Monday, December 31, 2012

"...I'm sorry that I keep showing up like this. 
I really am. 
I know how much you want to just...
close the door on the whole thing. 
I know how wrong it is. 
I just..."
"No apologies are needed, Sam,
you know that.
After all, marked men will always have difficulties
               walking away from the past.
I can hardly blame you,
because it's not like
I'm much different.
Sit with me, Sam.
You're going to wear a hole
right through the floor
         if you don't stop pacing."
"...Thank you, my friend. 
So much has been happening lately. 
I've been... chasing so many leads.
Any lead. 
Trying to find Valtiel. 
Looking for any hint of the bastard 
in anything... 
but the further I go, the more lost I feel I become. 
Nothing connects.
It's like... walking through a fog. 
Nothing holds any depth, I don't...
I don't understand it. 
I don't understand... any of it. 
It's a fog.
It's all just... 
a fog."
"Congratulations, Sam.
You've somehow made your way down
                             another rabbit hole.
         Were the first two not enough for you?
It's difficult to find a thing like that in the first place,
but now it doesn't even want to be found.
I have to wonder...
are you simply chasing shadows, Sam?
Then again, aren't we all?
It's not like you're in any
different a situation than the rest of us...
Ever since everything collapsed in on itself,
things have just gotten worse.
Almost makes you
miss the leash, eh...?"
"For the record, I tripped down 
this particular rabbit hole.
...And yes, I suppose I do miss it. 
In a way.
I never liked the Organization, but... 
I never wished for it to break apart like this. 
Not completely. 
Sure, I always wanted to roll 
some of the Highers heads across the floor... 
but the System had a purpose. 
A needed purpose."
                 "Yes, it did.
Things have turned out quite sour,
haven't they?"
"...How are you
holding up?"
  "Well enough.
Don't you start wasting energy
 worrying about me.
             You're stretched thin enough as it is."
 "....Do you need anything?
 I could do a supply run for you
if you need it.
You really shouldn't 
be here anymore, my friend.
It's not safe.
You need to bury yourself."
"I'm as buried as I need to be, Sam
Besides, if I vanished from the
face of the earth,
I'd miss out on these little chats of ours."
"...You have me torn, my friend.
Lately, it's as though the only time
my mind stops screaming and the world calms a bit
is when I have the chance to speak to you
even just for a little while.
But I know... that I shouldn't be here.                                       
I know this is selfish of me.
I don't want something to happen to you.
I want you to disappear somewhere
where not even The Author 
 or Redlight
or any of them
myself included
would be able to find you.
And yet... I don't...
what I'd do without you."
"...You'd survive, Sam.
Like you've always managed to.
You've survived so much.
more than one person
  should ever have to.
         And you'd do it again,
if you had to."
"...And what if....
I've become tired of simply surviving, my friend?"
"You'd be alright,
"...What I'd be...
is alone again.
Shooter is long gone. He never really
came back to begin with.
Redlight's copy of him was amusing in some ways,
but it reminded me of how much I do miss the Cannibalistic Nutcase.
Requiem fell in a mess of blood and brains.
Philip may have seemed cold
but he was a Good Man.                                       
Good Proxy.
He cared for those who worked beneath him.                                    
Most of which are now gone as well.
Diamondback, or Rick, rather, has fallen off the grid. 
No one has seen heads or tails of him in months.
Pariah, Vanessa, Howler, Bismarck, Dreadstrife, George, Larthmor...
They're all the same.
Each one is gone.
Even The Butler is avoiding me at all costs.
And I don't even know why.
Alex has been Lost for years
but I finalized it by my own hand.
Even Loki is Gone..."
     "...The Butler is avoiding you?
Seems a little
out of character for him.
He seemed rather loyal to you."
"Loyal? No, not really.
Just linked to.
I Converted him, after all. He was my first.
Though that was after I danced
on Slender Man's strings
and slaughtered everyone inside the mansion 
he was employed in.
Probably the closest I've ever been to truly being Hallowed by Him.
Tackle Fucking Everything style.
I was driven at the Family.
While Father took the Child.
Heinrich had me by the collar when I came to.
Shaking me. Screaming at me in German.
Demanding I tell him where the 'Abomination' took his charge.
He cared for that little girl. Catherine.
Cared a great deal. Like an uncle.
He was close to his employers.
That was plain to see.
And the hate that he had for me.
The... lunatic that had come wearing claws
 and a bloodthirsty grin...
Heh. That Hate ran deep.
Almost as deep as the sorrow.
Yet he couldn't kill me. He didn't have it in him yet.
But it was Father's Will for that to change.
So I told him that, 
if he really wanted to find Catherine,
that there was only one way
to truly explore a Wolf's Den..."
"...'Join the Pack'."
                           "Yet he was a loyal friend of yours.
Despite the past, you stood on even ground.
 Why would that be?"
"...I imagine that he learned what it meant
to be upon His strings.
And I did save him in Detroit.
It's a long story for another night..."
       "...Yet, all of a sudden,
that doesn't matter anymore?
Doesn't that strike you as a bit... odd?"
"...Well, at least you have Kali still.
And... Leo... as well.
"...I'm going to lose him to Valtiel before too long. 
I've been throwing myself into research. 
Digging into everything. ANYTHING.
Even you have said you've been looking a bit. 
And I can't find anything.
Not a damn thing.
And when records do exist, they're vague at best.
It seems anywhere there has been even
a hint of some Activity or another, the records
are never complete.
If I don't find something, 
I will lose Leo too.
I'll have failed him.
And, as for Kali...
Honestly, I'm surprised each morning when I wake up 
that she's still here. 
Practically a miracle. 
I don't... want to go back to being alone, Winston. 
I shouldn't be bothering you anymore,
but the Silence is... too loud. 
Too... consuming. 
It'll eat me alive. 
It'll EAT me..."
                          "...I know, Sam.
I know.
And that's why I'm still here.
You'll always have a seat here.
Right beside mine.
We can just... keep talking.
Until we sort something out.
                       Just keep going.
And it'll sort out."

