Tuesday, 10 April 2012

~Steele~ The Hollow Man.

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


This will be my last post.

I went back to the House. This old, dilapidated mansion in Vermont, surrounded by Trees. In its heyday, I’d return to this place and it’d be bustling with life. Now…it might as well be condemned. Perhaps it already is, really. Condemned to be a place of suffering, rather than what it could have been. It could’ve been a place of safety, a House to live in, not to avoid. It could’ve been converted; maybe it could’ve been a school. Hell, it could even have been a church.

Wouldn’t that have been fun?

I parked out the front this time, I knew I wasn’t staying for long. The garage was no longer my own. It was a graveyard of cars without owners; of cars that will never be used again. The van, August’s pickup…

They led good lives. Maybe I’ll find new owners for them sometime.

I opened the front door and made a beeline for the East Wing.

We all know what I was looking for. And apparently the East Wing did too, as when I opened the door in the kitchen…There he was. In his office. The deep cherrywood of the desk glinting in the soft light, trinkets strewn around the room, Spencer sitting in his chair staring up at the ceiling, and here I was, barging in like I had so many times before, disturbing this anachronism. We were beyond this, years beyond, but there it was.

Like nothing had ever changed.

There, is a Tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind’s singing
More distant
and more solemn
than a fading star.

We stayed that way for a while. His amber eyes glinting with the smile on his face, my blue-grey eyes glinting with cold fire and determination; the smile on my face holding no substance whatsoever.

Neither of us wanted to break the silence. The illusion of the past was much preferable to the reality of today. The last three years flashed past like lightning, the countless times I’d been in this exact position, complaining, asking for a payrise…or even just joking around. Having fun. God, there’s a thought. Me and Spence weren’t always like this, like now…

But at that moment, we both knew we couldn’t be any other way.

”Spencer…consider this my resignation.”

He nodded, slowly. "The couriers are done as it stands. Hard to do much of anything with just two of us left, and even then, for how long...?” And with that, Spencer laughed. A short, low, barking chuckle, strangely fake; as if he had forgotten true mirth long ago.

”How long is too right. There is of course, the question of my severance package.” I pulled out my gun…not really aiming it or anything. I wanted him to understand. I wanted a sign that he was ready. "August is gone. Lori's gone. Sam's gone, Amanda's gone. Todd and company, they're gone too. All of the couriers, all the kids we’ve seen live, all the kids we’ve saved… It's just you and me. And we've had our differences in the past. And it does appear that there's now nobody to stand in my way."

"... yeah. Yeah, they're all gone." He looked…concerned. Fond, almost. Warmth at a time like this. He just had to make it difficult, didn’t he? "Almost takes me back to when you all first joined, heh, and you, the angry kid who had just about enough..."

”Fuck, you've gone and turned into a brilliant man, Leon. You... grew up, didn't you?"

Let me be no nearer
In death's dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat's coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer -
Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom

”I don’t know, mate. Back in the day, I knew exactly what mattered. I'd take care of myself first and foremost, and anyone else? Just a means to an end. I was efficient, and I was a survivor. Didn't need anyone to patch me up after a bad run-in with our mutual Friend. Didn't need a financial benefactor back when I was self-employed." I felt my voice break unwillingly as I continued. “Didn't need anyone to make me pancakes after a bad night.” That hit Spencer too, I could tell, though I certainly wasn’t unaffected. “Dinner’s at 8; don’t be late…” I muttered as an afterthought, almost to myself…my eyes unwillingly becoming moist.

Writer has a lot to answer for.

”Look at both of us.” Spence sighed. “Went and ruined a perfectly good thing, didn’t we…?” He didn’t move from his spot. He barely blinked. The smile on my face was almost genuine at this point. "It was like being able to have my childhood again, almost. People cared about me when I was a kid. And I cared about people."

I raised the gun, levelling it at his head. “But now we’re all grown up again.”

He stays calm. Maddeningly calm. "I..." He swallows, then tries again. "I don't blame you for Lori. For this. You're doing a good thing, Leon. I want you to understand that."

”Don’t need to tell me twice.” I said, flicking the safety off.

Spencer closed his eyes for a moment, reminiscing. “It was good for a while, you know? In the beginning. Those first few runners we helped, god, the looks on their faces, it was like they thought they were witnessing a miracle..."

"It was good. I was in it for the cash at the start, but then like an idiot, I started to give a fuck." I paused. "When did you stop giving one, mate? When did the leader of such a fucking civic project become just as much of an unwelcome sight as the ones who can't know any better? When did you stop fighting?"

He seemed to grin at that. "I haven't stopped, Leon. The fact that I'm still here... says I haven't stopped. But I never was like all of you, and that, that one fact…that was what hurt the most."

"You've always been like us.” I asserted, not entirely sure why I hadn’t pulled the trigger yet. “You're mostly human, you've always been compassionate. You know what's right, just like me."

"... even I'm not sure how much of it was fake. How much of it I just... wanted to be. But when August was laying there, dying..." His voice broke. "I wanted to die too. Is that so wrong...?"

Writer has a lot to answer for.

