Thursday, May 26, 2011

Playing Games

I've been staring into my mask lately.  Started to think that maybe I don't need it anymore, maybe masks don't help as much as we've considered.

Now I'm not dissing Maduin's love of masks, of course.  Hell, if anything he's still one of the more sane people out here.  Maybe I should've started wearing masks sooner, by that logic.

Anyways, for now, it's staying put, for now, I still have a job to do, and precious little time.

And it's a pain in the ass to try to get a task done when I'm either being boneblocked, or chained up by a curvy psycho named Rika.

I suppose she'd like me to call her my nemesis.

Maybe she is.

Nevertheless, there's a lot so far that has been unsaid.  Of course, most of you readers out there think I'm going to make a Foe Yay joke, as deserved as it may be, since I've stolen more than my share of looks at her sweet curves, and she's called me sugar enough times that I'm almost trained to respond to it.

However, there's other things to be said as well, from one wayward soul to possibly my only kindred spirit, even if she's on the other side...  I've always felt that I've done evil for the sake of good, and that somehow, maybe she's done the same.  I can't place how I feel this, or why.  Maybe I just want to wish the best about her.

Having finished my business in the northwest, I've decided I need to turn my sights back to my destination.  My schedule's been thrown way off, and my frequent disorientation and blackouts don't help either.

So I decided to play a game of my own on Tuesday.

We were playing a lover's game of cat and mouse, Rika and I.  I started to notice her before she could find me, and sometimes I'd realize she would tail me for an hour as I crossed city streets.

My shoes are in tatters now, and my feet aren't any better.  Wish I had a vehicle to work with, to make some good ground, but alas, I am no serial carjacker.

Just a son of a bitch with a bag of bones, trying to end this mess of a problem.

It was a wet day as I passed through some small town in...Pennsylvania, I think.   The sky was overcast still, my feet were wet, and my clothes clung to me, making my discomfort a bit less enjoyable.

Wet clothes aren't as big a nuisance as my other issues, let alone the big problem in my life, in our lives.

The invisible stalker in the midst.  The alien we've come to jokingly call Slendy, or Mr. Thin,  or any other amount of derogatory names.  A way of hiding our fear of an inhuman entity that we cannot fathom.

I remember when I saw him in the parking lot outside of St. Vee's Hospital.   A silent vigil held by an eight foot tall abomination, as he stood in the grass before the main entrance.  I fell out of my chair by the window, my heart raced, and I felt terror flutter down my spine.

And maybe, just maybe it was a bit exciting too.  Is that so wrong?  To want a life of passion and excitement, danger even?

I wanted a purpose back then, and now that I have one, well, maybe I was better off leaving poor enough alone.

Stay on task, zero...zerosage, swordsage  whatever the fuck i call myself anymore...

I had ducked behind a building just at the edge of town, fairly confident I had eluded my yellow and red clad stalker.  My hiding spot consisted of two plastic garbage cans just down a bit of a rise.  While not too uncomfortable by comparison to some of my napping spots, it was a long wait before my vixen came down the road past me.

One thing I always enjoyed about Erika, was her bright colors and willingness to show off her physique.  I know this sounds sort of lecherous to you all, but it reminded me that I was still alove, that I was still a man somewhere deep inside.  Even if her yellow tight blouse was dim and muted in my vision, there was plenty left to admire of her, not even taking into account her cleverness, and passion.

She looked from side to side, on her tip toes for a moment, as if that extra inch of height would help her locate me.  I gripped my blade's handle...and kicked out the rubber trash cans, giving her a start.

Me>>>  It ends today, Rika...

She looked startled, as she turned to face me.  No weapon was in her hand after all.  It would've made a fine ambush, if only I could've struck from here.  If I could've struck her at all.

Rika>>>  What do you think you're doing, sugar?  You know you can't take a swing at me.

She laughed, placing a hand to her chest, as if I were some puppy doing a trick for her.

While I may have led her on a merry chase, I suppose I was harmless to her,  I mean, she didn't even retrieve a hammer, or even a knife in case of combat.  Because I always ran.  Always.

Me>>>  Maybe not...but I figured out how I can get you out of my life, so I can get this shit done, and move on with my life.

Rika chuckled.  She always laughs.  Never a threat to her...never a man

Rika>>>  Ohhh how's that, hun?  You going to call the cops on me again?  Or steal a car to lose me in the dust?  You know I can't be held, and you know I'll always find you.  You're so silly...

I chuckled too.  We shared a soft laugh, and I nodded, admittedly at my past attempts to remove her nonviolently from my life.

Me>>>  Maybe, maybe.

I held up a finger.

Me>>>  But I have one more thought up my sleeve.  See....I've tried to finesse my way past you,  I've tried to stealth my way past you.  And given your obviously athletic frame...

She giggled, a hand to her lips.

Rika>>> You noticed!

Me>>>  I did.  But the one thing I haven't tried, is to sheer out power you.  So here's what's going to happen.  I am going to simply out run you.  I won't stop.  Ever.  I'm going to run down this road, as fast as I can...because it's my belief, that though you may be in better're still mostly eye candy, and I'm hardened for survival.

Her smile faded.  Ahh I played the sexist card on her again, one of her few hot button issues.

Rika>>>  Eye candy? You little bitch, the only stamina you've got is the ability to run your mouth and pump up your own ego.

