Friday, December 27, 2013

No matter where we walked, Sky and I always seemed to be getting closer to the top of the skyscraper. Even walking down the stairs somehow made us get higher up. The more floors we climbed, the weirder stuff got. I’ve started hearing what sounds like people whispering all around me, and the fog sometimes seems to be reaching for us with smoky hands. And there are points where the office floors are so covered in branches and water that it almost feels like we’re walking through a forest.

When we went through one door that should have led back to the stairwell, we instead found ourselves in a long hallway. Apart from the door at the end, the hallway was completely empty. It didn’t have a single one of the swamp like features that fill the rest of the place. We went through the door, and came out in Truth’s office.

It was remarkably unchanged from since the last time I’d been in there. Like the hallway we’d come from, it hadn’t undergone the transformation like the rest of the building had. Not that I could make a comparison at the time, because when I turned around to check, the door we’d come through had vanished. There was no sign of Truth in the room, but the big painting of Yggdrasil that had been behind his desk was off the wall, revealing a large metal door that had been covered by it. The door looked really heavy and secure, but it had been left open a crack. With nothing else to do, I pulled the door open the rest of the way, and looked inside.

That resulted in me getting two guns pointed at my face. Holding them were two of Truth’s guards, and sitting behind them was Truth.

T: “Well this is an unexpected turn of events. Bring them inside.”

The guards grabbed Sky and me, and pulled us through the door. Unlike the richly decorated office, this room resembled a bunker, with gray concrete walls and extremely utilitarian looking bunks. There was a small kitchen to one side, and a very Spartan looking bathroom in the corner. It was clearly a place designed purely for survival.

T: “Hello, Sky and… Diana, was it? I can’t say I was expecting anyone to arrive here.”

*Sky glowered at him*

T: “Oh come now Sky, is that any way to greet your grandfather?”

*I’ll just say that I didn’t see that coming. I probably stood there with my jaw open for several seconds as I processed what I’d heard. Sky continued to glower.*

T: “I suppose I can’t expect much. Still, the two of you coming here has thrown what plans I had off. A little courtesy would be nice.”

D: “W… what is this place?”

T: “A safe room I built into my office so that I could wait out emergencies in safety. Although I never expected it would be used in this kind of emergency.”’

D: “So you’ve been here the whole time?”

T: “Yes. I had expected this situation to resolve itself quickly. But I made that prediction without realizing that Sky would discover a surprisingly competent guardian.” *He gestured at me.* “It looks like now we have to kill you and then throw her back out to the Slender Man before any of this will be fixed.”

*I froze when I heard him say that. Why am I suddenly meeting all these people who are so casual about killing me? I almost miss those psycho proxies who at least were clearly crazy.*

D: “Wait wait wait why? Can’t you just talk to the Boss or something?”

*Truth seemed surprised when I said that. He started laughing a little crazily, which seemed to make his guards a little uncomfortable. Eventually he stopped.*

T: “I apologize about that. Being cramped up in here for days puts one on edge. I’m just a little surprised that after everything that’s happened, you still haven’t given up on any of those proxy beliefs of yours. You even called it ‘the Boss.’ Fascinating.”

D: “What are you talking about?”

*Truth sat down on one of the beds and folded his fingers together.*

T: “It’s a little cliché to say that I should tell you since you’re about to die, but it looks like that’s the situation we actually are in here. It would be rude of me to kill one of my employees without an explanation, at least.” *He motioned at the guards, who stepped between me and the door.* “How about I tell you a story. I know Sky used to be a fan of stories; perhaps this will help keep her entertained until we need to throw her out. Years ago, there was a businessman. He’d achieved some success in his life, leading companies to profit and so forth, but beyond that he was no different than any other CEO in corporate America. But there are some things you hear when you move amongst the rich and powerful. Secrets that don’t get leaked to the common people until later. One of these secrets he heard was about a faceless creature in a suit who stole people away. An interesting rumor, but not one that the man felt mattered to him. Even if it was true, there was no way for him to profit off such a creature. So he left that matter alone.
Until one holiday season, when his family came to visit. It seemed that his granddaughter had made a new imaginary friend since their last visit. A tall man, in a suit and without a face. Her parents were concerned about how obsessed she seemed to have become with this friend, but the man recognized this imaginary friend of her immediately. And so he questioned her, and when the holidays were over and her family returned home, he continued his own research of her friend. Now, keep in mind that this part of the story takes place several years ago. He couldn’t just do a quick search on the internet and get all the results he needed. The man had to dig deep, using the connections he’d built up in the government and in the shadier sides of business to their full extent. And what he found exhilarated him.

Not only had he discovered unquestionable proof that the Slender Man existed, but he began to get inspiration for the possible implications of that. When it was just a rumor, there was no profit to be found. But now, he had discovered a whole new source of money and power. In those early days, there was still a lot of confusion regarding the Slender Man. There were no researchers, or ‘Scribes’, or whatever it is we’re calling them now. There was no community to protect each other. There was only a series of mysterious incidents and several scared and desperate individuals with no means of contacting each other.

And if there is one thing the man had learned from his time working in business, it is the weakness of individuals. Groups can be fired up, inspired by each other to take a stand. Mob mentality at its finest. But individuals? Individuals just want to be left alone. They want to be able to live normal, boring lives without having to constantly be afraid. And when they are put in such desperate situations, they will try anything in order to escape. And the most common method of escape is collaboration. If you can’t beat them, join them. But how were these people supposed to collaborate with the Slender Man? It was a monster. Why would it even need collaborators? It didn’t care about human beings. It killed, stalked, spared, all at random. There was no way to communicate with it. How could they possibly serve such a thing?”

*Truth stood up, got a glass of water from the sink, and took a few sips.*

The man, being the experienced corporate man he was, saw an unmet demand for a service, and decided the only thing he could do would be to provide that service. It was a stroke of genius, if I may brag. ‘Oracles.’ Why not just claim to have been granted the power to communicate with it, and use that claim to establish authority over all would be collaborators? Of course, such a claim would require proof. But fortunately for this man, he just happened to be related to a girl whom the Slender Man had taken uncharacteristic interest in. He could use information provided from her as evidence of the ‘gifts’ he had been granted by the Slender Man.

It began on a small scale, of course. Just a few dozen would-be collaborators taken into the fold, spreading the word of their ‘Father.’ But it grew from there. Once the core set of believers was established, there was no need for the man to continue to prove himself. With a properly established bureaucracy, the majority of recruits need not ever even come into contact with the leadership. He was able to bring in several of his friends from his corporate days, like minded businessmen, who used what he had established as a base to expand through the country. When the man’s granddaughter disappeared for several years, she wasn’t even needed. The entire project had begun to grow organically. And best of all, the Slender Man’s chaotic nature made almost anything justifiable. If it killed someone who had thought they were working for it, that was just excused as the proxy having displeased they’re master in some way humans could not comprehend. It was like being a priest of old, telling the people that an eclipse was a sign that the gods wanted more gold in the temples.

And it was such a successful strategy, too. We brought in more money than we could have ever dreamed of working in business. And our influence….” *He laughed.* “After a senator’s son was taken by Slender Man, we could make almost any demand we wanted from the American government. No more need to waste time or money lobbying! We even had branches in several foreign countries. When I found my granddaughter in Arizona, I thought I had discovered a chance for even greater opportunities.”

*Truth paused to look around the room.*

T: “That plan didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. This was my fault, really. At this point my best strategy would have just been to keep up the status quo, and avoid drawing Slender Man’s attention as much as possible. Let my employees deal with him while I remained safe. So long as I’ve stayed out of his way, he hasn’t seemed to care what I do in his name. But that’s just hindsight.” *He sat back down on the bed.* “So there it is. Thank you for this opportunity, really. I don’t often get the chance to brag about how I came to this position. But I’m sure you now understand why negotiations aren’t going to be any use. My best strategy is just to give Slender Man what he wants, and eliminate all the people who are preventing him from getting it.” *He looked at Sky for a moment, and then frowned, puzzled.* “This is usually the part of my speech where she would start ranting nonsense. Did you train her to be silent while you were climbing this building?”

I didn’t have an answer to that. I didn’t have an answer to anything I’d just heard. I thought he had to be lying. He’d come up with this crazy story for some reason I couldn’t figure out yet. It had to be a lie, because if it wasn’t, what did it mean for all this time I’ve spent as a proxy? What did it mean for those sacrifices I made, thinking I was saving my life?

I think Truth was hoping for a shocked response out of us, because he waited for several moments before saying anything else. But I wasn’t capable of putting enough thoughts together to say anything, and Sky just continued to glower silently at him. He sighed disappointedly, and waved at the guards.

T: “Alright, kill her.”

I closed my eyes, expecting a gunshot that would end everything. Nothing happened. I opened my eyes and turned around to see what was stopping them. Both guards had expressions of pain and surprise stuck on their faces, and one even had blood trickling from his mouth. The guards fell forward, revealing each had a knife in their back. And behind them was Arkady.

A: “Fucking hell, you like to talk even more than I do! I could have burned down this whole place and you wouldn’t have noticed you were on fire until you stopped to take a breath!”*He waved at Sky and me* “Hey there. If you don’t mind, I’m going to saw this talkative guy’s head off.”

Now it was Truth’s turn to be absolutely speechless. He kept starting syllables of words, but they kept trailing off into a squeak of fear. Arkady grabbed a knife in one of the guards, and tugged at it, but it stayed stuck in. Arkady pulled at it a few more times, still not getting it out.

A: “Okay maybe I shouldn’t have stabbed them so deep…. Just, just wait there, I’ll get with you in a moment…. I mean, yeah I could just break your neck, but I said I was going to saw your head off…. Damn I stabbed this guy really hard….”

While Arkady was trying to get his knife back, fog began to creep in from the corners of the room. At first, all of us were too distracted by the spectacle of Arkady’s struggle. When it did become obvious, it had filled the room up to my calves. The lights started to flicker on and off. And when they came back on, Slender Man was in the room, standing just to Truth’s left.

When Truth saw Slender Man, he screamed. He tried running away, but the room was too small for him to get very far from Slender Man. It twisted its whole upper torso around to keep watching Truth as he scrambled against the farthest wall he could reach.