I spoke carefully, trying to avoid too much emotion. "After today, our association will end, and I'll have nothing. Nothing but Life and Death. And what's Life for us, but waiting to die? It’s been that way ever since He entered my life.” Another pause, before changing tune. “Thanks for the extra years, mate...but more than that? Thanks for the purpose. I guess that's why I came back in the first place. Now it's back to living for Life alone. Because fucked if I'm going to let Death get me, He's been waiting long enough: He can wait as long as I damn well please."

I put my finger on the trigger, preparing myself.

"I hope so. You're too good for him, Leon. You were all too good for Him. For this. All of this. None of you... none of you ever deserved this." He held back something; a sob? "I still remember all of their names, y'know. Every single one. They counted on me, and I let them down. I let all of you down." Spence looked up, face contorted in emotion so fast it almost gave me whiplash. "Destroy it all. Don't leave anything behind. We can't... have people trying to be like us. Like me."

The Eyes are not here
There are no Eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley

”…I will…” But before I could…I had to ask him something. Something that had bothered me for a long time…and a plan that had crawled in the back of my mind for a long time.

"You've fucked up, you periodically become this...thing, and when that happens, you cause pain to those who don't deserve it. Who could never deserve it. You enable and spread pain like a virus, like the virus that your fucking Master is…But there’s one thing that doesn’t ring true. You can fight it. You HAVE fought it. For this long. How?”

He recoiled from my harsh words, like I’d slapped him across the face. ".. th-the same way all of you fought it. By... by... not wanting to be alone anymore. By realizing there was a world out there, a world that went just beyond Father and Writer and everyone else, and how goddamn big it all was…”

Here we go round the prickly pear
prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning

I put the gun away. “Good enough for me.” I said, as the plan grew and connected in my mind.

"You're one of Them with the ability to become one of Us. And when you're one of Us, you save lives, you help those who need it, you bring life to those who deserve it, who've had it taken from them. And I have hope that you'll realise that again. And you'll break out of it, save another group of kids, give them food, give them board, save them for as long as you possibly can. 'Cause that's who you are. You're not the man who robotically follows the other Man. You're at your most when you're on the other side. And you've got a long, productive life ahead of you, buddy...Just keep me the fuck away from you while you're figuring that out. I choose Life. Or had it chosen for me. Whichever, whatever...I'm going to survive, and if you come between me and that, then you can have all the potential in the goddamn world, but I will do whatever I can to end you.”

I paused, and launched my gambit.

"...And I hope you remember, my lovely...Just who murdered our dearest August~" I sung, attempting a cackle. "And look at you! Running back to join him merrily! For August was just a kid, right? He couldn't possibly be as important as a Man like that! We care about you, Teller! We're the ones who've brought you happiness, nevermind the trail of loved ones we’ve left behind! just come back to your Master like a good boy, that's right now~"

Spencer looked horrified. “Please, Leon, I don’t want this, please for god’s sake…”

"I know. And who better to take those bastards down then a man with a reason, in their own ranks, who has sins to atone for? You're a special one, Teller. For the reasons I've always held against you. You're dangerous, and you're not always Spencer Fitzgerald. But sometimes, love: You very much are. And...I'm okay letting you back onto the streets, if that means there's even an inkling of a chance for some fucking REVENGE, for August, for Lori...For everyone that red-headed bastard has ever taken, ever Hallowed, ever had work for him...For all of us, and all of you." I felt a ringing in my ears, a metallic hum in the air and something changed in the room; Spencer’s face went dark and calm, and the walls seemed to fade away in patches, revealing only White behind them, no substance, just creation without depth. The light flickered, as I reached into my pocket and pulled out a silver pellet; I had melted it down from a ring Stephan gave me earlier. I had no idea if superstitious nonsense like that would work, but I loaded it into the revolver anyway, letting Spencer see. It was a symbol.

I wasn’t going to back down, no matter what happened.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow

"You know I'm right, Spence. You know that if I were to look for revenge, Writer’d toss me aside like a ragdoll. Not to mention what He would do. I need you alive as much as they do...August needs you alive as much as they do. You still need to pay him back.”

”August is DEAD.” He boomed, the room rattling away into nothingness. “Doc is dead, Amanda is dead, Todd is dead, Sam, oh god, Sam is dead..."

"And who did that? Who's done all of this, Spence? Who set this in fucking motion? It wasn't you or me, that's for sure...It's your new employer and his Master." Vengeance is a cruel process, but it was all that remained on my mind as I spoke. "If you can't do it for them...Do it for yourself. Eventually. Give it some time, sure, it'll be like things were before at the start..."

I smiled. A toothy affair, with a murderous glint in my eye.

"But eventually, all that will be left is you, him and Him, and a pain in your heart that just won't quit."

"... I can't." his voice trembled. "Kill me. Just kill me. Put me out of my misery. I can't go on. I can't do this anymore. It just hurts too much."

"...Then make yourself feel better. Because I know for certain something that'll help. Writer will get what he wants...but that smarmy son of a bitch should be careful what he wishes for."

”You promised.” He said, closing his eyes as the piercing hum grew louder and more shrill, and what was left of the room rattled, the white beyond looming ever closer.

