Wednesday, April 25, 2012

There Is Only One Thing I Know...

...And that is the simple fact that I should be asleep at this moment.

But, of course, tonight it is choosing to elude me. Truth be told, I've been finding it harder and harder to sleep the past few days. Instead, I've been spending my nights staring up at the ceiling of my room. Up at the darkness that surrounds me and the creeping shadows at the edge of my vision. Riddles and ponderings crawling through my mind like parasites. Billions of questions. Only a handful of answers. None of which want to STOP to just let me sleep...

Sometimes, I get up to do some training. Hope that will wear me out enough.

Sometimes, I give up all together and start through paperwork.

Sometimes, I pay our newest friend a late night visit in his holding cell.

Sometimes, I just go up to the roof. Stare up at the distorted sky and hope to find sleep there instead.

I'm not used to having a room that is "mine."

I'm not used to a crowd for company.

And, more than anything, I'm not used to the Silence.

It feels as though things have become so... needlessly complicated lately. I can't help but remember back before that bloody Cult Town assignment. When it was just me and my two little shadows. My ravens. Kali and Loki. Just us. Moving from place to place. Job to job. Not having a single tie to anywhere. Nearly a free agent. Nearly.

Stupid as it may be to say: I miss them.

The rational side of me knows that this is no place for birds. The Cafe is within a Loop, after all. Even if their systems could handle the shock of the change in energy, I doubt they would quite appreciate the atmosphere. I know I'm not. It feels like a cage. No, actually. It is a cage. One that protects as much as it smothers. An endless stretch of nothingness in all directions where the stars bleed into the sky instead of holding presence in it. Where the fog closes you in. Giving just a glimpse of trees in the distance that disappear the instant you focus on them...

However, even with that in mind... another side of me still wants to bring them here. To feel their weight on my shoulders again. The grip of their talons and the sharp sound of feathers beating air. I've lived in their company for so long that, despite how crowded the Cafe itself is... it feels wrong to be without them. There is a silence that cannot be filled by anything else other than them... a Silence that tends to disturb the mind if left uninterrupted.

Strange as it may sound, a Runner gave me Loki. Only a chick at the time.

It was during an Elimination a month or so after bidding adieu to Dimme. The mission was a little bit of an odd one, for the girl my target was on the Run with was someone I knew quite well from past experiences. One who knew me when I was Sam. One who I had promised that she wouldn't be alone in her struggle anymore...

Her name was Jordan.

I preferred to call her Faith.

My target was an African-American girl. Barely thirteen. I wasn't as creative back then as I tend to be these days, but I still played with them a little bit. The end scene of the affair having me holding my target by the throat at the edge of a rooftop. Four stories up. Her hands clawing at my arm. Begging me to let go and not let go at the same time. I honestly had no interest in her. Ignoring her struggles in favor of smiling across the roof to where Faith stood. Frozen in place. Fear weaved through her features amongst such a vast stretch of conflict and guilt. Sorrow already deep in her eyes for what she could already see coming.

I reminded her then that she could make it all end. After all, she was the one who began this particular Game, and she could end it just as quickly. I told her to pick up the gun from the floor between us. I told her to shoot me. To end it. There and then. Quick and simple.

Even with little Desiree crying... all Jordan could offer was the faintest whisper of a plea that was nearly lost on the wind. Asking for a mercy I was not about to provide.

I told Faith she'd have to try harder than that.

Then let the girl fall.

And, even with the broken body of her latest "friend" sprawled on the pavement a few stories below us... even with the fresh scream only just fading from the air... Faith still watched me with eyes of hope as I began to walk towards her. Despite the tears that streaked her face. Despite how she sunk down to her knees. She still wanted to believe "Gauntlet" wasn't "Sam." Telling me over and over again that this wasn't who I was. That I had to fight this. Whatever the Slender Man had done to me. Whatever demon He had implanted in my head. She begged me not to give up yet. To fight it. To come back. To claw my way forward. To take back control. That it was my choice...

That we always have a choice.

I couldn't help the laugh I gave as I came to crouch down in front of her. Letting my hand touch her cheek. Bringing her stare up to look at me. I told her she was right. All of us have a choice. Unfortunately, we all also have a breaking point. A time when the price paid is worth the return.

Father found mine.

It was time someone found hers.

But Faith... my dearest little Faithful... she refused to believe it. Refused to think I was using the same mind to kill people as I once did to teach them. To help them. Support them. She continued to cry as she spoke, but I knew at that point... that they weren't tears for the death of the little girl. For someone she'd only known for a week or so. No. They were for me. Her teacher. Someone who offered to help back when they were too ignorant to know better.

She told me she knew that her teacher was still "in there somewhere." Screaming to be heard through the cruel words carried on a pleasant tone. Telling me how I couldn't isolate myself. That I had to remember what it is like to be needed. To be counted on. To have trust in another creature. Even if it wasn't human.

