Friday, December 30, 2011

(My phone went off at around one in the morning. I answered on the first ring.)

S: Even for you, that was low.

W: You read the papers, I take it.

S: Why?

W: Because I could. What difference does it make?

S: Of course it makes a difference, the man's dead.

W: The man beat the hell out of his daughter and tore her down for years. He's not going to be missed.

S: You think just because it's justified in your mind, that makes it right? You think you can just go around and do whatever you want?

W: If it gets the job done.

S: You're a fucking child, you realize that?

W: I do what needs to be done. I've always done what's needed to be done.

S: What, like kill your entire unit just to get a couple of low-life scumbags?

W: Or rat out one guy to bring down an entire drug ring.


S: ...Excuse me?

W: We were getting nowhere on that case. Families were being terrorized. That mob was leveling the whole freakin' suburb. They would've destroyed everything if I didn't do what I did.

S: You sold out Mickey...

W: Three years of time and resources and all it took was one anonymous phone call that brought them down.

(pause. When I speak again, my voice is shaking.)

S: And in doing that, Eric confined himself to a desk. You realize the impact of that? If he hadn't done that, he wouldn't have been assigned to our case. If he hadn't been assigned to the case, he wouldn't have gotten kidnapped. Which means Lizzie never would have gone into that warehouse, which means she and Eric would still be alive, and we'd all still be at the station, alive and well. Did you ever think about that?


S: So you mean to tell me that the reason I'm on the run, the reason my throat is fucked, my partner is dead, and my sanity is all but gone, was all because you decided to be a fucking hero? Is that what you're telling me?

W: You give me way too much credit.

S: Sounds like I'm giving you the credit you deserve!

W: Lizzie was being stalked by Slender Man, she would've died anyway.

S: You don't know that!

W: Don't I? Come on, Zee. You've been at this long enough to know that by now. He won't stop until he gets what he wants. Which is why I'm going to give him what he wants.

S: Yeah? And what would that be?

W: You know.


S: You're gonna throw her under the bus just to save your own worthless ass.

W: She's the one who set him loose. Way I see, I'm re-balancing the natural order by giving her back to him.

S: You can't do that, Wren.

W: Oh, why the fuck not? I'm sure everyone else would agree.

S: We don't know that she's what set him off!

W: She fucked with his meal, so I'm gonna give him comeuppance!

S: That was years ago! I'm sure he's had enough food by now to get over that!

W: And yet he keeps coming. Keeps searching. For what? What's he looking for, Zee, huh? Why's he still hunting if he's had enough? Two and a half years he's been on a rampage and he's only getting worse. I mean, fuck, man, Ava's dead now. We just saw her, what, four, five months ago, all perky and ready to pop out her kid, and now she's six feet under. Who's next? We're running out of time and we're running out of friends.

(It's funny, but right here, I remember what Eric said when I saw him back in February. His words ring in my mind: “Who's going to be next? Danny? Ava? Reach?” It's funny because they're all dead now. It's like he knew. But how could he not. We're all dead sooner or later.)

S: Can't let you sacrifice her, Wren.

W: I'm done taking orders from you, Zee.

S: Well I'm just going to have to stop you.

W: Yeah...we'll see if you can.

(Line goes dead. Conversation ends here.)

Thursday, December 29, 2011


I knew this would happen. Since he found me in April and got involved in this, I knew there was going to come a point where he would snap and pull something like this. When you're desperate, you take whatever help you can get, but even then, you can never really trust them, not completely. I've never completely trusted Wren, and I'm sure that's been evident.

I just hoped it would hold until after I had figured out a solution...guess not.

When I joined the force a few years ago, Wren Stephanos was one of SWAT's demolition experts. I met him after I had been on the force about a month, when his team was assigned to take down a target on a case I had been working on. When they brought him in for interrogation, he saw me get a little...well, vocal while interrogating. I guess that was a good sign for him. When I was finished three hours later, he was sitting at my desk with a cup of coffee and a cinnamon raisin bagel.

“Not bad,” he said, as I took both. “You've got a flair for this kind of thing. Hope you stick around.”

After that, he and I hung out some, usually after work, either grabbing a drink or playing some pool. We were never “best friends”, but we got pretty chummy, which wasn't entirely uncommon but still a sight, mainly from those who knew Wren a while. He was the humor to my seriousness; he would always crack jokes, and he was one hell of a prankster. He was the kind of guy who would sneak tiny explosives in people's cigarettes that would explode when they were inhaling, put whoopee cushions in chairs, and put the occasional laxative into people's coffees.

But of course, there was that other side. He was known to be a particularly brutal officer. One time his team and I were dealing with a hostage situation; bank robbery gone wrong, you know the deal. The chief was trying to negotiate with the lead robber, this massive man with a mother complex, all coked out and out of his mind. Negotiations were going south, the guy was losing his cool...and then Wren just pulls out his gun and shoots him in the arm. Cool as ice.

The rest of his team took out his associates. The lead robber, he was bleeding from the arm, but he sees Wren, and he just dives at him. Wren barely even blinked. He just sidestepped, grabbed his arm, and twisted it until it cracked. Then he threw him against the wall, making sure his head hit the bricks hard, and then he pinched the nerve muscle in the neck. Lead robber dropped like a sack of bricks.

He turned at me, I'm standing there with my mouth open, and he just winked.

I told him I wanted to learn how to do that.

He asked me which part.

I wrote before that he said he had taught me everything I knew. He wasn't exaggerating. Oh, I knew self-defense, but Wren took it on a whole new level. He taught me more or less how to control my anger and vent it out in a more controlled way, something that the doctors I saw as a kid never really helped with. Even still, though, there were some lines I never crossed. I had no problem punching a suspect in interrogation, but I never broke toes or sprained fingers. Wren did those. I wanted them to feel anger and guilt; he wanted them to feel pain.

And yeah, he was friends with Lizzie and Eric. Sort of. Eric, he was friendly with, Wren helped him cope with Mickey's death, and they were on good terms for the time I saw them together. Lizzie, on the other hand, couldn't stand him. She found him creepy, and a bit of a pervert. Once he was behind bars and her and mine's relationship escalated, she told me he had hit on her so many times she lost count. She had also been on the receiving end of one of his pranks; he had left a box on her desk for her birthday, and when she opened it, a spring-loaded clown launched out and smacked her right in the nose with its wooden head. She was in the bathroom with a nosebleed for over an hour.

To be fair, she never knew for certain it was him. It was just assumed. But there weren't many people, before or after him, who pulled those kinds of stunts, so it was pretty likely.

But...well, it was Wren. You all know him by now. And with a personality like that, it was bound to come to a head sooner or later.

And it came, about a year and a half before we got Victoria Krell's case. Hostage situation in an office building owned by an Anthony Walden. Rich company executive. Never found out if the group were robbers, or terrorists, or business rivals or what have you. Maybe it was confirmed and I just never heard. Doesn't matter.

Lizzie and I were the detectives on site. Wren's team and another team had gone in to deal with them, and we were waiting outside. It was supposed to have taken ten minutes, but twenty minutes into the mission and we still had no word.

This was two nights before I met Mr. Armeen for the first time, by the way, just a little tidbit. Lizzie and I were getting along, but still not in the best of relationships. I wanted to go in, she wanted to stay out. We were fighting for five minutes when the front doors opened and Wren stepped out, arms at his side, with this weird smile painted across his face.

Confused, I went towards him as he came for me...and then the whole building went up, knocking all of us to the ground. I sat up, stunned, and right then a jagged piece of metal from the building exterior landed right next to me, hitting the space right between my fingers. Had it been a little more to the right, I would be dead now.

I looked at Wren, who was looking at the remains...and laughing. Not his usual laugh either. A cold, empty laugh.

Twenty-three people died. Nine officers, four bad guys, and ten hostages. All dead. We learned Wren had wired the boiler and had explosives placed on the building foundation. When we heard the report, at first we thought the suspects had wired the place to blow and we hadn't known about it, and Wren had just been lucky to leave. It became apparent quickly that that wasn't the case.

Wren was found guilty of mass manslaughter and sentenced to twenty years in prison in New York. Up until April, the last time I had seen him was when they had taken him away, still laughing his ass off.

Probably should've told you all this sooner. Oh well.

At any rate, I have to deal with it now.
Roger Armeen died last night, around eleven-thirty. Authorities on the sight found him in his bed with a bed sheet tied around his neck. Probably would've been ruled as a suicide if the place didn't look like a war zone. As of now, according to the news, there is no suspect, and no clues to go off of.

He's out there all alone, no one around would've seen anyone go in or out. Too easy.
I was just having a quick shave in the bathroom when I look up and see Eric behind me in the mirror.

"It's started," he said. "You have to stop him."

He was gone as soon as I turned around.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

“So...we can't kill him?”

“Not according to her.”

I was downing a couple shots that night, on a right old bender. It was about a week or so after the interview, I had finally gotten around to letting Wren listen to them. Mary had gone out for supplies, so it was just us.

“I can't buy that.” Wren had been pacing back and forth. I remember he had been looking really sick since we had come up to Vermont. He was paler than normal, and those bags under his eyes were growing. A lot of his playfulness had been disappearing as of late; he was edgier, jumping at small noises, and always pacing. “No, there's gotta be something-”

“Well, there isn't. She was very insistent on that.”

“So, what, we give up? After everything it took to get us this far?”

“Look, I'm really tired. Can you leave it be?”

That stopped his pacing. “Oh, sorry, old man. Want me to tuck you into bed? Get you soup? Maybe turn your Golden Girls on-”

“Listen.” I stood up. “The past year, I have been shot at, hunted, lied to, and every good thing I had, every viable lead, shot down. I almost died in the middle of some basement in Nowhereland. Since February, I have been up to my neck in religious zealot supernatural bullshit. I'm physically and mentally exhausted, Wren, and I'm ready to just kick back and welcome the fucking apocalypse. I'm done.”

