"Terrified of the open road.
Yeah, where it leads, you never know.
But rest assured, He'll be on you're back--
Yeah, the Holy Ghost, drew his tongues in black.
"So you saved your shillings and your last sixpence,
'Cause in God's name, they built a barbed-wire fence.
Be glad you sailed for a better day,
But don't forget - they'll be hell to pay."
Been home for a day and a half already. It has done astonishingly little to lessen my growing urge to fucking punch something.
Someone, in particular, actually.
Christian, you son of a bitch.
I wound up arriving in Canada Thursday evening, but as much as I wanted answers immediately, I had a feeling that going to a wooded area that's already been haunted (not to mention been the scene of a rather gruesome crime) after sundown was probably a bad idea. So I grabbed a hotel, then drove up to Michelle's house Friday morning. I had been to her house before, of course. We first met online during the winter, so that summer we decided to visit each other, and have kept it up every summer since. Christian was waiting for me at the end of the driveway - one of those extra-long ones, 'cause the house is set, like, a quarter-mile back from the road.
The walk down to the actual house wasn't pleasant. He tried to make (incredibly awkward) small talk to distract me, but... there were still body parts lying around, okay? Just... freaking everywhere. I have no idea why they hadn't been cleaned up yet after a week but, bizarrely, none of them looked a week old. They all just sat there, oozing like they were fresh from the night before. Nothing had disturbed them either, not even bugs. It was... really surreal.
Actually, "surreal" is probably the kindest thing you could say about the whole thing. >_<
Each piece had flags and number cards next to them, and we also passed a sectioned-off area with a large pool of blood on one end of it, and the gravel of the driveway messed up. When we got to the house, the entire property was surrounded by police tape and more evidence flags. There were also a couple of police officers still hanging around, taking pictures and putting stuff into plastic bags. They gave us a look when Christian simply ducked under the caution tape and ushered me inside, but didn't really do anything about it; just went back to their work.
Looking back, that was probably clue #1.
Inside the house was slightly less gruesome, but only because it was more cleaned up than outside. You could still see the stains though, and... I just hate the way my mind works sometimes. Always analyzing everything. I kept trying to guess the position and wounds inflicted based on the size and shape of the bloodstains... I had a piece of obsidian on a long string around my neck, and that helped with the continuous punch-to-the-gut feeling that I usually get from residual fear and pain, but it did nothing for my imagination, or the urge to hurl.
I managed to keep my breakfast down long enough for Christian to explain what happened that night. He, Michelle, and Kent (Tanya's fiance) were still at that nearby hotel. Hailey and Tanya were... already gone. No attack, no warning, no signs of a struggle. Just a trail of blood that abruptly ended. Michelle took it badly, but Kent took it worse. He completely broke down, which I'll get into later. Michelle, rather than breaking down, sort of withdrew... But Chris said he was more concerned with Kent than with her, which, while I can't really fault him for it, still managed to make me pissed off.
It was because he wasn't watching her that she left. just... up and left. It wasn't until Chris heard sirens heading in the direction of her house a couple nights later, after no word from Michelle whatsoever, that he knew something was up. After that he had to piece the story together in reverse order from police reports and things (at the time, I didn't think to question how he just automatically knew this stuff - clue #2), but I'll try to tell it linearly here.
Apparently one of the flunkies Morningstar was assigned for his trip up north got it into his head to hop on over and spy on Michelle's family. She caught him in the act though. There was a fight and... she killed him. But that brought Morningstar and the rest down on her head within a day. What resulted was... not pretty. Not pretty at all. They set the barn on fire with most of the animals and the youngest of her two older brothers inside. Her father and oldest brother went out to try and stop the blaze, but the former was gutted after being forced to watch the latter get shoved down the mouth of the auger that was next the barn. He did, however, kill two more of them before Morningstar finished him off personally.
I was thankfully broken out of the horrifying mental image of Michelle's father being splattered with his son's blood and guts and lashing out in a blind rage at his captors just before he died, with the realization that Chris had taken me up to Michelle's bedroom. Oddly enough, it was probably the least-messy room I had seen so far, save for a broken window and a severed dog's head on the floor. It belonged to a dog named Pepper - an Australian Shepard, one of those really pretty pepper-speckled ones. Ever since I first came to Michelle's house years ago, I knew that if I ever got a big dog instead of a little dog like I have, I'd one one like him. But he was dead now, just like everyone else. And just like everyone else, the kill looked like it happened mere hours ago instead of days. All while Christian was talking, I kept glancing back at that dog, because I kept thinking I saw movement.
...gimme a sec...... okay i'm good.
