Executor's "Visit"

I don't know what it really means to /be/ Dia anymore. I've been running from myself, from my old problems, and I swear that all it'll take is one more revelation. One more grace in the face of adversity, and yet the moments keep piling on, and the dogs keep getting kicked. I realize, logically, that Running from your problems will never solve them. Look at the Runners themselves. Running in place to escape eldritch abominations that can find them at the snap of their fingers, at their mere thought. It isn't difficult. And yet they run.

Why do we continue to run despite knowing the futility? For the illusion of change, of hope when there are no heroes left. We want our innocence back. We want our loves, our lives, our dreams and our successes back. We are forever failing in the face of what could be.

It was on another such failing day that I learned I should have remembered those old problems of mine. They came rushing to find me, even in my "retirement."

The words blurred in and out of focus in front of me as my vision became blurry and unreliable. The lack of sleep and general stresses weighed heavily on me, making me more easily distracted, making my personal conflicts float to the surface of my mind. I removed my glasses with a hand as I massaged my temples with the other. Just one more hour and the file would probably be finished. I could rest when I was done, not much longer to go.

What few records remained of Shady's past were strewn across my kitchen table. Frankly, most of it was a blacked out mess. A troubled childhood, psychological trauma, every other sentence completely removed from the recorder. Someone had gone to a great deal of trouble to remove information of her from existence. Hell, even the barebones file had been hell to get a hold of. Thank god for greedy fools, or else I'd still have been searching.

I replaced my glasses with a sigh, squinting at the lines in front of me. There was a name that stood out, a previous therapist. His name was something simple, something rather irritating. "John Smith." Yeah, that was most definitely an alias. The odds of someone with an incredibly common name in charge of a complex case like Shady's were astronomical. No matter. It would be simple enough to contact the man.

Out of the many striked out phrases and paragraphs, there was a phone number next to the man's name at the beginning of one of the many pages. This many years later, he had likely retired or wouldn't remember the case. I was determined to try either way. I glanced at a clock to check if it was an appropriate time to call a public business, mildly surprised to see a lack of sunlight shining through the house. Shrugging, I grabbed my phone and dialed.

Several rings later, a gentleman's voice could be heard. I had reached his practice's voicemail. Apparently it was after hours for them. No big surprise, though annoying. I muffled a small scream behind my hand as I waited for the bullshit to be over. "Hello, you have reached-"

"The Executor of [REDACTED]." The voice said from behind me, the sound of a cellphone snapping shut following. The man's lean form stood completely straight, the black and blue suit in perfect order. Executor.. no, a clone wore its signature mask, a flat one with black eyes and a large X across the lower portion, purposely covering the mouth. The man's black hair was slicked back and over to the side, not a strand out of place. He slipped the cellphone back into his pocket before neatly folding his hands behind his back.

A shadow from behind him shifted, a well built figure sidestepping into the edge of the light. He was the opposite of the businessman, more casual looking. He wore a dark maroon colored leather jacket, grey shirt beneath it, with dark blue jeans. His boots looked western, a faint gold design playing across them. Despite his face being hidden in the dim light the details could still be made out. The mask that was looped to his belt showed he wasn't even trying to hide himself anymore. A scruffy face, short dark brown hair that was a mess. His malicious eyes nearly matched his jacket, dark circles formed around them for obvious lack of sleep. He stood a few inches taller than the Executor, an obvious enforcer by his built. A job he no doubt loved doing by the small wicked grin that seemed plastered on his face.

"I've been watching your progress, miss Renalda. It took you long enough to call." Executor continued, no expression to his monotone voice. He advanced further into the room, his footsteps making no sound. The way he moved was graceful to some degree, as if he was floating despite having both feet on the ground. Leaning over my shoulder, he looked over my notes, pretending to take some interest despite knowing fully well what was there. What he left in the files. "Not having much luck, are you?"

I froze, doing my best to stay perfectly still. I knew the voice that spoke to me then, the voice that haunted my dreams from time to time. I couldn't see his mask through the curtain of dark hair that fell in front of my eyes, but I could feel his presence just next to me. Taking a breath, I dared a glance in his direction. It did nothing to soothe my nerves."No luck at all, though you already knew that, "John." Why are you here? You could have continued the game longer than this. Hell, you didn't even let me leave a voicemail."

He reached out a hand and pushed aside a paper, drawing attention to the one that lay hidden beneath it. The patient identity, the page that held Shady's true name. "You called me." he said, his finger tapping the sheet of paper next to her name three times before his hand slid across the table. It stopped next to the name John Smith, his finger upon the phone number. Silently connecting the dots. "I answered."

I paused, my eyes flitting between the names and Executor's face. I was struggling, violently repressing every urge that sprang to mind. Rage, anger, confusion, hell, there was even some betrayal thrown in there. Fear and the desire to survive were much more predominantly on my mind than the normal petty emotions that spring to mind at such occasions. Swallowing hard, I took in Shady's true name and nearly puked. I recognized the surname.

