A few days ago, someone who's been commenting on my blog under the name "Last of the Last" told me that I should read up on the scarlet-marked. I didn't know why exactly he was suggesting it, but I did what he said. Here's how I understand it: the Red Cap, the Fear of sex and sexuality, has two types of servants/proxies/etc, which seems to be the general trend. There are the scarlet-marked, those who worship her (him? it?) and serve her willingly, and the "blood vessels," people the Red Cap has possessed.
I've been reading the hostel's blog, Notes from the Underground, and they've been having issues with a certain scarlet-marked called Ruby Tuesday. Wayward, Lyron, and I had some issues with the greyskins and the Choir. And then, both attacked at once.
We had been about to leave. Lyron and I had both been reading the blog and found that the protection against the Fears they had originally had was gone. We were so close, but right as we were leaving, there was this noise. Have you ever heard of the "brown note?" It's a rumored low-pitch frequency that gets its name from the fact that it allegedly causes you to lose control of your bowels. The concept behind the brown note, though? That a noise on a certain frequency can actually damage your body? That's what it was like, hearing the Choir. It felt like my gut was turning inside out, like my head was exploding, like my skin was going to melt off. And I hadn't even stepped outside. Wayward and Lyron had, and they were both vomiting when I pulled them back in.
Wayward told the staff about the Choir, and they put the entire hostel into lockdown. No one comes in. No one goes out. Tensions rose. Rumors started flying around. Greyskins were on their way. Ruby Tuesday may have been involved. Both turned out to be true. Whether the Choir and Red Cap had called a truce or the greyskins were also blood vessels or both, Ruby Tuesday showed up with a sizable number of reinforcements. They surrounded he hostel and laid siege to it. We were all locked into some supernatural Mexican Standoff.
And then the word got out that one of the hostel guests had left for a day or two. A girl named Sandy. Getting some time away from the place. They said that it happens on occasion. I'd believe it, since staying cooped up in the hostel was frustrating even before the siege. But she was on her way back and would be walking into a trap. She'd be killed or tortured or turned or used as a bargaining chip if she got caught.
She was smarter than anyone gave her credit for, though. She was a runner, and we runners have to be smart. A few of us crowded around to watch the hostel's security cameras as she came back. She realized something was wrong early on. Approached cautiously. Surveyed the situation. Found alternative paths. Managed to make it back to the hostel undetected, only to find that there was no way in. She wouldn't be able to slip past all of the greyskins undetected.
That's when I decided to do something stupid. There was an opening. A line of defense weaker than the others. If I could get out there to her, the two of us might be able to fight our way back. It was a stupid idea, obviously, but I couldn't just leave her out there to die. I didn't tell anyone what I was planning because they would have tried stopping me. I grabbed my bag. Grabbed Lily. Took a pair of Wayward's headphones and headed out the back door.
It was a dumber move than I had thought. The greyskins noticed me almost instantly and came straight after me. That's when Sandy made her dumb move. She realized what I was doing and came out of hiding to help. She was unprepared. Shadows appeared on the wall of the hostel. They looked like human silhouettes made of flame. The Choir.
Then, there was a small break in the shadows as mouth-like shapes appeared on their faces and opened to scream. My vision turned red. I coughed and spat blood out of my throat. Every orifice on my face started bleeding. Even the greyskins were affected, falling the ground and clutching their ears. Only the headphones and my brief prior encounter with the Choir braced me enough to pull through. I looked up when the scream ended and saw Sandy lying on the ground. Her eyes had melted out of their sockets. I didn't have to look twice to know she was dead.
The shadows on the wall had vanished, but the greyskins were recovering. I tried to stand but couldn't find my balance. I couldn't run. I was doomed. Dead. Done for. And that's when he appeared.
I had seen him before, immediately before I had met Wayward. He had stolen my backpack and I had missed my bus because of it. He stood over my body with is back to me, wearing the same long brown coat and ponytail that he had worn that day, which is how I recognized him. He held a wooden staff in his hands and I thought he had grabbed Lily before I realized I was still holding her.
He felled the last greyskin of the wave and turned to me so that I got my first good glimpse of his face. The features were sort of mousey, and everything about his appearance and expression screamed "clever little scamp." He extended a hand and pulled me to my feet. "Last of the Last," he yelled over the noise of the headphones. "I'd love to chat more, but you need to get out of here. Run!"
He gave me a shove and I took off on unsteady feet. My head was still swimming and the damage to my ears was still messing with my balance. I managed to make it probably two hundred meters before before I toppled to the ground. I closed my eyes and waited for death to come as the greyskins started approaching.
That's when I heard gunfire right beside me. Not directed at me, directed at the greyskins. I pulled myself to my hands and knees and started groggily looking back and forth.
"What the hell were you thinking?" a familiar voice hissed. Edwin Canis hauled me to my feet. "Tell me where you're going before you leave next time, and don't try playing the hero so much. Let's go. I'm getting you out of here."
I heard more gunfire then and twisted around to see a man standing on the roof of the hostel. He wore a long brown duster and a bowler hat, and I wondered who he was until he turned. The gun he held was a sniper rifle, and his face was covered by a gas mask. Between those two, I managed to connect the dots: the Archangel. But what was he doing here? And why was he gunning down the greyskins?
"Move, Kenny!" Edwin shouted, practically dragging me to his police cruiser. He started the engine and pulled away from the hostel, leaving everyone else behind.
"Wait! What about the others!"
He shook his head. "Forget about them, Kenny. There's no time."
"Go back! They're still in danger!"
"I can't, Kenny! Getting you was hard enough. There's no way they would even let me in. Besides, the Archangel is there now, and he's evening up the odds."
"How do you know that he's not going to just turn on them?"
He was quiet for a second. "I don't." I tried to grab the wheel from him at that, and he reached over with one hand and pressed his fingers somewhere on my neck. I lost consciousness almost instantly.
When I woke up again, I was in a hotel bed. Canis left a note. He had paid for the room but didn't have time to stick around. There was an apology for leaving everyone at the hostel, accompanied with a warning to play things safer from now on. Don't try playing hero, because playing hero isn't what keeps you alive. I threw the note away.
And now I'm on my own again. Nowhere to go, no one to talk to. It was nice while it lasted, I guess. Back to wandering. I've got questions, of course. Who exactly is Last? What was the Archangel doing at the hostel? Is everyone at the hostel still okay? I don't know. Hopefully some answers will show up soon.