I downed another shot, hoping that was the end of it. Naturally, it wasn't.

“Well then,” and there was a definite shift in tone as he spoke; darker, venomous almost. “Well then, well then. So this is how the journey ends. When the great Zeke Strahm gives up, we are all well and truly fucked, aren't we?”

“Oh, just shut up, you asshole.”

“Never can finish what he started-”

“Oh, what, like you? Like with Keaton? We said we'd take care of that civilly, and I seem to recall, you were the one who broke his toes!”

“I got what we needed to know!”

“You didn't get us anything!”

“Well, I did a hell of a lot more than you would've done! I'm noticing that I'm pretty much the guy who does all your dirty work for you. Find Mary, deal with Keaton, keep the little raccoon safe in Maryland. I do everything for you, everything-”

“Yeah? And the Walden building, was that my benefit? Twenty-three people, nine of them officers, almost getting me killed, was that my benefit?”

And right around then was when he decided that was “too much” to say, apparently, because next thing I knew I was laying on the ground with my jaw feeling like it was on fire and my head feeling like it was going through the Fourth of July fireworks. He stood over me, and he had this wild, angry look in his eyes. I had never seen him look like that before.

“I'm not dying because of him, you understand me? He ain't getting me!”

That was the last thing he said to me. As soon as it was out of his mouth, he threw a kick at me that thankfully missed my head by an inch, and then stormed out, slamming the door shut behind him.

That was weeks ago. I haven't heard from him since. Honestly, I'm done caring at this point.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Mary Interview, Part 3

I know it's been a while. Only a couple things have really changed. We're still in Vermont, but just Mary and me. Wren skipped out a couple of weeks after the interview, and I haven't heard from him since. I'll get into that more in the next post.

And...well, the reason I haven't posted this part in a while is because...I was scared to, really. Listening to the tape, I wondered if I was ready to let everyone else know about it. And even here, I don't talk about everything; I left some parts out, not ready to let people know about that.

But I'm posting it. I can't hold onto it forever.

So...take it, think what you want with it.

(This last part doesn't focus on Mary as much. She decided she wanted to ask me a few questions. This was about thirty minutes after my throat acted up.)

S: Thanks.

M: It's okay.


M: I didn't realize I would cause this kind of country-wide panic...

S: We don't know that for sure. It could have just been a coincidence.

M: Yeah. I just happened to cause the deaths of the people who could contain him the same time he started being noticed by everyone. What a coincidence.


M: When did he start for you?

S: Heh...if you want to get technical, the start was when I was a child until I was around twelve. He haunted me my entire childhood.

M: Why?

S: No idea. Still don't. He stopped when I moved to the city. We used to live out in the woods, we moved when I was thirteen.

M: Just like that? He just stopped because you moved?

S: Told you, I have no idea why he stopped. I don't even know why he started. And then last year when he came back...well, I don't know if it was for me or not.

M: Why's that?

S: Because he didn't come straight for me. He took three kids and had his lackey butcher four more and went after Lizzie before he even showed himself to me. For all I know, it wasn't about me at all.

M: He really was after her again.

S: I don't know how long he was affecting her...I should have paid more attention...she had been getting better before the night we went into that warehouse...if she had just listened to me, stayed out of there...


S: I spent weeks afterwards just trying to keep it night I threw a fit...he was looking at me through my window, and I just started screaming at neighbor must have heard me, probably figured I was being robbed or something, came to check on me...door opened, shotgun went off, he must have been dead before he even hit the ground...

M: What did you do about it?


S: I hid the body in my garage. When people asked what happened, I just said that Slender Man tried to get in...I knew that if they knew what had really happened, they would've turned me in, thought less of me...he had a family...


S: Wasn't long after that that I realized I had to do something, had to...fight back, I guess. So I spent most of July gathering whatever information I could find, look through the stories left by others...try to find some kind of a pattern. And then...


M: And then...what?


S: I went back.

M: Back...where, to the warehouse?

S: Yeah...Conaghan was still in there, he still had Eric. I knew it was a trap, but if there was someway I could have...


M: What happened that night, Zeke?

(Long pause. I wasn't sure if I wanted to tell her, and I'm even less sure now if I want to post this. But I did, and I'm going to. I've put this off for too long...)

S: Chief promised reinforcements, but they would have arrived too late, so I went in on my own...that place, it was a maze, it's so easy to get lost in there...felt like I was walking for hours, even though it probably wasn't even one...time's just nonexistent in there.

I got to the door...I had found it on my first time through, but I didn't have a chance to open it before...well, all hell broke loose. Ended up having to shoot the handle off...I find Eric, chained to the wall, his foot was all fucked up, he hadn't had a shave in weeks...I don't think he even recognized me at first. I shot the chain, he asked me where Lizzie was, and I just told him she was gone as I helped him up and got him out of that room.

We wandered around some more before we ended up in some sort of packaging room...and there's Conaghan, he had this big forty-four magnum pointed at us. I push Eric against the wall, draw my gun on Conaghan, it turns into a shouting match, I'm yelling at him to put the gun down and he's screaming just this incoherent nonsense...he lifted his gun, took a shot, it missed me, I fired three rounds into his chest. He falls to his knees, and he...he thanks me, he says “Thank you”, right before he hits the floor.

Then I turned and Eric's sliding to the floor...that bullet Conaghan fired, it missed me, hit Eric right in the gut. I knew there was no way I'd be able to move him, so I told him to just sit tight...he begged me not to leave him, but I didn't have a choice, if I didn't get help, he would've bled out...I never went back for him.


M: Then what happened?


S: I was on my way outside...I felt him. Felt him near me, staring at me. I turn, and there he is, staring at me like I'm some circus freak show...I started antagonizing him, taunting him...showing him I wasn't afraid...

I don't know how it happened. All I know is next thing I know, the whole damn building is catching fire...and his...other arms, they were growing out...I took a shot at him, he vanished...I'm looking everywhere, the whole place is blazing...then I turn and suddenly one of his arms slams into my throat and then twists around it, choking me...he lifted me off the ground, let me stare him right in the face...

(long pause)

M: And then?

S: And then I'm outside, on my back staring up at the flashlight was gone, my camera was gone, my car was missing, my throat felt like it had been crushed with a weight...the whole warehouse was up in flames, I could hear sirens coming fast...and I just...I ran. I ran faster and harder than I had ever run in my life. And I've been running ever since.

(And that's the end of this tale. We sat in silence for a few moments as I try to compose myself. Then I go into the final questions)

S: How do we kill him?

M: You don't.

S: There has to be something-

M: Zeke, we are tiny specs, on a baby planet, in a galaxy barely out of its crib-

S: Your point?

M: My point is that he's old. Very old. As old as humanity and probably older. And something that old has had plenty of time to make any weaknesses he has completely irrelevant. At most, you can contain him, lock him away-

S: Then we do that.

M: -but it's not permanent. He can get out, and then it all starts again.

S: God damn it, there's gotta be something-

M: Listen! I have spent my whole life involved with this thing. I have seen firsthand the things he can do. Against something like that, we have no chance. I'm sorry. That's the situation.

(I had heard that time and again, but now it just felt final. We had no way to combat this thing and leave a lasting scar, much less be rid of him entirely.)

S: So...what? What do we do then?

M: We run. As long and as hard as we can. Run until we're too tired to run anymore. Like what you're doing right now.

S: I'm not running for me.

M: I know. I understand that. But can't save them. We're all beyond saving at this point...

(Conversation ends here.)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Mary Interview, Part 2

(This next part is later that afternoon. She had mostly calmed down by this point, and was ready to talk again.)

M: Sorry…

S: It’s fine. Now, you said you saw his real form. Do you remember what it was?

M: There’s no word in our language for something like that, nothing to compare it to…it’s massive, though, the biggest thing I had ever seen, bigger than any animal or human I had ever met…it had so many arms…and its face…

S: It’s real form has a face?

M: I guess this world can’t support it or it must’ve figured it couldn’t get what it wanted, go into public like that…so it takes that human form to move around freely, come and go…

S: And no one else knows about it?

M: If the priests knew, they never said anything. They interrogated me about my encounter for hours afterwards, but I never told them what I had seen…I guess that ironically let them believe I could be trusted.

S: And Lizzie?

M: My parents didn’t want to risk it, not after he almost killed me. So they called off the ritual. We stayed around long enough to be sure she was off his radar, then we had to move on.

S: And you never saw her again?

M: No. We exchanged letters a few times, but life goes on. I’m sure you know that.

S: So you stayed with them until three years ago.

M: Yeah...we had a bit of a...falling out.

S: Meaning what?


S: Mary-

M: I killed them.

S: Who?

M: They...they found out I had been helping children targeted for sacrifice escape the rituals. See, after what happened, I didn't want to think about kids being...I just couldn't bear it, not after that. So...I started helping some get away. Not many, one or two at a time, not enough to attract suspicion. But that last one...half their supply got away, just in time for some anniversary ritual. They...didn't like that.

My parents were terrified. They knew if the priests ever found out, then all of us would've been offered up. My father said that Slender Man was angry at mother told me that I was going to be offered instead...

I wasn't going to let that happen. I had no desire to be anywhere near him again. So...I had to get away. There was a knife on the counter. I had to get away.

S: You killed your parents...

M: They were going to give me to him. They stopped being my parents.

S: And then-

M: And then I took what I could and ran. I don't think he liked that.

S: What do you mean?

(long pause)

S: What do you mean?