Sunday, December 23, 2012


I'm Running.

I'm Running and I don't even know from what.


Something is Watching me. Tracking. CHASING. It's not Father. It's not... I have to Run. I have to... find somewhere. Somewhere safe. Somewhere I can... think. Think this all through. None of it is adding up. It doesn't make sense. None of it... is making any sense. 

My head won't stop... pounding. It's only getting worse. Only getting... 

I had taken over their hotel room that night. Found a key with a red hotel tag on the corpse of the "Leader" of the group amongst some other odds and ends. Decided it was a good place as any to clean up before pressing on. I couldn't risk stayed more than just the night. Someone would eventually find the bodies, and it's difficult to cover your tracks when you have a hole in you.

Had to make due with things. Wasn't in any shape to get first aid supplies, so I scavenged what the others had had in their bags and what the hotel offered. Luckily, they did have bits and pieces of a medical kit put together. Couldn't find any kind of tweezers or that such to take out the bullet, so I had to sterilize my gauntlet and hand the best I could and just... grit through it. Clench my teeth and deal...

I suppose Valtiel assumed... that I could use some company during it.

I was settled... on the floor of the bathroom when I heard him. I had my fingers on the bullet when a simple cluster of words drifted across my hearing. Barely registering a meaning... but was more than enough to jar me. Accidentally pushing the bullet in deeper. Spurring a sharp stab of pain up my side. Had to grit my teeth to bear it. Sucking in a deep breath as I rested my head back against the wall behind me. Waiting for the pain to subside. Waiting for my breathing to steady.

Praying it to be an hallucination.

Wanting it to be just in my head...

But Amber Eyes gazing up from the pool of crimson on the bathroom floor beside me spoke oppositely. A smile as plain as day painted into each inhuman depth of golden-yellow even as the voice came again. Speaking without form. Tisk-tasking me for getting sloppy before those Eyes faded... and appeared again within the body of his Arabic meat-suit of a puppet. Red scarf draped across his shoulders as always. Tossing that snake smile in challenge of the hateful glare I rose to him... when he so casually offered assistance. Offering a DEAL...

I told him to get out.

Or, even better, to drop dead.

