Thursday, 29 December 2011
Sunday, 25 December 2011
We're in Roland's car. He's laid out in the back, his midsection covered in bandages and his arm...
...I have no idea what I'm going to do with his arm. He needs a doctor, but we're never staying still enough to risk another hospital scene again.
I'm never saying still again.
I'm never trusting anywhere again.
We spent our Christmas driving. He hasn't woken up.
Saturday, 24 December 2011
"... In other news, we are getting reports of a massive fire in Avondale, Missouri. It seems that most of the city has been destroyed in the middle of a major parade. No word yet on the origins of the explosion or explosions..."
"...more now on the fire in Avondale, we can confirm that the fire is currently being fought, and rescue teams are at the scene from Kansas City, but have been unable to locate any survivors...I'm sorry, that's any bodies...what? David, can be get a check on that?..."
"...More information from the Avondale fire, it seems that, in spite of most of the town centre being in flames, including the floats and props for the parade, there's no-one in the town. No bodies, no survivors. If any survivors are listening, please contact emergency services to let us know that you're safe. The number is..."
"And once again, more reports of the Avondale fire, and you're going to want to send the children out of the room for this one. After fighting the blaze engulfing the city hall, firefighters have foung the entire building piled high with what looks like the bodies of the townsfolk. Estimates are counting in the hundreds. And...(oh my god)...it appears that their limbs have all been massively stretched. Every single one of them. More details as it unfolds."
Friday, 23 December 2011
Thursday, 22 December 2011
I'm going with Natalie. She insisted that I take her, and I wasn't exactly unwilling. In my old life, a girl like her would never even look at me, but she...I dunno, sometimes, I feel like she genuinely likes me. It feels good. Accepting. And I'm hoping I'm past the whole "liking the idea of her, not her" part in that I've seen her covered in blood, we've travelled with one another for months, we've had a fistfight twice, and I'm pretty sure she's seen me pooping. I've always been terrible at telling whether someone likes me - to be honest, for a long time, I had the social ability of a sponge - but she's been fawned over by the prettiest preppy/jock types semi-urban Missouri has to offer, and she still gives me a hell of a vibe.
I read once that attraction is about demonstration of value. I hope it's not true - it certainly takes the sweetness out of the whole thing - but she's seen me fight for my life and not come out the loser, she's seen me trek all day without having to take a break, and, while I'm still kinda awkward, I'm more confident, assertive...I'm not such a bad specimen. How many Hollister model quarterbacks can run across entire countries in fear for months on end, and survive to tell the tale? I mean, I am entirely aware that this is probably wishful thinking. But maybe, just maybe, this is somewhere I can live. A nice town, an amazing, fun, intelligent, gorgeous girlfriend, maybe some pocket money from Roland until I can get a job...
Is it possible to have the Slender Man come after you and still, one day, have it all? After running for so long, facing death and terror so many times? Can we still come off okay?
That was a rhetorical question. PLEASE don't feel the need to answer it.
Monday, 19 December 2011
I had two really weird conversations today. I appreciate that this used to be a fairly standard slenderblog, but that chapter of my life is over, and so fuck it, this is a personal blog now.
The first one was with Natalie. We were wandering down the main road, where they're setting up for the parade - it's in a few days, on the evening of the 22nd, for the winter solstice. There's banners between the buildings, shops taking in stock. It's a good few days away, but already the hotels are pretty full. Fiona's having to serve to people she doesn't already know for the first time in her life - she gets incredibly nervous. On the night, she'll be working in her mask - she's decorated it by embroidering blue flowers onto it. Maybe it'll help, hiding behind something. She told me she thought so.
Even without the very good reason to stay here that the five of us have
Christ, I almost wrote seven there.
Even without it, I'd stay for Fiona. She looks so incredibly cute when she laughs, and she holds my hand, and it feels so good when she does. Having someone in my life who isn't tied to me by a certain long-limbed necessity for the first time in a while is weird. I told her about the Slender Man incident, but only like some scary story, like an urban legend passed around bonfires deep in the woods. Since then, I've even had a few others try and tell me the story again, and I know Simon and Natalie have too. Word gets around fast here.
So Natalie and I are walking down the road, looking at the store owners festooning their shops with decorations, and Natalie says "If you could have anywhere else be the one place we're safe, for whatever reason, where would it be?"
I thought about home. I thought about my family, who I know are still scared for me at home, and about my friends, and I thought about Nona, and whether I could live with being fine while she had died, at home surrounded by my loved ones while hers still mourned. I don't think I could. Here's the only place I've been to in months that has had anything for me. I shook my head, and Natalie smiled.
"My brother was killed by the Slender Man. My mother started drinking, and hasn't stopped. I don't want to go back there."
The second was with Shannon. We were talking about the citizenship - Roland's been talking with his guys - and I made a joke about how she was basically the mum of the group. She fell very quiet.
I asked what was wrong.
It was never Richard and her who were the original targets.
A long hospital corridor, and at one side, through a door, a tall, misshapen man standing over a crib, looking down at a new born baby, sound asleep.
One of the few memories she has of her child. Too much exposure to the Slender Man has damaged her mind enough to get rid of most of them. I've only seen her with the headaches once, but they were worse than any I've ever seen. She's been doing this too long. She's lost more than any of us.
Still, the festivities are coming up, and we're hoping to get out and about for them.
Though the masks are still creeping me out. Old habits die hard, I guess.
Sunday, 11 December 2011
Now, the church is fully operational and regularly used. The Derosier residence is pretty much boarded up. No-one's been in there since Caleb Derosier, the last head of the curch, was arrested back in 1987, following the slenderization of his wife and daughter.
This said, we read an interesting tidbit in an old journal - that even before that, they'd already boarded up the basement, supposedly where the old, mad Lucas Derosier was locked away.
Oh come on. We couldn't not break in.
So we broke in.
At 3:30, we crept over. It was the night before church, so everyone was in bed early to be up for service. The church is pretty well away from the residential part of town, so we didn't disturb anyone as we went. Most of the old boards had rotted away from the nails holding them in place and we just lifted them off. Just enough to be able to crawl in. We'd pulled out the old maglites for the first time in a couple of months, and they lit up the inside of the old house like floodlights. As Natalie, Shannon, Rachel and I all got through, we looked around. The room still had the family's mess out after almost twenty-five years, like ruins preserved under a magma flow. Old magazines and books, a sturdy mahogany dinner table, a sizable kitchen. This would have been a nice house, at the time, but now everything was grimy and covered in dust. It smelt wet and dank, like old sodden rot. The larder in that kitchen was probably full of the results of twenty five years of decomposition. The family died here. This isn't a home, I told myself.
My torch found the stairs - one going to the first floor, one going down to the basement. We moved over to it quickly and headed down the stairs, but as I headed down I thought I caught a glimpse of crusted-over brown crimson on the floorboards, illuminated in the torchlight.
I flash back to that night in the hospital, and all the blood and sickness and horror and death and
I feel sick to my stomach.
There's two doors in the basement. One is open, and appears to be a boiler room. The other has great thick planks of wood across the door frame, that once would have barred entry. But, like the boards outside, they had decomposed to the point where they could be pulled off very easily.
Just a bedroom. Almost entirely bare. An empty wardrobe and chest of drawers. A bed frame with no mattress. The book made him seem like some mad prophet, some wizard. I half expected some massive charm to be scratched out on the floor, but nothing.
Another dead end.
What is it that makes this town so different?
Thursday, 8 December 2011
Back to the library, I guess. If Buffy taught us one thing, it's that libraries are how you deal with any supernatural threats.