(long pause)

M: I heard someone tell me once, someone else on the run said that the reason Slender Man became so active was because some idiot posted pictures of him on the internet. Well...that's...not entirely the case.

(long pause)

S: You can't be serious...

M: The night I took off, he lost control in the chapel. Most of the hierarchy was slaughtered right away. Those that survived went into hiding. And without anyone to feed him or keep him contained...

S: You mean to tell me the reason he's been getting so active the last couple of years...was because of you?

M: Look, it wasn't intentional! I didn't know he'd get out of control like that! And anyway, it seems contained. In my travels, I've only met a few that have actually seen him. If we can keep it like that-

S: You think this is contained?

M: What?

S: ...You really don't know, do you?

M: What?

S: Mary, the last two years has been almost total warfare against this thing. It's chaos all over the country. Alabama, New Jersey, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, London. Since last fall, a couple hundred cases have been logged, and that number gets bigger every day. We've lost good people in the last twelve months, and you're saying the reason for all of this is because you messed with his food supply?

(long pause)

M: ...What?

S: Yeah. It's been a fucking mess. There are videos documenting the things he's done, people have been blogging every little detail they can remember. Everyone's looking to me for answers, I'm looking to you, and you're telling me that you're the fucking problem?

M: I didn't...I had no idea...

S: How do you not know?

M: I've been running for three years, I never stay in one place for longer than a week, and I don't own a fucking laptop, cop! I don't go online much, okay?

S: Well, newsflash, I've seen him. I've fought him. My partner, your childhood friend? Sliced open by one of his followers, who then kidnapped, tortured and murdered another one of my partners. I got my throat squeezed by one of his arms. Oh, and best news of all, I'm an FBI wanted felon now, because my idiot fucking neighbor from next door heard me screaming, came into my house to check on me, and got blown away by a shotgun!


M: You...killed your neighbor with a shotgun?

S: No, was a trap, I had it wire-rigged to go off if the door was opened-

M: You jerry rigged a shotgun trap?

S: Does it really fucking matter?

(That last bit was too much for my throat. The next ten or fifteen minutes is me coughing up a lung while she got my medicine. This part ends here.)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Mary Interview, Part 1

(The following is part one of my interview with Mary. Wren was out in the town, so it was just the two of us. The entire conversation was recorded so that I could listen to it instead of recite the entire thing from memory.)

S: Name

M: Mary Irene Gallagher

S: And your role in this?

M:…My role?

S: You. Your parents. Why you’re here now.

M: My parents were priests in a subsection of a cult organization that worships an eldritch abomination. Their role was to go around to different sections across the country and make sure they were up to par with our standards.

S: And what sort of standards needed to be met?

M: That rules and guidelines were being followed. That the leaders had a firm hand on their communities. That those communities were all devout. That the sacrifices were being made. Basic stuff.

S: And these cults are all over the country?

M: It used to be. It’s died out a lot in recent years. You’d be lucky to find a solid group of people that still believe and pray together.

S: Why’s that?

M: Hard to keep a religion going when the thing they’re worshipping keeps killing off whole communities in fits of rage.

S: So mostly gone then.

M: Some exist. The big one in Indiana held on until fairly recently. I don’t think this religion as a whole is all that big now.

S: You were involved with the Indiana cult?

M: Matthew Wilcox was an important figure in it for a long time. My parents were friendly with him and the other head priests there.

S: You knew Damien O’Connor then.

M: Might have met his parents. Can’t really remember. A lot of the names are a blur to me.

S: And how long were you with this cult?

M: I reached the position of associate pastor in two thousand and...three, I think? I ended up leaving in two thousand eight.

S: Why?

M: (laughs) Why not? My whole life was spent seeing children ripped from their families and lined up for slaughter. Why wouldn’t I leave?

S: You weren’t brainwashed like them…

M; My parents tried, it didn’t work. When I was a kid, yeah, I was proud of my family’s involvement. As I grew up, I realized it was a mess. I just learned to hide it really well.

S: How? And why? What happened that changed your mind?

M: I don’t know…Liz happened, I guess.

S: Lizzie?

M: She was my first real friend…well, first one that I remember, anyway. The priests had intended to use her as a sacrifice in one of the rituals, so my family got close with her father. By that point, I think Slender Man had been after her for a while, you could see how bad it was effecting her. And then…

(Pause. This next part was hard for her to tell. Harder for me to hear.)

M: The night before the ritual, I was sleeping over her house. Regular preteen girl sleepover, I’m sure you’re familiar…well, maybe not. At about three in the morning, I wake up to her screaming, and I thought it was her dad at first, but I remembered he had passed out before we had…he was standing at her window, he had decided not to wait, he wanted her right then…the window was pushed open, he was reaching for her, and…I didn’t even think about it, I just…jumped in between them and said, “No. You can’t have her. She’s free.” And…I still remember him grabbing me…showing me those things…

S: What did he show you?


S: Mary. What did you see?

M: I saw…I saw…(sob) I saw him…I saw his whole existence, every moment of it, everything he had ever done, stretching back to the beginning of time…I saw his real form…

S: What do you mean? Mary, what do you mean?

(She broke down here. I stopped the tape, spent about three hours trying to calm her down.)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

When I was a kid, my parents used to take me to this family resort up in the mountains of Vermont. For ten years I spent a week of my summer there, hiking, swimming, playing with the occasional friend or two I would make up there, if only for a week. It was one of the only times I ever remembered being happy as a kid, being relaxed, being almost normal. We stopped going towards the end of my time in high school, since college put a lot more on my plate and I didn't have the time to devout a week out of my schedule to come up here.

Despite all the years I was up here, I only ever ventured into the town of Stowe once or twice; once with family, once with a group of friends I had made that week. It's a small town, I don't think too many people live there, but the people who do I remember were friendly enough, and it seemed like a hot spot for a lot of passerby's. So it was weird driving into town to find it completely bare, not a soul in the streets.

I parked it outside the post office and stepped out. Spooky. Almost like the place had turned into a ghost town. Maybe they had had a bad summer season, I don't know.

I found Wren's car outside of the general store, empty. His was the only car on the whole street. I parked up alongside him and got out. Keys were in the ignition. Alright, I thought, he had to be in there. I stepped inside.

The general store was pitch dark. I hit the light switch, no dice. Electricity was out, though I haven't gotten to check if it was the whole town or not. It'd be hard for me to believe that Slender Man had the whole town cleared out, but then again, Indiana proved he had a bit more influence than that.

It was at this point that I had my handgun out. I hadn't seen or heard anything yet that there was something to worry about, but then again, I hadn't seen or heard anything to convince me that all was well in this town. I took a couple steps further inside when-

“Who are you?”

Probably jumped a foot in the air when she said that. I turned around and there she was, staring at me, with a fucking box of Wheat Thins in one hand and a can of cheese spray in the other.

In a way, she looked almost like she did in the old photos of her and Lizzie; black hair, brown eyes, a looker for sure. Her face was different, though; not with the playfulness of a child, like Lizzie always had, but one who had seen a lot of shit in her life and had the scars to prove it. Thinking about it now, I like to think this is what Lizzie would have been like if she had survived long enough to run, because personality wise, they're almost exactly the same. But I didn't know that at that moment; all I knew was that this is who I was looking for.

“You're Mary Gallagher?”


“What are you doing in here?”

She held up the food items. “I was hungry.”

“Wheat Thins and cheese spray constitute a snack?”

“Well, I was going to try the diner down the street, but they seem to be having staffing problems. As in, they don't have a staff.”

She shrugged. She was probably used to it by now, eating whatever she found.

“So who are you supposed to be?”

“Zeke Strahm. You knew Lizzie growing up?”


“Lizzie Armeen.”

She had shown genuine confusion when I introduced myself, but as soon as I gave Lizzie's full name her face broke into a wide smile.

“Oh, you're a friend of Liz's? God, I haven't even thought about her in...well, forever. Yeah, we grew up together, you know her well?”

“She was my partner. We were close.”

“How is she?” Apparently she didn't pick up on the “was” or the “were”. “Is she doing well? Is she still living with that asshole father? I told her as soon as she was eighteen she should get the hell out of there and never look back.”

I sighed. This was painful as hell, but she had to know. No way could she keep going not knowing.


I swear, it was like telling a child Santa Claus didn't exist. That smile faded right from her face, and what color there was to her pale face drained.


“She died last year.”


“It's not important-”

“How did she die?”

I sighed. Did she think this was easy for me? “We were pursuing a murder suspect in his warehouse-”


“We were both detectives working for police homicide. I went in, she was supposed to stay at the station, but she went in after me anyway, and the guy found her and...cut her up.” I ended that sentence with what felt like a weight hitting me. Even over a year later, I still wasn't over it.

She looked even worse. She went over to the counter and placed her items down, looking as if I had kicked her in the gut. Then she glared at me.

“That can't be all it was, or you wouldn't have been trying to find me,” she said, her tone suddenly angry. “He was involved too, wasn't he? He found her again.”

I nodded. “Yeah. It was because of him-”

As soon as I said it she grabbed the can of spray and threw it so hard at the mirror it shattered into pieces and the holder fell off the nail it hung from and clattered onto the floor. Scared the crap out of me.

Dammit!” She pushed her hair back from her face, which was now dark red. “I thought she was safe, I thought he wasn't going to go after her anymore. He shouldn't have gone after her!”

“Wait, what the hell are you-?”

And then all of a sudden there was screaming from the back room, a lot of banging, and someone laughing. I looked at the door, then back at her.

“What was that?” I asked.

“I'm assuming you sent him? He showed up a few days ago. Wasn't too keen on seeing him again, but he said to hold tight, someone wanted to talk to me. I'm guessing that's you?”

