Sunday, April 21, 2013
Last's plan might be crazy. Last might be crazy. But he's right on this. A life of aimless wandering isn't a life worth living. I'm joining him because it's not much, but it's a chance.
I'm going to be leaving this blog behind. It's just a record of a scared kid bouncing from place to place, just trying to survive whatever life threw at him. It's the story of a kid with no fight. With no hope. Last, Crimson, and Maggie suggested a new blog. That it would commemorate me ending one chapter of my life and starting a new one. And I suppose they're right. I'm not wandering from death anymore. Now I'll be facing my fears. Keep an eye on me there. I'll have plenty to say.
I'll probably be quiet for a few days, though. I'll be working with ten people I've just met, and I want to get to know them a little better before we start making any moves.
And so this is the end of this blog. Hard to think that it's been over a year since I've started it. And at the same time, it's hard to think that it's only been a year. I've been through a lot. Been a lot of places. Done a lot of wandering. But I"m not wandering anymore. I'm still traveling, but now I have a destination. An end to my journey. And maybe, just maybe, with Last's help, with the Ten Masks' help, with your help...I'll make it.
This is not goodbye. This is not the end. This is a rebirth.
I'll see you all soon.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
“What exactly do you mean, ‘kill the Slender Man?’” I asked.
“Exactly what I said,” Last replied. “We’re going to kill the Slender Man.”
“I was under the impression that he couldn’t be killed.” He just grinned at me. “What?”
“It can, and it has.” He stared at me and watched as what he said sunk in.
“Wait…has? Like…he’s been killed before? You’re going to have to explain this a bit more.”
“Of course, of course. This is probably going to be pretty confusing and might go over your head, but I’ll try to explain the best I can. Um…okay, you’ve noticed a few…strange things going on, right? Like when Canis couldn’t see Raggedyman’s blog? Or why the Fears aren’t public knowledge even though there are so many blogs about them? Why Shadow says there are about twenty people at his estate—I mean, do you even know of twenty runners? Or, hey, even better. You know how you saw the Slender Man change? From the arm things to the tentacles?”
“Yeah. And after I said something about that, I started noticing that there were suddenly people talking about him having tentacles. You know why that is?”
He nodded. “That would be because…well, Raggedy? Those proxies from Picking at Ruins and…you know, the kids they were after? They…don’t exist. Not in this dimension. But they exist in other dimensions.”
“I don’t follow.”
“Have you ever heard of dimensional bleeding?”
“Okay, I’ll explain, then. Imagine that there are an infinite amount of universes, right? You’ve heard of the Many Worlds theory, right? You can at least imagine that?” I nodded. “Okay. The Slender Man will kind of…cause these rifts between these universes to blend. Distorts space and time. Allows interaction. Now, imagine that every universe consists of a cup filled with a different type of liquid. When these dimensions interact, it’s like pouring one cup into another and mixing it together. These universes start to blend. Not perfectly. They’ll eventually start to separate again because they’re different densities. But you’ve…still been impacted by it…?” He rubbed the back of his neck. “It’s not a great metaphor and parts of it kind of fall apart. But that’s…sort of it. People only see what they want to see. Some things might not make much sense to them, but they’ll still accept it. Some things might be irreconcilable with what they know, and they won’t be able to perceive them. There are tons of different dimensions with different incarnations of the Slender Man. Is it really that big of a surprise that someone has managed to find a way kill him before?”
“How do you know about this?”
“Well…because I was involved. You’ve heard of Core Theory, right? With the assigning of the archetypal roles to people? Well, there are a lot of different incarnations of it. I was seriously really stunned when I saw just how many different dimensions, or…clusters of dimensions, I guess, there’s a lot of overlap, had some sort of it. I think there were about ten. Well, I was part of one of those. I wasn’t the hero or anything. I think I was closest to what you’d know as the ‘hermit.’ So I was there when we killed him. And things were good. For a bit. Then someone came up with the Fears. And once we had created them…they had suddenly always been there. Without the Slender Man, things were out of balance. We couldn’t do anything to keep them in check. Things went wrong, and long story short, they…kind of ended up destroying the universe.”
“The universe.” I was at a loss for words.
“Yeah. Maybe even more than one. I’m really not sure; like I said, there’s a lot of that dimensional bleeding stuff going on and it’s still difficult even for me to understand. I think that dimensional bleeding ended up dooming a lot of people, but…I think it also saved me. I saw that things were going to hell, and I ran. I got as far away from it as I could. Blocked out any thoughts of it. Eventually ended up in this dimension.” He gave me a sort of wry smile. “If there was only one thing I was good at, it was running away. Ditching all my friends like a coward to save my own skin. I barely remember their names anymore. I tried blocking them out just so I wouldn’t somehow end up back in my own dimension. And now…well, I’m all there is left of them. I’m the last of the last.”
“I’m sorry.” We were quiet for a while as he reminisced and I tried to process what he had told me. “So I see these arm branch things, and a lot of other people see tentacles. What was he like for you?”
“Spider,” he said. “Grew a bunch of arms out of his back, really long arms, liked to go…I’m not sure what the term would be, but not bipedal. He’d sometimes go down on four or more arms or legs when coming after us.”
“And you have a plan for this? I mean, besides just trying to turn me into some sort of pretend hero, throwing me up against the Slender Man, and hoping I come out alive.”
“Of course I have a plan. I’m no mastermind by any stretch, but I’ve got ideas, the time to refine those ideas, and the resources and contacts to pull it off. The whole thing’s already been in motion for quite some time now.”
“So what is the plan, then?”
“We’ll get to that when we get to that. First we have to execute the first step…which is killing off all the other Fears. That’s what the Masks are helping me do.”
“See, that’s one thing I don’t get, yet. You guys are working to kill the Slender Man, right? Then why are you working for him? Is that a front?”
“Not at all. I am truly, one hundred percent supporting the Slender Man.”
“So you’re a bad guy, then?”
He shook his head. “It’s not that simple, Kenny. It is really not that simple. You can’t divide the world into good guys and bad guys, heroes and villains, black and white. You know that already. Everyone knows that. There are a lot of shades of grey in between. Probably about fifty. And everyone keeps trying to look at the world in this monochrome spectrum. ‘He’s a bad person but he’s bad for good reasons. He’s got a noble goal but his methods are extreme. He only cares about himself and falls squarely in the middle.’ It’s all about fitting people into that axis somewhere between good and evil, between black and white. Me? I see the world in color.”
“So what’s your game, then?”
“Okay. I serve the Slender Man, yes. I have to admit, I’ve had to order a few runners killed, though I managed to work my way into a position where I’m pretty much solely targeting the people who serve other Fears. You see, you need the power of a god to kill a god. And these Fears? They’ve got the power of gods. I honestly have no clue how kill most of them, but the beauty of this is that we don’t have to. The Fears aren’t some big happy family. They hate each other. All we have to do is get them to kill each other. And because I think we can beat the Slender Man, we actually want him to win. It’s an interesting dichotomy where our greatest enemy is actually our strongest ally.”
“So you’ve been planning this for a while.”
“Then where do I fit in in all this? I’m just some pawn you need?”
He grew incredibly serious. “Kenny, the point of pawns is that they’re expendable. Nobody truly cares about them. If you were a pawn, Edwin Canis wouldn’t be stalking you across the states. If you were a pawn, Fracture wouldn’t have had his men kidnap you. If you were a pawn, the Cold Boy and Wooden Girl wouldn’t be teaming up in an attempt to kill or control you. Everyone wants you, Kenny. Everyone sees your potential. Maybe it inspires them. Maybe it confuses them. Maybe it scares them. But for whatever reason, you’re a wild card that everyone wants. Never refer to yourself as a pawn.”
I shook my head. “I think you’re probably exaggerating to flatter me. I think you’re crazy.”
“I know. Wonderful, isn’t it?” He grinned.
“No, I mean legitimately insane. Psychotic. Delusional. I’m not sure I want to go along with this.”
His demeanor changed immediately, his grin instantly turning into a scowl as he brought a hand across my face in a slap. “Of course I’m insane,” he snapped. “I’m a guy from a dimension that doesn’t exist anymore. Everyone I knew and loved is dead, and I didn’t even try to save them because I was too much of a coward. I’m working for a boogeyman that I’m trying to kill and trying to manipulate said boogeyman into a battle royale with a bunch of other Lovecraft rejects. So yeah, big surprise. I’m probably fucking insane. I’m sorry. I thought I was offering you a chance to take control of your destiny instead of darting off from place to place like a scared bunny. I’m not asking you if you think I’m sane or even if you think my crazy shot-in-the-dark plan is going to work. I’m asking you whether you’re going to try to take control of your destiny instead of trying to prolong the miserable remnants of a life we both know isn’t going to be long anyway. How long are you planning on doing this, Kenny? How long are you aimlessly going to keep wandering from death like this? I’m giving you the chance to make a stand and to do something with your life. So are you in or out?”
I thought. In a lot of ways—he was right. I’ve been running for over two years now, and I’m not any closer to the end than I was when I started. I’m sick of it. After Lily died, I went on the run. Not just from the Slender Man, but from my life in general. I didn’t want to face the mistakes I had made. I was in denial, as if I could keep Lily alive by trying to ignore the life back in my hometown that we had shared. That it was just that life that was dead and Lily and I had somehow managed to escape it. When Jenny, Ryan, and Dumas died, I went through a really dark time for about a week. I realized that running wouldn’t help. It didn’t help them. It won’t help me. It was going to catch up to me eventually. I really, truly wanted to die at that point, not because of some sort of self-loathing, but because of apathy. Dying was easier than living at that point.