Wednesday, 7 December 2011
Monday, 28 November 2011
It seems like we're being left alone. I mean, as crazy as that sounds, it seems like we're not being chased anymore. We've been here longer than we've been able to stay anywhere else. We're getting to know the locals, we're growing comfortable in the landscape.
If it really is safe here, I can sincerely see us living here. Certainly, we've started making friends locally. Natalie's tried hard to integrate the three of us young 'uns with some of the local popular clique - she's pretty, and confident, and she blends in just fine. By comparison, she's had a hard time getting Peter to do anything social. He's awkward, aloof, and apparently uninterested in meeting new people, generally clinging to Natalie. She actually called him out on this at one point, and he backed off, but then as soon as her new friends were gone she started freaking out that he was blanking her. I guess he's not great with social nuance.
Separately to that, I've made a friend of my own, Fiona. She works at the diner we've been going to quite a bit - trashy food, but tasty - and we've been hanging out on our own. She's very sweet, and she makes me laugh. She's gotten herself a part in the parade on the Winter Solstice event; even though she considers it to be incredibly tasteless, it's paying very well. She's even making one of those meditation hoods, which she's been instructed to wear throughout the festivities. Made from a pillowcase, and deliberately mediocre, it reminded me of something that I couldn't shake the entire time. Sensory deprivation has always weirded me out, but more than that. The rough hole for her mouth seemed incredibly menacing, the lack of eye holes was alienating. And more, it made the rest of her seem oddly surreal, this gaping, predatory mask -
Okay, I don't know why I'm saying this. It was just a pastel blue pillowcase sown to fit her head. But I can't get rid of this feeling that it was incredibly threatening.
It wasn't like the assailant at all, but it felt similar.
I guess that masks are going to have that effect from now on. We've all been through a lot.
With this in mind, I told her about a story I read once, about a faceless killer and the masked people who served him, a story I heard long before finding out about the Faceless Angels. She was very quiet when I stopped talking.
Tuesday, 22 November 2011
I KNOW it's tempting fate, but this is something that's never happened before. It's extraordinary. Some of us have been running for years, but we've never been left alone like this. It's entirely unlike our experience of this ordeal so far.
So we're staying. We're all going to apply for VISAs, or we're just going to go off the grid. Integrate ourselves into the town. We're already making friends, adjusting to life around here. The whole cult things is kind of taking a back burner to our attempts to make a new life for ourselves.
I don't know if it's even neccesary to keep this up, but hey, it's a useful dumping ground.
Saturday, 12 November 2011
It's been over a week since we got here. We've not been in any once place since I joined for this long, and it only took a few days for signs that someone was following us, or even just the heavy unease of paranoia.
And here, there's none of that. It's like this whole thing never happened.
Peter's more paranoid than ever. And since there's nothing for him to be paranoid about, it's just making him more insecure - thus, making him more paranoid. It's a vicious cycle.
Natalie's amazing. She's being amazing, I mean. She's already getting along with the locals. She's so outgoing and confident and resourceful. Her and Peter have been going off to train with the guns Roland bought for us all a lot, and combat training besides that. They've been inseparable, even though their outlooks on this situation could not be more different. Peter's sure there's something coming around the corner, but Natalie is damn near setting down roots to start a new life here. When she told me that, she looked at Peter. I felt like shit. We were really close just a few weeks ago, but now that we're here, she's getting closer and closer to Peter, and it feels like shit. I just feel really excluded.
I know that Peter will read this. It's not your fault. I'm just...She wants to spend time with you more than she does with me right now.
Ugh. I just needed to get that off my chest.
I'd imagine Peter will be posting about the findings in the library soon. You've got that to look forward to, at least.
Thursday, 3 November 2011
That said, almost as unnerving as the presence of our assailant is the absence. We've all spent months, if not years, with the constant paranoia of attack, and yet nothing whets that paranoia's edge like...nothing. We're surrounded by an epicentre of his activity, and yet there's not a trace of the tension in the air. It's like we've been out in a vicious storm, gale-force winds pushing us this way and that, and suddenly the storm subsides and we're no longer moved by some invisible force. It's calm.
We're prepared to uproot if needs be, but if this is the end...
Everyone's feeling it. They're mellowing, opening back up. Rachel seems more vivacious, more animated. She'd retreated so far inside herself after all that death that to see her re-emerge...it's good to have her back. Shannon and Roland have gotten easier-going as well, cracking jokes and having a much more carefree attitude about them. Natalie's still coping the best of all of us - I've never seen her so optimistic. Exactly what she thinks has happened to deter the aggressor, she has yet to share, but she seems halfway convinced that, as we are now, we aren't under threat.
I'm the most restless one of the lot of us. Whenever things get better, they always come back worse than ever. That's what's happened so far. Every day, I practice with my knife a little more. I'm planning on practising with the guns Roland has on order. I don't trust this lull.
Rule 1. It's never over. There's always another nightfall coming. Always.
We decided we could be kinda open about the book - it's for sale everywhere here, and has been bringing tourists to town ever since it came out. It turns out, the church disbanded almost 25 years ago, after the Derosier insanity got to the at-the time minister Caleb, who killed his family and later immolated himself in an insane asylum. Everyone north of thirty-five years old has a story to tell. Most books, TV, modern music - anything they felt could bring in the inherently sinful culture of the outside world was banned. Most people couldn't work within the city limits, so they had to go outside, but the general agreement was that no-one under 18 should do so, leading to generations of children who grew up never seeing anything but a fraction of a square mile of Missouri. Church gatherings were held daily, though they were largely social events.
Most bizarre are the masks. One of Lucas Derosier's adapted mad scribblings was an emphasis on, of all things, sensory deprivation and meditation. Every few days, it was encouraged that everyone place these individually decorated cloth masks over their heads. They were little more than cloth sacks, but the children would scrawl and paint the masks with all kinds of designs, as long as they were minimalist in nature. And they would place them over their heads, and a black inner lining would block out light and muffle sound, and entire families would sit together in their front rooms and get lost in their own meditation. One store-owner showed us a photograph he had of one such family, sitting at the dinner table in their Sunday Bests, their heads covered in white hoods, staring at nothing in particular.
Marcus Stonehall's accusations that the "angel"'s murders were committed by church members wearing the masks is something that makes the townspeople very angry. While they do blame the Derosiers, or rather the Derosiers' insanity, most are either ex-members of the church or the children of ex-members, and the idea that their loved ones can be implicated in the murders is defamation in their eyes.
The townspeople have, until recently, viewed their personal connections with the church with some embarrassment - the churches in the area even skew more liberal than the in similar town simply to distance themselves from the extremism of the Faceless Angels. However, in light of the tourism it's bringing in, they're rather warming to it - an imprompteu museum was set up collecting old stuff that most people had lying in the backs of wardrobes and in attics, and most people are aware that talking on the subject will bring in money. They are rather taking liberties though, tying it all into paganism rather than christianity. They're even going so far as to claim that the patterns on the mask were pagan symbols and the like.
In the meantime, the library was, even before all this, full of documentation about the church. We're gonna go trawl through there, looking for information. We're hoping to stick around for a while. On the 22nd, they're putting on a big tourist drive, getting dressed up and the like. Everyone's making their own sensory deprivation masks, putting on a whole-city event for out-of-towners off work and school for Christmas.
And it's pretty plausible that we can stick around. It's odd, but since we've been here, we've had complete peace. No sign of any proxies. No sign of him. Bizarre. We're all the more on our guard, after what happened to Steven when we stuck around in one place for a long time. But there's...an odd sense of optimism.