"That was before your little buddy gave me a reason to keep you alive. You're not one of the bad guys, Spence. And I know that you know who they are."

For Thine is the Kingdom
Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow

Something changed. The room was back, and so was Spencer. He opened his eyes, pale lanterns in the darkening room. I felt a wave of nausea flow over me and a prickling watching sensation on the back of my neck…I could feel His presence. Overwhelmingly. As if He were standing in the room…

No, as if He was the room, and everything in it. It was enclosing, intoxicating, as if the air was fear and the colour was pain.

I stood my ground, ready to fire if need be.

Life is very long.

"It's your choice, Spence. It's always your choice. He may try to control you, but He couldn't before, and He can't now. Kill me now if that's what pleases you. God knows I'm ready. But I know that will please you for only so long...There's some blood that might give you a much more static satisfaction, though."

Between the desire
And the spasm

Something was very wrong. He paid attention to my words, only with the sense of polite interest, not the emotional response I was getting before. He stood casually, entirely detached from the Spencer I knew before.

Between the potency
And the existence

"... you just tried to play some sort of game, didn't you?" He walked forward, voice made of honey and cedar, measured, so similar to Spencer's but oh so wrong.

Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow

”You just lost. Goodbye, Leon Steele.”

For Thine is the Kingdom

I watched as he walked towards the door. “Goodbye, Spencer Fitzgerald.”

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This…thing…for it was not a man that left that room, but a thing, waved lazily over his shoulder as he replied. “Spencer Fitzgerald is dead. Try to keep that in mind.”

”You too.” I said, as a final act of defiance as His presence left the room and the air lightened…and I was left alone.

I stood there for a moment, before I collapsed to the ground, hyperventilating in fear and horror, bursting into violent tears and praying, I don’t know who to, to anyone who would listen, anyone more powerful than He…holding out hope that something like that actually existed.

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

”…oh, god.”


Friday, 6 April 2012

~Steele~ It’s time.

This is what it comes down to. This organization, this way of life. All of it comes down to us, Spence. Two of the originals. Pity Lori can’t be with us for this, it’d be a regular blast from the past.

She’s in a better place now, away from His and Your influence.

Now it’s just you and me.

And you know how long this has been in the making.

I wish I could pinpoint the exact moment you died. Was it Writer that did this? Maybe you were always like this, back when you put us in danger’s way with the Morningstar experiment. Maybe you’ve been this way since the days where you were poncing around the world slaying Proxies with your girlfriend, grinning at the loss of life. Maybe since you stole this House from August’s dad you’ve been slipping. I wouldn’t know, I wasn’t there.

Maybe when you caught me in your house after a deal gone wrong, bleeding like a motherfucker. Back then, when it was just you and Lori. You were ready to kill me, you called me a proxy, quite prepared to choose your life over mine…

No, now they’re your brothers, not us. You’ve said it…I hold out hope for this to be just a passing madness, for it to be like the last times, then we can function again. Perhaps that’s what we’ve all had far too much of lately. Hope. We hoped you wouldn’t get here, we hoped it wouldn’t come to this.

But you died a long time ago. We can’t keep ignoring that fact. Hope has been gone for a while.

Spencer Fitzgerald,

this is me coming to save you. Or let you rest easy, finally. Whatever you decide.

But I will not do you the disservice of not letting you know this was coming, as you have practically invited me in. I truly believe there’s still good in you. You wouldn't have asked for this otherwise.

I’ll try my best to do what is right. I’ve been doing that a lot lately, but…life is so chaotic, I couldn’t live with myself if I were to live any other way. Survival is one thing, but survival for survival’s sake is the act of a weakling, living in the past, doing what he needs to do rather than what he should do.

I lived that way for Stephan, to try and make my life worthy of his death. I weighed my life up against his in that split second, as the mask straps cut into the sides of my face, the red diamonds around my eyes glinting in the ambient hotel room light. His own eyes were the centre of a dark sun glinting on porcelain.

I had a choice that He gave me. One of us had to kill the other, or both of us would suffer far worse. And I know we both knew it. We looked at each other when it happened, when He spoke in our minds and our mouths opened and his eyes widened with the subtle haunted glaze of one with absolutely no hope left. I had to weigh my own life against his. I had to choose, his vibrant green eyes, or my blue-grey? Which would haunt the other for the rest of their life?

”Live for me.” he said. “It’s okay. Live for me,” as the blood seeped from his chest.

I always thought he meant ‘live long for me’, as if life were just specks in an hourglass.

But ‘live well for me’ lets me sleep better at night. Only by leading the life he would’ve wanted me to live, can I repay him.

For hesitating.

For ever since, I've always been in control. He has never been in my mind, He never controlled me…He just observed. My curse has never been Him being in control.

It’s been me in control ever since, having to deal with the consequences of that last night.

Never again. Two men enter, one man leaves. Because one has to die, once again. I can’t leave you and Writer out there, and you know it.

But we decide this honourably, so my conscience is clear.

I’m coming back to the House. I think we have something to discuss.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

-Spencer- Welcome to the end

Sam died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. I watched her from the edges of the House's territory, unwilling to get too close as she just walked into His embrace. Can't remember if I screamed at her to stop. That doesn’t mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday.


