Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"Last year in the U.S. alone, more than nine hundred thousand people were reported missing and not found... That's out of three hundred million, total. That breaks down to about one person in three hundred twenty-five vanishing. Every year... Maybe it's a coincidence, but it's almost the same loss ratio experienced by herd animals on the African savannah to large predators."

              --Jim Bucher, Dead Beat

Sounds about right.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Historical Hypothesis

"Once, I thought I could make God a bribe,
So I said I was in his lost tribe,
Getting handouts can be so frustrating.
'Get in line son, there’s five million waiting.'”

It may surprise you to know that two of my great-aunts are nuns. They're both my maternal grandfather's sisters, and they both live at the same convent. It's been over a decade since I've been here. It's prettier than I remembered it. There are high stone walls and corridors with narrow castle windows, crowded gardens, and the property is surrounded by trees. The overall atmosphere lends itself well to a haunting, but I've not seen hide nor hair of the Slender Man in over a week.

First time I haven't gone looking for It, I suppose. Or maybe Kay was more right than she knew about religious belief providing a defense, regardless of what religion you choose.

Hmm... Keiken is dead by now, is he not? That's... saddening. A boy of such faith, and unfalteringly supportive of people he didn't even know... people who ignored or disliked him, even. Just one of the many people I wish I had gotten to know better. And also one of the many people I just... didn't bother with much.

It's an old flaw of mine.

I've really been digging into the research, this past week. More people than Keiken are gone. I stopped counting after a while, but the number of accounts and records who had suddenly ceased has gone up into the hundreds. And while this may seem like terrible news... I have also observed that more people are dying than are being infected.

I could be wrong. It could be that people simply aren't documenting their experiences anymore, there could be far more new haunted out there than I'm aware of. But the overall number appears to be going down.

It reminds me of a thought I had a long time ago, about the Slender Man being a predator similar to a giant serpent. Anacondas hunger, always, but they go for months at a time not bothering to hunt for anything, merely sleeping. Tracing the path of Our Mutual Friend, it is also clear that It hunts in clusters - arising first in upper Africa, then in continental Europe several thousand years later... and now us, less than a thousand years after that.

And there's another pattern too. Michelle brought up Ava's research on more than one occasion - she was certain that the being known to the Egyptians as Hershef was worshiped, and perhaps paid tribute to with an offering of a child now and again. Like, once a year, was her guess. This lasted a long time, at least as long as Egypt had a stable monarchy.

Thousands of years later, in the German wilds, folklore sprang up around just such an ancient, unsolved mystery. Instead of a single tree growing in a sacred pool of water, the monster elected to hide amongst its kind, haunting the forests and snagging small children who wandered too close. Many more children than previously, it would seem, although given the poor investigation system in those times (read: nigh-nonexistent), anything is possible. But at the same time, records also indicate that the stories didn't go on for nearly as long. only 1 or 2 hundred years, hardly the many centuries of its predecessor.

If I had some hard numbers, I could probably pull some statistics out of my ass about the difference between Egypt and Germany... about the increase in the number of victims over a smaller time period. But the thing is, until now, we didn't have any hard numbers, just vague time periods and Year Of Our Lords, written in a time when the calender itself kept shifting around (assuming they were written down at all), so that only a trained historian could trace it with any amount of accuracy. I am not a historian. I am a psychologist.

Which brings me to today. An age in which global communication is paramount and effortless; even the cheapest cell phones have a camera attached nowadays, and the internet can be reached practically anywhere. And the monster is literally a pandemic. It's not localized to one area, or even one continent. It's everywhere, and people are dropping by their hundreds in record-shattering time. And we know this because of the internet - timestamps and social networking. I've said it before: one way or another, we've all had the urge to start recording the events that have been happening to us.

Makes me wonder why I've been increasingly having the urge to stop.

I can't say for certain, but there's no denying the pattern that emerges. Disappearances are slowing down, and they have been for the past 6 months or more. The end of this age is upon us. But the next age will be soon. Too soon. Within-our-lifetime soon. And it will be so explosive and destructive that it will be impossible to hide.

A plagal cadence.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ashes, Ashes

"I was nurtured. I was sheltered.
I was curious and young.
I was searching for that something;
Trying to find it on the run..."

Awakening from a long sleep is like climbing out of a steep ravine is like reaching for the highest star is like falling into the deepest ocean is like awakening from a long sleep is like climbing out of a steep ravine is like reaching for the highest star is like falling into the deepest ocean is like awakening from a long sleep is like climbing out of a steep ravine is like reaching for the highest star is like falling into the deepest ocean is like awakening from a long sleep is

the music is real the music is Real.

he can't have it

I got into a small car crash.

Yeah, no joke, sadly. I spent last thursday night in a hospital for a mild concussion - which thankfully also gave me an excuse to not write my information, so yay. And then I just walked right out like I usually do. It's so easy to just be completely unseen nowadays.

My car still runs just fine, but it looks like shit and will likely draw a lot of attention, and I'm not really sure what to do about that.

I'm okay too. Just as physically and mentally fit as I ever was. Heh.

Researching and trying to sort out proxy activity from regular crimes is hard. And time-consuming. Most of the time I wind up having to leave a tip for the normal authorities and hope for the best. It's not as much as I wanted to do involving the police (which I still haven't entirely ruled out yet), but hopefully this is something acceptable.

Two supply houses went down this week. One was filled mostly with food and known to supply to proxies and other organized crime, and the other was a completely harmless building used for storing packing equipment, like cardboard boxes, and I think a few mattresses as well. The only reason the second one went down was because the part of the first warehouse that wasn't filled with various types of food was filled with gunpowder and several explosive weapons. But hey, at least I learned a lesson. Also, thank god for fire alarms. Nobody needs to get hurt.

(I sort of hope no one gets punished for not being more vigilant when there's a known firebug running around. Then again, I more than sort of hope they don't get any more vigilant than they already are.

          just move on to the next part of the plan at that point, right?


I'm not actually certain whether or not the car accident was actually an accident, so I'm going to a place where I'm certain I'll be safe for a while. To gather supplies. And plan.

Meanwhile, I need information. So I'm asking now: Who's left? I'm barely keeping track anymore, and to be honest I lost count a while even before things got really bad. Basically, I want to make a sort of map in my head - not of locations, but of connections between people.

Even more basically, play the Kevin Bacon game with me, guys. XD  

 No amount of information is too trivial. I don't need to know about abilities or positions or anything of that sort. I just need to know who knows whom.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


"I'm a wreck, and I know it,
And I tend to show it every chance that I get.
Butterflies in the skies,
They just fly on by. Yeah, they're making me sick.
They don't flutter about;
I'd do without.
All they do is kick."

I remember standing very still, in a shaft of sunlight that pierced down through the tree branches that netted together above me. The sunlight was the safe spot, the one place where there was silence - the right sort of silence, the kind that didn't smother, but cradled. When I pressed my hand against the edge of the shaft, where light met shadow, there was a moment's resistance, the slightest amount of force that pressed back, and

there was a small tune on the wind, like the tinkling of bells.

All I've done since is follow the sound.

I'm able to follow the sound.

In all the stories, there's been a pattern. Victims come and go, but their actions, their reactions, are so similar as to be circumstantially simultaneous. Everyone does the same thing when placed into this situation because there's only one thing we can do that makes sense.

"Are you seeing what I'm seeing?"

You tell someone about it. Whether it's someone you know or a total stranger, or even just a page in a diary, when what's real becomes undefined, you need to solidify something.

However, there are different types of people in the world, who all have quite different reactions to your reaction, usually varyingly informed about the subject.

There are people out there who know about this, yet do nothing.

There are people out there who know nothing at all, yet feel compelled to help anyway.

There are people who will do their research before they dive in.

There are people who know nothing and assume it's all lies, and wouldn't be much inclined to help anyway.

And... I can't help but wonder about that last group. The parents who assume that their children just have vivid (and curiously identical) imaginations. The psychologists who put down their patients' fears to paranoia and schizophrenia. The investigators who can find no proof of anything but suicide, and do not pursue the matter further.