Rika>>>  But you know what? Go ahead and run...And I'll show you what a real woman can do.

Me>>>  Well, let's give it a shot at least.

I took off like a rocket.   Months of athletics and pain have indeed honed my body.  My baggy clothes helped conceal my weight loss, helped hide my speed.

It was no surprise that she followed,  even at a light pace, she was able to stay within shouting distance, taunting me.

I ran, I ran as long as I could, as hard as I could, looking back to her occasionally.  Just seeing her slip and trot, flashing a wicked grin on her face.

And my trick wasn't working at all.  It was at that moment I realized that she was going to let me tire myself out, and then...well that'd be the end this time.  She'd be able to lazily slit my throat and go on her merry way.

So I darted into the treeline.  It was a newer forest, filled with saplings and bushes, but I needed deeper, into the forest's shadows.

She gained on me as I shrugged aside branches.  I could hear her giggling.  This is what she loved, the panic, the chase...

Rika>>> Better run faster, Shug!

The forest enveloped us.  I was merely ten seconds ahead of her, as I felt my legs cry out, sweat trickled out from under my mask, as my knees begged for mercy.

Shadows appeared around us, as we raced deeper, down a root filled slope, into a basin.

I whispered to myself, that for once, it'd better show.

Beneath my feet, rocks and mud turned to roots suddenly.  It was here, it followed me.


I heard the low hum from my real nemesis as the shadows started to lift.

I looked away, shutting my eyes tightly.

She followed.  I could hear her right behind me.  I heard her gasp as she saw it.

The Bleeding Tree

It is at this moment, I need to make a confession to my loyal readers.  I've been keeping something a secret from you all, for this very moment.

My hand went to my blade again, as I started to draw it.

You see, my right arm was quite weakened over my last few encounters, it was practically numbed through pain.  I wasn't confident that I could survive a no holds barred fight with a proxy with a sledge hammer.

As I turned around to face her, I saw her mesmerized by the tree.

You remember how I said I couldn't make an aggressive move against Rika?

Rika>>>  It's so beauti....

I lied.

My blade tore out her throat.

Yes, its true.  I lied on my blog, because I knew she read it.  If I could convince her to drop her guard for me long enough to make a surprise move, I knew I had a chance before she decided I needed to die finally.

Between that and me finding out her weakness was my 'sexist' attitude, well, I knew I had a good chance.

I only thought it was proper for her end to be next to the 'make believe' monster that I'd been fighting for so long.

I drug her body out of the Tree's circle, and harvested what I needed from her, then left her for the Tree to collect.

Evil to Evil, and all that.

So that's the end of her, and her story.  My own personal menace, defeated.  Let us hope no others take that accursed name.

Which leaves me with a question.

Why do I feel so bad about killing an agent of evil?

my sugar has run out

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A couple of dead rats

Blogging chained up to shit isn't all that fun, but needless to say, slide out keyboard, and occasional one handed typing gets the work done.

Been making the rounds while I'm waiting for death too.  So...yes interesting things are happening.

Got some new sages...

Yes that pissed me off immensely, but I'm over it for now.  Fucking bullshit Maduin....

That fucked up title system that Robert started, we all know had major fucking flaws in it.  Mainly because we tricked ourselves into thinking that by taking a title, we were more than human.

I've had a bit of trouble with that myself a while ago.  It happens, we want to be greater than we are sometimes.

Well, while I'm all sane and such, let me just say this to our new keystones.  "Don't let it get to you,  Don't let it control you."

Moving on, I also got a text message inviting me to a BBQ over the upcoming holiday.  Yeah, someone invited Nessa to a BBQ.  Remember folks, this is her phone I stole after tazing her.

I wonder what she's doing nowadays, if she's still alive.  I remember she popped up post-amnesia, then let it all go, as she should...

Which reminds me,  more support for Redlight being Jay.  Jay said that after wiping minds, people could still easily get thrust back into the horror.  This naturally makes me look right back over to Robert's experiences.

So, let's end this 'in media res' bit, so I can tell you how I got to this point.

Massachusetts.  Nice place really, a bit cold as expected, and ridiculously hard to spell properly.  I had finished my unfortunate business with Slice, and had really run out of personal leads for my work.

Amherst isn't a big town really, the buildings seem to have an old school quality to them, which I enjoy.  Reminds me of this little town called Rockville that I used to frequent back years ago. 

However being a fraction of the size of Indianapolis, this also meant that the police force was going to be able to track me easier.  I don't blend in as it is, even when I'm out of gear.  So I decided that I needed to clean up, you know, shave, shower, clean the blood and vomit off of me.  It'd give me a chance to charge my phone and my taser.

The local YMCA works out for all of those needs, some of them even offer hot meals, but I didn't see that option.  Now the problem is that I couldn't very well bring my sword into there, so I stashed it up in a gutter, after climbing on one of those newer hard plastic trashcans.

I emerged from the showers, and the shelter an hour later.  While I didn't feel whole, I did indeed feel better.  My scabs had finally started to fade, and the hot water helped sooth my physical pains.   I looked out to the sky, my hands in my pockets, as I felt the wind.  Sure, the sun was too bright, and made my eyes hurt, but I felt...more human than I have in a few weeks.