That would be when she pulled over the other Runner's backpack. Putting her hand inside and taking out a bundle of wrapped cloth. A gray feathered chick in the center. A few months old at the youngest. Crying to be fed amongst the blankets that were keeping him warm. Obviously an orphan that the Runner had "adopted," for better or for worse. I honestly wasn't even certain what species of bird he was at the time, but Faith still forced the package into my hands. Telling me with a broken voice that it was mine to look after now...

"It'll at least fill the silence."

The Silence.

When the night is too quiet and time itself seems to freeze.

Left with only your own mind for company.

A dangerous thing, indeed.

One of the slowest killers.

A tumor of the mind that slowly grows the longer you let it hold you...

And, the cruelest thing... is that you'll think you've only become saner as you spiral down in a death roll.

All that is left after that point... is to wait for the final impact.

At the time, I had been on my own for perhaps a month or so. Maybe two. The Highers didn't assign me a new Handler after Dimme's death (later found out this was Valtiel's doing). Instead, they left me to rise or to fall by my own making. I discovered the Silence then. I knew it bothered me, but hadn't thought much into it.

Perhaps... Faith had already begun to see my own spiral begin at that point. It is a possibility. But, for whatever reason, she still presented a masked Proxy with the gift of a baby bird. I gave it the only name I could think of... that suited an animal raised in such circumstances.

Kali came into the picture several months later. A wild raven that, I suppose, took an interest in Loki. Or vice versa. Whichever way it worked, I soon found a second raven perching in the trees around us. Following us. Gradually getting closer and closer. I would toss a few pieces of food in her direction. Earning trust. Until, eventually, she came to take the pieces from my hand.

I still remember how right it felt when she finally came to perch on my shoulders for the first time. Opposite side to Loki.

They became my friends. Those I could depend on. Those who filled the Silence in the night...

Now there is only my own mind and the tapping of these keys.

My thoughts left to drift through everything that as transpired lately...

It's been over two weeks now since my performance at the Cult Town, and I've been recovering... decently, I suppose. "Joseph" has been using every trick he knows to help speed the process, but my limitations at this point still sicken me. I am doing all I can to heal while regaining weight and muscle, but it is far from a quick fix...

Something that David has been having quite a bit of fun ribbing me for since his arrival at the Cafe.

Our little assassin was very much amused by the fact that one of the cuts he gave me during our little scuffle way back when had only just begun healing over. It almost seemed as though - in that special mind of his - he considered it a compliment onto him that I had worn his wound for so long. Then again, I shouldn't really say that as if it is new news, should I? He has always had the tendency to find pleasure with anything that makes him believe he has one step above anyone at all.

And, to my own surprise when David had walked in... Venny had come with him.

A bit awkward?

Why, yes. It is. Ronan almost seems to be purposely avoiding me.

It hurts. Truly.

Though that may be for the best, as I do tend to get my fill of talking to a wall with dearest David as it is. All humor aside, I do respect the man. I honestly do. But I think it's rather safe to say we have both found a bit of stress-relief in harassing each other while we're stuck here. Small little mockeries and threats which one day might become more real than the joking tones they are said with suggest. All just some not-so-harmless fun to keep us from getting too comfortable. To remind each other - and perhaps ourselves - of what everyone here is capable of...

And then... Shooter burst into the equation.

Myself, "Joseph", and David were going over some details together when the door was suddenly kicked in. Door cracking back against the wall as a loud, but not familiar, voice proclaimed their arrival in a tone that was very much familiar. I caught sight of a signature grin that I recognized all too well... only it was beneath black hair instead of blonde...

And then I was glomped, for lack of a better term. Tackle-hugged? Whichever.

Good God, it hurt.

I had TOLD the igit to mind my ribs. However, Shooter is not known for his attention span. Or, rather, he is known for it. But not because of his acute focus. In a body that was a bit too tall for him and a bit more muscled, Shooter actually made me wince from the grip. Only letting go once I reminded him of my condition. Apologizing. Worry held in eyes of a blue that reminded me of dark storm-clouds.

Needless to say... remembering a friend is behind the face of a stranger is going to take some getting used to.

He brought with him orders from Redlight that I'm certain you've all already heard about. The four of us wasting no time in setting off to have some fun with one of Moriarty's Killsquads. There isn't really much to tell about it. We went in. Morningstar's target was the only one to be 'spared'. The rest of us had two targets each that were to be Eliminated. I didn't waste time with mine. I was in no shape to play games with soldiers trained to that degree and, not to mention, The Plague Doctor had destroyed my gauntlet rather completely during out last stand-off. Knives and a gun aren't nearly as fun as my old weapon was.

I played shadow tag with them for a bit. My hope being to catch them at a corner when they rushed to catch up... only to find myself clothes-lined. Hitting my back hard.

Yes. That hurt.

