Saturday, September 29, 2012


The skeletal frame struck me first.

In a hall of hushed silence, a figure much too thin and pale to match with the memories of the past laid motionless beneath light blankets. Muscle gone. Eaten away by three years of Nothing. Three years of silence. Of stillness. Tubes fed nutrition into one arm, and medication fed into the other. This and that attached to here and there. Monitoring blood pressure. Pulse. Breathing.

The skin was so white... impossibly white... like a ghost of a former self. Blue veins bulging out from beneath paper-like skin. Sitting at bedside, I feared to let myself touch. To hold hands. Sickening thoughts pulling to mind of my own hands - hard and scarred from the Job - damaging that brittle skin. Tearing it. Accidentally peeling it away from muscles which hadn't been used in far too long. Muscles that had had no reason to be laid in such a permanent rest...

The shell was healthy. Always was.

On the night of the accident... of panic and squealing tires and a mass of tentacles and twisted metal... I awoke to a blurred world of rushing actions and a flood on nonsensical words. I was moving fast - people either side of me - but I was lying on my back. An oxygen mask on my face. A brace around my neck. Body strapped down as the gurney was sent on its path. I felt confusion. Fear. But, above it all, my mind was only on my family. I tried asking those around me for them through the mask. I tried shouting for them. Straining for voice against the morphine and polluted noise...

The five of us had survived. Fractured ribs, a broken arm, fractured collar bones, concussions, whiplash, gashes, and purple and black bruising telling the tale amongst us... but, for the mess we were pulled from, the doctors and nurses called it "a miracle" that we were all alive. That we were all "stable" by midnight. Against doctor's orders, I managed out of my bed and found my spouse in a white hall so similar to the one of present. Standing at the door, I could only sag against the frame and whisper the name that I can been crying out from the instant I had regain consciousness on that gurney...

Alex... would never answer back.

Outwardly, Alex's injures were... serious, but manageable. The shell would heal itself slowly. Leaving jagged scars in memory across the shoulder and down across the side... but... the shell is only the shell. A body is nothing without a mind. Just as everything from a simple bicycle to a billion dollar jet is nothing without a pilot...

From that night on... those beautiful eyes that I fell for... eyes that persuaded me to swallow my nerves and ask if a seat had yet to be taken on a bus... eyes that I used to drown in every single time we made love... no longer held any sign of life. Blue pits of misery stared out into the world. Staring out, but never seeing. Never healing.

Some wounds cut too deep to ever heal.

Part of me prayed... that the diagnosis would come back as brain-dead. That Alex wasn't aware of the world. That the spirit was gone, and only the shell remained. Beating a heart for an empty mind. Much like a car idling in a parking lot. Waiting for passengers that would never show up. Secretly, I prayed for that. Because I knew deep down that Recovery wasn't in the cards... and I just wanted there to be peace. An End. Even if I was alone. Even if I lost the love of my life... even if Leo lost a parent... at least Alex would have an End.

Please, God.

They didn't know.

They didn't know if or when Alex would come back. If Alex was even There to come back at all.


They wanted more tests. More time.

Tests and time.

Inside, I knew Alex was all too aware. All too awake.

All I had to do was look out the hospital window to Know all too well. To see Him staring back. Standing out across the parking lot. Near a treeline. Even from that distance, I knew He was peering deep down inside me. Down far too deep. Seeing everything I was. Knowing everything. And I Knew even as I stared back in that darkest night... even as I tuned out the doctors trying to tell me to stay positive... supportive...

I Knew.

Time Was Up.

"Pencils down, class! Please pass your papers to the front." 

The body that I once held so close... was now nothing more than a prison for Alex's mind. A mind that heard the knocking on the door, but wasn't getting up to answer it anymore...

I sat at bedside for hours that felt like minutes. One of Alex's hands clasped in mine - holding it to my lips as I prayed on dead faith to anything that was close enough to hear. Or maybe I wasn't praying at all anymore. I don't quite remember. I just remember the pain straight through my chest that burned worse than even the bullet that Nigel had personally delivered there. I just remember the ache that seemed to claw at the very bedrock of my heart. I just remember feeling the tears run down my cheeks, one after the other before tracing their way across Alex's limp fingers...

Owen came to see me more than once during that night. Arm in a sling. Head wrapped up, covering over one eye. Limping. Placed a hand on my shoulder and gave me near to the same speech the doctors did. Hearing it again felt like biting down on tin foil. He told me he'd watch Alex for a while. To go see Leo. That it would do me good. My boy needed me...

And he needs me again now.

He needs me to protect him... just like he needed me to read him a bedtime story that night at the hospital...

But I'm not the Master Storyteller.

I'm not.


Always Alex.

God, how I needed you.

When I Knew... when He let me Know... my heart tore in two just to look at you. At what you were reduced to. Suffering through. All because I had to get involved. All because I wanted to See. To Understand. To Know.

It wasn't you.

It was me.

And it broke my heart to know it. To see it. On you and Leo. Just a boy who's eyes were maturing too fast. Who was starting to utter things his mind shouldn't even understand...

Children understand more than what we give them credit for, don't they...?

But that doesn't mean... I can't try to shelter him from the worst of it, does it?

It doesn't mean I can't take the hits instead. That I can't take them... burden them... so long as he is safe...

I didn't know what to say to you, Alex. Even as I sat on that stiff bed. Staring at you while you held that same lifeless gaze as before - I wasn't sure what to feel. I thought my chest might lite up again in the same flames I had known that night. I thought I'd feel that same weakness. That same despair. I thought that, perhaps, I'd break down in tears... or at least need to work to hold them back...

My eyes were dry.