Especially the investigators, the police officers, the whole law-enforcement institution.

And in all the stories, there's been a pattern.

This whole mess has been left a secret for so long. A shamefully obvious, poorly guarded, yet nigh-unanimously agreed upon secret. We fear infection, imprisonment, or an even shorter version of our already drastically shortened lifespans.

Yet... from an objective standpoint, the first fear seems fundamentally untrue. True, the number of victims is growing, but compared to the tens of thousands of people who know about the Slender Man and remain uninfected, I can't help but wonder how much of it is really due to simple exposure and how much is due to some intrinsic quality about the stalked themselves - especially when it's a documented fact that the beast deliberately hunts down adults who somehow got away as children. Are we marked from birth? Would things have been different if we never clicked that link, never met that person, never opened that window on that one dark night? We can't know.

The other two are common fears of anyone on the run from virtually anything. And this is because there are other forces, human forces, who oppose us. People in the government, who want to keep this quiet. Yet where does our knowledge of these people and organizations come from? From people whose word is not exactly gold.

I'm not saying the reports are false, oh no. I believe there are powerful people in the world who conspire to keep things out of the news and under the rug, either for the benefit of many or for the benefit of a few. My point, rather, is that such people are always in positions of authority. Pretty high up on the food chain, if you will. Never the people at the bottom, never the ones who actually investigate the matter when disappearances pile up on their desks. They are the ones who interact with the hunted, but know nothing about any of this, and they are the ones who assume imagination, insanity, and suicide. They are the ones who let the matter rest, when it seems like it has come to an end.

But what if this were not the case? What if these people, these bottom-rung civil servants, actually recognized the signs when they saw them? Not in the sense that they knew everything, but that they simply... recognized something. The words SEES ME. A tensor symbol. Drawings of trees. Something to make them just the slightest bit hesitant to make that final call to close the case.

Maybe a random coworker left a picture of a tree with eyes on his desk one morning. As a joke. No one thinks anything of it, no one pursues it. But it is now a thing that exists, for him. And the ability to inspire recall is a powerful thing.

True change never starts at the top.

I can't be the first person to have thought of this. Operator symbols wouldn't have spread as far as they have if I was.

I know I'm not the first person to have thought of this. It's been on my mind since a lawyer named Adam showed up on the blogs, just over a year ago, and reminded me that government assistance is not a one-way street.

Michelle's brother Steven pretty much solidified the idea for me. He wouldn't have vanished so abruptly if he wasn't onto something.

Now, admittedly, my head has not been in the best shape lately, so I'd like some opinions on this matter. Naturally, this will not be a strictly democratic decision, because there are some of you out there whose judgement I trust even less than my own at the moment, so the overall decision will still be left up to me. Nevertheless, however, outside input is valued. This isn't a move to be taken lightly and I know this. Don't think I don't know the risks.

Regardless, there's no reason to waste time, at least for now. So I'm going photo-hunting tonight.

Hey. Wanna know how to not be accused of doctoring photos?

Use a polaroid instant film camera.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


"What was left when the fire was gone?  
I thought it felt right, but the right was wrong.
All caught up in the eye of the storm,
And trying to figure out what it's like moving on.

"And I don't even know what kinds of things I've said.
My mouth kept moving and my mind went dead.
So I'm picking up the pieces. Now, where to begin?  
The hardest part of ending is starting again..."

I think I'm ready now.

After so much, I just fled. After so long, I hid.

I actually kept myself pretty busy while I was gone, at least initially. Paid some debts. Kept some promises. For a while I thought I could be of more help from a distance, except I had no idea what that could even entail.

But then, no matter where I went, things always got worse after I left, right after I left. Elaine died. Gargoyle lost it. Kay is... gone. I don't know where, the new owner of her house didn't know anything and more or less slammed the door on my filthy, homeless-looking face. I can't say with a whole lot of certainty, but it seemed like everywhere I went, I was followed by fire and darkness, death and despair. And when you're followed by despair, it isn't long before it catches up to you.

I stopped.

For a long while, I stagnated.

...Anniversary's coming up again soon. The day that McKenzie, Tamarr, and Brian were all killed.

The first time it came around, I was in such heavy denial that I managed to get past it without incident.

The second time, I couldn't ignore it anymore, and I couldn't handle what I had done. I actively avoided feeling anything by knocking myself out at my earliest opportunity.

Now... Now I'm angry. I'm weak and I'm angry that I'm weak and I'm furious that my first impulse is always to hide from the world. To bury my head in the sand, to dive behind the walls I've so carefully built up and pretend it'll all be okay if I just wish hard enough.

When's it supposed to stop?

Michelle... Michelle didn't die doing what's right. Nothing so grandiose as that. She simply lived it. She lived so that she could do the right thing; even when she had no idea what that was, it was what she wanted, and she fought for it. She fought tooth and nail, mind and body, and never let up even when she had all but snapped in half. She was a good person, probably the best I know, simply because she fought to be good against her own nature. Not a lot of people saw that in her.

She wouldn't allow people to see it in her.

I've... I've never been a strong person, okay?

A lot of people seem to think I am, and I don't know what the hell you're all smoking, because I'm not. My entire life, I've been dependent on others. Bashawn, Michelle, Nick, and dozens of others before them. I make them think I'm worth protecting, I wind up dragging them down with me, and still they find it in them to twist around as we fall and cushion my impact with their own bodies. The one time - one time - I tried to protect someone else... they died. Three children died and then everyone else died and then  Having my music taken from me was the least punishment I could have earned, but that's not going to stop me anymore.

I'm going to take back what was stolen from me.

Nothing can bring my kids back. I know that. But that doesn't mean there's nothing I can do.

The first step was taking back my own mind. The second step... was making a statement.

Michelle left a lot of things behind when she died. The important things she kept on her person in her jacket were all gone, of course, but there were records. Addresses. Documents she used to track me down when Nightscream kidnapped me that she never bothered to get rid of.

The location, of course, was still there, still in proxy control.

I went to a surprising amount of trouble to figure out what else was there, actually. Who owned it. It was some ammunition, but primarily it was storage for valuables and legal documents. All those things that make a proxy's life easy, makes it so easy for them to coast above the law. And, of course, instruments of torture. Those weren't on record, but I had seen them myself, both with Nightscream, and when I went there again a few nights ago.

Apparently a few people are angry about what I did, but it's hardly my fault if a certain cockroach has gotten predictable in his old age.

Though, really, I wasn't expecting to see him there. The place was empty when I did my preliminary check. But I made sure to leave an escape path open anyway. Playing with fire isn't hard if you put enough research into it.

God knows I've seen enough fire to last a lifetime.

I don't know how long this will last. This mood I'm in, this state. This willingness to do something crazy in the name of actual justice. But I may as well use the opportunity. Something that I should have been doing since... no, even before that. I came here with the objective of doing something stupid and crazy long before someone told me I had a responsibility to be stupid and crazy so that others wouldn't have to. I just never had the guts to actually do it.

But this isn't a one-off event, oh no. I'm just getting started.

And to the monster and anyone who follows Him...

I'm going to make your lives very difficult indeed.

Friday, April 13, 2012


When Gmork spoke, his voice was like the jangling of chains.

'Have you seen the Nothing, sonny?'

'Yes, many times.'

'What does it look like?'

'As if one were blind.' 

'That's right - and when you get to the human world, the Nothing will cling to you. You'll be like a contagious disease that makes humans blind, so they can no longer distinguish between reality and illusion. Do you know what you and your kind are called there?'

'No,' Atreyu whispered.

'Lies!' Gmork barked.

Atreyu shook his head. All the blood had gone from his lips.

'How can that be?'

'You asked me what you will be there. But what are you here? What are you creatures of Fantastica? Dreams, poetic inventions, characters in a neverending story. Do you think you're real? Well yes, here in your world you are. But when you've been through the Nothing, you won't be real anymore. You'll be unrecognizable. And you will be in another world. In that world, you Fantasticans won't be anything like yourselves. You will bring delusion and madness into the human world. Tell me, sonny, what do you suppose will become of all the Spook City folk who have jumped into the Nothing?'