The image of a gun came into spinning vision. I twisted hard on the floor. My leg snapping around. Kicking the arm as my other leg found his gut. The gun went off and the bullet hit the concrete by my shoulder, but I only ignored it in favor of twisting more. Finding my feet again. Rising quick with a blade thrown as I turned. One target collapsing with a knife sticking from their throat a scattering of seconds later. Blood surging into his mouth. Down his chin as eyes turned dull. More shots went off from my second target as I ducked around a corner. The shots went wild ever so slightly. I'd guess nerves on their part. The attack only earning me a ricochet that skimmed my arm. Blood beginning to flow. Blood that I then used to flick a false trail around another turn. When the soldier came to follow, it only took a quick movement. A single snap. And the body crumpled. Neck broken.

I don't know how David killed his second target, but I did pass a corpse with his (her?) face literally blown off on my way back to the front. I assumed that was one of his.

At the regroup point, I arrived just after David did. The two of us finding "Joseph" in a bit of an... unusual state of mind, to say the least. The corpse beneath him barely looked human anymore as the knife he held kept coming down. Again. And again. And again. Turning insides to mere mush in a bath of blood. David was the first to get to him. Forcefully pulling him off. Or trying to. It took both him and I to finally get "Joseph" to snap awake.

Thankfully, the soldier was the ONLY one to get mutilated during that little episode, but I think it's safe to say that the soundest mind amongst us all at the moment... is the only one who isn't recovering from one trauma or another.


Makes me grin. It really does.

"Joseph" has been excused from interrogating our little captive friend for obvious reasons. The rest of us all taking shifts to extract as much information as he has stored in that little mind of his. I must admit, these people are tougher than I'd expected. It's quite fun getting into their heads. It poses as a bit of a challenge... but we're getting to him. The anticipation of torture can prove to be as much of a Hell as when it finally comes. And then... just when he thinks we're going to have some real fun, we leave. Let him sit and wait for his fate. His screams to "just get it over with" gave us all a much needed laugh.

Especially after Redlight almost Hallowed "Joseph."

We had been taking a bit of a break at the time. "Joseph" and David were talking at the counter. Shooter and I were playing chess. Well... I was playing chess. I have no idea what he thought he was playing. All I will tell you is what I told him:

No matter how much he had "improved" the rules... a pawn has never. And will never. Move like that.

Shooter was right in the middle of explaining his flawless reasoning while naming all the pieces on my side after Runners... when the air suddenly turned sour. Something almost like a haze settling around us. A chill that sunk deep into everyone present all at once. I felt felt my nerves tighten all at once. A sick feeling twisting inside me as I glanced to my company.

David had pulled "Joseph" in closer to him at the change.

And Star's gaze... had turned nearly blank. Staring off into space for a moment before his eyes fell down to the new ring on his right hand. One that bore a red stone. The Mark.

For nearly two long minutes, nothing changed. Nobody moved. The tension too thick for even words.

The breath before the plunge...

And then he was just There. "Joseph's" head slammed down onto the counter by a wrapped hand. Hard. The words that followed were boiled hot and cut sharp. Rage torn across the face of the Devil as he held "Joseph" pinned. It literally was a strain to remain in the same room, leave alone step forward... leave alone be close enough to keep hold of "Joseph's" hand. I have to give credit for that. David only backed off when that bite turned completely against him.

Apparently, our newest friend didn't appreciate "Joseph" lifting the spirits of a certain Sage.

David and myself both argued as the defense in that makeshift trial/execution. Shooter joining in soon after. Between the three of us, we seemed to actually give Redlight pause for a few seconds...

Long enough for "Joseph" to add his own stammering amendment for his actions, at any rate.

That seemed to be enough to prove to Redlight that he had made his point.

A few seconds later, "Joseph" was thrown to the floor in a heap. A final threat made clear if such stupidity were to happen again... and then the raging Devil was gone just as fast as he come. Only a few stray black leaves left behind him...

"Joseph" is alive. No thanks to that same idiot who was on the second half of all this.

So, since I'm on the topic...

AmalgamationSage. Next time you decide to "help" one of our own by flat-out challenging our dearest Devil with some other-worldly bragging and practically daring him to piss you off...

Kindly do us an even bigger favor... and don't pass up such an excellent opportunity to shut up.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Just Say "Please."

There is something to be said... about accepting death.

There was a place between here and there. A road. An endless road beneath a Golden Sky...

About that time we all reach in our lives... when we've pushed ourselves as far as we are capable of reaching... and we come to accept it right down to our deepest core. When we are mentally spent. Physically wasted. Emotionally shredded. When you can only gaze at The Wall that's risen in front of you... and, one by one, the realizations sink in that... This Is It.

That you will not be crashing your way through it this time.

You will not be running down its length to cut around it in a detour.

You will not be climbing its front to conquer yet another obstacle in your path.

You can beat on it until your hands shatter apart and bleed down your forearms.

You can scream out in anger. Pointless justifications. Rights and Wrongs. Until even your own voice abandons you.