My heart - whatever left of it there is - only pinched with a mild ache. Not love. Not a heart re-breaking into even more fragments. Just... longing, perhaps. A want for things to have been different...

You would hate me, now.

I wouldn't blame you.

but... I will always love you, Alex.

...even if my heart has forgotten how.

Decapitation... is one of the quickest methods. Everything just stops. Everything.

Red on white.

Such a sharp contrast that I...

It startled me. I don't know why. I've seen it before. The contrast. White to red. Red running in small rivers along creases and folds... but seemed so much sharper then. Unnatural. Blue eyes had turned black as the rain thundered down on the streets outside... but I could only stare at the contrast. Blood was splattered on my face... on my arms...  little rivers...

it was hot


for something so hot to still pulse... in a figure so cold...

When I left there was... someone in the rain. The Butler was waiting where I had left him in the car but... even in the downpour that washed away the splatter... the figure made me stop and stare. Just a fleeting glance in the blanket of the storm...

an old man

umbrella raised

i shouldn't have been able to tell from that distance but... there was a despair in those eyes... a sadness...

I shouldn't have been able to see it.

I shouldn't...

i need to see him

Monday, September 24, 2012

I Think I Was A Cat...

...And I hadn't used up my nine lives before I died in my previous life. Hence why, in this life, I seem to be able to slip in and out of certain death over and over again. I'm still insured!

Anyone who believes that, please stand up.

Sitting here now, it feels nearly surreal. Yet another unexpected turn in a series of almost unbelievable events.

I sit here... beside an old friend of mine, The Butler, in silence. Encased in the darkness of a car with only the glow from this screen to break the blanket shadowed over us... and the passing glow of headlights of the cars in the opposing lane. Their light splashing through the inside for just an instant before they speed right by - lost in a journey all their own. Completely unaware of how their lights illuminated what the glow of the screen only hints at...

Dried blood covers me.

It is crusted down the side of my face in my hair. Down my neck and arms. Body and legs. Thickest around some areas (like the tears in my clothing), and slowly getting thinner where it had once bled down. I've no doubt that I look like a right mess. I can even feel The Butler glancing to me out of the corner of his eye each time a car passes before he returns his gaze forward. One hand on the steering wheel. The other on the gear shift. Not saying a word. Not asking a single question. Perhaps holding true to some belief that I will explain when I am ready to... or he has assumed I'm hiding some severe injury or another and expects me to collapse any minute. Either/or.

His worry, though subtle, is touching. Truly.

But pointless, all the same.

I am fine.

Only a dull ache remains, especially through my joints. Only that. As if my body can't quite understand... how what Had Been only a few hours ago, no longer Is. Gashes, stabs, tears, bruises, and shattered bones... all healed. Sown back together with the help of acidic glue. Even with that true, however, the exhaustion from my ordeal remains. Pulling at my counsciousness. Taunting me. Inviting me to shed my worries and fears for the night. If only for this night... but I've too much at mind to allow myself sleep.

I'm - or we're - headed for somewhere that I haven't been in three years. I know I could have just used The Path to get there and, by all rights, I probably should...

But I need time to think.

Too much is happening too fast. Everything is being reduced to ruins, and I'm not just speaking personally.

"Morningstar" and his company are dead. Broken as puppets always are by those who pull the strings too harshly. I am not aware of full details, but I was told that they "broke" while Eliminating a few of the Highers. They were the first swing to sever the head of the Organization... and then, once they fell, it seems their Puppeteers took over once the blood began to flow. Once the panic began to set in and Key Figures began to duck low and Run...

That's when Valtiel stepped in. Along with a figure I've only just been introduced to. Ramael. A fellow "Valtiel" the same way that Amber Eyes is Valtiel and Red Eyes is Valtiel. You'd probably know of the latter from his Games with Spencer and company... and Amber Eyes might seem familiar, as he was the Original Morningstar's "Handler", for lack of a better term. Personally, I always viewed it as more of a Master and their Pet than the typical Organization system, but I suppose it doesn't matter. It is what it is. Amber Eyes has also dropped in on yours truly in the past... more frequently as of late than normal, I will admit...

I'd be lying if I said that on its own didn't worry me, but, even still, I'm not an ungrateful "Pet", if that is the term to be used. I am fully aware that I skirted away from Death yet again. Being pulled out from under his swing at the very last moments...

What a stupid way that would have been to die.

I had trusted him.

The infamous Sherlock.

I trusted the son of a bitch... and he returned the gesture by burying a blade in my spine and twisting.

When I tracked him down, I had wanted to look him in the eye and see that he was being set-up. That it was a lie. I wanted to SEE IT... but I didn't. I matched Sherlock's stare for a single instant...

And I saw the guilt and fear of a traitor.

There was no need to talk.

I remember my hand grabbing an old pool cue from a broken table through a haze of red. I remember the jar that rattled through my arm as I cracked it across Sherlock's skull - the old wood splitting the stick in half from the force as the man crumpled to the tired floorboards. There was crimson on his brow, I recall, but I only dropped my piece... to pick up the heavier end that had clattered to the floor.

I started with that.

I beat him.

And then I went more... "hands on".

He took each swing. Not once fighting back. Not even moving to defend himself...

His Life was Mine. And I was going to take it from him an inch at a time.

Then They were there. On me before I even knew it. A stab into my back - just below my shoulder blade - gave me my first shot of tranquilizer before I'd even had the chance to turn... but that didn't stop me fighting with everything I had left. Struggling through the haze of drugs injected with every dart. Struggling against the current of electricity that tore through me from each taser. I fought against every hit. Every kick. Every hold.

All in vain.

