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 mean...you'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: Yeah...you too...
It felt worse when I realized I actually meant it.