'I don't know,' Atreyu stammered.

'They will become delusions in the minds of human beings, fears where there is nothing to fear, desires for vain, hurtful things, despairing thoughts where there is no reason to despair.'

'All of us?' Atreyu asked in horror.

'No,' said Gmork, 'there are many kinds of delusion. According to what you are here, ugly or beautiful, stupid or clever, you will become ugly or beautiful, stupid or clever lies.'

'What about me?' Atreyu asked. 'What will I be?'

Gmork grinned.

'I won't tell you that. You'll see. Or rather, you won't see, because you won't be yourself anymore.'

Atreyu stared at the werewolf with wide-open eyes. 

Gmork went on:

'That's why humans hate Fantastica and everything that comes from here. They want to destroy it. And they don't realize that by trying to destroy it they multiply the lies that keep flooding into the human world. For these lies are nothing other than creatures of Fantastica who have ceased to be themselves and survive only as living corpses, poisoning the souls of men with their fetid smell. But humans don't know it. Isn't that a good joke?'

Sunday, March 25, 2012



I trusted you! I gave you a chance! I asked this one singular thing of you and you said you would do it and YOU LIED! YOU LIED TO ME!


What now, Drew? Did you think this was just some roleplay for you to play out?! Did you think that writing about something is the same as doing it? Did you think that my desperate phone call for your help was part of some game?!?!

It wasn't a game, Andrew! It's real and those murders are real and Spencer is real and the Bleeding Tree is real and that faceless inhuman monster that killed my best friend because you thought I was playing when I said she needed help is more real than you can imagine!!!! You lied you lied you LIED TO ME and SHE'S DEAD BECAUSE YOU THOUGHT IT WASN'T REAL. YOU THOUGHT IT WAS A GAME WE WERE PLAYING AND YOU DIDN'T HELP HER!

This is just like before. I asked you for your help and you promised you'd give it and you told me it was given BUT YOU LIED!!

You're useless you're horrible you're a LIAR you can't do even the simplest of things you're nothing nothing nothing I HATE YOU! YOU LIED! SHE'S DEAD BECAUSE YOU LIED!!!!!!!!!!!

oh god she's really dead


It's my fault. I wasn't there when you needed me most.

oh god please no. I'm so sorry...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Brief Update

I've been considering looking for/buying(/possibly stealing?) - a largish chunk of jade. Considering the documented positive effects they've had in the past, I've always wondered what would happen if I could convince a proxy to hold onto one for a significant amount of time. Michelle is nothing if not willing to experiment with me, so I figured, why not?

Primarily, though, I've been wondering what to do about Michelle's arm. It's not getting any better. In fact, it's really just getting worse. The roots keep coming back, more of them every day. And the knife wounds from cutting them out still won't heal. I'm barely staving off infection, but I don't dare do more. The arm still functions, but I'm starting to worry about bloodflow. The flesh is much too cold.

However, an odd little opportunity presented itself the other day. Apparently Spencer had noticed my ongoing conversation with Rafael about herbal remedies, and offered to deliver the ingredients to us. As a peace offering, he said. So we agreed to meet up. And since we don't exactly have an address for Spence to deliver the goods to, we called Drew to let him know we'll be visiting again. Why Drew? Because he's about the only person who's address I don't mind giving out to a potentially dangerous stranger.

Seriously, fuck that guy.

I made Michelle be the one to actually call him though. She has far fewer issues with him than me. She keeps telling me that I should chill out about it, since he is being nice and letting us use his house, and I guess she's right. The problem is, even though it takes me forever to build up a proper grudge, once it's built, it's there forever. >_<

Eh, whatever. Maybe I should practice what I preach a little more. It has been 5 years.

It'll be nice to sleep in a bed again, at least. Living out of your car is a novelty at first, but it seriously makes your back ache after a while. Another thing I've been considering using some of our remaining funds to buy a small mattress for us to sleep on in the trunk, now that supplies are dwindling and there's more room. I mean, we're much poorer than we started out, but we're not broke yet. And it'd fit if we folded down the back seat... Bluh, think about this another time.

I really do think (read: desperately hope) the herbs will work though. My going theory (read: justification) is that the Bleeding Tree is a perversion of the natural order and, since what I do could also be considered such a perversion, trying to put out fire with a flamethrower (or a matchstick in my case) isn't going to help matters any. So maybe something that is natural would have more of an effect?

God I hope so. We're kinda running low on options here.

Anyway, we're expecting to meet up within the next couple of days. Spencer and Michelle will have their promised "coffee date", and since Michelle's already insisted that she doesn't want me present for that, I'll just have my own talk with Spence afterward. Technically, this'll be the first time we actually meet, so it should be interesting.

Spencer has... well, he's helped me through a lot of tough times. I want to do the same for him, if I can.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

No More Secrets

There are times when I honestly forget why I'm doing this. Why I'm here. I mean, we just established that it's completely voluntary and always has been. It's just... argh. Fuckin' complicated bullshit, driving me and everyone else crazy. Especially Michelle, as I found out when she finally cornered me the other day.

Many important things were said. Things which, like Michelle said, should have been said a long time ago.

That story I told you all the other day? About the first time I saw Him, the first time people died because I was too preoccupied with saving my own skin to even notice anyone else... I told it to Nightscream too. And s/he knew instantly what was so unbelievably fucked up about the situation, and about my entire life since. Those kids depended on me, trusted me, and I was unbelievably selfish. I pretended to be their friend, and then abandoned them when they needed me most.

I did the exact thing that I hate most in the world. I thought maybe I could make up for it, but I can't. Nothing will change that moment. Nothing will bring them back.

And now, years later, I still haven't learned. I've been using Michelle that way too. She needs me for maintenance of her own sanity, and I've been exploiting that need in order to gain physical protection for myself. It's not right and I kind of hate myself for it. Only without the kind of.


Manipulating someone doesn't always have to be to a bad end. We all use our parents just the same - for shelter, for affection, for money - but that doesn't make us love them any less. And it doesn't lessen their love for us either, because they don't mind. The use of others is implicitly acknowledged and understood by all parties, and everyone is okay with it.

And Michelle's okay with me too. Because she's doing the exact same thing, and has been since the beginning.

I use Michelle for protection. She uses me to keep to keep her proxy nature in check and keep her instincts pointed in the right direction. I... god, it sounds so animalistic like that, but these really were her words, not mine.

And in that sense, she's using me even further - using my sense of culpability to keep me alive, so that I can continue to be her anchor, her reminder, and... yes, Nightscream... her handler. 

Mutual give and take, I guess. Even though neither of us realized it was mutual for the longest time because, surprise surprise, we both tend to keep things to ourselves. And when you're traveling together under unfriendly circumstances, keeping secrets is something you absolutely cannot do. So... yeah. No more of that.

And in light of this "no more secrets" policy, I feel obligated to tell you all that this revelation doesn't actually change anything. There's still only one way to pay for what I did to those three children, and the rest of the kids as well, and the teachers, and Bashawn, and everyone who's ever come off the worse for having known me. I'm not panicked about it anymore, but... it'll still happen eventually.

This is not, in fact, all that different from how many others in this community live. It's not even that different from how many people in the world live.

So yeah, Gargoyle, I guess you could say our dear Jester did have some idea of... at least my personality, if not my true intentions. But nothing was ever a lie, if you think about it. Yeah, I forget why I'm here sometimes. Sometimes I get selfish again, start thinking that maybe I've held on long enough. But I will not abandon the people who count on me, if anyone still thinks I'm worth counting on. I won't make the same mistake twice.

Dying by itself solves nothing. You all know that. I know that. That was never the point.

The point... was to make my death mean something.

So don't misunderstand me. It'll still end at some point. I'll still make it end at some point if I have to. But if, in the process, I can do something right for a change...

That's all I ever wanted.

And if you really want to know, that's the real reason I accepted. Sages die eventually. All of them. But they always die doing what's right. Helping people. Maybe saving some lives if they're lucky.

So... if that's really what you think... if that's really what you need of me... then I'll give this Sage business one last shot.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Give Me A Reason

Real fucking smooth, Michelle.