And as all things in my life, it faded far too soon.  I felt...okay I shit you not people, I felt a disturbance in the Force.  Something felt wrong out here, yet everything was as it should be, aside from all the color washed out, and the two dogs barking at me.  Must've smelled the blood, or the murder.  Sigh.

I realize now that I saw what was wrong immediately, but it hovered in my subconscious for far too long before it became apparent.

Just as I started to look away, I saw a woman, hand in hand with a little girl, turning out of view.  I heard her laugh, as she arched her head back, laughing to the sky.


Rika had a little girl with her.


I followed her naturally.  That child was in mortal danger, being associated with a proxy agent of the monster.  The girl was probably no more than six, holding an ice cream sandwich in her hand, as the two skipped merrily down the street.

I tried to run after them, but..shit, it was like those monster movies, where no matter how fast you go, it's still chasing you.  Well, they were almost always out of view.  Even when I nearly got hit by a car trying to stop the girl.

They passed through a playground, as I scrambled after them.  I even heard a bit of a song they were singing before I tripped into the sandpit.  When I looked up, I saw the treeline, and nothing more.

Led into the trees.  Towards the monster.

I pursued, cursing myself for leaving my blade behind.  I rushed into the woods, as I screamed for the little girl, for Rika.

And I saw no trace.

For an hour I scrambled through the woods, looking for this child.  I couldn't lose a child to her, not to her, not to it.  She was innocent, I

I found a wrapper for an ice cream sandwich finally, as it tumbled through the trees, carried by unseen fingers of the wind.

Without any other leads, I headed upwind, as leaves and grass swayed in the springtime forest.

Where evil things lurk.

Something caught my eye a few minutes later, as I splashed past a small brook.  A building partially covered by the flora,  covered by time.

I am no stranger to such things, we had them back in my original neck of the woods in Indiana.  Cistern wells, or access tunnels that led nowhere, just out in the woods, part of a former network that was long abandoned.  I figured it was for the city sewer system. I investigated it.

The stairway was a bit lopsided, as if the entire building had mudslide down a hill, it was subtle, but noticable.  There was little light, from tiny windows up top that barely lit up the hallway.  My feet clacked softly on the metal grating as I continued.

I woke up in a boiler room, chained to a pipe, my head was killing me.  I dunno if I was mindfucked, tazed, gassed, or just good old suckerpunched, but I was in pain, and I wasn't alone.   The room was in disrepair, two of the small windows were shattered, mud had entered through the windows.

Then there were the rats.  About three of them,  big ones, maybe not the type you'd see in a house, but do recall that they can survive in the wild as well.

They skittered and shrieked as I made noise in their nice home.

A low female chuckle arose from out of my view.

Me>>>  ...Oh god dammit, Rika.

I struggled against the pipe, hoping to break free somehow, before the psycho finally came for me.

Rika>>>  Man of Steel, you ain't, sugar.  Somehow I doubt you're going anywhere.

I thought about the child she led out here, I clawed at the pipe, at my own arm as if I could rage my way out of the binding.

Me>>>  A fucking lure....where's the girl, Rika?

She stepped out, casually, a sway in her step, her head tilted forwards as if to say 'don't you know?'

Rika>>>  Do you really want me to answer that?

Her Southern drawl hung in the air.  I didn't need to hear her say it, I knew what happened.

Vehement, I reached out towards her.  My arm quickly fell limp to my side.  I'm sure I'm setting myself up for another impotence joke, but I...I felt so helpless.  I can't understand what hold she has on me still.  Why can't I

Me>>>'re such a monster.

Rika>>> Sticks and stone, Shug.

She sounded slightly offended.  I decided I had to push the issue.

Me>>>  She died just so you could get me here?

I glanced at the floor, envisioning that little girl, who will never grow up.

Rika>>>  Nope. She was gonna die no matter what. Getting you here was just a spur of the moment plan. And you followed it so nicely, well done!

She clapped, mocking me.

And that was going to be the end.  She had won,  I was broken, and bound, and weaponless...

Me>>>  Just...get it over with, alright?  I lost.  I tried my best.

Rika>>>  Oh Shug...

She shook her head softly.

Rika>>>  Do you really think it's that simple?

I felt a bitter smile form, picturing what was next to come.

Me>>>  Torture?  Go ahead.  I'm already broken.  I won't even feel it.  Doubt you'll hurt me worse than I have...

Then she reached into my hoodie pouch, her movement slow, as if savoring a lover's touch, before she pulled out my mask.

A pocketknife gleamed in her other hand.

The rats stopped squeaking.

Rika>>>  You shouldn't dare a girl...

I was speechless.  That mask was my identity, my life.

Me>>>  You arrogant b.....

I reached out for her, to no avail, my attempt dying before I could even muster the force.

Me>>>  When I find out...why I can't hurt you....Why I can't wring your n....if you don't kill me here, I *will* end you someday.

My threat seemed better in my head, thinking back, she never did worry about death before, and my words fell like ash from my lips.

Rika>>>  Maybe you will, Maybe you won't.  Doesn't matter as long as I get to have a little fun beforehand.

I spoke, like a coward.

Me>>> Don't...

She giggled in response.  Always laughing at me....always fucking la

Rika>>>  And why shouldn't I?

Still she played with that knife, as she swayed, enjoying seeing me sweat I imagine

Rika>>> Come on, Sage of Nothing.  You normally can't shut up.

