, I apologized for my rude behavior. I apologized for scaring her. And even if I had hurt her. That it was my job to... but I couldn't follow through with my orders. That I didn't want to. I told her how I had killed probably hundreds of people... but when I looked into her eyes, I couldn't take her life. Not now. Not when I could see so much promise staring back.
I let myself sink down to sit across from her, my back to the railing as I talked to her. Casually. Quietly. I spoke a bit of where I came from. Who I used to be. When she started offering input, I asked a question or two about her. Eventually, she came to sit beside me on that bridge. She told me what her plans used to be for her life. How she was introduced to the "Slender Man myth." What happened when she first saw Him. How things fell apart. With her family. Her friends. Dominique. She explained what she had been doing. Where she had been.
Through it all, I just listened.
After a stretch of silence and the evening growing a bit cooler as it shifted into night, I told Alicia how
How this... most certainly wasn't what Dominique would have wanted for her.
I whispered about how I wished she was able to see Dominique again. That I knew what it was like to not get closure. The feeling like there is a hole ripped right out of your chest... and the pain just gets worse and worse until you just want to scream. How I would do anything to get rid of it. To have the chance to say goodbye. To stop the pain.When I mentioned such things, her eyes began to water as she asked why I hadn't addressed it. Why I hadn't reached out to my siblings like I said I could and ask for their assistance to let the past rest. To talk to those that were gone. I just told her that mine weren't dead yet. As good as, but not quite. A tale of suffering without end.
I begged her not to walk my road. How, unlike me, she had a chance to heal. I told her that serving was a small price to pay... to see the person you love more than anything. To talk to them. Tell them everything you always wanted to say.
She started crying silently. My cue to wrap a comforting arm around her shoulders. Letting her lean into me. I held her for quite some time, urging her in whispers to become my sister. My hand stroking her dark brown hair as I did. When she spoke again, she sounded weak, but that was to be expected. She kept dismissing my claims of family. Saying that it was nothing but a lie. That even normal families were lies. Bad jokes. People who swore up and down that they were there for you, only to turn their back the instant things weren't quite convenient for them. Even for something as simple as not loving the way they thought you should.
I listened to every word of the sob story. Still stroking her hair. The longer I stayed, the greater an influence I took over her mind. The assumption that my intentions were only ill-fated began to wash away with the flow of her thoughts. I could hear it in her tone. Then, after she fell silent, I stood again. Letting what had become warmth under my arm be replaced by the chill of the coming night. She didn't like the change. I could tell.
I gave a soft smile down to her and told her that, though some of her points were valid... that there are some families that are exactly as they should be. Families in which each member pushes another to better themselves. Each supporting the other when they can. I told her that is how it is between my bothers and sisters. Of course, we bicker. Argue. Fight. But that in itself is because we care for each others' survival. Even subconsciously. I explained how we were comparable to wolves. Faring all that much better when in a pack.
A true family.
I told her I wanted her as my sister. Like Hangnail was.
So that she may nevermore know pain.
Nevermore know loneliness.
Nevermore know despair.
I offered her my hand... and she took it without hesitation.
I gently pulled her to her feet and lead her toward her new life. Bringing her to Him. To Father. Deep into the wooded trails. Off the beaten path. I lead her to solitude. A place in which no screams would drift back to the ears of the norms. All the while, I whispered prayers to our God to grace us with His glorious presence. That a new daughter was waiting for Him. For His touch. His will.
I felt His arrival before I even saw Him. A terrifying aura that shook me down to my core. A slender figure standing tall and proud amongst trees that seemed all that much more darker than they were a few scarce seconds ago now that they were in His presence. Beautiful. Deadly. Perfect. A true God if there ever was one.
I can still vividly remember the first time I saw Him.
It was... one of the most horrifying moments of my entire life.
I dropped onto one knee in those woods, head inclined down. I ignored the girl's fear and whispers of second-guesses at my side as He approached slowly. I saw the shadows of the tentacles on the ground. Those were that I focused on. Fascinated by their movements as His reach found Alicia. Whether He took her as a sacrifice or made her like me or turned her into a Hallowed was His own choosing now. It was always His choosing.
I simply waited. Watching His shadow blacken twigs and leaves alike even as I heard Alicia's screams tear through the air. I waited.
A humble servant and nothing more.
In what felt like mere seconds, the girl's limp body was placed upon the forest floor where my gaze had been held for who-knows-how-long. His will influenced me and an understanding weaved into my thoughts that I was to find a place for her before carrying on with my usual duties. My God... our Father... had already left before it had even completely registered in my mind.
Alicia is my sister now. She has the family she wanted. The family she deserves.
He will be with her now.