T: “Oh god… oh god oh god oh god oh god….” *Slender Man turned the rest of his body around so he was completely facing Truth.* “T-the girl! She’s right there! Just take her! You can have her! I don’t care about her, just take her and leave!” *Tentacles grew out of Slender Man’s sides, which started to reach toward Truth.* “No… please, don’t…. I’m sorry! I was wrong! I’ll leave the organization! I’ll never claim to work in your name! I’ll take it all apart! I’ll, I’ll… I’ll work for you for real! I’ll do whatever you want me to! Just don’t… don’t….” *The tentacles moved around Truth, just inches away from touching him. He walked toward the Slender Man, pleading for his life. When he reached it, the tentacles wrapped around him completely. And then, Truth was…gone. The tentacles retracted back into Slender Man, but there was no sign of Truth.

A hand grabbed my shoulder and I heard Arkady whisper,

A: “I don’t want to critique this ‘Stand still like an idiot’ strategy you’ve got going, but I would really recommend running now.”

His grip on me tightened and he pulled me and Sky along as he ran out of the room. The swamp had spread to Truth’s office as well, but the door leading out had reappeared. Arkady turned the handle, but it seemed jammed on something.

A: “Damn. Keep an eye out in case Slendy comes for us while I try to get this open.”

D: “You said you were planning to kill us once we got up here!”

A: “Yeah, I did, and if you really want I can go back to that plan. Otherwise, stop whining about being rescued and keep watch!”

*As Arkady started slamming his shoulder against the door, Sky was laughing to herself.*

S: “He’s dead! He’s finally dead! I knew he was going to die, and he did!”

A: “See, why can’t you be more like her. Look at that positive attitude she’s got going.” *Just as he said that, Arkady broke open the door.* “Alright, good, everyone through now!”

I sprinted through, looking back once to see Slender Man slowly walking out of the safe room. I lost sight of him after we turned a corner, and we kept running for another half hour just to be safe. We’re taking a break now. I’m using it as chance to listen to what I’ve recorded and try to comprehend it all by typing it up. I’m still not sure what to think. I might just hold off on conclusions until we get out.

Because that’s the plan now. Arkady, Sky, and I are going to be running to the bottom floor as fast as we can, then try to get outside. Maybe it won’t work. But at least it feels better to be doing something positive in here.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


After getting through that last floor, our situation seemed to calm down. We still had to deal with the shifting geography of the building, or climbing around the tree branches that seemed to be growing everywhere, but nothing was actively trying to kill us. Even Arkady started acting a little less like an jerk. I only had to expect a few condescending remarks over the course of the day instead of an unending stream of them. He’d even started including Sky beating that tree thing to death into his collection of stories, which means we finally get the occasional break from him talking about himself. Although I noticed he seemed to double the number of things she kills with each retelling.

 He even occasionally let us talk during story time. I’d never imagined Arkady being interested in people other than himself. A lot of his conversation felt like he was just going through the motions of making small talk, but he did seem genuinely invested when Sky talked about her early days with the Boss. Which surprised me, since all those stories were things he should have already read on my blog. I asked him about that, and his answer wasn’t really what I’d been expecting.

A: “Two reasons. One, it gives the impression of empathy and investment in her wellbeing.”

D: “Why would you care about that?”

A: “I’ve generally found it to be a smart idea to stay on the good side of people who have shown themselves capable of bashing skulls in. The second reason is that I can get more information through body language and tone than I was just able to get through text alone.”

D: “That still doesn’t explain why you of all people would suddenly care about something that has to do with another person.

A: *Shrug* “The two of you have managed to become significantly more interesting in the time you’ve spent away from your usual slave roles. Interesting enough to make me a little curious about the mysteries behind that girl. I can’t be the only one to have noticed how different her story is from the rest of you proxies. Maybe if I figure out the reason why, it will explain why threatening her is so effective a tool against Slendy.”

It may have been a weird and twisted sort of interest he was showing in us, but it felt like an improvement. Which only made what followed feel worse.

We’d been climbing stairs, as we often spend our days doing, when we saw something I’d begun to think had stopped existing. The roof. It was still several floors up, but when we looked up the stairwell, we could see a definite end to our climb. I just froze when I saw it, fully understanding the implications of it all.

A: “Well, would you look at that. Still a bit too high up to reach just now. But we’re almost there! Let’s rest up for now, and then tomorrow we can get a fresh and early start on your deaths’!”

He threw down his bag in a space between two branches, and then sat down. I’m fairly sure that he intentionally made sure his two remaining knives were displayed quite prominently when he sat, as an unspoken warning. After that talk earlier of him being interested in Sky’s history, the sudden reminder that he still intended to kill us was jarring. At least his decision to rest first gave us time to think.

Usually, Arkady makes sure to go to sleep after Sky and I have. In the past, that wasn’t really a necessary precaution, since all the immediate dangers of this building were generally worse than the possibility of being killed at some vague time in the future. That was no longer the case. I pretended to sleep, and once I saw Arkady nod off, I got up. As quietly as I could, I woke Sky up, and gestured that we were leaving. I didn’t have any sort of plan where we would go beyond getting as much distance as we could between us and Arkady. We’d deal with the problems of the building trying to murder us when that came up.

Of course things couldn’t go like I’d hoped for. Sky and I were slowly walking toward the door out of the stairs when we heard Arkady’s voice behind us.

A: “Aw, come on, at least do it right. You’re supposed to wait a few minutes before you leave to make sure they’re really asleep and not just pretending as well.” *He already had a knife out, and was walking toward us.* “I really had hoped that threats of violence would be enough to get compliance, but it looks like that wasn’t the case. Oh well. Guess we’ll just reschedule the murdering part.”

I think the most frightening part about him getting closer was that he wasn’t making any effort to look threatening or intimidating. He was walking towards us so casually, that it almost seemed impossible he planned to kill anyone, up to the point where he grabbed me and threw me against a wall.

A: “Well, time to get started.”

S: “Get away from her!”

While Arkady was throwing me, Sky had broken off one of the branches growing through the floor, and was holding it like a club. Blood was spurting out of the broken end of the branch down her arm, but she was clearly trying her hardest to ignore it. Arkady lost all interest in me as he turned toward Sky.

A: “Well, would you look at this. Have you finally decided to try and stop me? I’d say you must have a death wish, but given I’m planning to kill you regardless….” *He started walking toward her, twirling his knife between his fingers.* “Can you really do it? Do you really have it in you to attack me, knowing what horrible consequences may come?” *He stood just a short distance from her, towering over her small frame* “Can you?”

Sky was shaking so hard I thought she was going to drop the branch. Then she closed her eyes, screamed, and swung it at Arkady’s injured arm. He hissed in pain and dropped his knife, which I took as an opportunity. I grabbed Sky, and we ran out the door. I could hear Arkady laughing behind us, but he didn’t seem to be chasing us. That didn’t stop us from still running as fast as we could.

Since then, Sky and I have been wandering through the building. My first thought was that maybe we could make it back to the first floor and try getting out through there, but it’s hard to do that when the rooms and stairs don’t lead to where they should. Even though we’ve been trying to go down, we somehow seem to still be getting closer to the top floor. Which isn’t an ideal direction, but at least we’re not accompanied by Arkady as we go up.

But until the situation changes, it seems like we’re going to keep walking through the building. I’ll post if anything major happens.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Possibly one of the worst floors we’ve been on. For once I’m grateful Arkady’s going over this before it posts. As much as my hands are shaking, it’s going to need some serious editing.

There was a lot more mist on this floor than on the others. I could see about a foot in front of me, and everything else was dark. Occasionally the lightning outside would let me see dim outlines of shapes through the fog, but that was it.

Sky absolutely refused to go in, and Arkady puts enough trust in her intuition that he didn’t want to risk it. But given that the stairs above us were blocked by rubble, the only ways to continue going up would be either to backtrack until we found an alternate route, or try climbing the outside again. Neither of which sounded like good ideas. Being stuck there gave me a little bit of hope; since Arkady seemed dead set on waiting until we reached the top of the building before killing either of us, not being able to progress any further might have meant we’d get to live.

Of course, the building had other plans. While we waited for Arkady to finish pacing as he tried to come up with a plan, the staircase we were on started shaking. Further down, a tree was growing up the stairwell, smashing apart everything in its way. Even with my misgivings toward the mist covered room across the door, it quickly started looking like a better alternative to waiting and being killed by the tree. I shouted a warning, and then jumped through the door. Arkady threw Sky across, and then jumped right before the stairs fell away.

Once all three of us were inside, the fog grew much thicker. I quickly lost sight of Arkady and Sky, and soon couldn’t see anything around me at all. I called for them, but there was no reply.

I walked forward, calling Sky as I went, and occasionally stumbling over a desk. A flash of lightning illuminated a silhouette of someone standing in front of me. It was too tall to be Sky, so I assumed it was Arkady. As I was starting to say his name, the person tackled me. When we hit the ground, they grabbed my throat and started to squeeze until I couldn’t breathe. Another flash of lightning, and I saw that the person strangling me was Lepidus.

His eyes were gone, and the empty sockets were covered in scratches. Small black branches were growing out of his check and the top of his head, where clumps of his hair were falling off with every movement he made. He opened his mouth, wider than his jaw should have spread, and blood poured out onto my face. A terrible shrieking noise came from it, that shook my whole body. I wanted to call to him, but I couldn’t draw the breath to speak. I didn’t understand what was going on. What had happened to Lepidus? What was all this?

Another flash of lightning, and I saw Sky standing by us. She was staring, jaw hanging open in shock. I couldn’t scream, so I tried gesturing for her to run. I assumed it worked, because she turned and disappeared back into the fog. Even if I didn’t understand what was happening, I thought I could keep her away from it.

My assumption ended up being wrong, as seconds later, Sky came running back, holding an office chair over her head and screaming. She hit Lepidus with the chair until he was knocked off me. She kept hitting him, cracking his skull and spilling blood across the floor. She didn’t stop until his head had been completely crushed. After she was finished, she set the chair down and threw up. I wanted to help her, but just laid there, still in shock at the scene.