I didn't wait to answer her. As soon as she said “you sent him” I hurried over and kicked the door open, my gun at the ready to find-

Wren was standing over what looked like a human-formed barbecue. Everything from head to toe was either on fire or was badly burned, and yet somehow he was still alive, writhing in pain. In one of Wren's hands was a can of Air sol, and in the other was a lighter. He looked at me and grinned.

“Oh, hey Zee,” he said, holding up the items. “Take a look. Portable flamethrower. And you say I'm not resourceful.”

“You just...torched...a random civilian-”

“Not random. This fucker was stalking her for three days until I put him in his place.”

I looked back at her. She just nodded.

“He's hollowed out, complete proxy. He's been following me from Detroit to here. I didn't tell Wren to turn the guy into a hot dog, though,” she said, glaring at him.

“Well, shit, looking at you, I'm amazed you haven't resorted to cannibalism a lot sooner. When's the last time you had any meat? And I mean in the food sense.”

“Drop dead, Ferret Face.”

“Ahh, definitely missed your sense of humor, Little Lamb.”

“I told you if you ever called me that again-”

Both of you!” I demanded, shutting them both up. After this summer, I was in no mood to play baby-sitter again. But my yelling was definitely more than my throat could handle, and I soon erupted in a bit of a coughing fit. Mary walked out of sight, and came back with a bottle of water. She gave it to me.

“Thanks,” I choked out, taking a sip. Not as helpful as my medicine, but definitely tasted a lot better. “Where are you staying?”

“Place in the resort. Up high. Why?”

“'Cause I've got a timeshare up there and if I'm gonna stick around I might as well make myself at home. You're coming with me so we can figure that out. Wren, you take care of the body.”

“By myself? Oh, come on, Zee, you know how long that's gonna take me?” He immediately whined.

“Well, Jesus, Wren, you should've thought of that before you turned him into shish kabob, now, shouldn't you have?”

He didn't directly answer me, just grumbled a bit, but he dropped his “portable flamethrower” and went to do his work while I lead Mary back to the car.

The resort was as empty as the town was; I don't know how busy their fall season was, but I imagined, given that we're up in the Green Mountains, that with the trees changing leaves it'd be a hell of a sight. My timeshare in one of the condos higher up was exactly the same as they had been all those years ago; even those weird pictures of the bikes were still mounted on the walls of the kid's room. Power's out, so can't take advantage of all the TVs that are in here, but otherwise, it feels like I'm having yet another vacation.

But I'm not here for pleasure this time.

I've found Mary. Now finally time to peace together where she fits into all of this.

I'll post my findings as soon as I can.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

On The Road Again

I've left Maryland. Things just got too weird back there.

I don't even know how it happened. Celeste had been quiet for most of the night, the others had been out and about, and I was laying in my bed looking at that cross and wondering if such a thing as a “constant” actually existed and doubting it every time the possibility arose. Stuff like that happened on TV, not in situations like this.

It suddenly hit me that it was very quiet in that place...a bit too quiet. Normally Celeste or Violet or someone was making noise in the kitchen, but this night...nothing. I knew Celeste was still here, unless she had stepped out...I pocketed the crucifix and went to check.

She was out on the porch, sitting in one of the chairs. Not doing anything, just sitting. She was looking out at the sky but she wasn't really seeing it, at least, not from what I could tell. I stepped outside to talk to her. And then things just got weird.

“There you are. Quiet tonight,” I said. She didn't answer. The thought crossed my mind that she was angry at me, and I tried to remember if I had done anything other than not wear that crucifix, but nothing was coming to mind.

“You alright? You look kinda-”

“You're pathetic.”

That stopped me dead. She had yelled at me plenty of times in the last couple of months, but flat-out say I'm pathetic? And in such a calm manner? That was a first.

“Excuse me?”

“You heard me.” She turned to me, this cold look in her eyes. “You're pathetic. Do you even realize it? You parade around with this hero act, claiming to save lives, and at the same time you line people up to get sacrificed to what you're trying to kill. People like Lizzie.”

I felt my anger rising, but this time I did my best to suppress it. Something was wrong here...something was very wrong.

“Celeste-” I went to put my hand on her shoulder, but she jerked it away.

“Don't touch me,” she commanded. Not a plea, a fucking order. Not a normal Celeste fashioned order, either.

She stood up, and I tried to stop her, but she just repeated that order in an even more harsh tone. And then I realized she was burning up; her skin felt like it was on fire. I wasn't even touching her and I could feel it radiating off of her. We moved into the kitchen. She placed her hand on the counter and I saw it jerking at random moments like crazy.

“Why do they do it?” she asked, not necessarily to me, not necessarily to anyone. “Why do they run? Why do they fight? They know it's a lost cause, they know there's no hope, and they keep fighting this pointless battle. And their only reward for their stubbornness? Death.

“I don't understand any of them. I understand myself, but not them. I cannot understand why they condemn themselves-”

“Celeste, knock it off,” I demanded. I couldn't figure out why she was acting like this; this wasn't her, not one bit. For however annoying she could be at times, she didn't have an evil bone in here...and she wasn't this haughty...

And then it hit me. It was staring me right in the face; a bare neck where normally rested her beads.

“Where's your rosary?”

She ignored me. “And the best part about it? They all flock to you to save them. And you're just as lost and confused as they are. You, I understand you all too well. I see right through your front that you keep up-”

“Celeste,” I demanded, “where's your rosary?”

I thought I sounded angry, at least, that's the tone I had in my head, but upon reflection I think I had a little fear mixed in there with it. I think she knew it too, because for one moment, just one, she snapped out of whatever the hell was happening to her. What I got next, though, wasn't much better.

She suddenly started screaming and almost fell, but didn't...and I realize how stupid that sounded, but it was like she couldn't fall. If that makes sense. It doesn't, I know. But it was like something was keeping her up, keeping her from falling down. Like she was being held up by strings or something.

She looked up at me, tears in her eyes, and I realized that she was back, and that she was in pain from whatever was taking over her.

“Help me,” she pleaded, her voice a whisper. “I understand. I see them. All of them, from before, from now, into forever. All of them, forever running, forever chasing something they don't understand, not being allowed to escape it, not being allowed to die, not truly, not completely. Over and over and over, the cycle never stops...”

I ran over to help her, though how I planned to, I have no idea. Slender Man, or Practical Cat, or someone related to one or the other, had taken control of her, possessed her, brainwashed her, something, somehow. It wasn't new news, that Slender Man could do something like that, but this was different, this was something that I hadn't seen before. What did that indicate? That he was getting stronger? Not a pleasant thought.

By the time I reached for her, whatever had taken over had regained control, because she was suddenly thrashing wildly and screaming at me not to touch her again, even more violently than before. And then...I don't know what possessed me to do it, maybe a hunch, maybe her words, hell, maybe it was just the years of Catholic teaching as a kid, I don't know, and I suppose it doesn't really matter, because I grabbed my cross necklace whatever out of my pocket and forced it around her neck.

She suddenly let out the most shrill scream yet; she hadn't even screamed this loudly when her stitches has broken in that hospital months ago. She writhed and struggled but it wasn't enough that she could break out of my hold, me being a cop who was used to putting down guys a lot bigger and heavier than her. Probably the worst bit was when her nails raked across the back of my neck, deep enough to draw some blood, but as bad as that was I didn't let go, or weaken, not for one second.

Eventually- I don't know exactly how long- her thrashing stopped. Her body went slack. She passed right out.

At that point Violet and Riley came through the door, hearing what sounded like a horror movie and seeing what probably looked like Armageddon as soon as the door was open. Of course I got bombarded with questions right off the bat. Of course I ignored them as I made Riley help me carry Celeste back to her bed and tucked her in.

I know what you're thinking: after that, no wonder I bugged out of there. Well, as bad as that was, I would've been fine sticking around a little longer. Hell, especially after that, I would have stuck around to figure out what had happened.

But my fun night didn't end there.

As soon as she was tucked in, I could feel my cell phone vibrating in my pocket. I took it out and answered it.


Zee, it's me.”

That was all I needed to hear. I left the room and headed out onto the porch.

“Where the hell have you been?” I hissed, keeping my voice low so the others wouldn't hear me. “You don't call me for almost two months, how the hell am I supposed to know you're alright-?”

I found her.”

I froze. At first I thought I had misheard him. But then he repeated himself and it was confirmed.


Vermont. Some family resort, outskirts of a town called-

“Stowe,” I finished for him. I knew exactly where he was. It seemed almost fitting that this adventure would take me back up there. “Okay, give me a week and I'll be up there-”

A week? Zee, I don't know how long she's staying, and it's not like I can stop her from going if she wants. You want her, you need to get up here now.”

“Wren, Celeste just got attacked, possessed, I don't know what you call it, but she was just reenacting the Exorcist and freaking the fuck out. She's unconscious in her room right now. You really think I can just bug out of here right now?”

Aw, my heart's breaking for her, truly. I'll make sure to send her a fruit basket with a Virgin Mary statue in it.”

“I'm not in the mood to deal with sarcasm right now-”

And I'm not in the mood for your bleeding heart sympathies right now. You wanted this girl, you wanted to know what she knows, then you get up here. Otherwise, you can stay down there taking care of your pedophilia clause and she takes off, and then I'm not even going to bother finding out where she goes next, because I gave you your opportunity and you didn't take it. So what's it going to be?”

I cursed. Of course he was right, I had been searching for this girl for eight months with no leads and now I had her right in the palm of my hand. And Celeste would be okay with Violet...right? Of course she would. Violet wouldn't let her get hurt. Probably better than I would. Celeste was going to college. And I still had a job to do elsewhere.

