Last night, I watched my friends take flight for the last time.
For now, at least.
With trees providing sanctuary on all sides in the courtyard behind Requiem's church, I hadn't needed to worry about the curious eyes of neighbors as I placed my birdcage upon the seat of a wooden bench. Once I'd opened the small, metal door, it took only a few scarce seconds for the strong beats of two pairs of wings to lift my black angels from their confinement. Talons gripping onto my shoulders. The thin leather beneath the fabric of my hoodie protecting me from their hold as they balanced themselves upon me. Talking excessively in my ears. Staring at me with black pearls for eyes. Excited to be out.
It had been... a long trip.
Kali flared her wings - her desire for flight obvious - but still she remained with me. Waiting.
Loki, as per usual, chose a different manner to inform me of his eagerness: Attacking my gauntlet. I raised my arm a touch as his talons gripped onto steel plates. Hanging him upside down with wings flapping against gravity itself as he pecked at the blades of my fingers.
My arm barely had the strength to support him.
Nevertheless... I couldn't help but smile.
A small whistle - one that practically murdered my throat at this point - was all it took for ebony feathers to skim past my ears on both sides - their silhouettes quickly ascending into the night. The two of them playing amongst the stars as I watched from below. That bench then providing my body the rest it so desperate needed from the trip. From everything I have put it through thus far...
I was half-tempted to close my eyes and let myself sleep right then and there, but before too long, Requiem came out to join me. Both of us remaining in silence for a stretch of time before he commented about having found my "Virtual Testament to the Enlightened Path." He questioned the values of such a "Propaganda Pitch to the Masses" and then went on to say how I write with a length to each update as though I am preparing to "bind and publish a Holy Text in His Name." Cautioning me of "Eden's Snake" and being "lured from [my] Sacred Duty by the whispers of False Prophets."
I couldn't help but laugh a bit at the Priest's monologue, in all honesty. All I had to do for the first five to ten minutes of the conversation was listen as he answered his own questions and questioned his own answers. But that in itself is not anything new. Requiem has always been rather... intense. A truly dominating force in any conversation. The type of person that you don't really need to listen to - just pay enough attention to know when to nod. However, if you CAN keep up... he is ever so much fun to challenge.
This time, however... bantering simply wasn't an option.
I... barely have a voice anymore.
I had to repeat my responses to Requiem at least three times before he could understand me. When I tried to force my voice stronger, I only choked. Coughing hard. My body folding over as I gasped for the chance to breathe amongst the attack. Coughing up blood again... gagging... not able to stop myself from shaking from the agony that tore up the inside of my chest...
I only tried that once.
Requiem patiently waited for me to regain myself before asking how long I planned to stay at his church.
I told him no more than a couple of hours.
He suggested an hour was more appropriate. Half an hour even better. Considering the circumstances.
I couldn't blame him or argue. I simply nodded once and watched Loki and Kali play overhead.
It was clear we had nothing further to discuss.
Requiem stood at that point in time, but didn't turn to leave just yet. After a moment's hesitation, I caught sight of his fist held out to me. His expression hard. I honestly wasn't sure what to expect, but offered the open palm of my hand. His fist came over mine, placing something heavy in my possession as both his hands closed around my one. That in itself surprised me. Requiem, after all, was not one to touch anyone unless he was murdering or torturing them.
I heard him whispering a prayer, and then his eyes rose back to my concealed ones. "Have faith in God, my friend. The answer you seek will find you." His eyes narrowed just slightly. "Understand, this is not a gift. I do expect this back upon your return to reclaim your soul partners."
And, without another word, he turned and left. Leaving me holding his Operator Symbol medallion. I said not a word - simply slipping the piece around my neck. Spending the next hour in solitude as I watched my friends dance with each other on the night breeze. They would later be making such a racket as I handed the cage to Sister Fuchsia. I suppose they knew something was changing for them...
I had never expected to need to relinquish them in this manner. It almost feels as though I am abandoning my little shadows by leaving them in the care of Requiem's Squad, but... I know they stand not a single chance with me. I've become... a walking plague. They would only die.
For the first time since my time with Dimme... I feel... worn. I feel weak. My muscles don't hold the strength they once did. They... haven't for a while now. I feel as though my entire body has been slowly getting sucked dry of all energy... of all coordination and strength. Of speed. Of concentration. All of it has just been slipping through my fingers... and I haven't found a way to stop it yet.
The closest I've come to finding a sliver of solace was when... when Father had His hold over me. Which brought it's our problems, of course... but the symptoms had seemed to be less severe.
I think He simply kept the distraction from my awareness. So I could preform.
They hit twice as hard after He had released me from His side.
Of course, there was a delay of a few hours. So I had actually thought I had been fairing better at the time... until I could barely walk in a straight-line. Until my fever hit 105.1. Until my system rejected everything I had eaten over the past twenty-four hours and I was fighting to keep focus against the worst migraine I'd had in my life - spurring a nose bleed that refused to stop. Chills setting in next. Delirium...
I managed... to inject myself with one of the two syringes "Joseph" had given me.
And as I laid there on the floor of a house I'd broken into... I heard Him coming for me.
Steps pounding in my head.
A constant rhythm.
Each one splitting in my mind like a clap of thunder.
I don't even remember how I pried myself up.
I just remember running from that house as fast as my legs would take me...
I just... remember feeling the floorboards... shifting under my back...
I can run for days, but it... doesn't matter. When I hear Him coming again, His steps are only louder. Only closer. I ca
...I can't... get it out of my head.
Through all this... it is simple luck that I haven't been called into a physical confrontation yet. If I had the misfortune of it... I would doubt that I'd fare well. I know this. It is simple truth.
Simple truth that stings far too sharply for comfort.
As it usually tends to.
I am... hesitant to admit this. I am hesitant to let myself write these words of weakness and place them up for any to read. Any to use against me. Any to decide that now is their chance to end me. I am hesitant...
Because it has always been a Game. Always. From the very first time I heard the name 'Slender Man', my game-piece was placed on the board and the die knocked from my hand. My turn was rolled. Paces moved. Cards turned.
I then could only watch... as my fortune was painted in blood upon the walls of my life.
There was no turning back.
My choices... have brought me to where I am this very day.
I will not hide from that. I will not... pretend my situation to be any less than what it is. I've still no intention of dying anytime soon, but if this continues as it is... then I will sign off with an end that I would deem fit for one of my own targets.
I am not a hypocrite.
All of us - Proxies and Runners alike - are actors. His actors. As I said before, it is our place to give performances worthy of our Father.
My life - and eventual death - is no different.
I... can hear Him coming again...
Each step... echoing down the halls...
I could stay.
I could run.
In the end, I doubt it will make much difference.
He has been only playing with me so far. The worst... is yet to come.
can be dodged.
can be deflected.
can be avoided.
But one cannot run