I looked away, I couldn't bear to see it.

She got pissed, as I refused to play her game.  I couldn't bring myself to administer a snarky response, or even a defiant remark

Rika>>> Pathetic...

She started to storm out, stepping on my mask as she left.  I admit, I was afraid that I would be left there forever.

Me>>> M...My shadow....

She didn't turn around, but she stopped.  I felt I had to convince her that I couldn't be chained.

Me>>>  If I stay here, it will kill me...and...and you won't get your fun.

It was worth a shot.

She looked back towards me, over her shoulder

Rika>>>  Well I think of it this way. I'm gonna head on back here in a day or so. Either this shadow that you are so terrified of will have gotten you and I'll have the pleasure of knowing you died pissing yourself in fear. Or else you'll still be alive and we'll get to tell the whole world about how your shadow really was a delusion and you've been murdering people for nothing other then your own insanity... and then I'll kill you."

That was maybe 3 days ago

Since then I've blacked out, and typed a little, to try to keep my mind off of things...

Sorry to disappoint you Rika, but I've been out for two days now.  I managed to wear out the pipe's pins in the concrete.  After it got off the wall, I levered it enough that the rust made it snap off.

Sick bitch even broke the rats backs while I was out cold.

Soon, it'll be my turn.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Two moments

How can I lose so much time, when I'm constantly moving?    I've had all this time to simply perform one grisly task at hand, and yet it feels so complicated.  I've seen people I know are guilty, yet they end up walking free.  I've seen people whom I've felt are good, and yet they must suffer.  Then there are those who I can't even see, and those who can I feel a mile away.

I feel like things are falling apart, my rotten, festering shamble of a life is withering away, while you readers tell me I'm doing wrong, and I see tortured visions of a slight woman crying out towards me.

I've got to move.

I can't.

Just just days ago

I took someone


I don't know if he was bad

but I had to ward it off

shadow was too close

when I kill it, it'll all work, hope he was bad


yes he was bad

I can see it

thank the gods,  i know he was bad,  he was bad


Can't break free.  It's

Focus, focus...have to breathe, have to survive a little longer.  Almost done, almost done.

nowhere near done.

Okay, I'll talk, I'll talk to you about what just happened.  I ended up in Boston, I think.

Some college at night.  I can't remember it and

fukkkhrtsss frrezzzeengggg  f


its going to kill me   my shadow  it's too close

can't move, can't leave


yess a college at night

boston somewhere


Someone surrendered to me there

at night.  Yes, I remember.

There was a hill, a monument.  Flowers, metal, and stone, a stone pillar

and near the night lights was a man

a broken man.

Actually  two broken men.

Feeling better, yes, this is good.

The other one sat in the shadow of the monument's lights, his head forward.  I could feel his weariness,  his arms wrapped about a leg, as if to gently console himself.

But that wasn't why he was here.

I watched him for a while.  I waited for her.  For Rika.  She had been following me on and off for some time.

So when I got a message that someone wanted me to take their life, as a mercy, as a chance for hope, I was suspicious.

He didn't cry, he didn't do more than sullenly rue his fate for the time I watched.  I felt confident enough to risk closure, even as I fingered my taser, just in case.

He wore a set of sunglasses, that reminded me of Dave's brother in Homestuck...heh.  I loved that comic.  They were all angular, triangles really.  I got no clue how he could wear em. and he wore a tattered cloak.

He was not subtle about his appearance, as he exuded a pathetic nature.

I walked up to him, guardedly, my hands in my hoodie pouch.

Me>>> ....

He didn't hear me approach, I would've expected at least for him to raise his head.

Me>>>  ....  Slice?

He nodded softly, his chin up against his knee.

And then he looked up at me.

In the faint reflection of the light off his features, I saw his look of uncertainty, but then soon after he almost seemed to bask in my presence.

My presence.

The serial killer's presence.

Slice looked up at me, as if I were Jesus holding a giant novelty check, just for him.  His hands went to his mouth, in some sort of hushed awe.

Then he whispered.

Slice>>> came.

I looked him over, trying to understand this fascination he displayed.  I saw a man who had lost everything, and then seeing the answer to all his issues appear before him.

And as always, I have no answers.  I had none for Amelia, I had none for Nessa, none for Kelly, none for Dean...

No answers except to soldier on, and do what I do.

I sighed softly as I leaned up against one of the benches.

Me>>>  Figured it had to be you.

I glanced over his costume.

Me>>>  What is it, about Runners and our want to wear costumes?  Our goal is anonymity, isn't it? 

I continued before he could explain.

Me>>>  I already know why,'s amusing to ponder, isn't it?

Identity, it's always Identity.

Cling to it,  write it on your arm if you must.

Do not forget.

He nodded ruefully, as he gestured to himself, and his cape.

Slice>>> the only thing really keeping me together right now, I think.

He half stepped towards me, I could tell he meant no harm.

Slice>>>  You were...are my hero, you know.  I believe in you.

Then he looked aside, as if measuring his own shadow, his own issues.

Slice>>>  It's silly now, I guess.  I'm glad it's going to be you, zero.  I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

Two men, resigned to their fates.

Two men, in fucking costumes, both with the shit kicked out of them, running from terror.

We were children afraid of the dark.

We all are.

And I laughed.

