I’ve been occasionally discussing Sky’s interview with Lepidus, in case either of us came up with some new insight. Just in case, I’d been recording them as well, but so far there hadn’t been anything important. And then, during our last conversation:
L: “The way she became a proxy seems unusual to me.”
L: “It just seems different from what I though what normal. Well, I mean, I’m not an expert on how you turn into a proxy. I’ve only got my own experience for reference.”
So did I, when I thought about it. None of us really talk about our histories to each other. Weird as it sounds, I shared my story on this blog before I’d shared it with anyone I live with.
L: “What about you? Was your initiation anything like Sky’s?”
D: “No, nothing at all like what happened to her.” And then, maybe because I was thinking about how odd it was that we knew so little about each other, I began to talk. I explained everything about how I became a proxy, just like I did on this blog. Lepidus listened patiently, and only spoke when I finished.
L: “Interesting. It sounds like our stories have more in common with each other than with Sky’s.”
D: “Oh? What happened to you?”
L: “You know the cliché. Became a proxy to protect a family member I loved.
Ah yes, I’d heard that one before.
D: “Who was it? A brother?” It’s almost always the brother.
L: “My wife.”
D: “Wait wait you’re married?!”
L: “I used to be.” A look of pain crossed his face, and he became so quiet that I thought he was going to stop talking there. But before I could turn off the recorder, he started to speak again. “I used to work at a hospital. One day we brought in this patient… he’d been trapped inside his house when it caught fire, and had suffered horrible burns. We managed to save him, but the experience caused him a great deal of psychological trauma. He started to hallucinate that a faceless man was trying to kill him” Lepidus laughed grimly. “Things would be a lot easier if he actually had been hallucinating. Not long after we admitted him, his heart suddenly stopped. No one else could figure out what had caused it, but… well… that was the first time I saw Him.”
Another pause before Lepidus continued.
“Slender Man appeared in the room while we were trying to restart the patient’s heart. I was the only one who could see him there. He watched our patient until we declared him dead, and then left the room. At the time I thought it was just stress getting to me, but then I started seeing him at my home….
Things got bad then. I started hearing strange sounds at night, seeing weird visions… a kid hanged himself on the tree in our front yard. And I kept seeing Slender Man wherever I went.
It didn’t take much research to figure out what he was. And that only made my fears worse, since I knew what happened to people stalked by him.” He sighed. “I’d been married to my wife for two years then. She was… the most wonderful person I have ever had the pleasure to know. Beautiful, smart, always there to support me…. She wanted to be an artist, you know. And with her talent, I have no doubt that would be an easy task for her.” He trailed off there.
D: “What… what happened to her?”
He laughed once.
L: “Nothing, actually. She never saw the Slender Man, even when he was in our room watching us. But I was always worried that something would happen. When two men showed up at my hospital and offered her safety in exchange for my cooperation, I agreed immediately. The local proxies needed a doctor, so they picked me.
For a while, I tried juggling my regular life and my proxy one. That was doomed to fail from the start. It’s hard enough to maintain a steady relationship when you’re constantly being called to a hospital for work, but when your rare free time is being taken up by shady back alley surgeries, everything gets crazy. I would spend weeks away from home, sleeping at the hospital or at whichever proxy safehouse I’d been working at when I collapsed from exhaustion. One winter, things got really bad. It seemed as if every proxy and Runner in the city had suddenly decided to go at each other with whatever they could find, and I was suddenly dealing with more injured patients than I had time for. It didn’t take long for me to lose my job at the hospital. Or for my wife to file for divorce.”
He put his head in his hands. “The worst part is that I can’t hate her for it. She was right. We never saw each other. I would go an entire month without being home, without any explanation. And it’s probably better this way, so that she’s not in the path of danger anymore.”
D: “Is that… is that how you ended up here?”
L: “After the divorce was finalized, I met Ahriman. He had new orders from me: Truth was trying to centralize the operations branches of his organization, so I was to move to a single location and have wounded be brought to me, instead of having me move all around the city. They gave me a key to this apartment, told me to keep an eye on the girl living there, and keep practicing medicine like before.”
D: “Wait, the girl living there? Sky? She was here before you?”
L: “She was the first of all of us to live here. I asked Ahriman what she why she was here, but never got an answer. If I was going to be honest, one of the reasons I want to help you with these interviews is because I want to find out the answers to those questions too.”
I guess that puts us in the same boat. If Sky was the first one of us here, how did she get here?
But that’s a question for after ice cream. Because when I saw Lepidus talking about his wife, that was the point when. Well. When I realized why nothing I’ve done has ever made him notice me like I want him to. And why nothing I do ever will. There’s just no way I could compete with memories that strong.
So that’s us. Me pining after a guy who’s pining after a lost love in an apartment full of crazy people. It’s the wacky feel good rom-com of the year. At least until all of us die.