Monday, 31 October 2011
It is, to be blunt, a hick town. Less that 600 people living here, not too hard-up - a lower-than average number of people below the poverty line - but still strangely stuck in time. Barely five minutes from the comparatively built-up Kansas City, where we'll be staying at first, but at the same time, it has that distinctly middle-of-nowhere feel. In all the cities I've been to, five miles outside the city would still be heavily-populated suburb, what with the British population density and the far less sparsely populated New England towns. We saw these little smatterings of settlements all the way here, but never with any realisation that that's what passes for a city here. The space here in the "flyover states" is unlike anything back home.
There's a road here called Antioch Road. It's long and stretches up to Gladstone, a much larger suburb, the dividing point of which I am utterly unable to ascertain. It reminds me of a book a friend of mine showed me which talked about an ancient religious sect based around a philosopher called Antiochus, and "The Books Of Terror And Longing." I always wondered whether or not it was real, but in light of what we're here to find out about, this little thought rather springs out at me.
Even in little details, I find myself wondering about the Church of the Faceless Angels.
Roland and Rachel are feeling much better. Patience and Paracetemol (or acetaminophren, or Tylenol - we spent about a half-hour looking for it before we thought to check if it's sold under a different name here) eventually made the pain go away, as they always do. The tears and thrashing stopped pretty soon after we loaded them into the car (The cars here are bleedin' huge, so luckily they didn't want for space.)
But everyone's on edge here. The fact that she's one of very few ethnic minorities here is making Shannon very uncomfortable - though you'd assume a black woman with an Irish background would be more accustomed to this kind of ethnic alienation - but I guess that's only to be expected when our knowledge of the American heartland being mostly "It's got racists, fundamentalists and zealous nationalists", even though, to be honest, this isn't that far south.
We're gonna go exploring tomorrow - right now, we're staying in a pretty nice hotel in Kansas City itself. If something is going down in that town, we want to be at least a little bit away from it.
Saturday, 29 October 2011
The headaches are getting worse. And what's more, he's here. He's close, and he's being much more aggressive.
We're moving now.
Tuesday, 25 October 2011
Monday, 24 October 2011
He was considered a lunatic at the time, but three weeks later, a girl in a nearby town, a girl whose family was of Jewish extraction, was found murdered, her corpse in a disturbing state. Witnesses described a man in the vicinity of her house, fitting the description of the "angel" Lucas Derosier described. He began to preach for himself, describing the angel as God's judgement upon humanity, impartial and unchanged by mortal motivations.
Within two years every other christian denomination in the town was essentially amalgamated into Derosier's new church. They never really tried to expand out from their town, but rather cut it off, discoraging outsiders with their emphasis on moral purity - or rather the moral purity of a group of particularly zealous baptists.
Then, Lucas Derosier stopped appearing in public. His son, Jason, took over congregations using notes which appeared to have been scribbled freshly by Lucas himself, but his own absence from the public eye drew suspicion. Eventually some teenagers broke into the house on a dare and uncovered Lucas - entirely withdrawn from the outside world, his hair and beard long and unkempt, his clothes soiled and worn, scrawling wildly in one of a number of diaries scattered around the room. By the next morning, the word was out that the mighty Mr. Derosier was insane.
The mood in the town was hard to ascertain, but letters from the time describe many people leaving altogether - mostly older citizens who hadn't spent most of their lives being told that the outside was sinners' land. Then, one of the boys who discovered Lucas Derosier died. He was found bludgeoned to death against a house, mutilated in a similar state to that of the Jewish girl and other, more recent deaths of a similar nature. Police notes from the time notice a series of descepancies between this death and the others, but the investigation was eventually dropped - as many of these investigations would be over the decades to follow.
The fear this death inspired ultimately renewed faith in the Derosier's "Church of the Faceless Angels", with the townsfolk insisting upon Lucas' status as a prophet, justifying his madness. All evidence suggests that, in the meantime, his insane scribblings were genuinely preached by Jason; the Derosier's believed what they said.
That's as far as I've gotten. Stonehall was very thorough in his research, as he'd probably have to be; the idea of an entire town sucumbing to the mad dictums of a lunatic is alarming to say the least.
In the meantime, we're on our way to Avondale, Missouri to see this town for ourselves.
I'll have more at a later date.
Monday, 10 October 2011
If whoever posted that is reading, they should know that I've changed the password, and that they can suck it.
Friday, 7 October 2011
This book is terrifying me. To be honest, I've always been scared by religion. All of it. The subconscious act of abandoning reason, abandoning skepticism, to some man in a pulpit talking about a sky-man who created the world. To attribute the words of a man, or of men, or of a two-thousand year old book, with infallable correctness seems ridiculous to me, but then I remember that billions of people the world over live with that as their worldview. I'm experiencing it more and more now that we're in America - more where we were, but still here in Salem, what with the bloody hand of zealotry still remembered here.
There was no scarier sight than me, for a long time, than seeing people coming out of a church and knowing that they were no longer rational people like me, but slaves to the words of a book written by genocidal shepards, and the men who tell them what it says. There was no scarier thought than the thought of the bus I was riding on being destroyed by a bomber inspired by his religion, vindicated by his religion. Convinced, as he gazed upon the faces of the people he was about to incinerate, people with families and loves and dreams, that he was righteous. The IRA, the Taliban. People like that.
The scariest thing I ever listened to was an audio recording of the Jamestown suicides.
I once tried to imagine how my perception of the world would change if, just for a second, I put aside my reason and tried to believe in the Christian God. And up until my life was changed for the worse, I'd never been more scared. Above me, a constant critic, scrutinizing humanity from up high, condemning anyone who doesn't live up to his standards to...Hell. I'd never lived with that fear before, so actually thinking about endless, unrelenting suffering as a plausible thing was beyond any stretch of terror I'd ever experienced. A prison created to punish His own traitorous right-hand man, and there's a spot there for you too.
This is a long-standing fear of mine, but eventually it was replaced with the fear of our assailant and his followers.
But imagine seeing Him - the slender man - and feeling unmitigated adoration. Or worse, imagine everyone around you smiling, laughing, maybe even shedding a tear or two, as you watch, realising that these people aren't seeing what you're seeing.
I can barely put it into words. When the proxies do it, we call it madness. This isn't madness. This is faith. And that scares me so much, because it could happen to anyone.
Dealing with the deaths is beginning to get easier. We're getting past that. It's confronting the fact that they probably won't be the last that's killing us.
HE was right there, in the bookstore window, inches from our faces, looking out over the display of books.
Just standing there.
And way too small.
It was a cardboard cut-out. At the bottom of a stand, was a big red title. "The Better Angels of Our Nature" and the compulsory post-colon "The True Story of a Cult of Death and Angels on Earth". A furious look on her face, Shannon shoved me aside and barged into the store. We followed suit.
Inside, we found a display case, almost empty, devoted entirely to this book. A large hardback, with a photograph on the cover, of a number of adults and children posing for a group photograph. They all have what looks like a small pillowcase in their hands, except for one woman, who stands at the centre of the group, with this cloth object pulled over her head as a mask, hiding her expression. Despite the obvious connection, it seemed more reminiscent of this:
The cutout in the window, however, was pretty unquestionably him, however. I walked over to the bookshop's assistant and asked what this whole thing was about.
"That's a new book by a local author, a Marcus Stonehall. It's about this cult in the town he grew up in, a totally insane Christian sect. Supposedly they'd put on those masks and kill people, including his cousin. I got an advance copy a few months ago, couldn't put it down."
"And who's the tall guy?"
"He's what they thought angels looked like. They'd put on masks to become like them, and kill people in a meditative state of religious ecstacy."
