Saturday, March 30, 2013

I was not looking forward to sleeping in Sky’s room again. I already knew sleep medicine wouldn’t work, so this time I tried wearing a sleep mask and earplugs to dull my senses and let me pretend the Boss wasn’t there. That failed horribly; knowing he was in the same room as me but not being able to see him only made it worse.

This was Fox’s first time sleeping in the room, so I tied warning her about what was going to happen. But I don’t think it really sunk in until she saw it for herself. The Boss appeared at 3:33 like always, and then pinned Sky down and muffled her screams with a tentacle.

Even with the light from the window, it was still hard to see in the darkness, so I don’t know when Fox got out of bed. But at some point, she walked up by the Boss, and I heard her whisper, “Father?”

Even back when I was a Runner, I’d never seen the Boss move so fast. Its whole upper torso twisted around, and the shadows cast by the window’s light turned into black branches that wrapped around Fox and lifted her into the air. One of his tentacles moved toward her stomach, and pushed forward until it slowly started to pierce through the skin.

Sky shouted, and jumped out of bed to try and tackle the Boss. I don’t know what happened next; whenever I try to look back on it, all I get is a blank. The next part I do remember is that I had a splitting headache, Fox was back in her bed, and Sky was cowering on the ground, covered in blood and bruises, and with the Boss standing over her. She was trying to protect her face with her arms, and saying “I’m sorry,” over and over. He wrapped a tentacle around her neck, and lifted her up to his head’s level. She kept trying to claw at the tentacle to break free, but it didn’t work. He kept holding her there for a few seconds, then he just placed her back in bed. More tentacles lifted her bed cover over her, and then he vanished.

Once it became clear he was gone, I rushed over to make sure Sky was okay. There were burn marks all along her neck where the tentacle had grabbed her, but she was conscious and breathing. Next I checked on Fox. She had been knocked out somehow, and there was a lot of blood on her, but the hole she should have had in her stomach was gone, with a fresh looking scar in its place. I called Lepidus in to help them, and he got to work. Thankfully, none of Sky’s injuries were too serious, although breathing or talking is going to hurt for a while with her throat like that.

And this is what I’m going to have to be dealing with until Dumas finishes his mission and we kill that Runner guy.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

New Orders

Ahriman showed up at our doorstep with over half a dozen proxies and yet more new orders. The Runner group that nearly killed Andrew has still been causing us problems, so Ahriman wants to send in a full hunter-killer team to take care of the problem. I didn’t know what that had to do with any of us, but then he explained.

A: “Our targets were supposed to be the two children, Jenny and Ryan. They would have been easy targets, and quickly driven to despair, or as Truth hoped, into the arms of Father. But the two other Runners have been thwarting our efforts. We’ve identified one as a blogger named ‘Kenny’ He’s not our concern, and Truth has ordered us to not interfere with him. But we have no idea who the other one is, which is troubling, as he’s the one who seems to be causing us the most problems.”
*Ahriman pointed at Dumas.*
“Truth has decreed that you will infiltrate the group and learn everything you can about this fourth Runner. Once you have learned all you can, we will send in this team to eliminate him, and then we can return to converting the two young Runners.”

Du: “Wait… why me?”

A: “Are you questioning Father’s will? Remember your place. Your position is still precarious after your last incident with He That Is.”

Du: *Dumas waved a and in front of him.* “No, I’m not questioning it, I just want to know why I was chosen for, this, um… honor.”

A: *Ahriman seemed appeased by this reply.* “Because you retain enough control of your mental faculties to work as an infiltrator, and you are expendable enough that it will be no loss if you are discovered and killed.”

*Dumas didn’t look happy about that “expendable” part. I wouldn’t have been happy either if I was in his place.*

*Ahriman waved for the proxies behind him to come inside.*

A: “This is the team which will be used to eliminate the Runner. They will stay here for the duration of the mission, and keep in contact with Dumas.”

*I did a quick headcount. There were eight total.*

Di: “Um, sir, we don’t have room for eight more people….”

A: “Make room. These are your orders. You will carry them out.”

And with that polite farewell, Ahriman left.

