Saturday, 27 August 2011

-Steele- And We're Off.

And once again, it is time for another delivery…

Well, this time? It’s more of an armed escort. Here’s the transcript:

”Mr. Steele,

I have been following your blog for a while now, first as a matter of interest as an observer, looking at your contribution and re-imagining of the features of these so-called Slender Man Blogs…then as a matter of a lot more, personal relevance. Myself and my work partner are currently doing some investigations linked to Mr. Tall and Slender, particularly some of his 'devout', so to speak: and the trail of evidence points to Nevada. My partner must stay in New Jersey, and I do not feel safe travelling alone, or advertising my activities online. Though I seem to be doing a fantastic job of that now. I do realise this is not the usual job description, and I do not mean to treat you as a common mercenary. But I can offer money, and I can offer information, while you can offer discreetness and protection. I'm not talking killing anyone, I understand that is not your inclination, but I'd love to have some company that can do something other than run and hide, which is admittedly my inclination.

Reply as soon as you can, and I shall provide you with pick up and drop off details.

Bring your gun.


Dr. Matthew Rivers, Psy.D.”

Mercenary. Love that word.

So naturally, I replied back. I'm leaving for the next couple days...Hell, it'll probably be a week before I get back to the house. And I don't imagine I'll be able to check the blog much on the way.

Y'all are gonna have to just deal with the lack of my visage for a little bit! You'll live.


Friday, 26 August 2011

-Amanda- Tired

God, I'm tired. So fucking tired. It's dragging at my bones and there's not a damn thing I can do. Coffee only goes so far, kids. Trust me.

All I want to do these days is curl up in my room. I've practically made myself a fucking nest in there. Even Poe is looking at me weird. Do you realize how fucking crazy you have to be for a fucking crow to notice? Christ.

So Elaine's here. Whatever nonexistent god have mercy on her. Good luck, you crazy bitch

-August- Home Again

I'm sorry, Schrodinger, that I couldn't be around to say hello or cook you a meal. Nevada's a long way away and I really wish I had driven faster... oh well. What can you do? If you're ever in the area again, you should stop by; I'll make you the best pancakes you've ever had in your life.

(Or, so Spencer tells me. But judging by what these people ate before I came here the bar wasn't exactly set high.)

Delivery went well, yadda yadda, driving for fifty hours sucks, bluh bluh, ELO is fantastic, Doc, I'm sorry I took your CDs, I'm tired, good night.

You can read about the drop off here if you're so curious. I'm going to get some rest so I can get back to cooking, cleaning and helping Elaine figure out what that key unlocks.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

-Todd- All Better Now.

Well, as good as I can get.

Last night, Spencer and I got a handle on this whole multiple personality situation thing. I wasn't really planning on making a post about it, but when I was going through the drafts, I saw transcribed dialogue from the situation. All in lowercase. So, I did a little editing and added some things that needed to be added. Frankly, I just need something to keep my mind busy for a while.

It started with Spencer taking me to the wing. When we got there, he told me to close my eyes. I did. He said unto me, loudly and clearly, "The music coming up from the floor was our old friend, Ludwig Van, and the dreaded Ninth Symphony." Right then, I felt all the blood rush to my head. My knees almost gave out. It was evident something had changed. Spencer told me to open my eyes. I did.

A vast desert wasteland appeared before me. I rubbed my eyes at the sight of it, it was so alien, yet so familiar all at the same time. The sky was pitch black with no moon or stars or any identifiable source of light, but still somehow I could see for miles. Some sort of ambiance filled the air. I looked at Spencer.

"Spence? What the hell? How..."

"Triggers. Wonderful things, eh~?" He put a hand on my shoulder. "So, this is your head? A lot worse than I thought it'd be, granted;" (Which is totally what I wanted to hear) "you should see the inside of mine...."

"Spence, I don't think I want to see the inside of anybody's head. I'm trying not to think about this too hard."

"Well, we've got to make you stop hurting, right~?" He grinned, and started walking forward. "We've got some people to meet!"

It took me a split second to understand what he was talking about. I ran to catch up with him. "Wait, we're just going to go up to them? You don't think he's going to try and attack or something?"

He started to shake his head. "You''ll see what happens if he tries."

"You scare me, sometimes, Spence."

"As I should. Grov isn't the only monster living in The House." He stopped, and turned around on his heel "Going to come out to PLAY, my Hunter~?"

I turned around, almost positive Grosvenor would be standing there, but not exactly sure on what he would look like in there. But when I did, I just saw a little kid, looking frightened out of his mind. He looked at me, then at Spencer, and ran away. I turned my head towards Spencer. "Was that just...?"

"You've got it." He sighed. "So, I've pretty much set up your head as a controlable Loop, so to speak. As in, this is a set location now. You can make anything happen here. Want to try it out...?"

"So what you're saying is, I'm Neo right now, and you're Morpheus?"

"I did the best I could, under the circumstances." He laughed, the sound rough and deep. "Also, be careful. Grov has a wicked looking knife."

"How would you...?" I stopped myself. I decided to not question him at this point, seeing how he's obviously done this before. "Do you know where he is?"

"Of course I can! The question is, can you~?"

"Spence, I would really appreciate it if you could talk in plain English, and not cryptic questions right now." I looked into the distance. "This is my head, huh? And anything I say goes?"

"Pretty much. But don't overexert yourself or you'll get a wicked nosebleed."

"Oh boy."

"All very complicated. Point being, you're the boss."

I started walking in no particular direction.

"Can they know when I change things?"

"Of course. They live here too, you know." he said, almost in a melancholy tone.

I started walking a little bit faster. "So we should be quick about it."

"You should probably talk with them." he yelled, as he started taking a few steps to catch up with me.

I started walking a little faster. "Talk? I wanna get rid of the bastard."

"... no."

At this point, I normally would have stopped and looked at him. But I kept increasing speed, just slow enough that you couldn't consider it running, carrying my feet through the sand. I look back at him.


As he looked at me, I could feel the coldness from his eyes send chills down my spine. "They're a part of you. You can't just get rid of them! You can control it, prevent them from causing you pain, but you can't just... make them leave!"

I turned around, still keeping a pace. "I don't care about the kid. He can stay. But that thing has go to. Actually, I don't want to make him go, I want him dead."

"I'm telling you, you can't-"

"What? I can't be in control of my own mind? Do you like the idea that one of these days I might" And out of nowhere, came Grov, tackling Spencer from the side,knocking him into a ditch.


Grov pulled a knife from a small sheath in his leg. "I'm fixing this!" He yelled, in a voice unlike any human one I had heard before. Spence gave a well aimed kick to the his stomach, jamming his heels into the man's armpits, throwing him off in one continuous motion.

"And how, exactly, are you planning on doing that?"

Grosvenor landed on his back, which you could tell knocked the wind out of him. "By... by keeping you in here, and getting out." He says in a pained voice.

Spence yells. "Me? How in hell's name do you think THAT'S going to happen?"

"Shut the fuck up!" He tried to upright himself "I will fucking destroy you. I don't care what you are." He picked up his knife..

"Todd, um, do your stuff?"

"Stuff? What stuff? How am I... what do I?" I yelled. Grov started hacking away at Spencer.

"Just make him stop!" he yelled back, blocking off the attacks.

I panicked. Thoughts raced through my brain. I couldn't focus on any one idea other than Oh God, anything to get this guy to stop. I felt a sort of rush through my mind, and suddenly, Grov stopped moving completley. He dropped the knife. From the distance I was at, I could see that some sort of plant was growing around him, over his hands and up his neck.

Spencer screams "No, fuck, Todd, NO!"

"Am I..." I walked closer to him. "Am I doing this?"

"For fuck's sake, not the tree-" he looks at me, eyes wide. "GET IT UNDER CONTROL!"

I looked at Grosvenor, covered in vine-like substance, completely helpless and afraid. "The tree? You say that like it's something important."

"The Bleeding Tree. And unless you want it's image in your fucking head, I suggest YOU STOP THAT RIGHT NOW."

At the time, I had no idea what the Bleeding Tree was, exactly, but I was pretty sure it wasn't good news. But still, I had the thing in my grasp. I could have gotten rid of it right there. "I..." The vines started retracting from his skin and back into the sand.

Spencer rushed over to him. "Grov. Grov, you alright?" He let out a gasp, catching his breath. The lower portion of his body remained frozen.

I became furious. "You're fucking sympathizing with this thing?"

"I'm sympathizing with something that can't help what it is." Spencer replied. "This is YOU, Todd. He... he's protecting you. The only way he knows how...." He tried getting a response out of Grov.

"Oh, fuck this." I ran towards the two of them, shoving Spencer out of the way. I tackled Grov, pushing him onto his back. As he landed, I could hear a very loud, very painful sounding crack.

".... heh." I looked back at Spencer. He was smiling."Fight it out, gentlemen." Bipolar prick.

I stood, ready to do just that. But as I drew back my fist, I noticed that Grov's legs were broken right above the calf. The bones were sticking straight through the fabric of his pants. It was too much. "What... the... FUCK."

Spencer spoke. "You see? Is this what you want to be, Todd? Beating up on the one person that, quite possibly, knows you best?" he calmed his tone a bit. "Accept him, Todd. Accept it all. Only then can you be in control."

Of any possible request he could have made, he made the single one I didn't want him to. "Spence," I said, breathing heavy. "I would really apreciate it if you shut the fuck up right now."

"You're going to kill him. you're going to end up a braindead idiot because you're stubborn. Is that what you want?"

"That... that wouldn't happen."

"You seem to be doing an awfully good job as it is!"