So we bought a copy each and are reading them now. I'll keep you updated.
Sunday, 25 September 2011
Except when we got here, he replaced all our phones with ones that'll work here. And the weapons we had to leave behind. And a laptop, because we could stand to keep up with any other runners while we're out here.
And then he bought a car.
I know that Rachel's just as confused as I am, but the others are kinda taking it in stride. I guess I'm going to have to have a word with Roland one of these days.
In the meantime, aside from the fact that we've finally found somewhere with Wi-Fi - a restaurant we're sitting outside - the main reason I've not updated is that, to be honest, we're still mired in a sick, delirious sorrow over the deaths of Steve and Lianne. There's not a night where I don't lie awake, replaying that awful moment where her laboured breathing ceased, or that empty hallway where Steve should have been. Or the corpse of the doctor, barely recognisable. Or the staring eye of the proxy, his skull broken open like glass, his mask moving just enough for his face to slip into view, just an inch or so too much.
Or the others who never saw the end of this nightmare.
It's been almost two weeks since the last post, over two weeks since Lianne. It's still too much.
I don't know when it's going to stop hurting. Or if at all.
More news of the new scenery to come.
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Too many raw wounds, too few places to run to. It's a small island when you're travelling all over it. Lianne's in a pretty deep grave, but it'll get discovered, and we could do without the hassle.
We're headed to America. We have the money, tucked away for such an occasion. Roland just gruffly tells us not to worry about it, but that's a story for another time. Either way, we figure there's people who can help in America. Now, we just have to get back to the car and drive to Gatwick, then get tickets and board. No idea where we're landing or what we'll do. Just...we need more places to run to. And what we're running from is pretty wearing.
We're falling apart. We need a new beginning.
Friday, 9 September 2011
We tried to get to a hospital, we really did. But as the infection got worse and worse, the slightest movement caused her agony. The more desperately we needed a hospital, the slower we moved. Her fever went to delirium and beyond. She died in the middle of a field running adjacent, murmuring about Steve's death.
And then she was a body, an empty shell where a warm, vivacious woman once was. A caring, motherly figure who was kind and sweet and who you could always trust or talk to. Someone we all looked up to. She died in a field, sick and in pain, fleeing from a fate even worse than this.
I want to cry. I want there to be some huge, cathartic breaking of the floodgates after which everything can be gotten out. I haven't cried at all. I didn't for Steve.
I haven't in a long time. Not since
That's a story for another time.
Even Roland's packed in. He's sitting against the metal fence at the edge of the field, his eyes red and puffy. Natalie and Rachel have been bitterly sobbing for hours. I feel guilty and sick for not crying.
We couldn't leave her body. We haven't moved since Roland felt her chest stop moving and her words stopped. We can't leave her. We can't leave her because we left Steve. And he died, alone, probably terrified, probably in more pain than he's ever felt in his life. And even though Lianne isn't Lianne anymore, Lianne is now just a corpse, just a hunk of meat, stinking from the rotting, festering wound, we can't abandon her. Leave No Man Behind, slogans like that.
In under a week, Steve died saving Lianne, and Lianne died anyway.
And all I can think about is how I feel like a prick for not crying.
Okay, it's been about two hours since I wrote that last part. I got my wish. I sobbed into Natalie's arms, and she sobbed into mine. Rachel went off into the woods with Shannon. Roland fell asleep where he lay.
For a lot of us, Lianne was like a second mother. Not surprising really. It was her kid, you see. Just ten. She showed us a picture once, looked every bit his mother's son. Dirty blonde hair, a gleeful smile, twinkling blue eyes. Natalie said he looked like her brother. She was quiet after that. But this kid, this kid never new his father. That's all Lianne told us. She never said anything bad about his character, just stated the fact that he never met his son. And this kid was all Lianne had, and Lianne only had this kid. And then, one day, he went of into the playground with some friends, and when he came home, he talked about the Pied Piper, who'd led off two of his friends into the woods as if by a beautiful song from the stories.
Their bodies showed up a few days later.
And so Lianne held her child, the one person she had in the world, and the person who she loved truly and utterly, and she drove away, as far as she could, and as they were driving through a long, dark forest, late at night, before she knew better, this kid, he giggled and said "Look, mummy, the Pied Piper!"
Something tall and dark stepped in the way of the car. It flipped.
When she came to, EMTs were dragging her out of the wreckage, but they never found her son.
That's what I feel guilty about. She was like a mother to us. She tried to be. And I think, though she'd never admit it, deep down she wanted us to be like children to her, like her son, her little Steven, who died when he was just twelve. And we never were, not really, except for the IT consultant from Tring who gave his fucking life to save her, and in the end, though she was surrounded by people, she died alone.
Lianne is dead.
Tuesday, 6 September 2011
Sunday, 4 September 2011
Considering our situation, generally we were pretty cheerful before. We were on the run, forced out into the wide world by an implacable force, but we were together, and we had a genuine belief that it wouldn't be easy, but we could make it through this.
It seems naive now, but we all thought we'd survive. Funny, that. It got us through a lot. That belief kept our spirits high. The events of Thursday night were, if nothing else, a rude awakening.
Everyone's withdrawn from everyone else. Well, not everyone. Roland's carrying Lianne on his back. Her infection's getting worse again. Every time Roland takes a larger-than-normal step, she murmurs in pain, too weak to scream. Her suffering has really hurt Rachel and Natalie a lot - she's someone they really look up to, almost like a mother figure. Their eyes are puffy and red. I'm pretty sure they've been sharing a tent as well.
Roland and Shannon are doing their best. Trying to be decisive. Trying not to let their own hurt show. They're doing a good job, but not perfect.
Not one of us stopped to help Lianne. Not one of us except Steven. We didn't even notice she had fallen what with the fear and the shock and our heads racked with ache...
Anyway, the reason I'm posting.
So, this morning, I was helping Roland pack his tent away. He's not really the type to talk about his feelings, so I figured I'd try and help him along.
"So, our first death..." I muttered to him gravely.
He stopped folding up the tent pole and looked at me for a moment, then continued packing. His voice was low enough that the others couldn't hear. "I forget you guys don't know."
This caught my attention. I leaned in closer.
"Ever wonder why Shannon's in charge?"
"Erm...it just kinda is that way, isn't it?
"The group started out as just two people. Shannon, and her boyfriend, Richard. They met up with me later, and we ended up travelling together. We picked up Lianne along the way, but Richard and Shannon called the shots."
"I've never heard of Richard before. She's never mentioned him."
Roland shifted uneasily. "Shannon...doesn't like to be reminded of him. We agreed not to talk about him when Steve joined us."
"About six months ago, we were staying in Ireland. Richard's idea. We couldn't keep treading the same ground. We'd found an abandoned house in a little village about twenty miles from Cork. We hunkered down from the night.
That was when Richard decided to go and buy us all a few bottles of beer. It was early night, there'll still be people around. He'd be fine, he told us.
We waited a half-hour, and then we went to look for him.
It was nearly empty outside. Small villages at night aren't exactly bustling, but we saw maybe four people the whole time we were searching.
It didn't matter. The police found him before we did. They questioned us for a long time, asking who he was and whether we had any idea who killed him. We told them we didn't. And something in Shannon died, and never came back."
He sighed. "We found Steve a few weeks later and kept growing. We found Natalie, you, Rachel. But Shannon...you should have seen her before, by comparison. She was sweet, she was kind. She laughed..."
I've only known Shannon as cold and authoritative.