More lightning. Several figured were around us, moving closer. As they approached, I recognized their faces. The Jackson Brothers, Dumas, Ahriman, even some people I hadn’t seen since before I became a proxy. My parents, my old boyfriend, friends from high school…. They all had the same appearance as Lepidus, with their eyes gone and small branches growing out from under their skin. All of them opened their mouths and shrieked in unison. That sound finally got me acting, and I stood up and pulled Sky behind me. Not that it would have helped, since we were surrounded, but it was the best I could do. They continued to advance towards us, blood pouring from their mouths as they shrieked.

Then out of the fog, Arkady appeared. He ran between the figures, cutting through them with a knife in each hand, laughing like a kid. He was brutal in his methods, tearing off my mother’s head and then kicking it away, or throwing Gabriel Jackson to the ground and crushing his head under his foot. When Dumas was the only one left, Arkady threw aside the knives and started hitting Dumas until he stopped moving.

A: “Well that was fun! We need more death traps like this.” *He noticed Lepidus’s body, and Sky holding the bloody chair.* “Oh, hey, you got one too, kid? Nice job.” *He ruffled Sky’s hair.*

D: “How can you always act so happy after killing people?”

A: “People?” *He picked up Dumas.* “These things look like people to you?”

D: “Of course they do! What else would they be?”

A: “Freaky blood filled tree things. Yeah, they’re humanoid shaped, but you’d have to be crazy to mistake them for actual people.”

D: “That’s Dumas you’re holding!”

S: “No, that’s not Dumas… That’s my uncle….”

*Now I was confused. It definitely was Dumas. It looked exactly like him. Arkady’s eyes narrowed in suspicion and he dropped the body.*

A: “Well, isn’t that interesting. Perhaps it would be best for us to keep moving.”

I looked at the bodies again. They still looked like people I know, but I was starting to question what my eyes saw. I thought I recognized them, but if Sky was seeing completely different people, and Arkady didn’t see them as people at all, what were they really? Were any of us right?

Arkady didn’t have the patience for confusion. And without any other options, we followed. More lighting showed other figures in the fog, but they didn’t attack us. It was more like walking through a torture gallery, with the figures all displayed in poses of excruciating agony. Their screams sounded human now, and I could hear them calling out for someone to save them. I tried to cover my ears, but it did nothing to silence the sound. It was Hell. It really felt like I was walking through Hell.

Arkady suddenly came to a stop. Someone was standing in front of him. The lightning made their face clear, but I didn’t believe what I saw at first. Not until the second flash confirmed it. The person standing in our way looked like me.

A: “Well. Isn’t that interesting. Hey, you two. Out of curiosity, what’s this one look like to you?”

D: “It looks like me….”

S: “It’s… me….”

A: “Thought so. Well, time to kill it.”

He drew another knife, but before he could use it, the person started screaming in pain. Then their whole body melted. It was just… absolutely horrifying. Watching someone who looked exactly like me dying like that. I almost was sick, and I heard Sky sobbing behind me. Arkady remained unfazed. When all that remained of the body was part of its face, he stomped down on it, crushing it.

A: “And hey, look at that, the door was right behind it. Let’s get out of here.”

The moment his hand touched the door handle, all the fog was blown away. And suddenly I could clearly see the Boss’s head looming over me.

He was standing behind us, but his torso stretched so much that when he bent over, I was looking right at him. Before anyone could even scream, his tentacles grabbed Sky and pulled her toward him. Arkady didn’t hesitate before charging. He didn’t make it far before the Boss lashed out with more tentacles. Arkady dodged most of them, until one went through his left shoulder. The Boss threw Arkady into a wall, and moved so that he stood between Arkady and Sky.

For a few moments, I thought this was our chance for escape. The Boss would get what he wanted, kill Arkady, and take us out of here. We’d go back to the way things used to be. I didn’t have to do anything but keep standing where I was, and let things happen. The nightmare would finally be over.

Then I looked at Sky’s face, and knew there was no way I could sit and wait. She looked more scared than I’d ever seen before. She didn’t seem able to speak, but kept silently mouthing “Help” at me. Could I really accept going back to how things were? Back when I spent all day documenting people’s deaths and Sky spent every night being tortured by the thing that employed me?

Arkady was quickly back on his feet, charging at the Boss while making a noise that was like a combination of laughter and screaming in pain. He’d dropped the knife, and seemed intent on just punching the Boss. He was swatted aside by another tentacle before he came close. But he kept the Boss’s attention for a while. And without really thinking it through, I lunged forward and grabbed Sky’s arm, trying to pull her away. The Boss’s upper body twisted around, turning from Arkady toward me.

It felt like my brain had been dropped into a blender. Incredible pain shot through my head, and random memories and images flashed before my eyes. But I kept pulling at Sky. I had to get her away from him. Even as everything before my eyes dissolved into a chaos of pain and memories, I kept trying to pull her away.

Arkady’s voice cut through the insanity like a foghorn.

A: “Hey Slendy, didn’t I fucking tell you that need to deal with me first before you could get either of them?!”

Arkady was charging again, holding the same chair that Sky had used earlier. Before the Boss could turn to confront him, Arkady threw the chair. Just before it hit the Boss’s head, I blacked out. When I woke up, the Boss had vanished. Sky, Arkady, and I were lying on the floor. There was blood coming from our noses, although most of it was already drying up. I wanted a moment to collect myself, but Arkady was immediately up and herding us to the door. I didn’t have the will to debate the instructions. I just wanted off that floor.

We’re resting on the stairs again. Sky’s found a corner and is crying to herself there; whenever one of us goes near her she shouts at us until we leave. Arkady’s bandaged up the hole in his left shoulder, but I’ve noticed he doesn’t seem able to move that arm much anymore. He says he’s fine, but I think he’s more seriously injured than he wants to admit (No, I’m fucking fine. I’m just typing this comment with only my right hand because I fucking feel like it. –Arkady.)

I don’t want to deal with this anymore. All I want is to go back home and lie in bed for days. But now I can’t do that. Before this, I could always claim that the only reason I’m going along here is because Arkady’s forcing us. But I stood against the Boss. I tried to stop him when he came to take Sky back. Even if I get out of here, I can’t go back to being a proxy. I’ll have to be another Runner, waiting for the day when he comes and kills me. No matter what happens here, I’m going to die.

And that’s really it, isn’t it. I’ve been pretending that we’d have a chance to escape this place. But now I know we really don’t. We’re all going to die here. The only thing we can hope for is that the Boss will be merciful enough to do it quickly.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Arkady’s long winded monologue didn’t help us with getting off that floor. There didn’t seem to be an end everywhere. Even with rest breaks, the walking was wearing Sky and Me down.

Adrenaline quickly replaced that exhaustion when Sky froze and said, “We need to get out of here.” She didn’t go into specifics, but it wasn’t hard to infer what she was talking about. It had been dark inside the building ever since the storm clouds came in. But now the shadows were becoming darker, and growing longer. It looked like they were moving, slowly covering the room in a wall of blackness. Arkady grabbed a paperweight from a desk and tossed it into the shadows. I waited for the sound of it hitting the ground, but there was nothing. Like it had just disappeared.

A: “Well, that certainly doesn’t look like a friendly development.”

We ran to the window, where there was more light. The shadows continued spreading toward us, leaving everything in darkness. I tried being rational, telling myself that it was just darkness, that it couldn’t hurt me, but that was a failure at reassurance. Normal darkness does not move on its own. Nor does it swallow up all light around it like a black hole.

Further down, the window was broken by a tree that had grown through it. Arkady ran over to check it out, and said we could climb it to another floor. I was strongly against that idea, because climbing up the side of a skyscraper is a terrible plan. But I didn’t get a chance to argue for long; Sky was so panicked by the darkness that she practically jumped through the window and started climbing up as fast as she could. I had to climb after he, and Arkady quickly followed me.

This was one of those times where I hate being right, because climbing that tree was a horrible idea. The storm was worse than it had looked from the inside. The black rain was coming down so hard it was difficult to breathe without swallowing it, and the wind felt like it was trying to blow me off. At least there was too much fog below us for me to see how high up we were. The tree grew along the side of the building for two floors before a large branch had torn another hole in the windows, which was where I presumed Sky was climbing toward. I’m no climber, but I was too busy being terrified that something would happen to Sky to worry about that.

We had almost reached the broken window when things got worse. The bark on the trees began to shift so it looked like it was covered in faces. The faces opened their mouths, and let out a horrible scream. I froze up with fear, but they must have caused Sky to let go, because I saw her falling past me a moment later. I looked down just as Arkady lunged to catch her. He did manage to grab her hand, but then he fell as well, and they both disappeared into the fog.

It was difficult to see while hanging off the side of the tree, so I climbed the last few feet through the broken window, and started looking for them once I was on solid ground. I don’t know what I was looking for, really. I’d seen them fall, and it was impossible to look through the fog. And I thought, that was it. This is how I lose her. Not taken by the Boss, not killed by Arkady, she just falls to her death. And I couldn’t do anything to stop it.

As I was thinking that, a hand came out of the fog, grabbing onto a branch. Arkady pulled himself out of the fog, with Sky hanging onto his back. He must have caught onto something below the fog, and started climbing back up. With Sky, it was taking him much longer to climb. But he was still doing it, slowly regaining ground.

Once again, things got worse when he neared the top. The faces on the tree stopped screaming, and instead started biting, viciously tearing into Arkady’s hands. For a moment I thought he was going to fall, but he kept coming, even as they drew blood. When he got near the window, I grabbed Sky, and pulled her inside. Arkady started to come in as well, but all the blood on his hands caused his grip to slip, and he started falling.

If I’m going to be honest, I have to say that I was completely willing to let him fall. It would have solved a lot of our problems. (Aw, nice to see you care so much. –Arkady) Sky, however, seems more forgiving than me. As soon as Arkady started to fall, she grabbed his arm. And since Sky is a small, malnourished girl, and Arkady is a huge, muscular guy, there was no way she could pull him up. So long as she kept holding on, she was going to get dragged back down. There was no way I was letting her fall again, so I grabbed Arkady’s other arm, and helped pull him back up. I really hope that bit of mercy doesn’t come back to bite us later.