Canis talked me through that. Kept me locked up in the hotel room away from any sharp objects or pills or the like, just to make suicide too much effort to actually go through with. Your comments encouraged me to keep going. Eventually, I forced myself out of it. Decided I wanted to live. To pick myself up off of the ground, pretend to be strong even when I wasn’t, and keep doing what I had been doing.
I see now that my decisions were contradictions. I couldn’t say that I wanted to live and then go right back to what I had been doing. What I was doing wasn’t living.
“Do I have to become a proxy or join the Ten Masks?” I asked.
“Not if you don’t want to. You’ll just be a runner whose goals happen to coincide with our own.”
I held my hand out, and he shook it. “In that case,” I told him, “I’m in.”
Friday, April 19, 2013
Last grinned at me. “Surprised?”
“Honestly? Not really. You have a lot of contacts that a runner wouldn’t, so I had kind of guessed you’re a proxy. Not too much of a stretch to think that the ‘boss’ these guys have been talking about is you.”
“Well, good intuition then. I’m sure you have a lot of questions. You guys mind if I borrow him for a second?”
Benjamin shrugged, Maggie crossed her arms, and Jerry gave me a slap on the shoulder. “Sure thing! We’ll see you guys later.”
“So,” Last said as the other three slipped out of the room, “that thing you and Rogue Shadow tried working out to convince me to compensate him? Well…I’d like to welcome you to the official founding of…the California safe house. I really haven’t come up with a name for it yet. It’s part of the…well, Rogue Shadow calls it the Resistance, but I personally prefer the Runners’ Foundation. I dunno, maybe someone will come up with a better name. Right now, there are only three of these places: this one, one in Kansas, and Shadow’s place in Florida. But the plan is to start with these three and slowly start developing a bigger web of these places all across the country. Maybe eventually spread into Canada and Mexico. Oversea branches don’t sound like a possibility quite yet, just due to funds. The plan, I think, is to try to pull in donations from runners to try to get it funded best we can. Every little bit helps, am I right?”
“You think it’ll work?”
“I don’t know. It’s a pretty good idea, though. The two of you should be commended for coming up with it.”
“First question, though: aren’t you a proxy?”
“Well…yeah. But it’s complicated. I’ll explain later. Ask me something else first.”
“Okay, what was with the wild goose chase? What exactly are you guys up to?”
He sat down on the couch and gestured for me to join him. “I’ve been trying to…teach you. In a way. What I want to teach you isn’t really something that can be taught. You had to learn it on your own. All I could really do is put you in situations where you could learn it. You met Raggedyman. That was good. He helped you train. But you needed to put that into practice, so we tested you. You needed to meet other runners. You needed to learn from them. You needed to meet proxies and realize that some proxies aren’t so bad, and some runners aren’t so great. You needed to learn to discern which is which. With Ryan and Jenny, you needed to take what you learned and figure out how to pass it on. And again, I am so sorry for how that backfired. If I had known—”
“It’s in the past. Let’s not bring it up. So why were you teaching me all this?”
His weasel-like face lit up. “Ah. Yes. Well, simply put, you have…potential. You fit a sort of certain character archetype, and I know it’s weird hearing me talk like this is just some sort of story, but I really thing that character archetypes are what we need to pull of what we’re going to be doing. See, you have a lot of potential to develop. And you’ve done so! You’ve developed a lot, and I wasn’t even trying to guide you for most of it. It just happened naturally. You’re growing, Kenny. You’re coming out of your shell and starting to grow as a person. You’re not that scared little kid you used to be. You’ve got determination. Compassion. Some leadership skills. What I’m saying is that I think you have the potential to become someone heroic. Someone who can inspire others.”
“And what does this have to do with anything? What purpose does that serve? I mean, you guys are proxies. Why are you trying to make some sort of…of ‘hero’ if we’re not on the same side?”
He was grinning really wide at this point, and I could tell that he was excited to deliver his punchline. “Right, right, you’d think that would be the case. But in this case, we’ve got the same goal. ‘I’m on your side,’ remember? You see, we’re doing all this because…okay, you’re listening, right?”
“Get on with it, Last.”
“Okay, okay, sorry. We’re doing this—we are trying to help you unlock your potential as a hero—because you, Kenny, are going to help us kill the Slender Man.”
Thursday, April 18, 2013
The Ten Masks, surprisingly, were stationed in an ordinary-looking house, if not a fairly sizeable one. The first thing I noticed when I entered was a guy in cutoff jeans and a t-shirt whose sleeves had been ripped off, sitting at the table near the door, working on some sort of mechanical contraption.
“Who’s this dude?” he asked.
“This is Kenny,” said Crimson. Mantis followed us in and gave the three of us a quick nod to excuse himself.
“Huh,” said the man. He looked back at the pieces scattered all across the table and resumed work. “Doesn’t look like much.”
“Kenny, this is Boston Black.”
I held out my hand. “Nice to meet you.”
He didn’t look up. “Can’t say the same. Beat it before I beat you.”
Crimson put his arm around my shoulder and pulled me past him. “He’s more than a little upset that he didn’t get to fight you. I think he’s still looking for a reason to, truth be told.”
“So…Boston Black. Is that…the Black Dog?”
“Nope. Empty City, actually. He’s sort of our technician. Bit of a gearhead.”
“I noticed.” I gently pushed his hand off my shoulder and he let it drop.
“But no, the Black Dog would be Fang. And you already know me, Magpie, Gabe, Phones, and Reaper—Red Cap, Convocation, Archangel, Choir, and Dying Man. And I’m guessing you’ve probably figured Mantis out.”
He pointed a finger at me and winked. “Got it in one.”
“So that’s you, Magpie, Phones, Gabe, Reaper, Mantis, Boston Black, and…Fang, you said?” I counted off on my fingers as I listed them. “So that’s eight. Two more?”
He stopped by a door and knocked on it. “Well, one’s the boss. Last one’s Wraith. He’s around here somewhere.”
The door opened. “Kenny!” An arm reached out and rustled my hair. “I’ve missed you!”
“Hey, Mags. Thought you’d be happy to see him again.”
“So who else knows he’s here?”
“Well, I came with Mantis, and Boston’s working on one of his projects near the back door, so we ran into him.”
“What, so I’m fourth to greet him?”
Crimson shrugged. “That’s just how it happened. You can take over if you want. Anyone else around?”
She thought for a bit. “Well, Wraith’s not in right now. Of course, if he was, you’d already know. Morty—” she gave me a glance, realizing I wouldn’t recognize the name “—er, Reaper’s not doing so hot so it’d be best not to disturb him, and Phones is still locked in his room. I’m sure he’ll meet at least Wraith and Phones at dinner. Jerry and Ben—that’s Gabe and Fang—are both downstairs, I think. And, you know, the boss is there too, obviously.”
“Great. You take it from here.”
She put an arm around my shoulder, much in the same way Crimson had, and led me down the stairs to the basement. “Glad you could join us,” she said. “It’s good to see you again.”
“I…guess it’s good to see you guys too. As long as you’re not trying to kill me.” She gave that shrill cackle.
“Kenny’s here!” she said as she approached two guys watching TV. Gabe I recognized immediately. “Kenny!” he said. He stood up and crushed me in a bear hug. “Sorry about trying to kill you before!”
“It’s…okay, I guess?” I looked at the couch, and the other guy looked at me. He was a thing boy, probably about my age, dressed in tight jeans and a black long-sleeved T-shirt. Shaggy black hair hung into his eyes. He gave his head a slight toss to get it out of the way, and that’s when I recognized him.
“Hey…I know you, don’t I? Benjamin, right?”
He nodded, then tossed his head again. “Yeah,” he said. Quiet, soft voice—not timid, just soft. “Met when you got off the bus in Arizona. Gave you that address.”
“But you said…you said you were a friend of Last’s.”
“Yeah,” he said again, just as matter-of-fact as the first time.
“He’s here?” came a voice from down the hall.
“Yeah, boss!” Gabe called. Thumping of footsteps on the carpet, then Last of the Last popped his head into the room.
“Hey, Kenny! Glad you made it.”
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
I’ve been trying to head out again. Canis hasn’t been making it easy. He’s wanting to keep an eye on me. He knows I’m looking for a chance to sneak away.
Yesterday, as we were walking through the city, a man clapped his hand down on Canis’s shoulder. I turned as Canis put a hand on my shoulder to keep from walking off. The man who stopped him was a fairly small Asian man. Canis looked at him for a few seconds, then his eyes widened, then narrowed. He moved his hand to his holster, but the Asian man swept the arm away and struck a quick jab into that shoulder. The movement was incredibly quick and fast, and I don’t think anyone else ever noticed it.
“No,” was all he said through a thick accent.
Canis grimaced. “I see,” he said. “Well, Kenny…I hate to say it, but I think this is goodbye for now.”
The man looked at me. “Uh…Mantis,” he said, gesturing to himself. “Please, come.” His speech was slow, and he thought a bit before he spoke, trying to find the words. When he did speak, he gave each word a deliberate emphasis. He obviously didn’t speak much English. “Ah…I am on your side.”