"You're ordering me to take pity on the guy who planned out individual ways of killing us all?"

"I'm ordering you to calm down and figure out what you want to do!" he yelled. "Look at him!" I did.

I saw a face covered in what looked burns, welts, scars, among other things. It showed pain. Looking at that face made time stand still, if just for a second. I started laughing."You know what I want to do?"

"I know what you want. But if you kill him, you might was well kill me."

I looked back at him. He had this grin on his face, but it wasn't his usual one.It literally spread all the way across his face. His eyes flashed auburn. "How about it, then? Going to destroy all the monsters?"

I felt annoyed. It was like he was showing off, and asking if I should kill everyone who had a fancier car then me. There was too much pride in his sentence. "Spencer, I will admit I'm horrified right now, but the things is, you've never threatened any of us. You're our leader. And as fucked up as you are, you couldn't possibly know what it's like to have a whole nother part of you, completley independent from yourself, wanting to kill everyone you love. But the thing is..."

"Well here's the leader that saved your life." he interrupted me. "Done a lot of good, done a lot of bad. But you know what? Grov has saved your life on more than one occasion. Are you just going to throw that away?" He laughed, the sound depraved and sick. The shadows behind him start growing.

"Do you know what they used to call me, Todd? Spencer isn't my real name. I never even HAD a name. no, they called me Teller... Storyteller....." Grosvenor started screaming in pain from the ground.

"Shut up," I ordered him.

He stared coughing. "Heh. Not the only one with an estranged identity, huh?" he said through gritted teeth. I gave him a look.

"You think Grov is a monster?" laughed Spencer. "Your leader, who you love so much is worse, has killed more people, is infinitely more dangerous!" I didn't respond. "Is that what it is? As long as it doesn't effect you, you don't care?"

"Me? I don't care about me. If he made me suicidal, I would give less then one shit."

"Honestly, you're so stupid! Everything he did, he did for you! To protect you! To keep you safe!" He took a step forward.

"Spence, get back. You're talking crazy right now. Being in here is not good for you."

"I'm not letting you hurt him. If you're going to take control, you do it properly. What are you, a child? give you a hint of power and you take a mile?" Anger resonates through his voice. "I DIDN'T. DO THIS. SO THAT YOU. COULD RUIN. EVERYTHING!"

His yell cleared the air and left only silence.

Grov began laughing painfully. I glared at him. Then back at Spencer. "You're saying... you're saying I can't kill him?" It came out really quiet, very frightened.

"No. He's you. You can't." he said softly. "This isn't his fault."

I looked back at Grov's mutilated legs, and the knife that was now at his side. I picked it up and marveled at it. "So, then. I can't kill him. I just need to... keep him under control?"

Spencer didn't like where I was going with that. ".... work with him. Surely, having an efficient killer at your beck and call isn't a bad thing?"

I became angry at that recommendation. "Well, if we're using your mentality, yeah." I held the knife close. After a second, of silence, I heard the snapping of fingers. The knife vanished.

"Don't be an idiot."

"No, no, you don't understand. I won't kill him. But... he's not a real, living thing. He couldn't die by bleeding out, right?"

"He feels pain. Why not make him loath you? Want to kill you? That's smart."

"Cut off his legs. His arms. Sew is eyes shut. Sew his mouth shut." I looked back up at Spencer.
"That sound familiar?"

His eyes went cold again. "Lock him up. I don't care. But don't hurt him."

I looked back at Grov. "You understand, Todd?" Spence snarled.

I didn't respond. "I'll ask you again. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?!?" I felt all my emotions evacuate my body. My face went numb. "No. Not at all." Against my will, the vines began to grow around Grov again. Suddenly, they turned, and started growing around me. I heard Spencer take a step in the sand towards me.

"Listen," he whispers in my ear. "I got into your head with a phrase. What do you think it would take me to break it? Ruin it all? Make you my perfect little obedient employee? So listen to me, and listen close; I am telling you to not hurt him. You're not scared of the right person, Todd."

I could feel the anxiety well up inside me. "The question is, why should I have to be? I thought we all had one common enemy. I thought this was supposed to be the tale of how everyone fucking gets along until the Tall Man comes and takes them away. This isn't supposed to be so... fucked up. We aren't supposed to be this fucked up.

"What happens when you don't want to get the blood on your hands, Todd? What happens when it all becomes all too much? You can't run, not anymore. Hiding is a waste of time. So what did you do?"

"You're supposed to flop over and die. Accept it. Be a fucking man about it. You don't become... whatever you are."

"... and how about you? For the suicidal idiot you are, you wanted to live. But you just couldn't do that, could you? Couldn't accept your survival instinct for what it was worth! Your brain was forced to make a choice; kill or be killed... Guess which one it chose."

I didn't say anything. The vines began to retract back into the sand again.

"You know what I think, Spence?"

He didn't hear me. "He did this. This murderous psychopath, it's all for you. All so you could live your happy little life without having to deal with it." He stopped. ".... what was that, toddykins?"

"I think, fuck you. Fuck you, fuck him, fuck me, fuck Slender man." The vines were completely in the ground now. I started to walk away. Spencer didn't follow. "I'll be back." I yelled, keeping my eyes in front of me.

Apparently, the conversation continued on without me. All that's written here is the dialogue.

"... that could have gone better." said Spencer, I presume.

"I agree with what he said. Fuck you." replied Grov, I'm pretty sure.

"Hey. It was either that or you coming down with a bad case of the deads. Us psychopathic murderers have to stick together, riiiiiight~?"

"Please. Don't try and relate to me. Hey, get the fuck off of me, you...""

"Not trying to. figured you wouldn't want to die, though. If I were you? I'd run. He's going to be back, and I won't be here to talk him out of it."

"He wouldn't kill me. He hasn't got the balls. That's the reason he has me."

"Hahahahahahaha! You really think so? Best of luck, then, Hunter. I wouldn't put it past him. Remember...." Spence probably smiled right around here, I can just tell. "I chose them all for a reason."

"You... you shut up! Shut up! You know goddamned well he wouldn't! I'm the killer! He's just the scared kid! Shut up!"

"How does it feel, Grov? To know that he's one step away from not needing you~? After all, he's not calling your name anymore, is he?"


"Temper, temper; So the hunter becomes the prey! Well, nothing more I can do for you now. You owe me, you know. For saving your pathetic, obsolete life."

"Fuck you. Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you... I don't owe you anything, bastard."

"You owe me everything, and you know it. you'd be dead, Grovvie. Plain and simple. you're lucky the only thing I ask is that you keep Todd and Syb safe. Oh, and Grov~? You ever threaten my team again? You see what I can do when I'm not even trying. Anything Todd would do to you will look like child's play. Comprende?"

"I'll be sure not to threaten them first, next time."

"Sure. I was surprised you gave advance warning."

"But He's not the only one watching, you know."

"Yeah. I know. Don't let Todd kill you. Best of luck, Hunter. when's the best time for me to visit? Haven't talked with Syb in a while."

"You keep your fucking hands off of the kid."

"Still suspicious? Fine, fine... I'll have to show up unannounced... the things you make me do, sweetheart, honestly!"

"I swear to whatever God you worship, if you lay one finger on the child, I will rip you to pieces, regardless of whatever Superpowers you have."

"You seem to not understand my motives, Grov. Sybil, for all intents and purposes, is useless to me. I keep an eye on him. That's all. Innocenceignorenceinsanity, am I right? For an insane monster, you're sure protective, aren't you?"

"The reason I was made. But the thing is, I'm suspicious of what you do to people who are 'useless' to you. Nothing favourable, I'm sure."

"Have I ever laid a finger on Sam?" A sigh "I'm not your enemy, Hunter. It would be nice if you didn't treat me as such. "Well, at least, not yet. Do something stupid again and I'm going to make you wish you were never born."

"Good. That would make two of us."

"Cute. What would Syb do without you? So much potential.... you know, maybe he'd be useful after all.... Sam is turning out quite nicely..."

"Just stay away from him. If Todd and I go, nad he's the only one left, just let him go. He's better off without you."

"Well, you're just going to have to stick around, now won't you? You and Todd, friends forever. you won't react to your own safety? fine. Todd is mine. You are mine. And the kid...? Well, that's your choice, now isn't it?""

"Sick. You're sick. Did your mom not love you enough, sick bastard?"

"I never had a mother. This is all I know. Sad, isn't it?" (The word "smiling" is written next to this one... great.)

"Stop. Stop making us look similar."

"I'm not doing anything, Grov. Maybe we're both more alike than you think."

"Just stop it. Go. Go get Todd before he does something else stupid."

"He'll be walking back here in two minutes. Minds aren't very big." A sigh. "Best of luck, my Hunter. Seems that you're going to need it."

"Probably not. On account you're imprisoning me here. AGAIN."

The transcript ends there. I found myself back in the house again after a while. I haven't talked to Spencer since. I'm still trying to convince myself that staying here is better than going out there. But it's just a little annoying when you find out someone you've looked up to for a long time is making you become the killer even though the only reason you came to him is so you wouldn't.

I looked up the Bleeding Tree. Yeah, no good news there.

Look, Spence, I still trust you, but it's not blind trust anymore. If I had known I'd have to be a killer either way... I don't even know. Is it too much to ask for me not to kill anyone? Dammit.

God Fucking Dammit.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

-August- Love is Like Oxygen

Sometimes I wonder, Spence, if you don't just leave these things in places where you know I'll be the only one to look there. Why was the Electric Light Orchestra discography behind our James Bond collection and how is it possible for music to be this good?