This floor seems normal. Compared to the last one, that is. It still looks like a hybrid swamp/corporate office, but it’s regular sized, and the shadows aren’t trying to kill us. Now we only have to deal with the fact that most of us feel like we are about to collapse with exhaustion and sleep for a few weeks.

Good night.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

We slept for the “night” in the stairwell, until I was woken up by what sounded like someone doing pushups. When I opened my eyes, yes, Arkady was doing pushups. After watching him for a while, Sky tried imitating him, but couldn’t do a single one. She looked really upset about that, until I told her that I probably couldn’t do any either. Being a desk slave doesn’t help with fitness. Instead, we just ate a small breakfast while Arkady finished up his workout.

A: “Alright. Let’s get moving.”

I’d been hoping he would take longer. The more time we spend down here, the longer before we reach the top. And I don’t want to think about what’s going to happen when we get there.

My concern made me drift off as I tried thinking of a solution, so I didn’t realize anything was wrong until Arkady stopped walking.

A: “Well. This is weird.”

It took me a moment to notice what he was talking about. And when I saw it…. The stairs we were walking on were going sideways. And when I looked up, the stairway continued to twist around at impossible angles. Imagine an Escher painting, but without the limitations of a 2D image.

A: “Kid, you getting any feeling that everything’s about to explode at us?”

*Sky shook her head*

A: “Hm. I still don’t like this. We’re getting off the stairs.”

We went through the next door out of the stairwell. I tried to check the floor number, but couldn’t make it out; the numbers painted over the door just looked like a white blur. We went through the door, and found the floor on the other side to be far larger than any room in the building should have been. Rows of cubicles stretched on and on, seemingly past the horizon.

A: “Looks like it’ll take a while to walk through here….”

That was certainly true. We walked for hours, without any indication that we were getting closer to the end. After a while, my legs started cramping up. Endurance is not something I am built for. But I knew there was no way Arkady would be willing to stop.

Sky was having similar problems, and she actually collapsed from the pace we were going. Without a word, Arkady picked her up and started to carry her. She seemed frightened at first, but soon calmed down. For the time, at least.

D: “You really are in a rush to get out of here.”

A: “Of course. We need to get to the top of this building as soon as possible so I can kill this kid.”

That set Sky into a panic, and she pulled out of Arkady’s arms, falling onto the ground. Arkady just laughed at her as she crawled behind a desk, like it was a joke.

D: “What the hell? Why did you do that?”

A: “Because it was fun?”

D: “You really hate us so much that you’re willing to mess with her head just for fun?”

*Arkady seemed genuinely taken aback by what I’d said.*

A: “That’s ridiculous. I don’t hate either of you.”

D: “You keep talking about killing us both!”

A: “And? I’m going to kill you two because I feel like it, and it might forward my goals. I certainly don’t hate you. At most, I’d say I feel mild disgust towards you. And even then, it’s nothing personal. It’s just because you’re proxies.”

D: “So that’s it. You’re disgusted with us so you think it’s okay to just wholesale slaughter every one of us.”

A: “Whether or not it’s okay doesn’t factor into it. I kill proxies because I feel like doing so.”

D: “That’s not a real reason!”

A: “Isn’t it? Why do people climb mountains? Because they’re there. Why do I fight the Slender Man? Because he’s there.”

D: “No. That can’t be it. Dozens of people are dead because of you. You can’t have done all that just because you felt like it.”

A: “Can’t I have?” *He pulled a chair from a desk, and took a seat.* “Tell me writer girl, what are you?”

D: “What?”

A: “Okay, easier question. What am I?”

D: “You’re a sociopathic murderous monster who-”

A: “Wrong. I’m a collection of subatomic particles undergoing a continuous process of chemical reactions which, as a result of entropy, will eventually break apart.”

D: “What does that have to do with-”

A: “Everything.” *He stood up and started pacing, making me wonder why he’d gotten the chair in the first place. Sky peeked out from behind the desk to watch.* “Everything decays. Everything dies. You, me, the girl? All of us, dead. The time in which we are alive is barely a blip on the timeline of the universe. And once we are dead, everything we have done is for naught.”

D: “Oh come on, you’re being dramatic. People don’t just vanish when they die. They leave an impact on the world. They still did things, there’s still people who remember them.”

A: “They’ll die too. And all your accomplishments will weather away like dust.” *A laugh.* “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings/Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” *He sat back in the chair* “Even after all the things I have done, you think it will matter in the end? I could become the most famous, most accomplished human in the world. And none of it would matter. In 3 billion years, the rising temperature of the sun will have rendered Earth unsuitable for habitation. In 4 billion years, the Andromeda Galaxy will collide with the Milky Way. In 3x10^43 years, all stars will have died, leaving only black holes. And in a nearly immeasurable time after that, those black holes will die as well, leaving only subatomic particles. And then even those particles will decay. In the end, there will be nothing. Nothing at all. In the end, no matter what you do, it will turn out the same. Your life, this little adventure in the tower, even the Slender Man’s millennia of work… all of it will be rendered pointless. There have been eternities where humanity did not exist; and when it is done for again, nothing will have happened.”

D: “That’s… a really depressing way to look at things.”

A: “No. Wrong. It’s not depressing.” *He smiled, showing way too many teeth.* “It’s liberating.”
*Arkady stood back up, and resumed pacing.*
A: “People are always so obsessed with death, acting as if their whole lives revolved around it, almost like they worship it! They worry about how they will be remembered after death, they fear things that might cause death, they build entire religions around what they want to happen after they die! And for what? We’ll die. We are doomed to death from the moment we are born. There’s nothing we can do about it. So why worry about the inevitable?” *He stopped pacing.* “God is the pain of the fear of death. He who will conquer pain and terror will himself become a god.”
*He looked at Sky and me for a few moments, as if expecting a response, and then frowned.*

A: “Neither of you have read Dostoevsky, have you.”

D: “No….”

A: “Never mind then.” *Started pacing again* “In the end, the realization that none of your actions matter is true liberation There is no greater calling in life. No invisible force of morality and justice given to us from on high. The only thing in your life which matters to you…” *He stopped, and looked directly at Sky* “… is yourself. You are the medium through which all your experiences are filtered. You are the one who determines what is right and wrong. You determine what your purpose is. Not a god. Not a master. Only you.”

D: “That’s ridiculous. Philosophies which preach selfishness are inherently self-destructive. It’s the reason things like Social Darwinism don’t work. The strength of humanity has always been cooperation, achieving greatness from working together, not individuals acting solely in their self-interests.”

A: “Humanity can burn for all I care. Trying to improve their condition is as pointless as any other endeavor.”

D: “That’s… that’s just… that’s impossible to argue with. You’ve declared any other goal except for your own as meaningless, preemptively blocking any attempt to argue.”

A: “Yes. Hence its genius.”

D: “It’s not genius, it’s pseudo-philosophy. And it’s still a big jump from ‘Life has no meaning you should do what you want’ to ‘I am going to kill an eldritch god.’ Under your reasoning, the best thing any of us could do would probably be to stay home all day and eat ice cream until we died.”

A: “That is one conclusion that could be drawn. It’s the one most people seem to reach. But it’s just so… boring. With the limitations of slave morality and death worship thrown aside, what should I do? Dedicate myself to nihilistic hedonism to satisfy fleeting physical urges? No.”

*He walked toward the windows and looked outside, where the storm was still raging outside*

A: “Why waste my time on such a petty action when I could become something more? When I could become something greater?” *He turned back toward us, as red lightning flashed behind him* “Throughout history, conflict has been the force which has driven humans to rise up. When two ideas clash, only one can survive. To win, they must adapt and grow. The greater the obstacle, the greater the growth.” *He clenched a fist, and raised it to his face.* “So what did I choose for my opponent? My great obstacle? I chose the greatest conflict. I chose to battle a God. I will throw everything I have into his destruction. My purpose shall become the end of him and everything he has created. I will plunge the entire Earth into fire if I must. And in the end, only one of us can be left standing. If I win, then I will have become like a god myself. And if I lose… well, then I’ll be dead. When it’s all done, it makes no difference.”
*He raised both his hands up.*
“For believe me! — the secret for harvesting from existence the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment is: to live dangerously! Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius! Send your ships into uncharted seas! Live at war with your peers and yourselves! Be robbers and conquerors as long as you cannot be rulers and possessors, you seekers of knowledge! Soon the age will be past when you could be content to live hidden in forests like shy deer! At long last the search for knowledge will reach out for its due: — it will want to rule and possess, and you with it!”

Then he just started laughing, unlike any laughter I’d heard before. It was insane, but not like the wild cackling of some crazy proxy. This madness wasn’t some out of control fire. It was like steel. Cold, hard, and completely under his control.

The Boss terrifies me. He’s an unknowable mystery, and I fear him for it. But when I watched Arkady laughing in front of the storm, I felt a different kind of terror, that might almost be as strong. Because the Boss is a monster. He’s supposed to be like he is. But Arkady’s a human. And yet, in spite of that, I have no doubt that he would burn the entire world down if it was in his way and he had the means to do so. He would kill us all on a whim, and it would have no greater emotional impact on him than any of us would feel stepping on an ant. And that scares me more than anything I’ve ever encountered before.

Monday, August 5, 2013

After we got to the stairs, Arkady said we should stop so Sky and I could rest. Though I suspect it was really more for his own sake, given how much he was bleeding. (Lies and slander. –Arkady) The stairways seem to be the least changed part of the building, making them the safest place to rest. “Safe” being a bit relative, now that the clouds are blocking the sun, and the only outside light is from the occasional lightning bolt. If Arkady didn’t have a flashlight, I don’t doubt I would have tripped on the stairs, and probably broken my neck.

When we stopped on a landing to rest, Arkady started bandaging himself, giving me the chance to talk to Sky. She was staring at Arkady, with a blank expression and her head tilted slightly to the side. I don’t think she noticed me when I came over, because she jumped a little when I tapped her shoulder.

D: “You okay?”

S: “Yes….” *She started rubbing her wrists, where the branches had grabbed her.*

D: “Don’t worry. We won’t let you be taken away.”

S: “… You won’t?”

D: “No. I’ll get you out of here.”