“Another one of the Ten Masks?” I asked.
“Ah…yes.” He nodded. “Mask.” He gestured for me to follow him. “Please.”
I followed him a few blocks to where a car was idling along the sidewalk. He opened the passenger’s door for me and the backseat for himself. The driver smiled at me as I got in.
“Hey, Kenny,” Crimson said. “It’s been a while.”
“So I’m being kidnapped again?”
“I’m pretty sure that Mantis asked nicely if you’d come. You asked nicely, didn’t you Mantis?”
Mantis nodded. “Please.”
“Well there you go. It’s probably a good thing you didn’t try fighting Mantis, since I’m pretty sure he would have beaten you.”
Mantis nodded, smiled, and held his arms up. Like a Praying Mantis, I realized. I’m pretty sure there’s some sort of mantis style martial art. “Very strong,” he said.
“And besides, I’m pretty sure that the last time we ‘kidnapped’ you, we saved your life, celebrated Christmas with you, and then let you go unharmed.”
“Fair enough. So where are we going?”
“Oh? And what’s in California?”
“That’s where we’re currently stationed. It’s time, Kenny. No more games. No more playing around. No more pointless fights. You’re finally going to get some of the answers you’re looking for. It’s time for you to meet our boss.”
Saturday, April 13, 2013
It’s been a week since they’ve died. I’ve mourned enough. I need to get moving now.
Canis has sort of…nursed me back to health, we could say. Emotional health. I’m grateful for that, but at the same time I want to get away as quickly as possible. It seems like he’s a friend, but I’m not sure I trust him. I know he’s reading this. I just hope he understands what I mean. But I don’t feel like I can fully trust him, and the last time I hung around someone I wasn’t sure I could fully trust…well, it’s too recent a memory to want to revisit. That, and I think I’d like some space to be alone. To think.
I spent a lot of the week trying to read up. I have to say, I’m surprised at how many of us there are now. Back when I first started blogging, there weren’t many of us online. No one was there for me. And now, I’m seeing more and more new faces springing up. People running from the Slender Man. People fighting him. People who refuse to give up, roll over, and die. And it’s not a good thing that there are so many of us. But it’s good that we have each other.
So I’ve been reading up and trying to reach out. As much as it might hurt in the end, I refuse to cut myself off from people, because to be perfectly honest—I’m weak. I can’t do this on my own. Finding the strength to go on living is really, really hard. I need support from someone if I’m going to make it through all this. But I don’t imagine I’m the only person who feels this way. I don’t want to see any of you die. I know I can’t do much, but I will do anything within my power to see you live and to give you some measure of comfort. If you ever want to talk about anything at all, send me an e-mail. email@example.com. Pretty easy to remember. I would love to talk to you.
I’ve been doing nothing, and it’s been getting me nowhere but deeper and deeper into depression. But now? Maybe now I can find the strength to climb out of it. To try to actually do something with what little life I have left.
Monday, April 8, 2013
I spent almost all day in a motel bed. I couldn’t bring myself to leave it. I cried myself to sleep. Woke up when I had a dream reliving the events of that night. I didn’t try to sleep again after that. Couldn’t cry anymore after I woke up. Couldn’t eat.
I’m just feeling…empty.
I checked Diana’s blog. And now I’ve got confirmation. Jenny is dead. Ryan is dead. Even Dumas is dead.
I don’t know who—or what—that Silent Bob guy is. I’m not sure I want to know. It really doesn’t matter in the long run. The Picking at Ruins people are after him, and he’s their problem now. As long as he’s not going to be bothering me again, why should I care? Knowing who he is isn’t going to bring them back. Jenny, the cheerful girl who managed to bring life to our group. Ryan, the boy who would do anything to protect his friends. Dumas, the man who gave up his life and turned against a giant organization to try to save two kids.
They’re all dead because of me. Because I took a gamble and thought that we could control Silent Bob. Incredibly stupid looking back at it, but you know what they say about hindsight being 20/20.
So now three people are dead, and it’s entirely on my head. Throw in Lily, my parents, and her parents, and that brings the total to eight.
Eight deaths on my head. Eight people I’ve killed. Eight people more deserving than me.
I still don’t understand what happened with the Slender Man. Why his arms suddenly turned to tentacles and why his tie went from red to black. All these small details shifting. I’ve gotten comments. People saying that everyone sees the tentacles. And I don’t understand. It’s never been like that for me. I’ve never read about him looking like that before. But I looked through some old blogs again and…they were different. Details like that suddenly appeared. They mention tentacles. They mention black ties. Some mention red ties. Some mention multiple arms. There’s…discrepancy. It was never there before. And I can’t help but wonder if he did something to me when I saw him again after so long.
Canis wasn’t happy. I’d cut off contact from him after I got suspicious of him. He managed to track me down in Phoenix after Jenny let our location slip. “Why would you even do something that stupid?” he asked.
“Why do you care?” I asked. “What’s so important about me?”
I rolled over. “That doesn’t make sense.”
“Of course it doesn’t. Not now. Not yet.”
I was quiet for probably a minute before I forced myself into a sitting position and looked at him. “Are you a real cop?”
A pause. “I was. Not anymore. Not since meeting you. I quit the force. Keeping tabs on you was more important. I suppose it’d be best to drop the act now. Being an authority figure isn’t going to make an impact on whether or not you trust me at this point. The only thing posing as an officer could accomplish at this point is getting me in a lot of trouble.”
“Are you one of the Ten Masks, then?”
“I am not.”
“Your last name means wolf. You’re being followed by the Black Dog. And you’re interested in me for some reason. Who are you?”
“Like you said, I’m being followed by the Black Dog.” He gave me a friendly smile. “Are you really that surprised that I have a few secrets?”
He wants me to stay with him a while longer. I don’t know if it’s a smart move. Really, I don’t care at this point. He can keep his secrets for all I care. He’s helping me and that’s all I care about. I don’t know what’s good or bad anymore. Canis and Last are both helping me, but they both keep secrets and they’re hard to trust. Bob “made the Slender Man lose,” but killed his allies without a second thought. There’s Fracture, a proxy who sent people to kidnap me, and Moth, a proxy who rescued me from them. There’s the Ten Masks, who alternate between trying to kill me and trying to save my life.
I’m confused and I’m depressed and I hate myself and I just don’t want to deal with this anymore. I want to just wake up and find out that this is all some sort of nightmare. But life doesn’t work like that. There’s only one way out of all this. The way that Jenny and Ryan and Dumas and Lily took. To tell you the truth, I want to die. I just want it all to end before things get any worse. Before I see more people die.
But I can’t. I don’t want to live right now, but what good does that do? As much as I hate all this, as much as I know it’ll get worse, as much as I want it all to end, it’d be more futile than living.
One of the things I did today was watch this video:
I watched it because I knew that I needed to remember that, no matter how bad things are, no matter how much I hate myself and blame myself for what happened to Jenny and Ryan and Dumas, there are people there who don’t want me to die. Look to the right. You see that little “Followers” widget off to the side? I can’t say everyone because I know that some of those people want me dead, and some are already dead themselves, but most of those little squares represents one person who wants to see me live. One person who genuinely cares about me. One person who would miss me when I’m gone.
So I’m going to live. Not because I want to, but for you. I can’t die for you, so I’m going to live for you. If I go down, I will go down fighting on behalf of every single person who wants to see me live. I will fight to my last breath.
Everyone reading this? I’m living for you. So live for me. Don’t give up. Don’t resign yourself to your fate, because you’re the one who decides it.
So come on, everyone. Say those words that we may not want to say. Say those words that we need to. Say them for me, but not just for me. Say them for you. All together now.
I want to live!
Saturday, April 6, 2013
Dumas put a hand on his shoulder to stop him. Bob gave him a glare—not one of his manic animalistic ones, but a sort of “you really don’t want to do that” one, grabbed his hand, and squeezed. I heard a crunch, and Dumas screamed.
One of the proxies fired a shot, but missed. Bob instantly changed course and ran, leaping forward, grabbing the proxy by the face, and slamming the back of his head into the ground as hard as he could. He picked up the gun and emptied the clip into the other proxy who held a gun. One proxy with a knife and one who was unarmed charged him. He grabbed the one with the knife by the arm and twisted it so that the other ran into the blade, then wrenched the knife from is hand and drove it into his throat.
The night filled with screams as the men died.
I glanced back to the Slender Man. He was gone. He had disappeared in the confusion, for some reason.
He started walking towards the building, where the Slender Man had been. The two remaining proxies were hanging back. One had grabbed one of the guns, but it was shaking as he held it.
“Bob!” Jenny screamed. “Bob, stop it!”
She ran forward and started pounding her fists against him. “Stop that!” she sobbed. “You’re being really, really scary!”
He stopped laughing as he listened. Looked down at her and gave her a sort of amused smile.
Wrapped his arms around her head and snapped her neck.
It was too quick for her to even react. There was just a sharp breaking sound, and then she was lying on the ground, dead. Ryan charged him at that. I yelled at him to stop, but if he heard he didn’t care. Bob sidestepped him easily, grabbed his head, and slammed it against he wall.
Dumas dragged himself over to me. “Get out of here,” he said. “Jenny is…she’s gone.” He choked on the words a bit. “But Ryan might still be alive. Go. Get him to a hospital.”
“What about you?”
