I'm sick and tired of this.
Of all of it.
Of scratching at the walls for a hint of truth - just a few goddamn ANSWERS - all while dragging my best friend from one country to another and back again... and what do I find? More. Fucking. QUESTIONS. Every time I find a piece to this bloody puzzle, I find that I'm MISSING twenty more than I was before. That there's even MORE I don't know. It builds and builds and builds well how the FUCK am I supposed to just...?
Deal with it.
God, I know how lucky I am. Even amongst all the shit compiling. All the voices and nightmares and paranoia and acid in my veins from this fucking ARM. Amongst Him in my head. In my dreams and nightmares. Amongst the Eyes. The Shadow. Amongst it all... I still have Valerie. It's practically a miracle she puts up with me. I try so hard to make her smile, but I know I worry her more than anything. I know I disappoint her more than anything. I know I snap at her now and again. I know she doesn't believe me when I answer a question with a joke and a laugh. That's an old game that we both know too well. She does it too. I see it. I just say nothing. Sometimes it's easier to keep it inside. I get that. Though what's inside always comes out one way or another. Just time. Just time...
Sometimes I can't believe how much distance there seems to be between us when we're standing side by side. Sometimes we argue and it's like I'm speaking German and she's speaking Latin. Sometimes I think we're just fooling ourselves thinking that this balancing act between us actually works...
And then we'll both be killing ourselves laughing over something so insignificant it could only be appreciated by friends who know each other backwards and forwards. Then I grin and wonder what the fuck was I even thinking to doubt it. Of course it works. Of course we'll always have each others' backs. Thinking that just because we're opposite, doesn't mean there isn't common ground. Doesn't mean we don't care. Doesn't mean that, when one starts breaking down, the other doesn't rush over with some glue, duck tape, and a smile...
But, the more I think on it, the more I know she shouldn't stay. She should leave. She would probably have it easier if she did but... I'm glad she never does. If it weren't for her... I can't see why I would have bothered to fight. I probably would have went with Valtiel. Be yet another puppet that creates chaos for a scattering of months before meeting a bloody end...
Many times, I sit and count the metal pieces on my necklace. Trying to remember the names of each one. The faces. I had... to add another one recently. Val doesn't think I should have since I didn't kill him myself, but... I left him behind. I'm not splitting hairs. I refuse. A life is a life. That's that.
See... after the slew of comments left on my last post (the ones at the bottom, not the other garbage) and eventually remembering back to another comment from a while ago... Val and I did a bit of brainstorming and figured out who they had to be coming from. It was a bit of a stretch and the goddamn HOW is a question I'll leave any of you to answer (cause to hell if I know)... but, considering what I'd been talking about with both posts and when they started... we decided there was only really one place for me to 'go back' to.
We went back to the treehouse. Landed up buying our way across the border and back since I didn't fancy getting arrested again. So now we're broke. Yeah, I was NOT fucking happy with that guy... but then again, I can't really blame him. Want to. Really do. But can't. So... bitch.
When we got there... the bush was completely leveled. Clear-cut and getting prepared to be developed. Just like Corey said it was going to be. There was construction shit everywhere... but even from the road, I could see it. Still standing amongst all the workers and machines. That fucking treehouse was still there... and no one was paying a damn mind to it. Like they couldn't even SEE it.
Since we had to wait for the workers to leave, we decided to try something while it was still light out and the creep factor of the area wasn't TOO bad. I remembered Doubletake saying about how he hadn't been able to find the treehouse without... without me being there with him. That it hadn't been there when he looked and that it was my blood that made the difference as to why he could see it now. So, I got out of the car and started walking down the road. Putting some distance between Val and myself. She said for a while, nothing changed. She could see it just fine... and then she just blinked and it was gone. Just like that. No tree. No treehouse. Just land getting developed.
The damn tree only showed itself to her when she called me back. Probably why the damn workers were none the wiser about them not QUITE having finished their clear-cutting job. Something about me is tied to that fucking area. A place that I now know I... was brought to at some point as a kid. I knew the first time that I went there that it was Wrong. I knew. And that feeling didn't change for round two. Even with the bush gone... even in broad daylight... it still made my skin crawl.
When we came back that evening after the workers had left for the day, neither of us really knew what to expect. I was really hoping we were wrong. Because if these messages were really from who we THOUGHT they were from... I wasn't sure what I'd do. I really wasn't. But then, the closer we got to the treehouse... the more I realized how fucking RIGHT we were.
Over four months ago, Doubletake brought me to that place.
And, just a few days ago... I came back to where... where I'd left him. He'd been there the whole time. Trapped. Unable to move away from that damn tree. He was so ungodly thin. Just skin and bones and tattered fabric of clothes. A shell of the asshole who had held me captive. At first I thought he was dead. Leaning back against the tree with his head rolled to one side. He didn't seem to be breathing and it wasn't as though he SHOULD have been alive...
Valerie was at his side in an instant to check for a pulse... and she had no sooner touched his skin as his head shot up. Eyes wide. Showing white all the way around. Val gave a shout of surprise as I grabbed her, pulling her back sharply as those wide eyes rolled from her, up my arm, to me.
A leathery grin.