So I went outside for a while. So what? It's not like I have much to worry about besides a proxy who's probably half dead with asphyxiation by now anyway (I should know). And it's not like the Man Himself can get me, right? We've proven that beyond a shadow of a fucking doubt, haven't we?!

I've said it a thousand times: My one and only goal in making my presence known was and has always been to help as many people as I can before I die.

Before I die.

No one noticed. I was so sure I had slipped up somewhere, so sure that someone would say something. Ask me what the hell I was thinking, coming in here.

Because ask yourself - why would anyone voluntarily put themselves into this situation?

Why would anyone


put themselves in this situation if they had reasonable surety that they would not be pursued?

A deathwish is the only reason I can think of.

But apparently I'm better at hiding things than I thought.

(I think Rachel got it. Early on, back when we first started talking. Rachel understood.

And she probably knew better than to ask.)

Every night, so many images flash behind my eyes. It's been so, so long since I've been able to listen to the silence in my mind without pain. Longer than you think.

In just a few short months, it will officially be three years since the day I should have died. Three years of stolen time. Time I stole from three-year-old kids.

Does that mean my time is almost up?




All three of them were reported missing, and no bodies were ever found, but I saw. I watched. I stood there and watched as

Brian was always big for his age, and generally played by himself. I never payed much attention to him because he was so quiet, but there was no denying his artwork was impressive, as was his intelligence. I remember he always brought books with him to nap time, because he never seemed to sleep peacefully and wanted something to occupy the down time.

Tamarr, in comparison, was one of the loudest children I've ever known. During role call, he would shout his name at the top of his lungs, daily announcing himself to the world, demanding all that it has to offer, as though he was constantly terrified he would be ignored if he didn't. He was always getting into trouble, that Tamarr. And yet, when he slept, his entire face changed, from something fiercely determined to something... so much more peaceful.

McKenzie... was mine. All the employees in my program were assigned one or two children that were their distinct responsibility. A big brother system. She often drew pictures as well, not because she particularly enjoyed it, but because she liked needed the praise it brought her. Her parents were always too busy with her rambunctious baby brother, and that fact made her constantly angry at... everything. And I couldn't believe it. Only 4 years old and angry at the world. How is something like that even possible?

When Brian started drawing pictures of a man in a suit, a man I was certain couldn't be his father, who wore overalls every day I saw him, I only asked a little bit about it.

"Who's that?"

"The man."

"What man?"

"The man."

"He's an interesting looking man... Are you going to give him a face?"

"He doesn't have a face."

"Really? Why not?"

"Well, he has a face, but he doesn't like you to look at it."

"Hmm... His arms are interesting too. Really super long. I like them."

"He likes them too."

"Do you like them?"

Brian simply shrugged, and I didn't ask any more about it. Imaginary friends are, after all, to be expected in children his age.

But, I hear you cry, Ryuu, this could not possibly have been your fault! And you're right. New victims are marked all the time, and, in a place like Camden, children go missing every day. Certainly those three fit the bill for Our Mutual Friend's usual prey.

What was my fault... was what happened months and months later. Nearly half a year of steadily increasing anti-social behavior from all three of them, but especially Brian. Half a year of tantrums and time-outs and refusing to eat or sleep.

Half a year of no one doing anything about this.

Brian had gone missing. No one knew how, but he wasn't there when we counted heads after recess. The teachers looked all over the building, and when that failed to yield results, police officers were summoned.

While the teachers were busy with that, I and my coworkers were given charge of the students. I had McKenzie and Tamarr with me, and we were reading a book in a shady corner of the school yard. After a while, I noticed that they had suddenly gotten unusually quiet. They weren't looking at me anymore. they were looking behind me.

I turned around, and there was Brian, walking down the middle of the street.

I called his name, but he didn't seem to hear me. He just kept walking.

I turned and called for a teacher, but none were in sight, and my coworkers couldn't seem to hear me either. They suddenly seemed unimaginably far away, as though through the wrong end of a telescope.

I didn't want to lose sight of Brian, but I knew I couldn't just leave Tamarr and McKenzie unsupervised... So I took their hands, one in each of mine, and brought them with me.

Brian wasn't more than 15 feet away from us. Barely yet around the corner into the alley way where the school dumpsters are kept. It should have been fine.

Surprise surprise... it wasn't.

When we turned the corner to catch up to Brian... He was there.

It was the first time I had seen Him. The first time I felt that hand reaching right down inside of me and ripping my chest open. Everything inside me turning numb and cold, like ice. Freezing me from the inside out. I couldn't move. I couldn't think. Everything about Him tore at me... it was the first time in my life that I'd felt that degree of pain. To live a life of taking in the feelings of others... and then take in His presence alone...

I don't know how long we stood like that for. All I know is that, at some point, I looked down at McKenzie, and she opened her mouth without speaking, and said in a voice that wasn't hers,

"Let go of my hand, Miss Valerie. I want to play with the Man."

I let go of her hand like it was suddenly white-hot.

She and Tamarr both stepped forward to join Brian. But Tamarr... god I remember this so vividly... as he was walking, he looked back at me. There were tears streaming down his face, he looked terrified, and his eyes were begging, pleading with me to please, please, do something! Help me! And at the same time, every experience I'd ever had, every feeling both my own and every emotion I've felt for someone else... it swelled up. Flooding over me until it felt like I was drowning in this enormous wave that was about to


I didn't think, I only reacted. I squeezed my eyes shut and clapped my hands over my ears. But right at that moment, it was like my eyes and ears had opened up for the first time in my life, and I saw what was truly happening. Too many arms with too many segments, and a gaping, grinning opening that cut itself across the white like a freshly-opened wound. Tendrils of darkness pulling them closer as they struggled, screamed, cried for their mommies and daddies to save them, for me to stop this--

they trusted me

It was only for a second, because I instantly uncovered my ears, and that action cut off their pleas for help like the strike of a guillotine.

I opened my eyes, and I was alone in the alleyway. All three of my children were gone.

I let them go. I left them there. And ever since, I've become increasingly aware that that is what I do.

I am much more calculating than I pretend to be. I keep secrets if I think it is in my best interest. All I ever do is take advantage of others.

I deliberately keep my best friend Michelle dependent on me so that I may continue to be protected by her.
I am a hopeless coward who needs protection to survive.

I have started to resent Nick for being gone for so long.

I haven't spoken to Kay in months and months because I can't stand knowing that she resents me.

My name is Valerie Simmons, and I kind of hate myself.

My name is Valerie Simmons, and I am responsible, both indirectly and directly, for 51 dead children and at least 6 dead adults, to this day. Possibly more.

I write shitty advice posts to pretend I actually give something back, and let me live with myself for one more day.

I seek out more and more stories of people trapped by this thing in an attempt to find people who need something from me, because I selfishly think that's enough. But I also don't follow up on the situations of the people I try to help because deep down, I don't even want to.

And worst of all, I don't even have the guts to allow myself the punishment I deserve.

Against all odds, against all sense... I am still afraid to die.

...I've never even had a particular fondness for children. I wanted to be a clinical therapist specializing in personality disorders. I only took the job at the school because it was convenient, it paid work study and gave me credit hours, and because Bashawn convinced me to do it. He was the one who actually cared about the kids. Not me.

And now, here I am, sitting here under the protection of my best friend, who by all rights should hate me for using her like this. She's the only reason I'm alive today, and I can't talk to her, I can't even look at her.

So I'll ask again:

What kind of person deliberately makes herself known to a creature she could have easily stayed invisible to for the rest of her life?

Well... what kind of person brings a loaded gun with a single shot to a deserted island?

I am running out of reasons to be useful.

I am running out of people to care about.

Worse of all, I am running out of fear.

What would you have me do?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012



No point in keeping it a secret, I suppose.

I was beaten.

I played the game just like Nightscream wanted me to, and I lost.

And I couldn't even tell you where reality stopped and the game began, because I was there from the beginning. Like I always am. Emotions just... go away for the duration. It's not until after the fact that I finally feel what I was supposed to have felt then.

