"Brace for fallout, the radiation creeps
On cat's feet. We scatter in the streets.
She asks me, 'Do you think it's safe to breathe?'
It doesn't look that way to me."
I'm okay. Really.
I haven't been very okay for the past week or so, but I think I'm better, at least for now. Distance by itself does... wonderful things. No wonder people's first instinct is to just run and keep running.
But yeah. I'm feeling a lot better. I just wish I could say the same for Kay.
Cynthia took care of Redlight. The little kid finally did it, and I couldn't be more proud of her for breaking free of that. But the consequences were dire. Both Tony and Cathy are most likely dead, and Kay took it hard. Cathy was her best friend. She knew Tony very well too, and was on very good terms with Cynthia, even at her worst. Kay was going to leave them her house if she died first.
Now only Cynthia remains. And Kay... is just in a very bad place right now.
She's been stone drunk for most of three days now. The angry kind of drunk too; she lashes out whenever we try to take her bottle away. It's just... awful, seeing her like this. But I needed to get away, and she needed us here... Wasn't hard for Nick to put two and two together and gather us together once more.
We didn't knock on the door. We didn't have to, we could hear shouts coming from the backyard.
I've mentioned before that Kay lives in a wooded neighborhood, right? Her backyard doesn't have a fence, just the treeline. And Kay was... just standing out there, with some sopping wet branches piled up in a heap, trying to start a fire under it. She was failing, of course; multiple storms have passed through the NJ area, leaving everything soaked, and she hadn't thought to go find some lighter fuel... yet.
She was, however, attempting to use newspaper and other paper as kindling, and that was burning. Just not enough. Ryan was there, holding a baseball bat (and looking like he had no clue what to do with it) and standing a respectable distance away, trying to talk to Kay. I don't know if she was ignoring him or if she genuinely couldn't hear him over her own shouting. She just kept shouting at the trees, yelling for Slenderman to come and get her, and working at that fire all the while.
I... I just...
As soon as we heard her yell that, we both ran towards her. Ryan saw us coming, and I guess he didn't know who we were or something, because he got in front of us. Before he could say much though, Nick took two steps towards him and completely socked Ryan in the face. I was surprised, especially after how nice he had been to Michelle that morning. Poor guy didn't even have a chance to raise his bat... and now he has two matching black eyes, because Kay had apparently already nailed him one before we got there.
Anyway, I stayed to (very briefly) explain to Ryan who we were, so Nick reached Kay first, and I joined them a few seconds after. He was trying to get the lighter away from her, and she just... I don't think she even heard anything he said. She just kept screaming variants of "We're all going to die anyway!" and "Just kill me already!"
No one should ever have to hear that, let alone be driven to say it.
We both started talking to her then, which probably wasn't the best idea. The best idea would have been to very calmly take Kay inside, out of the wet, but... well, neither of us were expecting that, not from her. She's always been... well perhaps I've no right to say anything on the matter.
I don't remember everything that was said. Kay alternated between shouting at the treeline and shouting at us, screaming obscenities, death threats, and repeatedly voicing a desire to die "like [she] was supposed to." It got to the point where we weren't sure who she said what to anymore - she begged Slenderman to please, please help her just as often as she threatened to do to Nick and I what Tom did to her, and vice versa. And all the while she kept burning her stack of papers, trying to get her fire to start, threatening to burn down the forest if Slenderman didn't come... and occasionally threatening to throw herself on the fire if we didn't leave her alone.
I saw numerous things go up in flames - photos, receipts, old bank statements, printed paper that was too small to read... I swore I even saw some of the drawings that Zero sent to her go by, though they were mixed into the stack individually, and not grouped together. And then came a small stack of yellow post-it notes that I almost didn't recognize, but Nick did. They were the notes Time Lord sent us in the package with the jade elephant.
Nick made a move to stop her, but he wasn't fast enough. Sticky-note glue burns very well, apparently. And then, forgetting himself, he yelled something along the lines of, "What the hell did you do that for?!" We had still been waiting for the signal to get together again, the way the notes instructed us, so we hadn't looked at the rest of them yet. Now I guess we'll never know.
And again, I don't know if Kay heard him or not. She just kept screaming her old litany of, "We're all dead anyway, so what does it matter?!"
At last, one of the sticks in her pile had dried out enough to catch fire, and this Kay did notice. She tossed the lighter aside and bent to tend the fire... but Ryan, who had been hovering off to the side, took the opportunity to seize her arm. Before Kay could add a split lip to his two shiners, Nick took hold of her other arm. And I... did the only thing I could think of: I hugged her.
She struggled. She screamed in my ear. She kicked my shins and bit my shoulder until it bled. I didn't care. I just held her.
Eventually she stopped yelling... stopped fighting... stopped moving altogether. She just hung limply in our arms, crying, pleading, why wouldn't we let her go? Why wouldn't we let her rest? We started to walk her back indoors, talking to her softly as we did. Or rather, Nick and Ryan did most of the talking. As I mentioned, I don't really have the right to say much on this subject.
As we took her inside, Ryan told her that she was one of the strongest people he's ever met, and he knew she'd be able to get past this. As we sat her down on the couch and put a blanket around her, Nick told her that we wouldn't be around forever, and that the world needed her intact. And as Ryan went back outside to make sure what little fire was built was put out properly, and Nick went up to the kitchen to make her something warm to eat, Kay and I were left alone in the living room.
As fate would have it, that was when she found her voice again.
"Why?" Kay snarled at me hatefully. "Why is it that your child-murdering cunt of a best friend gets to live while my best friend gets to die?"
I flinched. And I didn't really have an answer. Maybe sometimes things like this just happen. Both Michelle and Cathy just wanted to protect a little girl. But they took different routes to do so, and not all of the decisions made were the right ones.
"Because Cathy succeeded in protecting her child," I said finally. "Michelle... didn't."
"And death is the reward Cathy got for doing the right thing? Is that what we all earn in the end?"
Ultimately, yes, I wanted to say. And it's our reward for doing the wrong thing too. And everything in between. It's the one thing that no one can change, and so, doing the right thing is not a matter of attaining reward, but a simple matter of doing what you feel will help the most.
But I didn't say that.
"You're my best friend too, Kay," I said instead. "And all this pain your feeling now... Do you really want to give all that to me? And to Nick too? And everyone else who cares so, so much for you?"
She didn't answer. She just cried.
So that's where I've been for most of this week. Forgive the lateness of this post; looking after Kay is pretty full-time, even with three of us, but I don't know how much longer I can stay here. My parents come home on Sunday, and I can't just leave Michelle alone forever. Nick can't stay forever either. I've been talking to him; he's got so much on his plate it's not even funny. That's the reason he rarely writes anything anymore - he just falls over asleep instantly every night, exhausted beyond measure. But there's nothing I can do to help him, and I can't seem to help Kay either, no matter how much I try.
I don't know what to do. I really don't.