I quickly got introduced to the eight new proxies, and tried to figure out where we’d find space for them. I’m going to write their names down here so I can remember them:

There’s Manton, who I think is one of Truth’s personal proxies, judging by the suit and the professional attitude. Tall, with a shaved head. If his skin wasn’t so dark you’d almost mistake him for the Boss. I’m pretty sure he’s the leader of the group, or maybe everyone just respects him enough to do what he says.

If Manton’s the leader, then Fox has to be his lieutenant. She’s the kind of woman I’d have been jealous of back when I had time to worry about how I looked, but these days it just makes me question how she finds the time to make herself up like that. I recognized her name from some of the papers I’ve done: she’s definitely one of our better people in the city, especially when it comes to getting rid of troublesome Runners.

I had a bit of a double take when I heard the third proxy’s name: Larry. Yes, it’s his birth name. Not many proxies keep theirs. He’s a really sullen looking ex-military guy. Doesn’t talk much, glares a lot. I think he and the Jacksons will get along great.

Of course, we’ve also got the mandatory psychopath proxy. Skinny, smiles a lot, wears too many knives, and calls himself Nightgaunt. I’ve read his names in my paperwork as well, but unlike Fox, it wasn’t because of any positive accomplishments. Usually it’s because we need to cover up the collateral damage he’s caused. I really don’t like the way he was leering at Sky. I talked with Lepidus, and we’ve agreed to make sure he never gets alone in a room with her.

Then we’ve got Valar. With that name, I thought he was going to be a crazy guy who thinks he’s in Lord of the Rings, but he’s probably the most normal out of all of them. He just picked the name because he thought it sounded cool. As nice and friendly as he was, it’s hard to believe he’s part of a kill team.

Barbarossa, however, is exactly the sort of person I’d expect on this kind of team. Big, angry, constantly looking like he’s about to lash out and hit someone. Worst of all, he seems to have Ahriman’s mentality toward the Boss. “Father this, Father that.” You know.

After him, there’s April. She’s obviously the newest in the group, and seems to be having a hard time adjusting to the proxy life. Which, if experience has taught me anything, means she’ll be dead within a few months tops.

Finally, Null. I don’t know what’s up with him. He always wears a blank mask, and never speaks.

Those are all the new people. At least them being here means we’re going to get paid more, but it’s still going to get really cramped. Living arrangements were a mess to handle, especially once it became clear there was simply no way we could fit everyone and still let Sky have her own room. We immediately vetoed Nightgaunt’s offer to share her room, and Lepidus came up with an arrangement that worked for almost everyone. I’m rooming with Sky again, and Fox as well this time. I really don’t want to be in that room at night, but I can’t bring myself to trust any of the new people in there alone with her. I’ll just have to live with this until Dumas finishes his mission and the team can leave.

I really hope he finishes his mission quickly.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Jacksons

Andrew’s finally starting to get better. He’s not completely recovered, and still is spending most of the day resting, but he’s able to walk around a little, and it doesn’t seem like he’s going to die. Which is a big relief. The Jacksons may not be friends, but they’re still roommates. I don’t want to see them die.

Since I talked with Dumas, I’d been thinking about how he said Gabriel wanted to talk with me about how he became a proxy as well. I’d been putting it off, but with the good news I felt it was time to talk to him.

It was really awkward dropping mention of the subject, especially since I talk with them so rarely. Earlier today I caught Gabriel in the kitchen, and decided that then was as good a time as any other.

Di: “So… um… I heard you might want to talk to me… about you and your brother’s past….”

G: *His eyes narrowed at me.* “And who told you something like that?”

Di: “Oh… you know… I just… heard it around… and stuff….”

*He kept staring at me with that hostile look.*

Di: “I’ll… I’ll just be going, then….”

G: “No, wait.”

