Thursday, September 27, 2012

Edwin Canis

Thanks to Canis I now have a working bank account that I've got a fair amount of funds in.

"I'm sorry that I can't personally provide you with anything," he told me.  I let him know that his help alone has already done far more for me than money would.  "Just make sure to ration it."

I already know how to ration money.  I've had to for almost a year now.  But with the money from my parents that Canis has managed to secure for me, I'll at least have something to fall back on in case of emergencies.  He's made it easier for me to have money on hand.  I don't have to have cash on me now, so I don't have to risk carrying larger sums.  He's also made it so that I don't have to be afraid of using an account.  I can be traced through it, yes, but most likely only by authorities.  Maybe the best thing that Canis has done for me is to make sure that the authorities aren't my enemies anymore.

I asked him how exactly he knew what was going on and what all he knew.  "Well," he said, "as you may have guessed, I've had some contact with the Fears myself.  I've known about them for a while now.  I know how they work.  So when your family and the Andersons were killed, I recognized the methods.  Knew it was the Slender Man.  And since you were still missing, I asked to be put on the case.  I knew you'd need someone who understood."

Canis placed a pair of rectangular glasses on his sharp nose as he began looking through his paperwork.  "You covered your tracks pretty well, Kenny.  Laid low for a while, and by the looks of it, ended up not mentioning your full name or the Anderson girl's on this blog.  It took me a while to find it, and when you finally let slip a less vague location, you left Texas before I managed to track you down."

"Really?" I asked him.  "But wouldn't you be able to find Raggedyman fairly easily?"

"You would think, but it's not actually that simple.  You see, Mr. Schultz doesn't actually exist."

I froze as soon as the words left his mouth, shocked.  "What?  But...but that's impossible!  I met him myself! He...he exists!  He wouldn't lie about who he was, would he?  How could you not have any records of him?"  I reached into my backpack, fumbling for the Yu-Gi-Oh! cards he had sent with me as a parting gift.  "I have some cards he gave me right here!"

"I don't doubt you, Kenny.  And I'm sure that he used his real name.  But he doesn't exist.  Those links on your blog are all dead."  At the shock on my face, he added, "Things like that happen at times when the Fears are involved.  I can't explain why it happens, or even what happens, but sometimes realities don't line up."

At this point I asked Canis if I could use his computer.  He let me, and I checked Raggedy's blog.  It was still there, and I could still read it.  Canis told me that all he saw was a notification that no such page exists.  I exhaled a bit.  As long as he hadn't suddenly ceased existing on me, I didn't have to worry about Chris.

"I think something similar happened to him," I said.  He talked about this one girl.  Aura, or Anna.  I think one was her name and the other was her screen name.  And I think he loved her, but her blogs...didn't exist.  And he kept forgetting things about her.  Even forgetting her name by the end of his visit.  Like she had never existed in the first place."

Canis nodded.  "It's strange.  It's one of the things I'd try to investigate if I had more time.  But right now, I've been more concerned with these 'Ten Masks.'  I've never heard of them before."

"From what I've gathered, they're an elite squad of ten proxies trying to kill me."

"Almost certainly.  Although I'd hardly call them 'elite.'  I mean no offense, Kenny, but you're still an amateur in terms of combat."  He pushed his glasses up his nose.  "No, the fact that they're not elite is what bothers me.  If they wanted you dead, why not just find one person to put a bullet through your head?  Why ten of them?  And this 'Gabe.'  I know him.  Jeremiah Landis.  What's he doing in all this?"

"How do you know him?" I asked.  He returned with a glare.  His eyes narrowed to slits and his lips curled back into something close to a snarl.

"That information is both confidential and inconsequential," is all he said.  I didn't try broaching the subject again.

"So how did you find me?" I hazarded.