He let out a short laugh. “Well my right hand is broken in several places, and I’ve lost enough blood in my entire left arm that I don’t think I can feel it anymore. I’m dead if I don’t get medical attention, but I can’t go back and they’ll track me down at the hospital, so unless you know some good back alley doctor, I’m gone either way.”
“And Ryan isn’t?”
“They want him alive yet. They…they might take him. But he’ll be alive. Isn’t that better?” I couldn’t disagree. “Now go. I’ll hold him off for a bit. Goodbye, Kenny. And good luck. I’m, um…I’m sorry for everything.”
I started creeping around to where Ryan lay. I saw Dumas have a short, quick conversation with the proxy with the gun, at which point he handed it to him.
“Hey! Bob!” He held up the gun as Silent Bob looked at him. “Count the shells, suck-a-duck!” He fired with his broken hand and winced and swore at the kickback. Predictably, he missed, but he used that opportunity to take off. Bob took off after him. The two remaining proxies followed.
I reached Ryan and checked for a pulse. It was faint, but I could feel one. There was a pool of blood forming around his head, and I pulled off Jenny’s hoodie (and vomited as I did so) to try to stop the bleeding somehow. Lifted him onto my shoulders, sobbing and dry heaving, and trudged off under his weight.
I don’t know how far I made it. I tripped and collapsed at one point. I was feeling nauseous. Dizzy. Tried to lift Ryan back up but couldn’t.
A police car pulled up, its lights illuminating us and blinding me. The officer stepped out and I started babbling to him, thanking him for stopping, telling him that Ryan had been hurt and needed and ambulance and to get to a hospital as quickly as possible. I dropped to my hands and knees and threw up again off to the side as the officer knelt down by Ryan’s body.
“He’s dead, Kenny.”
I looked up as I heard my name and finally got a good look at the officer for the first time. Thin, tall man, sharp features. Of course. Edwin Canis.
“No. He…he can’t be dead.”
“He’s got no pulse, Kenny.”
I scrambled over and started checking for a pulse. “No! He’s…he’s not…” I put my hands on his chest. “We can defibrillate him, can’t we? To get the pulse going again? Where do I push?”
“It won’t work!” he snapped. “He’s dead. They’re not going to be able to save him at this point. Now, tracking you back down was hell and I’m not leaving without you. Let’s go.”
“We still have to get him to a hospital or…or somewhere.”
“No. What we need to do is get out of here, now. That guy you call Silent Bob is still on the loose, and it’s not safe to be here. Just leave him. Someone will find him.”
“I can’t!” I sobbed. “It’s…it’s not right!”
He didn’t answer. He just hauled me to my feet and shoved me into the passenger seat of the police cruiser. Drove off.
I didn’t resist. What would the point have been?
He stood there, black suit, red tie, long gangly arms and legs, blank face, standing about eight feet tall. He slowly started to step forward, and two more arms started growing out from his shoulders. Then four more arms grew from all eight elbows, all held out at different angles to keep him balanced, like a branching tree.
It’d been so long since I’d seen him. I had forgotten how absolutely terrifying the experience was. Seeing him and not knowing what’s going through his mind, not being able to read an expression on his face, not knowing whether it’s smarter to bolt or to keep him in your sight. I think it’s probably the worst thing one can experience.
“Go,” I said, though it was barely a whisper. I tried again when I was able to find my voice. “Go! Guys, go! Get out of here!” We turned as one to run. We only got a few feet before the proxies who had cut us off before—or at least six of them—showed up.
They looked as surprised as we did, and that surprise only grew when Dumas and Bob entered the lot from a different side. Dumas was clutching his shoulder, and I could see blood coming from between his fingers.
“I don’t understand,” he said. “We…we got away. We went a different direction, and....” He looked around, asking the proxies as well as us. “How did we all end up here?”
I pointed, and everyone’s eyes turned to the Slender Man. I looked again and he was…different. Instead of the splitting branchy arms, he had fluidly flowing tentacles. His tie color had changed from black to red. “Ryan?” I said so that only he could here. “Did you notice that? How he changed?”
“No,” he whispered.
We all froze, staring at the Slender Man. We made no move to run. The proxies made no move to attack.
Then we heard a laugh. A deep, strong laugh that echoed through the lot. Everyone present turned to look at the source.
Silent Bob. Normally, he has this glazed-over look in his eyes. Always staring into space like he’s not quite there. More animal than human. But now, he looked…like an actual person again. There was life in his body. Instead of staring through everything, he was staring at someone. The Slender Man.
And he was laughing.
Dumas shook us all awake in the middle of the night.
“We’ve gotta go,” he hissed. “They’re coming.”
I blinked, still half asleep. “I thought you were on their side.”
“I am. Was. Look, do you want to argue this, or do you want to keep these kids safe?”
We roused Ryan and Jenny. Dumas wanted to leave Silent Bob, but I refused to go without him. “If you’re going against these people,” I told him, “you’re going to want his help.”
He conceded that point, agreeing that we needed his help to at least get away. “We should ditch him as soon as possible,” he said. “I think he’s dangerous.” I was the one to agree at that point. Like Last had said, he was a time bomb ready to go off.
The five of us took off for the outskirts of Phoenix. Dumas knew that he’d have to go on the run after this. Once we ditched Silent Bob, the four of us would be traveling together for at least a bit more, maybe even making the arrangement permanent, or at least as permanent as we could.
Things went pretty well for a bit. Of course, it didn’t go well for long. As we were on the move, eight proxies stepped out of the shadows and assembled ahead of us. Some had pistols, the rest had knives. We slowed, and I glanced at Bob. His eyes had widened and he looked like he was about to charge them.
“Don’t,” I said. “You can’t take them all at once.”
“You guys need to run,” Dumas said quietly. “I’ll try to talk to them. Come up with some excuse about why I bolted and how it’s for the mission. It probably won’t work too well, but it’ll give you a head start. Just…get them away from Silent Bob, in case anything happens.”
I nodded and grabbed Jenny and Ryan and took off. We had been moving at a fairly brisk pace before, but now we were flat-out sprinting. We went maybe a mile before we finally slowed to catch our breaths. We were in an empty lot behind a fairly big store. No one around. We were alone and helpless, and by the time I noticed it, it was already too late.
I felt a wind behind me, similar to the one I felt when I had fought Reaper and he opened the Path of Black Leaves. I turned around to see what had happened.
There, standing less than 50 feet away, was the Slender Man.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
I relieved Ryan from the watch late last night. I have to say, I'm really impressed with his dedication. When I told him I'd take over, he shook his head and told me he was all right. I had to insist to get him to fall asleep.
It's kind of sad in some ways. He always takes himself so seriously and tries to be so mature. It's by necessity, I guess. He's only fourteen, but he's looking out for Jenny (who's so scatterminded) and Bob (who's practically catatonic) as well as himself. I have no doubt that he'd be better off without them, but at the same time, I can tell that it would kill him to leave them.
I guess he kind of reminds me of myself in a few ways.
Anyway, a bit after I took over on watch, Last showed up.
"I'm going to make this quick," he said as soon as he appeared. "Kenny, listen. You have to get out of here."
"We're trying," I told him. "There's a proxy with us that we can't ditch, though."
"No, not you as in all of you. You as in just you. You need to get out of here, now."
He put his hand up to his face in exasperation. "Have you not seen Diane's latest post? Sky stated pretty clearly that this 'Silent Bob' guy is dangerous."
"I saw that she said he 'made the Slender Man lose.' Isn't that a good thing? Besides, you're the one who told me to pair up with these three in the first place."
"Okay, yes, that's a good thing. I'm all for making the Slender Man lose. And yes, okay, I hooked you up with these guys, but that's because I didn't know who exactly Silent Bob was. I'm still not sure, but I think I have an idea of what he is, and...listen, Kenny. He's dangerous."
"Yes, but he's on our side. He's dangerous to them, not us."
"So if you're carrying around a bomb too use on someone else, does that mean that it's not dangerous to you? Because that's what he is, Kenny. He's a bomb waiting to go off, and if you're anywhere near him when whatever detonates him is set off...."
Bob stirred a bit and Last flinched. "I should go," he said. "I don't want to be around when he wakes up."
"I...don't think he would get along with me."
"Wait, what's that supposed to mean? Are you--"
"It's complicated, Kenny. I'm just going to need you to trust me. Get out of here."
"I can't just leave them."
He sighed. "No, of course not," he said. "It wouldn't be that easy for you. All right, then. Stick with them. Just know that you're playing Russian Roulette with a loaded gun."
"I thought he was a bomb."
"He is," he snapped. "The bullet is a bomb, okay? If consistent metaphors are your biggest concern, then the bullet can be a bomb that's being fired out of a bigger bomb for all I care. Priorities, Kenny. Jesus. Goodnight."
He walked off after that. And now I'm left with a problem.
Do I stay with our potentially dangerous friend? Or do I take off? If I take off, do I take Jenny and Ryan with me?
