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.
MY "PACKAGE" WAS A COFFIN.
IT DOESN'T GET MUCH BETTER THAN THIS, LADIES AND GENTS.
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/.
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.
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-
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?"
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~?"
"... 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."
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.