"Like I said, an anonymous tip.  I'm as surprised as you are.  Sure, smashing up a church technically is vandalism, but I get the impression that he called more so that I could find you--which means that whoever it was knows that I was looking for you and knew where you were."  He started speaking less to me and more to the paperwork in his hands as he looked through it.  "Who that might be, I don't know.  My best guess at this point is that they're a member of the Ten Masks who wanted to get their turn.  That might also be why they're not too concerned with killing you at the moment...."

A thought comes to my mind.  "After I left, someone left Chris a note with a thousand dollars."

That stops him.  "Really?  Tell me all you can about that."  I read him the post that he had mentioned it in, focusing on this part:

The strangest thing was that yesterday, I found an envelope at my doorstep. Given my track record with things being left on my doorstep I was kind of hesitant to open it. Once I got up the nerve to do so, I saw that inside was $1000 along with a note:

For your trouble. Thanks for keeping an eye on him.
A friend.

As surprising and confusing as this was, I am certainly not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. So to whoever left me that, thank you.
"Well," Canis said, standing up and removing his glasses, "it seems that you have a benefactor of sorts.  It still stands to be seen whether or not they're the same person, but he seems like he's the most likely person at the moment."

"You're sure it's a he?"

"Phone call, male voice.  My informant was certainly male.  Either way, I'd be careful.  Because whether or not they're helping you, you have someone who's been following you without your noticing."

I'm going to start wandering again in a few days, and Canis might come with me for at least a bit while he looks for more leads on the Ten Masks.  As much as I'd love to have the protection of a trained officer with a gun, it won't last for much longer.  All I can do is hope that I can find new allies or stand up to the Ten Masks on my own.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


After my encounter with Magpie, I decided to try to lay low for a while.  Lose myself in the city, then stay on the move, hoping that they wouldn't be able to follow me.

Last night, I decided to spend the night in a church.  Bigger cities usually have at least one church that holds a Saturday evening mass, and even if they lock the doors, they don't have particularly tight security.  I can slip in on a Saturday night and slip out on Sunday morning.  I feel weird, using a religious place like that.  Like, even though I know that I need a place to stay and the church would probably be willing to let me spend the night if they knew about it, there's still some judgmental heavenly eye looking down on me.  Something about it just feels wrong.

After everyone had left, I crept into the sanctuary and sat looking at the architecture.  Stained-glass windows are always so cool, but it's been a long time since I've seen them during the day when they're actually lit up.  At night, they're just dark and murky images.  I looked up at the cross above the pulpit.  It too seemed more threatening than comforting in the dark.  I curled up on a pew and thought.  Is there a god somewhere?  I don't know.  It's hard to say it's impossible while on the run from the supernatural.  At the same time, could the Fears be gods themselves?

I wish I had talked to Lily more about her beliefs on religion.  She said that she was "raised Christian."  I never got much of a solid answer beyond that.  I tried to keep from thinking about it last night, though, because wondering about that leads to wondering whether or not she's in hell now that she's dead.  I don't want to think about that.

I heard footsteps and flattened myself into the pew, gripping my staff tightly.  I hadn't expected anyone to be in the church after this point and didn't want to risk getting caught, even if they might be understanding.  After a bit, I heard a voice.

"Huh.  Fitting.  So bright and cheery during worship.  So euphoric that you could say that the building itself is alive.  You can practically feel the spirit of God around you."  The man was muttering to himself quietly, though every word echoed in the empty sanctuary.  "But when it's empty...." he let out a dry chuckle.  "Look at it.  Just look at that cross.  All these people coming in and worshiping a brutal execution instrument.  Eating a guy's body and drinking his blood."

He fell silent for a moment.  "Could be worse," he muttered.  "Could be Scientology.  Don't you agree, Kenny?"  I froze.  "Come on, I know you're here.  Come on out."  I didn't move.  I heard some more footsteps, then lights flickered on.  "Let's not draw this out, okay?  My little girl's back home.  I need to get back to her before it gets too late.  You can understand that, can't you?"

