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.)