My summer vacation was over.

“Alright, I'll leave first thing in the morning. Just give me tonight to make sure she's okay.”

He didn't like that. I know he didn't. But it wasn't like he had much of a choice.

Fine. But get up here quick.” And then he hung up.

I stayed that last night in a sleeping bag in her room to make sure she was alright. I don't think I slept much, if at all. In the morning, I told Violet I was leaving (she didn't like that one bit, and made it very apparent), packed my stuff, visited Celeste one final time, and then was almost home free when Violet stopped me one more time.

“Don't you dare leave her, Zeke.”

I almost didn't. I almost stayed. It would feel right, after all, to stay and make sure she was okay. But I had stayed long enough.

“Listen, if I can do this, if I can find out if she knows anything about a weakness or something, we may all have a ticket out of this. I have to go,” I told her.

She didn't bother arguing. We're both way too stubborn for that, we realize that at this point. But she came up to me and put my cross back into my hand; the same one I had just used to save Celeste.

I shook my head. “She needs this more-”

“She gave it to you,” she said. “She wanted you to have it. That may not mean anything to you, but if you care about her at all, you'll take it.”

We had also been around each other long enough for me to know that she could be kind of terrifying when angry. Especially when she was right. So I pocketed it, said farewell, and left.

It's funny, during my months here in Maryland, I've come to view this place almost like an alien world that had slowly become home. Now I truly was going home, back north, back to familiar territory. And in this case, back to territory that was very near and dear to me.

This very well may be my last hurrah. If this plan doesn't has to work.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

She's been nagging me to wear this goddamn cross for the last week.

I've got half a mind to lock her out of the apartment for a couple hours until either she calms down or the rain washes her away.

Since when did life become a goddamn sitcom?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


I wish I could tell you there was a reason for the absence. That there was an attack, that someone had died, that Octopus Man had showed up and caused some havoc, anything like that.

I could say that.

But it'd be just me telling a good story to entertain the masses.

No, things have been quiet since the incident with Keaton. Too quiet, in fact. Not much left for me to do here, I think Celeste will be able to survive without me before long.

I mainly just walk around Ocean City by myself. Nothing's happened, but lately I've just been feeling down on my luck, and no amount of whiskey purchased from the nearby liquor store has been able to make me feel better so far.

Wren hasn't called. Not even to check in. That worries me a bit. As much of a pain as he is, the one thing he is is reliable. But no calls since he left. I don't know if he just can't or if someone's stopped him from checking in. Somehow I can't make myself believe he's dead; otherwise I'd have heard of a massacre of cops and agents by now. If Wren was gonna go down, he wouldn't do it without making a big mess.

Things are feeling tense at Celeste's Haven. Nothing's happened, just this uneasy feeling hanging over the heads of the people who are still here. Like we're expecting something to happen. Good or bad.

Whatever. I'll see if Celeste is ready to update soon.

Monday, July 11, 2011


It’s hard to really pinpoint a moment where a situation gets away from you. You could have everything perfectly under control, have the world at your fingertips, have not a care in the world. And then in one moment, one random event, or one random person, comes along and everything goes to hell.

I don’t know where to begin. So I’m just going to start with this: We decided to hunt for Keaton. And we found him.

Mind you, it took time. Finding one man in this state is like trying to find a needle in a stack of needles; it’s not like Massachusetts down here. We’ve scoured every public place a person might hole up in, every bar, every club, everywhere.

We finally got word that he was stationed in some office building in D.C. Not the FBI building, otherwise, I wouldn't even attempt it; even we're not crazy enough to go right into the FBI building. We went in the middle of the day, but for some reason, when we arrived, there was no one in the building.

Looking back, I suppose it was set up for us that way. Either by Keaton, or…well, you’ll see.

Wren was the one who decided to split up. I didn’t think it’d be too good an idea, but it was the middle of the day and there were people outside walking around. Maybe it wouldn’t be too bad.

“Just chill, I’ll be in touch,” he told me as he pushed the button for the elevator.

“Get back to me in one piece,” was all I said. He just winked as the doors slid closed.

Having gone through Conaghan's warehouse twice and the red building once, all by myself, the loneliness shouldn't have bothered me as much. The hard fact was, though, that after a couple of months down in Maryland I had gotten used to having people consistently in my daily life again. That was my biggest mistake. I was alone again. And my nerves were acting up.

I searched two floors before I finally found him. It was pure happenstance; I had checked an office that really was nothing but a room filled with tables stacked together and looked down at the window. So many people were passing by, but none of them even acknowledged the building. It was like it didn't exist-

“Detective Strahm. So nice to see you again.”

I hadn't even heard him come in. I turned and there he was, sitting on one of the tables, arms folded, looking amused.

“Leslie,” I greeted. “Been a while.”

“Almost a year,” he said. I remembered why I hated that accent. God, Virginia has an annoying accent. “Before your disappearance, the last time we met, I believe, was the night you were suspended.”

“Yeah. If I recall, I gave you a pretty nice shiner on your eye.”

“You and your temperment. That's exactly what's landed you in this predicament in the first place.”

“That right? And here I thought it was the body in my garage that landed me in this trouble.”

He scoffed and slid off the table, keeping one hand palm-down on the surface. Spoiler alert: this was a bad idea.

“I commend you for finally showing up. Not many fugitives choose to deliver themselves to their captors so easily.”

“So does that mean you'll let Celeste and Violet go if I give myself in?”

“In honesty?” He sneered. “Probably not. They know too much themselves.”

“Well, I can understand that you might think that.” And as I spoke, my hand reached for my gun. “But see, the problem is-”

"Problem is, it's not just them you need to worry about."

Wren picked that moment to step out from the shadows behind him. Never thought I'd be happy to have him show up so much as I did then. Keaton, judging by the look on his face as Wren walked past, did not look so happy. Pale, stupified, urgent. Those were all that I saw on his face.

"You," he hissed.

Wren grinned. "Me."

It happened so fast I couldn't react. Next thing I knew there was a thunk and a scream and Keaton was brought to his knees as Wren slammed a knife onto and through his hand, pinning it to the table. He looked up at us, his fast contorted in pain and anger.

"This is your solution, Strahm?" he growled at me. "You're that desperate you'd bring him in-"

"Woah, woah." Wren slapped him and grabbed his face. "I didn't say you could talk. Did I say you could talk? No, I didn't. No talking."

Keaton fell silent.

"Thank you." Wren then started walking around him, the way an interrogator might do to a suspect. "That's one thing I never did like about you feds; bunch of chatty Cathys, always yip yip yip yip yip." Here he made his hand into a puppet and made a speaking gesture. "You'd think they'd teach you at the academy to keep your mouths shut."

That shut Keaton up. Wren then stopped to examine the impaled hand.

"Mmm, tsk might want to get that looked at, brother," he said, then laughed.

This was the Wren I had been afraid would surface. And once he surfaced, unless someone calmed him down, only two people or less would be walking out of here.


He held up his hand to silence me. He was the one calling the shots now; all I could do was watch and intervene if possible, which I'm not saying it was.

"Now," he said, still pacing, "here's my problem. My problem is with a bunch of sissy pissy government boys that come down on hard working citizens, making them fear for their lives, detaining them, arresting them, torturing them, and then killing them...all over some guy in a cheap suit that pulls the pedo card. Really shows where the priorities lie in this government."

"We're protecting people," Keaton snarled, trying to ignore the numbing pain in his impaled hand. "From maniacs like you-"

"Oh, believe that, if it helps you sleep at night, but don't try to pass it off as truth. You're not a hero, Leslie, you're not a good guy. You're just like me; an off-the-boat psycho who gets off on hurting people-"


"Now, what I don't get, is why you're trying to pass it off here. McLachlan's not here, and neither is her friend. No one here but me and Zeke. So why are you trying to sound like the good guy when we all know otherwise?"

"You are the killers. Both of you."

"Well, that's not very nice, is it? I mean, yeah, I've had some fun in my time, but I wouldn't hold that against me. And Zeke, calling Zeke a killer is like calling George Bush the best president of the last decade. It's just not accurate. Admit it, you're only after him because he found out what you and Fisky and all your other golden boys are up to-"

"He killed an upstanding citizen in cold blood-"

"He killed a momma's boy who was so emotionally empty inside that he thought he could worship an alien and think it was Christ Risen. Al Conaghan raped and murdered a few teens and tore apart someone we both knew and liked. Only reason the guy wasn't in jail in the first place was because your precious judicial system kept letting him off the hook. Now who's fucking fault was that? You know if you had just kept him behind bars, we probably could have avoided a lot of trouble."

Keaton said nothing.

"Yeah, that's what I thought. You could care less about ole' Al Conaghan, what's his death to you? Just another loose end tied up.”

“Wren, enough-”

“It’s enough when I say it’s enough. Whaddya think, Zee, should we send him back to Fisk in a box? A tiny box?”

I was about to argue when my phone decided to go off. Leaving them for just a minute, I walked off a brief distance to answer. It had to be Celeste or Violet or one of them, though why they were calling now, I didn’t know. Of course, I also didn’t know Cynthia had just tried to kill everyone.

“I’m busy.”


“Celeste? You’re breaking up.”


“Celeste? Hey!”

I tapped my phone, but all I heard was static. I hung up to call her back when I had a bit of a flashback; when my walkie spazzed out that night in the warehouse.

No…no, no, not now. Definitely not now.

I went back to the other two. “We gotta leave.”

“In a minute.” Wren didn’t take his eyes off Keaton. “Now, let’s talk.”


“Not now. I wanna ask some questions about-”


“What? What? What is it?” He turned to me, face impatient, but that impatience seemed to leave when he saw how panicked I must have looked.