There’s nothing but a light, one tiny, singular, solitary light, and it’s easy to think that just for a second, just for one. Singular. Second. About everything and to do nothing but follow the flame with your eyes, see your life in the glowing embers of a wick. Pictures and memories flash like cameras, fleeting and blinding, putting spots of black in your vision.

It’s like rain, falling down, every single individual droplet in perpetual motion, adding to a collective. Because falling is just like flying, isn’t it, at least until you hit the ground; plummeting at 120 miles an hour at 33, 300 feet, you have three minutes to think about your life. You’re quiet and still and there’s nothing but the air rushing away around you. Nothing is tangible, and nothing hurts.

… three minutes, huh?


The light goes out. And then it’s gone, it’s left, and a web of pictures, videos and writings spring from dilapidated fingertips like dust, each key a meaningful letter, a meaningful sound. We write because we’re afraid, you know. We write because we want to leave something behind. “My name is Spencer Fitzgerald, and I’m about to die.” It gives finality. It relieves responsibility. You’re allowed to give up.

It’s a funny little thing. Silver and bronze, filled with liquid, a worn and dirty wick. You turn a wheel with the side of your thumb; spark. And with that spark, a wisp of smoke. It’s empty now, of course, last bit of fuel used up on a final cigarette.

As last rights go, this is pretty shitty, but I’ll take what I can get.

Two. It’s funny now, what I wish would happen, what I wish did happen. I wish that I had told Matt to stop trying to save the world, then we’d run, we’d run for as long as we had to. For as long as it lasted. And if I died, I would’ve died afraid but happy. Naive and happy. Protecting him. I could deal with that.


I almost miss it. I do miss it, I miss all of it. Cushy amendments and set routines. I was fucked up, but so was everyone else. We all sat in our own little worlds, waiting to answer a call that never came. We all thought that we were there to serve in a way everyone else couldn’t. Shouldn’t. There was nothing above us aside from our Father, nothing that wasn’t permitted. There were the good guys and the bad guys. It was so fucking simple, until it wasn’t.

Because now I see good guys who kill with smiles on their faces, that get other people killed and act as if there was nothing they could do. Now I see bad guys who whimper and cry and beg, that put on fake personas in order to stay alive. I see the same people turn around and stab their enemies and allies in the back all in one go.

You start to feel things that aren’t real. Things that you think you would feel if you were “normal”; we start to grasp at straws, force things that were never really there. I’ve just watched. Watched for so goddamn long and kept my nose out of everyone else’s business. Watched it all burn around me, and didn’t lift a finger. Guess I’m like Him, in that regard...


Silhouettes. I think that, after a while, you have to stop seeing people as people. I did it back then, did it when we’d see bodies that looked more like a cartoon representation of what a human should be, and I do it now. I know the look -you know the one- wide eyed and afraid and jittery and cautious. I didn’t say a thing, didn’t offer one bit of advice or comfort. You all expect someone to give you answers, give you help. Contentment has a habit of making people comfortable, and as much as I hate to admit it, being comfortable means...

I was able to pretend for a while. You’ve all done it, most of you are doing it now from the safety of... wherever you are. We pretend that we’re people, like how long we last or what we do makes a difference in the end. And you know what? We’re all wrong. We spread out and run and infect others like a virus, latch onto innocent, ignorant people and suck them dry. We’re parasites, we take their help and they pay the price, like some twisted game of blackjack. The House is the only one who wins, and none of us are the fucking dealer.

And we can buy the drinks and wear the suits and tie the ties and look the part, but we’re never, ever going to be the same. And that’s the worst part, because now He’s taken something from you. He’s taken everything and He always manages that tiny bit more, the last refuge you had. He doesn’t think, doesn’t feel, doesn't do anything but act, doesn’t do anything but overpower. He takes you and everything that makes you and crushes it easily and then you’re not even left with the cinders afterwards. And the worst part about it is that there’s nothing you can do.


One. My name is Spencer Fitzgerald, and I have fifty three seconds left until I stop falling. The ground is coming up fast, and idly I find myself thinking about how it’s going to feel, how long it’s going to take, how much it’s going to hurt. I can’t help it, because as tired as I am, I don’t want it to hurt. Even with everything I’ve done, I don’t want to suffer. So instead I think about everyone that’s died up until now, with all that blood around me, surrounding me, on my hands. I’m not going to scream and beg, but I know I don’t want to die. I don’t want this. Was this how it was for everyone else? For August and Lori and Amanda and Todd and Sam, was this what it was like in the end? Sitting, just waiting, alone?

It’s cold.

I still have... I still had so much ahead of me, so much to see and do, but it’s all gone now. I should be relieved. I should be happy that it’s finally going to be over. But what sort of comfort is this? What comfort is waiting for death to fucking fall in your lap? I’m angry, I’m angry at a world that would let this all happen, at a universe that would do this to me. I’m running out of time and it’s not enough, and I’m left not a hero, not a ethereal figure, or anything that I wanted to be. These are the last words I’m ever going to write, and everything is ending one second at a time. Fuck all of you. Give up. No, fuck, don’t you dare ever listen to me; you’re all braver than you know, stronger than you’ll ever realize. But this is my stop. I'm tired of struggling, I'm tired of fighting a fight that I'm not going to win. I want the quiet and the hum, because for all my struggling, it never made any difference. 