I actually talked to Dumas about it. He said that for now, it's probably best to wait. He can't say when anything is going to happen (I don't even know if he knows), but he thinks that we have at least a bit of time. That's at least a bit of time that I have to make an important decision like this.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Kenny’s being a really stupid jerk about his blog now. He didn’t used to let me read his blog, but now he won’t even let me read the comments on my own posts, because he says its too dangerous! Stupid jerkface! >:(
But there’s good stuff to talk about too! We’ve got someone new with us! Dumas is really cool and nice, not like that mopey meanie Kenny. :P Dumas says he’s only been running from Slender Man for a month, which makes me the senior runner to him. And I will use the power of seniority to rule with an iron fist, and make him carry all the heavy stuff and take my watch shift so I can sleep! >:) But don’t fear, because I will be a kind ruler, and teach him the many things I know about running!~
It’s going to be soooo cool with five of us now!
Saturday, March 30, 2013
We’ve gained a fifth member.
I’ll explain in a bit. Let me just recap what’s been going on some more. Ryan doesn’t want to rely on Silent Bob for defense anymore, so he’s been trying to learn some basic self-defense from me. I’m most familiar with a staff, so that’s what I’m teaching him. Besides, like I said in my very first post, a staff is a handy tool. As a result, I think that I may end up staying with Jenny, Ryan, and Silent Bob longer than I had originally planned.
As you’ve no doubt seen, I’ve let Jenny make a few posts. Part of me really doesn’t like it. Last post, she slipped up and said we were in Phoenix. I left it up since it’s not that big of a deal (Phoenix is a big city, and between Maggie and that proxy Bob beat up, they know we’re here anyway), but explained to her why she has to be careful. At the same time, I probably won’t stop her from posting if she wants to again. I know that for some of the people who blog, it’s an addiction or a compulsion. But for others, it’s cathartic to get your thoughts out there. It’s the only sort of therapy we get, knowing that, if we die, we’ll at least have left a few last words.
That said, I’m not sure I want her reading through my blog. I haven’t let her yet just because there hasn’t been time, and she didn’t really bother to. She was more concerned with showing me My Little Pony. After recent events, I certainly don’t want her reading it now.
We were on the move again, heading closer to the outskirts of Phoenix. A few blocks away, we heard shouting. I held up a hand to stop everyone and listened. The noise was getting closer, and really quickly. A man came running around a corner, pursued by two men, both wearing masks. Bob turned as he heard them, and his eyes widened. I reflexively threw my arm up to stop him. The two masked men stopped in their tracks as they saw him, swore, and turned and fled. Bob apparently has quite a reputation.
The man slowed as he saw Bob’s stare. He threw a glance over his shoulders and saw that he wasn’t being pursued anymore. “Hey, um…wow. Uh, thanks for that. For scaring off the, uh…muggers.”
“We know what they are,” I told him.
“You…you do? Oh! Well, thank god, then. That makes things a bit easier. Wow, what are the chances?”
“There are no coincidences,” I said. He looked at me a bit funny.
“Anyway, thanks,” he said. “Call me Dumas.” He was a charming-looking guy, mid to late twenties, probably, with short black hair and a trimmed mustache and goatee. “I really hate to ask, but…do you mind if I come with you for a bit? Safety in numbers and all?”
I looked at Jenny and Ryan, and the three of us talked it over quickly before deciding that it would be okay, at least for now.
So we spent the day together, doing what we could to throw them off our scent. Then we settled down for the night and took Dumas aside, away from Ryan, Jenny, and Bob.
“Your name sounds familiar somehow,” I told him.
“That’s…entirely possible.” He picked up on the tone in my voice and didn’t even try to cover.
“You do realize that I read Picking at Ruins, right? I kind of show up on the follower list. And Diana thought it would be a good idea to post this before you tried infiltrating us?”
He sighed. “Okay, yes, I’m a proxy. You caught me. No sense hiding it. But don’t worry. I’m not here for you guys. In fact, I’ve got very specific orders not to harm you. I’m just here to gather intel on that guy you call Silent Bob. That’s all. Look, I don’t want to fight at all.”
“I still think you should leave. You’re trying to hurt my friends.”
“I’m not trying to hurt anyone. I’m just following orders. Look, Kenny, you have to understand as well as anyone how dangerous that Bob guy is. Do you really want him around you? Around those kids?”
“…No. But trying to kill him or whatever it is you’re planning isn’t a good idea either.”
“We’re just trying to protect the kids.”
“Because you’re planning to convert them to your side. How can you do that to two fourteen-year-olds?”
He looked away. “Just…following orders,” he mumbled weakly.
“Why shouldn’t I just tell them what’s going on?”
“That…that would be very, very bad. I’m not supposed to compromise the mission. If you do, all five of us are dead. They won’t bother with the covert ops at all. I’m expendable, Kenny. I’m half a hostage.”
I thought for a while. “Fine. I don’t like it, but we don’t have much choice, do we?”
“Thanks for understanding, Kenny. Trust me, I hate this. I really wish that we weren’t on opposite sides of this whole thing.”
“You do realize that I’m going to be doing everything in my power to protect those kids, right?”
He didn’t answer.
So that’s the situation now. We’re traveling around with a proxy who’s gathering information on one of us, and I can’t blow his cover to the other three or else we all wind up dead.
I wonder how long this will all last.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
We’re still in Phoenix, wandering around. One morning some stupid proxies tried surprising us when we were asleep, but Kenny was able to fight both of them off. Then Bob got up, and the proxies really ran for it! XD
Ryan asked Kenny to teach him how to fight, so soon we’ll have three people with super awesome kung fu skills!
But even with the kung fu awesome, Kenny keeps looking sad. He spends too much time sitting around thinking and looking emo when he doesn’t think we’re watching. But that’s okay, because I know the perfect solution to all sadness!
The next time we get a wifi signal good enough to stream youtube, I’m going to show him Friendship is Magic whether he wants to or not! >:3
Friday, March 15, 2013
Its cool that Kennys helping us, because we really didn’t know what we were doing. X( Ryan read M’s rules, but now Kenny says they don’t always work. Especially the operator symbol. Those hoodies had been my idea…. Oops. :(
But its all okay now! With Bob protecting us and Kenny telling us what to do, there’s nothing that can go wrong!! :)
Monday, March 11, 2013
Ryan, Jenny, Silent Bob, and I have been staying in this city for a bit now, moving around each day to some new location. One night, we decided to stay on a parking ramp. I figured it was at least worth trying the whole “get up high” rule M held to some more, and it was nice to have a good view of the city in the evening. There’s just something peaceful about watching the people moving through their ordinary lives around you.
“Hey, Kenny?” Jenny said as I stared over the railing. “We’re going to get something to eat. You want to come with us?”
I shook my head. “I think I’m just going to stay here for a bit.” I gave them a bit of money and told them to grab something for me. Ryan asked if he needed to convince Silent Bob to stay with me, but I told him that I could take care of myself if anything happened.
A few minutes after they left, I heard footsteps. “Hey, Kenny,” came a girl’s voice. I turned and saw her. Dressed in ripped jeans, a black t-shirt with a skull on it, leather jacket, and a silver streak dyed into her matted hair.
“What are you doing here, Magpie?”
She held up her hands. “Relax, Kenny,” she said. “I’m not here to fight. We’ve done that already.” She joined me in staring out over the railing. “Would you believe I just wanted to see you?”
“Not really, no.”
She gave that shrill cackle of hers. “Fair enough. And I guess it’s not entirely true. But I read your blog. You’re an interesting guy,” she said. “But no, that’s not the only reason I’m here. Our boss thinks that things are moving a bit too slowly. You keep jumping around and dropping off the radar, and he thinks that…well, that you might get the point anyway, so forcing you to fight all ten of us might just be redundant or overkill. It’s time you learn a bit more about just who we are. Flew me out here even though he knows how much I hate flying,” she grumbled.
“So who are you?”
“Well…we’re a group of proxies, yeah,” she said. “I guess you could technically call us that. But it’s not like we just signed off our souls. All of us—we just ran to someone stronger. You’ve noticed that we’re all themed after Fears. That’s not a coincidence.”
“There are no coincidences,” I said, echoing what she and Crimson had told me.
She grinned. “That’s right. There are no coincidences. But we all took on a persona based around a Fear that was…personal to us. All ten of us are victims.”
I mulled that over for a bit as we stared over the edge. “So what’s your story, then?”
“Well,” she said, “I lost my dad. Around a decade ago. Eleven and a half years to the day, actually.” She glanced at me as I tried to do the math in my head. “My father worked at the World Trade Center,” she said.
“Yeah. He was among the missing after the planes hit,” she said. “And my mom…she knew he was alive. I mean, she knew he was alive. ‘I can feel it, Maggie,’ she told me. ‘I can feel it in my bones.’ And we kept hope alive for weeks. Even when he should have starved or suffocated, because people have pulled off miracles like that before.”
“So did they ever find him?”
“Yeah,” she said quietly after a pause. “Yeah, they did. They found his body. And as you’ve probably guessed, he was dead. It was…it was really hard on my mother. She had so much hope and just like that, it was all gone. Then, about a month after the funeral, she…she went out late one afternoon. Told me that she was going to visit Dad. I was…I was stupid. I thought she meant she was going to visit his grave, but…she never came back.”
She was quiet for a bit again as she tried to steady her breathing. “I’m sorry,” I said.