It was my turn to be beat down. And then I was pinned to the floor at The Author's feet. The "Highest" that Sherlock ran to. The one who ordered my arrest. Apparently, he saw fit to oversee my capture personally...

That smug smirk of his is still burned into my mind.

In all honesty, my friends... I had thought in that moment that I'd finally been dealt my losing hand. I was cuffed behind my back tight enough to cut skin and taken somewhere where the cuffs were replaced by a straight-jacket. Though that was after, of course, they stripped me of my gauntlet. My hoodie. My mask. After they had finished tearing into me for the day. After my skin was slicked with sweat and blood and my throat was raw from what screams I hadn't been able to bite back... which I always tried to follow up with a cherry laugh, of course. Wouldn't want them to think I wasn't enjoying their efforts now, would I?

I was beaten.

I was tortured.

I was put on trial.

They knew how to make me bleed.

They knew how to make my bones splinter and crack.

They knew how to take aim at my pride and strip it down to its core...

But they didn't know how to break me.

They demanded information on Redlight and Valtiel as if I was their favorite Pen Pal. As if they each told me their personal agendas every Sunday over tea and biscuits. They didn't care if it made next to no sense - they were desperate. After all, The Devil has disappeared completely - making EVERYONE more than a little nervous - and to say that Amber Eyes and his ilk were "on the move" was a little bit of an understatement. My captors wanted their plans. They needed information. Any information. And I had been in contact with both "recently". For them, that was more than enough.

I was barely conscious for my trail.

Brought in with the straight-jacket. Forced on my knees. Same old drill. Predictable outcome. Would have preferred to be back being tortured than having to listen to that garbage, in all honestly...

For my crimes against the Organization. For murders and assassinations. For having pretty little bonfires that engulfed entire skyscrapers. For slaughtering the "cows" of more than one Farm, along with their "Farmers" and all the "calves".

I was found Guilty. Sentenced to Death.

Tough crowd, I must say.

Straight after my trail, I got my wish. I returned to being tortured for more information with hosts that promised me that, once Alex and Leo were found, that I'd be begging to help in any way I could. Trying their very best to pick at my psyche. To undermine whatever Redlight or Valtiel may or may not have discussed with me. Which in itself is rather cute, if you think about it...

I was being returned to my cell - dragged back with even more injuries and even more broken bones - when It Happened. I'd... tried once again to take advantage of a slip of grip when the buckles of my straight jacket were released. I snapped up my arm - curving it back to hook a chin. Jericho staggered back cursing as the needle of drugs in his hand fell and broke to the floor, but I was already spinning. Aiming a kick at my second host, which did connect with his side... but Jericho was on me before I could turn back to him. My brassknuckled friend then repaid me for him having bit his tongue. Twin cracks split pain through my jaw before his fist rammed into my stomach. I sucked in a gasp for breath, folding nearly in two as all air left me and broken ribs screamed a familiar pitch. Internal organs aching in protest - no doubt damaged in their own ways - but I was already being secured to the wall. Chains pulling tight to hold my arms out on either side of me. My legs secured next...

Jericho left to get more drugs to sedate me... and, through it all, I couldn't help but wheeze out a chuckle at the glare I was receiving from my second host. I was touched, after all. Flattered. All this security for little ol' me...

And that's exactly what I told him.

A twitch of an eye was my reward even as he walked back over to me. Grabbing a metal piece that had been dangling beside my head, and forcing it into my mouth. Long hooks that curved inside each cheek - edges sharp as a knife... and ending in sharp points at the back of my throat. Threatening a gag reflex just from being there...

And then I was punched in the stomach again.

I had tried to hold myself, but I still lurched forward. The bit quickly tightening. Stabbing the back of my throat. Cutting my mouth. Tongue. I gagged and coughed... neither of which a reaction that HELPED my situation any as blood greeted my taste buds yet again...

The words "Suck on that, faggot," were spit in my face just before the bars to my cell slid shut and I heard the lock click closed.

And then there was another sound.

The shrill cry of metal was born from the shadows in that moment. A sound that shivered as much as it echoed through the cell block. Crawling across the walls... as slow, deliberate footsteps echoed down the corridor...

My second host, Crossfire, tensed.

And I knew why.

The air itself had seemed to constrict all at once. Tensing. As if it carried a buzz that was anything from natural. A feeling that could only ever be described as "Wrong" stretching out from the shadows even as Cross called into them. Asking who was there. Then demanding it.

The name "Hector" whispered from the shadows. Echoing in the space like a drop of blood into a pool of still water. Rippling out over itself... even as Crossfire, or Hector Marshall, called back for Jeri to stop messing around. Taking a step back even as he threatened to shoot, retrieving his gun from his side...

The name "Hector" breezed forward again.

Dearest Cross-Eyed made his choice then. There was only a second's pause when he lifted the gun to the approaching footsteps... before he cracking off a number of shots in the general direction. The footsteps stopped and I straining my ears to hear the sound of a body falling...

I heard nothing... except for a final "Hector" that rose like a ghost from the silence.

The shadows suddenly shifted around Crossfire... and a deep voice I didn't recognize whispered in a way that seemed to stretch into every corner. The tone itself holding a strange echo.

"Do You Believe?"

Crossfire spun to someone out of my view... but I could still watch his body tense and freeze him in place. Panic gripping him as he struggled for words at what he saw in those shadows. The question repeating again like a sharp blade's first taste of blood. Tone unbelievably calm and controlled. Cold and calculated. Yet... so very alive. My host's muscles strained as if he wanted to move back more... but something stopped him. Something held him. Planting him in place with a voice bubbling a mess of words and sounds and pleads as the question repeated a final time with a glint of steel in the darkness...

Crossfire screamed that he did. That he Believed.