*I stayed, waiting for him to talk. It took him a few false starts before he got going.*

G: “I never used to worry about this stuff. Dealing with Runners should be easy. Most of them are just scared kids. Sometimes they get lucky, but usually they only manage to kill someone if the proxy hunting them gets stupid. And while we may have a lot of stupid people in our gang, Drew and I aren’t. We should know how to take care of ourselves. But that guy…. He wasn’t some green student flailing around like they’d never fought in their life. He fought like a street brawler, and a damn good one. I wouldn’t want to go up against him again unless I’ve got six others backing me up, and we all have shotguns. Last time I saw anyone like that was… well, it was back on the streets.”
*His eyes got a faraway look, and he started to tell his story.*
“Drew and I didn’t get our lives handed to us on a platter. When you’re gringo growing up in the barrio, you have to fight if you want to keep going. It also didn’t help that our parents were nutjobs who were planning to sacrifice us to Slender Man.
Our mom and dad had joined this local Slender Man cult led by a crazy who called himself ‘The Vanguard.’ The only reason they had us was because Vanguard had told them they needed to offer children as sacrifices in order to be accepted as true disciples of Slender Man. Course, the moment we figured out what they were planning, Drew and I ran. I was ten at the time, he was nine. Not the best age to start living on the streets, but it was better than dying on an altar in someone’s basement.
The two of us ran with the local gangs for a while. Didn’t join any big groups; we were just focused on keeping our heads down and staying alive. We learned a lot during that time. If we hadn’t, we’d have ended up dead in an alley. Sometimes we’d run into people from the cult, but we kept our distance. They stayed out of gang business, and the gangs stayed out of their business.
A lot of years passed, and we became good at what we did.” *For the first time I’ve ever seen, Gabriel smiled.* “We didn’t even need to stick with a gang anymore. Everyone knew not to fuck with the Jackson Brothers. We had a good thing going.”

*I was still waiting for the proxy part of all this, but he finally started on it.*

G: “One day we found out that a new player was coming into the area. At first we didn’t know who they were, just that they were throwing a lot of money around and buying their people some really nice guns. Whenever someone tried fighting back, they got crushed.
Didn’t take long for these new people to contact us, and that was when we first met Truth. He was just setting up shop then, but the man was determined to have the entire city under his control by the end of the year. Course our history with Slender Man cults made us suspicious of him, but then he gave us our first job: Wipe out Vanguards cult.”

*I had never heard Gabriel laugh until that day, and I never want to hear it again.*

G: “With the toys and the backing Truth gave us, killing off a dozen starved, religion-crazed squatters was easy. Then when we got to Vanguard himself….”
*The smile suddenly left.*
“Sick bastard. Those children he’d been asking for as sacrifices? They hadn’t been going to Slender Man. He had a special room in his place for them. The stuff we saw in there… if Drew and I had spent all day killing him, it still wouldn’t have been enough. I don’t even think Vanguard even believed in Slender Man. He was just a nut who found a lot of scared people and took advantage of their fear for himself.”
*Gabriel shook his head and was quiet for a moment, then resumed.*
“After that, it was just usual proxy work. Truth set us up in this apartment with Lepidus and the crazy girl, and we’ve just been doing our job since.”

He stopped there, but I was fine with that. I never thought I’d hear Gabriel talk for that long. And I guess with that, I’ve covered everyone I’m living with.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Truth's Questions

Yesterday was not a good day. When Sky woke me up, it was with crying, not screaming. I looked in her room, and saw a cat on the floor, with its stomach ripped open and its organs trailing out. Somehow it was still alive, and twitching in pain. I got Sky out of the room as fast as I could. I don’t want her having to look at that. She kept crying, and all I could do was give her a hug as the room was cleaned out.

That would have been bad enough, but several hours later Ahriman arrived.

He walked right through our door to my desk, and dropped a manila envelope in front of me.

A: “Truth has learned of your interviews with Sky. He has created a list of questions that he wants you to ask her.”

Di: “Can this wait for another time? She’s not feeling good right now….”

*He glared at me in response.*

Di: “Alright, fine, I’ll try. Though I don’t think she’ll be willing to answer.”

*I opened the envelope to look at the questions. They were things like, “In what manner does the Slender Man transmit information?” or “How long has it visited every night, and for what duration are the visits?” or “Are any humans repeatedly mentioned during its visits?”*

Di: “Why can’t Truth just ask the Boss these questions?”