*She leaned her head against me, and I put my arm around her. That was the first chance I got to really look at her hair after Arkady had cut it off. It looked as messy and uneven as you would expect from being hastily cut by a knife. Although, considering how much of a mess her hair usually was, it actually was a bit of an improvement.*

D: “You know, I think you actually look good with short hair.”

*I wasn’t expecting that comment to cause her as much excitement as it did.*

S: “Really? You think so? You really really think so?”

D: “Well… yeah. I mean, if I had a pair of scissors so I could even it out….”

*Arkady looked over at us, and I realized he’d been listeing.*

A: “Seriously? We’re in an office building and you don’t think you can get scissors?”

*He walked out of the stairwell. A few moments later, he came back in a threw a pair of scissors at my feet.*

A: “There. Have fun.”

D: “… Are you seriously letting your prisoners have scissors?”

A: “If you’re confident enough in your abilities that you think you can take me on with them, go right ahead. I’ll look forward to it.”

*Lightning flashed at that moment, illuminating his smile with red light. That convinced me that attacking him with a tiny pair of scissors would be a very, very bad idea. Instead, I took them and started cutting Sky’s hair as best I could.*

D: “Sorry if I’m not very good. I don’t really have much practice.”

S: “That’s okay.” *Giggles* “It’s been a long time since someone cut my hair for me.”

D: “How have you been getting it cut then?”

S: “I did it myself with a mirror.”

D: “… Alright, I want you to know that I really don’t mean this as an insult in any way, but that explains a lot about your appearance.”

S: *More giggling* “I know, I was really bad at it.”

D: “Who was it that cut your hair before?”

S: “Oh, it was-” *She froze up. I panicked for a moment, then I realized she had started crying.*

D: “Sorry, I shouldn’t have asked-”

S: “I don’t like this place. I don’t like being able to remember. I want to leave.”

D: “I know. So do I. We’ll get out of here. Just wait a little more.”

The rest of the haircut passed in silence. When I was done, the result… well, it wasn’t great. I haven’t actually cut someone else’s hair since I was in high school. But it didn’t look bad.

D: “All done. What do you think?”

*Sky felt her hair, but neither of us had a mirror.*

S: “Does it look good?”

D: “You look great.”

*That stopped the tears, and brought a smile back. Then she looked at Arkady, who had finished his first aid and was standing back up.*

A: “Good. It will be harder for something to grab you now.”

*Seeing how long and unruly his hair was, I couldn’t help but call out that bit of hypocrisy.*

D: “If that’s the case, maybe I should give you a haircut as well?”

A: *Rolled his eyes* “Yeah, whatever, Mom.”

D: “You’re an ass.”

A: “That is something I have never denied.”

*Before I could reply, Sky gave me a hug.*

S: “Thanks for the haircut, Mom.”

I can’t say I like being called Mom, but at least Sky meant it as an endearment. And when she said that, it made me realize something. She’s the only person I have left. Everyone else… they’re all dead. Everyone except her. I can’t let anything happen to her as well.

And for those watching from home, yes, I did take the scissors away from the girls after they were done with their makeover stuff. While I am certain that neither would be capable of killing me and escaping with them, I’m not going to be an idiot about the whole thing and let them walk around all the time with pointy stabbing objects. -Arkady

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The locked door that had prevented us from getting to the stairs ended up not being a challenge for Arkady. I was worried that we’d just take the stairs all the way to the top floor and he’d kill Sky, but three stories up we ran into an obstacle. A huge black branch had grown right through that part of the building, wrecking the stairs above us. When Arkady saw there was no way around it, he said we’d be crossing the floor to the other stairwell.

This floor was different from the others I’d seen. All the ones before had looked like part of the regular office building, only abandoned. This one looked as if the swamp outside had been leaking in. The ground was covered in a thin mist, and dead trees dotted the floor. The whole place smelled like something was rotting in it.

Arkady was completely unfazed by the floor’s appearance. What actually surprised him was Sky’s and my reaction to it.

A: “What do you mean, this is the first time you’ve seen this? Every floor’s been like this, except for the cafeteria and weird empty one I found you two on.”

D: “Everything we’ve seen has just looked like an empty office building.”

A: “Seriously? ….. You really are being serious.” *He looked upward and shook his fist* “Damn it Slendy, for me every moment in this place has the entire building is trying to kill me, but you let them take the easy route?” *He looked back at us* “Here I was, assuming that you were both amazing survivalists, and now I find out that all you’ve had to do was walk around an empty, harmless building.” *He pulled out a chair from one of the desks, snapping the roots that were holding it, and sat down.* “Alright then. Since it would seem that you don’t know the basics of surviving in this wonderful little hellhole, we need to establish some ground rules. First off, you will do exactly as I say. Unless I say something stupid. You should probably ignore that. If you see something suspicious, don’t touch it. If you hear a weird noise, don’t investigate it. In fact, just generally don’t be stupid horror movie characters. And you,” *He pointed at Sky* “with that weird magic Slender Man detecting stuff you’ve got going on. If you feel like something bad is coming, I don’t want any of this vague pulling on sleeves and acting mysterious and vaguely nervous. You clearly state, ‘Arkady something really horrible is coming,’ preferably with enough warning time for us to actually prepare.” *Sky raised her hand, but Arkady ignored her and continued talking* “Third, we’re going to be moving fast. Dawdling around in one place here is suicide.”

S: “Um….”

A: “Fourth, keep something that can start a fire handy. Fires are pretty damn useful. Especially with all the trees.”

S: “Um….”

A: “Fifth, don’t drink the water. We’re going to have to ration what bottled water we’ve got, but no matter how thirst you are, do not drink the swamp water.”

S: “Excuse me….”

D: “Arkady, Sky’s trying to say something.”

A: “What?!”

S: “Arkady something really horrible is coming.”

*Arkady stared at her in silence for a few moments.*

A: “Ah. Well. Thank you for that. When is it coming?”

S: “Now.”

The big window facing the outside shattered, and an uncountable number of black branches rushed in. I dove to the ground to avoid them, but I wasn’t the target. They wrapped around Sky, and started pulling her into them. I tried grabbing her hand, but I was too slow. She kept screaming at me to help, until her face disappeared amongst the tree limbs.

Arkady jumped into braches, and began hacking away at them with a knife. Soon he disappeared as well. For a while, there was no sign of either of them. Then Arkady burst out, covered in blood, cutting apart the branches attacking him with one hand, and pulling Sky with the other. They were almost out, when a branch managed to wrap around Sky’s hair, and pulled her by it out of Arkady’s hand. Before she disappeared again, Arkady grabbed her again, and cut her hair with the knife. Both of them tumbled out of the branches. Arkady quickly stood up, pulling Sky up with him.

A: “Too bad, Slendy! She’s mine now! You want her back? Well then, come and take her yourself!”

The branches lashed around the room, and I was sure they were going to hit Arkady and Sky, but they never came near the two. Arkady smirked at the chaos.

A: “Coward. Let’s get out of here.”

He grabbed my arm and pulled me up, then led us to the stairs. As we left the floor, dark storm clouds gathered outside. Red lightning shot between them as thunder boomed, and black rain began to pour down on the swamp.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

We had set up a really makeshift camp amongst the cubicles to use as a home while we tried to figure out how to escape. Manton wanted to check out the rest of the floor while we worked at making the “camp.” Going alone kinda seemed like a dumb idea to me, but he was the one giving orders at the time. Plus he was the most familiar with the building.

Just me, Sky, Valar, Fox, and Nightgaunt was awkward. Valar tried to make small talk, but most of us were still reeling from everything that had been happening. And it’s not as if there were a lot of things we could have small talk about. I had expected Nightgaunt would be right at home, what with him being an insane creeper, but he seemed to be the jumpiest out of all of us.

We had been waiting for several minutes when fog started to roll in around us. It happened slowly, so we didn’t notice it until Manton came running back, shouting at us to pack up and get out of there. A wall of fog followed him, completely obscuring the office.

He didn’t have to shout at us twice. I grabbed Sky’s hand, and ran. And then I immediately tripped and fell on my face. Roots were growing out of the floor, and spreading along the cubicles. Sky helped pull me up before they could wrap around me, and we started running again. When I looked back again, Manton had vanished in the fog.

The other three had reached the stairwell before us, and were trying to open the door. It wasn’t any use; the door was locked. I started looking around for some other escape, but the fog was too thick to see more than a few feet. Then, at the very edge of the fog, I saw the door to a janitor’s closet. I pointed it out to the others, and we were about to make a break for it, when a tall, thin silhouette appeared in the fog.

Everyone started shouting or screaming, and Fox drew a pistol. I tried to tell at her to stop, but my voice was drowned out by all the other noise. She opened fire, and when the bullets hit the silhouette… it collapsed.

We all became completely silent. I knew what I’d just seen couldn’t have happened, but…. None of us moved for several minutes. Then Valar slowly walked toward the collapsed silhouette. When he reached it, he told us what he saw. And….

In the post where I first introduced Manton on this blog, I said that “If his skin wasn’t so dark you’d almost mistake him for the Boss.” I didn’t realize how prophetic that statement would end up being.

When she realized she’d just shot Manton, Fox dropped her gun and ran to him. The fog actually pulled back slightly, enough for me to clearly see him. One of the bullets had gone through his eye, probably instantly killing him. Pointless as it was, Fox and Valar still tried stopping the bleeding. Maybe they just didn’t want to be responsible for their leader’s death.

Nightgaunt started laughing, and I realized he’d picked up Fox’s gun.

N: “That’s it. We’re all fucked. We’re all going to fucking die here!”

*When Fox saw he had her gun, she raised her hands in a calming gesture.*

F: “Put the gun down, Night-”

N: “Shut the fuck up Fox!” *Laughter* “We’re doing such a good job offing ourselves, Slender Man doesn’t even need to come after us!”

F: “You’re panicking, Nightgaunt. You just need to calm down. We can make it out of this.”

N: “Calm down? Why the hell should I calm down? We’re going to fucking die here, and you want me to fucking calm down?” *He fired a shot that went by Fox’s head* “We’re not ‘making it out of this’! We’re dead! We’re all fucking dead!” *He grabbed Sky’s arm, and pulled her toward him.* “Now I’m leaving, and I’m taking her with me. At least maybe then I can find some entertainment before my guts end up decorating a tree.”

