Thursday, October 25, 2012

Some more about Wayward

Traveling with Wayward is an interesting experience.  If nothing else, it's because we don't really talk much.  Apparently the Choir can twist people's words, and I don't like the idea of accidentally saying something terrible to her.  We talk some, but not much.  I smile at her some (since I'm pretty sure that she's not fond of physical contact and it'd be inappropriate anyway), but we're not about to start spilling our life stories.  She refuses to even give me her name, so I guess it's just Wayward.

I noticed there was something weird about the texture of her clothes, and it turns out that it's because they're flame-resistant.  Apparently the best way to deal with the Choir and its servants is with fire, so she's become...something of a firebug, I guess.  I guess I'm not entirely comfortable sitting next to her on the bus when I know her bag could explode at any time.  But hey, she's company, and company who I know won't kill me.

She's always wearing headphones, and she's apparently listening to just white noise because the Choir won't let her listen to music.  Something about it seemed a little familiar, so I asked her about Not-Redlight.  "It's possible it might be the Choir," she said.  "If he can stand the music, good for him."

Anyway, I guess it's okay to let you guys know where I am.  Lyron is currently on leave and staying in Ohio.  She's invited me to stay with her for a few days on the condition that she gets to interview me.  And she's...well, she's a proxy.  Or servant?  I'm not sure what the right term is, but she serves several different Fears.  I know, a really stupid move, willingly walking into what might be a trap.  That's why I'm so glad I have Wayward with me.  Lyron's claimed in e-mails that she's weak and I could easily take her (a fact that I'm well aware could be a flat-out lie), but even if I can't, Wayward has plenty of fiery weapons with her that could provide some great backup.

Like I said, a stupid move, but I think it's worth the risk.

Well, wish us luck.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I'm amazed at how small the world is sometimes.

After Not-Redlight attacked me, it became clear that the Ten Masks can find me fairly easily.  Speed has become more important than laying low, and while I'm hesitant about my potential safe house, I'm willing to risk it.  To get there faster, I decided to take a bus.

It shouldn't surprise you to learn that pretty much everything I have is crammed into my pack.  I literally can't live without it.  Well, I was at the station, getting ready to purchase my ticket, when a guy swiped it.  I don't get why he went after me.  The pack was right beside me, meaning that I'd notice right away if it were taken, and I'm not the sort of person who looks like he has a lot of valuable possessions.  So why me?  Almost every single person in the bus stop would have been a better person to rob.

I grabbed Lily and chased after him as he ran out the building.  Even with the pack weighing him down, he was fast.  He couldn't outdistance me or shake me off, but I couldn't catch him.  I tried to get a good look at his face, but I mostly just saw his back: dark brown hair tied into a ponytail and a long, deep brown trenchcoat.  I burned those memories into my mind because they were all I had to identify him.

After a wild goose chase around town for about ten minutes, he must have given up on losing me and dropped the pack.  "Better not miss your bus!" he yelled, raising a hand and waving without looking back or breaking stride.  I wanted to go after him and bring him down, but he was right.  I had a bus to catch.

I was winded, and between that and not knowing the town too well, it took me a while to get back to the bus stop.  By the time I got there, the bus I had been planning on taking had already taken off.  I got a ticket for a different bus and waited.

A bus came by shortly after than and unloaded, and there was something...familiar about one of passengers.  Not in what she looked like, but in how she acted.  She kept throwing paranoid glances everywhere and looked extremely tired.  And she seemed to be traveling very light.  On a whim, I decided to try to talk to her.

She was a bit shorter than me, and looked a bit older too, with dark brown hair and eyes, dressed in thick-looking clothes.  I walked up to her and tried to speak, only to be met with an instant reply of "Leave me alone!"

I paused, trying to figure out whether or not to drop it or press further.  "Are you running from something?" I asked.

She pulled a pair of earphones away.  "What?"

"I said, 'Are you running from something?'"