A: *His glare became harsher.* “I did not question Truth when he gave me these orders, and you will not question him either. Perform your interview. I will observer and record a copy of the responses for Truth.”

As much as I may have disliked it, it didn’t look like I really had a choice in the matter. I pulled Sky aside, and set up everything for an interview, with Ahriman watching. She wasn’t happy about it, especially since I’d told her I wasn’t going to be interviewing her again.

I started to read the questions Truth had given me, but hadn’t even finished the first before Sky interrupted me.

S: “Who gave you that list of questions?”

Di: “Um… Truth did. He wanted me to ask you them.”

Suddenly Sky lunged across the table, knocking the recorder over. I thought she was going to attack me, but instead she grabbed the paper out of my hands. She ripped it to pieces, then threw the pieces on the ground. Ahriman moved to stop her, but she screamed at him, and he decided to leave her alone.

After stomping on the shredded pieces of paper for a bit, Sky stormed off to a different part of the apartment. Ahriman looked like he really wanted to say something, but chose to leave without another word.

I thought that was the end of it, but this morning I got a slightly more satisfying conclusion to the incident. A proxy I hadn’t met before dropped off a letter for me when the paperwork came in today. I checked the bottom, and saw Truth’s signature.

“Dear Diana,

I apologize for what happened yesterday. After learning of your interviews with Sky, I had hoped that she had gained enough emotional stability for further investigation. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Had I know how she would have reacted to my questions, I would have never asked you to perform the interview and put yourself in harm’s way.

Please continue to care for Sky as best you can. She suffers more than most of us, but even her suffering has a purpose toward a larger goal.


At least he’s nice enough to send an apology. And with that I hope I can put this whole matter to rest.

Monday, March 11, 2013


If I’d been told when I first became a proxy that within a year I’d be having a recorder constantly running so that it could help catch anything people said that I’d need for a blog I was writing, I’d have killed myself out of embarrassment. And now look at me. I can’t believe I’ve fallen this low.

There hasn’t been much to record lately anyway. Andrew’s still in critical condition, but the nature of our job prevents us from taking him to the hospital. Lepidus is trying to do the best he can, but I don’t know if that will be enough. Sometimes I see Sky staring at his door, completely motionless. When I try to talk to her when she’s like that, she’ll jump a little, and then walk away without a word.

Other than that, I’ve still been working. The investigation on the dead boy’s died down, but we’re still on reduced funding. The only reason we’re not starving is because Lepidus, Dumas, and I are switching off who goes without dinner each day.

Then yesterday, Dumas stopped by my desk as I was signing several stacks of forms.

Du: “You certainly look busy.”

Di: “Tell me about it. I don’t think I can see an end to this paperwork in sight.”

*Dumas dropped a flier onto my desk. At first I thought it was yet another form to fill out, but when I looked at it I saw the words “Aloha Festival” on top.*

Di: “What is this?”

Du: “It’s taking place this weekend by Tempe Town Lake. And you look like you could use a break.”

Di: “But my work….”

Du: “Is still going to be here when you get back.”

I really should have argued harder, but I really did want a break. And that’s how I ended up skipping work and spending the entire day with Dumas at a Hawaiian themed festival downtown.

Being there felt really surreal. I haven’t gone out in public in a long time. It’s not the sort of thing you do once you get involved with the Boss, no matter which side you’re on. Dumas didn’t seem to care. “What’s the worst that could happen?” Well, the Boss could get mad at us for skipping our job and kill us both. “Has that ever actually happened to anyone who messed up on paperwork?” No, but…. “I think you’re overestimating how important F-113 forms are to the Slender Man. Now come on, they’ve got ukulele lessons over there.”

Despite how weird it felt, after a while I started having fun. It’s been a while since I could let go like that. And that festival’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to visiting Hawaii. For a few hours, Dumas and I got to ignore the fact that we’re working for a faceless monster that kills people.

But I couldn’t escape work completely. Towards the end of the day, Dumas and I grabbed some of the free food they had. The food was amazing. Much better than what we’ve been scrounging up to live on. While we ate, Dumas started to talk.