*Sky tried pulling away from him, but he kept his grip. I took a few steps forward, hoping I could reason with him.*

D: “Nightgaunt, just let her go. She’s not-”

N: “You shut up too!” *He pointed the gun at Sky’s head, and she stopped struggling.* “If any of you come after us, I swear I will blow her fucking brains out! Now we’re going to leave nice and quietly, and you all can just wait where you are for Slender Man to decide to rip your heads off.”

He slowly backed away from us, toward the fog, keeping the gun aimed at Sky. I wanted to stop him. Every part of me was screaming to stop him. But I didn’t know how to. Sky looked right at me, her face pleading for me to save her, but I couldn’t do anything for her.

Nightgaunt had reached the edge of the fog, when a hand came out of the mist and covered his mouth. Then another hand holding a knife came, and started stabbing him in the throat, over and over. Sky pulled out of his hand and fell onto the floor as Nightgaunt’s body was thrown down. And out of the fog stepped Arkady.

A: “Wasn’t he a loquacious fellow?” *Arkady waved his bloody hand at us.* “Hi.”

Sky seemed like she was frozen in place, staring at Arkady in terror. Fox and Valar made a break for the closet, but I couldn’t leave Sky. So I ran to her, and pulled her on her feet. I have no doubt that if he was really trying, Arkady could have easily killed both of us there. We were only a few feet from him. But he was taking his time. Even when I started sprinting to the closet, pulling Sky along, he didn’t run after us. All he did was walk, like he was strolling down the sidewalk.

Fox and Valar had already gotten inside the closet before we reached it, and they’d slammed the door shut. I tried turning the handle, but they’d locked it from their side. I banged on the door and shouted at them to let me in, but they didn’t respond. I was literally pleading for them not to leave us out there with Arkady, but they ignored us….

I felt a hand on my shoulder, and heard Arkady say, “Excuse me.” Then I was shoved away from the door. Arkady stepped up to examine the doorknob, and then knocked twice on the door.

A: “Two of you went in there, right? I’m sure you’re both aware that I’m fairly good at picking locks, and can get through this pretty fast. So here’s what we’re going to do. When I unlock this door, if I find both of you behind it, I’ll kill the two of you. However, if there’s only one of you alive by then, I’ll let the survivor go. You can settle how you’ll manage that.”

Arkady took a small bag out of a backpack he’d been wearing, and pulled several thin pieces of metal out of it. He used them to start working on the lock, while thumps and crashes came from the other side of the door. The smart thing would have been for me and Sky to run then, but I was held in place by horrified curiosity. That, and the knowledge that it wouldn’t be hard for him to catch back up with us anyways. All I felt that I could do was stand by Sky and hold onto her as we prayed that Arkady would suddenly have a change of heart and not murder us.

It didn’t take long before I heard a click, and Arkady opened the door. Valar was standing on the other side, covered in blood, and with Fox dead at his feet.

V: “There. I’m the only one. You said you’d let me go.”

A: “You’re right. That is what I said.” *Arkady stabbed his knife between Valar’s ribs.* “And for some stupid reason, you believed me.”

Arkady shoved Valar back into the closet, then slammed the door shut. Then he turned toward Sky and me, and smiled, the red light of the sun making him look even more horrifying.

A: “You have been surprisingly difficult to kill for a kid. But that’ll change now. Prepare to finally meet your death at the hands of Arkady Ivanovich Svidrigailov!”

There have been so many times recently where I’ve been certain that I was about to die, but this time, there really seemed to be no way out. He was walking right toward us. We couldn’t run away. And no one was coming to save us; there was no one left alive to save us. Sky was panicking, hyperventilating, and starting to babble.

S: “Y-y-you’re pronouncing it wrong….”

*Arkady stopped walking and looked at her with confusion*

A: “What?”

S: “Th-th-the Russian pronuncia… pronucia… pronunciation is Ar-kah-dee, n-n-not Ar-kay-dee…. It it’s a soft a, not a hard a….”

*Now I was also looking at her confused*

D: *Whispered* “What?”

S: *Also whispered* “I-I’m too scared, I just said the first thing I thought….”

Of all the things she could have blurted out, that one somehow was the thing which had stopped Arkady. He was staring at Sky, with his mouth hanging slightly open. He almost looked like a fish, his eyes grown huge as he silently opened and closed his mouth. If I hadn’t been so scared, it might have been funny.

Without warning, Arkady turned around, and walked back into the fog. I watched him, expecting him to suddenly turn around and stab us, but instead he just sat down at the edge of the fog and started to sulk. Occasionally I’d hear him mutter, “But…”, “That can’t…”, “Not my fault, I only read it in a book…” or other similar things.

D: “Is… is that really how it’s pronounced?”

S: “I think so. I only heard it once. But it was definitely a kah sound, not kay.”

D: “So he’s been pronouncing his own alias wrong this whole time?”

She just shrugged. Then, as suddenly as he’d walked away, Arkady walked back to the same spot where he’d left, and resumed the exact same pose he’d had before.

A: “You have been surprisingly difficult to kill for a kid. But that’ll change now. Prepare to eventually meet your death at the hands of Ar-KAY-dee” *He glared at Sky as he put the emphasis on the second syllable* “Ivanovich Svidrigailov!”

D: “Eventually meet her death?”

A: “Yeah. Stabbing’s too good for her. I’m heading to the top of this building anyways; I figure I’ll throw her off when I reach it.”

D: “And me?”

A: “I saw you at that last safehouse, right? You’re the Picking at Ruins writer? Perfect. I’ll keep you around so that you can record the tale of my glorious victory. Once Slendy’s dead I’ll push you in front of a truck.” *He flipped the knife through his fingers.* “And no, you’re not getting a choice in this. Unless you’d rather have me go ahead and just kill you now instead of later.”

D: “No! No, we can wait. Right Sky?”

She really didn’t seem able to answer. She was still keeping me between her and Arkady, and didn’t look at all comforted by the knowledge that our murderer had decided to delay killing us. I told her things would be okay, that I’d figure something out… but I can’t say that was really honest. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I just know that we’ve changed from being murder victims to hostages, which isn’t much of an improvement, but it’s still an improvement.

And that brings us to now. I’d probably have waited until later to actually type this post up, but Arkady demanded that it was my duty as his scribe to record “all details of his life relevant to the ongoing narrative structure,” and said we couldn’t leave until I’d finished. Because he is completely insane in more ways than I imagined, apparently. At least it means more delays before he kills us. He’s even editing what I write so that it “looks right”, weird as that is.

Yes. I am. Less snark next time. More describing my glory.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Since going to the cafeteria ended up backfiring, I was starting to get worried about our food situation. It had been over a day since any of us had last eaten, and the only place where we knew we could get food was guarded by Arkady.

Then a few minutes ago, a backpack was tossed up the stairwell onto our floor. I looked down the stairs, but only caught a glimpse of them before they went out another door. A note had been attached to the bag, and Manton read it aloud to us.

“Don’t starve to death. That would be boring. Sincerely, Arkady Ivanovich Svidrigailov.”

Inside were several cans of food, bottles of water, and a can opener.

If I hadn’t been so hungry, I might have been more concerned about it maybe being a trap. But none of us really thought about that; we got a can open, and started eating. Cold beans. Not a very good meal. But it was still food. And since I’m not collapsing and dying, I don’t think it was poisoned.

But in the end, the food is only a temporary relief. Because that note implied Arkady had other plans for us, and I really don’t want to find out what those plans are.


Even after our last disaster, we still needed to eat. So our trip to the cafeteria continued. With Ahriman dead, another proxy took over leadership. I don’t really know who it was; he was from outside the circle of people I interacted with, so I’d never met him. Lepidus probably would have known his name.

There weren’t any more encounters on the way down. It actually didn’t take that long to reach the cafeteria; after we took a few minutes for everyone to relax, the trip was mostly a straight shot.

The cafeteria didn’t have any window to let the red sun in, and the electricity was still out, so it was pitch black inside. A few proxies with flashlights went ahead to light the way for us. The inside was just creepy. You never realize how cavernous a cafeteria can be until you try to navigate one in near total darkness. There were no signs of any people inside, but several of the tables looked like they had been moved from their original positions.

We went straight back for the kitchen, where all the food would be stored. A lot of us were hungry enough that we might have just charged in if whoever it was who was in charge hadn’t organized everyone into a line. My stomach wasn’t happy with the idea of having to wait, but it made sense.

I got stuck toward the back of the line, so almost everyone was already inside the kitchen by the time I got near. But before I could go inside, Sky started tugging on my arm, until she pulled me out of line. Manton had been watching Sky carefully, and when she got out, he took his team out of the line as well. The people behind us didn’t complain, and moved up to take our spots.

D: “Manton, what’s going on?”

M: “I don’t know, but that girl’s been remarkably good at predicting whenever something bad was about to happen. If she doesn’t want to go in there, we’re not going in there.”

He was right about that. I started looking around to try to see what was coming, but with the flashlights inside the kitchen, the rest of the cafeteria was black. The rest of the line went inside the kitchen, and I could see people being served up food and eating inside. Nothing seemed to be happening to them, and I started to wonder if it was a false alarm.

Then I heard a PA system above us turn on, and music started to play from it. The gate to the kitchen slammed shut in front of me. And from the other side of the door, I heard Arkady’s voice.

A: “Ladies and gentlemen! I present to you, your deaths! Accompanied by Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony Number 8, Movement 3!”

We didn’t wait to find out what happened to everyone trapped inside the kitchen with him. I’ve seen the consequences of Arkady’s actions enough to have an idea how it turned out. We made a beeline for the stairs, and didn’t stop until we had three floors between us and the cafeteria.

That just left me, Sky, Manton, Nightgaunt, Fox, and Valar. We’re the only ones left now. Out of everyone… it’s just us.

I don’t think I can take much more of this.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I remember my first day as a proxy. Ahriman sent someone to pick me up from the bridge I’d been sleeping under, and drove me to the apartment. I didn’t say anything the whole drive over. I think I was too scared of what was going to happen to me. The blogs I’d read all seemed to say that proxies were usually insane killers, and Ahriman’s rabid devotion to the Boss hadn’t done a lot to dispel that impression. A part of me was convinced that the moment I stepped inside that apartment I’d be jumped by a man with a knife and a mask, and then eaten alive.