He got a laugh at that. Amused. Saying that he wouldn't know how. Assuring me how he couldn't possibly leave, no matter how sharply I carved my tongue. Calling himself my friend. Patting himself on the back for "being there for [me] in [my] time of need. Like a good friend should be." Questioning where all my other "good friends" were. Placing words of abandonment and betrayal on the shelf for me to take or leave even as I dug out the bullet fired by my own Kin. Tossing it away to rattle across the bloodied tiles. Pressing a towel to the wound. Hard. Hard enough to spike a bolt of pain through my nervous system when my head began to sway. Sharping my awareness up again...

He spoke toxic nothings. Tried to... convince me that I was wrong to be upset about how things turned out. About how he manipulated everything so as to own Leo. He... mentioned how it was every parents' dream to know that their child's future was... secure. Trying to talk me into... thinking that, deep down, I wanted Leo to follow in my footsteps. That it... pleased me. To think I'd be passing my "Legacy" on. That I wouldn't just... fade...

I called it Bullshit.

All of it.

We argued back and forth. Talking in circles. We argued even as I gave up on stitching the shredded flesh of my wound back together. Figuring it would never hold anyway. Arguing even as I used the sink to pull myself onto my feet. Arguing as I had to use the wall to steady myself, going into the small kitchen area. Arguing even as I took hold of the knife I had laid over a red-hot element before I'd even set myself up in the bathroom to begin with. We argued... even as I pressed the metal to my wound. Pulling it against me even as my muscles fought to yank away. My back braced against the counter to pin myself. The sizzle of flesh acting as the soundtrack behind every accusation and declaration. Behind every mockery and sarcastic flip. Burnt flesh once again tainting the air as I bit my lip until it bled...

We argued.

Until he accused me of trying to puppeteer my son. Of controlling him. Forcing him to live in a life where he was miserable. Safe. Normal. And miserable. Telling me how he was STILL crying himself to sleep each night. That he was still awake at that very moment in his own room a few states over. His room in a stranger's house. Strangers who pretend to be his family. Pretend to care for him. He told me... that HE had done more for Leo than I had ever done. That all I ever did was abandon him. Time and time again... leaving him to cry and cry and cry...

I threw the blade at him.

I didn't have any delusions of it hitting, and it didn't. He caught it. Began toying with it between his fingers. But it was just... for the sake of doing SOMETHING. Anything. It didn't matter what...

Until I was ready.

Until I offered myself to him. My very life in its entirety. My Service in whole until the very End of the Game itself. To Be whatever he wished me to Be... for as long as he wanted me. As close to Eternity as it's possible for a Human to Serve. I'd be his. No fine print. No way out.

No passing Go.

No collecting $200.

So long as he swore Leo would Stay Out. That he'd be protected...

Valtiel simply smiled at me, at first. A nearly-soft, Knowing smile. As if he had already known I'd play the self-sacrifice card. For he knew that's exactly how I saw it. How I'd always seen it. While others saw chances to gain power, I merely saw a more... complicated life. No, not even a life. For a life has to have an Ending. It would be only... an existence. And barely one at that. A forfeit of any true meaning to each day. A forfeit... of perhaps one of the last things Good and Untainted in my mind.

A forfeit of my Humanity...

The Secret.

He placed his hand on my shoulder and, under it, I never felt so heavy. So weighed.

I was afraid.

Then he declined my offer.

Telling me that it was tempting. That he had considered it. That he had... considered the possibilities of what my future could be twisted into for a very long time. How I had... "promise" to succeed... where others who had been Chosen had failed. Like Fitzgerald. Prepared from such a young age to be the most powerful Human Puppet of All. To take redlight's place, as Redlight. But Spencer... betrayed the Cause. Spencer - or, rather, the monster beneath his skin - had schemed and found his due for it, or so Valtiel said. That Redlight lusted for power. Lusted for Godhood. Lusted to dismantle anything that stood in his way... and create a world in his own vision. A foot placed on top of the face of Humanity. A Dictatorship like no other...