I slowly stood up, knowing it was useless to run.  The middle-aged man there was probably over six feet tall.  Balding, heavyset and muscular but with a beer belly, dressed in a white wifebeater and jeans.  In his hands he carried a pair of meat mallets.  The spikes on the ends didn't look particularly sharp or long, but with the man's strength and the weight of the hammers, it didn't look like it mattered much.

The man smiled.  "Name's Gabe.  Nice to meet you.  As I'm sure you've guessed, I'm one of the Ten Masks.  Nothing personal, you understand.  It's just business.  It's a steady job that pays well, and I've gotta take care of Janie somehow."

I looked up at Gabe, and even though I'm sure I looked like a cornered squirrel, I still put on a brave face.  "It looks like she'll have to go hungry, then."

Gabe gave a full belly laugh, as if he found my statement more charming than threatening.  "Oh, Kenny.  I'm so sorry, kid.  You're brave, I'll give you that much.  Not a good fighter, but you're definitely brave."  He smiled.  "I'm really sorry we had to meet under these circumstances.  I'll try to make it quick for your sake."

He charged down the aisle at me.  He was a lot quicker than I would have expected from a man his size, but I could already tell that speed was my biggest advantage over him.  That, and my reach.  Even without using the full length of the staff, I had more range than his hammers.  Of course, if he hit me even once, I'd probably be done for.

I jumped back as he swung and the hammer crashed into a pew, sending wooden shrapnel flying.  I watched as carefully as I could as he swung at me again and again.  It was fairly easy to dodge him, since he telegraphed his moves so much.  There was a lot of power behind his swings, but there wasn't much speed.  Overhead or from the side.  He'd swing one of those two ways.  All the while, wooden slivers would go flying at us as the hammers would chip at the pews.

I ducked beneath his arm as he raised it and swung at him from behind with all my strength.  He grunted and coughed as my staff struck his back and knocked the wind out of him, but shrugged it off and turned.  I hadn't planned for him to recover from my maneuver, and he caught me off balance.  I desperately raised Lily to ward off his blow, and managed to clumsily block the mallet.  I felt the wood start to give a bit, as if it was going to break, but it didn't.  Still, it was enough to throw me completely off-guard mentally.  I ended up on the floor with Gabe standing over me.

"That's enough," came a voice from the other end of the sanctuary, echoing around the room.  Gabe looked up and I craned my neck around.  A police officer was standing at the far end of the aisle, gun drawn.

"You..." Gabe whispered.

"I'd leave the boy alone and get out of here if I were you," he said.  "Your choice.  Consequence-free freedom, or death."

Gabe stood there a second before smiling down at me.  "Congrats, kid.  Guess I'll get the chance to see you again, ya lucky bastard."  He stepped away from me and walked past the cop out of the sanctuary.

"What's...what's going on?" I asked as the cop helped me to my feet.  He was a tall, thin man, with a long, very sharp-looking face.  I blinked, trying to get my bearings.  The whole thing had given my mind a bit of whiplash.

"Kenny Mortel?  My name's Edwin Canis.  I've been looking for you."  I tensed up, and I could tell he sensed it.  "Relax, I know your situation here.  I know exactly what you're dealing with, and I want you to know that I'm here to help you.  I've pulled some strings.  You're not listed as a missing person anymore.  I'm also going to be providing safety for you for a short while."  He gave a slight smile.  "You're in good hands for the time being."

"How did you find me?"

"An anonymous tip.  Told me that this church was being vandalized and that I'd want to check this one out personally.  Looks like I got to you right in time."

So instead of a night in the church, Canis let me spend the night at his house.  He's asking me about what exactly I've been through.  Says that I'll have access to some of my parents' money now that I'm 18, but I think I'm going to save it for emergencies.  Basically, Canis is going to help me get back on my feet.

But I'm still worried.  Gabe found me so easily last night.  Who knows when he or Magpie will be back, or when the rest of the Ten Masks will show up?

