no news from Steele. Fine. These kinds of things can take a day or two or seven. It happens. He may drop a comment, hey may not.
But when you're up 24//7, never even bothering to sit down to eat or think, well, you get a lot of time to do other things.
So when I saw this on the tumblr, I did the most logical possible thing.
I followed the breadcrumbs.
.... yeah, I'm a fucking genius.
I ended up in Canada. Toronto, it's a big city. Been there once or twice, good news is that I know my way around. I found the place I needed to find easily; and office building. Weird, but I've been through worse.
I had my typical coat on, but chose to dredge up an ancient hoodie to wear underneath. Not the most fashionable for someone my age, but I was getting stares as it was. On my way there, I must've invaded three proxies' turf; they jumped me, and i left them bleeding, but alive, in an alleyway. Warning sign number one.
The person I was searching for goes by Nemo. I've seen him a few times around the blogosphere; commenting on those poor fucking kid's blog, fucking around with this Lyric, and I can't say I was too surprised that he seemed to need my help.
So now I played the waiting game.
And elevator arrived on the ground floor, a cheerful ding-a-ling in it's wake. People file out, and I see a young man wearing a long blue coat, very similar in style to MY longcoat, with a hint of paranoia in his step and thinly veiled hysteria in his eyes.
That was my man.
In hindsight, offering to go somewhere more private to discuss matters off the bat was probably not the best idea. He spun around on me and took two steps back, looking around as if he wanted, NEEDED to run. The idiot thought I was a proxy and he was making a scene and that was the last thing I needed.
"For fuck's-" I stop, and try again. "You're the one who asked me to come, right? Nemo?"
If he jumped me, I'd gut him, innocent runner or not.
Luckily, he seems to calm down the moment I call his handle and not pull on a mask. "I didn't ask for anyone to come, but yes, I am Nemo."
Well fuck a duck and screw a kangaroo. This, Spencer, is why we do NOT answer cryptic literature quotes WHILE VERY SLEEP DEPRIVED.
But I was here, and that was what counted. Guy looked like he needed some sane conversation. I stuck out my hand. He shakes it. "Well then, seems someone's got a hold of your tumblr account. you know me, right? Spencer Fitzgerald. I run a delivery service."
"The one that lives in a madhouse." I wince, and he continues. "Spencer. I don't have a tumblr."
Oh really? The fact that you tried to run faster than a cheetah on crack the minute i let on I knew you didn't give me that clue!
"Then you've either got a guardian angel or someone out to fuck with you-" Probably the same guy who quoted Poe on MY blog- "I'm betting on Lyric; yeah, I know OF him, don't panic. You don't get into my line of business without knowing a few things. Listen, are you good for getting a coffee or something?"
I didn't want to think about my currently churning stomach. Already puked twice today; once entering, and once on exit.
His eyes shift nervously around, never settling on one place. "Caffeine would be good." I try to stifle a chuckle when the elevator arrives again and the bell nearly causes him to jump out of his skin.
Newly stalked are hilarious sometimes.
We go to a place I know in the neighbourhood. The coffee might as well be acid, but it's the kind of place you go if you want to talk and not... be heard.
"Does the name 'Raven' mean anything to you?" We both sit down, and i signal for their usual, disgusting fare.
I can't remember if he got anything.
"Guy who quotes Poe. Why?"
I don't know, maybe I'd like to know if you know the guy who not only duped me into coming here, but also keep vaguely threatening my team? For, you know, kicks?
I express my displeasure eloquently, of course. "How specific."
"I haven't interacted with him. It. Her. Unless they're the one commenting on my blog..."
"Guess you've just watched then. Observed." Poor word choice there, Spence. "Either way, I left out the lantern and chisel.
He raised an eyebrow.
" 'Am dining at Goldini's Restaurant, Gloucester road, Kensington. Please come at once and join me there. Bring with you a jemmy, a dark lantern, a chisel, and a Revolver- S.H.
It was a nice equipment for a respectable citizen to carry throughthe dim, fog-draped streets.' As I said, seems someone is looking out for you."
"Sir Arthur Conan Doyle."
"Had to check on another delivery anyway. Figured it couldn't hurt."
"Those kids? The ones in the forest?"
It needed no explanation.
"Either way. at least this 'Raven' Quotes good literature."