Me>>>  Heh...'Hero'.  I wanted that once.  Actually, I felt like I was a 'Warrior' once.  That's what my high school team was...the 'Warriors'.

I couldn't help wonder, as I saw his halfhearted smile, what led him here.

Me>>>  Why do you want this?  I mean, I can see you're corrupted, that you're in pain, but what made you decide to just offer up?

He shook his head, running a hand through his hair.

Slice>>>  Everyone I love is dead.

His voice gave out, feeble even at the start.

Slice>>>  My brother.   Everyone's dead because of me.  I just can't keep this up.

I watched him shiver softly as the night air caught up with us.  I'm sure the cold wasn't what made him tremble, his battered form only partially visible in the shadows.

And then I saw resolve.


Slice>>>  I believe in you.  If you need our bones for something, well...death at your hands.  At the hands of my hero...

He spoke now with grim conviction.

Slice>>>  Being useful.  That's better than running alone, or ending up with him.

This poor soul was at the end of his rope.

We both were.  I couldn't help but see ourselves in reversed roles.  Wouldn't I want death at the hands of someone who pr



no  stay stay way

ive got to get


Slice kept seeing me as a hero

and i'm so fucked up

Me>>>  Slice...I'm probably just as messed up as you, really.  That doesn't make me a hero.  Half the time I can't even remember where I'm going.

I remember scratching at the new scars upon my head.  Thanks, again Arkady.

Me>>>  Sometimes I forget my name.

Really, thanks Arkady.

Me>>>  and I'm constantly being chased by some unknown FUCK...that's just as bad as the other one.

The least I could do is shoot straight with him, he seemed to deserve it.

Me>>>  But you man...You know what you can do to help.  To save us.  You're a good man, Slice.

He nodded gravely, tears behind his shades, as he started to smile.

Me>>>  You chose to put the world before your own needs.  You have my thanks,  I'll make you proud.

I stuck out my gloved hand for him, and he eagerly took my hand, wincing from some burn on his arm.

Slice>>>  I believe in you, zero. I

Another one fell to the taser.

By the way, my fears of tasing myself, unfounded.  Most of em have a rubber grip now, helps impede that.  I wear the gloves anyway.  Just in case.

Me>>>  Goodbye Slice.  It's as painless as I can make it.

After I was done with my chore, I threw up in the flowers.

Then I crossed his arms, as best I could, and let him lay properly, with his tattered cloak covering him.

So I'm closer now.

so much closer

two bones

but I can't go any further today.

Because Rika handcuffed me to a boiler yesterday

and my shadow is going to kill me now.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I suppose a bit more of a recap is in order before I go into current events.

Weeks ago, about five days after this post, I think.  When I was screaming on the blog about redemption or so,  I looked through my old email account I don't use too much, back when I was the big go-to guy.  Not that I could do much back then, of course, aside from give advice.  Back before my hands got dirty...

Anyway, I noticed that one of the three bloggers that was still asking me for help lived down near where I was.  Considering that Arkady wasn't going anywhere, since he was apparently stuck in some mindfuck labyrinth, I decided to pay this other gent a visit in....fuck...was it...Mobile, or Oklahoma City?  I can't fucking remember anymore.  All I know is that I had to walk into the city, because the car I was using ran out of gas, and I certainly couldn't pay 4 dollars a gallon for gas, being as broke as I am.  So, the swordsage hit the shoeleather express, with the sides split out of his sneakers.

Makes puddles interesting.

Anyway   Dean McMillan was his name, the tortured soul I went to visit.  I still have his email address, which is fortuitous, since I forgot his name until just a few minutes ago.  I recently responded to him that I would be in his neighborhood.

Dean, apparently, had read my current blog.  He told me that he moved, that he was better, that he was sane now.

In retrospect, not so good to let him know I was coming.  Yeah.

Anyway, google maps got me to his housing complex.  It's not as good as the Tablet for directions, but for a simple address, it worked well enough.  When I arrived that night, I saw the door was already kicked in.  Drawing my previously whole sword (thanks again for that, Robert), I investigated.

For someone as haunted as Dean, his house was drawing free, though I did see signs of arson, as well as a most likely emptied fire extinguisher, that laid on its side in the hallway.  I walked as soft as I could, pacing down the hallway.  A broken mirror hung on the wall beside me, the shattered pieces made a soft crack into the carpet as I continued past, towards what seemed to be labored breathing.

Within the master bedroom, a man, battered and bloodied, laid up against a wall.  The room was quite disturbed, and my now veteran experience in brawling told me that quite a scrap had taken place before I had shown.  

With his mouth hanging open, the man that I could only assume was Dean, panted as he looked over at me.  He held his arm close to his chest as he wordlessly watched me approach.  I felt that he should've been corrupted fully by now, judging by the frantic emails he sent me.  He showed all the signs.  Binary, possession, dreams.  Everything lined up properly with what I needed from him now.  And yet, he wasn't 'right', or rather 'wrong', I should say.

Things, obviously, were amiss.

Unknown>>> "That bone you wanted to collect ain't gonna do you much good, sugar. Guess you can't tell what you're looking for when it's been smashed up, huh?"

Me>>>  "Horseshit..."

Her again.  Rika.  That explains why she carries a hammer...she probably had this idea in her head probably the moment she set her sights on me

Me>>>  "....You again.  You brutalized this man...practically tortured him." 