But maybe, just maybe, you’ll live through all of this changing. All of it. Everything. And then life can go back to normal. 

I want to see it. I don't want to go.

... Leon

I think I'm ready now.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

~Steele~ Facing the Music

I returned to the House a couple of days ago. Not for long. I think we’ve all got used to the fact that I don’t call it a Home anymore. But I dropped in.

The corridors feel empty now. They always used to be empty, but now there’s this sense of emptiness about them. Abandonment. Like people haven’t been living there for a long time.

Makes sense. We haven’t been truly living for a long time. We have been surviving in fear, pushing on through despair. Struggling for simple subsistence, not through lack of means to survive; food, water, shelter… but all the odds being stacked against us.

Is that living?

I had an agenda for going back to the House. Homeowner notwithstanding…there were still two people there who had been clinging to life with me. I needed to see them. It’s getting to the stage when one can see that we might not be clinging for much longer.

I knocked on the door to Todd’s room and waited for a response. Which I did not receive. So I walked in, to see him sitting on his bed. Not much else. Just…there.

”Cat got your tongue?” I asked innocuously, sitting down near the door and pulling my knees into my chin. His head shook. Not really the response I was going for.

”So it’s not a cat.”




”Then what is it?”

He looked up, though still avoiding eye contact. “Why do the ones we love go, but the ones we can’t stand, stay?”
”I thought you and Sam were good friends!”
“Well, I don’t…” He looked troubled. More than usual for our situation. “By the way things are going, she’ll be next.” He started to look more with it after my silence. “God, I didn’t mean it like that, It’s just…just…”

”Don’t worry, mate. I loved Amanda, August and Lorelei too.”

I didn’t really trust myself to say any more.

”Well, to be honest…in a way, I don’t mind that they’re gone.” Todd rested his face in his hands. “No, no, no, I didn’t mean that…I just…God, I’m such a fuckup. I just mean…I’d be able to mourn like a normal person if it wasn’t for them.”

”I understand. I’d have troubles living with Grosvenor, too.” I paused for a moment and tried to pull off a grin. “I did have troubles living with Grosvenor, now you mention it. Didn’t he try to kill me that one time?”
”I’m sure. But he likes you. Admires you. And I know it shouldn’t matter, but that kind of makes me hate you.” He looked up at the ceiling, his expression implacable. “And I know I really shouldn’t be making enemies at this point.”
”It takes a lot more than someone not liking me to make an enemy out of me at this point. God knows I shouldn’t be making enemies right now, either.” Well, seeing as we’re being brutally honest here…”I’ve got to admit, I never much liked you either. You seem to be a lovely person, but I don’t like people who aim to murder me as a general rule.”

”See, and if I didn’t have this little…tumor, we’d be just fine. Why does he stay, but August, Lori and Amanda…” I could see this was hard for him, his voice broke a little. “I get it. Life’s not fair. Things get taken away. But…why not just a few more?”

”Well, I’m aiming to take away a certain red-headed thing from this world sometime in the not too distant future. It might ease your suffering a little; I know it’ll ease mine.”


”…Well, I hope it will ease mine.” I admitted.

”Thanks for the help, but I think there’s only one real way to help me.” He said sardonically, though his emotion dropped and he just seemed…like nothing was there. “Only one real way now.”
”And what way is that?”
His eyes finally locked with mine. “You don’t have to worry about that. It’ll be clean. You won’t be there when it happens. You are leaving soon, yes?”




“We can’t help get…rid of them, can we?” I asked, looking away.

”You could kill me.” He laughs humourlessly.

”I could.” I bit my lip. “But I won’t. If you go, it’s just Sam and Spencer left. And Spence is only here in a relative term.”

Todd stopped laughing at that. “Yeah, don’t kill me…but take out Spencer if you can. I’m sure you can get past the whole black evil blood, superhuman thing.”

I couldn’t help but smile. “Don’t remind me. Don’t suppose Grov could stand to lend a hand?”
”Spencer’s the one who let Grosvenor live. Grov owes him something. I think that’s the part I hate the most.”

"...Pity." I slumped back against the wall a little. "It would've been nice to have company. I'm quickly realising it's running out. We may not be too fond of each other, but we're still people, you and I. People who've been on opposite sides, to be sure, but our disagreements are nothing compared to the reality of Writer and Teller's little comedic duo."

”I guess.” He smiled a little. “Steele, I’m actually kind of disappointed we never really got to know each other that well. As cheesy as that sounds.”
”Me too. I wish we’d been on the same side for longer.”
”Hard when you’ve got condensed human evil in your head.”

”Todd, if you’re evil, I shudder to think of what Spencer has become.”




”When I leave the House, you are free to do what you need to do. If you can’t live with them…I understand. But there’s a real enemy here, someone who is a danger to us. And it’s not you.” I stood. “You’re one of the good guys.”