"She's feeling this loss. You can tell. She's pulling back again, like she did when Richard died. She always had pressure on her to - "
He paused. I turned around and saw Shannon standing behind me. I felt my face go white, but she had the same stony expression she's had on near-constantly these days. "I know you're talking about me. I don't are that you are, or what you're saying, but if talking is going to slow you down from packing your shit up, then don't."
And she walked away, leaving us speechless.
Saturday, 3 September 2011
I'll start at the beginning.
On Thursday night, at around ten, there was a power cut. We were all in Lianne's room, discussing what our next move was. We sincerely thought that, for a moment, we'd have these days in the hospital with nothing bad to show for it. Maybe we'd have a chance too properly regroup, Lianne would have a chance to properly get better. The infection's on its way out, but it's giving her one last vicious fever for good measure, and she was not in a good way.
The lights died suddenly. The summer had ended and it was already dark out. The sounds of chairs being knocked over and the fabric on fabric of rucksacks being wrestled with. The first snap of a Maglite being switched on, then more, as their powerful beams illuminate the room.
Shannon ran to the door and looked out, her torch forming a thin beam of light through the darkness. Nothing. At the same time, Steve and Natalie tried to help Lianne to her feet. She was weak, and her muscles ached with heat and pain. Standing hurt. Running would hurt more.
"We need to go, now." Shannon spat at us. Rachel scrambled through her bag for her knife to my left, and Roland did the same, drawing out the machete he'd taken back off of Natalie. He threw his axe away a few days ago. Disposal of a murder weapon and all. We stacked up besides the doorway, and moved out with as much precision as we could. Natalie and Roland led, their torches lighting up the way ahead. Lianne went in the middle, supported on either side by Rachel and I. Shannon and Steve brought up the rear, illuminating behind us. We moved quickly towards the stairs. We were on the fifth floor.
On the third floor, we were momentarily thrown off. The staircase ended. It appeared that to go any lower, we'd have to find another staircase.
We ventured into the hallway. Aside from the darkness, everything was in its place and as it was meant to be. Everything was silent. Empty. It seemed to us all that we were the only people in here. Without a map or any real sense of direction - we'd always used the lifts before, and had no idea where the stairs were, plus the darkness and the fear was disorientating - we moved slowly, cautiously. The hospital revealed itself to be much larger than we thought.
We turned a corner when we heard a scraping sound. Something dragged along stone. It oscillated slightly, louder and quieter, louder and quieter.
It was moving closer and closer.
We moved quickly, weaving through the corridors, our heavy packs slowing us more than we would have liked. Eventually, Roland's torch illuminated a small "stairs" sign.
The scraping stopped.
No-one moved, no-one spoke. It seemed for a moment as though no-one took in breath.
Heartbeat loud in the ears. Our torchlight couldn't cover enough.
Something fell to the ground with a wet thud behind us. We whirled, our Maglite beams falling upon the same spot, about sixty feet away.
A white coat wrapped around a misshapen mass of flesh. Clothes beneath soaked in deep red blood. Legs below the knees and arms below the elbow missing entirely. The head, where the face would be, had only a black-red cavity, the contents spilt out on the floor already. White-yellow shards of bone danced in the torchlight. The torches lit up just enough to show that the lower arms and legs were stuck to the ceiling with what looked like duct tape. The pool of blood spread out like a sea beneath him.
A snarl came from the corridor to our left. We whirled around quickly to see a figure with what looked like a hessian sack over his head, eye holes torn in it. He held in his hand a bloody sledgehammer, and his clothes were covered in gore. With a guttural, low laugh, he brought the hammer up behind his head. Roland shoved Rachel aside and kicked him hard in the stomach. The proxy doubled over, dropping the hammer behind him.
Shannon screamed "Run!"
A desperate scramble through the door to the stairwell. Down two floors, to the ground. We burst out the other side, just as the high-pitched laughter entered the top of the stairs.
We turned a corner.
Our torches fell ahead of us.
A glimpse of shirt beneath a black suit. Thin. Tall.
But not for long.
Frantic, frenzied running for the entrance. Something not right. A heavy thud behind us.
Turn a corner, then another. Into the main foyer, through reception. Towards the doors. And we're out in the cool night air, the mist still thick in the road ahead of us.
Lianne and Steve are missing. Horrified, we exchanged glances.
Then, a loud thud on the other side of the door, and Lianne fell through. Her clothes were covered in blood, and her breathing came in heavy gulps. She screamed, "HELP HIM!"
Roland didn't need to be told twice. He crashed through the door.
There were tears in Lianne's eyes. "They got him," she murmured, "I collapsed. He got me to my feet, carried me to the door. Damn near pushed me through it."
"There's no-one there," Rachel muttered. Lianne's eyes widened, then sobs racked her body.
We've been walking solidly since then, through that night and then from seven to nine every day since. Back to the car. It's going to take another few days still.
Lianne's fever is still high. The guilt, however, is more destructive. We would never have been there if it weren't for her. He would never have had to help her. He could have just run, like the rest of us. But the rest of us know where to place the blame. We knew that she couldn't keep up. But we saw him and we forgot all that. We ran, terrified out of our minds, trying to save ourselves. And in the end, we cared more about most of us surviving than all of us. We fucked up her rule 8, and now, Steve's dead, if he's lucky.
He tried to save a woman who he thought he hurt before, and now he's dead or worse and no amount of calling him a hero is going to make that better.
I don't know if I can continue this blog, guys. I'm glad people are leaving support, but writing all this out has wiped me out emotionally. I feel sick, reliving it in my head.
Thursday, 1 September 2011
But there's still a tension in the air. It's almost like a physical pressure. Every glance out of the window begs for the reassurance of seeing something. But no. There's no way he's not here. We just can't see him.
The hospital has been feeling very empty these last few days. Fewer and fewer staff every day. And I don't think we've seen other patients since Monday. They've even let us stay here, instead of at the hotel, which saves time. It also means that there are people here to protect Lianne. Not that we could, not really. Every one of us got lucky that night, with the exception of Roland. They have the savage mania of madness, and we have only fear.
Either way, I doubt that whatever does happen will be something we can fight.
Tuesday, 30 August 2011
Monday, 29 August 2011
I don't know why Steve decided to tell me this.
"How do you know I'm still talking to you?", I said as I looked up at him.
Steve took a seat next to me, and his body seemed to sag wearily. "They blame me. I know they do. That proxy was after me, and now Lianne is suffering. Her infection's still not going, and her fever's only suppressed by medication. Her arm'll never move properly again."
His eyes glistened. "And they're right. It's my fault."
I now have a twenty-seven year old man weeping openly beside me, and I have no idea what to say here. None.
The fact is, it isn't his fault. It's the fault of a dead man.
The fault of a man whose head was cracked in like an eggshell, and whose blood and brains seeped out onto the floor, and whose mask slipped away just enough to reveal a face, and a blankly staring eye. Blood for blood, I guess.
But Steve's really torn up. Lianne's still requiring a lot of care, and we're not going to be out of here any time soon.
Roland says he saw movement in the shadows outside Lianne's ward last night.
Saturday, 27 August 2011
A lot of damage was done to her arm by the shards of glass moving about in there, and the infection's stubbornly refusing to go away properly, but they got the glass out, and hopefully she won't have to have any of her arm amputated.
In the meantime, we're getting twitchy in here. We're hanging around, so that if something does go down, we can protect Lianne, but no-one's confident. Basically, our plan is that if something happens, we're running. Maybe a new hospital, maybe just hoping the infection will go and the wound will heal.
But we're not optimistic about a peaceful discharge.