When I escaped from Morningstar, the panic I should have felt didn't come until that night, when I was lying awake in bed.

When I escaped from Christian, I didn't tremble with impotent rage until after I was already an hour down the highway, practically across the border.

But with Nightscream... I got taken completely by surprise. I never planned for that eventuality because it never occurred to me that it was a possibility. We weren't seeking anything. We weren't a threat to anyone. All we were doing was surviving, living from place to place.

Some people carry grudges, I guess. And not even against me, as it turned out.

Nightscream is... different than I pictured him, I guess. Or her. I always imagined the person as male, given the way s/he writes, but it was actually impossible to tell one way or another. The voice was generic, so were the clothes, and I couldn't actually see the face - for someone who sounds as suave as they do in text, Nightscream actually dresses like your standard proxy lunatic. Mask, hood, etc. Maybe s/he enjoys the irony, I don't know.

Nightscream was with me the entire time. At first I yelled and flailed and cried like I knew s/he wanted me to, keeping my defenses up as high and as strong as they would go. I tried to look around, find anything that I could use. Sometimes s/he turned the music off and talked to me for a while. I talked back because I wanted Nightscream interested in me - interest would keep me alive - but also because I was interested in Nightscream. It's such a rare thing when a proxy will speak coherently, with full reasoning faculties, and even rarer that someone like that is even interested in conversing. And, frankly, I had a lot of questions.

I'm almost scared of how fascinating s/he was, honestly.

But then the torture would start up again, and more often than not, my guard had slipped during the interval, struggling to put it back up against the handicaps placed on me. Against the very rhythms of my body, which I was suddenly acutely aware of, and that fought against me too. I couldn't steady my breathing to steady my mind, I couldn't breathe at all, I

I'm not going to talk about what happened. I'm NOT going to talk about what happened.

But... whatever it is that I'm not talking about... should sound familiar to you by now. There's only so much of a pounding a mind can take before it shuts itself off. That was my final defense mechanism last time, although it was taken to its logical extreme during the months I was... out of it. This was closer to the weeks just before I left home. Only it was still slightly different, because this time I had a target to focus the remainder of my thoughts on. That's something that happens automatically too, honestly, though I don't know why. I don't know why, when my own self is all but erased - even if the erasure is temporary, or even if it's voluntary - I sort of... fall into someone else.

I looked for an advantage. Anything. But Nightscream is nothing if not open and secure with his/her identity... and I guess I kind of respect him/her for that. But all those little weaknesses that I would normally exploit - Morningstar's impulsiveness, Christian's disconnectedness, Bashawn's generosity Michelle's obedience Brian's innocence - none of that existed in Nightscream. So... I brought to bear the one thing I thought maybe would work: Nightscream's manipulativeness.

So the next time s/he put his/her little game on pause and we started to talk... I asked him/her more about his/her life as a proxy. I asked about the benefits of the job - the security, the travel, the immunity from the law. I asked about the sense of absolute contentment s/he goes to sleep with every night.

I indicated, slowly and carefully, that maybe joining Him wouldn't be such a bad thing.

I knew Nightscream wouldn't be able to pass it up. I mean... bar be it for me to abuse my title, but a fact is a fact - when a Sage goes down, community morale goes through the floor. This is something that Nightscream very much wants, especially after how long s/he's mocked me for being the so-called Hope Bearer.

It wasn't hard. Fighting exhaustion, keeping my head on straight enough to continue talking, that was hard. But we actually wound up sincerely agreeing on a lot of points.

We both know that nobody does anything they don't want to do.

We both know that lying is often the kinder option, even though truth is desperately necessary.

And above all... we both know full-well how to be self-serving, manipulative pricks.

When Michelle came for me, like everyone knew she would, there was this huge commotion outside. Nightscream paused in our conversation to check it out. The music had already been off for a good while. When I got up and followed, s/he didn't stop me, like I knew s/he wouldn't. I was shaking, soaked, barely able to stand, and merely a few kind words away from agreeing with absolutely everything Nightscream said. It was a virtual impossibility at that point that s/he would stop me from coming along.

Just outside the doors, in the lobby, we saw them: Michelle trying to get in, and a man in a black coat trying to stop her.

I saw Nightscream grin. S/he had told me that Michelle was his/her real target. Not for any business-related reason, but just because Morningstar had asked him/her to.

Morningstar, whom Michelle believed she was fighting just outside the door. I could hear them talking, hear her call him "Twinkle", hear him chuckle at her in response. It might have sounded affectionate if they weren't both carrying knives.

Nightscream moved forward. I knew what s/he was going to do - s/he was going after Michelle - and I reacted. But... fuck, s/he knew I was going to do that. The move was bait, just like I was bait. S/he whipped me around, shoved my bad arm up backwards, whipped out a knife to my throat, and there was nothing I could do about it after a day and a half treading water with no food and no sleep and concentrating so hard on not breaking I might burst.

But I would be an even bigger idiot than I seemed to be if I hadn't expected Nightscream to see through me. If I couldn't peg a regular mental weakness on him/her, then there was no way s/he'd fall for something as transparent as a fake defection. I mean, I hoped s/he might, but I sort of knew s/he wouldn't.

So I put someone else's weakness to use instead: I yelled for Michelle to save me.

That was always the plan, the point is always to keep her focused, pointed in... in the most constructive direction, if not always the right one. She thought she was fighting Morningstar, or maybe Morningstar's ghost, but I could see it was clearly someone else. The only one who couldn't was her. So I had to get her away from him, away from his voice in her head, away from the increasingly large possibility that she'd do something we'd all regret.

And it worked, like I knew it would. As soon as Michelle heard my voice, as soon as she saw me being held at knifepoint, she was up in an instant, all her attention focused on getting me out of danger. That was where I wanted her attention to be. She ran towards us, knife in hand, eyes clearer than I've seen them in weeks...

And then the fake Morningstar got up. And he was faster. And he placed himself between Michelle and her only goal. 

Just... it's wrong. It's so wrong, what happened. And it's probably my fault.

The illusion faded once the deed was done, and Michelle knew instantly that she had made a mistake. Her mind... just... continuous record-scratches, screeching, whynowhynononono

I heard Nightscream chuckling in my ear.

It was all I could do to keep from following that dark spiral. I was barely keeping my own darkness at bay, full of ice and silence and horribly fulfilled promises.

Because there was something else I had sensed in Nightscream. Something damp and ragged and harsh, deep in his lungs. Nightscream was sick. S/he coughed a significant amount during my captivity, and tried to play it off as a cold, but I remembered. I could taste the spark of nervousness each time s/he cleared his/her throat. I knew there was more to it than that.

I reached in. I pulled. Fluid where there shouldn't be fluid sloshing around as the trachea contracted, gag reflex tickled just a little bit, stomach acid burning and choking further, and, oh look! Were those bloody tears and gashes in the tubes of the bronchial tree I saw?

Oh yes, I could do it. I could manipulate any which way I chose, for good or for ill. I was desperate. I was angry. I was literally and necessarily out of my own mind.

Nightscream staggered, and s/he wasn't laughing anymore. I tried to pull free, and got shallowly slashed a few times, but s/he was still stronger than me, and I was suddenly on the ground with Nightscream pulling a gun on me. Bastard knew where the pain was coming from, didn't take a genius to figure it out. But I pulled harder, and it wasn't long before s/he was on the ground with me, wheezing and groaning and hacking up blood.

And then I was suddenly on my feet, Michelle pulling me away. Focused again, as long as I was there. Unlike me - that took all of what little energy I had left, maybe more. I did hear gunshots. One of them went through Michelle's bad arm, we realized later, but but it missed the bone, so it really didn't do much more damage than she's already done to herself. Keep moving, through the doors, and we were out.

Michelle had our car. Neither of us were in any real shape to drive, but she wound up insisting on driving anyway, which I guess was okay.

No one followed us.

I don't think anyone could follow us.

I know what Nightscream wanted from me.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Sword Called Need

I'm not sure how many of you know what it's like to need to do something.