”Am I?” He asked with surprising intensity. "Do you know what I did before I came to this House? Do you know what I've done? I get that the line defining 'good' and 'evil' is a little hazy, but I think I've crossed it before. It's just a matter of... does it count? Does it count because it was just my body doing it? Not me?" He looks up. "Whatever, it's not like you know. Or care, probably. You should get going."

”I know more than you care to realise.” I said shortly, standing at the door. “I hope to see you when I return…but I know as well as you do that that’s not an inevitability anymore.”

I opened the door, and walked into the corridor.


”What?” I looked back.

”…Grov knows you, but he doesn’t know…about you.”


”I mean…Grov’s a little…closed-minded.”

I blinked. “I don’t follow.”

”He’s a little…Westboro-y.” He smiled wanely, a smile which I returned.

”Oh. Sorry, Grov; I like dudes. Hope this doesn’t get in the way of our beautiful relationship.” I paused, grinning genuinely for the first time in a while. “For what it counts, Grovvy, you’re kind of cute. In an alpha-male kind of way. Pity we couldn’t have got to know each other.”

Todd laughed loudly. “I don’t think he heard that, but I’ll be sure to tell him. And then I’ll tell him again. And again. And again.”

”I think he deserves that.”

”Oh, he deserves so much more. Seeya, Steele.”

”Seeya, mate.”

I left.

Was I wrong? Should I have told someone about this?

Maybe someone could’ve talked him out of it.

Our numbers are dwindling. In fact, I’d say they have positively dwindled.

I’ll keep clinging to this excuse for a life. Because that is who I am.

But there are fates worse than death.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Todd's final words: Fuck you all.

It's dry out here. That's the only way I can describe it. No food, no water. It's not even particularly hot or cold here. There is no temperature to speak of. All I can feel is hate. I never wanted it to be like this. This would be the part where I would say "I don't blame you," but I do. Fixing this could have been as easy as popping a zit. That's all Grov is. That's all it would have felt like to Spencer. He could have crushed Grov with two fingers, and made life so much better for the rest of us. But no, Spencer chose us all for a goddamn reason. Well, I hope you'll be able to find a good replacement for me, you sick shit.

I really should get over that. But it's too late now. Even if I wanted to live, finding my way out of here? Impossible. And the blood loss isn't gonna help matters much.

What was Spencer's #1 rule? Don't go into the East Wing. Strike 1. If I made it out of here, he'd kill me.

Jumping in during a particularly strong loop? Strike 2. No one's gonna be crazy enough to come in and get me.

Cutting your ear off with a stolen scalpel? Strike 3. I'll bleed out by the time anyone would find me.

Why am I typing all this? Stalling, most likely. My battery's about to die. Any last words from the boys?

Grov says fuck you. And by 'you' he means me. Fuck you too, buddy.

Sybil's crying. Good. I hope you'll be able to hear that. The echoes of a crying dead child. This is gonna be the second time he dies, if you think about it.

I'm gone. I'll say hi to August for all of you. If we're going to the same place, that is.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

[Let me tell you a story.]

[Once upon a time, there was a Man, and a Doctor, and a Boy, and his Father

(Not the Father
but rather
A Father.
The best Father
a Boy could ask for.)

And this Man, and this Doctor
Were being chased by the trees
The Man having been raised surrounded by them, farmed for fear and fame and glory
And the Father and the Boy were being chased too.

So it goes.]


[The Man had done work for the Father before, a client, like any other. Except...

The Father had a House, or rather, he had found a House.
A place, he bemoaned, that had a mind of its own.
That caught the Man's interest. He thought that the House would keep him and
Safe from the trees.

(And it did,
until it didn't. But that's
another story.)

The Father, however, knew better than that.
Because he knew that Man was not really a
at all.]

why are you doing this to me I don't want to remember


He was a Mongrel. A wolf in sheep's clothing. And he had a rather bad
Of throwing people away when he was done with them.

On a long enough timeline,
The survival rate of everything drops to

So the Father refused. But the Man was clever and wily and knew nothing of mercy. So if the Father wouldn't protect them from the trees

Then he wouldn't be protected either.]

Haha, is that what this is? Am I being punished? How about we tell them everyone's story, huh? How about Doc? How I burned down the mental institution she was in to leave no tracks behind? How she was legally DEAD?!? How about how I took Todd off the street, practically a Proxy himself, and made him into a fucking experiment?

[The Man lead the trees to the Father, and let him decide the fate of the Boy

A hostage situation
Fit for kings

He gave his answer.Then the Father looked at the Man and told him that he pitied him; He was dead soon after that. So then there was a Man, a Monster, a mad Doctor, a broken Boy -Who all played their parts well- Who all, maybe understood each other...]

How about Amanda, then? How she was young and quick and how I needed a runner that could outrun everything and anyone and Steele who I KNEW would come back, his interest caught, after I had nearly killed him and Sam
 oh god she's going to die too
She's going to DIE AGAIN

[The reluctant Hunter, the crippled Crow, the hubris infected Lion, the innocent Lamb

And maybe this wasn't so bad after all. The Boy might've known the entire time. But as it turns out

Life isn't fair.

