Saturday, 20 August 2011

-Spencer- Team, I really, really should know better

But guess who's the idiot who went on a delivery based on a cryptic phone call?
Guess who's the idiot now dragging a COFFIN to god knows where?

(There should be awards for this kind of thing.)

Let's start from the beginning, shall we?

It started with at, where else, The House. I was in The Wing, trying to figure out my way around Todd's head in the most efficient way possible (which is a great deal more difficult than you would think), when the phone rang.

More specifically, my phone rang.

I've never given the number out to anyone, aside from the team. The general assumption was, if you had the number, then you needed me stat. No questions asked.

Of course, in practice, all I got were pranks calls and creepypasta hunters.

"City morgue; we put the fun in funeral~!"

"Spence, Baby~! Or do you prefer ████ ███████████? "

... There is not one person alive that knows that name. This guy means business. Serious business.

"... You need a delivery."

It's a statement now, not a question.

"There's been some... complications. I need you to pick up a package at a certain street corner in Philadelphia at a certain time."

"Planning on telling me WHAT corner and WHEN?"

"Spence, you SHOULD be able to tell this for yourself. You are, after all, the best of the best, right?"

The one and only.


"You shall NOT open the box. Ever. Oh, and the drop-off is in New Mexico."

I don't flinch anymore.

"I should know the time and place? Excellent. Nobody ever said the CLIENTS had to provide good service, right?"

That comes out a bit scathing. Cool it, Spence.

"... that being said. Why should I trust you, shady phone man?"

"You've got acidic blood and a body that doesn't heal. I protect time and space. Together, we fight crime?"

"... You know what? If you know that, I'm going to assume you're a friend. How stupid does that make me?"

Oh god, I'm going to be the death of me.

"Considering your choice in friends? No more than usual."

I can feel my smile twist into a smirk.

"Cute. You owe me big for this."

"You're getting a set of sticky notes that I poured time and energy over that will get you out of a jam in the future. You owe ME, and you know it."

And the smirk turns into a frown.

"If I owe /you/, wouldn't you already know it...? No, you know what, don't answer that. not in the mood. Seems I've got a delivery to do."

"Oh, and keep it somewhere dry and cool. Not COLD mind you, but not hotter than 75 degrees."

"Almost make it sound like... heh. Will do."

I can almost hear the question on his voice as I hang up.

I look around the dusty room I'm in, slowly folding up my papers, my theories, their theories that they're not around to share anymore. Is that all I am? A presenter of thoughts of those who can no longer speak for themselves?
It's hard to say.

The Wing would be fine without me. It was stable enough for the night without me IN it, and at this point, I didn't think anyone would want to foray in there.

Let them try.

I was going this one alone. Had a bad feeling. Wasn't going to get anyone else involved in this mess. God knows I've messed them all up enough lately.

"Amanda, dearest, you're in charge while I'm gone, alright~?"

I don't give her enough time to protest, or even ask questions.
I've got work to do.

They've probably never seen me like this, and I'd rather they didn't. Let them all think this was all a lighthearted romp where nothing could go wrong and then we all roll in riches.

Something was seriously wrong with this one, and my ass would be grass if I made one wrong move.

I end up puking my guts out once I get a few blocks away. Didn't even turn on the radio.
Yeah. Have you ever tried to use The Path while in a car....?

Didn't think so. It's far from easy, and even farther from SMART.

So I waited.
I waited for a sign, because yes, let's just not follow the shady telephone guy's instructions. THAT SOUNDS EVEN SMARTER.

But then it started. The faint buzzing at the base of my skull, a tiny tremor that would end up growing, getting worse and worse, the tugging, the feeling that my body was a magnet getting attracted to cold, hard metal-

(God, I need to get laid)

Shit was going down, shit connected to the Slender variety.
So I hopped in the van and floored it.
More accurately, I lumbered into the driver's seat (being prepared for me means a thirty pound coat filled to the BRIM with a concealed arsenal WITH more on top of that, plus my shovel) and respectfully obeyed the speed limit until I found the place where the buzzing got worse.

A few things happened at once.

A few injured men in suits (fortunately, not of the faceless variety) were chasing a young woman. She positively SOARED over that fence while the dumbasses had to lumber over.


The buzzing intensified to the point of static.

Oh dearie dearie dear. I was about to have company if I didn't leg it quick.

... have you ever looked at something and feel like everything has slid out of your chest?
It was a coffin.


It took me a good five seconds to locate the thing at all. Five seconds I didn't have. I had maybe ten until Slender Himself showed up to give me a nice, big hug, fifteen for those suited jackasses to show up and give me hell, and twenty for those two unmarked vans to run me over.

... it's a tough job, but someone had to do it.

It was here when everything started to go wrong.