You can run along its length until every last one of your muscles pull apart... shredding like paper in water...

But The Wall will simply watch you destroy yourself. Unmoving. Unfaltering. Inevitable.

When you realize that... when you accept it...

The fear starts to die with you.

And when fear starts to die... all that you really have left is...

The steps came too close.

And yet I still waited for Him to come even closer.

This was to be my final performance. My last hurrah. Nothing but cockroaches, prostitutes, and Cultists as my waiting audience...

Even they deserved a good show.

And, just like with any good Act... timing was, indeed, everything.

He entered my Play with a flare of shadow and a slight distortion of the room. A strange twist, or tilt, of reality that brought Him straight through the wall - as if it was not even there. As if it was but a certain of rain for Him to step through and nothing more. 

I caught but a glimpse of that sickening face beneath the wide brim of His hat... and the very next instant glass was exploding around me. A burst of flames licking at my back amongst a forceful gust of hot wind as I hit the ground with staggering steps. Hands and knees again. Only the beginning of the Scene... and I was so tired. So very tired... 

No rest for the Wicked. 

I stumbled back to my feet. 

I hadn't planned to glance back. I had told myself I was not to, under any circumstances, let my focus drift from the road ahead of me... and yet, I still found my steps pausing if only for a second or two. Glancing back over my shoulder. My eyes behind my own mask... locking with the gaze of the black abyss itself from the God of Disease. A cloak of shadows seeming to practically swallow the light of the roaring inferno around it. Flames licking up all around Him. Spreading across the ceiling. Doming over. Surrounding Him.

He stared back at me.

I knew.

He was not amused.

Despite everything, I think I managed a smirk. Though it may have just been in my head...

"Tag. You're It... You fucking bastard."

A rush of something came at me through the air... and I was running again before my head was even on straight. Boots hitting the road with a shock up my legs that didn't seem... real. That seemed too sharp, too deliberate, to be just the normal jolt of running strides. It felt as though each step was tearing at my muscles. As though every move towards my target only earned me an electrical shock. Burning away at muscles. Tendons. Nerves. Forcing me to demand a strength my body didn't have anymore...

And His steps followed.

I never stopped hearing them coming after me. Cane tapping alongside every other step. Sounding off in my mind again. Shattering through my thoughts and vision. Gunfire. Fireworks. Thunder. Nothing seems sharp enough to compare...

It hurt.

The run seemed so much longer than it was supposed to have been. My vision continuously splitting as I ran. Doubling. Contrasting the darkness of the night around me with a blinding gold only interrupted by the trees that passed by on either side of me...

...Ink-spilled trees with charcoal branches...
I just kept running forward. Pushing forward. Pushing through the agony of Present and the times that echoed in my head of Past like raindrops in a pool of water. Defined for only a second before disappearing into the flood of memories and faces...

I fell once. It felt as though the Grim Reaper had clawed its grip down my back... but, somehow, amongst the blur that became the world, I was back to my feet. Somehow, I kept running. Somehow, I found the strength to pound my feet to the ground again...

...pavement with the texture and grain of chalk, trees and street and sidewalk stretching out into Forever... 

Then, at all once, it felt as though the Town simply rose around me from the very trees themselves. The landscape that I had been trapped in seemingly evaporating with but a blink of an eye. Replaced by sidewalks and buildings and people... and smog. A thick cloud of sickly green that descended upon the area right in stride with me. Rolling through the streets. Thick. Tainted. Choking.


It was then, in the middle of the road in that little town... that my legs finally gave out. That I collapsed to the pavement. Gasping for air. Everything burning. Like I was still in the motel room I had left in a blazing inferno behind me. Being incinerated by my own trap. His steps nearly deafening me... as I watched from the corner of my eye as Cultists clawed at their throats. Their eyes. Their bodies. Screaming. Crying. Not understanding. Unable to understand. Blood and vomit and boils rising to burst with thick pus and skin peeling off from their very flesh...

Suffering. Convulsing. Dying.

Each being consumed a different way by His Sickness.

Men. Women. Children. Young and old. Even the animals. The cats and dogs. Anything that breathed would be swallowed by His presence... 

And I had brought it upon them. 

All according to The Plan.

Every one of them just Tools. Pawns. A hopeful means to a different End...

...slate eyes paired with a wry grin made in greeting. Taking a long walk down the endless road...

I remember trying in such vain to pull myself forward as He approached for the last time. Trying to just delay that little bit longer... and then I was in His shadow. Skin crawling with a feeling I haven't the words for, as if His gaze alone went straight through my skin and He had plain viewing to every inch of what clockwork still allowed Life in this beaten and battered shell of mine...

...and was deciding which gear to remove first.

I saw His cane come at me... and, with fresh memories of the last two times we "played"... I did the first thing that came to mind. I fisted my gauntlet... and cracked it across His cane. Curving my arm in front of it. Blocking Him. Body twisting on the ground to allow the movement even as pain flared up my arm...