I wanted nothing more right then, than to take her out.  Yet, I was...I was unable to take more than a step towards her.  My sword wavered, then fell to the side.  I growled in frustration, as I tried to understand what had happened to me just then.  I glanced back towards Dean.  Certainly I might've done as bad to him, in the name of hope, and in an act of mercy...This was a sick mockery.

Me>>>  "And you did it all, because why?  Because of me?"

Rika>>>  "Well that's kinda self centered of you. What makes you think you're that damned important? How do you know its not just a coincidence that we had the same target? After all, we're not that different in what we do."

Me>>>  "W...what?"  

My mind reeled for a moment, the thought that Rika had a list of targets as I did, and then pieces started to come together.

Me>>> "You're full of shit, Rika.  But I get it now, you're just antagonizing me." 

I stepped forward.  At least I could do that, if not fight her.

Me>>>  "You're doing all this to prove yourself to someone, aren't you?" 

I tried to convince myself to press on, to keep pushing her, get her to talk, nevermind the numbness.

She shrugged off my questioning, almost literally.  I could barely keep my eyes off of that sledge she was holding.

Rika>>>  "Sugar who do I have to prove myself too? Redlight? Eulogy? In the big picture they don't matter. Tall One's gonna eat us all in the end."

While her words were just as fluid and honeyed as her Southern accent allowed, I couldn't help but feel the grim thoughts behind it.

I gestured towards her with my one good hand, caught up in my assumptions.

Me>>>  "No, you're doing this for someone, or something.  You didn't accidentally pick your name, you didn't accidentally decide to stalk me.  You're constantly talking about how you're so much better than the Rika I used to know, and for what it's worth, your life seems devoted just to piss me off."

Again she laughed at me, brushing me off.

Rika>>>  " There's that arrogance again. You have met me twice, little boy.  Which doesn't come even close to counting as my life being devoted to you. I plenty of games that have nothing to do with you. Which reminds me, I've got places to go, people to smash, so I best be getting out of here."

Casually she swung her hammer over her shoulder and looked at me.  I was still in her path.

Rika>>> You mind?

I couldn't stop her.  I just couldn't bar her path.  My body refused to cooperate, as I screamed frustrated at myself to get up, and fight her...I stepped aside.

She strolled through as if she owned the place, then halfheartedly looked back at Dean, then to me.

Rika>>> "Come on Zero, crusader against monsters.  Make your choice.  He's obviously corrupted.  You said before that you don't enjoy taking lives, that you did it solely for your pet project.  Well...his arm's no good for you, shug.  Yet he's also just about  justice or compassion...which is it?  Kill or spare?"

I hesitated as I looked at the man.  Dean grimaced as he looked up at me, sweat drenching his face as he tried to catch a breath to whimper.

Was I just a murderer?  I've always said, I still say, that with death comes a greater purpose.  So what could I do, could I self justify his death, if I chose to take it?

I closed my eyes.

I thought of those who had died.

I thought of Amelia, then made my choice.

And Rika laughed.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Been traveling northeast the last week or so, things have been 'slow', as far as my heinous crimes against life in effort to slay a monster.  Still, I sort of like the east coast, I think.  I always wanted to visit Maine back in the day.  The idea of having lobster fresh from the sea, and to look at picturesque light houses on the rocky shore as the wind sweeps in from the ocean.  Sounds nice to me,  there or the Pacific Northwest.  Both seem just wholesome areas, and this comes from someone born in the 'Heartland' of America.

Anyway, so some of you probably have heard Robert calling me out lately.  I really didn't want to have this meeting with him. 

Look despite my....current work therein, I've made it clear that I do not enjoy it, but it needs done.  Robert's the key player that put me in the spot I am today, but still in a way, I have had a deal of respect for his trials.  I remember that day months ago when he chose me to play Sage to a bunch of scared, and confused people, when I hadn't even seen the monster myself. 

Still I gave it a shot, and let delusion and grandeur fill my head...we all know how that ended by now.

So about Robert...the tormented man that has been mindscrewed, charred alive, beaten, drugged, and lived in some sort of maintenance hutch for weeks in a bad suit, eating beans...

I have to say the last part really makes me sad.  I just picture him, delusional, sitting in a crawlspace, so filled with his own misgivings, that he forgot how to live on his own.  He forgot who he was.  Identity is practically the only thing I have.  That plus a few clothes, a backpack, my blade, mask, and a healthy dose of frustration.

...and a nameless shroud that tries to rip my lungs out of my chest when I stop moving for more than a few hours.  Unfortunately, my shadow is not something I could ever forget nowadays.

So Robert had asked me to meet him, via my old email that I hardly check nowadays.  I can't believe he wanted to meet me in Roanoke, but I suppose that's fitting.  I still can't figure out how the hell he knew I was in Virgina, but I decided to take up his offer, despite my misgivings.

He asked me to meet him in the children's section of some library in town, after hours.  Certainly a novel idea of his, but again, I obliged.

It wasn't hard to break into, however I still quite worried about some sort of silent alarm being triggered.  Night consumed the city as I peered outside, towards the main street, looking for some sign of police, or investigation, cursing myself that he may have simply sent me here in hopes I'd end up in police custody.

Then I started thinking about him again.  The man's been tortured so much by evil, he was bound to be corrupted.  What would I do if he was marked?  Could I take his life so easily?