All I had to say was, “He’s here.” And he knew who I meant immediately.

“Oh, well, lovely!” He turned back to our agent friend, not panicking like me, almost delighted. “You ever seen the Slender Man in person before? Neither have I. Whaddya say we invite him over?”

Though he didn't say anything, or even move a muscle, I could tell he knew what that meant. Slender Man showing up was bad news all around. Not something he'd want to deal with. He silently shook his head.

“No?” Wren then took off Keaton’s shoe and sock from one foot. “Then why don’t you answer a couple questions of mine, huh?”

I pulled out my gun and turned my back to keep my attention on our surroundings. In my head I measured how much time approximately we had. Not much, but we might still make it out, so long as Wren hurried up.

“Where’s Fisk?”

“I don’t know-”


I heard him howl as Wren broke his first toe. I tried not to look.

“Where's Fisk?”

I don't know,” growled Keaton under his breath. “He finds us, we never go to him.”

“Where was the last place you saw him?”

“Somewhere in Michigan.”

“Why was he there?”

“How the fuck would I know, I had my own job-”

SNAP! Second toe was cracked. Another howl.

“Tsk tsk, no need to get snippy with me.” Wren sounded mixed between amused and bored. I didn't know which worried me most. Still don't. “Alright, so, can't tell us about Top Dog. Fine. So tell me, why are you after runners?”

Keaton was panting by this point, but not giving in. Gotta hand the feds credit where its due, they're trained by the best. Then again, Wren wasn't an ordinary member of society either.

“That's classified informa-”

SNAP! He didn't yell this time, he did his best to keep it in, but when I finally turned his face was obviously one of pain.

“Better hurry this up, Leslie, 'cause I'm running out of toes.” Again, Wren showed no care to what he was doing. “Why does Fisk care whether or not people see Slender Man?”

“He doesn't...” Keaton glared at me. “But you already know why, don't you, Strahm?”

I would have replied. I would have. But then I got that feeling. That age-old paranoid feeling that I remembered all too well from the warehouse. Time was up.

“We're leaving.”

“But I'm not done-”

I didn't even let him whine. I didn't want to hear it. I just grabbed him by the scruff and hauled him out, leaving Keaton sitting against a table, hand pinned there by a knife, with three of his toes broken and a large bruise on his face. If the situation weren't so dire I'd have laughed at the sight.

“Hey!” he screamed. “Aren't you forgetting someone?!”

“You got yourself into that mess, get yourself out,” I said. I imagine I sounded pretty exasperated. I didn't care. Slender Man wasn't going to finish him. I just knew it.

We didn't see him that day. Or at least, I didn't. I don't know what Wren saw, if he saw anything. I didn't care. Any less chances I have to run into him, the better.

Hours later, we had Wren's car pulled into an alleyway while I loaded a few supplies in the back while he argued with me.

“Why am I leaving?” he asked me.

“Because you jammed a knife through a federal agent's hand and broke three of his toes, Wren.”

“Yeah? So? Let's be honest, this is not the worst thing I've ever done.”

“Do you not realize Fisk is going to bring everything he has after you?” I threw his duffel bag at him. “They're scared of you. Good reason, too.”

“Good! Let them be! It's about time we started scaring them back!”

“No. You're gonna get out of town, you're gonna lay low. You're gonna keep moving. And you're not going to cause any more grief to them.”

“What about you?” There was a tone in his voice, as if he was starting to suspect he was going to be making the trip alone.

He was right. “I'm gonna stick around. Just a little while longer.”

“What, I'm going to leave you down here to take them on by yourself?”

“Fisk doesn't scare me. Besides, we've got bigger fish to fry.” I finally stopped and turned to him. “Listen. Find Mary. Quick. Whatever she knows, we need. I'm counting on you for this.”

He sighed and shrugged. He didn't like it, but he didn't have to.

“You got it, Zee. Just be careful.”

“Always am.”

He got in the car, started the engine, stopped, then opened the door and poked his head out.

“Be careful about Keaton, Zee,” he warned me. “The guy's a psycho. I've already told you that, but today showed me he really is on my level. Guy never once showed fear. Psychos never do.”

“He showed pain.”

“'Course he showed pain. His hand got turned into a pin cushion and his little piggies got porked. Psychos aren't supermen, Zeke, it hurts like hell when someone cuts their skin just like it would a regular person. But just 'cause he feels the pain doesn't mean he's afraid of it. And that's the part you've got to remember.”

And he didn't waste any more words. He just got in that car and he took off. He's safe now, last I heard he was in New Jersey, looking for Mary. Getting closer, he said, though it could still be a while.

Meanwhile, while we were out, Cynthia Delmont decided to pay her parents a visit and almost turned Celeste and Violet into two of the latest corpses. Hence the phone call I received. The Delmonts are gone now, so there are just five of us still in the place. Makes my job a little easier.

I'm trying not to let my mind linger on it for too long. That's one thing I learned during last fall on my adventures. I'm just trying to get through the days.

Celeste just got a package in the mail. Should be posting about it soon.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My life isn't exactly one of fairy tales and ponies, and especially not one of happiness.

But you guys knew that already.

It's been very hard for me to feel like a regular person, what with my hating humanity and everything in it. Lizzie was always ever the only person I could tolerate for long periods of time, and whenever I was with her, I felt...well, normal. Happy, even. Looking back on it, the carnival was the last time I felt like that. And since she's been gone, I haven't been able to replicate that.

Until, surprisingly, the other night.

I had gone out to check on Celeste, who had been away from the room for longer than she probably should have. I found her at the beach looking out at the sky, listening to her music. I think she knew I was there, but she didn't acknowledge me. Not at first.

The night sky on the beach is beautiful. Like I said before, maybe once upon a time Lizzie and I could have come down here, and whenever I look up at those stars more and more I think this would have been the place for the two of us to have made some kind of a life together. When you lay back on the sand and look up, all you see are stars and all you hear are waves. You feel like you can tumble right out of the world, into the sky. Which isn't too bad a thought sometimes.

She suddenly pulled her earplugs out and let the music play out over the speakers, which brought a smile to my lips at how goofy it was. And she laughed...really laughed. It had been so long since I had heard a laugh that was not bitter, not forced, not compressed due to the situation we were in. A genuine laugh.

A wave crashed, and brushed against the hem of the dress she was wearing, causing her to freak a bit, which in turn caused me to laugh. She pouted- her little chipmunk face pout, as Wren called it- and then she did something I didn't expect; she took my hands, and she led me into a dance.

Dancing on that beach...never thought I'd ever see myself doing anything like that, but there I was, actually enjoying it. I guided her, spinning her around, occasionally stopping to let her spin to her own delight. She was amusing to watch, spinning and skipping among the waves, and in the right glare of the moonlight she looked almost like Lizzie; shorter, but just as full of life, and just as beautiful.

Now, before your little minds go places, don't. Nothing like your dirty thoughts happened. But for one moment, I felt happy. As if the life I was leading was not so full of sorrow and rage.

If only every moment could be like that.

Monday, June 13, 2011

"How much longer are we stuck here for?"

"Until we don't need to be."

Wren groaned. I tried to ignore it. It was all I could do to keep from tearing the room apart by the realization that I had been reduced from hunting for clues to baby-sitting.

"I don't know why you're bitching, you agreed to come down here."

"I agreed to help you keep an eye on things, not move boxes and spend hours in a car with you, the Runaway Picasso, and Pukey the Chipmunk. Three hours a drive with two women is no picnic."


"Because women talk about things that even I don't care enough to hear-"

"No, I mean, why chipmunk? She doesn't look like a chipmunk."

"Yeah she does. When she puffs her face and gets all annoyed and stuff, she looks like a chipmunk. You never noticed?"

"Can't say I have, no."

She is a tiny little thing, though. Red head, glasses, and very short; she comes up to about my chest, and up to Wren's stomach. She's got a fire in her eyes, though; haven't seen a girl this vivacious since Lizzie, and that's a plus. And yeah, when she does that face, I GUESS she looks like a chipmunk. Again, I never really noticed.

"I'm bored, Zee. Seriously, there's nothing to do in this dump."

"Really? Because right now, it looks like you're playing Call of Duty and shit-talking eight-year-olds."

"I'm thirty-eight and seven with a gunship in my pocket," he grinned at me and then reached for the mic. "Hey, Junior, it's a video game, calm down before you shoot your pants."

"And it's not so bad here. We're right next to the beach. It's nice."

"Yeah, well, the humidity seems to disagree with you."

I ignored him. Humid weather aside, it was nice down here. Plenty of places to go for walks, to clear my head. Not so much worry for my own safety, at least, not where we are. Given that things could go south at a moment's notice, I don't let my guard down. But maybe in another life, I could have come down here with Lizzie, had a vacation spot, maybe even have lived here. Maybe I would have still met Celeste. Who knows? Definitely not me.

"Daw, rage quit kids end the game, how fucking typical." He shook his head, got up to turn the X-Box off, then turned back to me. "Alright, back to reality, focus focus. We've got a proxy and two agents that we need to deal with. Where do we start?"

"We don't start anywhere. We're not hunting, Wren, we're lookouts. We're keeping Celeste out of trouble, not starting our own."

"You mean to tell me we've got three potential enemies within walking distance that we can easily dispatch of, and we're not going to do anything?"

"Every one we kill just brings another one in. Our killing Practical Cat is just going to have some other proxy get brought in."

"But this ain't some normal proxy. You've read the account. He wants this girl for himself. He's a complete psycho that's using Slender Man's name to do his own work."

"And you'd know the workings of a psychopath?"

He just gave me a look. Stupid question.