Friday, September 14, 2012


It's my birthday today.  I'm 18 years old, which means I'm now a legal adult.

I guess that means I'm allowed to continue doing what I've been doing.  I could open a checking account.  Save up some cash.

But I think I'm still a missing person, so I don't think I want to risk it.

Happy birthday to me.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


I've got a new internet card so I can occasionally jump back online.  After this latest incident I have the feeling that I'll need to now and then.

I did some looking into that nursery rhyme that the Cold Boy used.  Apparently it has to do with magpies and luck/misfortune regarding the number of them that you see.

I reached another city.  Spent the night there.  Gargoyle, one of the bloggers I followed, suggested that parking ramps make good shelters.  He's gone now.  I don't know whether that means his advice didn't work or what but it was still worth trying.  I got up to the top level and just stood there, watching the city below me.  Cities are really different then towns and the countryside.  In the country I usually like looking at everything above me, in towns I watch what's around me, and in cities, I like to look at what's below me.

"Nice night, isn't it?" came a voice from beside me.  A girl was leaning against the wall of the ramp beside me.  She had darker skin (I think she was Hispanic but I couldn't tell) and tangled black hair, with a bright, silvery streak dyed into it.  She wore jeans and a white T-shirt (the logo was too faded to read) and a black leather jacket over the top.  She grinned at me, and I couldn't help but think that she was kind of cute.

"Yeah, I guess it is," I said.

She slumped over it, letting her arms dangle over the edge.  "So, what brings you up here?"

"No real reason.  Just passing through.  Didn't have money to spend on a hotel."

She nodded and made a little humming noise.  "Bet you're one of those runner guys."


"You know, running from that tall guy in the suit."  She beamed at me when she saw the look on my face.  "I've met my fair share of runners.  I'm just good at noticing the signs."  She stuck her hand out for me to shake.  "Magpie."

"The Wanderer.  Call me Kenny."

"Nice to meet you, Kenny."  She grinned again.  "It's a shame I have to kill you now."

The words didn't sink in until after I had dodged the swing she took at me.  I instantly went into the defensive with Lily as she started laughing, a sort of shrieking cackle.  "Oh, man!  The look on your face!"  She started throwing a few jabs at me.  "Come on, fight back!"  I'm really not the kind of guy who hits a girl but I didn't have a choice in this case.  It was self-defense.  I started using a few of the offensive techniques I had learned from Raggedyman.

She didn't do a very good job of blocking them.  In fact, I barely had to try at all to land any hits on her.  Then she jumped back and ran along the ramp a little, grabbing a staff that someone (I'm guessing her?) had left there.

"Okay, not too bad...but this'll get you fighting at full strength!"  She started using the staff, clumsily at first, but as we went on, her offensive and defensive fighting both got better.  I noticed her sticking her tongue out against the corner of her lip, and her eyes kept flitting back and forth, taking in everything I was doing.  Of course concentration is important in battle, but it was a type of concentration that was a bit different than I expected.

That's when I realized what it was.  She was watching my fighting patterns and committing them to memory, then copying them herself.  She was using my own techniques against me.

"Copycat!" I yelled.

"No need to be so childish about it."  She gave that cackle again.  "It's not like it's unfair.  I'm actually at a disadvantage since I'm learning as I go."  She smacked the butt end of her staff into my shin.  "It's not my fault that I'm just better than you."

As the pain shot through my leg, I remembered something Raggedy had told me in a training session.  "You guard your upper body pretty well, but you tend to forget about your lower body and leave it vulnerable."  That was all I needed.  I was fighting someone using my own techniques.  That meant I was also fighting someone who would share my weaknesses.  I swept my staff low, knocking her off her feet.  She landed hard on her back and dropped the staff upon impact.

"I'm not going to kill you," I said as I pressed the tip of my staff against her neck, applying just enough pressure as a warning to keep her from moving.