He tapped beneath one eye with his own finger. Directing attention to the same burning hue which The Devil carried in his own eyes. A glowing Amber. Smiling as he spoke of Fitzgerald's "creation". One of Valtiel's... most hands-on projects. How Redlight carried his blood. Tainted blood that ran thick and dark. How Valtiel had carved Spencer's life - Teller's life - with the aid of Writer and The Author. Slicing away at his mind and soul and Being so as to grow into the Purpose prepared for him. How, despite everything that transpired, he was still rather proud of that Project. Even if Fitzgerald himself was a failure.

That snake smile grew as he went on. Talking about what pieces of the "Formula" were wrong with Spencer. Expanding on them... and then considering their opposites. And then he twisted the subject to rest back on my head. My shoulders. Commenting on my disinterest in power. In Leadership. In being anything more than Human. More than Mortal. Commenting on my... set-in-stone Loyalty towards Father, no matter the details that try to murk the waters...

The hand on my shoulder touched my cheek. The touch nearly too hot as the temperature of the room itself skyrocketed. The lights flickering momentarily before dimming. Then going out. As though being smothered back by the shadows that pushed out from their hiding places around the room. Choking the light out of my Reality. Merging into a blanket of black that stretched out towards where we stood. Seemingly merging with Valtiel's very form. Becoming part of it. It becoming part of him. Those burning Amber Eyes glowing as bright and hot as the inferno of Hell itself. Blazing a cold shiver down my spine as they stirred. An invite to an Oblivion all their own. A sense of oppression settling down deep. The air in my lungs growing heavy and thick with humidity as he told me just how tempting it was... to force me into the position that had been intended for Spencer. To Be "Redlight". A Human torn from their Meaning... to act as the Figurehead above even the Highers themselves...

So I asked him why.

I told him I'd do it. I told him I'd do whatever he wanted of me for as long as he wanted me to do it... all while doing my best to not pay attention to the cold sweat that had broken over me. Despite the heat of the hotel room during his little... monologue. Telling him I'd be his. Completely and without question. To build or break as he wanted. Asking him why, if he was so tempted, he was turning down my forfeit...

And the second that those final words left my lips... he was suddenly gone. The lights were on again. The shadows back where they should be. The temperature even. Only the cold sweat remained... and then his answer drifted into my hearing. As though invisible lips were leaned in close. A hair's width from my ear.

"Because it's too much fun watching a Hero squirm, Brother."


and worse.

and worse.

what aren't I seeing? every time I feel that shadow of a concept... brushing the tips of my fingers over a real answer... it slips away...


no that's...

it's dragged awway

it's DRAGGED away....

Or am I being dragged from it?

I have to... rest for a while. I have to think this through. Research on Valtiel is... non-conclusive. Not much to go on. Not much to find out. Sometimes feels like I'm chasing a gghost...

God, my head hurts so much. It feels like

A week or so later, I received an email from someone that I had thought was dead. Gleeman.

He had Kali.

As I had feared despite Morningstar's assurance to the contrary... the shot that Loki took proved too much to be healed. He survived a little while, then was found dead one morning. Gleeman said that Morningstar took it rather hard. Felt he... failed me.

Nevertheless. Kali was still alive.

We made plans to meet immediately. 

We decided on the... skirt edge of a rather large city. Not far from where he himself was finishing a job that Fracture had paid him to do. Gleeman wasn't too keen on talking to me much apart from making it clear that he blamed me for the deaths of the others. I did try to pay him for looking after Kali for me. Gave my best attempt to force money into his pockets. Even suggested he could just donate it to a Children's Charity if he didn't want it that much...

But he wouldn't take it.

Simply told me to just "go the hell away" already.

So I did.

I tossed Kali's cage in the next trash can I passed by. Let her up on my shoulder in just the way we used to travel...

It felt... so wrong... to only have weight on one.

But it doesn't matter. None of it matters.

They're all dead.

And I'm alive.

That Should Be Reason Enough To Smile, Right?

Just Smile... even when I'm destroy myself to protect my son.

It's been suicide. Suicide since the beginning. I knew that. But I didn't care. I was already a Servant. My very soul tainted as black as my attire. Damned to Hell or worse. My tongue and glare sharpened better than my blades. How could things... possibly get worse...?


it's just so... hard to think sometimes...