So while that was going on, some passerby (what with the size of farms up there, neighbors are practically nonexistent) saw the barn fire and called the fire department. Those were the sirens Chris heard, which he also followed. They arrived pretty quickly, but... it didn't do any good. Some bright spark among the proxies decided the fire truck would be their escape vehicle, so they killed everyone inside and hijacked it. Most of them were shot, but one of them, the driver, was killed via stab to the femoral artery - hence the giant puddle of blood in the driveway. The truck was found wrapped around a tree a few days ago, no bodies.
Before they got away, though, Michelle caught up to them. That much Christian was there for. Morningstar had just knifed the driver when she shot out fucking nowhere and ploughed him to the ground. Chris couldn't see exactly what went on, but from the look of things, she just completely beat the shit out of him out of rage alone, screaming about her father. He threw her off somehow, but she ran for it before he could grab her, so he took the firetruck and drove off.
It was watching the entire time. Chris said that was the first time he saw It outside of videos. I didn't blame him for freezing up, and told him so. He said he was hoping I could help him shed some light on the whole situation. Even when Michelle first sought out his help, he said, she wasn't exactly coherent. Constantly shifting the conversation over to either Hailey or her family. So he started asking me what I knew about Michelle and her family.
I wasn't allowed to bring my recorder or camera into a crime scene, but the conversation between Christian and I went approximately thusly:
Me: It would seem to me like I should be asking you all this. After all, you've known her much longer than me.
Chris: Yes, but you know her better. You're the one she opens up to.
Me: Michelle rarely, if ever, talked about her family. I've met them a few times, when I visit in the summer, but they were polite as manners dictated, nothing more.
He picked up a photo from Michelle's dresser and handed it to me. It showed Michelle and a slightly older boy as children, playing in their yard.)
Chris: What about Steven? She was really close to him before he died. I think she was about 10 when it happened...?
Me: Chris, I don't think you're understanding me here. Before Michelle started her blog, I wasn't aware that she originally had 3 older brothers instead of 2. And before you said it just now, I wasn't aware that the middle brother's name was Steven. No one in this family seemed to want to talk about anything.
Chris made a noncommittal noise and didn't take back the photo, so I began to look around the room (avoiding the dog's head like a plague, of course. Seriously, why wasn't all of that cleaned up yet?!). It was... decidedly bizarre. I had been there many times before, of course, but I hardly need to explain how this was different. And it didn't help that I kept feeling like Christian was watching me, even though he was always staring out the window (at a gloriously panoramic view of the burned barn and more cooked meat than I'd care to think about) whenever I looked at him.
Michelle's room is... surprisingly light. And kind of mismatched because of it. All the furniture is made of a really pale brown wood, the bedsheets are white and off-white, and the walls are light blue. And yet there's a black and green throw rug on the floor, the ceiling fan has been painted orange and red (I was there for that one, XD), and the walls are covered with fanart, original drawings, and sketches for commissions.
For a while I was just thankful that there were no slender-drawings and cryptic ramblings... but, as it turns out, she did scribble down a few things, but they were shoved under her bed, some crumpled, others not. I won't deny that has me worried - especially considering that they were clearly ripped out of a sketchbook, so there might be more of them somewhere. I might post what I found later, if you guys want me too, but there doesn't seem to be much that needs solving, just some generic (if impressively drawn) sketch-ramblings.
One of them depicted a dark pair of eyes, a large Operator Symbol with words written along its edge (too small to make out), and the word DEVIL in large block-letters. That was when Chris put in,
Chris: Did Michelle ever mention anything about a "Devil Book"?
Me: (I shook my head) Once again, the first I heard of it was on her blog. Honestly, I never knew she had so many secrets...
Chris: Surely something...
Me: Trust me, I have very strong opinions about this construct of the amalgamation of evil that people call Satan. If she had mentioned any sort of "devil", I'd remember it.
So then he spent the rest of the afternoon simultaneously showing me around the area as I tried to get a feel for the place and what happened there, and pressing me for details about everything Michelle had ever told me about her personal life. There honestly wasn't much to tell, but his persistence in the matter was clearly clue #3.
Later on I asked if I could talk to Kent, maybe see if he knew anything about what happened to Tanya and Hailey. If Michelle had gone anywhere, it would be after them.
However, Kent was currently in the hospital, which Chris neglected to mention when he was telling his story. And by that time, visiting hours were over.
I was more than a little annoyed, though I was trying not to be. I needed his help, dammit.
Saturday rolled around. It was less squicky, but just as unpleasant.
Kent was in the local hospital. Not saying where, because he's still there, albeit on heavy drugs. Hopefully that's where he'll stay, but there's really not a lot I can do for him now...