I felt His stare sharpen.

Two movements. Too quick. One hit back my gauntlet. The pieces of it shattering apart. Raining down on me just as His cane snapped down upon my chest. Pinning me to the ground. Teeth bared in the agony that spread from that center point like blood in water. Filling everything. A grip that took me in whole before narrowing its focus brutally. An invisible hold that tore. Twisted. Dug. Pierced. Burned. That contorted and manipulated my body only to please Him...

I can still feel... the hot blood that ran down from my eyes. Nose. Ears. Surging into my mouth to trickle down my chin and throat... 

I can still feel... how my body shook and convulsed with a force that I was sure would shatter my bones to pieces...

I couldn't even scream.

...A choice offered amongst the drifting leaves.

 On one hand, a long road to walk and a terrible friend as the only company for a terrible friend... 

And then... something changed.

The cane lifted from my chest.

Even as I pulled my awareness out from beneath that blanket of agony, I could FEEL something heavy fall upon that Town. A presence I knew all too well...

Father had come.

The combined pain of one of His Towns.

The combined screams.

The combined death.

It called His attention.

As I had hoped it would.

The Beak had turned its attention away from my pathetic sight at that point - His gaze turning to the tall, silent figure on the edge of town. My head pounded too much against me to offer any kind of vision for that distance... but I could mostly definitely feel Him. A pressure that weighed heavy at the best of times. The world seemed to sway, and a scarce second later, He was much closer. Presence even more potent than before. Crushing. Smothering. Suffocating.



It is interesting to think... that even Gods such as They still have such a... basic system between Them. Nature's most basic system...

The Pecking Order.

I knew this was going to get Bad. And fast. 

I started forcing muscles to work again. Started pulling myself away. Clawing. Crawling across pavement for something - anything - to help me to my feet...

The sounds I heard...

There are no words to describe what I heard between The Slender Man and The Plague Doctor.

Strange, twisted noise. Gargling growls and throaty sessions of clicks. Grunts and hisses and rushes of whispers... and, from amongst it all... sharp, cutting shrieks. Startling breaks in otherwise quiet, yet deadly, tones that tore through my mind just to hear...

...Or to turn around, and go back. 

Neither option seemed all that much better or worse than the other under that Golden Sky...

I pulled myself to a wall. I think it was a window ledge that I used to force my body up again. Staggering to hold balance. Nearly losing it as my foot hooked a corpse on the sidewalk. Breathing hard with an aching chest. World swaying. Distorting. Odd flares of light. Vision clouding into black... 


Cane again. A step forward... 

Tentacles curling around... 

I forced myself to walk. One foot. Then another. Using the building for support. Just trying to get away in time...

"My, oh, my. You're quite the mess, aren't you?"

The voice came from everywhere. All around. In my head. Followed by an amused chuckle. I thought I was hearing things, as that would... more or less be the next line to cross over. In any case, I ignored it. Pushing myself around a corner of the building to go down the alley in between... only to stagger and hit my shoulder to the building opposite. Broken ribs screaming from the jolt. Body trembling, begging, for rest...

Stumbling steps pressed on.

There was a God almighty screech that should have been heard for miles... and the entire town shook right down to its foundation. The sound of buildings coming crashing down entering just after. Shrieks and cries and inhuman screams filled the air as The Beak and Father clashed. The entire world seeming too hot and too cold at the same time. Detached. Everything seeming to be vibrating with an almost-silent hum. Reality bending. Twisting. Contorting.

All by Their Wills.

Fighting Gods.

It felt like a whip to the mind to even... 

It was peaceful under that sky. Beautiful even. A few flaws here and there... 

...but flaws tend to only enhance beauty.

"Going to ignore me then?"

A sharp edge hidden beneath a covering of honey.

Another shift. A shadow twisted into Real on the other end of the alley. Finding form in the dark.

Another laugh. 

"You'll find I don't like that very much, Brother." 

Another stumble as the world swam, catching the wall for balance. To just remain standing. To just...

It hurt to even breathe.

"...Who... who is... 'I'?"

Everything felt wrong. Like the alley itself was set to consume what was left of me itself...

"Easy there; seems you've been through quite the ordeal..."

Footsteps next.

And though my fog of vision... there became one thing that never distorted. Never lost focus or blurred away...

Those eyes that approached from the dark. I recall the figure wearing a deep red fabric... but those eyes caught, held, and remained. 


Brilliant, near-glowing amber.



"You're right, I've yet to introduce myself. How rude of me..."

I knew that feeling. I'd felt it before. With the First. 

Only this time it felt far worse. Suffocating, even.

He who needs no introductory. 

"I heard..."
I had known of his existence for a while now...

The Sky, the company... made the choice to take the long walk so very tempting...

...but there was still work left to be done.

There was still had a job to finish. 

He leaned in. Close. Amber the only clear thing in my vision.