I don't think I've gotten through the first three albums in the last couple of days because this stuff is amazing.
And then I think to myself: you know, somebody probably hid them back there so nobody else would steal them while they were out. Because, let's face it; we are a courier service, we dotravel long distances crammed in cars - often alone. If it weren't for the constant run-ins with Slim n' Trim and his masked compadres we'd have serious trouble keeping ourselves in the appropriate sector of the BMI index.

Delivery's gone well so far; something about the Nevada sun seemed to wake me up and I got two extra hours of driving in before landing in a Holiday Inn in some tiny desert town. The owner seemed nice enough; a woman, looked to be about fifty. Gave me a bit of a strange look and asked what 'a young face like me was doing 'round these parts?' I just smiled and asked her for a room.

Pickup ended up being near the MGM Grand, a wonderful and expensive-looking hotel and casino. All I could find myself thinking, as I stood at the foot of a lion that looked to be made of something very, very pricey, was 'how many poor suckers lost their life fortunes behind those doors?'

Triple digits, at least - and that's annually.

The package I'm delivering is a notebook, green in color with intricate white swirls. I know better than to open it, mostly due to the fact that I can't seem to look at the thing for very long without developing a horrible headache.

I've kept it in the back of the Explorer because I'm getting horrible vibes off the thing Just another mad woman's notebook, I keeping telling myself. It's not the first you've delivered and certainly not the last.



The new car.

The payment for this delivery was a car of the sender's; apparently one of the only thing the girl has left. While it's far from a luxury car you can tell she's had it for a while, and the personality really shines through. It's a blue Ford Explorer and something of a gas guzzler, but the suspension is fantastic and makes some of the rougher parts of the highway much more comfortable.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to pretend that my sleep schedule is something close to normal and stare at the ceiling for a couple hours.

Be home soon. Be safe, yeah? Best of luck to everybody.

-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.

-August- Even While We Rebuild the Shambles of Our Family

We're expected to go on delivery.

By the time this is posted I'll probably be somewhere along the I-70; someone in Nevada sent me an email and it seemed like she was in need of some urgent help, and I'm not one to turn down somebody in need.

Sam'll be on delivery too, but I don't think she'll be gone for more than a day; the woman she's delivering to is an old friend of Spencer's - a researcher. She needs things shipped in a lot and it's become something of a regular thing for us to see her.

(Pays well, too.)

The pick-up's near one of those fancy hotel casinos, and I'm not lying when I tell you I can't wait until I'm old enough to actually stay in one. I'll be traveling from Vegas to Wichita - roughly twenty hours if I stay on the highway; I figure I'll take it five hours at a time and crash in a hotel every night. As for the drive back? Another 26 hours or so. All in all, another week-long delivery.

The usual.

Alright, you kids know the deal: dinners are in the freezer, they're labeled, eat whatever and whenever you'd like. Laundry can wait until I get back unless you need it done, in which case you're on your own. Can you please, please, please try to not bleed all over the carpets again while I'm gone? We're out of stain devil so I'll be picking some up... sometime on my way back home.

(Why do I always seem get the long deliveries, anyways?)

I'll be flying to Vegas, meaning the van'll be at home; but the AC/DC and ELO discographies are with me.

I'll try to post and/or call once a night, but all in all it should be a pretty standard delivery.

Oh, and don't worry about how I'll get back home, either; you see, I'm getting a new car for this one.

Let's just hope it will survive the 40 hour trip across the country, yeah?

See you soon.

-Doc- Bad Medicine

As Steele has helpfully pointed out in past comments, I am not a real doctor. I do not claim to be one, despite my years of schooling in medicine, but I do my absolute best to ensure that every patient I see is treated well and has benefited at least slightly from my intervention. This applies especially to this team: what many of us have come to consider our family.

When I went to give Todd his sedatives last night, I had the opportunity to speak to all three personalities inhabiting his mind. Todd just wanted me to shoot him up and get it over with, but before I could, Sybil emerged. I don’t often get to speak to Sybil, so I put the syringe away and took the opportunity to have a chat with him. I don’t usually deal well with children, and Sybil is very childlike at his core. I asked him if things were okay, and the answer he gave was…well, in some parts, it was disturbing. I won’t share all he said for the sake of his privacy, but one thing struck me in particular:

“When you give us that medicine, none of us /really/ go to sleep. We just go into one place where we don’t move as well, like a dream. And Grosvenor and Todd fight without talking or moving at all.”

I immediately asked him if this was okay, and he seemed to think so, because the sedatives help him to relax. At the time, I blindly accepted this answer and gave the injection. Sybil thanked me and smiled.

Suddenly, Todd’s hand grabbed my left wrist, wrenching it in his direction a little. I winced painfully for my poor shoulder. A gruff voice from the depths of his throat shouted, “The fuck?! What did you say to him?!”

I reflexively tried to pull away (not a very good idea, I think that’s when I popped one of my stitches), ordering Grosvenor to let go. He wouldn’t of course, but we proceeded to have an…odd conversation. Honestly, he reminds me of Marcus near the end of our relationship, with just a dash of murder added in for good measure. He mostly tried to re-explain how he is “scar tissue, not really human,” and I proceeded to explain why that is a load of bullshit. He is a piece of Todd’s mind, and Todd is human, whether he likes it or not. So that makes him at least a piece of a human, if only by association. Grov, sorry that “sorta human by association” doesn’t sound nearly as imposing as “inhuman,” but it’s far more accurate.

As his posture faltered and his words became more nonsensical (he even claimed he would be able to read the writing in the bones I’ve been finding; what a crock), I bid him good night. Todd returned, confused and feeling the effects of the drugs.

“Grov…that guy…” he slurred as his pupils dilated. I shushed him and helped him up, letting him lean on my right shoulder as I led him to bed. “That guy…that…that guy…” he mumbled. I gently shushed him again, helping him to the bed. He stumbled, his weight like another dagger in my wounded shoulder despite my good posture, but I kept him steady. Once he slid onto the bed, he looked at me through his glassy, half-open eyes.

“That guy is so full of sh-”

He trailed off as his eyes slid shut and his head lolled to his shoulder. I stayed a moment to ensure that he was comfortable, shut the light off, and closed the door as I exited. Then noticed that I had been bleeding from my shoulder and took care of that.

I feel terrible. While Sybil did say he didn’t mind, from his description, I see things this way: every time I’ve been administering these sedatives, I’ve been essentially trapping Todd within his own mind to contend with these personalities with no easy escape. He’s found no peace in this process. While it’s a necessary evil in some cases due to Grosvenor’s violent outbursts, but from this point on, I don’t believe I’ll be relying on sedation, heavy or light, as anything but an emergency measure in anyone’s treatment plan.

After all, it's my job to help you all be as healthy as possible so you have the best chance at survival, not to torture you.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

~Steele~ The East Wing.

What a difference a few hours can make.

Before dinner that night, I was angry…But even that wasn’t really what it was. I was frightened. Not of Spence, not at its core. Of what I didn’t know. And that is always the worst fear to have, that sensation of worry, not for your present, but for the future, what could be, not what is.

As Spence dragged me through the door to the East Wing, it swinging shut behind my beaten form…I didn’t feel fear. I felt pain, but not fear…for in the place of the fear, I felt curiosity, the same curiosity I left the house for, except many times greater, an exalted crescendo of curiosity, like the rhythmic beating of a drum, slowly increasing in tempo and volume, as my eyes adjusted to the dark and I could see the side of the house where Spence spends all his time.


The rooms were covered in dust. Barely furnished, as if the house had been abandoned for years…and as we went slowly deeper into the wing, the dust got thicker, decades, centuries thick, as the house got colder and my curiosity boomed more intensely in my mind, a heartbeat growing rapidly in intensity, as the corridor kept going, and going…

Until suddenly, Spence stood at a door, the Door, at the end of the hallway, exactly the same as the rest, but different in a way my eyes could not perceive, but my body could, as the drums rolled like waves crashing into the shores of my mind, an invisible force assaulting, liberating, enlarging…

Then he opened it, and there was only White.

It’s cold.

My fear has not gone, though my curiosity has been satiated.

I no longer fear the unknown.

It is inevitability I fear.

When you are a child, you fear the dark room…not for any property of the dark itself, but because it can hide so many more fearsome things from your view: monsters, murderers, malign forces beyond your control.

In that sense, the dark itself becomes an object of fear. A fear by association. And the only way to lose that fear is by turning on the lights.

But what happens when you turn on the lights, and aren’t confronted with the calming, empty room you were hoping for, but instead, have your fears confirmed? You find that the lights were turned off specifically to conceal the monsters within?

I still don’t trust Spence…in fact, I have less of a reason to trust him now, than ever.

But I’ll stand by my family. And I’ll stand by him.

It’s all I can do, now that the lights are on and the forces of darkness are swarming in.

Stand with them, grit your teeth.

And close your eyes.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

-Grosvenor- Oh isn't this nifty

See? I can put my name before posts, too. Doesn't make you so special. Todd's computer is nice. Why don't I get one like this? This needly stuff feels really good. I should get some more of this.
Why did I do this? Oh yeah. I'm here to defy Spencer and his fucking whims. "DON'T PUT THIS ON THE BLOG, WE NEED TO KEEP THINGS LIKE THIS TO OURSELVES." I swear to god, the sound of his voice makes me want to put his fucking nuts to a cheese grater. So you know what I'll do? I'M GONNA PUT IT UP ON THE FUCKING BLOG. CAUSE I'M A GENIUS.