"Coming from a marked man. Do you know what happens when people start dropping cryptic quotes on my tumblr when I'm severely sleep deprived? Nothing good. and here I am."
"I'd rather Tall, Dark, and Handsome. Lyric is a nasty piece of work."
"Sincerely hope he's on the other side of the pond. Granted, I don't favour my odds with either."
"It's been quiet on both sides, with bursts of activity. It's... worrying, to say the least. But hey, not my problem! Now, unless you're planning on stabbing me with that letter opener you have in your pocket, you'll probably want to take this package off my hands."
He was shaking like a leaf and was about as subtle as a 60 mile-an-hour collision into a brick wall.
"A revolver and a prybar? Does someone expect me to be a pint-sized Gordon Freeman?"
I notice him finally take his hand out of his pocket. Empty.
"Either way, it's better than what you've got right now." I take another sip of that rancid shit but manage to smile. "you can take this as a warning of things to come or a wake-up call for necessary precaution. If I had both Slender and a psychotic cannibal hanging over my head, well, I'd be carrying an arsenal the size of Katy Perry's ego."
"Lyric isn't the one I'm worried about, at least not for now. Spencer, yesterday someone spent four haours wandering around outside the building, watching the third floor. Someone tacked a damned Operator Symbol to my door, and it's been raining every other day."
I can feel my stomach churn as I look out the corner of my eye. can feel myself freeze at what I see.
I have to get out of here.
"I doubt the rain has anything to do with it, but yes, you're being stalked. Is it really that surprising?"
"For all we know, it's someone like Walter trying to cover his tracks. Operator symbols are sometimes considered repellent... but for proxy behaviour, it's nothing out of the ordinary."
Well, ordinary for our lives, anyway.
"I'm missing at least an hour. Probably more. From last night."
I can see his panic, almost end up laughing out loud; no, fuck, that'd be too cruel, even for me.
"So start logging time. Can you remember anything?"
"No, and that worries the hell out of me."
Not surprising. We end up sitting in silence for a few seconds.
"What are you going to do?"
"Move. Unfortunately, somewhere with a great deal more trees."
"And you think THAT is going to end well?"
The waitress glared at me when I raised my voice, but reels when she sees my face. A bruise on my right cheek, the beginnings of a black eye, and , of course, stubble.
What a fucking stud.
"Better than they would here. I have a family. Can't let them catch them. And it's-"
" Nemo. If they want your family, they're going to take it. And then they'll find you and take you and SHOW YOU how powerless you are. Believe me. I... was one of them."
"I don't have a lot of options."
"No, you don't."
"Package is in an alleyway at the first intersection from here in a dumpster. Do with it what you want. No serial numbers. Can't be traced if you want to ditch it."
"... What was the link to the tumblr...?"
"Obscuredcamera, I think."
He paled as I slapped some bills on the table; more than enough to cover the bill.
"That's my handle."
"Then, Nemo, seems you have an imposter on your hands."
"Overdeveloped sense of self-preservation. The reason I will not be taking that gun and trepanate myself.
"Think about it. It's not my job to tell you what to do; only to give you more options to choose from. just keep in mind... they won't simply watch forever."
"I know. Can't turn out like Walter."
"... it's a choice."
"Not all choices are the good ones. Or even the right ones."
"Don't I know it. I should split... I'm not exactly well liked in Canada. Long story."
"I don't suppose you're heading to see them either? The kids?"
"Just to see if I can get in. Without getting stabbed, of course..."
As I got up to leave, something stopped me.
"Best of luck, Nemo."
"You too. Don't die. A lot of people need help."
"I'll try my best, alright? By the way, there's not just one person on your tail. There's three." I thought back to earlier.
"They're fresh. You should be able to outrun them, and, if need be, outgun them. you going to be alright...?"
"For a given value of alright."
"I took them out on my way here, your tails. If you're going to run, now would be the time."
"... Heh. Let's see if they can follow me to where I'm going."
And he ran in the direction of the dumpster.
Maybe he'll be alright?
It's none of my business anymore.
I'm back at The house fifteen minutes later. Half dead. When I finally get to look in a mirror, I'm far from happy. There's a dribble of black shit oozing out of my nose. My eyes look bloodshot. The bruise hasn't gotten any better.
So it's been an afternoon and evening of me roaming in The East Wing, stopping every so often to puke my guts out.
Still no news.