Surely some of you do though, right? The crushing guilt for things that you objectively know weren't your fault but that you'll never forgive yourself for? The absolute surety, down to your bones, that the guilt will lessen someday if you can just... do enough? Help enough? Be good enough?

It never occurs to you to wonder exactly what "enough" is, does it? Even if you do eventually realize... that it will never be enough... it really makes no difference in the end. Addiction is a powerful thing.

An imaginary crime will only ever have an imaginary penalty. That's the truth.

When I left off before, back here, my update-writing was interrupted by a slew of really bizarre comments on Michelle's blog. At first we were baffled - I mean, everybody gets trolls, but this guy was oddly persistent and specific. And... disjointed? It was clearly a cry for help, in any case, so once the guy stopped responding, Michelle and I tried to figure out who it might be. Didn't take long, really. There's only so many places for someone to insist that Michelle "come back" to. Not to mention the things that were talked about on the posts they were on, and... fuck, there's a billion and a half ways to rationalize the "how", and we beat every last one of them into the ground on the drive up there, heedless of their logical possibility. The point is, we went back to the location of Steven's treehouse.

The point is, Christian was still there.

Somehow, he got stuck there when Michelle managed to ditch him all those months ago.

She told me when she first told me the story that there was something very wrong with the place. At first I thought it was maybe residual memory of the story Corey explained to us - how she was found in that spot when she was little, covered head to toe in her own blood but without a scratch on her to explain it. When we got there, though... clearly it was something more than that.

Not for the first time, I wish Nick was around. I did my best, but I'm still not sure what it was I was seeing. My best guess is... it had something to do with Michelle's presence. There was some sort of resonance involved that... moved reality around a bit? Essentially, the area was stuck in a sort of mobius half-twist, completely cut off from everything that was unlike itself. Michelle was something that counted as "like itself", apparently. Something to do with what happened to her? No idea. But if Christian's constant rambling about her blood was any indication...

There was something even more wrong with Christian. Maybe I can't always tell what's going on with the universe the way Nick can, but my empathy has always been incessantly, agonizingly clear. Putting aside the impossible fact that he had somehow survived there for four months without food or water, there was something inside him that had absolutely snapped. Yeah, four months is a long time to be continually dying of starvation/dehydration/exposure, but his mind... felt like he had been sitting there for decades. Centuries. Like he had gone through absolutely every thought, sensation, and memory his brain had ever stored, and just kept doing that over and over again until the very foundation of his personality started breaking down.

And everything was broken down.

At the end of it, I tried to help him. I couldn't take the sensation anymore - watching this burned-out shell of a man the school with a distorted mask of a grin Bashawn was more than I could bear. Never mind the torture he put Michelle through, never mind that he once tried to shoot me. I was starting to hear music again, and I needed to make it stop.

I didn't care whether my attempt would heal him or kill him, either (it's always one of those two, isn't it?). Nobody does anything they don't want to do, and nobody does anything for the right reasons. Altruism doesn't exist.

At some level, I think Christian knew that.

As soon as I got near him, he pulled a knife out of nowhere and stabbed at my heart. I managed to twist myself in time so it hit me in the right shoulder. He managed to slash at me a bit more before Michelle pulled him off of me. She pinned him, and threatened him... and I realized a split second later that it wasn't Christian's presence that was causing me to hear music.

He was there. The monster. The one who took my children from me. Who made me abandon my friends. Who murdered a good man for no reason other than that he helped me. I can distract myself all I want. I keep singing to the void in a voice that's not mine.

I started screaming. Eventually the scream formed itself into Michelle's name, but really, I just needed to drown out the sound. I screamed her name over and over and over and over and then at some point my eyesight started to clear somehow and I could see her standing up. Facing Him. Wearing an expression I never, ever, ever want to see on her face again.

I tried to get up. My hand found a sizable dry stick on the ground.

Random acts of nature - little things like a flickering light bulb - can bring your mind back to reality in a pinch. But sometimes you need to make your own miracles.

I took the stick and snapped it over my knee. The loud crack it made resounded all through the construction site like the sonic boom of a bullet.

Michelle blinked.

I grabbed her hand. And we were running.


I've been avoiding Drew all week. Thank god he works daytime hours (as a lowly cashier, I might add; you'd think all his "government contacts" would get him a better position or something) and I'm not forced to be civil at him all goddamn day.  Likewise, however... Michelle has been avoiding me.

Well, not avoiding, per se. But I'm getting sick of how she never tells me the truth when I ask her how her arm is feeling.

Every few days, she "excuses" herself to the bathroom. She thinks I don't know when she's bullshitting me, but she's wrong. The fact that she only wears her big, pocket-filled coat to an indoor bathroom once out of every 5 times is easily the biggest tipoff.

Actually, that's a lie. The biggest tipoff is the waves of detached pain that come from said bathroom - or wherever she's gone to that day - when she does this.

This afternoon, after a particularly aggravating argument with Drew that same morning, I decided I had had enough of everyone's bullshit. As soon as I noticed it was one of those times, I went to the bathroom and knocked on the door.


"One minute," is the only reply I got. But it definitely sounded strained.

"Michelle, what are you doing? Please, just be honest with me."

I heard a low curse from inside the door, followed by a stuttering, "Nothing. J-Just... cleaning up.

I leaned my head against the door, somewhere between exasperated and exhausted. "Michelle, stop this. You think I can't tell what you're doing in there? You think I can't feel that? Just... open the door. If it's hurting you that badly, then let me have a look, please."

"I'm just changing the bandages, Val. You know h-how my arm gets..."

"Open the door."

"Val, I'll be done soon, just give me five-"

"Do as I say and open the door. Now."

...I honestly don't know what came over me when I said that. But the next thing I heard was the snatch of the lock being turned... and there she was. Clutching her infected arm in a towel that was soaked and all but dripping in her own blood.

"...Shit," was about the only thing I could say, so I said it. And then I started down the hall toward the living room where we had left our bags. "Come with me," I said.

Michelle gave me a pained look. "Val, you don't need--"

"Come here," I said again, in that same tone of voice. She came. In hindsight, I feel sick.

I dug out one of our packs of medical supplies and sat Michelle down in front of me, working around my own rapidly healing shoulder and hating that I couldn't risk even trying to heal her. I took her injured arm and carefully unwrapped it. It was still furiously red and emanating the heat of infection. Still oozing disgusting yellow and black pus from all those not-quite-healed-and-probably-never-going-to-heal-at-this-point burn marks from the barn. But the long, deep knife-marks cutting through it, thankfully cutting across and not lengthwise? Those were new.

Actually, only some of them were new, freshly bleeding. Others were clearly older, made days or even weeks ago. Those were clotted, but still open. Not healing, just there.

I asked her what the fuck she thought she was doing.

Instead of answering, she just pulled apart the lips of one of the cuts with her opposite hand. Inside, I could see something long and thin and white and... and moving. Just twitching every so often in response to the air.

"They keep growing back," she said softly, demurely refusing to look me in the eye. "More of them each time. I have to cut them out, or..."


Neither of us needed the "or" explained. I still have nightmares of agonized, unending screaming in my head.

"Michelle, you can't do this to yourself. Cuts like this are how people commit suicide via blood loss."

"If I leave them in," she said in a stronger tone, raising her head, "then I might as well cut off the entire fucking arm and get it over with."

She looked at me that time.

So I nodded.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Two People

There are three categories of bad people in this world. The first is thankfully the most common - people who, on a sliding scale, feel some level of regret for their actions. Sometimes they can sleep at night, sometimes not. It depends on how long they've been at the job of harming others for a living. Their reasons for doing what they do are as varied and many as there are people, but they all agree that whatever those reasons are, they justify what they do enough to let them continue doing it.

The second category is at the opposite end of the spectrum. These are the people who are truly twisted in mind and soul, whose only reason for doing what they do is because they enjoy it. Other people do not qualify as people to them; they are simply numbers, targets, playthings. There is literally a difference in brain function in these people, one that warps their entire worldview. Remorse is not a word that exists, because what they do, they do for fun.

