The parade's tonight! It all kicks off at midnight. One big public event, all based around an insane murderous cult and the spiritualist crap that's been tied into it. It's bought in plenty of tourists, with tourist money, to the town. The local shopkeepers are salivating. Rachel's...she's her girlfriend, it's pretty obvious...is going to be working pretty much all evening, in that pretty blue-flowered mask that she's been working on. Poor girl.
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.