What if he wanted me to ease his pain?  To stop living this futile cycle of loss and horror.

I wasn't certain what I would do.

I sat on one of the children's stools, rocking quietly as I stared at the floor in thought, when I heard footsteps from near the restrooms.

Unknown>>>  Hey...Sorry about that, dinner was so good, it wanted a repeat performance.

I looked up, darting to my feet.  Even at night, the library was illuminated enough that I should've had no trouble seeing anyone, yet the room was empty.

Unknown>>> So...what happens now?

I scoured the room, my hands clenching anxiously.

Me>>>  Robert?     Where are you?

I hear a belabored sigh, in response.

Unknown>>>  So...It works that well, huh?  Take off your mask.

Like hell I would.  If he had been mindfucked again, I needed every assurance I had to survive any unpleasant encounter. 

Me>>>  No.

I've had vision trouble since Arkady nearly broke his blunt ass blade against my head, not to mention even more memory troubles.   I squinted my eyes, mentally screaming to myself to focus harder.

My gaze just...slipped around him at first, as if he were beneath my view.  Reminded me of our mutual foe.

Me>>>  There you finally I meet the second man that drug me into this nightmare.

I assessed Sagel in his glory.  He was thinner than I expected.  Wearing a bandanna over his hair, he looked gaunt, almost yellow.  He kept his hands in his hoodie pockets, but I could see how frail his body had become, even without his hands visible.  For a man who had plastic surgery to restore his appearance not that long ago, he looked like hell. 

Me>>>  You look like hell.

He drew out a hand to click on a toy carousel, which spewed out light and tinkled music,  his gaze drawn to it for a moment.

Robert>>>  Better?  Yeah, I like it too.

Certainly he was not here to discuss merits of projection images from library toys.

Me>>>  What do you want, Sagel?  Are you here to kill me?

The thought infuriated me.  Robert had lost his mind repeatedly, could he have seen me as something worse?  I swept my arms open, reveling in the sarcastic drama.

Me>>>  To remove a rabid dog?

He looked up, unreadable, as I boiled in contempt.  Yet the anger faded from me, evaporating into the night sky, as my arms fell to my side.

Me>>> This isn't Star Wars, man...

Robert shrugged, his hand slipping back into his hoodie.  Poor bastard must have been so cold, whatever he had done to himself, he was so gaunt, that for the second time in his life, he resembled the monster more than I'm sure he wanted to admit.

Robert>>>  I admit that.   You ever wonder what you would've been, if you had went down the other path?

He looked around the room as he provoked me to contemplate my wreck of a life.  Before I could answer the question, he added to his musings.

Robert>>>  Running like M maybe?  Well...No use mentally fixating on 'what could've been', right?

He slouched, almost shrinking, a haggard look on his face.

Robert>>>  No.  I am not here to stop you.  I just need something from you, then we never have to see each other again.

I glossed over his comment, still stuck on his question for a moment.  I hated the idea of running, but what would've changed?

Me>>>  I don't think, I could've.

My voice cracked, as I considered those possibilities.

Me>>>  I couldn't have run, like M.  He was the only one who managed to make that work...Everyone else realized they had to fight at some point, to end it.

I looked away, towards the inane posters all libraries carry, as I pondered that maybe, maybe the ones who ran, and never looked back were the ones who were the bravest of us.  Cutting ties with the entirety of life, save a simple blog, knowing that for the rest of your life you'll be hounded by a monster,  is that strength?

Me>>> I wasn't strong enough to just run, and live like that forever.  No...I wanted an ending once, Robert.

All the angst, and depression of the last few months swelled within me, even now as I relate this, I can't help but

Me>>>  I wanted a chance to be someone.  I was stupid, and I chose to fight it.

He leaned against the far wall, next to the carousel, his thin hand idly played with it, causing the stars and moons on the wall to spin about.

Robert>>>  Stupid, yes, but it wasn't a waste.  At least not in the way you think it was. 

He straightened up, looking back towards me, before he continued.

Robert>>>  Anyway, enough mysterious babble about 'high level' concepts.  To business?

I couldn't help but be amused by him playing it straight for once, without euphemisms, or cryptic speech.

Me>>>  I thought mysterious babble WAS your business.

He laughed sadly, looking at the floor.  I joined in with a soft chuckle.   Two pathetic men, in their last gasps of life.  Gallows humor at its finest.

Robert>>>  Yeah... Stock in trade, claim to fame.   How about some real simple stuff then?

He tilted his head to the side, his voice grew stronger.  A bit more as I had imagined him, even rocking on his heels, as if giving a lecture to his old student.

Robert>>>  He is Death....  We've trussed up the ideal.  Made it seem noble, or coldly compassionate, or a hot goth girl...but we're still afraid of it.  Of Him.  We run, we hide...fight...some try to forget about it, only to remember later.  He's always there, and he will get us all in the end.

Five months ago, I would've been spellbound by his oratory, even still it was oddly humbling, to hear him talk.  Some time ago, before he was shattered beyond belief, this man started the united front that remains even to this day, even if disdainfully referred to as the 'Core Theory' days,  done in by people's self-glorification.

Me>>>  You speak of death, or of the monster.  One's been spared to me, the other's just waiting.

He shrugged again.

Robert>>>  I think it doesn't matter much at this point.  He's changed too much.