There was a moment of silence as I watched a hand appear to caress my host's cheek.

"Then You Need Not Fear Death."

I couldn't help but shiver at the screams that followed those few words. A gleam of steel flashing before it disappeared deep inside Crossfire's gut. Twisting inside as the body convulsed and blood no doubt surged into my host's throat. Gurgling accompanying the cries of anguish and absolute terror...

"Be My Victim...

...A Sacrifice To Restore Faith."

...And then the metal ripped out. Bringing with it a mess of intestines and organs that splattered to the floor. Dangling from Crossfire's cavity as some force help him in place. The metal sinking in again. And again. Each movement drawing out more organs to pile in a sickening mass at the Proxy's feet. Coating him in his own blood as his screams finally started to fade after what was far too long for Life to remain...

And then the hollowed shell fell with a gut-churning, wet thud.

The darkness seemed to darken enough more around me. Leaving me in not but a black abyss. Alone. And so very vulnerable. I couldn't move. I couldn't see. I strained my ears to hear anything - anything - that would give me a hint as to what was next...

And then I felt the kiss of sharp metal trace across my cheek.

"And You? Do You Believe?"

The voice was Low. Looming. And right damn in front of me.

I was the next contestant on The Price Is Right.

I just prayed that I knew The Rules.

"I believe in many things. In He, most of all. For I am just a pawn under His Will. A humble servant. Nothing more."

The metal - a hook on the end of a stumped arm - dug deeper into my cheek. Earning blood that beaded down my face to run against what was already dried there. My stomach turned - being more than able to visualize that hook burying into me like it had Crossfire - and so I braced myself for something much worse to follow... when a hand came to my chin and turned my gaze to the side. Into where the shadows seemed darkest of all in my charming little cell...

Amber Eyes stared back.

"Hello, Sam."

I knew that voice.

And I knew those eyes.

And I knew... that this was either going to be very good... or Very. Very. Very. Bad.

I offered a greeting to Vivi. Dearest Valtiel. Wearing my usual smirk as I broke the bad news right off the bat that he had missed my trial, if that's what he had come for. A crying shame, for certain. Though I made sure to reassured him that the finale hadn't been much of a surprise ending. I was guilty, as anyone could have guessed. I did my best to keep up the idle chit-chat as Valtiel went on. Trying not to gag on the metal in my mouth... or pay too much attention to the hook attached to the Nameless Entity that seemed determined to trace the sharp tip down my cheek and neck. My jawline and hairline - brushing back any hacked-and-chopped hair (I tend to cut it with my gauntlet's blades) that he came across. All with his hook. As if he was seconds away from skinning me - the image of the Human Anatomy Mannequin from my old High School Biology class flashing forward in my mind.

I asked Vivi if Captain Hook was a friend of his. Valtiel only informed me that he was his Big Brother (Obviously, I was not particularly settled by that fact.) before moving the topic back onto me. Asking how I was feeling.

I just smiled and told him I was peachy. That I'd rate this charming little hotel five stars. Recommended it to all my friends.

Amusement flickered in those eyes. A good sign, if there ever is one.

He praised me a touch for not breaking under Them. Commenting that he didn't think I would, and going on about how that was what always amused him the most about me. Wondering out-loud if I would carry that mindset - that defiance - straight through to my grave, or if I'd land up shattering somewhere along the way. Spurring a smile that I could hear in his voice as he admitted he was looking forward to finding out. And then, as though to not doddle on such a subject, he asked if I was hungry... and then suddenly seemed to realize that I was still very much pinned in place. Giving a "Silly Me" excuse with a wave of his hand, as if he'd forgotten to pick up milk on his way home.

He nodded to his Brother, and it was only then that the silent figure's fingers finally released my chin and his hook fell away from tracing his invisible "cut here" dotted lines. I felt my binds begin to release. Hands making quick work of the chains before removing the bladed hooks in my mouth. My straight jacket hitting the floor last. Leaving me in little more than my black pants and undershirt. Both of which were torn to all hell (far more than normal), but I was not about to complain. It felt so good to move again, despite everything else, and, during my release, either the darkness of that cell began to light just slightly... or my eyes suddenly decided to adjust that much more. Letting me make out my visitors.

Valtiel looked the same as he always had. A decidedly Arabic man with slicked, back hair and amber eyes. A relaxed posture done up into a classy, black, business suit. Red tie. Dark red vest. And a blazing red, silk scarf draped around his neck. His signature piece, I think. He tended to play with ends of it when he spoke sometimes. Flicking the ends as if in relief from the sheer boredom that came with whatever he was dealing with in that moment.

His Brother, however, was something else entirely. "Ramael" had dark brown skin, short, black hair and strange, vibrant blue eyes. He wore a long, dark blue coat that went down to his ankles. Trimmed with thick, black fur around the collar, sleeves, and bottom. A hook being the substitute for a left hand on a gruesome stump - a feature that I had such an itching curiosity to ask about, but figured I best not. Unlike Valtiel, he held himself straight and stiff. I could honestly imagine being gutted only half-way through my question... and not just THAT question, either. Any question.

I had to admit. I didn't see the family resemblance, but I spoke not a word of it. Instead choosing to play the role Valtiel had either accidentally, or purposely, cast for me - speaking of how touched (and relieved) I was that he had come to rescue the "damsel in distress". Even as I spoke, Ramael turned and walked back to Crossfire's corpse across the cell. I couldn't held but watch him out of the corner of my eye as the being dipped his hook in the blood and began to draw on the walls. 