Regardless, it doesn't matter.

There's nothing more they can take from me

And when you have nothing left

suicide is just...



Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I never... worried much about it before.

My place... has always been without question. I was a mere Servant – fit to Fall when my Time came. But… it never did. It almost did. Several times, it approached… then passed me by. Sometimes close enough to bash shoulders and send me down to my knees. A pathetic wreck of a human… but, again, I’d find my feet. Again, I’d go forth with His Will in mind and soul. Again, the blood would begin to flow… again, I'd smile as others screamed...

Part of me has always feared… that Death would forever pass me by. That I would be caught and held in this web for all eternity. For as long as Father had use of petty humans upon strings. That this was to be… my Forever. A strange manner of… accidental Immortality. I never wanted such a thing. Never. Could never understand those who did…

Where... do we draw the line in our lives...?

How far is "too far"...?

Nothing makes... sense anymore... it hasn't for a long time. but i can't... i cant figure out... where...

But I could tell a Story.

I know how it started. I remember. After I left that little hole in the wall in the early morning of October 6th, I know... there was a period of darkness. I blinked, and suddenly the world had shifted. I wasn't... where I should have been. Everything was aching even before I pried my eyes open. Finding myself collapsed against a wall in an alley. Sitting on the trash-littered ground with the rain pouring down around me. Expanding the puddle one of my legs was in. Pounding on the roofs and pavement and trash cans all around me. Singing its dreadful notes across the city. Torturing my head. I could see the mouth of the alley filled with blurs and flashes of light and movement as traffic sped past. Burning my eyes even before the scream of a siren approached. Ambulance. Firetrucks. Rushing straight past and continuing on.

Big enough city, they must have always been on one call or another. No reason to draw too much attention to it...

It was October 17th.

There was... a rat hunched over my leg. He was trying to eat through the fabric to have himself a nice meal out of my calf. Pudgy little fella probably thought I was dead. Probably drawn in by the blood that covered me. Though I wasn't sure at the time if it was mine or not. Later realized it was the latter.

The rodent was quick to scurry away when I shifted. He rattled the empty shell of a red coke can as he fled for whatever means he understood as his own sanctuary. 

The small noise made my head pound worse.

I felt as though... I was in a vacuum. A feeling of being completely and wholly separate from everyone. Everything. Seeing but not seeing. Hearing but not hearing. Being but not being. Everything twisted and warped. So much, I wanted to just... let go of the reins. To return to that blackness that had stolen time from me. But then... slowly... I remembered Amber Eyes. I remembered Leo. I knew I couldn't let go just yet. I knew I had work to do. Yet it still took me... ages to drag myself to my feet. I felt like I hadn't eaten in near forever. I felt weak. Scattered. Like even the rain beating down on my shoulders was too much to burden...

I simply assumed that... it had been Father. That my strings had been yanked back and I'd been forced to His side again. It wouldn't have been the first time He did so and broke my memory of it. He knows not of the fragility of humans... or, perhaps, he does Know. And simply expects us to break when the strain becomes too much.

It has been two and a half years since I fell to my knees before Him. Clinging to the limp body of my little girl in a pretty pink blanket. Two and a half years of Service. Of killing. Of finding reasons to smile in a life that only exists to steal those reasons from you. From me. From everyone. Wearing us down. Wearing us out. Watching the edges tatter and tear. The colors fading out, bit by bit...

Proxies begin their Stories at the Ending...

We don't tend to last too long...

Why am I still here...?

I saw Father that night. 

My steps were staggered as I tried to make my way to somewhere safe. Somewhere dry. Somewhere where I could be alone and sit down and think. Try to sort out what was happening to me. What had happened to me. I just... needed some time to collect myself. To sleep and eat and clean up a little...

I hadn't gotten far before I realized... that the city was on fire.

the traffic was only headed in one direction, save for the emergency vehicles...

And The City Was On Fire.

The orange glow filled the air. The flames rising up above the buildings themselves even as firefighters attempted to contain it. Isolate it. Prevent it from growing anymore than it already had. The thick smoke billowing into the skies above. Challenging the rain, and winning. The sirens were everywhere. Police evacuating the city. Telling the citizens where to go. People were scared. Crying. Yelling.