So it starts with the girly man, August, as you may know him, cooking everyone dinner. And I don't know whose idea it was, but apparently, it's not a good old fashioned dinner unless you bring the drugged up maniacs in on the fun (i.e. myself and the mad scientist, or Doc, as you may know her). So that made things interesting. I'm aware, but I'm not all there. It's like watching a movie. Couldn't really interact with anything anyone was doing.

Spencer had this fucking look on his face. A sort of calm that shouldn't have been there. If my face muscles would have functioned properly, I might have scowled at him. But Steele was doing enough emoting for the both of us, albeit a different expression, a sort of smirk as it were. And August was being a fucking sheep and giving him plenty of looks himself, only he didn't seem to notice. It was like a web of unrequited contempt.

So Spencer stands up. He says "Team, I have an announcement to make!" sounding like the fucking idiot he is.

"...wearin' ladies clothing under that?" I hear Doc say. "Not surprised..." I would have laughed had I gotten it at the time.

"Oh, you're telling us things now? How novel." says Steele, but not loud enough for Spencer to hear it. Good thing, too, who knows what sick method of punishment he would have carried out on him if he heard that?

'"Anyways, we're going to be having a house guest in a bit. No, it's not Elaine; I wouldn't warn you all about the girl that I will be shagging." The fact any woman would be even slightly attracted to this disgusting shell of what once was a man surprising.*

"Well, that explains a lot." from Steele.

Spencer goes on to explain that someone is coming to the house. I didn't quite catch the name, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't a real name and it was something he had just made up. Idiot. He smiles. "I trust you all know him...?"

"You're bringing one of them into our fucking house? What, building an army are you?" says Steele.

"Sure, Comrade Leon! An uprising is what we need right now~!" says Spencer, probably thinking he's clever or something.

"Fuck. You. You are endangering ALL of us." reasons Steele.

"I'm giving him a choice. Just like I'd give all our other clients a choice. I don't discriminate, Steele." says Spencer.

"This isn't discrimination, this is self-preservation. How many innocents has that monster killed? Not that you'd care, hey: You and him are birds of a feather, aren't you?" Steele says.

"Oh yes, let's throw everything in plus the kitchen sink. you seem to forget, Steele, that I AM YOUR BOSS. And you will DO AS I SAY, or you will QUIT AND LEAVE AND DIE." from Spencer, fucking tyrant. De stands up, and the grimace on his face falters. Only slightly, but I can tell. He didn't want them to see it.

From Steele, "And now the dictator comes out, just as I thought. You might be our boss, but you don't own us. We're human beings, we can question your divine will, and so help me when you hide so much shit from us, I will question you as much as I goddamn please. And I question your proposition that if I leave, I will die. And I question that you have our best interests at heart." Steele clenches his fists; his right hand simply loosely tightening.

I like this guy. I may have smiled at this point in time. If I was able.

Spencer; "Dictation is one thing. Lack of trust is another." What a fucking joke.

Steele stands; "True. Looks like we've got both going on in this here room, though. If I'm Comrade Leon, then you're Comrade Joseph."

Spencer's up, and a huge CRACK echoes across the room, but Steele barely flinches. He just holds onto his face, hardly any expression at all. Fucking champion. Spence screams "You. Outside. NOW." (Oh man, single word sentences. SO COOL.)

Steele gets real close to him for a second. Noses almost touching. "I'm right here, mate." He says. Right then and there, he brings his fucking head down, and just drives into the rim of that fucker's nose. I might of laughed.

Spencer just stands there. "Not here. I won't ruin August's meal." (Uh, sorry, but it kinda ruined itself.)

Steele catches on.Turns to the girly man, "Thank you, August m'dear, the food was lovely." He says, before walking out the main entrance, throwing his gloves to the ground as he leaves. Fucking gentleman. Spencer follows.

I hear Steele say "Come at me bro."
I hear three hits.
I hear Steel say "What the fuck are you?"
I hear Spencer yell "HIT ME! HIT ME, YOU FUCKING BASTARD!" I almost did, just cause of how much he was pissing me off. And I was fucking drugged.
Steele says "You're not human...maybe you never were, I don't know."
Spencer growls "Prove it. Prove that it makes you better!!!"

"It doesn't make you better. It makes you human. And if you don't see why that is preferrable, you're further gone than I expected." Spoken like a fucking genius.

"You think I WANTED this?!?" Spoken like a fucking idiot.

"No, Spence, I don't think you wanted this." not quite yelling, but getting there. "But I think that is how things are, and I'm fucking terrified. For myself, for the team, for you." (Don't feel sympathy for him, he deserves it.)

"And you want to know. You act so high and mighty, so here, IF YOU WANT ANSWERS SO GODDAMN MUCH-" Another hit. "Then I'm going to give you some."

I can hear Steele whimpering. Disappointing.

From... Doc, I think? "Wha...what are you...Boss...what..."

Sam "Spencer? What are you doing?"

Door slam.

"Uh...what just happened?"

Fucked if I know. Yeah, just leave me in the kitchen for a fight scene. Thanks a whole fucking lot. NExt time... Oh hey, it's August, with more of that needly stuff. Hold, on, let me see if my impression of Todd is getting any better.


*Elaine, I'm sure you are a nice lady, but you could do better. Honestly.

-Doc- Meanwhile, Away from the Ranch...

I’d like to start off by saying thank you, August, for saving my life. I feel lucky that you found me so quickly and were prepared to give me first aid. I don't think I can take up many first aid duties with my shoulder like this. Frankly, I won’t be moving much for a while in general, but I much prefer that to being dead. I apologize for the mess as well, though I don't remember making it.

A lot’s transpired in the past week. I’d say that this is an unusual delivery, but no delivery seems to go well. So truthfully, I’d say that it’s a perfectly ordinary delivery with a set of perfectly ordinary events at the house to accompany it.

Firstly: the room full of animals. Boss cornered me this morning and demanded an explanation (“If this isn’t due to your ‘Nam flashbacks, Doc, you got a lot of explaining to do”), but surprisingly, I do have one. I’ve been finding a lot of dead animals around this place. Not too unusual, especially considering that I live in a rat-infested basement. However, about a year and a half ago, I noticed a dead rat with some unusual features: unnatural bulges and some stitching as if it had been cut open, modified, and put back together. I assembled some dissection gear and got to work. I quickly found that the rat had been killed and mutilated: some of its organs were detached and in the wrong places, and many of its bones had been gashed with some sort of blade. I was disturbed, but sewed it back up and kept it in a jar of formalin in case I needed to compare it to more I might find. Soon, I started finding them everywhere, every sort of creature from mice to raccoons to a coyote and even a deer on one occasion. I have mostly found mammalian specimens so far, save for a lizard missing all its limbs and all but a tiny nub of its tail. Most were in the basement, some just near the house, but it didn’t matter. I’ve documented and preserved every specimen I’ve found to date, or at least saved some parts of larger specimens. I continue to go out every morning to see if there are more waiting for me. Larger specimens have odd lettering carved into the bones (especially the scapula, ilium, skull, femur, and sometimes humerus - any bone with enough surface area to legibly carve on), though it’s in no language that I’ve been able to find during my research. A few of the bones have, ah, familiar symbols in them, but I believe that simply points to their origin. I wanted to tell someone about it sooner, but I haven’t been able to decrypt anything useful or relevant. I’ll spend entire nights hunched over these things, trying to find out what He is trying to say to me. What messages is He sending me in these bones? Why does He leave them everywhere? I don’t know. They always hang in the back of my mind. I even dream about them, vivid nightmares of bones half-covered in decayed flesh whispering in a language that the world has forgotten or never even knew.

…the delivery. Right, then. I set off on that day, noon sharp, though I’m not sure where to. I deleted the initial email I received, and my memory is…well, it’s hazy, I’ll explain more about that in a moment. But I do remember cities, crop fields, that sort of thing. Nothing disturbed me as I drove down those roads. I didn’t dare stop at a motel on the way: instead, I pulled my car to the side of the road, slept for half an hour, maybe an hour or two if I needed it badly, and continued on my way. I eventually reached my destination, exhausted out of my mind. It was a fairly nice house, though it looked poorly kept up and was out in the sticks. I clearly remember almost everything that occurred in that damn place.

I slammed the car door. I didn’t even bother locking it as I rushed up to the house, my med bag slung around my shoulder. I beat on the door for a moment. The knocks resounded with a dull echo, followed by dead silence. My eyes darted about, and I cast a quick glance over my shoulder. Nothing but stillness. I was just about to leave as the door flung open. I couldn’t believe who was standing there before me, though he was almost unrecognizable. His once beautiful blue eyes were worn and bloodshot, his now unkempt black hair was falling over his shoulders and shining with grease. There he was, standing in all his squalor, the man who helped me survive before he abandoned me to my fate.

“Marcus?” I said, blinking.

His eyes widened and a slight smile crept up his face. “Yes, Lorelei,” he said as the smile slowly grew and his eyes seemed to soften, “It’s me.”

I shifted uncomfortably. “Where’s this sick kid I’ve heard so much about?”

“What are you talking…oh, that. There’s no girl here.”

“So, the email. That was all bullshit, then.”

“Mostly. I knew that if I said anything, you wouldn’t-“

“Unbelievable. Do you know how much I had to drive just to get out here? What the fuck are you doing?”

“Hiding. Just like you are.”

“Since when?“

“Once I left you after…all that…He targeted me. I don’t know if it was a week, a month after I told you we were through, but it wasn’t long. I started seeing Him. The one you told me about.”

“The Slender Man.”