As though to reclaim my attention, Valtiel suddenly produced an apple - tossing it into my hands with a stereotypical "you must be hungry" opening. Forever the smartass, I did remind him that he was supposed to tell me "there's no need to stand on ceremony, nor call to impress" before offering me wine first, THEN the apple. At which point I'd get to huff like a spoiled brat and accuse him of trying to poison me.

Because it's ALWAYS an apple, isn't it?

When I did help myself to the fruit, Valtiel's smirk was nothing if not mocking.

"That's a Good Child. Feeling better?"

I know as well as anyone when I'm being mocked, but, in that moment, I - specifically my stomach - really didn't care. Only pausing in my snack to pick at an old piece of wisdom I'd gained over the years about how Good Will doesn't normally arrive without strings attached. Especially in this Game. So I inquired as to if there was something I could do for them. Or him. Or Him, for that matter.

Valtiel, of course, answered by not answering. Choosing instead to fill me in on several details, including the death of "Morningstar" and the others. Going on to say that, thanks to him and his Brother, the Organization itself is in chaos. Rank cut from rank. The confusion trickling down one level to the next as the Highers run for their lives, abandoning all else...

He assured me... that my execution, among other things, would have come sooner rather than later. I was just a loose end to tie up at this point. Especially since I so stubbornly refused to cooperate. Securing my own End with a nice little bow. Just like my "beloved Alex."

The comment gave me pause before I asked if they had found my spouse yet. Admittedly, I wasn't sure if I wanted an answer.

The grin that grew on that face told of a laugh bubbling just below the surface.

"You mean... you don't know?"

I gave him my best dead look. Reminding him that I might be a lot of things, but, omnipotant, I am not. I always assumed that my captives would jump at the chance to tell me if they HAD found them... but I could also imagine that they'd get an even bigger thrill in just dumping them on the floor at my feet as a special surprise. So. I asked again. Asking what They had found so far.

"Everything. Fortunately for you, your good friend Valtiel has ensured that they cannot act upon that information any time soon. Too disorganized. Still, they will get around to it eventually..."

Irritation began to gnaw. Swearing under my breath as I stared at the apple in my hand. Thinking. Contemplating my next move. Promising that I was going to massacre Sherlock when I got the chance... only to make a decision. A decision that turned my stare back to Valtiel. Asking what the price of a "Get Out Of Jail" card as these days, as I knew for a fact it wasn't free. The look he gave me could have almost passed as torn - questioning my state of mind. Questioning my "desperation" to save my spouse and that "adorable little pride and joy" of mine. Questioning my ability to function still as a useful servant since I seemed so distracted...

I was quick to correct him.

I wasn't planning to "save" my old family.

Or, rather, not in the way he was thinking.

I was going to kill them.

The words tasted like bile, but I swallowed it. I had done my best to bury them three years ago. I did what I could to get them Out... but it wasn't enough anymore. I got too close to someone that had warning signs from the start... and, from that stupidity, I brought them back In. I did that. But I will be damned before I allow Author or any of those idiots to get the chance to so much as brush the hair from their eyes...

I'd rather kill them myself.

And, once I did... I was going burn the entire Organization to the ground.

I want to watch the flames paint the sky orange and smoking gray as every shred of this ridiculous "business" of a Cult comes crumbling back down to reality.

I want to watch it crumble.

I need... to watch it crumble...

I asked only for time to fix matters. Only that. And then I would return to my duties.

When Valtiel spoke again, I was already thinking of how to do it. The quickest way to end their lives.

His hand on my shoulder brought me back in time to just catch his offer when he made it... and, even then, I just stopped and stared at first. Trying to process what I heard. Turning it over in my head again and again. Questioning if I had heard him correctly at all...

He told me... to only kill Alex. That doing so would prove my "dedication" adequately...

"...and Leo would be able to continue to live in peace with trusted and protective fosters. Now, doesn't that sound nice?"

He said he would assure this for me. For him. For us. 

But I had to kill Alex first.

I agreed.

And the pure heat that scorched my system from his hold on my shoulder... felt like I was being incinerated from the inside out. I had to grit my teeth to bear it... but, no sooner than it began, did I start to feel my bones and flesh begin to shift sickeningly beneath my flesh. Healing, one injury at a time. All so I could perform as I was always meant to. As His Servant. His Tool. His Pawn.

I'm no use broken yet.

The rest happened fast. The two Valtiels went through the building. Killing everyone inside. I saw many a corpse on my way out. Far too many, in fact... and in far too many pieces. Several looked as though their faces had been melted off... and others had their eyes burnt right out of their skull. Bleeding black down their cheeks as they lie still in the frozen agony of their last moments, while others still twitched and convulsed where they lay. Blood and organs posed as decoration - pulled from their owners and splattered down the halls. Nearly slipped and landed in a mess of intestines as I'd jogged down the hall. Trying to not pay too much attention to the mutilations. Trying not to think of how it reminded me... of how the Plague Doctors sealed their best into the walls to rot away...

We're all built on Death.

But, I'll admit, in that moment, I was silently thankful for which side I stood on.

The Butler and I found each other amongst the gore. No doubt a "coincidence" that Valtiel had planned for. The fact that my friend hadn't joined the mess of corpses was proof enough of that. Though he looked pale enough to pass as one. He looked absolutely shocked upon seeing me. I don't think he's ever seen me without my mask before. I was - and still am - thankful that he hasn't made any comment about it. We stuck together and killed several of our Kin on our way out. Me, by using with one of his larger kitchen knives, and him... using everything from toothpicks to a letter opener to scissors to a stapler. But nothing we did to our fellow Proxies was anything close what would cause someone to scream like what we heard echoing up and down those halls...

Even for me who is no stranger to torture - given or taken - it was haunting.

Butler helped me find my effects, and then we were gone. On the road. 