And then, somewhere between the first two categories, there is a third category - that rare breed that has neither the excuse of circumstance nor the disease of a twisted mind. They don't do bad things because they feel like they're forced into it. They don't do bad things because their worldview is warped enough for them to actually enjoy it. They feel remorse and regret sometimes, and they feel empathy for others, often strong empathy. But rather than letting these things inhibit negative impulses, they put them to use; they strive to understand their victims, and let their victims attempt to understand them, in order to better manipulate them, and make them easier targets in the end.

They don't have a concrete reason for it, and yet they still do it. That puts their actions firmly within the realm of personal choice. They choose to do the things they do for reasons that are never presented as excuses. They understand that their actions are always their own, and they choose to harm rather than help - not for any particular reason, but because that is who they are.

That is why, even with all the forgiveness I can hold, even though hatred is as far removed from my nature as flying... that is why I will always despise anyone who falls into that third category, once he or she is positively identified as such.

In my life, I have met two such individuals.

One of them was Redlight.

The other is a boy in my year named Andrew Svetski.

(And yes, there's you're goddamn link, Drew. You wanna be part of this "writing group"? Be my fucking guest.)

We met in high school. It was a truly stunning coincidence, actually - I had accidentally left a favorite book of mine under my desk in Spanish class. He happened to have a class in the same room directly after mine, happened to sit in the same seat as me, happened to notice my book on the floor, and started reading it. I probably never would have seen that book again if I hadn't missed my bus that day, and caught him reading it by the school's front door after missing his bus.

We started loaning books to each other, and quickly became friends. Best friends, actually - we hung out together literally every day. It's solely because of Andrew that I wasn't completely alienated and friendless during high school, the way I was for the rest of my life previously. He introduced me to people who became more of my best friends, my core circle. They in turn introduced me to the hobbies and skills that I would cultivate for the rest of my life, and those interests and experiences led me to make even more new friends. There is literally no one I'm close to today whose origins can't be traced back to one Andrew Svetski, not even Michelle.

Not even Nick and Kay.

And... that's why I defended him for so long, when he started changing. Out of loyalty and gratefulness for everything he'd done for me.

I'd say the changes started when we got to college, but in my heart I know that's not true. The signs were there before then, some of them even as early as our second meeting. He lied constantly. I'd say compulsively, except that he always kept his stories straight. I don't know how a person can live while lying constantly and consistently, but he did it. Still does, most likely. Not that I can tell for sure, because he was always good at keeping me in the dark about stuff.

But his lies started getting more and more outrageous. He perfected the art of bullshitting - always pretending to be an expert, or at least knowledgeable, about things he knew nothing about in order to make himself seem cooler. Buying and carrying large knives and showing them off at every opportunity because he was insecure about the size of his dick or some other bullshit reason. He systematically dated his way through every female in our circle of friends because he couldn't stand being single - having a chick hanging off your arm is a badge of honor, apparently. He started hanging out with all the wrong people and getting into all the wrong habits.

He told us that his mother had stolen his stimulus check and spent it on herself. She had, of course, done no such thing. It's not even a thing that's possible to do. Drew just wanted sympathy.

He started wearing shades indoors because he thought no one could see him staring at girls' boobs and asses with them on. He was wrong. 

He and our mutual friend Danielle got to sparring with staves one day. She had no experience, but after a few minutes she was winning. So Drew, suddenly furious that a girl was beating him, stopped sparring and started fighting. He nearly broke Danielle's wrist.

He got expelled from college on grounds of sexual harassment.

All our friends stopped talking to him. All of them told me to do the same. I didn't. I defended him, in the name of our old friendship, because I was still loyal for reasons that didn't exist anymore. He promised me he would try to change.

And then, not even a week later, he asked his best friend's fiance to send him nude pictures of herself.

That was the last straw. I deleted all his contact info after that and never spoke to him again.

He's a liar. He's a liar and a manipulator and a user, and the only thing he cares about others is how well he can make them dance in order to puff up his own ego. He knew I was his last chance. He promised me he would do better, but then he didn't even try. He never even fucking intended to try because he was using me as an in to the rest of our friends! He never once gave a damn about me. All along I was nothing but a convenient ear to give him the adoration he craved, but couldn't bring himself to shift his ass and do something to deserve.

And this is what crosses the line. This is what makes me hate him, when I can barely bring myself to genuinely dislike anybody. I've gotten angry. I've wished people would act differently. But I've never actually hated anyone before him. And that fact alone made me feel so betrayed, because I felt like he had taken something away from me, something so, so important...

On the day I finally caught up to him about it... I wanted closure. He had been such a big part of my life for so long... but when we spoke, he simply did not care. He was impassive, apathetic. Not even cold, just... nothing. My words, my feelings, meant nothing to him. His actions meant nothing to him. 

Now, after nearly 5 years of silence, I had almost forgotten he ever existed.

Now, after nearly 5 years of of getting over what a horrible person it took me so long to realize he was, suddenly I was forced into meeting him once again, and all the hate came flaring back.

The exact same thing happened. I was angry, and he didn't care. At least before, when he lied to me about all the ridiculous stories he made up, at least I knew he still gave a damn about what I thought of him (even though he professed to not care what others thought of him, the fucking self-deluding liar). Now... fuck, I can't even look at him. He's sitting across the room from me as we speak, watching an Underworld movie like there is no goddamn elephant in the room, but I can still feel him there, and it's like he's empty inside.

...When I came here, I wanted to punch him. Probably would have, if my dominant hand wasn't in a makeshift sling. I settled for trying to kick him in the shins, which he sidestepped easily.

If I wanted him to show regret, I was deluding myself. He didn't even remember everything that had happened, only that I stopped talking to him for some reason that "had something to do with [his best friend]'s girlfriend, or something?"

...I'm rambling like crazy, and even that can't express the depth of...

Alright, just... fuck this. Fuck this. I'm ranted out, I genuinely don't feel like dealing with this right now.

Especially considering I have a lot of more current issues to worry about? Fuck all of those issues too, but I can't exactly get away from those. My right arm, shoulder, and most of my upper torso are all aching, though not as much as they would be without painkillers. I wish I had thought to take some of my mom's really good drugs before I left home, but I'm making due with extra-strength ibuprofen, plus a hit of tylenol if that's not enough (I can take both because they metabolize in different places, haha). My left knee hurts too, but I'm not sure when that happened. I guess I sort of wrenched it? It's hard to feel in comparison to my shoulder, anyway. Who knew a single stab would hurt such a broad area?

Which is actually why I'm putting up with Drew in the first place right now. I'm sure you're all wondering why I'm even in the same zip code as such an enormous douchebag. Well, what you don't know, and what Andrew still doesn't know and won't know until he reads this, is that bribing our way across the border and back took a heavier hit on my funds than I anticipated. Especially considering our ride jacked up the price of a return ticket without telling us. Couldn't get out of it either - Michelle can be intimidating when she wants to, but the guy was huge, and neither of us were in much condition to pick a fight at that point. It was an unbelievably huge mistake on my part and I feel like a fucking imbecile, but in my defense, I've never done anything that illegal before. So fml.

Long story short, we're going to have to be much more careful with our resources from now on. Maybe pick up short-term odd jobs where we can. But right now, if someone's willing to offer us a bed for a few nights, we're not exactly in a position to turn them down. Not to mention that Michelle and I are both still pretty out of it. As many of you have probably already read, it was a hell of a field trip, with very little turnout. I... How do I even begin to explain what happened?

...Fuck, I think I used up all my catharsis ranting about Drew. >_>

Tomorrow. I'll try to write what happened tomorrow.

And then I'll be able to leave this stupid place.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Yeah. We're both alive. Mostly. Talk about it some other time. Not now.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The So-Called "Devil Book"

Alrighty, I officially have executive permission to post my take on everything we found out. You can read the full story from Michelle. As for me, I have more than a few questions.

First of all, Redlight. What the hell was he doing with Steven's photos? According to the journal, all the photos Steven and Robert took vanished shortly after Steven attempted to show them to the police. Under any other circumstances, I'd blame the government, but then how did Redlight get them? Did he steal them from whoever took them from Steven? Did he steal them from Steven himself? Was it just some pointless series of coincidences that means absolutely jack shit?