“Yes, the Slender Man.” He sighed and looked up. “I…I wanted to apologize for not believing you.”

Rage boiled in my chest. “After all these years, now you want to fucking apologize? Oh, sorry, honey! Sorry I left you to rot in an institution! Sorry I blew off our engagement because I couldn’t handle you babbling about the tall guy in a suit! How goddamn sincere of you! I’m touched, truly!”

He frowned deeply. “It was tough to find you. You went into hiding, I couldn’t find you until that blog-“

“No. That’s not a fucking excuse, Marcus. If you’d wanted to find me, you could have done it years ago. Now listen: either I’m going to give some sort of medical care, take my fee, and go, or I’m going to turn and walk back to my car right now.”

Before I could do that, he blurted, “Wait! I said the email was mostly bullshit, not total bullshit. There’s something I need you to do, and I’ll pay you,” he replied as he pulled back his shirtsleeve. I saw the beginning of a gash, and for the first time, I noticed the smell. Rotten eggs with a hint of death: a clear sign of a serious infection. “Please,” he whimpered, “I’ll give you everything I have. Just…look at it for me.”

I wasn’t sure what to do. He was sickly and emaciated, and with that wound, I knew that he wouldn’t last long. Even with what little care I could offer, who knows how long that gash had been there, and how advanced the infection was? And even so, I couldn’t bear to think of helping him after all he had put me through. The botched engagement, the yelling and the accusations: the memories flooded back. During the first and only year of my residency, the stalking grew worse, and so did Marcus’s behavior once I told him what was happening. He was angry, dismissive, and abusive, but I told myself it was just because he was worried. I was kicked out of my residency due to a…particular incident, shall we say, and he put in his word against me to have me committed. In private, he insisted that it would be better than prison, and that it might help “chase away the tall businessman.” He stopped visiting after the first few weeks, before returning a few months later to tell me that he’d found someone else. To put things simply: the Tall Guy ripped my life apart, and Marcus was there to steal away the scraps like a damn vulture.

But, first and foremost, I am a medic, so I obliged. He stepped aside and let me in, closing the door and enveloping us in near pitch darkness. All we had to see by was faint moonlight and a few scented candles. Rose, I believe. He led me into the kitchen and sat at the table as he took his shirt off. I set the med bag on the floor and pulled out a flashlight. Flicking the switch revealed an abscess that extended from his upper arm to his back. Its edges were smooth, almost looking as if someone (I’d guess a proxy) had cut him with a knife or a sword. Those smooth edges were bright red and mottled purple, and they lined a white trail of scab and pus. I moved to see the rest of the wound, which had been secreting shiny red and white ooze down his back the entire time we had been talking. The smell had grown even more horrifying, and I knew it would only get worse as I worked. I sighed and pulled a few supplies my bag, then started to lance the wound. A few moments in, Marcus groaned painfully and I stopped.

“Are you okay? Would you like me to numb it?” I asked, reaching for the bag again in anticipation of the inevitable yes. But it never arrived. He sat before me motionless with his back turned, and a moment later, he whirled around. I jumped back and my scalpel and flashlight clattered to the floor. The flashlight flew apart, spitting its batteries across the room, plunging us into near total darkness. I took another step back, and Marcus advanced. He walked towards me, his heavy footfalls echoing through the kitchen. His expression was completely blank, even as I spoke his name and shouted at him to sit back down.

Suddenly, he pulled a dagger from his belt and lunged for me, the blade gouging into my shoulder. Blood gushed from the wound and I screamed, but I wasn’t about to go down. I struck his face, and he removed the dagger from my shoulder, going for another stab. I threw myself against him and we fell to the floor, the weapon flying from his hand. In a flash, I found myself kneeling on his chest and gripping his throat in my hands. My left shoulder was in agony, but the flaming pillar of pain searing through my nerves only tightened my grip. Marcus struggled beneath me, gasping but finding no air, kicking and flailing wildly, heart racing, eyes wide and terrified. I could see nothing but that panicked face, but I knew He was watching me. The din of the man struggling beneath my grasp and my own rushing thoughts was overwhelming, but I still heard His wordless whisper in my ear, I felt His presence as He stared through the kitchen window at that murder. The world around me began spinning as Marcus’s face turned blue and his eyes rolled. I could feel his heartbeat slow, his body give up. After another moment, I felt nothing more from him but fading warmth. I was dazed: unsure of what day it was, where I was, why I was kneeling on this dead man’s torso.

I looked to the window. He stood there facing me, but was He looking at me? Or was He looking at what I had just done? I stared back into the white void of His face as His tentacles waved rhythmically behind him, but He did not move any closer. He stood outside the window, and I kneeled there before Him, sitting on Marcus’s still chest. More wordless whispers. His silent voice touched my mind. I don’t remember what He said, but I could hear Him clearly. I felt a familiar haziness begin to wrap around my brain as I stared into His face ever longer, unable to move, unwilling to look away. I blinked, and suddenly, I saw August standing above me as he tended to my wounded shoulder. All I could do is lay on the table groggily as he worked. A few minutes later, Todd started screaming and August bolted like a bat out of hell. I gazed at the ceiling through half-open eyes, still not quite aware of where I was, calmly listening to voices yell and doors slam. I didn't care about any of it at that moment, either: I was exhausted enough to willingly succumb to the fuzzy darkness edging into my vision.

Truth be told, I’m frightened. I don’t know what happened after I lapsed into that trance, but days must have passed. To me, it was just…one moment, I was there, another moment and I was here. The car’s back, so I can only assume that I patched myself up enough to drive home while under His influence. I feel relatively normal right now, considering that I’m in a great deal of pain and should probably consider taking more painkillers soon. I went without for a few hours so I could be lucid enough to write this post, and it's not easy. As for everyone else's safety, I don’t feel anything urging or compelling me, and I think I’ll be a bit better once my shoulder heals up.

It's good to be home. Now if you'll excuse me, there's a syringe of morphine calling my name.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

-August- Listen.

I love you all to death.

Words can't describe what I would do for you - what I have done for you. You're my family and I would go to the ends of the Earth and back to make sure you all came home safe every night.

But sometimes?

Sometimes you all just piss me right the fuck off.


I promised myself I wouldn't post while I was angry.


For reasons I'll go into later because they're not nearly as momentously important as what's going on right now, I've basically said 'screw the world' and holed up in my bedroom for days on end.

I see none of you have bothered to make anything more complex than frozen dinners since I was gone.

I swear, I leave you alone for a couple days and it's pure pandemonium. Who will wash our laundry? Cook our food? How in God's name do we get blood out of the carpet?!

Baking soda. BAKING SODA.

Ha. Hahaha. Gotta stay calm. You've been livid for long enough August, haven't you?


No! No I have not!

Because when I come downstairs because somebody is making a racket and I look and everything is covered in blood (and when I say everything I mean everything; the floors were slick and the door was covered and the walls were splattered with it and the carpet was soaked and that's not easy to wash, you know!) and I look and I see Doc passed out on the kitchen table, and when I go to make sure she's okay I slip on some of the blood and Sam screams like there's no tomorrow and she emerges from the basement, teary-eyed and shaking, looking like she's just seen a crime scene before running off to God knows where, and I can only stand in awe as I see the trail of blood that Doc left behind as she stumbled into the kitchen, probably thinking it was her basement judging by the blood on the cabinets and the plates and the cutlery - Jesus Rollerblading Christ, Doc, did you think they were your equipment? - and of course she's still bleeding. From her shoulder by the looks of it, and she's passed out and pale as a sheet and her breathing is so shallow I don't know if she's even alive so of course my first thought is to try and establish if the good old doctor still has a pulse.

"Hey. Hey, Doc?" I touch her (unwounded) shoulder lightly. I'm hoping my voice is calm and soft but I'm beginning to freak out at this point, so it's probably high and shaky. "You alright?"

No answer.

"D - Doc?" I nudge her lightly. Her skin is still warm. That's a good sign, right?

"Doc, please." I try again. If I wasn't panicking before I certainly was now.

She groans.

Oh thank God.

"You going to be okay, Doc?"

She mutters something incomprehensible in response. If she's lucid enough to do that, then she wasn't in danger of dying.

At least, that's what I'm telling myself.

Everybody on the team is trained in basic first aid, and there are kits in the kitchen and every bathroom. I took one of said kits and busied myself patching her up, at least until...

"Spencer! Get the fuck in here! This isn't like the last..."

... No.

No no no no no you have got to be kidding me.

"Todd?!" I call back, unable to hide how utterly afraid I am at this point.

Doc's arm is only half bandaged, but the blood seems to have stopped flowing. It would just have to hold because that voice filtering down from somewhere above me (his bedroom... ?) is Todd and he sounds like he's in very, very bad shape.

I run as fast as my legs will carry me, hitting a bloody spot on the floor and sliding into the railing with a thud.

And of course now I'm panicking even worse because the last what? Why is he calling for Spencer and not Doc? What's happened to Doc why did Sam scream and where are Steele and Amanda in all of this?!

I'm hearing more noises as I move further up the stairs. Todd is coughing and laughing and sobbing all at once and he's speaking, though I only catch the bits he shouts and the next part goes something like this, harsh and grizzled and completely insane:


A coughing fit takes him over again and between the hacking and what I swear is him puking his guts out I can hear fits of mad laughter. That voice isn't Todd at all.

No. No. Nonononononono. No no Todd you're going to be okay and this is going to be okay and...


It's high and shrill and echoes heavily; choked by sobs and interrupted again and again by Todd coughing out his lungs and that laugh and all I can think is Spencer, Spencer, Spencer why why why does everything keep coming back to you?