The street faded to monochrome.

Sound seemed to stop.

And the architecture started /twisting/.

.... fuck.

I started dragging. Strict time limits, you know. Too bad I'm about as muscled as a thirteen year old comic-book obsesse.

"... need a little help~?"

I gritted my teeth.

Loop. I had been looped like a rank amateur and I was about to pay my price.

Most people's Loops, (or Labyrinths, for whatever fucking reason) are filled with their dreams or nightmares, the what-if's and the can-be's.

Not mine.

Mine were filled with a group of seventy-four.

Hollie put a hand on my shoulder. "Long time no see, Spencer! Not nice of you to avoid visits here." Her fiery auburn hair was cut short-

"You know better than that, Spencer." Hudson spoke from the rear, and I felt another pair of hands help with the weight of the wooden box-

"Have the newbies been doing well? Not going to end up here, I hope~!" Norrin laughs from beside me, already knowingly helping me with my coat-

"Norrin, you're so full of it. Have the scars gotten worse, Boss?" Lenna runs a hand across my neck, across a scar-

"Do y'really think they would get any better at this point? You lot...."




My head whipped around. No need to carry the box anymore; there was already a set of hands doing it for me. My eyes went wide. There he was. That stupid choppy brown hair and those STUPID green eyes and-

"No, fuck, not again-"

Because the next thing I see is Hollie, tentacles bursting through her chest-

"Boss? You alright?"

Hudson, eyes wide, laughing in the rain, and my finger tightens on the trigger-


Norrin, tears rolling down his cheek as the proxy presses the knife closer to his quivering-

"What's wrong?"

Lenna, chiding me for my stupidity as she steps off the twenty-third story balcony-

"Spencer, Spencer, listen to me!"

Matt. Matt, that night, the path, red across the pale sand, red red red redredredredredredredred

Down. Puuuuuuke. In the corner of my eye, unmistakeable red hair and a curled grin. It doesn't matter. Start to laugh and cry. Feel myself shaking. Everything is just static now.





Something at my ear. Cold. Plastic.

A voice. Try to focus. It's Harper's voice, isn't it? No, fuck, Spencer, focus

"Hey boss, just checking in." The farmboy is stifling a hefty yawn. "How're things at the House?"

"... August...?"

clear the fog, clear the fog, clearthefog He laughs. At me? With me?

"Who else, Spence? You've been drinking, haven't you?"

Smile. Smile godammit this is August you're talking to. He's alive.

"Darling, you know I can't get drunk anymore. Ended up on a last minute delivery. How are things with you...?"

Laughter. Not mine. From the left. Is it...?

"You know I have to ask, Spence. Nevada's gorgeous, but I'm getting horrible vibes off of this notebook. Gonna be glad when it's out of my hands."

A pause. He notices.

"Something wrong, boss... ?"

"Sounds like you've got something like the book of the dead on your hands. I'm hoping you won't read it."

Ignore the question for long enough and maybe it'll go away.

"Just... meeting some old friends."


Fuck fuck fuck fuck

"Yes, my darlingest little housewife~?"

No nonononononononononono

"... You don't sound right at all."

It's low, almost... afraid?

"Where are you?"

"In a Loop, I think. You can imagine how I'm faring."

I laugh. Me. It's mine. Everyone else falls silent.

"... Not seeing /them/ again, are you?"

"Always, August. As much as I'd like to fake it, Clowns are the least of my worries."

He actually manages to laugh at that one.

"You know they're not your family anymore, Spencer. The ones at home, and the one right here, are the ones you need to keep safe. Can't do that when you're stuck in that Loop, can you... ?"

The static eases.

".... How many times have you talked me out, kid? It's hard to remember."

"Enough, Spence, enough."

The gentle smile drifts through the speaker.

"Enough to keep our family safe."

"Alrighty. You stay safe, alright? I've got a delivery to do."

"I do, too. Think maybe I'll sleep before three AM hits... ?"

He laughs. Dear god, he /laughs/. It echoes like thunder in this desolate place.

"You too, alright? Good luck, boss."

"August. Thanks."

And the line goes dead.

... You wake up at Seatac, SFO, LAX. You wake up at O'Hare, Dallas-Fort Worth, BWI. Pacific, mountain, central. Lose an hour, gain an hour. This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time. You wake up at Air Harbor International. If you wake up at a different time, in a different place, could you wake up as a different person?

I wake up in Santa Fe, right on time, the box beside me, open air making me cough once or twice.

I was out.

Remind me to give the kid a raise once he gets back?

Last part. I get my hammer out of my coat (god, how much shit did I HAVE in here) and pry out the nails. Rule one of the service;

We NEVER look inside.

I turned tail and started walking.

The stack of notes was clutched in my palm.


Three more than last time.