I didn't even know what city I was in.

I felt something tug on my sleeve and turned to find a small child staring up at me. A boy. No more than eight years old. A jacket with a hood up covering blonde hair.

"Do You See?"

A shadow in the distance behind the boy stole my attention.

Father stood beneath the glow of a yellow lamp light in the rain across the road. Unseen by those crowding the streets.


Staring Right At Me.

Then a red truck passed between us, and He was Gone.

I Keep Seeing Him.

It's wrong.

It was always so... rare for Him to show Himself to a Servant. Rare... and so very dangerous. But something has changed. Something... had to have changed. I Keep Seeing Him. Again and again, ever since the Cult Town. Ever since Strangers fought Sickness in a battle that tore into reality and left a wound infected and seeping pus...

He Watches Me.

Growing more and more frequent. Closer. Then farther. Across the road. Across the field. In the same ROOM.

As if I was a Runner again.

I don't know what to do, it doesn't make sense, He just...

I was stupid. 

I was too wrapped up in my own thoughts. It had been a few days since I woke up and I had moved on to another town, but I still wasn't any clearer minded. My eye was sore most of all. A headache in the back of it. Distracting me. Too many things distracting me to realize I was being followed. Recognized by my own kin. Proxies.

But they didn’t see me as “Kin” anymore.

I was a “Redlight Loyalist”.

Despite Redlight having disappeared for months...

Despite Amber Eyes assuring me that the Crimson Prince was dead...

Despite The Valtiels taking full responsibility for the Organization’s Fall...

The paranoia remains. No one - myself included - could quite shake off the feeling... that Redlight was more involved in matters than anyone realized. Or, perhaps, chose to realize.

They had me backed into an alleyway.

Two pit bulls yanked at their choke collars in front of them. Eyes on me. Barking. Growling. Teeth bared and saliva dripping. Their holders seemed to struggle a bit to hold them back. Bracing themselves against the leash even as the four Proxies took turns speaking of the hardship that they'd come upon now that The Organization wasn’t flipping the bill or... brushing off police attention. Apparently, their group had been thirteen not so long ago... but a certain group... “affair” had called the attention of the local authorities. When things got heated, Proxies that had become accustomed to being untouchable drew their guns. Bullets flew.

Six Proxies died.

Three were wounded and arrested.

Four escaped.

And it was those same four who wanted to... repay me for where I chose to lay my Service.

The... dogs came first.

One earned a bullet between the eyes before it even neared me. Body falling hard against a wood pallet even as its partner with the red collar went on without it. Eyes looked on my throat even as the second bullet grazed across its jaw. Sparing it. And, when it lunged, it took me straight off my feet. Knocking over a trashcan on our way down and hitting the ground hard. The arm of my gauntlet shoved in its mouth as it bite down as hard as it could. Clawing at my torso. Ripping fabric and flesh. Pushing its weight against me. The stupid animal too focused on my throat to even think to withdraw that little bit just to get my gauntlet from its jaws. Instead, it tried snapping against the steel. As though expecting to be able to bite through it.

The pressure from its jaws was still painful.

A third shot fired took out its ribcage.

My Kin were on me even as I was throwing the dead weight off – an army boot planting down on my right arm to pin my gun... so I tore the blades of my gauntlet across the back of his knee with my left. He screamed and fell down to one knee even as I rolled away – twisting to my feet just in time to meet the other three advancing. More specifically, just in time to "meet" the hunting knife in the hand of a fiery, red-haired woman. I managed to twist so it only skimmed my side instead of being buried in it, but she seemed to anticipate that and quickly corrected her motion in a way I hadn’t expected. Pulling her arm back and up to crack the butt of the knife to my skull. Aiming for my temple, but catching just beside my eye. I staggered a step back even as another Proxy dropped behind me and spun – his leg sweeping my feet out from under me.

I hit back against the dumpster. It "caught" me from my fall partly as I twisted down its side to meet the ground on my hands and knees...

But it was a good position to do some batting practice.

My hand found a plank of wood.