I'm tired of covering it up.

So I burst into the bathroom in a fit of pure, unadulterated terror - terror for me, terror for Todd, terror for Doc and Sam and Steele and everything is falling apart again Jesus Rollerblading Christ.

And I realize I'm maybe the only one who's got a grasp of themselves.

I realize I probably shouldn't waste that.

Todd is bound with black wires and thrown rather unceremoniously in the tub. There's blood and black gunk everywhere and the bathroom stinks and he looks at me, grinning. It's all teeth, and none of it reaches his eyes.

"Oh, and so the pretty boy returns. Where's your fucking boss, you little shit? Too scared to face me?"

... Evidently, I'm not talking to Todd. He laughs and laughs and laughs and spits at me and it's black and sticky and smells like gin and a tire fire.

My brow twitches.

"Mr. August! Mr. August! I'm so glad you're here! Could you please untie me?"

Back to that shrill, childish voice. Whatever Steele dealt with hasn't subsided and now I've got two personalities screaming at me and I don't know where Todd is in this whole mess.

"August, it's about fucking time! Why am I tied up? Where the fuck is Spencer? WHERE IS THE FUCKER I'M GOING TO RIP OUT HIS INTESTINES AND WEAR THEM AS A - NO, NO! LEAVE SPENCER ALONE!"

Oh god no.

There's a needle with tranq sitting in the sink. Amanda and/or Steele had left it there with obvious intent, though at that time I hadn't figure out where either of them were. It wouldn't be until I looked at the blog (because god knows we're all horrible for blogging in the middle crises instead of. You know. Doing anything about them.) and noticed what Steele and Sam posted than I decided enough is enough and marched right to the basement to rip both Spencer and Steele a new one.

But at that moment I'm busy emptying another needle of horse tranquilizer into Todd. (Sybil? Grov? All three?)

For a couple seconds I almost felt relieved. Tragedy averted. Everything had been under control (for the most part) and I could go back to check on Doc again, this time careful to not slip on the blood for what would be the third time that night. (This night?)

Of course it's not allowed to stay that way, right?

Of course not. It's always something with us.

So now Doc is bandaged and even has some colour back in her. She's not conscious - at least, I don't think she is - but she's going to live. I know that for certain. Sam is... somewhere and I tell myself I'm going to go find her in a second, god knows where Amanda is, but if she was in trouble she'd let us know and Todd/Sybil/Grov was safely tied up. Spencer was...

Where was Spencer? And where was Steele?

... Well, the blog was usually good for these things.

And then of course Steele, the arrogant bastard that he is, puts up his little post and goes to have 'words' with Spencer.

There are no words in this house. Very few things are resolved with words in this house.

No, no, no, no, no. Spencer has his secrets. Steele has his secrets. Todd has secrets Doc has secrets everybody has secrets in what I so shakily call our 'family.'

It's at that point I'm shaking and my nails are digging so deep into palms I think they're bleeding because Steele what do you think you're doing?! You're dealing with things you don't understand - that I don't understand, that the boss keeps from us for a reason, you idiot, don't go doing something we're all going to regret later!

But it's never that easy. Christ, it's not allowed to be that easy. Convincing Steele to get off his high horse (even if he's completely right but we have to respect each other's privacy, morals be damned.) is impossible and Spencer is unhinged enough to do something seriously horrible to any of us under the right circumstance and that is not what we need and Steele you are not going to do anything to ruin this.

"...lem talking to me right now, monologuing like a bad comic villain about your own corruption...Maybe you WANT us to be surprised, you WANT us to be run down by the wheels you set in motion..."


... Oh, no.

Oh no. Spencer I told you to lock the door I told you to lock the door I told you to lock the door!

Of course. Of course that was what Sam was screaming about and I don't blame her one bit. Spence you idiot I know it gets bad but of all the times to forget to turn a key!

"...were your troops, you wouldn't have let us go into these situations completely blind..."

You can hear the anger seething in Steele, and Spencer completely out of his mind.

"Does this look like a gummie worm to you?"

Steel cutting flesh. He's probably got himself pinned open the idiot and he left the door wide open. Spencer, what did you expect to happen?!

When I step into the doorway, Spencer is the only one who seems to notice me. Steele is too busy fuming silently, glaring daggers at the man with his abdomen pinned open next to a bucket filled to the brim with what looks to be black slugs; writhing and crawling over one another to try and escape.

"Oh, hello August. nice to see you back in the land of the living."

One of the worms falls over the brim and lands on the floor, only to be crushed beneath Steele's foot.

"August, I'm seeing where everyone's loyalty lies. And Spence's is clearly not with us anymore."

I just glare at him, blood pressure rising with the heat on my face.

Calm, August, calm...

"You don't know what you're dealing with here, Steele. There's a lot more going on than you think."

And Steele?

Steele laughs.

"Who the fuck do you think you are? His fucking body guard?"

"Steele, you don't understand." My voice is shaking, but I don't know if it's out of fear or rage or both or... "This isn't what it looks like."

"Get upstairs, please? This isn't - Spence isn't anything like what you're thinking of. You're wrong." I say please, but judging by Steele's reaction it must have sounded more like 'die slowly.'

"Your blind loyalty isn't admirable, kid; it's stupid. And it's going to get you killed some day, or worse, judging by Spence's little game of Operation."

Steele, I'm sick of you at this point. Get off your high horse and get upstairs.

But I don't say that, do I?

"Steele, get upstairs. Now." It's finally begun to bleed through my tone to the point where I can feel it; the seething anger because he doesn't know what's going on and I don't know what's going on and everything's going downhill again and I know this won't be the last of it, but I'm shaking and fuming and if he pushes me anymore I'm -

"Piss off."



... Heh.


I take two steps towards Steele.

Look him dead in the eyes.

And backhand him so hard he sees stars.

And what does he do?

He turns around and puts his gun right between my eyes.

"Right back at you, girly."

My only response is three simple words.

"I dare you."

Time stands still. We're both just staring and I'm fuming and glaring at him, taunting him, daring him to pull that trigger and end it right there. Everything seems caught in that one moment, and I don't know how long we're standing there before...

Steele pulls the trigger.

I don't blink.


No bullets.

He smirks. The gun is returned to its regular place and Steele makes for the door.

He says nothing else. It's just Spencer and I left in the basement, and he's still merrily picking away at those things in his chest. What can I do but walk up to him and inspect the damage?

The eyes that meet mine are old and tired. His gray streak is sticking to his forehead with sweat, which is as pale as the rest of him.

I sigh.

"... I thought I told you to lock the door."

He's sweating heavily. His voice is strained.

"I did. Or rather, thought I did. you know how bad I get sometimes when I'm like that."

I do. I do all too well.

"Go, kid. You've got shit to do. Patch up our little broken family, yeah?"

I laugh. I actually laugh. A feeble little huff of laughter that's more exhausted than anything, but it's still a laugh.

"I don't really have any choice, boss. You're out of commission for a while."

I look into his exposed insides, swallowing the bile back down.

It never gets any less disgusting, does it?

"You got them all. Sew yourself up and I'll come check on you later, okay? Doc is... isn't doing to well."

I can hear my voice crack.

Hold on for just a bit longer, August.

It's Cam's voice.

"Go." Spencer sounds almost... proud. There's a small, strained smile on his face.

Who am I to question him?

I leave him to do... whatever it is he does. When I emerge into the kitchen, Doc is snoring softly. Upstairs Todd seems to have settled down, but Steele is off in the garage and I can hear him doing something, probably getting his rage out.

I don't blame him.

I realize I still don't know where Amanda is, and Sam is probably off hiding somewhere. Amanda can take care of herself; she seems to be doing pretty well considering what she found in the basement. Sam... Sam may be another story.

Everybody takes finding out about the boss'... condition differently. And Sam...


A mother's job is never done, is it?

If you'll excuse me, I'm off to go look through every closet in the house in search of a tiny female courier.

Good luck, everybody.

And good night.

-Steele- On the Glorious Leadership of one Mr. Spencer Fitzgerald, Esq.

If that is your real name.

My friends and compatriots, think of the inspiring military leaders throughout the ages. Napoleon Bonaparte, Erwin Rommel, Douglas MacArthur. All of them, no matter whom they were fighting for, or fighting against, possessed several traits in common…foremost amongst these, they had the ability to connect with their soldiers and inspire great things. They knew keenly the troubles of their men; Bonaparte was just a cannoneer from Corsica when he started out, MacArthur was on the trenches, leading his troops across No Man’s Land with nothing but a rainbow scarf and a riding crop. They would lead their troops into danger, but they’d be right there with them every step of the way, and make it through the other side. Together.

Never would they do anything to put their men in harm’s way for no goddamn reason.

And so I come to Mr. Fitzgerald. He comes with us on deliveries, sure…but is he a true leader? Let’s look at the facts.

He spends most of his time in the East Wing.

He doesn’t take his meals with us in the mess hall on regular occasions: He eats in the East Wing. He drinks himself to sleep in the East Wing.

The East Wing. The greatest secret of them all. It all fucking comes back to the East Wing.

Not that there aren’t other secrets, of course. And privacy is not something I can complain about, not at all.

But these secrets are directly hazardous to the team.

Todd, for example. We were all completely unaware of his condition until now…

Well, most of us were. Sybil told me otherwise…Spencer knew. Spencer knows exactly what’s going on there, he knows how to stop it, apparently.

Yet he hasn’t. Todd’s been getting worse and worse over the last few months.

Yet do we get a warning? Any indication that our friend might suddenly go Grosvenor and hunt us down?