Be home soon.


  1. !!!

    There's really a lot I want to say to that, not least of which is how much I want to punch a certain someone who likes being cryptic and handing out post-it notes in the face.

    But I'll settle for this

    Dammit Spence. Please be careful. Please. And I'll see about fixing that when I get to the house-so you'd best keep yourself safe and sound till I get there in a couple days, alright?

    August, thank you so much. Please be careful.

  2. Just taking a bit of the long way home. Now that I don't have a car to deal with, things are a bit easier.

    And we'll all be fine. Hopefully. Cross your fingers.

  3. Boss, that's what you see in those loops? God damn. Listen. I knew them just as well as you did and they were all good kids. Every last one of them. But you weren't responsible for their deaths. In this business, they're lucky to have gone on for as long as they did.

    Stay safe.

  4. Will do, Doc. Not all scars are visible.

    You, of all people, should know that.

  5. Yeah, I do. But we've been in this business together for a long damn time, and you're hearing it from me: their deaths were not your fault.

  6. ... Thanks Lori. Needed to hear that, I think.

  7. Well there's a blast from the past. I don't know I ever met Hudson, though. He was there and gone before I even went back to the House. I think a lot of the 74 were like that...

    I never even learnt all of their names.

  8. 73. There were 73.
    None of you ever met Matt.

  9. I didn't think that name sounded familiar, but 73 is even a lot of faces to come and go in a relatively short period of time.

    I treated all of their wounds and listened to their troubles, and if you asked me to make a list of everyone's name from memory, I probably wouldn't be able to. But I'd know them if you showed me pictures.

  10. Spencer, forgive me for making a point of staying a very long way away from you and yours in the future.

    There are, after all, only two kinds of paranoia.

  11. Noted, Nemo.
    Just don't work for me and you'll be fine.

    There were... a lot of casualties in the first few years.

  12. Post-it's. Lovely.

    As it happens, though, there IS an award for that kind of stupidity. Actually gaining it, however, is dependent on either your death or your sudden and violent infertility. It's called the Darwin Awards. Look it up.

  13. Fuck, Spence. I can't think of a goddamn thing to say because I remember 'em too

  14. It's a lovely little reminder, eh? Seventy four people surrounding me while I try not to get lost.

    Hollie was looking great, though. Did you know she cut her hair?

    And Ryuu, with the way I'm going it seems that I'm going to get one. But you just can't ignore someone in need I guess.

  15. ... I only met two or three of them. You were careful by the time I came along. Selective.

    I'm glad to hear you're out and safe, Spencer. Get home soon, and get home safely.

    I'll call again tonight to make sure you're doing okay.

  16. Really? She always looked so good with long hair.

  17. Fitzgerald:
    We are the hollow men
    We are the stuffed men
    Leaning together
    Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
    Our dried voices, when
    We whisper together
    Are quiet and meaningless
    As wind in dry grass
    Or rats’ feet over broken glass
    In our dry cellar

    Shape without form, shade without colour,
    Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

    Those who have crossed
    With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
    Remember us—if at all—not as lost
    Violent souls, but only
    As the hollow men
    The stuffed men.

  18. This is the way the world ends
    This is the way the world ends
    This is the way the world ends
    Not with a bang but a whimper.

    Really, Raven, you shouldn't have. You know I can't resist T.S. Eliot.

  19. He's butchering poetry now?
    And T.S. Elliot to boot.

  20. I'm more of a Yeats fan myself.

    And what rough beast, its hour come 'round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

  21. Okay. Wait a minute. Now that I've had the time to sit down and READ this instead of scan through it...

    Oh, fuck me. Just... shit.

    Listen Spence, can you describe what that girl looked like?

  22. Which one? Hollie?
    Could never forget her, then again, I'll never forget any of them.. Auburn hair, mixed with red and brown like dancing fire. It used to be long, hanging down her back like a trail, but she's cut it in a short style now; pixie cut, maybe? Deep green eyes that looked straight through you. She was usually smiling with an untold joke or a hint of sarcasm.

    Ryuu, mind explaining what's going on...?

  23. No, I mean the girl who was running from the suits just before you picked up the package.

    Come to think, where in Santa Fe was that package delivered?

  24. I wish I could wake up as a different person.

  25. Ever need an extra hand, call for me. Been on the run for a while, myself. You can guess why I wouldn't be handing my name out to just anyone, right? Hence the rather odd name.

    I don't want to wind up paranoid and alone like many of the other Stalked. I want to help.

  26. Ryuu, wish I could answer that, but it's really all one big blur, aside from the loop. I'm sorry.

    Skrill, thanks for the offer. Don't need anyone new on the team, but if I need someone to work freelance, I know who to call.
    (Watch your back. There's people tailing you. :3)