"...that one of our Brothers was near death, suffering what amounted to an execution for no crime." 

A too-wide grin. 

"That doesn't seem fair at all!"

I couldn't help the pained laugh I gave. Head lowering, gaze drifting away from him. Wearing a weak smile, but a smile nevertheless. Even as my limbs shook to just remain standing. Leaning heavily on the wall for support...
For him to find me at such a time... in such a state...
The Town was being demolished by the anger of two Fears... and yet it all seemed so far away in that moment. The shrieks and cries and clicks and hums that tore into my head... becoming but muffled background noise. 
Father was winning.

"...And Sam?

...Do you regret it?

Any of it?

Any of this?

What y'did to me...?"

Words fell off my tongue. I won't remember what they were. I think... it was to do with the mission that began this mess. My decline. My... return to Running... how I came to be but a sliver from Death's hold...
It was probably nonsense to hear. 

"Listen to me."

From amongst the fog over my mind... he had reached forward, tilting my chin up. Forcing my stare to return to the sharp amber.

"Such vaulting arrogance! Such hubris! Are you too proud, Brother, to beg even in the face of death? I came today to offer you a choice."

Even closer still. 

"The others left you to die. They seemed to have the view that you were dangerous. Useless. You're lucky I disagree. All you need to do, Brother... is ask me to save you. Strangle your pride until it stops breathing, just for now."

His grin grew wider.  

"I need you, Nightscream. Don't disappoint me and make the wrong choice."

My hand found his shoulder. Shaking with effort for such a simple movement...


"...Help me..."


A last-second deal stuck... with The Devil himself.

And then everything turned black.

There was a place between here and there. A road. An endless road beneath a Golden Sky.

When I woke again... it was with a jolt back into Life. A rush of everything flooding over me at once... and I thought... just briefly... who I saw through blurred vision was an Afflicted member. A Cousin instead of a Brother... experimenting instead of... piecing back together...

He didn't hold it against me.

And the relief that washed over me when I came to recognize that voice...

Ha. I didn't know whether to laugh like a fiend or cry. Say what you want, but one doesn't exactly go from "You're going to die, Nightscream" to "You're going to be okay, Sam" flawlessly.

Nevertheless... The Devil has awoken. Redlight lives. He brought me here. A place I have been since that night. Recovering under the care of the only person alive who has the expertise to bring someone back from falling that deep into Death's grip...

And, for such, I doubt I will ever be out of "Joseph's" debt.

The man nearly bled himself dry trying to replace what I had lost. Trying to convince my body to keep fighting...

Apparently... my heart had even stopped beating at one point.

"Joseph" gave me absolute Hell for that.

Called me a "lazy bastard."


The Game is just starting to get interesting.

It's good to be back, my friends.

I left him there. Waiting for me.

One day, I will return to take the walk in the other direction.

But not yet. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions.

By the time many of you read this... odds are I will be dead.

I am currently... sitting on the floor of a cheap little motel off in the middle of nowhere. The kind that seems to take every shred of desperation from your situation and hang it on the wall to greet you when you first walk in. The kind where people only come with a prostitute or a kidnapped victim under their arm. The kind where you're quite certain that, should you flip the mattress, you'd find the tell-tale stain of old blood covering a good half of it. Then again, I may not have to even flip the mattress. Maybe if I decide to look, I'd find a murder weapon in the trash can from the last occupant. I can just imagine it really. "Complimentary Evidence Disposal." Yes, because the 'Room Service' sign out front which is off one hanger certainly doesn't apply in any other way...

it... will probably be considered a community service when this place burns to the ground...

and believe me... it will burn this night.

All part of the plan... a rather suicidal one, but I hardly think that matters at this point. I will not survive a third visit from Him... and He is coming. I can't hear Him yet, but I can feel it. I... can feel...

Heh. "Feel."

I feel like death warmed over. It sickens me to even hold my arms around myself when my abdomen feels as though shards of steel are passing through it. As my body eats itself to gain the nutrition I cannot ingest. I can feel every bone. Every rib. I am starving to death... and yet I know - just as The Friendly Butler did - that that will not be what ends me. The migraines, the fever and chills, rashes, boils... they are all just part of His game. Just pieces to the final picture... but that doesn't make them any less real. Any less painful. It hurts... to even move. To walk. The lymph nodes in my neck are swollen to the point I can barely move it... and, though I haven't been eating food to bring up, my body seems to had upgraded to... vomiting blood instead.

The... ends of my fingers and feet are tainted with a touch of black now as well...

His signature, no doubt.

as if the other symptoms weren't blatant enough.

heh. does it sound whiny to say that even pressing these keys hurt? goddamn rotting flesh. so very inconvenient...

Part of me can't stop wondering... how I got to this point. To this low.

the other part... can't ever stop knowing why.