Friday, 26 August 2011
We should have noticed. So distracted by the fucking proxy. And right now, she has tiny shards of glass deep in her arm, and whenever she moves it, the shards dig in deeper, cutting away at her muscles. She hardly even complained until it was too much for her to take.
Of course, now it's not just disinfection. She's being operated on. We're in one place way too long. Roland's back keeping his knife on him at all times. He might find us, assuming his dogs don't get here first.
In the meantime, Natalie's spitting venom. She's been reading up on the blogs, and there's some prominent blogger who's accusing one of her old friends, who's now a runner from the same event that pushed her away, of kidnapping and torturing her. She barely even knows who she's angry at - she can't believe this Kari girl would do that, and yet she's halfway convinced, muttering that she's "lost her fucking mind, I always knew losing Simon would do this to her." Earlier, she tried to convince Shannon to have us go meet up with her. The most obvious issue is that she's in America, so that's not happening. That she's apparently a psychotic torturer comes...a close second.
Either way, it's keeping her mind off Lianne. She's still in a fragile state. It's amazing how strong she can be at times - it still amazes me - but she depends on Lianne, as someone to look up to. Her and Rachel both do.
And now she's hurt, and we're in one place for far too long.
Thursday, 25 August 2011
your indiscretion in Huish has been dealt with. You'll never hear about it again. Consider your freedom a happy side-effect of an ongoing effort on our part, and do not expect it again.
On behalf of Director Fisk."
Shannon's screwed up the letter in her hand, her teeth gritted. Natalie has gone white. She's sitting on a bench, clutching her head in her hands. "Someone knows. How does this happen? How...who do they know? Oh god..."
Roland's concern is that this is the kind of favour that will eventually warrant repayment, that whoever these "Salliss" and "Fisk" characters represent has leverage over us.
Lianne, on the other hand, couldn't be happier. She's just been repeating how this means us bringing her to hospital was the right decision, and that we won't have to be running from the police.
Stephen...well, he's honestly barely here these days. Now that I think about it, he may not have even spoken since Lianne started getting weak. He just walks along with us, looking sullen. Not even this can inspire a reaction from him.
Fisk. The name rings a bell. I've got to wonder exactly how strings-attached this service comes. We'll have to be more careful from now on. We've attracted the attention of something we don't know about, something bigger and more powerful than us, and that scares me.
And to think we thought that the Slender Man was the only thing we had to fear.
Wednesday, 24 August 2011
We're getting twitchy here. The hospital is lovely - an old manor house conversion, donated to the NHS when its owning family died - but it's in the middle of nowhere, and we're staying in one place in an isolated area. The one thing you never do.
Right now, the rest of us are staying at a hotel about a mile down the road. Roland's footing the bill. The other night was our first time seeing him in a very long time, and Shannon and Roland figured that we'd need little comforts to put us back at, if not ease, then merely our usual level of unease. Comforts matter, every so often.
Speaking of which, I think I owe an explanation.
This whole Lianne arm thing had really gotten to Natalie. She's been here a long time, and in that time, she's taken on Lianne as a mother figure. Seeing her in pain - seeing her dying - really hurt her, but of course, she's Shannon's right hand. She couldn't show it.
It must have been building up since Lianne was stabbed.
And we were making camp for the night when I noticed that her hand iwas shaking, and when I got closer, her breaths were heavy, as though she was on the edge of sobs. I leaned in and whispered, "Do you want to go find somewhere to talk?"
She looked up at me, and nodded. Clasping my hand, she pulled me away into the darkness of the woods around us.
We walked for a good five minutes along a footpath until we reached a wooden bench. She slumped into it like a puppet with her strings cut, and her sobs were loud and thick. I felt sick to see her like this. I sat down next to her and drew her into a hug, and she sobbed into my shoulder for the longest time. "I'm so scared," she kept repeating. I didn't know what to say - the fact was that Lianne may well be dying. No reassurance came to mind. So I stroked her hair and told her everything was going to be okay, and felt ashamed that I couldn't do more to help this poor, shaking young woman clutching onto me and crying into my t-shirt.
And then it changed. I felt her breath catch in her throat
I grabbed her arm and pulled her into a run for the camp, not looking back.
We reached the camp in two minutes. I was rousing the others and tearing my tent from the ground, when Natalie collapsed, clutching at her head and screaming. She'd looked for way too long. Roland slung her over his shoulder and we ran.
We ran until our throats choked with lactic acid, and our muscles ached, deep and raw.
We slept on the earth in our sleeping bags, and the next day, we headed for the nearest hospital.
Monday, 22 August 2011
It's been almost a week. We've walked almost 200 miles. We've not stopped. We're filthy, ragged and weary. We've got a hand-crank radio, but we've heard nothing about two corpses found in the kitchen of a restaurant in a small village, so that's something.
We do, however, have a problem. Lianne's arm is hurting, worse than it did before, and well beyond the area that was damaged. That means she's probably got an infection in the wound.
She needs to go to hospital.
Of course, if anyone saw us go in or out of the abandoned restaurant, before long, someone'll be looking out for a group of seven squatters, one of whom is injured. And if this hospital reports that, we're done. They'll know Lianne's name at least, they'll probably call the police, at the very least, they'll know whereabouts we are. We'll be locked up, and that means we can't move around. Which means he'll get us.
If we don't, Lianne will be in pain, and then she will die.
Shannon's in her tent right now, thinking it over. Natalie went off to cry, and Peter went with her.
Rule 5. Don't go anywhere alone.
When I first met these guys, they put me under Lianne's wing. And she had ten rules for me to follow.
1. It's never over. This is roughly analogous to that whole "There's always another nightfall coming" that Shannon and Roland repeat like a mantra, but that's not all flowery metaphor - it IS significantly more dangerous after nightfall. Which is why Lianne prefers a simple "It's never over." It means we're never safe. It means we're never entirely doomed. And it does mean that we'll in all likelihood be on the run forever. It'll never be over.
2. The group is everything. This, I think, should have gone first. The reason we're one group is that we're stronger because of it. More than that, I rely on these people implicitly. There are individual, interpersonal relationships, but fundamentally, we're a unified group. Leave No Man Behind, Watch Each Others' Backs, slogans like that.
3. Don't go anywhere unarmed. Obvious, given recent events.
4. Don't go anywhere without telling everyone else. This is just genre-savviness.
5. Don't go anywhere alone. See above.
6. Try to avoid looking out of windows. Why tempt fate?
7. Use fake names.
8. Everyone surviving takes precedence over everything else. This is a big one. If there's a chance of all seven of us surviving something, you take it over a better chance of six of us surviving. All of us will put everything on the line for one person. We all survive. That's the goal, and that's the thing that drives us.
9. If you see a proxy, alert the others, and get ready for a fight. If possible, make peace with the idea that you may die.
10. If you see...the other one...you run. If you're lucky, you might make it to safety. Make peace with the idea that you're probably going to die.
These rules have done me well. She says they're why she's still alive. That maybe the rules will outlive her. And now that sweet woman who looked after me, and gave me a role model in this whole mess, she's constantly groaning in pain, and she's going to die soon if we don't ignore the safety of the group.
And I leave you...with a dilemma.
Friday, 19 August 2011
Okay, I'll start where I left off last time.
It was around two in the morning. Everyone was still tense, preparing for the worst, but the late hour following a hard day began to get to us. The squat was an old square shop space with a layer of dust on everything and boards over the tall, floor-to-ceiling windows of a small restaurant, tables and chairs still strewn around on the floor. Long abandoned, there was plaster falling from the walls, with old pipes exposed or falling out entirely. The windows at the front were the most obvious point of entry, so Roland covered there, backed up by a stony-faced Lianne. I've gotten used to Roland in a state where he's prepared to kill someone, but Lianne sheds her whole caring persona with ease. To see her with genuine coldness in her eyes - it's hard to forget afterwards. In the back, we had Natalie and Shannon, machetes and stiletto knives in hand.