She shook her head. “Don’t apologize. It’s not your fault. That’s just how life goes. Anyway. I was just a kid then, so I ended up in the system. Had a couple of foster homes. Some were good, some weren’t so good, but it never felt like I really belonged. I was never their kid. Just a guest in their house who would eventually leave. It got really, really tough. Then, one day a few years ago when I was feeling really, really down, walking down the sidewalk, I saw…saw this bird. This bluebird. Just the most adorable little bird ever. Like a literal bluebird of happiness.” She gave a wry chuckle. “And it kept hopping along and looking at me, like it wanted me to follow it. So I did. It flew into a building. No one seemed to notice the bird fluttering around by the ceiling. Nobody seemed to notice me following it. It took me up, up, up the stairs, aaaaall the way to the top floor. Out onto the roof. And that was when I noticed how high I had climbed. The bird hopped over to the edge and looked at me, then down. And I knew…I knew it wanted me to jump.
“So I stepped up, looked down, and thought about how easy it would be to end my terrible life. To step off the edge, fly for just a moment, and then just…stop existing. But I just…I couldn’t do it. I was still scared of dying. Of leaving this world. It was so high. How did I know I wouldn’t change my mind halfway through? So…I didn’t. I didn’t jump. The birds didn’t stop, though. There were more of them. More aggressive birds. Always trying to convince me to jump. Went on until I met our boss. He offered me the chance to join up with him. Said that the Fears kind of got territorial and that the birds—the Convocation, he called them—wouldn’t bother me anymore, or at least not nearly as much.”
“So you joined the Slender Man to avoid the Convocation.”
“Pretty much, yeah,” she said. “I hope you don’t look down on me for that.”
“So that’s what you meant about you all being victims? What about the others?”
“Well, I’m not sure about all of them since some are quiet and one guy barely speaks English. And I’d tell you about some of them. Really, I would. I mean, you may have picked up on the fact that I love to talk. I’m one of those people who does talk to hear the sound of her own voice. But unfortunately, it’s not my place to share their stories. Let’s just say that we all had reasons to be running from the Convocation. The Red Cap. The Intrusion. Et cetera.” She shrugged. “The boss? He’s the one chance we have to fight back. He’s a great guy, and he’s really all that gives us the hope we need to carry on.”
We stared over the edge, looking down at the city. “So your real name’s Maggie?” I said.
She cackled. “I tell you my life story, and that’s what you take from it?” She dangled her arms over the edge and laughed. “But yeah, just one letter off from Magpie. I’m real creative, aren’t I? Margaret Sanchez, or Maggie. Nice to meet ya.”
I smiled. “It’s nice to meet you, too.”
She gave a sigh. “Well, the big guy and the kids will probably be back soon, and I don’t want to be anywhere near that guy on the off chance that he might smell me. He’d probably pick up on my scent right away, too. I smell terrible.”
“Really, Kenny. You’re supposed to say ‘No, of course not, you smell very nice.’ Come on. Never had a girl fish for compliments before? But anyway, I’d better skedaddle.” She flashed me a grin. “You’re a good guy, Kenny. You do a lot of stupid things, but always for the right reasons. I like you. I really hope that we can be friends.”
She gave me a wave and a wink as she sauntered down the levels of the parking ramp, giving me a lot to think about.
Jenny, Ryan, and Bob came back a little later, then I started writing up this post. I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be traveling with them. Maybe a while. These are the first people I’ve come across who are actual on the run. I’ll check in in a few days if anything happens. Or who knows? Maybe a few weeks if it doesn’t.
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
I approached them from behind. These kids obviously had no clue what they were doing. I put a hand on the boy's shoulder as I got close and he screamed and nearly jumped out of his skin. I realized that this was probably my only chance to actually use this line.
"Come with me if you want to live."
The two followed me into a side alley. I saw that the girl wore headphones. "Take those out, I told her." She stared at me, not wanting to take my advice but not knowing how to explain why. "It's okay. I'm on your side. I know you're runners. Not that you could make it any more obvious."
She looked at me again. "If I don't take them out I can't hear him coming...."
"Unless you're running from the Choir or it's successfully alerted you to his presence, take them out." She gave me a blank stare when I mentioned the Choir, so I'm guessing she's not familiar with any other Fears. "Sometimes it's only audio and video recordings that react, not technology itself. That, and it won't react to proxies. All you're doing is dulling one of your senses."
She took the headphones out at that. I turned to the boy.
"You too. Take those hoodies off. People still don't know whether or not the Operator Symbol attracts or repels the Slender Man, and you should never put something that might draw the Slender Man on your body."
"But...M, and Omega...."
"And Redlight? Three people who take that seriously. One was taking guesses at rules, one didn't believe in the Slender Man, and one's a proxy. All you're doing is attracting attention to yourselves." I paused and thought some more. "Also, that can't be comfortable in this weather." The two started tentatively removing the hoodies.
"So who are you, mister?" the girl asked.
"Kenny. Kenny Mortel. Who are you guys?"
"I'm Ryan," the boy said. He was a fairly tall, lanky kid with a mop of brown curly hair on top of his head that made him look even taller. His face still looked young, though.
"I'm Jenny," said the girl. Thin girl, long blonde hair, blue eyes...face absolutely radiating energy. She gestured to the big man. "And that's Silent Bob."
"What happened to Jay?" I asked. Jenny gave me a blank look. Silent Bob didn't react at all.
"He doesn't really say anything," Ryan said. "He just follows us around. He's...kind of strange." I glanced at Silent Bob. He didn't react. It was like he hadn't even heard what Ryan had said. "But he's dependable."
I looked them over. "Where are you guys staying tonight, then?"
Ryan and Jenny exchanged a glance. "We really didn't have anywhere in particular."
I pulled the paper Benjamin had given me out of my pocket and glanced at the address. "Do you trust me enough to follow me? I'm not sure, but I think I may have somewhere to stay lined up."
They agreed to come with me, and we shared stories as we walked. Jenny and Ryan had fairly standard stories: they got into Marble Hornets, started looking at more of the mythos, grew paranoid, things happened. They lost friends. They went on the run. It's a story we've all heard before. It's a story most of us have told before.
They seem to have an interesting dynamic. Jenny's talkative and usually the first to share, but it's pretty obvious that Ryan's the leader of the three. And Bob--he doesn't say anything. He reacts to basic commands or requests, but he just sort of stares off into space otherwise. It's almost like he's a proxy, though I highly doubt that. According to Ryan, they met him when the two were spray-painting operator symbols somewhere (another terrible idea; I chided them for that too) and he came up behind them and just started watching them. He followed them fairly closely for a bit after that and they were understandably freaked out, but after they were jumped by some proxies, he suddenly went from a zombie to a beast, driving them off single-handedly. "He's never tried attacking us," Ryan said. "I think it's pretty safe to say that he's on our side."
The address ended up being to a cheap motel. Last has an absolutely uncanny way of setting things up absolutely perfectly. I have no clue how he does it. I decided I'd get two adjoining rooms in my name, because what else what good is my parents' money if I don't use it to help people out where I can?
"Ah, Mr. Kenny Mortel?" the man behind the desk said when I gave him my name. "You actually have two rooms reserved already. A man told me you'd be by. Name of...Sanosuke Sagara? Weird name, right? The guy didn't look Chinese."
Of course. Last would pick a dumb alias like that.
We had a bit of trouble figuring out whose room Jenny would stay in, which we hadn't really thought about beforehand. Ultimately, we decided that Jenny and Ryan would share a room, while I would share with Silent Bob. I can't admit to liking the sleeping arrangements considering that Bob's more than a little creepy, but Jenny was even more terrified of him than I was and we didn't think it'd really be appropriate for me to be sharing a room with a fourteen-year-old girl.
The night was fairly uneventful, though Bob doesn't snore. That's normally a good thing, but it means I found myself wondering if he even sleeps. He lay down on the bed when we entered the room, clasped his hands and rested them on his stomach, and then just lay like that for the rest of the night. Didn't slip under the covers, didn't shift around at all--just lay like a statue all night.
Had a dream that night. Lily survived, and I was the one who died. And she ran. There was a proxy after her and she ran from him, but then she stopped and turned around and joined him instead. I have dreams like that sometimes. And they always hurt. I always wake up crying. Partially because it hurts to lose her and it takes a bit to separate the dream from reality. Partially because I've already lost her, and once the dream fades, no matter how painful it was, she's gone.
Silent Bob was still lying in that exact same position when I awoke. His eyes were open so he was awake, I think. "Come on, Bob, let's go," I told him. He stood and followed me out of the room.
Jenny and Ryan came down a few minutes later. "Sorry," Ryan told me. "I couldn't get her to wake up."
Jenny pouted. "Beds are comfy and it's been so long since I've slept in a good one."
"She was going on last night about how she must taste delicious because the bed was eating her."
"My mind was nightblogging!"
Ryan shook his head and turned to me. "Thanks for that. Which way are you headed?"
I shrugged. "Which way are you headed? I don't have any particular destination in mind, and if you want, I can probably travel with you guys for a while. Safety in numbers, right?"
Relief passed over his face. "Thank you so much," he said. "It'd be great to have some new company."
We spent the entire day on foot. The downside to traveling in groups is that while there are enough people willing to pick up one scrawny hitchhiker, there aren't many people who have the room and desire to pick up a scrawny hitchhiker, two teens, and a hobo who looks like he could lift the car with one hand. Still, we weren't far from a decent-sized city and we managed to make good enough time that we got there in the evening and get a warm meal. Thank god for the dollar menu.