Christian and I found Kent sitting upright in his hospital bed, completely still. The TV was on, but he wasn't watching it; he was just staring at the bit of wall that was at his eye level. Chris wasn't kidding when he said Kent had taken Tanya and Hailey's disappearance hard - he had degraded into a complete catatonic stupor. If I wanted to get anything out of him, I would have to get creative.
My camera wasn't permitted, but my recorder was, so... here ya go.
Chris and I walked in - slowly and carefully, as people are wont to do around the mentally disabled/disturbed. Kent is a big guy, honestly. Built like a plowhorse, and could probably knock down anyone he pleased without even trying hard. At the time, though... It's just unbelievably hard to describe how small a guy like him can look. You read stories, and sometimes someone is characterized as "broken", like it's an adjective you can just toss around or blandly apply to someone clinically depressed. Kent, though... Kent was broken. He really was.
We spent a good forty minutes trying to get his attention, to break him out of his stupor, but even physically moving him did nothing - the guy was rigid. I'm hesitant to compare it to rigor mortis, but geeze.
Eventually I leaned over and tried to get him to look straight in my eyes, since that's one of the things catatonia patients have a tough time with. Much to my surprise after nearly an hour of blank, Kent's eyes did move, but they didn't focus on mine. Instead, they followed the bronze medallion I was wearing - the one I haven't taken off almost since I started this blog.
Kent: ...she was always fiddling with it.
Me: (Confused, I pulled my medallion into better view) This?
Kent: Never took it off. Crazy chick. (He watched it sway from its string for a moment, then looked away) Just got worse. Burnt that fuckin' bear and just got worse...
Me: How did burning the bear make it worse?
Kent: (He turned to stare at the wall again) ...She was gonna get Hailey a pony this year. Heh... Tanya never liked horses... Trusted her though. With Hayhay. Even up til...
Me: ...up until all the bad things happened.
Kent was silent for a while, and his eyes started to glaze over again.
Me: Kent, listen to me. You see this? (I dangled my medallion in front of him again) I have these hand-made just for the people I give them to, and I only give them to the people I've known long enough to trust with my life. To trust with my secrets. I gave one to Michelle because she's one of the very few people who know me inside and out, and the connection goes both ways. If she decided to help you and your family, then I'm going to help you too. But I can't do that unless you tell me everything you know.
Kent: ...She was going to be my daughter... my little girl... I was going to have a family...
Me: I need your help, Kent. We need to work together if we're ever going to find them. Michelle... and Tanya and Hailey too.
There was a long pause.
Kent: ...It took them... (Another pause) ...She said she felt It...
Me: She felt It coming... You mean like with the laughing?
Kent: Dreamt it... 'bout Hayhay... Said maybe she's the one who took her....
Me: (Confused) Huh?
Chris: (From the doorway) Val, maybe we should--
Kent: She took her and she didn't take her and she didn't know which it was and she kept drawing and drawing and drawing and drawing and burned most of them but drew them again and again and he was supposed to protect us but he couldn't he wouldn't he didn't and I couldn't protect my girls and they were going to be mine and THEY TOOK THEM AWAY FROM ME ALL OF YOU HER AND HIM AND IT IT IT IT IT IT IT IT IT--
The audio becomes kind of hard to decipher at this point, because this is where a few nurses came in and sedated Kent, despite my protests, and everyone was kind of talking at once. They asked me what I had done to make Kent blow up like that (because he really had slowly exploded - thrashing around and screaming louder and louder as he went, it was scary). I just told them I was talking to him about his family. They politely kicked Chris and I out of their hospital.
Christian was the one who called the nurses in.
Clue #4. And that one wasn't hindsight.
Saturday night. Oh god, Saturday night.
What with Michelle living in Smalltown, Canada, there was only one hotel within a reasonable distance, and it happened to be the one Michelle and them had been using when Hailey and Tanya vanished. I wasn't happy about it, but I figured I'd make the best out of it and get a feel for that place too, maybe try to figure out exactly what happened... using frigging psychometry if I had to. (Not that I can do that, but dammit, I can try.) Unfortunately, the rooms they had been using were all occupied, so I was stuck in the same creepy building with none of the benefits of investigation. FML.
Heh. Listen to me making light of this. Fuck, maybe I am learning. Or maybe I'm just too damn angry at this part to be frightened.
Because guess who had an uninvited guest on Saturday night?
It wasn't Michelle, it wasn't Tanya and it sure as hell wasn't Kent.
It was approaching 4am or so. I was "enjoying" a very fitful night's sleep. Now, you guys all know what an insomniac I am, even when I'm not stressed out of my mind. So I was still half-aware when I heard the hotel room door - which was locked, by the way - somehow creak open.