"I know."  She coughed.  "Look, you've beaten me.  I've lost.  Just...let me go.  I'll leave you alone.  For tonight at least."

"How do I know I can trust you?"

"If you're not going to kill me, you're going to have to move again at some point.  If I was going to attack you again, I could just wait until then."

"Yeah?  I've beat you before.  I can do it again."

"Then why are you worried?  Look, Kenny, I'm not going to hurt you.  This was...let's call it a test.  A little scouting expedition to get an idea of how you fight.  I'm gathering information."

"For who?"

"The rest of the Ten Masks.  There's nine more, and a lot of them are stronger than me."  She grinned.  "At least, that's what they'd tell you.  Just between you and me I still think I'm the strongest."

"Ten Masks?  You're not wearing a mask."

She rolled her eyes.  "It's just a name, moron.  It's a symbolic thing.  Now let me up."

I pulled the staff away hesitantly.  She sat up and held her arms up in a gesture of surrender.  "Listen, Kenny, you should probably leave now.  No offense since you seem like a cool guy and all, but I really shouldn't be hanging around you.  You know, for obvious reasons."

I nodded and ran, sparing a glance back.  She hadn't made a move for her staff, or even towards me.  She had walked back up to the edge of the parking ramp and just stood there, staring back over the edge.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

There's been a bit of trouble.  I'm okay and Raggedy's okay but I'm getting ready to leave now.  I've had to leave to protect both of us.

The other day we were out training.  Some running and some sparring.  I've really improved in my time here.  It was another hot day but it was cool enough that we managed to brave the heat.  Raggedy tossed me my water bottle during a break.  "You did pretty good today, Kenny."

I thanked him for the compliment.  I have gotten stronger, faster, and better at using Lily in combat situations.  I'm not near an expert yet or even near Raggedy's level (after all, I've never taken any sort of self-defense course), but I should be able to hold my own in a fight a bit better now.

Raggedy started going on about training plans for tomorrow but I sort of zoned him out.  I was tired and it was hot out and I just wanted a drink.  I sort of tuned it out to the point that it was background noise but when he stopped talking I looked up and saw that he was looking at me funny.  "What did you say?" I asked.

"I said, does it suddenly seem colder out to you?"  He was shaking slightly.  I noticed the temperature for the first time.  It was kind of cold out.  I stopped and looked down at the bottle in my hands.  The contents had gone from lukewarm water to ice.  I held the bottle up to show him and his eyes grew wide.  We exchanged a glance that said everything in one unspoken word:


We took off, leaving everything other than my staff and Raggedy's training swords and headed for his car.  We got maybe a hundred yards before a wall of ice shot up in front of us.  We turned around to run and saw a young boy on the path behind us and stopped dead.  The kid looked about seven years old.  He was dressed in tattered clothes, but what really stood out was that he was almost unnaturally pale, with hair so light it was almost white.

"Cold Boy, right?" I asked quietly.

"Never seen him before, but that'd be my guess," he said.  He gripped his sword, a wooden foil, tighter and gave it an experimental swing.  "You know, Kenny, I've never wanted to hurt a kid, but I think I might make an exception for this fucker."

He charged at the Cold Boy and swung his sword.  The sword was about a foot away when the boy raised his hand.  Raggedy let out a yell as his body twisted and he toppled to the ground.  As the Cold Boy started giggling like someone had told a silly joke, I glanced over at Raggedy.  An icicle, already melting in the heat, was sticking out of his right shoulder.

He turned and looked right at me and gave me a giddy smile, speaking in a soft, high-pitched voice.  "One for sorrow.  Two for joy.  Three for a girl.  Four for a boy.  Five for silver.  Six for gold.  Seven for a secret, never to be told."  Then he turned back to Raggedy and held out a hand again.  Ice started appearing around his feet, slowly creeping up his legs.  I reacted more on instinct than anything else, rushing forward and swinging Lily as hard as I could.  There was a crack as the wood collided with the boy's face, and his feet left the ground.  The ice on Raggedy's legs and the wall in front of us instantly melted and as I helped Raggedy to his feet, I gave the Cold Boy a quick glance.  His face had shattered, like it was made of glass, but it was already starting to repair itself, water pouring out of the wound like blood and freezing to reform the face.