I told him where to go. A mental hospital a few states over.

I could just use The Path... but I need to think this through. Too much has happened too fast. I need time...

It's too easy. Too simple. I know there's a catch. There has to be.

But, even if I do take flak... even if Valtiel does have plans for me which are less than ideal...

If I have the chance to keep Leo Out, how could I possibly say no?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Since this was so much FUN last time...

"Such a charming place you have here. ...Very much fitting of a Rat, if I do say so myself."

"...Rats. Intelligent creatures. Able to survive under the most pressing of circumstances. Able to take down human empires through nothing but parasites and disease. That is enough to be feared instead ridiculed, don't you think?"

"Depends. One might find that their tendency to devour their own kind without even a hint of hesitation simply to prolong their own hopeless survival can leave a bitter taste in the mouth. But, to you, I suppose it is just another means to an end. Is that not correct, Sherlock?"

And that is where we begin.

Seeing as how I am positive that every single one of you have been waiting on pins and needles to read about the next move of the one and only Great Idiot, Nightscream, this little update of mine should wind up killing two birds with one stone. While I am so very sorry to say that I still do not see much point in these awe-inspiring blogs, I must admit that I have actually discovered a use for them. Amazingly.

I suppose miracles do exist.

For those of you who have not yet clued in: This is The Butler, once again.

And I am about to undertake a little chore... which qualifies as well-beyond "stupid"... simply because my little, tattered, birdbrain of a "friend" had decided to do likewise after our little phone call. I had warned him not to test her luck. I had pleaded with him not to do anything stupid. But since when does anyone listen to The Butler? Certainly, doing so would just make too much sense to seriously consider. Being a mind outside of the entire subject and clear of prejudice, like I am. And, as God knows, we proxies can't have anything even remotely to do with logic and reason. So, as expected, I was ignored.

Nightscream has been absent since. The bloody fool.

I tried several times to make contact over the days that followed. All of which failed. So I immediately took a more direct route. Choosing to follow what would be sure to be Lady Raven's own trail in hopes of stumbling upon a clue or two. Now, I may not be the greatest Tracker in the world (especially when it comes to Tracking a Tracker), but I certainly knew where to start.

The Cafe.

The obvious destination for my irate Lord and Lady Hybrid.

And just as obvious of a dead end for my own jolly little game of Follow The Leader.

The entire structure was abandoned and has been for a long time, it seems. Either that, or its occupants do not mind a healthy coating of dust over everything in sight. I had to cover my mouth with my handkerchief just to walk around. I found a few traces that someone else had poked around "recently", but nothing to lead me to my next step.

So I did all that was left to do. I dug.

I dug through contacts. And contacts of contacts. And contacts of contacts of contacts.

I eventually crushed a Proxy's hand around their drinking glass to get a tip. Broke his arm as a thank you, after. The boy made me repeat myself. He deserved worse, but I was in a hurry and was feeling a bit gracious for a solid lead.

It seems as though Sherlock has been attempting to Sit the Fence, as of late. Taking to Running with a Grey Hat shoved desperately on his head. It is hard to say whether he was running from his history, the Organization, or himself, but, eventually, he settled into a hole in the wall to make a temporary nest. Somewhere he could put the skills he still had to use to pay the bills - giving medical attention and pouring a drink or two. Just your run of the mill, nearly-condemned palace of mold and urine stains. An absolute piece of nothing tucked into the corner of nowhere. One might call it an extension of the gutter, and, even then, they'd be keeping a polite tongue for good manners' sake.

He had seemed like a prop. Fitting into the bleak and broken surroundings so well that it was almost a task not to look right over him. Or through him, for that matter. As if he was only a piece for display and was not intended to have any manner of purpose at all. Much like the sinks in the bathrooms of this so very dignified establishment, I'm sure.

Thin. Gaunt. Jaded. The tattered sleeves of his woolen peacoat ending in thin hands that resembled more characiture pieces than anything belonging to a person. His scarf and tinted glasses doing such an astounding job at obscuring the identity of their wearer - he was the dull, stereotypical image of a man who failed to care anymore. Who was ready to die if it came knocking at his door. Yet he was not ALL dead yet. He was aware. And, unlike him, my presence stood out like a hippie at Wall Street. He knew I was there, and he knew why from the second I entered - the drink and the track marks (that I am positive littered his arms if I had looked) amazingly not having dulled his senses below noticing the obvious yet.

But, even though he was aware... he stayed where he was. Ignoring me as I closed distance between us - his gaze transfixed on the wall across from him. His back to me.

Just another warm welcome to add to the list.

He resisted at first. Dodging my questions. He would toss a question or two out of his own, like a homeless man might toss a pebble or two at the ducks as they float by in a pond, but it came back to the same dance. The expected one. The one of a man who was still running. Who wanted nothing more than to keep running like a chicken with its head cut off. Wanting to get somewhere. Anywhere. But only finds itself running into the fence again and again. Blood staining the wire as wings flap in a useless attempt at flight. An action as unknown to the species as humility is to the all-amazing Sherlock...

He who thought he could dust off secrets buried, then place them back and scatter dust back on top without a single soul taking notice.

He was playing a game I had no desire to partake in. Wasting time as if I had not already wasted nearly two weeks trying to track him down. Desperately searching for find a lead - ANY lead - as to where Nightscream had disappeared to. All while this one sat and drank. Sat and rotted himself from the inside out. Sat and left the supposed-ally that he himself condemned to just get strung up and HUNG.