Relief crossed her face, but she still looked at me suspiciously.  Her eyes fixed on my staff.  "Are you...are you The Wanderer?"  She smiled a bit at my stunned expression and said "I'm The Wayward Son."

A confused "...Son?" was all I managed as the gears started turning in my head.  I had stumbled across her blog recently, and knew that she had burned her house down and began running from the Choir, but I had no idea that Wayward was a girl.

"It's a reference to the song," she said sheepishly.  We stood there awkwardly for a little bit, neither really knowing how to react.

"Um...I know how hard it is to be on the run like this," I finally said.  "If you need somewhere to go, I have a place you can stay.  I mean, I don't, but I have somewhere to go and I know my host would welcome you too."

So that's how I ended up in a west-bound bus with Wayward.  Like I said, it's really a small world sometimes.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Another Mask?

I guess I expected this.  I haven't seen one of the Masks since Gabe, and that was a while ago.  I wasn't to surprised when another one found me.  Or at least I think it was another one.

I've been talking to a few people, and I think I have a place to stay for a few days.  I'm not telling you where exactly I'm going because I'll be easier to track that way and because, well, I have to admit that what I'm doing is sort of stupid.  Canis certainly thought so.  But I can't have anyone talking me out of it and I'm not going there unprepared, so my lips are sealed.

Anyway, I was in a rural area cutting across some fields and pastures.  It can cut a lot of distance off of a trip if an area is laid out in square miles.  Cutting diagonally across a square mile can, in theory, cut it down by...over a mile I think?  It'd be a 45, 45, 90 triangle, so it'd be 1, 1, square root of 2?  I'm not sure how the math works anymore, but it's really cuts it down.

Anyway, I was partway across across a pasture when I saw someone.  He looked over and saw me, and started running at me.

He was dressed in a red zipper hoodie that hid his face, along with running shoes, black polyester sweatpants with reflective white stripes down the side, and what I think was athletic tape wrapped around his hands.  I tried to run but I was weighed down by everything on me.  He, on the other hand, was dressed in light, loose clothes designed for athletics.  There was no way I could outdistance him.

My first thought upon seeing him was that it was Redlight, the sarcastic mastermind who had been responsible for the downfall of White Elephant's Robert Sagel, but I thought he was dead.  Or...came back?  He had the hoodie and the tape, but I thought Redlight wore camo pants.  And why was he after me...?

As I puzzled it over, I reacted in time to just narrowly dodge a fist.  A flurry of quick jabs struck my chest, and he hopped back as fell to the ground.  He jumped back and forth from side to side with his fists up, hood restricting any view of his face.  Whoever he was, he certainly didn't move or act like Redlight.

"Who are you?" I asked.  He didn't answer.  Didn't even respond, like he hadn't heard me.  I shrugged my backpack off and charged at him with Lily.  As I swung he ducked under my staff and threw another jab that connected with my side.  I managed to stay up until his leg swept under me.  He hopped back again, shifting his wait from foot to foot.

This continued for a bit.  I tried to attack, he dodged and counterattacked fluidly.  I'd yell at him, and he wouldn't even acknowledge me.  He wasn't very strong, but he was coordinated.  His movement was almost more like he was dancing than fighting.

Then I noticed something.  He bounced back and forth like he always did, always waiting for me to get to my feet before attacking, when his rhythm...changed.  As if he was a metronome and someone had suddenly shifted the weight.  Then I realized: that's exactly what happened.  He was listening to music.

It made sense.  It's why he didn't respond: he couldn't hear me.  It wasn't like he was dancing; he was dancing!  And as the two of us continued to fight, I noticed that he was definitely fighting to a specific rhythm.  If I could just figure out what that rhythm was, I could maybe use it to my advantage.