He said he remembered her. He said that. I can't see any reason why he would have lied either - it was never his style, not to mention I'm not sure he was even capable of it that night. Given the apparent gaps in Michelle's memory, this is incredibly worrying.

Redlight had the photos. And then he just gave them to us, like some kind of dare. But... Redlight's dead. If he had some kind of plan attached, it's moot point now. 

Doesn't stop me from wondering/worrying what it might have been though.

Then there's this Robert guy. Corey clearly didn't trust him, and it's not hard to see why. Even Steven was able to see how untrustworthy he was by the end, although according to the second-to-last journal entry that mentions Robert, it took him threatening Michelle's life before Steven would get his act together and give Robert the boot. What is the final entry concerning Robert, you ask? It is the final entry of the journal, period.

NOTICE: I was in the middle of writing this post when several things happened. As a result of these things happening, Michelle and I are about to do something very, very stupid. No, we are not being chased. Yet. But we will be off the grid for a while. Rest assured that we are taking every precaution short of not doing this incredibly stupid thing. If we're wrong - and I hope to god we're wrong - we shouldn't be gone longer than a couple of days.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Aaaand once again my sleep schedule is fucked to all hell. That didn't take long.

Sorry for the long absence. We're alright for now. Got to Corey's safely, found out a bunch of stuff, and moved on. Neither of us thought it was safe to stay with him for too long, especially with all the information he just gave us. Michelle's been working on the official write-up, since it's her brother.

'Course, said write-up had to go on hiatus for a while, since we wound up driving all over every-fucking-where over the last 50-something hours. Non-stop. We even hopped a bus at one point, got on a train, then took another bus back to where we left my car just so we could get some sleep.

Michelle woke me up a little past midnight about 3 nights ago. She said we had to leave immediately. I didn't question her, I just got right up, packed what few things I had bothered to unpack that night, and followed her silently out the door. She got into the driver's seat of my car and we were off.

Now, according to Michelle, the late Morningstar, and several others, proxies can sort of instantly know when other proxies are around, or when their boss is nearby. From Michelle's description of the feeling, I'd liken it to the experience of remembering forwards instead of backwards, or a type of deja'vu (and yes, such a thing is entirely legitimate, but I won't bother explaining how it works except to say that there's a reason we call it re-member-ing). As I suspected when she first woke me up, Michelle had been experiencing that feeling again. She has taken advantage of this several times in our travels in order to keep us out of trouble, but this was a good deal stronger than anything from before. She couldn't even identify what it was we were running from, only that it was really fucking close behind us. It also apparently changed positions at random intervals, if Michelle's near-constant changing of directions is anything to go by.

All I could do was try to keep her somewhat relaxed and not let her crash us into a tree or something by accident. Eventually we figured out it had to be some kind of illusion, since the feeling never got any further away no matter how fast or slow Michelle drove. It was at that point that we hopped the aforementioned bus-train-bus, because even in knowing/maybe suspecting that, Michelle didn't want us to stop moving, and I was inclined to agree with her.

So now we're in this new place. Unnamed for security, naturally. Michelle has since calmed down, and we just got here, so we should be able to rest and recuperate for at least a couple days, which means we finally have time to sit down and write up everything we found out. I swear, it is really freaking bizarre how little down time you get when you're traveling. Guess I shouldn't be surprised.

One bit of good news, at least: whatever it is we're doing seems to be working - nobody's found us. No proxies, no monsters, no nightmares (other than what could be considered normal), even that Anon asshole from a while back seems to have vanished. Haven't heard from him/her since... September, I think.

...Godfuck, September. I have been out of it for too damn long.

Expect some new information soon. If not, we're probably dead in a ditch somewhere.


...I fucking hate morbid humor.

Monday, January 16, 2012

It's Been A While

It's cold. It is really really freaking cold. But I have a fuzzy blue blanket as a Christmas present from my best friend, so I think I can deal. ^_^

I think I'm just about up to speed with everything. Took a long time, but with Michelle's arm getting worse and worse, I'm usually the one driving. Between that and the journals, there's not a lot of opportunity to sit down and read much of anything else, let alone something that requires an unsecured wi-fi connection. It should be easier now though.

Speaking of Michelle's arm, I sort of feel obligated to give an update on that front, since she's obviously not going to. She won't even show it to me unless I flat-out order her too, but even when it's out of sight, the pain it gives her isn't at all hard to pick up on, especially for me. I honestly don't know what to do if it keeps degenerating like this. And I don't dare try to heal it or mess with it in any way, not after what happened the last time I tried something like that. I bought some antiparacitics, but again, I'm hesitant to use them for the exact same reasons.

She's also been falling into standard paranoia symptoms, not that I blame her after being alone and in enforced silence for so long. And after everything that happened during that timeframe. But that's a topic that was beaten under the rug even before I took my little "vacation"; no need to start it up again now. It's still worrying.

...I can tolerate having the TVs in hotel rooms on now, although normal shows are harder to listen to than, say, a newscast. It's better in small doses though, or else... bad things happen. It's so easy to be thrown back there if I don't make a continuous conscious effort to stay functional. Not that the pressure's still there, of course; that's broken and gone. Just normal, everyday PTSD for me... hehehe...

Fuck, I guess we all have issues. Be hard not to at this point.

I still usually try to walk or stand behind her though. One less thing for her to worry about.


So. Steven's journal. Michelle went through quite a lot to get her hands on it. We both did, really; it's the reason we wound up splitting up, it's the reason everything in the past four months happened, because it absolutely could not be lost. At first we thought it was only important to finding out what happened with Michelle's family and with her brother fourteen years ago, but after reading it a few times... I dunno, something about it is making me nervous.

At first glance it's really nothing unusual, at least in terms of... well, all this. Near as we can tell from the rather long rant at the beginning, Steven was never infected in any way; he was just a normal target child, albeit one on the older end of the spectrum - he was about 13 when his haunting began. He also had a surprisingly long haunting, the final entry ending over 3 years after the date he records as his first encounter.

No, rather than the events of the narrative, at least early on, what's far more interesting to me is the people involved. He mentions both Michelle and Corey several times - Corey as an uninformed ally, and Michelle as an innocent that Steven was worried about infecting. The pieces about Michelle only make up the very end, though. Far more often, Steven talks about a guy named Robert.

Now, Corey mentioned Robert when we spoke with him too. He was, according to the journal, another victim whom Steven cooperated with to set traps for the Slender Man and assemble photographic proof for presentation to the police. This was naturally a doomed endeavor from the start, and Steven says his copies of the photos vanished only a few days after the local police rejected his story as fantasy... And yet, Michelle and I have the photos - some of Steven, some clearly taken by Steven - in our possession. The photos Redlight offered me as payment for my healing attempt, which Michelle snagged out of his shredded hoodie pocket the next day. All of them feature Slenderman in some way.

Even more interestingly, Robert might not have been the best of people to hang out with. He egged Steven on for some of their more dangerous stunts (really, the most noteworthy thing about Steven's haunting is how long it lasted, if he regularly pulled shit like this), but also suggested more than once to use a child as bait to lure the monster out - once with a neighborhood kid, and once with Michelle herself. Steven stopped associating with Robert after that second one. But the strange thing here is, Michelle was only 8 years old at the time. She should be able to remember Robert, or at least the mention of someone Steven spent his last few years hanging out with. But she can't.

I can think of a couple of reasons why she wouldn't remember. She wasn't able to see the specter her family knew as "George" as it really was, after all; it wasn't until she became fully haunted that she remembered George was nothing less than Slendy Himself. But if she has those repressed memories back, you'd think she'd have the others back too. Unless Steven is the one with the faulty memory, which is definitely possible.

So... Since Michelle isn't a reliable witness, we're paying another visit to Corey to try and confirm some of what's written in there. He's probably moved again by now, but he was thoughtful enough to email us a forwarding address this time.

Whatever else we find, I'm almost certain about one thing: whatever that so-called "Devil Book" actually was, I don't think it was burned. I think the book actually belonged to Robert.