We were outside that evening, walking around and trying to find a decent place to set up camp when Bob suddenly perked up and his entire demeanor changed. His face darkened and his eyes went from their normal unfocused and glazed-over state to narrowed slits. He stood and started moving with purpose instead of just following us as he normally did.
"What's happening?" I asked. "What's he doing? What's going on?"
Ryan looked at him, instantly growing worried. "Kenny, we have to go, now."
"Where's he going? Can we cut him off somehow?"
He shook his head. "Not after him, away from him. As far away as we can. There...there must be a proxy nearby. You don't want to be close enough to see or hear it."
"But we can't leave him!"
"He can take care of himself," Jenny pleaded. "He'll find his way back! He always does!"
I took a look at Bob's retreating figure. He had started to move faster. "I...I have to know what's going on. I'm sorry. If we're being followed, I want to see who's responsible."
Ryan looked at me, then at Jenny. "Jenny, go. Meet back here in half an hour."
Her eyes widened and mouth dropped some. "No! Ryan! You can't!"
"I have to keep an eye on Kenny." He shot me a look. "I thought that you weren't supposed to be stupid. You really want to risk getting in Silent Bob's path?"
I shrugged sheepishly. "I try not to be, but when I am, I make it count."
Jenny gave Ryan a quick hug. "Come back safely." Then she bolted off in the opposite direction.
"Come on," I said. "Let's try to catch up to him."
We took off after Silent Bob. He wasn't a particularly fast guy, but he had a good head start on us. By the time we finally caught up to him, he had tracked down a pair of proxies.
There was a bigger guy and a smaller guy. Looked very much like a brain and brawn pair, like they had been lifted from a TV show or something. The smaller guy was scrambling away, but Silent Bob had the bigger guy pinned against the wall, one meaty hand around his throat. He was pummeling the man's face over and over. The man's arms were twitching, but he didn't have the strength to defend himself anymore. Eventually, the man went limp, at which point Bob let him slip to the ground and started kicking him.
"Stop!" I yelled reflexively. Ryan glared at me, which I guess he should have since it felt like I was applying for a Darwin Award. Still, Silent Bob looked up in surprise. "You're going to kill him!" Surprise turned to confusion. "I...you don't need to do that. You've sent a message. Let him be."
I knew that the proxy was an enemy. That it probably wasn't a good idea to leave him alive. But...I'm dumb like that. I don't want to let anyone die. Not even them...especially after seeing that not all of them are bad. I was hoping that Silent Bob would leave him, and that the man's partner would be able to get him medical attention. And, to my surprise, Silent Bob backed off. I could hear Ryan exhale heavily beside me. I felt a hand on my shoulder a second later and turned to see him bracing himself to steady his legs.
"C'mon," I said. "Let's go find Jenny."
Things have been uneventful since then. We're still in the same city, though we've been moving around in it. No trouble with proxies so far. Then again, considering what Silent Bob is like...it's not them that I'm most worried about at the moment.
Monday, February 25, 2013
I arrived late at night. When I got to the station, a young man approached me. Thin frame, average height. He had a sort of "emo" haircut. Black hair that was long enough to hang into his eyes. When he spoke he would often give his head a quick flick to keep it out of his line of vision.
"I'm Benjamin. A friend of Last of the Last." He handed me an envelope. "Here. This is for you." Then he gave a quick wave and walked away before I could say anything else.
I opened the envelope. There were directions to an address and a note: "Just a guess, but they'll probably pass by there. You'll know them when you see them."
I started heading for the address. It wasn't too terribly far, so I figured I'd just walk. It was late, so the streets were mostly empty. I had just finished a long bus ride and was kind of in a daze from that. That's the only real excuse I had for not paying attention. Empty streets are generally not safe. Getting lost in a crowd is safe. Being separated from absolutely everyone is not. That's when you're at your most vulnerable.
This was no exception. Because, since I wasn't careful, I had another encounter with my good friends the Ten Masks.
I was passing by a hospital at the time. I first noticed that something was wrong when there was a sudden wind. Not a gale, not a light breeze, but a blast of wind from a specific origin, like someone had turned on a giant fan. I turned to see the air distorting around a man in billowing clothes, like two realities were blurring together. I froze when I saw what was swirling around him.
I tried too late to run. The man came barreling at me, dropping his shoulder and plowing into my chest. I scrambled back and found myself in an alley. No good. I'm terrible at fighting in close quarters. The staff requires more room to use efficiently. The pair of daggers the man pulled out of his black cloak, however....
The man was dressed in a flowing black cloak, wrapped up in it like a bat cloaking itself in its wings. He was an older man, thin and frail-looking. He still had a thick head of hair, but it was already completely grey. His face was wrinkling, and his eyes were sunken, giving him a sickly appearance. "Hello, Kenny." He broke into a coughing fit. "I am Reaper."
"Ten Masks?" He nodded. "Let me guess--the Dying Man?"
He gave a wheezing laugh and started coughing again. "Indeed. I take it you know what's coming next?"
I staggered to my feet. "The daggers gave me a pretty good hint, yeah." I held Lily out in front of me. I didn't have the room to hold a defensive position. Reaper didn't look like a particularly strong or quick man, but still, not good. "Do you mind if we take this somewhere a little more...open?"
I turned and ran. Not a smart move, showing the enemy your back, but I took a guess that he wasn't a particularly strong runner and that he wasn't an expert knife thrower. The gamble would have paid off, too, if it weren't for the fact that he has some...special talents.
There was a gust of wind as the wall in front of me warped, and with a shower of black leaves (which disintegrated into nothing just moments later), Reaper jumped into the alley. "Running won't be that easy," he said in a hissing laugh. "I have you surrounded." Leaves started swirling around him, and he blurred out of existence. The gust of wind behind me was the only warning I got. I turned and tried to raise my staff, but wasn't quite quick enough. After a second I felt something warm spreading across my left hand, followed by a sharp sting. The blade had left a decent-sized gash across the back of my hand.
I looked up from the injury and Reaper was already gone. I closed my eyes, preparing for the wind that heralded his attacks. As soon as I felt a gust, I turned in its direction and thrust Lily forward the best I could in the cramped quarters.
The tip of the staff hit Reaper in the stomach. He instantly doubled over and started coughing. He collapsed to the ground in pain, fingers gripping at the cement.
"Are you okay?" I asked. A dumb question, I know, especially considering that I was asking it to a man who had just cut my hand open and probably would have done worse.
Reaper looked up at me and gave what might have been a laugh. He was coughing too hard for me to tell. "You're too gentle, boy. This world...this world will chew you up sooner or later." His body started to blur and the black leaves started swirling around him. "Congratulations, Kenny. We'll see you later." With a final shimmer, he disappeared.
Reaper. Crimson. Phones. Gabe. Magpie. That's five down (six if Canis is a Mask). Five or six to go, depending on whether or not the boss is included in the Masks.
As the adrenaline wore off, my hand really started to hurt. I looked down and saw that it was bleeding harder than I thought. I stepped out of the alley, remembering that we had been near a hospital, and wandered into the emergency room. I used my card to cover the hospital costs because hey, they already knew where I was and this was as good a reason as any to use my parents' money. So now I have three stitches in the back of my hand.
As I left the hospital a group of three people passed by. And let me tell you, Last was right. I knew them when I saw them.
My hand's really hurting now though and there's a lot more to write. I'll be back soon after the pain goes down some more.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
It’s been a while, hasn’t it? There’s really no excuse for why I’ve been so quiet. I haven’t been somehow incapacitated, and it’s not like nothing notable has happened. In fact, something pretty notable has happened recently. But still, I’ve been fairly content, and I didn’t want to mess that up. Blogging always tends to bring up depressing thoughts and memories. I came here to get out of the cold—and not just metaphorically. Some fellowship each day keeps the Cold Boy at bay or something along those lines.
I’ve left Rogue Shadow’s place, which will of course need some explanation. I’ve mentioned that there’s something that seems a bit…off about him. That’s probably because there is.
A few weeks ago, we were all outside in Shadow’s yard. I’ve been spending most of my time training. I haven’t been improving much, but I don’t have a lot of time to practice while traveling and just brushing up on my technique helps a lot. That’s what I was doing at the time. Keikan was talking to Merciful, and Shadow was on a laptop. Then, without warning, Shadow stood up.
“I’m afraid I have to go,” he announced. “It would appear that a runner needs my help.”
And that’s when weird things started happening. He held up a hand and a sort of…portal opened up. At first I thought it was the Path of Black Leaves. I’ve never actually seen the Path, which is why I thought that’s what he was using at first. However, after just a few seconds of looking at it, I could tell that it was pretty clearly not the Path. The accounts I’ve seen and heard differ, but from my understanding the Path of Black Leaves is a somewhat spooky place and contains, at the very least, Black Leaves. Beyond the portal Shadow created was a meadow. A bright, perfectly healthy-looking meadow with a few perfectly normal trees. Not the Path.
Then he stepped through it, it closed behind him, and he was gone. Just like that.
I’ll admit, the three of us freaked out a little bit. We were still on edge in the weeks he didn’t return, but we managed to keep calm enough to carry on. We continued with what we had been doing. Nothing really changed in our schedules, except for the fact that Shadow was just gone.
That lasted for about two weeks. After that, I couldn’t stay anymore. I can’t take advantage of someone else’s hospitality when he’s not actually there. I just don’t feel right squatting.