The Boy died before the Mongrel did. But a Monster can't have that kind of luck forever.

The Boy knew that
And the Father knew that
And the Man knows that

It's just a matter of time before the curtain call.
Needless to say

There's no need for a Mongrel in the next production.]

I don't want this
please, for fuck's sake

make it stop

Sunday, 25 March 2012

~Steele~ If you’re not with us…

I’m not at the House. I’m on the way to DC. With a package, of sorts. Spence may say we’re not doing deliveries anymore, but I think we’re all acutely aware now, of the fact that I disagree with him occasionally.

Besides, this is a favour for an old friend. An old friend who I met in the strangest of places the other night. A warehouse in Detroit; not exactly the place I generally try to spend my Saturday nights, but a friend of mine invited me around to have a look at a personal project of his.

”Your House. It’s a community solution to an individual problem. People don’t Run in packs. The Runner’s experience is solitary, isolating, imperative, for that is how He operates; divide and conquer. Make the target drop from civilized society, then hunt them. A safehouse, a home base, an indivisible group that can split and reconnect, provide aid and structured networks…Only when we stop Running, can we start Fighting.”

So that’s what he did. Invited a bunch of Runners to start a community in a warehouse. Fantastic idea for me, but only one reason was on my mind as I pulled up outside the warehouse, with Poe perched on the passenger’s seat: With a group of runners from all across the area, all with their own distinct history, surely one of them would have some information on our red-headed friend.

Turns out, someone did; but it was the last person I expected. For while I was looking for information, I had in the back of my mind; three family members down, our ‘community solution to an individual problem’ wasn’t exactly working out. Clearly someone had missed those memos before starting this little…safeHouse.

Particularly, this one.

The smell of blood was tangible as I opened the door, rushing out to occupy the cool night air. An invisible red mist. I shouldn’t have walked in. Recent events have made me try to play the big damn hero, but that’s just not who I am; I am, and always have been, a survivor. I’ve always wanted to extend my life, but I’ve been throwing myself into these dangerous situations without a care.

Poe cawed and flew to land smartly on my shoulder; he smelled the blood too.

Either I’ve been lying to myself all along, or I’ve finally realised; the only way to truly prolong life is to stand your ground, not to live in retreat. If you run from your troubles, you aren’t truly living. You’re subsisting. Living is not delaying death.

So I stepped across the threshold and drew my handgun. Click.

As I walked down the corridor, I could hear scraping from up ahead; the screech of metal against metal, the tearing of metal against flesh, the sawing of metal against bone. The smell of blood was mixed with something else now; something chemical, formaldehyde…an oddly sterile smell to be mixed with the scent of such violence.

You know what this means. You’ve smelled this before.

I came to the corner, and peered around, agonizingly slow, only to have my suspicions confirmed.

The warehouse floor was covered in blood. Absolutely covered; the shimmering red reflected the light from the middle of the room, centred on a single table, with a man lying on it. There were other tables, too, about 15 of them; a man and a woman were hooked up to IVs and oxygen masks on two of them, strapped down on these makeshift gurneys; not moving…barely breathing. But still alive, very much still alive.

Unlike the man on the table. It wasn’t even a man; it was only most of a man. The skin had been flayed from his flesh at his extremities, the exposed tendons of his arms and legs gave way to white bone. His chest had been broken open like the covers of a book, and inside was…not much. Filed up neatly along the edge of an operating table was a series of jars containing what were presumably some of the man’s organs, preserved and labelled meticulously. Below the table were several black garbage bags, glittering and dripping menacingly with fluids. In fact, below a LOT of tables were several black garbage bags; the only tables that did not have that particular feature were the tables that were occupied by those uncannily still people.

And in the centre of the room was the architect of this macabre project, her long black hair framing her bone mask; for it truly was made of sizable shards of bone, most of which looked to be human, though there was one part which was definitely from a male deer skull, according to the broken off antler that slightly protruded. The mismatched, Frankenstein-esque conglomerate of bone material had two small eyeholes, underneath which the glint of a pair of glasses was visible.

Doc. What has He done to you?

I pulled back around the wall slowly, but Poe, the scavenger, had other plans; he squawked excitedly and took flight around the corner, landing on one of the garbage bags underneath one of the empty tables, and started tearing at the plastic. Doc stopped her operation and looked up at the corridor, as I realised I’d been discovered, and changed tactics; standing up and slowly walking towards her.

"Lori…what have you done to him?” I asked mournfully, standing a fair distance from the table. Lori put her tools down, and with empty hands, slowly walked around the table to stand in front of me. I could see her eyes beneath the mask; she looked happy. She reached into her pocket, and I pulled my gun out of mine. “Easy now. No sudden movements.” She knew the score, and continued to rummage around in her pockets, eventually pulling out a yellow lollypop and a crumpled up note, holding it out to me with a curiously serene look in her eyes. I took them both, and pocketed them, continuing to stare at Lori.

You know what He’s done to her.

He’s done it before.

You know only too well.

”Lori, are you okay?” I ask shakily, not expecting much in the way of an answer, as she ran back around to the other side of the table and grabbed a package, passing it to me. It said “RIVERS” in messy handwriting.