"Look, Wren, we let the proxy come to us. We don't go looking for him. He'll show up if he wants to. He doesn't need an invitation."

"Keaton does."

I said nothing. Keaton wasn't someone I wanted to talk about, much less someone I wanted to think about taking out. Though it made sense to.

"Listen, you said it yourself. Agents stopped getting freebies. He hasn't pulled out yet. That's on his head."

"So we kill him off?"

"Why not? Let's ice the bastard! Be honest, you've always hated the son of a bitch. I could never stand him worth a damn. So what's the problem?"

"Slender Man may not realize when he loses a proxy, but Fisk knows when he's lost an agent. He loses Keaton, he's gonna come after us hard."

"Like he hasn't already?"

"He's been playing easy. You know he has."

"Has he?" Wren leaned across the table. "Look, Mistress Van Gogh's been listening to police scanners on her phone. I've been listening in-"

"Wait, what?"

"I dunno, some stupid phone application, she can listen to scanners on her phone."

"...Who the fuck's idea was that?"

"Hey, the hillbillies need to find out about the new world order somehow. Anyway, I've been listening in. Fisk's been getting a lot of flak from his superiors in regards to you shooting two of his guys in Indiana and leaving a third in a closet in Ohio. They're starting to wonder if he's the right guy for the job. That, and the shortage of volunteers to come and get you, he's running thin. He's not playing easy, he's running on empty."

Interesting to hear, and not what I had expected. Fisk had been doing pretty well in all other aspects of his job, unfortunately enough, and I didn't think one little setback would make them question him. Was I really that big a priority to them?

"Keaton's not pulling out because he's just like Practical Cat. Psycho's work for themselves, the fuck they care about orders for? That's the danger in employing them. Yeah, they're efficient killers, but they can't take orders worth a damn."

"Just like you, then."

"Exactly. See, this is why you keep me around. I know this shit, man. You and me, we'd be unstoppable."

"I'm not discussing this right now-"

And then, things got even worse.

The door slammed open. Both of us pulled our pistols out and aimed it at what we thought was an agent or a proxy but in reality was a pregnant British girl and two middle-aged companions, one male, one female. Ava Conquest and the Delmonts. They looked at the both of us wide-eyed.

"...Thanks for the welcome, Zeke?" Ava said.

Wren and I exchanged looks. Suddenly, the door to the master bedroom, where Celeste had been fliddling on her computer, flew open, and a tiny blur of red hair and sickly pale skin rushed past us.

"Ava's heeeeeeere!" the blur screeched. "Ava's here, Ava's here, Ava's here!"

She rushed over and quickly hugged Ava. I groaned.

"Oh, you've got to be kidding me," I said.

"And suddenly we've become Three Adults and a Baby," Wren sighed. "As if this vacation could not get worse."

So, yeah. As if I didn't have enough to worry about, a knocked-up British librarian and her two associates decide to show up and give me more things.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

In Memory...

One year.

One year since that mass break-out from prison.

One year since Conaghan retreated into the warehouse.

One year since I went in after him and discovered the most terrifying creature imaginable.

And one year since Lizzie was taken from me.

I never got to go to the funeral. Did I ever tell you guys that? At that time, I was more concerned with keeping myself alive and out of Slender Man's sight. I regret it now. I wonder who went. The chief, obviously, and a few of her friends and probably the entire department, for that matter. But not her father. Not Eric. And certainly not me.

And here I am, in Maryland, trying to figure out a solution, but going nowhere fast. I need her. She was the brains. She always knew what to do. Now she's away from all this and I'm stuck trying to pick up the pieces.

It's almost poetic...

Next chance I get, I'm going to visit her grave. Maybe find some closure.

'Til then, I'm still here, I'm still alive. I guess that counts for something.

Celeste will update sometime this week...maybe even tonight. Who knows.


I love you, Lizzie.

I miss you so much.

Hopefully I'll see you soon.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bringing in Help

Before I go into what happened after, I should finish up my arrival in the hospital room.

We sat in silence for a few moments. She knew what I wanted to ask, and I knew she was going to resist, but I had to see for myself. Not just to judge the damage, but needed to see the proof that things had really escalated this far.

“Let me see,” I said.

She shook her head.

“Celeste,” I said again, “let me see.”


Violet interrupted in order to give Celeste back her rosary, but it didn't make me lose my resolve. I had to see it for myself. She was in pain, I realized that, but I just had to see.

She saw that I wasn't going to give in.

“Zeke, don't make me,” she begged, and I think that made me soften a bit, hearing how tired she sounded, how defeated.

“I'm sorry.” And I was. But the sooner I saw it, the sooner I could get to work.

She finally showed me, and when she did I made sure to be as gentle as I could be with her. But there it was, that large fucking scar on the back of her neck, his mark like a god damn target sign. I cursed under my breath as I touched it as gently as I could.

Not gentle enough. She screamed and pushed her face into the pillow. Violet gave me that look that Lizzie used to give me whenever I had screwed up big time, so I put my hand on her back to try and comfort her. I dunno if it worked or not. I like to think it did.

Then I went into the interrogation. What happened, how she was attacked, was there anyone else involved, that sort of deal. What she gave me was what I already knew, but double-checking always helped. Practical Cat was by himself, as far as we knew, and he was strong enough to at least take control over her long enough to do...whatever he wanted. No one really knew what else he had done. I certainly was okay not knowing.

This was a big job. Not only was I going against Practical Cat, but Keaton and whomever else the FBI had sent out here were still around. Sorry, folks, but if I'm really gonna do this, I need to call help.

I went outside to make the call; I didn't want them hearing it. He picked up on the second ring.

“Welcome to Movie Phone,” he answered with.

“Wren, I need you down in Maryland for a little while.”

“Oooh, we going cat hunting?”

“Just keeping an eye on things for now.”

“Aw, that's no fun.”


“Alright, well, I'm in Philly right now, gimme a couple hours, and I'll be right down. Meet you at the hospital?”

“I'll be here. See you then.”

During those couple of hours I decided to take a walk around town and see what there was. During my walks, I was able to deduce two things: one, nothing of importance ever seemed to happen here, and two, none of the people seemed to emulate suspicion like the people in Indiana did. None of them looked at me funny or treated me differently; if anything, they treated me as just another speck among the many specks of town. If there was a cult in America that worshiped Slender Man, it had not reached this town; of which I was particularly grateful for.

After a cup of coffee and a bagel, I went back to the hospital to wait. Wren finally arrived about forty minutes after that, and hopped out of the car acting as if he was right on time instead of a half an hour late. He looked perky and chipper given the situation, which would have been odd for anyone who didn't know him. Wren never lost his cool, ever. He was always calm, cool, and in control of himself.

“Alright, so where's the patient, doctor?” was the first thing out of his mouth.

I led him inside, keeping an eye on him and wondering how I was possibly going to explain this one to Celeste, who absolutely hated his guts. He's not exactly Mr. Popular these days, even by me, who knows him. But hey, this was desperate times. And even though the proxies wouldn't be scared off by him, the FBI would be a little weary before touching this one.

“What were you doing in Philadelphia?” I decided to ask him.

“Working on that favor you asked of me.”

“Any luck?”

He sighed. “She was there for three weeks in March, then took off. I don't think she went far, though. She leaves a bit of a trail wherever she goes, Philly's just the third town since we split ways. I think she wants to be found, Zee.”

“Well, hopefully we won't keep her waiting too long.”

We were outside her door when I told him to wait outside; knowing Celeste, I wanted her to hear it from me before he just waltzed in. He didn't complain, just shrugged and leaned against the wall. At least he's not the kind of guy to bombard you with protests when you tell him to do/don't do something.

When I went inside, Celeste and Violet were still inside and they both looked up at me as I closed the door behind me. I have no idea why- maybe it was Ava's warning, maybe it was these two girls' personalities, or maybe it was a disturbance in the force that is my life- but I was very, very nervous as I told her that I had called in someone to help me out.

She knew without me even telling her who it was.




“It's just for a little while, until you're better-”


“Really, Zeke? Really?” Violet's look on her face was one of absolute loathing. It was a losing battle, for sure, but me being me, I wasn't going to step down, and her being her, neither was she.

"Zeke," Celeste glared at me and for a fleeting moment I felt like I was back in grade school. "He is a CRIMINAL. I don't know what he did, and I don't CARE what he did, he is not being around me."

"I understand you don't like him, but he's the only help I have right now. He's a SWAT officer-"

"EX-SWAT, I would hope."

"Yes, ex, but still SWAT, and that training doesn't go away. And right now, that's good enough for me. Look, I don't trust him, not completely, but I need the help, Celeste."

She wasn't budging, and I knew it was going to take some time. And then Wren decided to step in and make everything worse.

“Yo, can I come in now, because the nurse is giving me weird looks-”

“Get out of my room!”

“Woooah, easy there, chica, I'm just here on Zeke's invite-”


“Will you get him out of here, Zeke, please?”

“Will everyone just calm down!”

“Why are we even yelling? I didn't do anything yet.”

“She doesn't want you in here, asshole!”

“Yeah, and I can think of a hundred better places to be in than a hospital in some tumbleweed town in the middle of nowhere, but seeing as how she's been fucked up by a social retard controlled by a medieval woodcut come to life, it looks to me as though you could use all the help you can get-”


She suddenly clasped the back of her neck as smalls drops of blood hit her pillowcase. In all the commotion, her stitches has ripped open, and right then she was doing her damnedest not to break down and cry right in front of us. Violet held her and tried to calm her down while I forefully shoved Wren out the door and called for the doctor, while inwardly cursing up a storm and keeping myself from strangling all of them.