When I cracked it around... it hit and dragged with a resistance I hadn’t expected. Blood spraying... and tearing out an eyeball - skewered by nails - even as another nail in the board sunk into the woman’s temple and tore out the side of her face. Her twitching body collapsing back amongst the dogs as the other two rushed me. I used both wood and steel to block as I found myself forced to back up more and more...

I heard a shout of rage and glanced behind the two in my face... just in time to see that the first member with one useless leg (which he’d tied his shirt around to attempt to prevent blood-loss) had crawled over to the woman. Had found her dead. And now had a semi-automatic pointed down at me.

Or, rather, us.

He shot, but I accepted a blade passing across my chest in exchange for a human shield. Pulling the young man in close to me even as the bullets rattled his body. Most the bullets stopped within it, but one traveled through him and stopped in me instead. I dropped with the body – grabbing the smaller handgun strapped beneath my pant leg – and fired back at the “mourning” Proxy. Hitting his shoulder, then his neck, even as a last bullet from his own gun splattered bone and brain into one bloody mess that was once the head of the corpse leaned against me. My human shield nearly spent.

I turned in my crouch at rushing steps, but found them to be running away down the alley. The figure obviously having had enough and wished to preserve their own life...

I fired my remaining bullets at their retreat. I heard one ricochet... and that was all. I was alone again. Surrounded by the dead. There was so much blood... theirs and mine... I felt sick.

What purpose came of this? We were kin.

So much death.  

So much.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Goodbye To A Good Friend. Part 11.


I went to "Joseph" in the middle of a raging storm... that fit all too well the turmoil I felt inside. Part of me wanted to hate him... and the other part only hated myself. One part wanted to make him suffer for betraying me... the other part wanted to make certain he knew I still thought of him as a friend. A conflict that he saw without even sparing me a single glance. But, of course, he would know. He was always gifted when it came to reading people...

Or perhaps that would be "cursed".

He was always a smart man. Too smart for his own good. Too prideful.

When he Fell, he Fell bone-crushingly hard.

And it was the remains of him that I found nursing a drink in the middle of that storm. A man who had come to fully accept that he was finished... and seemed content in the silence that surrounded him. That seemed to have become part of him. Even as he spoke to me, it seemed like a chore for him. Tiring. As if the sound of his own voice was unpleasant for him. As if he preferred the Silence.

"Cheers, Sam... to me regaining my humanity. 

I was played,

soundly beaten,

then ran away like a coward. 

Self-preservation and pity at its finest."

I hadn't intended to tell him everything, but I did.

I told him everything.

I even told him... what my Plan was. Or what it had been, for that matter. I told it to him... despite the fact that the chances of me surviving long enough to pull it off the shelf again were beyond nil...

But you still don't get to hear about that.

It's still my Plan. Mostly intact. I never spoke of it to anyone... pardoning Winston on October 5th in a little no-name town about a fifteen minutes drive from the State line. He was an exception. You, my friends, are not. Not even close.

As I went through one event after another, I found myself speaking to the floor. To the windows. Down to my gauntlet which I had clutched close to my body. Some things were easier to speak of than others. Once or twice, my mind would spiral ahead of my tongue and I'd need a moment to bring it back. To refocus and continue. Winston seemed to be struck speechless for the most part. Probably for the first time in his life. He never interrupted. Never asked a single question. But he was listening. I could tell that. He was listening acutely. Taking in all that I offered, and, for the first time since I arrived, there was almost - almost - a flicker of the man I first met in the Cafe when I'd just started being Hunted by the Plague Doctor. Almost a hint of Life. Almost a hint of... interest. Of... want.

Winston and I had a lot in common.

One of which was our drumming desire to Understand.

On that afternoon, I gave him every piece he'd been missing. Every piece he had once wanted to finish his opinion of me. To finally Understand me. Or stand the best chance to. I gave him that. More because I wanted him to Understand, than that he really wanted to know still. I don't even know if he cared anymore... but I felt that I owed that much to him...

For a good while after I was done, there was only silence. Long, undisturbed silence. We listened to the rain. The wind. The growling of thunder in the clouds - not yet thundering. Then, finally, Winston had his choice of words. 