Du: “I’ll admit, I did have a little selfish motivation when I asked you to come here with me. I wanted to talk to you.”

Di: “About what?”

Du: “I know Gabriel’s been meaning to do this too, if he can drop the thug act long enough. He’s where I got the idea from. I wanted to talk about how I became a proxy.”

*That seemed out of nowhere.*

Di: “Why talk to me about that?”

Du: “You’re becoming something like a confessor for our group. First you posted your story, then Sky’s, then Lepidus’s….”

Di: “But why me specifically? There’s other people who are better at listening! Lepidus is good with people, why not talk to him?”

Du: “Because you’re the one with the blog. When we die, that’s going to be the only record of our existence. It would be nice if our stories could be recorded before we’re gone.

*I’d never thought about my blogging as a record before. It had just been something I was doing because I was bored. But when he said that, I realized that he was right, in a way. This blog has been turning into a collection of our stories.*

Di: “Well… alright. If you’re okay with this going on my blog. How did you become a proxy?”

Du: *He took a deep breath.* “Promise you won’t laugh.”

Di: “Um… okay, I won’t laugh.”

Du: “I responded to a recruiting campaign and passed the interview.”

Di: *I was stunned silent for a while.* “They do interviews for proxies?”

Du: *He laughed once.* “Not exactly, no. I’d just graduated with a degree in business management, and was looking for a career. A professor of mine told me that he had connections to a company that was looking for young recruits to hire. I sent in my resume with his recommendation, they called back to set up an interview, and I went through the interview process. All normal procedure. Two weeks later I got a call from them telling me I’d been given the job.” *His smile remained on his face, but it started to seem much more forced.* “I showed up the first day of the job, they sat me down in a dark room, and informed me that the company I’d just signed up for was a front for a cult serving a monster from beyond time and space with a tendency toward killing people. Oh, and if I tried to leave they would kill me.”

*He paused as if expecting a reaction from me, but the only reaction I could manage was for my jaw to hang open in surprise. This was certainly not the sort of proxy recruitment story I’d been expecting. After a brief laugh at my shock, he continued.*

Du: “At first, I thought this was some kind of weird hazing initiation for new employees. But then they started showing me evidence of Slender Man’s existence, and it became pretty clear that it wasn’t a joke. They introduced me to Truth, who explained my responsibilities. A lot of it was the sort of business work I’d been expecting, but with extra proxy duties on top. Negotiating mergers by day, burying bodies by night. It was an interesting double life.
That continued for a while, and at times it felt more like I was working for a really corrupt and opportunistic company than an evil cult. At least until I got assigned to security at your apartment.”
*He paused for a while.*
“That night when I heard you screaming and ran into your room… that was the first time I actually saw the Slender Man. In person, I mean. I’d seen lots of pictures and videos, but never in front of me. My working relation with him had always been a distant one; I knew Truth was taking orders from him, but I was too far down on the pyramid to ever get his attention. Which is partly why I reacted so stupidly when I saw him.”

*I know I’d promised not to laugh, but I couldn’t help a few giggles escaping.*

Du: “Hey, you said you wouldn’t laugh!”

Di: “I know, I know, but… that was your first time seeing the Boss? What kind of proxy works for him without even seeing him? And your reaction to seeing him for the first time was to try to shoot him?”

Du: *Dumas started to laugh as well.* “Yeah, I guess I’m just not very good at making positive first impressions on my superiors. It’s a wonder they didn’t fire me.”

Pretty soon, both of us were laughing uncontrollably. It wasn’t really that funny, but after the horror that the rest of us went through becoming proxies, Dumas’s story just seemed so absurd. I didn’t think it was possible to accidentally become a servant of the Boss, but I guess Dumas was unlucky.

That was the only mention of our work during the festival. The rest of the time, we focused on relaxing, and enjoying the day. When I got back home there was a huge backlog of work that I still haven’t been able to catch up on, but I’m okay with that. My head feels a lot clearer now than it has in a while. I’ll have to see if I can get away with more of these mental rest days sometime.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Last Interview with Sky

Work’s been keeping me busy lately, but I finally found the free time to interview Sky again. Lepidus asked her if she wanted to talk with us, and she agreed. We had the recorder set up and were ready to start, when Dumas and Gabriel burst through the door, carrying a very bloodied Andrew Jackson.