We ran.  We ran as hard as we could, made it to Raggedy's car, and drove as fast as we could.  But once we were driving, we saw the boy standing on the side of the road, smiling and waving goodbye.

"He's playing with us," Raggedy said.  "They love doing that."

"So did we escape or did he let us go?"

"I don't know.  It could be either one.  He could probably catch us again if he wanted to."

There was an awkward silence for a while.  "The Cold Boy, huh?" I finally said quietly.


"That rhyme he you know anything about it?"

He shook his head.  "We'll have to look it up.  Do some research on it."

I was quiet for a bit more, trying to figure out how to tell him what I wanted to.  "Chris, I think I'll have to do the research alone.  I think I should leave tonight."

His head turned at breakneck speed to look at me.  "What?  You can't!  You're not done with training yet and you still haven't managed to do anything with the patches!"

I shook my head.  "He looked right at me when he said that rhyme.  I think I'm the reason he's here, and now your shoulder's hurt because of me.  It's not safe for either of us to stay here anymore."  I grinned.  "Besides, if I'm going to be a wanderer, I need to keep moving.  You're a great guy and everything Chris, but I'm not about to let you become my Kaoru."

So now I'm packing.  It was nice to have some company for a while, and I'm really going to miss that when I take off, but it's time for me to go.

I just wish there was some way I could pay him back for all that.

Monday, September 3, 2012

It's Time to Duel?

I've been training with Raggedyman some more.  It's going better.  I still don't have enough aggression to do well offensively, but my self-defense skills have improved.  Like he said over on his blog, I'm staying longer than we had planned because the heat's been terrible.  I'm used to heat as much as I am to cold by this point, but he refuses to let me leave.  I guess it makes sense as you can always bundle up a little more when it's cold, but heatstroke will kill you.

But what I'm here to talk about is this weird thing he can do.  He had mentioned something about experiments with Yu-Gi-Oh! cards and I decided to ask him about it.

He has a better explanation up on his blog but here are the basics the best I understood them: there are these things he calls dimensional patches that spring up whenever Fears like the Slender Man try to brute-force their way here from their original dimensions.  I think it might also result in dimensional bleeding or something along those lines but I'm not quite sure what the connection is.  But there's a lot of energy from the Fears' dimensions that leaks through in these patches, and apparently that energy can be channeled.  Raggedy told me that he could manifest the powers of the Yu-Gi-Oh! card there.  Make them come to life somehow.

I was skeptical of course.  Who wouldn't be?  But he showed me a few days later.  We went to an old cemetery surrounded by a bunch of trees where one of these patches was.  He pulled out a Yu-Gi-Oh! duel disk and I stayed skeptical right up to the point that he actually started summoning monsters with it.  He had me try after he went but it didn't work for me.  I guess I'm just not special like that but that's okay.  I'm doing fine just how I am.

Right after that we had to leave.  We could only stay about six minutes because the effects of the place started taking their toll on me.  I started feeling really shaky and my vision started swimming a bit and my nose started to bleed.  Raggedy says that it's normal for that to happen.  Apparently he can last for about nine now, even though he only used to be able to last about seven.  From what I've gathered it wasn't giving me memory problems though.  Raggedy apparently had memory problems.  I still feel like I let him down, though.

There was one thing I didn't tell Raggedy about though.  I probably should have mentioned it to him so that he didn't have to find out from the blog, but I wasn't sure if it was real or a hallucination.  I could have sworn that as we left, I saw someone in the branches of one of trees surrounding the cemetery.  They disappeared behind the trunk as soon as I saw them, but I was sure I saw someone up in the trees.