And now, we get to Spencer himself. His mysterious past…

And now this.

Black tendrils?

He’s one of Them, like you guys can’t see this. We aren’t safe. We never were, but now we are even less so. This job, it’s not a means to provide security anymore. It is the reason we have none.

And it’s about time I had a bit of a chat with Our Glorious Leader about these conditions.

A long chat.

-Sam- Surgery

Okay. I think I’ve finally calmed down enough to post. Damn voices still won’t shut up though. Anyway.

Some…weird stuff just happened.

Steele and Amanda sent me down to the damn basement to get some more tranquilizer for Todd. Apparently, he’s shifting between personalities like crazy and it’s hurting him or something. I made Amanda tell me exactly where the room with the dead coyote is so I could avoid it. I totally forgot to ask where the tranquilizer was.

The basement smelled horrible, of course. Kind of like a hospital but moldier. I felt my way down the stairs and turned on the lights. It was creepy and shadowy and I had no idea where to start looking for tranquilizer.

I’d only dug through one shelf before I heard a noise from behind the wall. Coughing and gagging, like somebody was about to be sick.

I opened the door to the next room and saw Spencer.

Okay. You remember that thing I said about Spencer, how I kind of freaked out when he took off his shirt? I guess it can’t hurt to tell you what that was about now. His chest was covered in scars. Really bad ones. Ones that looked like somebody had cut his chest open in a huge zigzag then stapled it back together.

Well, when I found him in the basement…it wasn’t stapled together anymore.

I don’t think he noticed me at first. He was on Doc’s operating table, the flaps of skin on his chest pinned open. I could see inside his chest and I’m not a medical expert but I’m pretty sure his internal organs weren’t supposed to have that many pulsing black veins all over them. His head was over the side of the table and he was throwing up.

He finally saw me standing there, frozen in place, too scared to run.

“Sam. You might wanna…go somewhere else for a while, ‘k? The boss is kinda busy.” He was breathing hard, obviously in pain.

I must have been way beyond freaking out at that point. Because I just asked, perfectly calm, “What are you doing?”

He didn’t answer right away. He had a scalpel and as I watched, he started cutting something out of his own chest, gasping in pain. He finally stopped and held something up. A weird, slimy black string.

“I’m cutting the bad out of me.”

The black thing in his hand was squirming. It was alive.

I’m not sure what happened after that. It was all kind of a blur of Spencer cutting more stuff out of his chest and starting to throw up again and me getting the fuck out of there. I didn’t stop blindly panicking until I was somewhere upstairs, huddled in a closet. My knee was bleeding for some reason and I think I might have hit my elbow somewhere along the way. And the voices. The voices are all back now and they’re saying some kind of weird things and I’m scared.


What was that?

-Amanda- Less Than Triumphant Return

Of all things to bring me out of fucking hibernation, it was Steele barging in with a trussed up Todd. Blood was fucking everywhere. Fuck, there's always blood isn't there? The fucking business seal of approval for us fucking idiots.

They both had multiple wounds, looks like a fight. Or two. I'm no doctor. Just saw stab wounds galore, trust me I know stab wounds, and what looked like gunshots.

I don't even want to know who the fuck thought letting Steele go after Todd was good idea but who ever that was can stick their foot so far up their ass they can taste fucking rubber.

So I can't leave these two fucktards bleeding on our floor so I went to grab some supplies.

And, well, I found some fucked up shit. Must've taken a wrong turn or something, because that room isn't fucking normal. It smelled like I don't even fucking know, sharp and wrong and kinda sickly. All piney and shit. Made me gag and that takes work.

And there were these tables, all lumpy and strange, covered in tarps. Pulled one off to see some coyote with glassy eyes looking up at me. It was all wrong, stitched together haphazardly. Looked like it's skin was too big for its head. Nearly pissed myself.

No shame in admitting I hightailed it, after grabbing the supplies from the right room. Hopefully Doc gets home soon, I'm terrible at first aid. And she has shit to explain.

~Steele~ The Hunter and the Hunted.

I’m back. For better or for worse.

When I saw Todd’s little…manifesto earlier in the week, something in my head just…clicked. This is a serious problem. It would be for the best if I were to remove this problem. This one idea boiled in my mind as I darted down to Doc’s lab, paying little heed to any of my surroundings other than the one draw in which she keeps her, ‘general anaesthetic’ (aka. horse tranquilizer). I was tempted to simply hook the crazy bastard up to an IV of the stuff; that’d learn him to stop considering slitting our throats in the night.

”We’ll see who has a fighting chance this time, buddy.”

I made it back to the garage in record time and jumped in the car, pausing only long enough to make sure my Glock was in the glove box. And loaded. I hadn’t used the thing since…well, my hand. I would be somewhat handicapped if things proceeded to a physical altercation, so I had to have no hesitation if it came to shooting him from a far; to maim, if not to kill.

And I’ve got to say, at the time, killing seemed like an attractive option.

I’ve touched on this before, but I find murder on our travels completely abhorrent. I can understand it, and live alongside it if it was absolutely nessecary for our survival, but I cannot do it myself. These masked men, how can we know what their true intentions are? They aren’t bad. Mr. Slim just has his tentacles in their heads, controls them like puppets on a string. Every moment while they are chasing us they could be thinking Jesus No This Is Not Me I Don’t Want To Do This Sorry Sorry Sorry This Is Not Who I Am…How would we know? We’d just take aim and fire, with our superior weaponry. Or use our vehicles to run them down.

Another reason I prefer to take my car, rather than the family van. My car can dodge.

I’ve only killed once, but on the drive to find Todd, I was fully prepared, nay, thirsting to do so again. For what lived inside Todd was not an unwilling participant, but a fully fledged person with only malice in his mind. Malice and hate.

And malice was most certainly what I felt towards him.

It took me a while to pick up the trail, and I am absolutely certain that if ‘Todd’ didn’t want me to find him, I never would have. It was dusk before I saw the first one of them lying in the middle of a fork in dirt road. I slowed down to get a better look at it; a rabbit carcass, tied at the feet and skinned, a pinky-grey mass, simply lying there to rot, staring unblinkingly at the left path.

I swerved around it and slowly proceeded the same way. The same pattern continued once, twice, three times at subsequent crossroads, until I was driving through farmland…Until I reached the forest.

I saw something blocking the road ahead and swore, slamming on the breaks and getting out of the car. I was heading into a small woodland area with high, dense trees blotting out the (fairly bright) light of the moon. A large tree was lying across the road with…a particularly gruesome display nailed to it.

A single, quite sizable fox had been nailed to the wood, front paws spread out in a fucked up mockery of crucifixion, its black eyes staring at me. If I didn’t know better I would have sworn it was grinning at me. Almost condescendingly. It’s time, you big ol’ Lion you. Think you can outsmart me? You’re not doing a good job so far; the smartest thing to do would’ve been to let me go.

”Shut the fuck up, fox.” I muttered, withdrawing the gun I had in my pocket and flicking the safety off, before vaulting over the tree trunk.

It was dark, the only light being projected down in ghostly beams from breaks in the canopy above. The road was not so much a road anymore, as much as it was just an absence of trees. I paused for a moment, before heading back to the car and flicking on the high beams. Much better.

I took only a few steps before I stopped, a prickling sensation in the back of my neck. Todd’s here, he’s got to be…so why is it so silent?

I looked around, scanning the bushes for any sort of movement, finding nothing. No manoeuvring from my quarry to get a better ambush position. Nothing.

Then I saw it, way too close to my leg for comfort; a rope, only just poking out from under the leaves. I leaned over, taking care not to take a step, and shook it a little, exposing a noose just a couple inches off my left foot.

“You’re a tricky fucker, you know that, Todd? A rabbit trap, really? Are we really just animals to you? Pieces of meat you toss on the road?” I said, lifting up my foot and stepping over the noose, placing my foot on the leaves just in front of it and feeling the ground sink beneath me, for there was no ground, just a straw lattice covered by leaves, hiding a small trench. A small trench with cruel sticks and jagged glass sticking out from the dirt floor.

I screamed in agony as it cut through my altogether unsuitable shoes, vaulting over the trench with my other foot as I lost my balance, cutting up my foot even more. I felt sick, I felt dizzy, I heard the ground rush up to meet me as my eyes watered, landing with a crunch of leaves as I drew my wounded foot into myself…but I didn’t have time for that, as I saw a figure rapidly approaching with dilapidated stride, jumping over certain parts of the road…there were more traps. And Todd knew where they all were. This would have to be quick, but I had dropped my gun…

I saw something glint in Todd’s hand, heading directly at my neck, and in the small split second I had, I whipped up my right hand and grabbed the blade, catching it between my middle and forefinger, feeling it cut down…and being thankful that the nerves in that hand weren’t quite functioning right, feeling only a slight sting in addition to the permanent dull throb. I closed my fingers as much as I could around it, and punched Todd in the gut with my left hand, catching him enough off guard that the knife slipped from his fingers and he fell to the ground. I pulled my hand back and the knife sailed off, useless as I brought the hand back around to try and block a swift hook to my nose, only managing to deflect it as far as my left eye, which sparked and swam as blood rushed to my face. I grabbed his collar with my good hand and pulled in close, bringing my forehead down with a swift crack, the headbutt making a direct hit on his mouth, catching his lip in his teeth, blood seeping…He clouted me in the side of the head and tried to stand as I reached for my gun, the air rushing into my ear, ringing, squealing, as I turned my entire body around to reach for the gun, bringing an avenging elbow around, catching him, I don’t know where, my fingers were around the barrel, I fumbled for the trigger as he slammed me in the back with his shoe, once twice thrice…

I span around and shot.