I let Keikan and Merciful know what I was planning on doing. They decided to stay for a bit longer yet. But before I could leave, a man showed up to greet us. Tall, suited—but he definitely had a face. A kind one, too. Older man with grey hair and wrinkles starting to form around his grey eyes.
He introduced himself as Marcus, the estate’s butler. That’s when I noticed something that hadn’t really occurred to me before: the grounds had been empty apart from us and Rogue Shadow. This shouldn’t really have been that notable, but it’s a pretty big estate, and Shadow certainly has some amount of affluence. Even now I’m wondering why exactly they aren’t around. I could think of several widely different reasons, but none of them had particularly good implications, and it only made me want to get out sooner.
“You are Mr. Mortel, yes?” he said.
“I’m here with an explanation from the young master. He’s a bit preoccupied right now. He’s over in, ah, in England.” He smiled at my reaction. “It’s a long story.”
“Would you mind sharing?”
“Unfortunately, I don’t have many details, but I might be able to fill in a few gaps about the master himself.”
“Oh dear, where do I begin…? Well, his father passed away shortly after his birth. His mother is rarely home. So the young master spent most of his childhood alone in the state, playing with what I had assumed was an imaginary friend.” He nodded when he saw my eyebrows raise at the phrase. “Indeed. Well. Last year, he was attending a private school. On his way home, a girl ran into him—quite literally, actually. She was hurt, but refused to go to a hospital. So he brought her here to be treated. By the time they arrived, however, the injury to her shoulder had healed.
“The young master, naturally, demanded an explanation. After some hesitation, she explained that she was a runner, and that her name was Clair. As for the shoulder, well, she admitted to being what she called a magic user. He was skeptical—who wouldn’t be?—but agreed to let her stay at the estate. Things were fine for a few weeks until she saw his ‘imaginary friend’ and bolted. When the young master caught up to her, she told him it was something called the Cold Boy.”
I froze (er, bad choice of words. Seized up?) at the name. Marcus noticed. “Ah. You’re familiar with it, then?”
“Unfortunately. Go on.”
“Yes, of course. Anyway, she explained these ‘Fears’ to him. The young master asked if there was any way they could be stopped and, as I’m sure you know, she said they couldn’t. He asked if there was any way to stand a chance, and she offered to teach him what magic she knew. Over the next few months, she began to teach him magic, and a bit of a relationship started forming. I’m not one to pry, so I don’t know how close they were, but…”
He paused. I could tell the story wasn’t going to be happy much longer. “They had been sitting on the back lawn, facing the woods. She had been, I believe, teaching him about charming an item? I don’t quite remember. But then, the Fear…the Fear that had been chasing miss Clair appeared in the doorway.”
He paused again. I took a guess. “The Slender Man?”
He nodded. “The Slender Man,” he said. “They ran to the woods, or he chased them there—I didn’t see. When I didn’t see them outside, I thought they had maybe come in before I heard the screams from the woods. I went looking for the master but…by the time I found them…”
Silence. “That’s always how it is,” I said quietly. “No one ever arrives soon enough.”
He nodded. “The young master had large gashes all across his back. But miss Clair, well…he was crying over her body. It had made him watch, he said. We buried her on a hill, not too far from the estate. The young master spent time recovering, but once he had, he isolated himself. Continuously studied as many blogs as he could, searching for anything he could use. Tried astral projection, hoping he could find something there. After he finished, he seemed…different, somehow. Like he had found something important. His magic became more skilled in ways Clair never could have taught him.
“He told me he would be opening up the estate to Runners who needed help, and then told the few of us working at the estate to take a reprieve. Wait until he called for us to come back. The young master…he seemed so lost. So much more alone than ever before.”
Suddenly, he gave a small smile. Not a wry smile, a genuine one. Something that seemed out of place for the story he just told. “But then he called me a few days ago. He explained that he was in England and needed me to take over the estate. He sounded…better.”
“So why is he in England? He told us that a runner needed his help. Do you know anything else?”
His smiled widened. “A runner? Interesting. To me, his exact words were ‘I have found my reason to fight again.’”
I thanked him for his explanation and explained that I’d be taking off. It was pretty much necessary at that point. The story had reopened a few wounds, and I didn’t think I could stay without the Cold Boy showing up. Before I left, I asked him to point me to where Claire was buried.
I stopped by the hill. There was already someone there by the grave. A man in a long brown coat. “I thought you’d come here,” he said. He was, for the first time I’d ever seen him, solemn.
“Last of the Last, isn’t it?”
He nodded. “Just call me Last. And relax. I know you don’t have much reason to at this point, but I need you to trust me. I’m a friend.”
“Who are you?”
He shook his head. “I’m not ready to tell you yet. I will. Eventually. But not today.”
We both stood looking at the grave for a moment. “How did you know I’d be here?”
“Part instinct. I hoped you wouldn’t take off before Marcus showed up, and I figured he’d mention Clair.”
“How do you know Marcus?”
She shrugged. “I make it my business to know everyone. I have a lot of contacts. You of all people should know how important both friends and intelligence are. Both keep you alive.”
“And you just guessed I’d show up at Clair’s grave, too? Awfully big assumption.”
Last shook his head. “That part I knew. There’s no way you wouldn’t. After all…we all have at least one Lily.”
We let that hang in the air for a while, staring at Clair’s grave. “How did you know when I’d show up?” I asked him.
“I didn’t. I’ve been here for over a week now. Keeping tabs on the estate to make sure you didn’t leave without me noticing, of course. But I didn’t know when.”
“Awfully long time to wait by a grave.”
“You visited here to pay your respects to more than just Clair, didn’t you?” He nodded at Lily in my hand. “I wasn’t waiting here just for you. I…have a lot of people to pay respects to.”
We were silent for a long time. “I’m sorry,” I said. He didn’t respond.
“So why are you here?” I finally asked.
“To pay my respects. And to finally meet you under better circumstances.”
He gave me a sly smile. “Am I that obvious? All right, you caught me. I do have a few ulterior motives.” He handed me an envelope. “Bus fare and a destination. Don’t worry, it’s somewhere that’s still nice and warm. And more arid, if this southern humidity is driving you crazy.”
“Why do you get to choose where I go?”
“Because you chose last time with Rogue Shadow. It’s my turn.”
“Kenny, trust me. I have a plan. That’s about all I have anymore. I have a plan, and I’m good at staying alive.”
“What’s the plan?”
He grinned. “Keep you alive.”
“Last time you sent me somewhere, I watched the Choir melt a girl’s eyes out and ran into Scarlet-marked and Greyskin hybrids.”
“No, I hooked you up with Wayward. Lyron was your idea, and the hostel was her idea. I can’t be held responsible for that, and keep in mind that I was the one who saved you.”
“Edwin Canis was the one that saved me.”
“Hey, I saved you first.”
“By the way,” I asked him, “Are you going to be sending Shadow money like you have been with the other people I’ve visited?”
“The other runners. Moth only gets a free pass because he saved your life.” He thought for a moment. “I’m not sure about Shadow. I should, but he doesn’t really need it…I don’t know. We’ll talk. If he can come up with a good use for it, maybe.”
I thought about all the places I had been. Not just the good, safe places, but the uncomfortable, crappy ones as well. And idea started forming. “I might have a suggestion for him.”
He smiled. “Good. Now go on, you’ve got a bus to catch.”
I looked at him. “You not coming?”
She shook his head. “No. I want to stay here just a little longer. I still need to pay respects to, um…to her. My Lily. My Clair.” Neither of us turned to look at each other as I left, but he did speak up at one point.
“I’ll see you later, Kenny. Good luck.”
Sunday, January 13, 2013
I had sent him an e-mail letting him know when I was close, but I wasn't expecting what happened when I arrived. When I got to the address, he was already there, standing rigidly at the end of the driveway, hands clasped behind his back.
He was dressed all in black. Black shirt, black pants, black trenchcoat, black boots. His blonde hair was pulled into a ponytail. Now, I don't like forming first impressions, but something about how he was standing and how he was dressed made a bit uncomfortable. I also wasn't sure how long he had been standing there waiting for me, and the thought that he may have been standing there like that all day was a little unnerving.
"Hey. Shadow, right?"
He nodded. "It's a pleasure to finally meet you in person, Mr. Mortel." He held out his hand, and I took it to shake.
"Yeah. Nice to meet you."
"If you follow me, I'll take you to your room, then introduce you to the others."
Shadow's got a pretty expansive estate. It took a bit to get to the house and down the hall, and the room he showed me was pretty well-furnished. "This is where you'll be staying," he told me. "I imagine you're tired from your journey, so I'll let you get some rest. The bathroom is across the hall, and dinner will be at 7:00. Let me know if you need anything."
"Thanks," I said. "That'd be great. I'll see you then, and thank you so much for taking me in like this."
I took a shower then, followed by a nap. The shower was great, the bed was warm, and I almost slept through the alarm I had set for 6:55. Dinner was chicken Parmesan, garlic bread, and salad. That's where I met Keikan and Merciful. I'd tell you more about them but it's been an exhausting day so I'll save it for the next post.
Shadow, though...he's kind of strange. He's got this almost robotic or military manner about him. Always perfect posture. Always composed. I asked Keikan afterwards if he felt like there was something just a bit...off about him. He and Merciful noticed it too, but apparently he's shown them nothing but kindness.
So I guess that, for now, I'll just have to wait and see what exactly is up with my host.