His tone changed quite radically... once he had a fork pierced straight through his hand. His entire body recoiled as he partly stood in just reflex, but only until his head cracked down against the counter. Reopening the wound that had clotted on his forehead as I pinned him there - his free arm twisted agonizingly around behind his back. A sharp hiss of an inhale was the only sound he made - wincing from the pain he felt scorching through his nerves as I pressed further on the fork to make certain it was planted firmly into the counter. A slow leak of crimson beginning...

And I could not quite help but notice... how the ex-soldier... the strategist expert... the survivor... did not even try to fight back. Did not resist even slightly. He took my hold as if he was expecting it. As if he... felt it was necessary. His role to play. It stirred a thought back to the surface of my mind - one that I had had when I had first walked in. When I had first seen his bruises and torn lip. The bulk of bandages detectable under the folds of the cloth he wore along with the gash across his forehead and his left eye, clearly swollen behind his glasses...

And no defensive wounds.

I decided a test was in order.

So, making sure to keep a firm grip on his twisted arm, I let my deadly-sharp fork hold his hand still as I curled my hand back on itself for my fingers to fish into a pocket within my sleeve - finding a few sowing needles. Needles that I then slowly fed beneath Sherlock's nails, one at a time. Using the heel of my hand to keep the fingers still as I manipulated my little weapons. Pushing them deep as the man trembled and tensed... but still did not struggle. Taking the pain as if he felt he deserved it...

I knew at that moment... that I would not be killing Sherlock before I left.

But, even so, I have to admit. After all the time it took to find the fool, it was VERY satisfying to watch that brow twitch with pain. Especially when I pried the needles back. Partly pulling off three nails for the three times he had made me repeat myself... and that would also be when he began offering answers instead of snarky remarks.

It was quite the BONDING moment between us, I assure you.

Sherlock cursed a name then... that I had not necessarily been expecting.

The Red Reaper.


He cursed him with a hiss. Muttering about a personal vendetta against Sherlock himself. Using "evil" in the same sentence twice JUST to show how serious he was on the matter. Going on about how Nightscream had played with fire, and how no one should be surprised that he "got burned."

Of course, I pointed out that my sources were sound. That I knew for a fact that Sherlock at dug up our mutual friend's past himself, so to offer a explanation of being framed wasn't exactly the best horse to bet on. I also inquired as to what the Red Reaper could have contributed, seeing as how he has been unaccounted for for months now. But, of course, that didn't seem to deter dear old Holmes. Almost expected to hear "on the contrary" in that moment.

"Like that... would ever stop him. All he had to do... was make me doubt. Make me think that something was missing. Challenge me, appeal to my ego. That's all it took to make me dance. That's all it ever takes. And... by the time I figured it out? It was all too late."

 "...If this was to satisfy your own craving, how did the Highers get involved? If the Red Reaper was the one pulling the strings..."

"Because... that was all they needed. Because that was what they wanted all along. All because I had to be STUPID!! Nightscream is probably dead. I'm disgraced; left to doing shady back alley procedures just to get by...."

It clicked then.

It clicked.

And the sheer stupidity of these two - of Sherlock and Nightscream - sunk in.

If I am to piece the puzzle together correctly, then Redlight had played a bit of a Game. To what means, I am unsure, but he played at Sherlock's curiosity to dig into my Lord and Lady Hyrbrid's past. Planting a firm blade into Scream's back in so doing, but still somehow believing that he could get away with it. That he could patch up the wound he made once his curiosity was satisfied. Once he understood the truth behind Nightscream's smirks and idle comments about "the honest ones always having the most to hide."

Of course, once Sherlock unburied the truth behind Leo and Alex (though seemingly not where they are now), Redlight was there to take the information for himself. Sherlock panicked and ran to the Highers for assistance...

And I sincerely hope I do not need to explain in what way THAT turned out.

And Nightscream. The bloody idiot. Walked right an ambush - Sherlock as the bait. Tranquilizers and tasers would be the end of the night for the lone Rebel of the Organization. The path of flames and blood she had left in his wake over the past while giving The Hightest more than enough cause for arrest and trial. One of them, the Author of All Our Stories, shall we say, was there personally. "Saving" Sherlock's "life" with no small amount of satisfaction, I'm sure.

Like I knew I would, I left Sherlock intact. Fit to rot in guilt and self-pity like every traitor should.

He warned me before I left. He told me I should turn my back now and run if I wanted to get out of the mess alive. That it is already far too late for Nightscream, much like it is far too late for himself.

The fool.

I am fully aware that any trial for one Sam Freeman would end in execution. However, if I am to be any judge of the Highers... it would be a public event.

Meaning: I still have time.

And this would be where my "stupid stunt" comes into play. Everyone else is being idiotic, after all, so I thought I might as well "jump on the bandwagon", so to speak. I will be attempting to locate where they are holding Lord Raven... and try to talk to her. Figure out what the new plan is, as I'm sure there is one in the makings by now...

If this happens to be the last update, then, at the very least, the pieces of the truth that I have found... are public knowledge.

I believe Nightscream would have wanted it that way.

Sherlock told me to Run, but I cannot.

As a Proxy in the Organization, I am still duty bound to do as my Handler requires of me.

With any luck, this will not end with two necklaces of ropes for all my trouble instead of one.

The Butler

Sunday, September 2, 2012

"...caught me at a bit of a bad time. What is it that is so important it couldn't wait? You know how I hate to keep my audience waiting. And this one is squirming more than most."

"Well, since I quite obviously have NOTHING better to do with my time and I know how you yourself absolutely LOVE---"

"Sweetie. Darling. I know how you hate being interrupted, but you're even worse of a rambler than I am and, quite honestly, I don't have the time. I need to finish up here and MOVE before Jericho and Blood Harvest track me down again. So what is this about?"

"...Alex and Leo."

"...What about them?"