I don’t really talk about the Jackson brothers much. Most of the time, the two of them seem more like pieces of the background than tenants. They stick together, don’t’ talk much, they leave at the same time every morning and come back the same time every night. The two of them don’t even appear in my financial records that much. They’re juggling another job with their proxy work, and it helps make hem self-financing, though I don’t have any clue what the job is. And when they do request additional resources, I can grant the request knowing it won’t be wasted on something pointless. They’re among the most dependable and effective proxies in the city. I never thought I’d see one of them beat up so badly. Especially not Andrew. He’s like a mountain of solid muscle. Who the hell could take someone like him down?

With Andrew hurt as badly as he was, Lepidus had to drop our plans to help him out. I really didn’t want to reschedule my interview with Sky. Firstly because I didn’t know when I’d get another break from work, and secondly because I was worried that a sudden change in schedule might set her off, especially right after seeing Andrew covered in blood. I was considering doing the interview on my own. Then Dumas saw the recorder I had out, and asked if I had planning to do one of my interviews. Of course, I asked him how he knew about the interviews.

“I read your blog.”

At first, I felt outrage that he was reading my private thoughts. Then I realized that outrage was dumb because I’ve been posting my private thoughts on a public online blog. I told him that I was about to interview Sky, and he offered to help while Lepidus was busy. Since he was already caught up on what I was doing, and since Sky seems to like him, I agreed.

Sky kept staring at the recorder as I turned it on.

Sky: “Are you going to ask me what happened next?”

Diana: “Only if you want to talk about that.” I was hoping Fracture’s advice about just letting her talk would be less volatile than questioning her had been.

S: “What happened to Drew?”

Dumas: “I was just supposed to be the getaway car, so I only know what Gabriel told me. A mission went bad. They were supposed to harass a pair of Runners, just frighten them a little. Except instead of a pair, there were four of them. One of them attacked Andrew pretty viciously, and Gabriel barely got him out of there.”

S: “Why were they supposed to frighten Jenny and Ryan?”

Du: *Dumas seemed a little surprised.* “How did you know their names?”

S: “What?”

Du: “The two Runners. Their names are Jenny and Ryan.”

S: “Oh.” *She thought for  amoment.* “I don’t know. But why were you supposed to frighten them?”

Du: “That’s a good question.” *Dumas looked at me.* “Diana, you’ve been in this business longer than me. Why do we send out big muscular men to beat up kids?”

*I hate being put on the spot like that.*

Di: “Well… because… um….” *You know that feeling when people tell you to “say something”? That’s how I felt right then.* “Because… they’re Runners? And… because Ahriman tells us to?”

S: “Why does Ahriman tell you to?”

Di: “Because Truth tells him to?”

S: “Why does Truth tell him to?”

Di: “Because the Boss tells him to.”

*Sky tilted her head slightly and kept staring at me as if she was expecting more. After a while passed without her speaking, or even blinking, I got creeped out enough that I quickly changed the subject.*

Di “So… um… you called Andrew Drew? I didn’t know you were that familiar with him. He’s never mentioned it, at least.”

S: “Him and his brother were the second people to come live with me here, right after Lepidus.” *She looked up at the ceiling, and then at the walls, apparently already bored with this question.* “Who was it that hurt Drew?”

Du: “I don’t know, I wasn’t there. You’d have to ask Gabriel.”

S: “Okay.”

*Then she got up and walked away, over to the room Gabriel was in. I thought about stopping her, but I didn’t want to get her upset.*

Du: “I think those commenters are right. You’re not going to be getting anything else out of her.”

Di: “But there’s still things I don’t know about this!”

Du: “Why are you so determined to find out what happened to Sky?”

Di: “I… I don’t know. I thought maybe I could help her or something And it felt like a mystery I could solve, instead of sitting behind a desk all day. Like I was actually accomplishing something.”

But he was right. These “interviews” aren’t going anywhere. I suppose it’s time to finally call it quits.