Sure enough, now that I could predict his moves, it was easier to block or dodge his punches and kicks.  I even got a few hits in on him (though not many) by trying to attack when his music would have offbeats.  After a few of these hits, though, he redoubled his efforts.  He went on the offensive, driving me back, then managing to slip a punch past my defenses directly into my gut.  As my body doubled over in pain, he jumped back and, instead of launching further attacks, turned and sprinted away.

I lost track of him.  It didn't occur to me to follow him, and I spent the time after the fight catching my breath instead.  I grabbed my pack and staff again and headed across the pasture again, trying to make it to the next town.

The question is...who was that?  I think he's one of the Masks, but he didn't say anything.  I don't know for sure.  Why would he be fighting to music when it made his movement predictable like that?  If he's one of the Masks, why did he run instead of trying to kill me?  The longer this all goes on, the more I'm getting the sense that I have no clue what's going on.

Anyway, you should hear from me again fairly soon.  It probably won't take me to get where I'm going.  I'll let you know then.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Supplies, Part 1

I've heard from just a few people concerning possible places to go.  I may not be heading anywhere in particular for a while, but that's fine.  I'll just keep putting one foot in front of the other, leaning on Lily, leaning on the memories of Lily, always moving another step down the road.

Between the visit to Raggedy and this business with the Masks, I haven't had much time to talk about wandering much.  My personal problems aren't going to help anyone.  But maybe this will.

I keep everything I own in a backpack.  It's one of those big outdoor sporting ones.  I don't really own much anymore, though.  Most everything I have is essential.  I'm not going to go through everything right now, though.  Just the basics and the things that strike me as most important.

Apart from Lily and the backpack itself, my tarp is probably the most valuable.  It's a necessity for creating quick shelters.  It's also pretty much the entirety of my bedding.  No blankets.  No pillows.  No sleeping bags.  Those are all things I'd love, but they're all bulky comfort items that take up too much space.  I'd love to be able to have at least a pillow, but I try to avoid anything that's not absolutely necessary.  I can roll up some clothes for a pillow if I'm desperate enough.  It may not be comfortable, but it keeps heat in and it's versatile and durable.

I only have about two spare changes of clothes.  It's disgusting walking around in dirty clothes all the time, but I can't spare the room for much more than that.  I have three t-shirts, three pairs of jeans, one pair of hiking boots, a warm coat that's not too bulky, and five pairs of socks and underwear.  Things change a bit depending on the season, too.  During the summer, I'll swap a t-shirt for a tank top and a pair of jeans for running shorts.  During the winter I'll add a sweatshirt and some heavier pants, as well as gloves, a hat, and a scarf.  Of course, that's also why I try to head to the south for the winter.  The amount of exposure I'd suffer in the northern states could kill me if the weather got bad enough, even with warmer clothes.

I carry some food on me.  Mostly canned goods since they last pretty well, though it's never fun to eat cold beans straight from the can.  Sometimes, if I'm up to it, I'll start up a fire to heat some of my food up.  I have a can opener on my Swiss Army Knife, which comes in handy a lot.

Speaking of the knife, it's one of the most useful tools I have. I got the best one I could find and I don't regret it at all.  Not all of the tools work the greatest, but they work well enough to get the job done and the fact that it's so compact is a must.

And of course, there's my laptop and my mp3 player, the former to connect me to the world and the latter so that I don't go crazy.  I listen to a lot of audiobooks (I found a good site for some free ones) since they don't actually take up space and I can listen to them on the go.

Those are just a few of the things that I find most valuable.  There's more, of course.  I'll get into those later.  For now, though, I've finished my coffee and I need to get moving so that I can find a place to sleep for the night.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Request

Canis and I have parted ways.  I'm back on my own again.

I'm out of Texas now.  I probably won't say which direction I headed, other than "not south."  I'm still in the US.  I don't know why I've never tried leaving the country.  Probably because it wouldn't really matter.  He'll find me no matter where I go.  They'll find me no matter where I go.