I didn't move a muscle. But I did let my free arm hang to the floor, so I knew where to reach.
My guest tiptoed closer. I could see through my eyelashes that he was male, and (surprise, surprise) wearing a mask.
I could also see him pull out a gun of some kind. I fought down panic and remained still.
He walked around to the side of the bed, got fairly close, and leveled the gun at my head. There was no doubt, not anymore.
In one movement, I tossed my blanket up at him and tackled him to the floor. The gun went off, hitting the lampshade. I kicked the weapon away, kneed him in the groin, and then grabbed the taser that was hiding between my bed and the nightstand (thank you, dad's obsessive pack-rat behavior) and nailed the guy right in the chest. He passed out.
Three guesses as to who was under the mask.
Even though I was half-expecting it at that point, I was still kicking myself. Because I should have known. I should have fucking known! What happened with Nick and Donato, huh? He would've been able to tell instantly that the bastard was corrupted. Why didn't I think to check?!
But y'know what? No. I won't waste time banging myself over the head with how big an idiot I was during those three days. I was worried and upset and on a very narrow field of focus. Lesson learned, even though I don't know precisely how I plan to avoid that in the future... something to think about, I suppose.
I packed up my stuff and got out of that hotel as fast as I could. The gun had a muffler on it (I did not touch it, that would have been beyond stupid, but I did get a look it), which is probably why the shot wasn't commented on, but I was still nervous and wanting out of there in a hurry.
And... this was probably dumb of me, but I went back to Michelle's house. Yeah, I know - haunted house full of dismembered bodies, in the forest, at night... not my brightest move. But I wasn't ready to leave yet. Aside from the picture and those drawings, I hadn't found anything that could help me. But... after what I discovered there that night, I decided that would have to be enough.
You see... there were still police cars and caution tape and everything. But this time there was a horrendous stench covering the entire property - the smell of death. And in addition to police cars, there were a couple of biological waste disposal trucks parked in the driveway. By this point it was a little bit past 5am Sunday morning, and some of the workers were already there, wearing rubber gloves and other protective gear, cleaning out the house and picking up body parts.
Rotted, disgusting body parts. Not fresh.
There was a cop on duty, since it was such a noxious crime scene. I recognized her from Friday afternoon - she and another woman were taking forensics pictures. I asked her how the investigation was going and some other probing questions.
She had never seen me before in her life.
After that, I started for home. I had to. I stopped at a motel in upstate New York to try and get some sleep before the long drive home, then checked in on the blogs and commented around, as per usual. Because sometimes focusing on others' situations can give me an epiphany of my own.
At this point, though, I don't know what to think. Was the version of Michelle's house that I went to - the one with blood that looked freshly spilled even though it was a week old - some kind of illusion? It couldn't be, because I still have the photo Chris handed me, plus those drawings from under Michelle's bed.
Was the story that Christian told me a complete fabrication? Possibly. If the guy was a proxy all along, then he's got a lot to answer for. What was that Kent said? "He was supposed to protect us, but he couldn't. He wouldn't. He didn't." Michelle brought Christian into the situation to ask for his help, because he's familiar with the supernatural and could possibly formulate a defense. Whether he was hollowed out during that time, or if he was against them all along, makes no difference. I almost wish I had stayed to find out, but... let's face it, I'm not any kind of badass. Being angry overwhelmed my fear when he attacked me - as I've mentioned before, manipulating people into thinking you're their friend is a very sore spot with me - but I don't know how long that'll last. Rage isn't something you can run off of entirely. All you do is burn out.
Was the goddamn hotel even real? I encountered surprisingly little resistance when exiting, and the whole thing just felt too neat. Though maybe I'm just being paranoid about that one.
At a guess, I think I can safely say Kent and the hospital were real. God, though, I hope he's okay. He needs the kind of help even I can't give, and I hope he gets it. Moreover, I hope he's protected. I wish I could have done more, but... argh.
Somehow, I never expected things to get this complicated.
And now I'm home again. Apologies for the late post, and sorry if I worried anyone with my silence. It's just... It was difficult writing all of this down. There was a lot to remember, a lot to think about. And a lot to try my damndest not to think about. Those images, that smell... they still haven't gone away.
Right now I've got my face buried in the smell of my dog's fur and praying that I won't associate that smell with the memory of the dog's head in Michelle's room.
Just... shit, man.
And one last thing. One stupendously, amazingly, horrifyingly important thing.
You see, I am smart and stupid in equal parts. I really am. That photo Christian handed me back in Michelle's room? The one I've been carrying around ever since, along with those damn drawings? Welp, I've had some time to examine it a little more closely since I got back to the US, and...