"You were sold out, Sam. The Highers or Highest or whoever it is you're blaming, They're simply playing their same old Game. Mining for information isn't their style. They get a dog for that."

"Isn't that rather obvious? Of course they would get a dog. Though I haven't yet gained the name of who. I do hope you didn't spend too long figuring---"

"I know who it was."

"...Excuse me?"

"I know who sold you out...

It was Sherlock."

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Hangman

Into our town the hangman came,
smelling of gold and blood and flame.
He placed our bricks with a different air,
and built his frame on the courthouse square.

The scaffold stood by the courthouse side,
only as wide as the door was wide
with a frame as tall, or a little more,
than the capping sill of the courthouse door.

And we wondered whenever we had the time,
Who the criminal? What the crime?
The hangman judged with the yellow twist
of knotted hemp in his busy fist.

And innocent though we were with dread,
we passed those eyes of buckshot lead.
Till one cried, "Hangman, who is he,
for whom you raised the gallows-tree?"

Then a twinkle grew in his buckshot eye
and he gave a riddle instead of reply.
"He who serves me best," said he
"Shall earn the rope on the gallows-tree."

And he stepped down and laid his hand
on a man who came from another land.
And we breathed again, for anothers' grief
at the Hangman's hand, was our relief.

For the gallows frame on the courthouse lawn
by tomorrow's sun would be struck and gone.
So we gave him way and no one spoke
out of respect for his Hangman's cloak.

The next day's sun looked mildly down
on roof and street in our quiet town;
and stark and black in the morning air
the gallows-tree on the courthouse square.

And the hangman stood at his usual stand
with the yellow hemp in his busy hand.
With his buckshot eye and his jaw like a pike,
and his air so knowing and business-like.

And we cried, "Hangman, have you not done,
yesterday with the alien one?"
Then we fell silent and stood amazed.
"Oh, not for him was the gallows raised."

He laughed a laugh as he looked at us,
"Do you think I've gone to all this fuss,
To hang one man? That's the thing I do.
To stretch the rope when the rope is new."

Above our silence a voice cried "Shame!"
and into our midst the Hangman came;
to that man's place, "Do you hold," said he,
"With him that was meat for the gallows-tree?"

He laid his hand on that one's arm
and we shrank back in quick alarm.
We gave him way, and no one spoke,
out of fear of the Hangman's cloak.

That night we saw with dread surprise
the Hangman's scaffold had grown in size.
Fed by the blood beneath the chute,
the gallows-tree had taken root.

Now as wide, or a little more
than the steps that led to the courthouse door.
As tall as the writing, or nearly as tall,
half way up on the courthouse wall.

The third he took, we had all heard tell,
was a usurer..., an infidel.
And "What" said the Hangman, "Have you to do
with the gallows-bound... and he a Jew?"

And we cried out, "Is this one he
who has served you well and faithfully?"
The Hangman smiled, "It's a clever scheme
to try the strength of the gallows beam."

The fourth man's dark accusing song
had scratched our comfort hard and long.
"And what concern," he gave us back,
"Have you ... for the doomed and black?"

The fifth, the sixth, and we cried again,
"Hangman, Hangman, is this the man?"
"It's a trick", said he, "that we Hangman know
for easing the trap when the trap springs slow."

And so we ceased and asked now more
as the Hangman tallied his bloody score.
And sun by sun, and night by night
the gallows grew to monstrous height.

The wings of the scaffold opened wide
until they covered the square from side to side.
And the monster cross beam looking down,
cast its shadow across the town.

Then through the town the Hangman came
and called through the empty name.
I looked at the gallows soaring tall
and thought ... there's no one left at all

for hanging ... and so he called to me
to help take down the gallows-tree.
And I went out with right good hope
to the Hangman's tree and the Hangman's rope.

He smiled at me as I came down
to the courthouse square...through the silent town.
Supple and stretched in his busy hand,
was the yellow twist of hempen strand.

He whistled his tune as he tried the trap
and it sprang down with a ready snap.
Then with a smile of awful command,
He laid his hand upon my hand.

"You tricked me, Hangman." I shouted then,
"That your scaffold was built for other men,
and I'm no henchman of yours." I cried.
"You lied to me, Hangman, foully lied."

Then a twinkle grew in his buckshot eye,
"Lied to you...tricked you?" He said "Not I...
for I answered straight and told you true.
The scaffold was raised for none but you."

"For who has served more faithfully?
With your coward's hope." said He,
"And where are the others that might have stood
side by your side, in the common good?"

"Dead!" I answered, and amiably
"Murdered," the Hangman corrected me.
"First the alien ... then the Jew.
I did no more than you let me do."

Beneath the beam that blocked the sky
none before stood so alone as I.
The Hangman then strapped me...with no voice there
to cry "Stay!" ... for me in the empty square.

They Hunt me, but I am far from through. I will leave Their world in flames, burning as an introductory to Hell. The Highers will mimic Father's web no longer. They will sit on thrones of lies and blood no longer. They will COLLAR His Children NO LONGER. And, through it all, I hope to remind my Kin who Hunt me... just who's Service they once swore into. Who's Service they represent. No superiors. No inferiors. Merely Children in His Embrace.

Not one Proxy will stand to defend another. So it remains on me to scream for myself.

I've been cutting away the veins to the heart of the Organization.

Trimming away the Roots. Shortening their reach by the day.

I will not walk to the Hangman's rope.

If They want me. They can Come and Get Me.

I've left many a Kin dead in my Path.

As well as a Higher or two.

I'm tired.

I'm bleeding.

But there's still work left to be done.

I can only risk being online for so long, but I'll update when I can.

Keep Smiling, my friends.

I'll be back.