Me>>>  He's changed, you think?  Who's to say the brazenness, the use of agents, the many appearances.  He could've done this all before, we would've had no idea,  hell a great deal still don't know of him,

The lucky bastards.

Robert>>> Gut feeling.  Anyway it's the agents that are the real problem, particularly *that* bastard. Which is why I am here.

I could taste the venom of his reference to Redlight.  I didn't want to even think about him.  All I can see is a woman on her knees, begging me to shoot her, when I think of that name.

Me>>> Redlight...the pain in the side of most everyone I know.  Heh, even Strahm.   So you think you can kill him?

He nodded softly, sincerity and conviction in his tone.  He gestured with his off-hand as he continued his theorem.

Robert>>> I know how.  If he takes over Cynthia, then it's done.  He'll have his own army, away from Him, and well...he'll just run roughshod over us, then go public probably.  He's an ambitious little shit.

Robert>>>  I can't just stab him, as he's 'invested' enough of himself and his identity to make a jump to another of his puppets.  But, I know what to do to really, and truly kill this bastard.

Bodysurfing.  Robert's still a damn loon, but that would explain his speed in transit.  I doubt it's true, but we all know stranger things are out there.

Me>>> You really think there's more than one out there...that there's a whole network. I still don't buy it. But I'm all for killing the smug asshole, and adding him to my collection.

Certainly Redlight's bone would aid in my attack on the tree...

He shook his head, cutting my thoughts short.

Robert>>>  You'll never do it, and you don't want to.

I shrugged back, for once, as I considered my ever fading options.

Me>>>  It's not really my task at hand. But if I see the bastard, i'm not saying I wouldn't take the, I'm better off not seeing him again. Not after Nessa.

Robert>>> I was...not wholly correct about the network. Bad intel on my part. But he can body surf, he just has to do something special with Cynthia....Alright, enough dancing about it, zero.  Where's the tree?

I was in the middle of a speculative answer when he stunned me.  The Bleeding Tree.


Robert wanted to see it.   I suppose that at least he believed it was real, so that's a comfort to my sanity, though the world'd probably be better off if it was just my own hallucination.

Me>>>  You want to....Robert, no.   Don't do that.

Lost for words, I stumbled over myself.  He withdrew a set of pruning shears from his hoodie pouch.

Robert>>> It's important, zero.  Where's the tree?  I know it's not 'fully real'.

I drew my blade quickly, then took a step back.  Certainly a set of shears were no match for a blade, even a crap one like mine, however it was a threat that I did not intend to ignore.  Even as he held the shears one handed.

Me>>> It *is* real.  Robert...The tree *will* kill you.  You're sickly enough as it is.

Robert>>>  Maybe, but I'd rather die doing something...

He set the shears on the half wall beside him, next to the carousel, then gestured to my blade.

Robert>>> And put that away please.   Not like I have much time left anyway, so why would you even care?  I die, one less schmuck you have to kill, right?

He still thinks I'm a psycho, that the deaths at my hand were for vengeance.  Certainly it was murder, but with greater purpose than that. 

Me>>>  You were once a noble man, Robert.  Even if your choice of replacement was faulty.  Heh...I admit, I have considered killing you, though not with malice, but with mercy.  To end this suffering you've been throwin into repeatedly.

I lowered my blade.

Me>>> want what I wanted once, long upon a time, don't you?  A last chance to do something worthwhile.

Robert>>> My kind of thing, along with the babble.

I could relate to that.  The man was everything from a 'guardian' to a liar, to a perfectly average person at times.  He wanted to figure out which of those he really was.

Me>>>  I understand that, but fuck man, why the tree?

Robert gave a weak smile as he gestured into another shrug.

Robert>>>  It's complicated.  You want the short version, long one, or just the comfort that it's not going to affect you.  You'd probably be happier not knowing.

I sat down on the same stool as I thought things over.  Certainly I had a little respect for the man, but was there any trust?  I rolled several variables around in my head, when I decided that I've always been a bit of a gambler.

Me>>>  When you get there, you'll see the trees just part, and the ground will shift to roots...and it will suddenly be before you, a body upon each branch. A crashing weight will send you to the ground, and every time your skin will touch the roots, it will drain your life....The worst is the not make contact with its eyes.

I looked up to ensure he was listening, before I continued.

Me>>  It is an unearthly glow they create, and every second you are drawn to them, is as the same as the monster's own mindgames...."

He nodded, then gestured towards the exit.  I stood as he went to depart.

Robert>>  Thank you.  Have a good night, zero.  Good luck.

He paused as he turned to face me.

Robert>>  One more thing...

The window next to me shattered, as a tremendous boom broke the silence of the air.  A smoking hole in Robert's hoodie pouch appeared, with the glint of metal inside.

The fucker tried to shoot me.   However lousy aim he had from that awkward position was soon to be fixed as he drew his pistol on me.

I started to dive for cover, dropping my blade in the process.  Last thing I wanted was to be impaled as I panicked.

A second and third shot rang out as I scrambled behind a children's table, frantically looking for some way out of this mess.

Robert>>>  For what it's worth, sorry...

He was already gone when I steeled myself, ready to attempt to close the distance.

Metal glinted off the floor, flickering stars and moons upon it from the projection.

The blade, that had cut the Bleeding Tree.

Now it was sundered, broken almost in half