No-one noticed the boarded up hatch in the low ceiling until it crashed to the ground in pieces and the dark figure dropped down to the floor. He grabbed Stephen, who'd been standing right near where he dropped in, and drew what looked like a sharp shard of glass to his throat. Quicker than I could have believed, Shannon lunged at him and sunk a fist into his face. As he fell away, the glass scraped Stephen's neck, leaving a shallow cut. The man, the proxy, fell back and composed himself. Like the others, he was wearing a crude mask. This one's looked to be made of pieces of cardboard, stuck together with parcel tape, and judging from the way that it hadn't shifted with the punch, it looked to be stuck to his face. Tufts of greasy black hair protruded from the top, and a beard in similar condition came out of the bottom, rubbing against his filthy clothes - a nondescript black hoodie and dark jeans.
Screaming obscenities, he thrusted the glass shard towards Shannon, who dodged deftly. She kicked at his stomach, but her own momentum left it with little force behind it. Natalie, who had two tables between them, threw a chair at him, but he knocked it out of the way with his arm, barely seeming to notice. Roland moved around the edge of the room, away from the windows, looking for a gap in the messily arrayed tables to join the fight, his axe held up at face level. I stood, knife drawn, with my back to Stephen, Rachel covering his other side, as we moved towards the exit. We'd surrounded our attacker.
The proxy's head snapped around, looking for a weak link in our circle around him. His movements were sharp, and animalistic, and his breathing heavy. His gaze fell on Lianne and he sprung, racing towards her. She let out a cry of surprise before trying to skip backwards. Her back hit a wall. He'd timed it perfectly. The shard of glass was raised above his head, and sensing his moment, he swing it down. She'd brought her hands up in time to protect her face, but the shard sank deep into her forearm, near her shoulder. She screamed in pain as he tore it out. Roland dashed around a table and swung his axe at the Proxy's midsection, and he leapt away to the front of the store.
Rachel let out a scream. I quickly turned to see that another shape was dropping through the hatch in the ceiling, just in time to land right on top of Roland. He hit the floor hard, his axe clattering across the floor, but the landing unbalanced the second assailant too, who fell to the ground. Even the other proxy looked surprised, staring wildly at the interloper - better dressed, in a light check shirt and suit trousers, and with what looked like a proper mask over his face. In the few seconds she was granted, Natalie stomped on the back of the scruffier proxy's knee, dropping him to the ground, before bringing her elbow down across the back of his head. He hit the floor hard, and went limp.
The second assailant has scrambled to his feet and pointed a fishing knife at Stephen and I. He stepped forwards, with a slowness and consideration that gave away that this one was not as wild as his partner. I swung my longer knife towards his face and shifted my front foot forward into a low kick, but he skidded backwards. Realising that his compatriot was in no position to help him, he solidified his stance, and started to move forward again. I swung my knife again, and this time, Rachel was next to me, lunging for him as well. He dodged with a surprising deftness, but the plan was already sprung. Roland was behind him, a large, heavy lead pipe in his hands, bringing it down two-handed over the proxy's head.
There was a hollow crack, like the sound of an eggshell breaking. The proxy fell to the floor, his light brown hair rapidly turning red from a mass of crimson and back at the crown of his head, jutting fragments of bone showing through. As he lay there, blood spilt from the gaping hole in his skull at an incredible rate.
I'd never seen someone die before.
I heard a sob from Rachel behind me. Roland and Shannon slowly stepped towards the bloodied form.
"He's dead." Roland said, irreverantly.
Lianne gave out a moan and we were snapped out of our trances. Her wound was deep and large, and while she was trying to use her shirt as a bandage, it wasn't stopping the bleeding. Shannon screamed at Natalie, "Get your first aid kit!"
Natalie looked dumbly at Lianne, and then at the body.
"NATALIE. BANDAGES, NOW."
She came back into focus, sprinting to the back of the shop to where the bags were and rifling through them to get the small plastic green case. She ran back over to Lianne and handed it to Shannon.
Roland brought the shirt away and gravely said "This is going to need stitches, or it won't heal."
"Fuck," sighed Shannon, "It figures the bloody nurse would be the first one to get stabbed."
I heard a voice behind me, "What do you want us to do?"
Rachel was next to me, looking determined. Shannon spat "Go get one of the proper Maglites and hold it over her arm, I'm going to need to do this myself. Peter, go get the rope, and tie the other one to the chair. Natalie, get me out the bandages and the disinfectant, and hold her arm still."
She turned her head to look at Roland. "And you, you're going to have to do what we discussed. We need answers, and we have a live one."
Roland muttered under his breath before asking "What shall I do about the other one?"
"He's already bled out. Stuff the body in one of the larders in the kitchen area. Take his wallet and any other ID."
The tall man wearily got to his feet and moved over to the corpse, picking it up and dragging it into the back room.
We moved out the early next morning. Lianne was still very weak from blood loss, and for once Stephen was supporting her. None of us had slept at all. Natalie, Rachel, Stephen and I had assisted in helping Shannon deal with Lianne's wound, but it took a long time.
Roland spent the night doing what he and Shannon had talked about. Muffled screams crept out from the kitchen all night, and in the end, only Roland had emerged from the kitchen. We had only one bizarre piece of information to show for it.
They think they're under his command.
The man was clearly insane, Roland said, and in his delusion he'd described his "boss" as some kind of evil criminal mastermind, building an army to inflict his malicious intent upon the world. He talked about him as though he were human, detailing plans and generals. Claiming that he was there under direct orders from him.
What would a creature like him want with human allies?
Every one of us seven has a story. A few involve proxies similar to these guys, and they all acted differently, trying to achieve vastly different ends. And they were all insane. Of course they believe they're on the side of the supernatural abomination. They're madmen, psychotics and delusionals, driven insane by him, and trying to concoct a fantasy in their broken minds to guarantee them safety by putting them on the "winning" team.
Do any other bloggers know proxies who believe a similar thing? Is this widespread? I don't know.
But I'm tired, and I've seen horrible things, and I'm weary of everything. Every one of us is. We all look sick. None of us have slept in days. We've been moving at random, not for the car but for anywhere except that restaurant with the two corpses stuffed in the larder.
Anywhere but there. Sounds like a plan.
Tuesday, 16 August 2011
We're in a town, about three quarters of the way to the car. We've found a pretty hospitable squat, and we're setting up for the night. We're prepared for a fight. No-one's sleeping tonight. There are movements outside, in the dark.
Today's walk was long. We only decided to head here last night and had to get up early, and walk until late. It was the longest walk we've done in the time I was here. And every time I found myself faltering, I hear Natalie yelling at me that I better keep going or they'll leave me to straggle, maybe buy them some time. That maybe if I'm gonna be such a pussy, I shouldn't even be with them. That if I'm beaten by my own body, maybe I shouldn't be worrying about the proxies.
So I kept walking, and we reached the squat in the last hour of sunlight the summer evening was going to give us. We were all exhausted - Steven looked like he was going to collapse, and even Roland was breathing heavily - and I felt someone fall against me, their arm over my shoulder. I half expect Natalie to scream directly into my ear, but instead she says, softly, "You did well today."
I look around and she's grinning. And maybe it was the fact that it's hard one way or the other to notice someone's looks when they're yelling at you, or the sunlight setting behind her, or maybe it's that the only other females I've talked to in the last five days were a woman almost twice my age, a fairly emotionally damaged waif and a survivalist hardass, but Natalie is...kinda gorgeous.