Giggle, nod. It doesn’t take a genius to see that she’s no longer all there.

Oh, but she is. You know that. You know that the dead bodies around you weren’t taken by her, they’re His fault.

”Do you remember August, Lori?” I felt moisture seep from the corner of my eyes, as the twinkle in her eyes faded, and the giggling stopped. Nod.

”Remember the man who killed him? You found Writer, didn’t you?” I asked.

Of course. You have more important things to do, don’t you? Always did have a one-track mind. This isn’t your friend anymore, she’s not even a murderer anymore, she’s a broken means to a violent end.

She nodded, and there was a growling sound from underneath the mask, a gurgling, guttural affair. With that, she reached down to the bottom of her shirt, and lifted it just slightly, revealing a stitched up wound across her stomach, a thin, cruel slash.

Well, she won’t be your means if you don’t play ball a little.

”That’s our Lori.” I said, smiling a little, in spite of myself. It didn’t extend to my eyes. “You wanted revenge for our August, didn’t you?”

Nod nod.

”Tell me where Writer is. Let me finish the job. We can get him. We can fix this.” I pleaded. Lori blinked, opening her mouth to speak, tears openly in her eyes.

She’s so…collected.

The illusion was broken when all that came from her mouth was a collection of sounds; as if she knew what she was talking about, but her mouth wouldn’t move in the right ways. She stopped, frustration in her eyes, and tried again, before giving up with a sigh.

It was a long shot, anyway.

”Can you show me?” I asked Lori, similarly as hopefully. She pulled out a pad of paper and began to write, as the smells of the warehouse assaulted my senses once more.

She’s still there, but look what she did. The team doctor has a body count. And here you are asking for directions, like that’s all excusable. Like brief moments of sentience make up for murder. I suppose even a lion is seen as graceful and majestic, when it’s not hunting.

She ripped off the sheet of paper and handed it to me. I took a brief look at it and pocked it again.

These people had families, just like Lori’s part of yours. She’s just made 10 more graves for people to stand over and mourn, people to declare revenge, people to lose their minds over…

”Thank you, Lori…I’m going to miss you.” I said, moving towards the door. She made a low, rumbling sound from beneath the mask. Almost like a purr.


Never had I met a person as smart and kind as you. Sure, we had our…creative differences, particularly about the when, where and whys of drug use, but we developed an understanding of each other, a mutual acceptance…and even a friendship. We’ve been here from the start, you and I. Ever since that day I came barrelling into yours and Spencer’s life, you’ve been there to support us, to pick us up when we fall down, to clean us up when we got messed up after a mission.

Then the others came. one, two three four five….All the other couriers. You and I, we’ve seen them all. The young kids through to the older, seasoned recruits. Our family grew…but there were always the injuries you couldn’t fix.

I never knew how you did what you did. How you cared so damn much about people, and continued your life even after you tried your hardest to save them, and it wasn’t enough. I can only imagine what you must’ve felt, being so incredibly involved, and so incredibly vulnerable. I closed myself off, stayed aloof, didn’t let myself become anything other than the guy who gets things done. You stayed, and you cared. That took incredible strength, strength I could never match.

People called you a bit of a mad scientist; I may have started that. “Doc” as a nickname stuck a lot better than I expected. I hope you liked it, I never meant it in a mean way. You always cared for your research, but it was always to help someone. Everything you do, everything you have done, has been for the greater good of some cause; be it to cure Spencer like recently, or the plethora of times you’ve figured shit out. A problem solver.

”Lori, how’s your research going?”
She made a ‘so-so’ sign with her hand.
”Can I see it?”
Her face lit up as she led me by the hand to the desiccated organs and open corpse in the middle of the room, before picking up two pairs of blue latex gloves and passing them to me.
”Meticulous as usual, I see.” I said, as I put the gloves on.

You put such passion into your work. Because you knew what you were doing was the right thing to be doing. I never had that luxury, I always questioned myself. I always do question myself.

I’m questioning myself now…but I know you wouldn’t. You’d look at me, and you’d smile, and you’d understand. It had to be done. It makes sense. I’d have done the same.

I hope.

Please, don’t hate me.

Lori turned around and leaned down to point to a part of the man’s brain, which stood there exposed, raw and bloody. In turn, she also exposed the back of her own head, her slightly frazzled black hair. She almost looked normal.

I had to be quick. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if she knew what was coming.

I reached into my pocket,

pulled out my gun

and fired twice.

I looked through my pockets when I was sitting in the car, and found the note about Writer, the lollypop, and the first note. “STEELE”, it said on the back.

I turned it over.

G'DAY STEELE! I'm so happy to see you again I've missed you all so much since I left but I promise I didn't mean to leave so suddenly I'll be home soon, really soon so take care of yourself or else. Research has been going well, tell Spencer that I should be able to help him more really soon the bodies have been giving me all sorts of good information, so don't worry about me I'm just fine and everything will be okay. KISSES, Lori.

I had to. She’d murdered an entire safehouse in cold blood.

I had to.

But her twinkling eyes were still there. Another pair of eyes to accompany the brilliant green pair in my mind.

And they’re all I see when I close my eyes.