Needless to say, things have not been going very well.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Maryland Hospital

Drove down to Maryland the other day. If you're unaware of why, or you just don't follow what's going on in the world, well, that's your prerogative, but basically what happened was Ms. McLachlan decided she was going to try and take on her proxy problem head-on.

Obviously it didn't work out, otherwise I wouldn't be down here.

She's alive, but she's in bad shape. Broken toe, dislocated shoulder, defensive wounds on her wrist, and a hell of a lot of blood on the outside that should be on the inside. That, and an operator symbol on the back of her neck that her proxy carved into her skin. That's one part of Wren's story accounted for, though I wouldn't call that good news.

Maybe you saw the fight we had before she left. Maybe you didn't. Maybe you don't care. Regardless, here I am, and I'll stick around for a little while until she gets better. Not permanent, but long enough.

Maryland, Jesus, it's almost as bad as Indiana, but at least it's not overrun with far as I know. Everyone seemed decent enough, less conspicuous than the people at Damien's workplace were. I went up to the receptionist's desk and asked for Celeste's room.

“Are you family?” she asked me.

“Close enough,” I replied. Hey, I baby the girl enough, don't I?

“Third floor, room 42. I'll take you.”

I turned around and was face to face with a brown-haired, brown-eyed, and very pissed off girl behind me, speaking to her but looking right at me. She looked a very artsy type, stick-thin, very frail-looking, not too formidable at a glance, yet still looked very, very capable of pulling a gun on someone who disagreed with her. This, I hastily deduced, must be Violet.

The attendant opened her mouth to protest but we had already left her behind. I hurried my pace, half to get there as quickly as I could, half to try and avoid this girl that was giving me a death glare. For as sickly as she looked, though, she knew how to keep up.

“So, are you him?” she asked me.

“Are you going to hit me if I say yes?” Should I be afraid of a little girl? No. Was I at least weary? Given the last post, yeah, just a little bit.


“Then I'll wait to answer that until after I've seen her.”

She didn't agree with that one bit, but she put up with it. Her friend was my only concern at that point.

I don't know what I was expecting when I went through that door. Maybe I was expecting an empty room with no one but her, maybe I was expecting that maniac standing over her with a blade, ready to finish the job. Or maybe I should have expected her parents to be in there with her. In any case, I didn't, so that's what surprised me when I stepped through the door and saw her father and her step-mother in the room, with her laying in the bed, partially awake and looking as though she had been hit by a semi.

She looked at me as I came in and looked around the room, and I don't know if she knew who I was immediately, or if she had no clue until I opened my mouth and she heard how bad my voice sounded. Or maybe her being half-conscious kept her from guessing. At least she had the sense to keep quiet while I encountered her parents for the first time.

“Who are you?” her father asked me.

“Detective Riley, I'm recently transferred.” Go with what you know, and they already knew my name because of Keaton. “I'm here to ask Ms. McLachlan a few questions about the other night.”

“The police were already here,” her step-mother retorted, and as she said it she eyed me suspiciously. I'm pretty sure she didn't buy my story one bit, but I kept it cool.

“I'm just doing a follow-up, ma'am,” I answered. “Procedure, you understand.”

I wasn't sure if they'd buy that. Celeste was, for the most part, a pretty smart girl, and I'm assuming she got her brains from one of her parents, and it was most likely the one she spent all her time with. Then again, he did marry the She-Devil, so maybe not. I just braced myself.

“I see...” her father looked at her daughter, who thankfully still had the sense to be quiet and not give me away. “Do you want us to leave?”

“It would be best if you did. You can come back once I'm finished, however.”

“And why is she here?” Angel nodded coldly towards Violet, who looked like she was shrinking under her gaze but nonetheless didn't move from her spot.

“I invited her to help fill in certain gaps of the story,” I explained, which I think surprised Violet as much as it surprised the other woman. “And also to get her account of where she's been for the last few months.”

I told them to give us half an hour, forty-five minutes top. At this point, I think her father finally accepted my story, because he said his good-bye to his daughter and walked out, nodding to me as he left. Angel, however, seemed a bit more resistant to leaving, as she stopped as soon as she was up to me.

“You should do something about that cold,” she said.

“Already am, ma'am,” I assured her. She gave me another cold stare before she walked out, Violet closing the door behind her.

I went over and sat at the chair and looked right at Celeste. For months now I had been commenting on this girl's adventures and occasionally we would exchange some heated words, but now here she was right in front of me, albeit a lot of bruises. It felt weird seeing her in person after all that, like an internet friend that you finally meet after a long time of correspondence. You're not exactly sure what to say, what the first words should be, so finally you just talk about what you know, what's familiar.

For me, it was, “What did I tell you monkies about jumping on the bed?”

For her, it was, “Go to Hell, Strahm.”

Simple enough. Enough to make me smile a real smile for once. Which I appreciated.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

On my way to Maryland.

Curiosity just signed a cat's death warrant.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The following conversation took place at one in the morning, when I was having trouble sleeping. The nightmares which had over time started to ease up had come back even worse since I got back from Indiana. Figuring it'd be more productive than trying fruitlessly to get sleep I decided to pick up the phone and make the call. He picked up after the second ring.

W: You took your time.

S: Can you really blame me?

W: No, not really. I'm just glad you called at all.


S: How did you get caught up in all this?

W: (sighing) well, I got out back in October. After some time kicking around, I decided to see how you were doing. Maybe see if you and Lizzie had tied the knot or something. Took me a week after that, but I eventually found out about everything that happened with the Conaghan case. I'm sorry, by the way.

S: Yeah, so am I. Thanks, though.

W: So then I found out about your blog and I read about that guy you were seeing, that Slender Man. How he took those kids, how Lizzie was stalked, how Eric was taken. All that was just to get to you. I wonder why.

S: Get in line.


S: So you never doubted the story? Never thought it was just some ghost tale that I drove myself insane, over?

W: You're a lot of things, Zee, some good, some not, but a liar? A faker? Nah, not you. You never were that good with telling stories. Besides, Lizzie believed, didn't she? If Lizzie believed it, it had to be true.

S: You put more faith in her intuition than I did, then.

W: She was the smartest woman I ever knew. That girl saw things no one else could. She was sharp. You and I both learned a lot from her, don't try to deny it.


W: Anyway, after that, I started questioning things. Started questioning everything, really. Questioning your reality, my reality, everyone's reality. And then I started seeing things a little more clearly. And then I did the stupid thing and decided I wanted to know more.

S: (laugh) Didn't anyone tell you never to do that? That's like asking to be killed.

W: No kidding. You know, that warning comes way too late. They never warn you until AFTER you've read five articles and seen those videos. What kind of sick fuck thought that up?

S: The sickest kind.

We share a laugh, and for a moment, it almost feels as though the last three years never happened. Almost. But then he starts this next part and I get angry all over again.

W: You really think you can save everyone?

S:...what do you mean?

W: Well, Zee, I're not exactly the hero type. I mean, here you are, trying to save everyone, but you're...well, you, and they don't listen. It's kind of like a double-edge sword, you know? The more you try to help, the more they ignore you and then they die.

S: Fuck you. I'm doing good work here.

W: Are you? Zee, you're not keeping anyone from dying here. I'm just saying, it's not your responsibility to be looking after children. You're not a fucking baby-sitter.


S: Helping them is all I can do now...I failed everyone in the Conaghan case...if I can help them out, then, I don't know...point is, I'm doing well here. In case you haven't noticed, a lot of people have made it this far. I can keep them going to the end, we can make it out of this. We've done well.

W: Yeah? (pause) Why did Danny stop posting on his blog?


W: What about Shannon? Or Shiloh? What happened to them, huh? Where did they go?

S:...they ran into some trouble and can't get in contact-

W: They're dead, Zee. It's been almost three months with no word. They're dead.


W: What about that doctor guy? The one from that chatroom you and the Hybrid boys were in? Why has no one heard from him in a couple of weeks?


And where's old M at these days? Huh? You think he's enjoying that coffee of his, or do you think he's six feet under the ground?


W: You think you're doing good here, but really, you're just postponing their inevitable instead of trying to find an answer, a way to stop it. I mean, look what happened tonight, you got into a tizzy with that red-headed Maryland bitch-

S: Celeste. (Probably came out more hostile than it needed to be. Oh well.)

W: Whatever, point is, she ain't listening to you, is she? She'll be dead come dawn, you know that? What're you going to do, drive down to Maryland if she doesn't post again by morning? After what she said about Lizzie?


W: You don't need them, Zee. You never needed any of them.

S: So why do I need you?

W: Because every reason people think you're so great, every reason they think you're Superman, comes from me. I taught you everything you know, and you know that. I taught you how to kick down a door and slam a guy against the wall with the gun pointed at his gut. I taught you how to clear a room. Hell, I even taught you that trick of grabbing and twisting the guy's arm as he's swinging and slamming him against the wall. What better partner to have than me?


S: You said in that post that Mary said hi. What did you mean by that?

W: (sigh) Well, I can't be sure that it's the Mary you were looking for, but the description matches this girl I traveled with for a bit in late November. We didn't travel together long, but I helped her out of a few jams, so she'll know me. She said her name was Mary Gallagher, just like the one you found.

S: Any chances you can get a hold of her?

W: I remember where she said she was headed. I could probably track her down for you, yeah.

S: Can I trust you with it?

W: Well, you're going to have to. 'Cause right now, I'm the best friend you have in the whole world.

He was right, and I realized that. I don't trust him yet. Not fully. But even I know when I need help.

S: I need to go.

W: Alright. You gonna call again?

S: I'll keep in touch.

W: Okay...all things considered, it was good hearing from you again, Zee.

S: too...

It felt worse when I realized I actually meant it.