Part of me wants to crucify the Highers for putting me into this situation.

part of me knows that isn't where my end began.

we all... have our stories.

even proxies.

many of you seem to forget that we once had lives too. you seem to ignore it. deny it. you seem to prefer to perceive my kin and i as not but monsters. demons and devils. ghosts and ghouls. like we are but props sprung from some cheap fairy tale. the evil minions of the demonic overlord or black witch.




I'd imagine... it makes it much simpler to see the world so black and white. The line defining evil from good being a thin, blaring red instead of mottled gray. believing that what is always has been. that His soldiers, his servants, have always been what they are. rabid dogs once caged by the rules of normal society... now released to spread His chaos. fulfilling their role. living the life they always dreamed of. reborn so much freer than they once were...

you read along our words... expecting evil. expecting our lives to have begun when we came under His influence in this way...

the story of a Proxy... of our blogs... can only begin at the end.

I have been in this... online Community for several months now.

You've known me as "Nightscream." As "Screamer." "Scream." Whichever of the assorted nicknames I've gained. Some of you I have spoken to. Some of you have spoken to me. A few of you have actually met me. Perhaps one or two actually think they know me a bit. And, perhaps, as I am as a Proxy... they just might.

But not one of you ever knew me... when I was only Sam.

You didn't know me when I attended my high school prom.

You didn't know me when I graduated university and began my teaching career.

You didn't know me... when I said "I love you" to the love of my life and meant it with all my heart.

You didn't know me when... my son came into this world... and I held him for the first time.

You didn't know me when Leo said his first word. When we taught him to ride his bike or had picnics in the backyard. When I thought for certain I'd be there to watch him complete high school. Go to university. Follow his dreams and have a family of his own.

You didn't... you didn't know me when... I asked one of my best students to stay behind after class.

You didn't know me... when I sat in the chair of the desk beside her own and I expressed concern about her slipping grades. Her change in behavior. A once friendly girl having become withdrawn. Quiet. Skittish.

You didn't know me... when I tried to persuade her to speak to me while she denied anything was wrong... despite the fear I saw churning in young eyes.

You didn't know me... when she approach me a few days later. Arms wrapped around herself for a comfort she couldn't find. Fear brimming over into tears and sobs as she broke down right in front of my eyes. Crumbling to pieces.

You didn't know me... when I listened as she told me everything. As she gave empty laughs about a silly, internet meme called the Slender Man. About videos posted on youtube. A game of paranoia. One that was making her lose her mind. One that didn't seem to be a game anymore. Not for her.

You didn't know me when I promised her that, whatever it was, we would get to the bottom of it. That she wasn't alone.

You didn't know me...

You'll never know me.

To you, my friends, I am just another Proxy.

Just another weak-willed lunatic here to deliver a few cheap one-liners.

It's funny, really.

You come in at the beginning of your story... and mock us for being at the end of ours.

what sense is there? what reasoning? do you expect us to break down and tell you our entire stories? to take your hands and show you our weaknesses and fears? would we not be monsters then? if we took all the details that made us who we are and typed them out where they'd be exploited by our own kin within a matter of days...

would you stop acting as though you understand? as though you know? as though you have any idea how we got to be where we are?

what right do any of you have to judge us as monsters? to deny us our humanity?

how much different will you be when your story catches up to where ours is? when you stop Running with your eyes closed?

Make no mistake. This is not a confession of last regrets from a dying Proxy. A sudden turn-around now that all other options have run dry. No, this is a wake-up call. One last lecture. One last lesson. I have done so much to make me deserve this End... but I do not regret what brought me here. I do not regret the choices I've made or the things I've done. I made the best of the situation dealt to me... and I let myself find enjoyment in my work. For what worth is there to any manner of life... if you can't find reason to smile?

and it is for that logic... that i am a monster. a ghost. a ghoul. a demon. a devil.

A mindless drone for your Their His entertainment.

a single scream in the darkest night

i can hear His steps

He's coming to end this now.

I will wait... and then I will run with all I have left within me. I will throw myself through the glass of this very window... and hope I can anger The Beak enough for Him to follow me on one last chase. One last Game. Hoping to catch Him amongst the bonfire I prepared especially for Him. Explosives wired to a modified security alarm that can sense the sound of shattering glass...

I hope to lead Him to a Cult Town to the West.

I hope to bring Him into Father's territory.

I hope... to give a reason for the Slender Man to face the Plague Doctor.

i'm ready... to give my last performance

until we meet again

X  (x)X(\)(\)  O(\)(x)O(/)(*)  (\)x(X)o  (/)x(y),  O(\)o(~)
keep smiling
o(X)o(-)  X(o)  /(/)  QoO()\  QO(*)  (o)x()(Y)x\\o(-)  Qx(x)

Monday, April 2, 2012

This is not Nightscream.

Stating the obvious, really, as you would think that any of Lady Raven's beloved fanbase would not make such a heinous mistake as confusing me with him... her... it... what have you. However, as the attention span of most Runners tends to be limited at best, I find it most simple to just clear basics out of the way first.