Instead, Lepidus greeted me when I entered. He tried to make everything seem as normal as he could for me, and let me settle in. Like I was just moving into a new apartment with a regular job, instead of becoming the employee of a monster that kills people.

He was the one who kept the whole place together. He was always willing to look at both sides of a conflict, and figure out a solution that we could all agree with. He never raised his voice, no matter how unreasonable we were being. And he would always chat with his patients, after they woke up. For some of them, I think he was the first friendly face they’d seen since becoming a proxy.

Once, he told me about how he’d performed for a community theater when he was younger, before he became overwhelmed by his hospital duties. He always loved the theater, even after he became a proxy. He almost never could attend any performances, but whenever an adaptation got released onto Netflix, he’d get us together and we’d watch it.

I never imagined he’d be gone. He was the only piece of stability we had in our lives. I just assumed that he’d always be there for me. This wasn’t how I pictured things happening. He didn’t deserve this….

Monday, June 10, 2013

There was no way to tell when night came, but eventually we had to go to sleep. A part of me was wishing that when I woke up, everything would be fixed.  It wasn’t, but it wasn’t a very realistic hope anyway.

The temperature had plummeted while I was asleep. We didn’t have anything to accurately measure it, but I would guess it was in the 50s. Much cooler than a summer in Arizona should be. Although I would have worried more about that if I wasn’t so hungry; now that the adrenaline from the change was wearing off, I was realizing it had been hours since I’d had anything to eat.

I wasn’t the only one feeling that way. Upon waking up, there were a lot of proxies looking to see if anyone had brought any food with them. Even if any of them had, it wouldn’t have been enough to feed us all. After seeing the food situation, Ahriman started trying to organize a solution. Manton said that the building had a cafeteria on the floor below us, which was well stocked enough to last a group our size a few days. While some of us were concerned about the dangers we might encounter along the way, Ahriman decided that we’d move to the cafeteria and use it as a base until we figured out how to resolve the situation.

It didn’t take long for everyone to gather what little we had and start moving. Manton led, since he knew the layout of the building. Ahriman was off to the side of the group, talking with Lepidus so they could “discuss how to ration the medical supplies we have.” It was a little surprising to realize that, with all the casualties we’ve suffered, Lepidus was the only trained doctor we had with us. I tried moving closer so I could overhear some of their conversation, but Sky grabbed my arm and pulled me away.

D: “What’s the matter, Sky?”

She only shook her head. I asked her again, but she still didn’t say anything. I would have pressed the question, but then I realized everyone had gotten very quiet. When I looked back at Ahriman and Lepidus, the Boss was standing by them.

Shadows bent around him so that none of the red sun’s light touched him, but we could still clearly see him in the darkness. His body was completely still as he looked straight at Sky. She hid behind me, and he turned slightly to face us. His head was pointed at me, but it didn’t feel like he was looking at me. He was looking through me, as if I didn’t even exist.

Ahriman had dropped to his knees almost the moment the Boss appeared. Lepidus still seemed to shocked to move, until Ahriman pulled on his arm.

A: “Bow, you idiot.”

Lepidus got down on a knee as well.

A: “Father, we have been awaiting your guidance. Tell us your will, and we shall fulfill it.”

The Boss snapped its head down to look at Ahriman. It held those pose for several moments, and then it tilted its head slightly. Black branches came out of the shadows and moved around Ahriman and Lepidus. The branches coiled around the two, not quite touching them, but with barely a fingers breadth away from them. I think all of us were holding our breath as we waited for whatever happened next.

Sky had been hiding behind me the whole time, peeking through under my arm to watch. As the branches started to move around Lepidus’s face, she ran out from behind me and shouted, “No! Don’t!”

And suddenly… I’m not even sure what happened next, the branches moved too fast. I remember a shower of blood hitting me, and when I opened my eyes, Lepidus and Ahriman were being torn to pieces. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how I was supposed to react. Lepidus was
he just
God, why? Why the hell did he what did Lepidus do?  This wasn’t supposed to happen he was I mean he

I’m sorry, I just can’t
I can’t think right now. I’m trying to stay calm and write this down, but whenever I think back to what just happened, I

Everyone started running for the stairs when they saw what was happening to Lepidus and Ahriman. Someone grabbed me and pulled me with them. I don’t think I’d have been able to run on my own, really. I’m not really sure where we are now. It’s a different floor. I think we’re closer to the cafeteria, but we’re taking a break for now. Give us a little time to comprehend what… what just happened.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Ahriman got a call from one of the scouting teams a few minutes ago. Even though I wasn’t near Ahriman, I could still hear the shrieking noises coming from his phone. I don’t know what happened, but it’s safe to say they’re gone.

After he got that call, Ahriman called the remaining groups and told them to come back. One team came back quickly, confused as to what was going on. The team who’d gone to the front entrance arrived soon after. Well, one of the people from the team did. We’re not entirely sure how he got back; he just suddenly showed up, unconscious and covered in blood. There’s been no word from anyone else, no matter how much Ahriman calls them. I want to think that it’s just because something is blocking our communications, but I know it’s probably something much worse….

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

For me, it’s only been a few hours since my last post, but I felt like making this one as well. I don’t know how long it’s been on the outside. Apparently Fracture’s going to take control of Phoenix in a week. Took control of Phoenix in a week. Whatever, stupid tenses. Given our current state, I can’t really complain.

I’ve been doing a little talking around while we waited for the scouting teams to report back. Much as I loathed doing so, I did have a short conversation with Ahriman, so I could ask him where he’d learned to fight like he had against Arkady.

Ah: “Bosnia. 1992 to 1995.”

I have absolutely no idea how anyone is supposed to respond to that answer, so I let him get back to coordinating things. It almost makes me wish I had also interviewed him about his past before this. Almost.

Lepidus was busy doing attending to the wounded, so I was only able to talk to him for a little while. A lot of proxies are hurt, but most of the injuries are minor. Unfortunately, that’s because none of the proxies with major injuries were able to make it to us.

D: “So what happened there?”

L: “I wish I knew. I’ve never seen anything like this, and no one I’ve talked to has either. I thought it might be the Path of Black Leaves, but it doesn’t match the descriptions I’ve read. Too many colors, and there aren’t any leaves on the trees or ground. Maybe Truth knows more, but no one’s heard from him.”

*Lepidus had to splint a broken arm, but once he finished he started talking again.*

L: “How are you holding up?”

D: “I’ll be fine. I’m just a little shocked. What about you?”

L: “I’m too busy right now to worry much. I expect as soon as I run out of patients I’ll start panicking, but I’ll deal with that when it comes.” *He stared out a window at the swamp for a few moments.* “I keep looking for familiar faces amongst my patients, but I’m not finding many. We won’t be able to get an official count anytime soon, but I think we lost two or three dozen people down there. I’ve never seen that many of our people killed in such a short time. Not even Arkady managed anything like that. I just wish I knew why.”

We only talked a little bit more after that. Next was a conversation that I was almost dreading. Since I’d found the group, Sky had been standing right by a window, looking directly at the red sun as it moved through the smog filled sky, barely moving.  An empty space had formed around her; I think most proxies were too creeped out to come near.

D: “Hey, Sky.”

*She turned around to face me. Her eyes were bloodshot, and that close I noticed that her hands were shaking slightly.*

S: “Yes?” *Her voice seemed slightly different. As if it was more focused than usual.*

D: “How are you feeling?”

S: “Weird.” *She looked up at the ceiling, with her head tilted slightly.* “This place is… familiar. My head doesn’t feel as foggy here. And I can remember things better.”

D: “Oh. Um, what sort of things?”

S: “… The kind that make me remember why I wanted to forget them in the first place.”

D: “Ah. Are you going to be alright?”

S: “… Maybe.”

D: “Um. This may not be the best time, and if you don’t want to talk about it, just let me know. But… what happened to you? Lepidus said you were having a seizure, then you started saying those things, then everything went crazy…. There was a comment someone left, I think it was Rose, asking if you summoned the Boss. Um….”

S: *She barked a single laugh, but the smile from it quickly left.* “No. I didn’t call him. Not that time.”

D: “Wait, that time…?”

S: “But I did feel us moving. Being taken… here. Felt it like a bomb exploding in my head….” *She looked down from the ceiling, and her voice started sounding more like what I was familiar with.* “I’m scared, Diana.”

Before I could say anything to that, I heard Ahriman saying that he’d gotten a call from one of the scouting teams. They’d made it down to the lobby, but there was no sign of the Boss, or of any of the people who had died there. They had requested permission to continue scouting outside, but Ahriman had told them not to risk it, and return back.

A few calls to the other teams confirms that they haven’t reached their destinations yet, which is odd, because the lobby group had the most ground to cover. Maybe they just moved faster, or maybe something weird is going on with them as well. We’ll find out when more reports come in.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


I’ve managed to regroup with several surviving proxies. I was happy to see Lepidus and Sky amongst them; less happy to see Ahriman, even if he’s the reason I was able to find the group. As soon as he figured out our internet and phones still work, he’s been sending out calls and emails to as many proxies as possible to try and get everyone back together. I got an email from him not long after my first post went up, asking if I was alive. Once that was confirmed, he gave me directions to reach where we were gathering.

That process has been slowed a bit by the unreliability of our electronics, though. The internet’s still as bad as before, and our phone reception is horrible. My recorder’s finally working again, but there’s a constant chittering background noise whenever I try to pick something up with it. And sometimes, everyone’s equipment will suddenly stop working for a bit without any explanation we can find. It’s been making coordination a bit more haphazard than we’d like.

It’s also hard to figure out how long we’ve been here. Every digital clock anyone has on a phone or computer just says 00:00, and the one analog clock a proxy was wearing is frozen with both hands at 12. That red sun outside hasn’t been any help either, since it seems to move up and down in the sky without any pattern. I tried to check through the internet, but I kept getting contradictory answers. Sometimes it would say we’ve been here for five hours, sometimes we’ve been here for several days, sometimes it would say we’d somehow traveled to the past. All I know is that it doesn’t feel like we’ve been here for a day, but with that sun, there’s really no way to tell.