"With all that you've suffered through, Sam... I wonder if you'd be better off dead."

I finally looked up to him again. The tone had been deadpan, but... he was finally looking me in the eyes. Perhaps... that was the real reason I went there. What it was all about. No more lies, no more talks of the "Game" that we both used to love so much... just two figures standing in the still darkness, with nothing but their shadows for company. Aside from each other, in any case...

I told him I was tired. That I've wanted rest for so long now...

It got so much worse after I "escaped" the Plague Doctor. He never really let me go. Not in my head. And He only plays a part. There are so many other faces. And One with no face at all. Sleep is no refuge. It never is. Trying to separate the nightmares from reality is near impossible when everything is painted with blood. When all you hear is screaming and pleads for life and death. I told him that, even if I do manage the impossible - and I hold no delusion of what kind of undertaking I've put on myself -  I doubted that I'd finish what I started. That I'd put my Plan back into motion.

Because I want to die.

I want my End.

I've seen enough. I've done enough. I'm just... done.

I'm Living for the Chance to Die now.

I deserve it, don't I...?

But... I can't let that happen. Not yet. I can't die. I have to live... because I have to kill Valtiel. I have to find someway to protect Leo. Or, at least, find some way to get close enough to... murder him. Just like I... like I murdered his sister. I could do it. If I just had the chance again, I... I have to do it. If given the chance again...

If I don't find a way, Valtiel will poison him. Take him as a new Toy once he's old enough... and shove him forward to walk the same path I did. To become me. Until he, too, is reduced to Nothing. Until he Falls. And when he does... the cycle would probably be repeated onto... any children that Leo had by then.  

My... grandchildren.

I can't let that happen.

I can't be the cause of that.

I can't.

I told that to Winston... and his expression hardened as he watched me. 

"You can only do so much, Sam.

Talking about yourself like you have the power to be some kind of savior...
telling me what you 'have to do'... 

Stop treating your life as if it's a means to an end. 

Maybe I can't... 
exactly comprehend the type of connections you have, 
the type of love you possess... 
but if you're going to do something, you should do it for yourself, 
instead of making excuses about what you need to do. 

Maybe... you give up the fight.

See where the other road goes."

I said nothing. I merely stared into those hollow eyes... and I knew he realized then - or perhaps he had known, and had just forgotten - that I wasn't there for advice. That we weren't standing in the Cafe and we weren't talking about the idiocy of the Highers or the dangers that came with the Mongrel rising as The Devil. That I'd been detoured onto Story Time by my own choice. Perhaps a choice at delay...

Because I wasn't him.

Because I could never just run away. Hide and wait for karma to catch up with me.

I could never just let myself rot while I still had a heartbeat. While I had two legs that work.

My cause may be irrational. Reckless. Moronic.

But I still don't have an excuse not to try anyway.

I'm not a Savior.

I'm a Killer. 

And this is my son's future.

I don't need another reason more than that to try for the impossible.

I guess that makes me the stupid one, after all.

Winston was no fool. He may have given up... but he still could read nearly anyone like a book.

"You told me all this... because you really are going to kill me.

Aren't you?"

Fifteen minutes after that question, I left into the heavy rain. The storm that had engulfed the city only seemed angrier. The wind howling like a banshee as it tore at my clothes. The rain pounding down on my shoulders and head. Soaking right down through my hoodie to chill my flesh beneath... tinging off my gauntlet... my gauntlet that I will never be able to take off ever again...

Despite the rage of the element, the rain felt... good. Numbing.

Even towards the headache that pounded on my skull.

In that moment... walking the deserted streets... replaying years of events over and over in my head... the world never seemed so empty. So damaged. So... alien to me.

What happened in those fifteen minutes... is not for your entertainment.

Winston may have betrayed me... but he was still a friend.

And he may have been a friend... but he still betrayed me.

And betrayal has consequences. 

He deserves both better and worse than anything I could write here.

I hate him for what he did.

But I will miss him.

We were friends.

In this life, that simply doesn't exist.

We were... an impossibility.

And I hope to God to see him again one day.

Maybe after I find my End, I'll be able to.

Just... not yet.