Can you not see the absolute endless similarities? Uncanny, is it not?

Absolutely brilliant, if you ask me.

Good Morning, Afternoon, or Evening.

You can call me The Butler.

I am afraid to say that our amazing Hero(ine) is out for the count on the bed currently, so you all have the joy of getting an update from me instead. Yes, because filling you soon-to-be-dead Runners in on the progress of our sooner-to-be-dead mutual "friend" is of such massive importance. I had considered asking if Lord Raven was running a fever when she asked me for yet another favor, but I might as well have asked if Swiss cheese was still made with holes, as that is surely on the same scale of something that requires confirmation.

Seeing as how speaking itself has become so... twentieth-century, Lady Raven chose to write out his intent so we could hope to communicate beyond the wonders of hand-gestures. I must say, it has been so much fun playing charades all day. I honestly cannot think of any other way I would prefer to spend it. Though, certainly, the fact that Lady Raven can barely speak is the crime of the ages - I am sure we are all missing out on such breathtaking lectures of pure wisdom the likes of which would make deaf men see and blind men hear.

As if Lord Raven's consistent ramblings from before were so much more understandable than the scarce words she manages now.

"I promised them a show, love. Getting the chance to speak to you would prove to be a show and a half. Come now, what harm is there? Afraid you might like it?"

Yes, because I have absolutely nothing better to do than keep an online diary of pointless observations and cheap mind-games. Now that I have been exposed to the wonders of this Community, I now see for certain how utterly insignificant my entire life has been thus far in keeping all my thoughts locked tight in my mind as they are. Oh, yes, make no mistake - the very instant I clicked 'New Post', I came to realize just how incomplete I have been all this time. It was as though a deep, dark hole inside my very heart and soul was finally filled and I was at peace with the world at long last.

I feel so healed. It is a miracle.

But this is not about me. Certainly not. I am no one of any importance, once or ever. This wonderfully heartfelt post is about Lord Raven and the pure genius that convinced the Jolly Good Doctor that He should be making house-calls.

The one many refer to as "Nightscream" was admiring the floor of her apartment when I arrived. After I let myself in, I had the divine pleasure of bullets from a silenced gun blasting into the wall about a foot away from my skull. Bits of white plaster and dust marring my black suit. My "friend's" aim is even better than I remember... unless, of course, Lord Raven had been trying to hit me. Using my handkerchief to clean off my shoulder, I inquired as to whether she had been expecting other company other than myself, or if this was the warmest welcome he could muster after I painstakingly traveled so very far on her own request.

He looked so strong and formidable laying on the floor like she was. Propped up on one elbow, his arm holding the gun shaking a bit with the weight pressuring on her muscles, a grimace on his face as though bearing through severe pain. The true essence of a warrior at their finest hour, to be certain.

It appears Lady Raven has been associating a bit too much with fellow birdbrains lately. His Wondrous Plagueness came around again. This time, He left our mutual "friend" experiencing the many joys of shock, amongst other fun bits and pieces of The Doktor's trade that I am certain Lord Raven appreciates to the fullest. Her lips were almost blue when he lowered her gun - forcing forward that oh-so familiar smile. Pale as the undead and making even less sense than usual (if that is even possible), I assisted her to his feet. Noting a heart beating too fast and breathing too shallow. Fever and dizziness. All the fun things, for certain. I merely helped her to bed - most likely the very one he will die in.

Though, in my personal opinion, he appears to be in excellent shape... in comparison to the once-residences of Auschwitz, at any rate.

Apparently our "friend" has taken to the Hollywood Diet. Not that that is any cause for concern, of course. It is not as though eating is a matter of life and death or anything of that likeness, correct? At least not in this case. I have no doubt the Plague Doctor will finish what He began. It is just a matter of how long the suffering will be prolonged...

Ah, for the love of Bloody Mary... how do I always find myself around such oddities as this one? I would say I am cursed if that was not already rather obvious. If it were not for her saving my neck in Detroit, I would not be here at all. But, low and behold, I was called in on a favor. Of course, I just leaped at the opportunity to involve myself in pure suicide. A brilliant mess that should be run from with all haste.

However... Nightscream required some supplies.

So, I brought what he needed.

After all, any butler who can not manage a little delivery is most certainly not worth his salt.

What use it will be in her condition, I have not a clue. However, far be it from me to doubt the glory (read: mind-numbing stubbornness) that Lord Raven is known for. 

Then, of course, because I was just looking for a reason to stay in this marvelous Fortress of Sanitation, Lady Raven requested this all-important post. After all, it is not as though I had anything else to do this evening, correct?

Least he has got some color back in her now. Bloody idiot.

When you wake up and come to read this, my Lord and Lady Hybrid, do be certain to take your time in wrapping up this little vacation of yours. I am certain everyone around you would be more than willing to wait for you to get your act back together. It is not as though there is anything important in the mix.

The Butler