I was honestly shocked when he manage to get to his feet at all... even if he did immediately crumble back to the ground. He started speaking, but... it was absolute gibberish... it was... like when I visited my nanny five years ago when she had been in the last stages of dementia. There were just... sounds that came out. A constant stream of sounds. No sentences. Nothing to make sense of. He'd roll his head around his shoulders as he went on. Eyes constantly following things that weren't there. At least to us. Sometimes you'd catch an odd word, but... that's what Christian sounded like. At first, anyway.
When Valerie started talking to him, she eventually coaxed him into stringing words together. He mentioned several things at that point. He mumbled about how he couldn't get away. How he'd been trapped that since our little adventure together. He muttered about death. How it never came. Wouldn't come. As if it couldn't "find him" there. How he knew I'd come back. How he knew what I was thinking... and that I'd come back.
His demeanor and how he spoke changing by the second. I recognized the switches - he was flipping through the personalities he'd made for himself. Bouncing around amongst them. Contradicting himself with his rambling. Of who he was. Of where he was from. Basic things... yet he couldn't stick with an answer. And when that started cluing in, he'd get panicked. Scrambly. Shaking and clawing at his own boney form. Crying. Going back to making only sounds until Val could bring him back to sentences. I never let her get to close to him...
Not until she practically ordered me to let her go and she got right up in front of him. Holding his hands so he'd stop the clawing. Stop him from drawing more blood.
That's when he said it: Tainted blood.
I suddenly had those too-wide eyes on me. Head rolled sideways. Staring. Unblinking. I could feel myself bristling. Nerves. He started mumbling about me. My blood. The book. Barely making sense but... at least his mind was on the right page when I crouched down and asked him about the book. I asked him who's book he had been looking for, since he'd said before Steven's journal wasn't it.
"...Who is the Devil? Was... it Robert? Are you looking for ROBERT'S journal? Is..." I literally had to force the words out. "Is Robert the Devil?"
The grin that came to his lips then made me shiver. Knots forming in my stomach as he pulled himself closer to me. Fingers gripping onto my jacket... the same jacket that used to be his. "In y-your blood. He's in, he's IN your BLOOD. Y-You... y-you, you, you, you're c-connected. He's IN YOU! In y-you, you... you can do it instead. Yes! YES! Yes, y-you can do it instead! He's i-in y-your BLOOD! Y-You're BLOOD! S-Steven didn't know it - never know, never know! He didn't realize he was already done with you. With you BOTH! All done, but didn't know - never know! Hehehe!"
I felt like I'd been sucker punched again. "...What do you know about Steven?"
"S-Stevie didn't know. D-Didn't, didn't know at all! That's w-why. Why he m-made the deal. D-Deal, deal, deal with the Devil~ Haha! But YOU!" My hold on my knife got tighter as he moved forward. Too close. WAY too close. Eyes WAY too wide. Desperate... but excited. "Y-You can do it. Y-You can make me like YOU. You can sh-share your bl-blood! Your blood... share it with m-me. Pl-Please... please share it with me. PLEASE!"
I... panicked. Shoved him back. With how little he weighed... I practically threw him off me. He flew back like a ragdoll. Hit the trunk of the tree... and crumpled back to the ground. I'm... certain some of his bones broke on impact. I... heard the cracks. Val yelled at me to stop it and rushed to aid him... while I yelled for her to stay back. She didn't. She got right in close and put her hands to his head gently. She told me she was going to help him. That she had to help him.
I saw the flash of steel and... Valerie screamed. There was a rush of movement that I can't really remember... and then I had Christian on his back. I was straddling him. One hand holding my knife to his throat, my other pinning his own knife to the ground. The grin that stared back at me... was Verin's.
"Won't you share your blood with me? It's wasted in trash like you." Then tears began to stream from those cutting eyes as they turned soft. "Pl-Please, Michelle. Please, I need it... you can help me. You NEED to help me. I helped you, didn't I? I only ever... tried to help y-you."
My mind was pounding. I could barely hear Valerie yelling my name... and it was at that point... that I realized there was a pressure over me.
Father was there.
I remember moving so slowly as I shifted back up to my feet. Trying to think past the pounding in my skull as I turned. Finding where He stood. Watching. That edge burning into me. The pounding growing worse. I blinked, and He stood directly in front of me. Perhaps eight feet away. Right under the tree. Christian was... whimpering. Trying to pull himself away in the dirt. Valerie said later she was screaming at me to get away. I only stared back at Him. The endless whispers passing over my ears. Everything layering. Blurring... and then it all went quiet. The world faded out to a bright white. Leaving only a defiant daughter... and an irritated Father.
I remember a snap.
And then I was running. My hand in Valerie's. I'm not sure who was pulling who.
I do remember looking back though as we got to the car. I remember the screaming and blood as Christian was impaled by tentacles... and how the screams only went to a higher pitch as he was impaled onto a branch. Intestines drawn out of his skeleton-like form. Spread over the tree... and, I'm not sure how right this is but... the fire that soon consumed that entire tree... seemed to start on Christian himself.
There was laughter as I started the car. Familiar laughter. And it didn't come from the field... it was coming from the opposite side of the road. When I looked, I only caught a glimpse of the Shadow... and then there was nothing. As always. Just a glimpse. Just a movement out of the corner of my eye. A whisper in the dark. Then nothing.
Valerie says it's stress.
I'm tired of this.
I'm tired of all of this.
Father. The Eyes. The Shadow.
They follow me everywhere... on every side...
And I don't know which to run away from... and which to run toward...