Basically, I have a request for anyone out there who might be reading.  Is there anyone who would be willing to take me in for a brief period of time?

I know it's a lot to ask, especially with these Ten Mask guys after me.  Still, I could maybe make it worth your time.  I'd gladly do some work for you.  I could maybe pay you.  Maybe someone else will.  Someone left Raggedy a thousand dollars after I took off, and while I don't like the idea of someone following me like that, there's nothing wrong with some extra money, right?

I don't know.  I guess that after all this business with the Ten Masks and these other Fears showing up, I just don't want to be alone anymore.  At the very least, I haven't encountered any since the Black Dog incident, so that's at least something to be thankful for.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Black Dog

Canis and I visited the church where Gabe attacked me the other day.  He was looking for any clues to who and what the Masks might be.  He didn't find any clues in the church itself, but he said that it provided him with a good place to think.

"I think I can see a pattern emerging," he said, "but I'm not sure enough of it yet.  Even then, I can't use it to actually predict anything.  The next Mask could be anyone, anywhere, at any time."  He stood up.  "I'm sorry, Kenny.  All I can do at this point is use you as bait.  Withhold your location from the blog if you need to, but give me all the details you can in an e-mail.  Where you were, where you were headed, what time it was...I want everything.  I don't think they'll kill you.  Not yet.  I'm so sorry that I can't act as a bodyguard at this point in time, but I'll be trying to stay one step ahead of them for your sake."

We started driving back but stopped at a Burger King to grab a bit to eat for lunch.  As we headed back to Canis's police cruiser, he held up an arm, stopping me.

"Kenny," he hissed, "don't move."  I looked up and saw something move around from behind the car.  It was some form of dog, or wolf or something, standing at least five feet from ground to back.  Night-black, with intense red eyes and gleaming white fangs, saliva dripping from them as its lips pulled back in a snarl.

The Black Dog.  But what was it doing here?  From what I had learned, the Black Dog was the Fear of being found out.  Of being hunted down or having your secrets exposed.  But I don't have any major secrets, and I don't have to worry so much about being found now.  Why was it coming after me now?

"Kenny," Canis said in calm, measured tones, "on the count of three, I want you to run.  It doesn't matter where.  Just down the sidewalk there.  I want you to run as fast as you can."

I nodded, and he started counting.  On "three," I bolted.  I sprinted for about a minute straight, and finally slowed when I realized that I couldn't hear any sound of pursuit behind me.  I looked back.  Neither Canis nor the Black Dog was anywhere in sight.

After a bit of hesitation, I decided to take a chance and head back to the parking lot.  Canis was there, winded, fumbling with his keys.  "In the car," he said with a sense of urgency that I didn't ask any questions.  He had barely started the engine when I saw the Dog come barreling around the street corner.  It barely lost any momentum coming around the curb, and Canis wasted no time putting the squad car in gear.

"Why's it after me?" I asked, craning my neck around to watch.  It was keeping pace with us.  Maybe even gaining on us.

Canis turned the sirens on, plowing through red lights in an attempt to lose the beast.  "It's not.  It's after me."  I stared at him.  "Don't look so shocked," he said flatly.  "You know that I'm familiar with the Fears.  Did you think I'd never had any encounters with them myself?"  He paused.  "Don't worry, we're not in any danger.  I've done this before."  Sure enough, after a few twists and turns, he managed to shake the Dog from our trail.

I've been spending the time since thinking.  Obviously, if the Black Dog is after him, he has his own secrets he wants to stay hidden.  Are these secrets that could hurt me, or just things he doesn't want to share very easily?  What other Fears has Canis encountered?  Has he helped people like me in the past?

All I know is that I'm thinking it maybe would be a good idea to split from Canis soon. I don't like that he's essentially using me as bait, but I trust him when he says that there's no other way.  He can't protect me without knowledge, and he can't get that knowledge without putting me in a tricky position.  I just wish that there was some other way.