And this sucks because I've never been able to talk to gorgeous girls. Or even pretty girls.
In fact, you know what? Girls as a whole? Not my specialty.
So I choked on saliva a little. Audibly.
She fell away, laughing so hard she doubled over. "Oh my god," she practically wept inbetween wheezes, "you are really super-easy to get wound up!"
And then Rachel and Roland and Lianne were laughing too, and I felt my face turn red.
And then Roland pushed me out of the way and drew his knife. Suddenly, Natalie and Shannon and Lianne were by his side, faces stony, weapons drawn.
We got inside the squat. No-one's put their weapons away since.
Monday, 15 August 2011
When I was a child, my favourite story was Little Red Riding Hood. I loved that story. It was scary, it had a great hero, and it ended happily ever after. As I grew older, I got into Angela Carter and having read The Company of Wolves, I went on to do English Literature coursework about the tale. I found out that the story has all these different variants, most of which are allegorical about rape or murder. It happens that very few have a happily ever after. And as bad as this sounds, my own fears over sexual assault actually make the story scary for me again. I gobbled up games like The Path.
And then a friend of mine disappeared.
She was walking through the woods on her way home from college, and the last anyone saw of her was that she was following "a tall bald man in a suit". Two days later, one of her school books arrived in an envelope through my door, covered in scribbles and bizarre symbols. There were long, meandering sections of bizarre, stream-of-consciousness writing and detailed drawings of her home, of school, of places she visited - drawings far beyond her meager artistic abilities. And in the middle of these drawings was always the same thing; a tall, bare tree.
That night, he appeared at my window. I did some research. I found his name. An urban myth, or so I thought. The Slender Man. The kind of name which would once have been whispered between superstitious gossips and voiced in hushed tones by a mother to keep her child on the path through the woods.
When they found my friend, Nona, she was a mass of wet meat and entrails, her body warped and distorted by some unnatural torturer.
And so I ran. I ran and I haven't stopped. And I understand why Little Red Riding Hood is scary. It's not the creepy sexual undertones, it's not the symbolism. It's about being all alone, in the woods, with something terrifying. Even at the grandmother's house, the creature is there. And in the end, there is no woodcutter, no strapping man to save the day. Red Riding Hood is devoured, and the moral of the story is that sometimes, the thing chasing you catches you.
That's why I cry when we're camping in the forest, five miles in every direction from anything but motorway. That's why I fight to stay in the city when we're there. Because we're alone in the woods right now. And the wolf is hungry.
Sunday, 14 August 2011
But it's just my imagination. You look for something long enough, you're gonna see it, whether it's there or not. Anticipation does odd things to the brain.
I had a dream about him last night. I dreamt that I was in the woods at night, just like I am now. I'm wandering through, alone, my torch much like it is now, a pin-prick amongst the blackness. Wandering aimlessly, searching for something I can't recall. The trees are bare, as though it's winter, and the mesh of their branches loom over me like giant fingers flexing. My eyes pass tree after tree. They surround me, growing tightly next to one another. Suddenly, ahead of me, a movement. A tree's branches droop, and the bark of the trunk and the white wood inside unfurls itself to form a torso and head, and the roots disengage themselves from the ground to form legs, and before I know it, the tree is him. Ahead of me. Staring in the total darkness. My torch light finds him in the black.
And then to my right, and to my left. And soon every one of these trees abandon their petrification and become like him. I can't run. I can't fight. I feel myself overwhelmed with something beyond fear - a simple concept of utter, all-consuming hopelessness.
And then they begin, slowly, to move towards me.
When I awoke, my throat was raw. I'm told I was screaming.
The forest tonight is dark, and I can feel him out there. I look on every one of those trees, and I don't see the woods we're sleeping in. I see him. I see him in each and every one of them.
We'll be at the car tomorrow, which means we'll hopefully be in a new squat before nightfall. I won't miss the trees.
Saturday, 13 August 2011
Rachel's faring the worst. As I said last time, she's not finding it easy to uproot herself like this every couple of days, especially to a girl who's used to a fair amount of domesticity. We found her only a little while after she'd run away from home, and she's still new to a lot of things, though under Lianne's watch, she's caught up quickly. Lianne's certainly been more patient than Natalie was or is to me, even now, or than Shannon is with just about any of us. But even with her support, Rachel's still faring poorly. She still cries at night. My tent is generally next to hers, and so I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who can hear her, and it's not my place to tell.
It is hard, of course. For all the good it did us, the security of brick walls can't be underestimated. Tents, even with locks on them and knives in our hands, are wide open to attack. That's more stress. More weight to carry.
I'm too tired to write right now. There'll be another, less rambling post soon.
Friday, 12 August 2011
It's not safe here.
We had almost a week of stability, of staying in one place. Too much time. Unsafe, we should know that by now. I guess our domestic instincts are still trying to root us to one place.
Rachel's still new to this. She's not complaining - she's very conscious about not being a burden on any of us - but she's clearly missing the stability of staying in one place. She was trying to argue that we should stay. Says Roland could take whoever came at us. But we all know that, the longer we stay, the more likely it is that the big one will find his way to us. And no-one likes their chances against him.
Packing is a drag. Getting to the next place even more so. But we all got to visit a laundry, and eat hot meals - can't risk a fire attracting attention when you're on the road - and we visited the swimming pool every day just to shower. We must have looked a very odd lot. But we're clean and fed and we have clean clothes, and when you're a Runner, when you're a Refugee, you take what you can get. You enjoy the good stuff while it lasts, because there's always another nightfall coming, and none of us can guarantee that we'll see the next daybreak.
So we pick up our stuff and move on to the next place.
Thursday, 11 August 2011
Maybe she's not.
Steve's shaking. He knows this one's after him. We all do. Natalie was practically begging Shannon and Roland to leave him to the wolves. He's not of any practical use to us. A computer programmer in his old life, he is, as I've said before, in no physical shape to be fighting anything. Thin and clumsy, slow, with no cardiovascular endurance whatsoever. Going straight from home-bound computer geek to Runner - no-one could do that. The long treks, the need to sprint for your lives, the sudden, vicious bursts of violence - they all require more energy, endurance, and psychological fortitude than someone who's never even seen the inside of a gym can muster. And of course, he's the one the Proxy is focused on. He's an Achilles' heel. One we can't afford. But her reasoning is no good. We don't leave one of our own behind.
"What if you were injured, and couldn't keep up? How would she feel if we abandoned you, all alone, to be killed by some psychopath?"
Natalie looked uncomfortable. "Well, what's the alternative?"
Shannon gruffly stated, "We'd carry you. There's always another nightfall coming, and we need to stick together or we'll all be killed. We need to be able to depend on each other having the rest's backs."
"He's useless, and worse than that, he's a liability!"
"He's one of us, Natalie. End of conversation." Roland crossed his arms and looked down at her. She looked to me, trying to find support, but I stood to the side, hands in pockets, in uncomfortable silence, and she wasn't going to get Lianne to back leaving someone to their fate. Furious, she stormed out.
That was an hour ago. Since then, she's just been sitting by one of the boarded-up doorways, sharpening her Ka-Bar machete, glancing through the boards every so often. Rachel's slumped next to her, sound asleep. How she can be anything other awake and terrified is beyond me. Steve's hiding on the stairway, as far away from doors and windows as possible, with Roland just above him, axe in hand. We don't know if he's coming tonight, but if he does, we have to be ready.
He'll try and kill us. We'll try and kill him. Pick your sides.