There hasn’t been any word from Truth, so for now, we’re waiting here until we get a better picture of the situation. Ahriman’s sent out some proxies to scout the nearby floors, so we’re waiting to hear from them. Once we do, hopefully someone will know what to do next.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Into the Tower

No dialogue for this part. As we got closer to Truth’s skyscraper, the recorder started to only pick up static.

There were no valets to take Ahriman’s car this time. No one was outside the building at all, so Ahriman (illegally) parked by the curb, and we ran inside. The lobby looked like an anthill that had been kicked over. Very serious men in suits with impressive looking guns stood by all the entrances, and herded panicking proxies to wherever they needed to go. Manton and his team met us, and told us that a place had been set aside for us to stay until the situation was resolved. Until then, we would stay here, under guard, with all the entrances carefully watched to ensure no one could get inside. For the first time in a month, I breathed a sigh of relief. Lepidus put a hand on my shoulder, and we shared a smile. For us, at least, this little war was over.

A piercing sound shrieked from the earpieces of all the guards, loud enough that even I could hear it. Many of the guards simply collapsed, and even the ones still standing were clutching their heads.

Before I could react to the noise, Sky fell and began to thrash on the floor. In a moment, Lepidus identified it as a seizure, and rolled her onto her side as she started to vomit. I started to come over to help before she hurt herself, but then…

Then a car smashed through the glass front door, running over the prone guards in its way. Arkady jumped out of the car and stabbed the closest standing proxy in the gut. He glanced around the room, and when he saw us, started running at us. All the guards were still incapacitated, and most of the other proxies had run for cover as soon as Arkady showed up. I watched him coming closer, and I knew there was nothing I could do to stop him. He was going to kill me right there, then kill the rest of us, and I was utterly helpless in face of that….

Of all people, it was Ahriman who stepped between Arkady and me. Arkady hit him with another of those hammer like punches, and I was sure that the fight was over then. Ahriman staggered, but kept standing, and brought his fist into Arkady’s chin in an uppercut. I think Arkady was as surprised as I was, because he didn’t even try to block as Ahriman continued to attack.

That shock didn’t last long enough, and soon Arkady was laughing like a kid as he started to viciously fight back. Ahriman held his own better than I thought possible, but it was clear he couldn’t keep it up very long.

Sky suddenly arced her back and began shouting sounds unlike anything that should have come from a young girl’s voice. Fog rolled in through the hole Arkady’s car had made, filling the lobby in seconds. All the lights went out, leaving us in total darkness. Then they came back on, and now the Boss was standing in the center of the lobby. There was a moment of silence as everyone took in his presence. Then, the lights went out again.

When everything went dark this time, the darkness was accompanied by screams. The lights turned back on a few seconds later, and the first thing I saw were bodies everywhere. The Boss was still standing in the same place, but tentacles were coming out of his back, and lashing at everyone around him. Anyone caught by those tentacles was ripped apart in seconds, showering blood and organs all over the room. My first instinct when I saw that was RUN, and I followed that without question, blindly sprinting away from the carnage. I made it a few feet before the lights went off again, and I tripped over something. But instead of falling onto the hard floor, I landed in water. When I stood up, for a moment I was standing in knee deep grey water, illuminated by a faint red glow from above. Then everything went dark, and when I took a step it was back on solid ground. The lights came back, and I was in the lobby again.

I saw the elevator not far from where I was, so I started running to it. Another proxy was already at the door, pressing the up button over and over. A ding sound came from the elevator, and the door opened. The proxy took two steps inside when black roots ripped out from the ground underneath him, wrapping around his legs and pulling him to the floor. More roots wrapped around his body, growing through his eyes and mouth, choking off his screams.

The elevator looked like a no go. I turned around and started to run for the stairs instead. Before I could reach it, the lights went off again, and were replaced by that red glow. When the change occurred, I was again wading through grey water, but this time I was also surrounded by black branches. I pushed my way past them, until I came into an opening. All around me, growing out of the water, were black, leafless trees.

Arkady burst from the trees, looking very disoriented. When he saw me, he raised his knife to attack, but I quickly turned to run.

There was another flash of darkness, and I was back in the lobby, with Arkady nowhere around. The door to the stairwell was so close, and I sprinted as fast as I could, jumping over the roots growing out of the floor. Once past the door, I was taking the steps two at a time, not paying attention to the floor number, just trying to get as far from the lobby as I could, until my lungs were burning too much to breath. I went back out a door, onto a floor filled with cubicles, just as the lights went out again, along with the sound of a gust of howling wind.

The now familiar dim red light quickly came. But this time, I was still inside the building. When I looked out a window, I didn’t see the city of Phoenix outside. Instead, stretching on to the horizon was a foggy swamp dotted with black trees. And in the sky, partially obscured by a ceiling of grey clouds, was a huge red sun.

In the time I’ve been resting on this floor, it hasn’t changed back, so I’m getting the horrible suspicion that I’m stuck wherever this is. My electronics have been acting weird, but they work enough for me to type this. I just have to ignore the random strings of letters and numbers that keep appearing on my screen, or the fact that the clock just says “00:00.” I’m still getting WiFi, but it’s only one bar, and I keep seeing random strings of HTML across most pages. Hopefully it’s still enough for me to get this post up.

I have no idea what’s going on, and I really just want to curl up and hide somewhere. But I need to go and try to see if I can find anyone else.
Alright, two things to start this.

One, I lied about us not being provided with reinforcements.

Two, it didn’t help.

On top of the Jacksons, we had Sloth’s team, our kill team, and another dozen watching the streets, prepared to ambush Arkady whenever he showed up. We made this plan assuming he was going to come by road. That didn’t happen.

I was inside the apartment with Sky and the Jacksons. No one was expecting the fight to reach us, so we were supposed to stay there and wait the whole thing out. Due to the boredom of such a job, I spent most of it staring out a window. Which is the reason I was the only one to see a figure jumping off the roof of the building next to us and grab the fire escape ladder on our building.

I just managed to shout a warning before the window shattered and Arkady burst into the room. Before anyone else could react, he rushed Gabriel and jabbed a knife through is throat. Andrew started to draw a gun, but Arkady punched faster. It was like watching a man being hit by a truck: that fist slammed into Andrew’s head, and it looked like the lights in his eyes flicked off. Gabriel went down into a heap, and didn’t get back up.

Ar: “Ya know, I’d been kinda hoping that Slendy would show up as soon as I smashed that window and we could avoid all these unpleasantries. But it would seem he is failing in his duties as a guardian. Oh well. Guess I have to kill the girl now.”

I grabbed Sky and tried to run out of there, but Arkady moved much faster. He threw me aside, and then slammed Sky against the wall, his hands squeezing her throat. I made the dumb decision of trying to charge him, which ended with me getting knocked to the floor by a backhand.

He’d have killed Sky right there, if one of Sloth’s proxies hadn’t run into the room with a gun. I don’t know if any of the shots hit, because as soon as Arkady let go of Sky I grabbed her and ran out. Even if he had been shot, it wasn’t enough to slow Arkady down, and he was soon chasing after us. We passed by Lepidus and Sloth in the hall, but as soon as they saw Arkady, they started running as well.

We didn’t even slow down when we got outside. Arkady came out after us, shooting the gun he’d taken from the proxy. The entire clip was emptied without hitting any of us, so he threw the gun, which hit me in the back of the head.

Ar: “Oh, of course, THAT’S what finally hits someone!”

Sloth had a car not far away, and we were racing to reach it. His other two proxies moved to intercept Arkady, but I didn’t see how that tuned out. It didn’t sound nice is all I know.

Working at a desk all day really doesn’t help with physical fitness, so I felt like I was dying before I was halfway to the car. And I could hear Arkady’s footsteps gaining on us….

Another car screeched out from an alley and flew by us. I looked back and saw it nearly hit Arkady, but he just managed to jump aside. Ahriman got out of the car, and started firing a pistol at Arkady, forcing him into cover.

Ah: “Get into the car!”

Lepidus, Sky, and I followed that order, while Sloth kept running for his car. Arkady broke cover when Ahriman ran out of bullets, but we already had the car running before he could reach us. Instead he started chasing after Sloth, who wasn’t fast enough to get to his car before Arkady reached him.

I looked out the back window and saw Arkady deck Sloth in the face, knocking him to the ground. Before he could keep attacking, Sloth held his keys out to Arkady. Arkady grabbed them, kicked Sloth in the face, then got into his car and started driving after us.

We had a lead, but it wasn’t very big. And I don’t care what Hollywood says, you can’t have a high speed chase for very long inside a city. There’s too many others cars in the way. Which meant that Arkady was closing that gap we had very, very quickly.

Ahriman was screaming orders into his phone for backup, although I wasn’t sure how much help more people would be in a car chase. Sky had huddled up into a ball, and was whispering, “Help me,” over and over. Then,

S: “He’s here.”

Fog poured in around our car from every direction, until we couldn’t see the anything more than a few feet around us. The sounds of the city vanished, leaving us in a bubble of silence. And then, out of the fog, the Boss appeared in front of us, dozens of tentacles growing out of his back.

We were too close to move out of the way, so I closed my eyes, expecting us to hit him. When I didn’t feel an impact, I slowly opened my eyes again. The fog was gone, we were in a different part of the city, and Arkady wasn’t behind us anymore. We took a few minutes for Ahriman to get his bearings, then he started to drive again.

With everything finally calming down, I asked Ahriman where we were going.

Ah: “Truth’s corporate HQ. The mayor’s called for ‘Decisive action against organized crime groups in our city.’ In other words, us. SWAT teams have been hitting all the safehouses that Arkady hasn’t already gotten. Therefore, Truth has called a general retreat to all surviving proxies. We’re to fortify at his tower, where we can negotiate from a position of strength.”

D: “Wasn’t my apartment supposed to be a position of strength?”

Ah: “…. Be quiet. We just need to make a few calls to Washington, move some money around, and everyone will be reminded of what happens to those who start getting aspirations above their station.” *His hands tightened on the wheel until his knuckles turned white.* “And once this is over, we will make them all pay for their insolence.”