He stopped for a split second, looking at his leg in amazement as his pants stained crimson, which was all the time I needed to grab the syringe in my back pocket and stick it into his neck, watching with cruel glee as his eyes rolled back and he slumped to the ground again. I breathed out.


I began to laugh. I felt blood drip from my left eye, which only maddened me further…

I crawled over to Todd and sat on his chest, sticking the cold silver barrel of the gun under his chin, digging it in painfully as I tensed my finger around the trigger. “I’ll teach you what happens to assholes like you who betray Spencer’s good will, who betray their fucking family, who treat the people who cared for them like fucking animals to the slaughter…”

Todd murmured something, clearly delirious…I didn’t hear what it was, but it was enough to bring me back to my senses. Wordlessly, I stood, wincing as I put weight on my foot, and tried to pull Todd up with my one good hand, flicking the safety on and pocketting the gun. He was like a sack of lead, I didn’t get anywhere like that, so I took the rabbit noose and followed it along the ground, untying it with some difficulty at the source, before placing the noose around Todd’s torso and pulling it tight (tighter than necessary, anyway, I was feeling vindictive) and tying the other end to my car, before getting in, turning the ignition, and reversing…slow enough to drag him along, and fast enough to make it a bumpy ride. Once he was at the tree trunk, I used the rope tension to hoist him over, and put him in the passenger seat, wrapping the rest of the rope liberally around him, and bandaging him up before I headed off. He was still murmuring nonsense for a couple of hours as we drove along the road…I felt so nauseous, and the sun never seemed to want to rise, even though we got lost and found ourselves driving along the same stretch of road over and over…My ears were ringing sirens from the fight.

It was only after a few hours of this that Todd began to make sense. He spoke in an oddly high voice…childlike, strange out of his bloody mouth.

"Mr.... St... Steele? Where are we going? And um... why are you so... fuzzy?"
"Todd, I have no time or patience for your shit. We're going home, and I am going to hand you over to Spencer. He might be a secretive bastard, but he can deal with you. And I am fuzzy because I am bleeding and have glass in my foot.”
"Spencer?" Todd began to fuss about in his seat. "Oh, please, no. Not Spencer. Couldn't Doc or Amanda take care of this?"
"Doc's gone, Amanda is...completely available, actually. But no, Spence will deal with it, I'm not really in the mood to cater to your whims."

“You little shit.”

I paused, keeping my eyes on the road as I digested this. His voice was different now, harsher, grizzled. He continued to speak. "You know, I kinda admired you. But you're just... one of his... little... minion, fuckers..."

"His? What, Spence? He pays me, buddy. And you, as it were. You got something in your throat? I've probably got a lozenge in the glove box. Oh, and if you try any funny business in the car, with my death rattle I swear to god I will drive off a cliff. So don't."
"Payment is just his way of owning you. What benefit do you have of working for him?"

It was an interesting question. And the thought of Spencer owning me stung a little, I thought of the operation as more of a…partnership. But what partnership has a partner skulking around in one half of the house, consorting with Eldrich horrors?

"He gives me shelter in the house when I need it, and money for when I'm sick of it. You work for him too, mate, and you've made a veritable habit of biting the hand that feeds."
"... You don't get it, do you?"
"Apparently not. Do explain, my dear."
"How could I work for Spencer? Have you ever once heard this voice come out of Todd's mouth?"
I was sick of this condescension, so I decided to reply with some of my own. "I seem to be now, am I not? So if you aren't Todd, then you sure look a helluva lot like him. We talking evil twin?"
He laughed. “You…are such…an idiot.” Then he began to cough, violently. I rolled down a window.

"I don't know, mate: I'd define idiocy as 'typing your plans to murder a household on said household's personal blog'. Might be a cultural difference. And please, cough out the window. I don’t want to catch your crazy.”

"Steele, what the FUCK are you talking about, and WHY IS THERE A FUCKING BULLET SIZED HOLE IN ME?" There’s the Todd we know and love. I felt a pang of anger strike my mind.
"The same reason there's a knife sized hole in my hand about now. You fucked up, is why."
"The fuck? Did I... Shit, shit shit, shit , SHIT"
"Yes, you did. And somehow, I think you're going to do it again. You're lucky I'm driving you home to get medical attention, and didn't take you out into a field and execute you."
”…Steele, what the fuck?" I couldn’t stand this fucking innocent act. Making me seem like the crazy.
"Do you disagree with me? Do you REALLY think you're not a menace to everyone you work with, and dare I make this leap of faith, hold dear?"
"... It's like you think I chose this. Yeah, I fucking know I'm a danger to everyone. Now. But I've been sane the entire time I've known you. Spencer can make this better! He did before!"
"So you're saying I shouldn't be worried for my safety? Amanda's safety? Sam's safety? Because, buddy, I've got some evidence that supports my point of view pretty fucking well."

Eyes on the road, Leon, eyes on the road.

"Yeah, all from last month? What about all that time before?"
"I can't afford to be thinking about the past, mate. Someone can be the sweetest guy in the world until he tries to slit your throat; it doesn't make the throat slitting any less permanent."

The grizzled voice was back. “Is that an offer, Steele?”
I was going to pull over then and there and blow his brains out I swear to god. But I didn’t. I gulped down my vitriol and spoke calmly. "...Who are you?"

"Heh. HA. You ever heard of Phantom limbs?"
"Of course. Bloke comes back from the war without a leg, but still feels it itching as it lies in a ditch in Kandahar."
"Well then, could you wrap your mind around a Phantom Past?"
"So you are Todd's past, lying in a ditch somewhere, coming back only to write screenplays and generally ruin that kid's life?"

"Close. That's not me..."
"Then that's not the question I asked. Who is that, and who are you?"

"Mr, Steele, you don't have to yell. It's not nice to yell." The child was back. I started to get a bit of a feel for how to treat these people…For it wasn’t just Todd in there, not at all. They were distinct people, with distinct personalities, and…distinct names?
"I'm sorry, kiddo, but it's also not nice to lay a trap and make Mr. Steele's foot hurt. Do you know the bad man who did that to me?"
"Gros? Yeah, he told me."
"Gross? Nice name. What exactly did he tell you? And what would your name be, little one?
”My name’s Sybil!”

”Sybil? That’s a pretty name. And what did Gross tell you?"
"He told me about the traps he was laying out for you. And how he was planning to stab you. Then he left for a while. I thought it would have worked."
"Well, I'm a bit tougher than a stabbing, kid...Why did he want to do that to me, though?"
"Cause you work for Spencer."

Spencer, you fucker. You’re in the middle of this. You know what’s going on. Why wouldn’t you tell us? Why the secrets, Spence? Aren’t you the one talking about how we’re such a team? Yet you go around, spouting cryptics like one of the masked men, keeping dangerous secrets from us, hiding out in your little manor for days on end…

I struggled to keep my cool.

"Why doesn't he like Spencer?"
"Because Spencer put him a way for a long time. Grosvenor was free, free to do what he wanted, and then Spencer took that away from him."
Grosvenor, Sybil, Todd. Hmm.

"And what did Grosvenor want to do, what did big bad Spencer do to take that away from him?"
"Grosvenor wanted to kill people. He says he likes it. He says he likes it cause he likes taking things from people, and taking someone's life is the most important thing you can take from them. I don't know what Spencer did. But it was mean, whatever it was."

From the mouth of babes. You know. And you’re keeping it from us.

"So Grosvenor really would have wanted to kill me regardless of working for Spencer or not, right?"
"Well, kinda. Do you know about the tall man?"

"We have met, yes."

"Well, Grosvenor likes killing people who know about the tall man. He says he likes how he spreads from brain to brain, and he wants to do that. He says their blood can help."
Their blood. Doc, this sounds like what you’ve been looking into…Mr. Tall as a disease.
"...So he wants to be in more people? But why would he do that when he has such great company with you and Todd?"
"He doesn't say it, but I can tell he doesn't like us very much."

Division in the ranks. Interesting.

"Do you like him?"
"Well, kinda. Cause he says I have to."
"What if you didn't have to? What if you and Todd could live in there alone? Would you like that?"
"...No. It would be lonely."
"You'd still have Todd to keep you company, though...and if he doesn't like you, then maybe he would be better off somewhere else?"
"No, Grosvenor and I live in a place where Todd never visits. I know he can, but Spencer wouldn't let him."
"What if we could talk to Spencer? You and Todd can live together, and you can be happy."
Todd starts to fuss about once more. "NO! I don't like Spencer!"
"You know what, I can see why, calm down, we can deal with this on our own."

And then he let out an unholy scream, before looking directly at me with wide…pleading? eyes. “Steele, sedate me again. This hurts. I can’t stop it.”

Spencer, what did you do to him?

I slowed down to a stop and got out, walking softly over to the passenger seat and pulling the door open. “I’m very sorry, old boy, but I used all the tranquilizer I brought with me.” I spoke calmly. “But I can help you in another way.” I pulled him out of the seat and onto the dirt, not really paying much heed to the awkward way he fell as I checked his ropes and tightened them, before I dragged him around to the back of the pickup and painfully hoisted him over into the bed. I think there were a couple of 2x4s in there at the time, it wouldn’t have been comfortable.

“At least this way, there’s one less voice you need to deal with. And three less I need to deal with as I focus on driving home and NOT shooting you between the eyes.” I patted him on the head, feeling like I handled that well as I got back into the ute and drove us home, now in absolute, calming silence.