I put my head in my hands, covering my face and fighting to control my breathing. This was not the time to panic. This was not the time to panic. This was not the time to- oh, no, fuck it. It was panicking time. A-fucking-gain. I muttered underneath my breath, clearly audible: "It was a trap. You tricked me."

"You are correct. I have to keep track of anyone who tries to weasel into my affairs." Executor turned and leaned against the table, his head tilted down to look at me. It was obvious he most likely extracted information and killed those that searched for the file and managed to find it. The fact I was alive still was no mere coincidence. "The chance to trick you was too good to pass up. You followed the bait exceptionally well." He complimented, though anyone who knew him would easily see through it. Worthless words of influence.

I let my hands drop to gather the papers, eyes catching Shady's true name once more. Shuffling, organizing them took my mind off the threats that had come waltzing through my front door. I had moved to avoid such troubles as these, but Executor had an easy way into my head any time he liked. He had no need to battle his way through finding me, it was as simple as taking a look through my eyes. If he really cared, spying on a dream or two would have told him all he needed to know.

I stood and turned to face him, my eyes meeting his. "What's the point of this? You could have influenced me already, dear Dreamwalker. Why are you bothering with meeting me, talking to me when I should already be dead for interfering with things I shouldn't be? You have a motive. Please, tell me what it is." My hands shook as I clasped them behind my back. I was fighting to stay calm, trying to remain stoic. I failed rather spectacularly.

Executor followed me with his mask as I got up to stand. "Shady has been imprisoned by her peers. A common enemy, Mister Creevey, scarred her mind when he possessed her form. It was the final nudge to take the final step and kill Lenore once and for all. It broke her." He seemed to react over the last part, a hand lifted and brushed back the slick hair as if to make sure everything was in check. "I do not need to get into the details as to why it broke her. The good news is she can still be glued back together and used further." He returned the hand to his pocket, somewhat pleased by the news he was telling me. "I visited the Lady while imprisoned. Her mind was a void of screaming and laughing, I saw her in the middle of it not yet consumed. She has not fallen into Lenore's footsteps, miss Renalda."

"Yet. She has not fallen yet. Do you have any idea what prevents her from doing so?"

An unconcerned reply, "The fact that she isn't your average brand of filth, perhaps."

A twitch, a mumble that could not be heard. I straightened and looked at him once more, forcing a smile. "She is something special. I wish she would remember that sometimes.." Nothing was said as I collected my thoughts. "What use do you have for our Shady Lady?"

Executor shook his masked head, "You overestimate her value." He drawled, "My employer has a particular interest in other monsters. Ones he has created," His hand rested on his chest. "Ones that simply exist, say Mister Creevey." Executor's voice held a knowing tone, specifically picking out that one due to Gallows, I'm sure. "As well as incarnations, but they are such fragile creatures. You cannot trigger them too quickly or they become useless, they start remembering more than they need to. Some parts are better left dormant." There was a pause, he allowed that a second to sink in before adding, "What is its use? That, miss Renalda; is none of your business."

More twitching. "You're in my house, making demands of me, ever so subtly threatening me and trying to coerce me into some bullshit someone else could do. Knowing that this could blow my cover, that this will effectively end my retirement if I do this for you. Yet you can't even tell me what those dormant memories are, and yet you dare to tell me my friend's life is none of my business? Fuck you, Executor. Get out."

Executor immediately grew silent, as did the air around him. Not even a raspy chuckle left Prosper's tainted lips, even if the grin grew. I could see Executor standing, unmoving from his spot. Yet my vision wavered, then there was a sudden jolt as pain ripped through each limb, consuming my body in full. My blurring vision turned to darkness, my ability to hear following as I was left in the silence of overwhelming pain. It was a only a small, sudden burst of agony before it seemed to switch off and dull down.

My vision returning left me to see I had moved from where I was originally standing to a place at the Executor's feet. Bent backwards on my knees, his hand around my neck applying just enough pressure to warn me worse could have been done. He had manipulated me in more ways than one in under a minute. "Miss Renalda, I suggest you do not try my patience." Executor spoke in his usual montone drawl as he hovered over me.

His hand slipped from my neck as he pulled to his full height, continuing to speak as if nothing had changed. "Who else would I call? The Cultist across the globe? Have Joshua, the boy that assisted in putting her away? Perhaps the Doctor whose daughter she failed to save? All the others are quite dead now. I am afraid you are the only one left."

I swallowed and stood, trying my best to keep my eyes on Executor while rubbing the back of my neck. Everything still hurt, my desire to taunt the man warring with my more logical half. "Proctor could still help her. Why didn't you have me intervene sooner, if this is so important to you? Maybe I could have helped, helped prevent this catastrophe!"

"Proctor and Shady's relationship would only serve to do more harm than good." He said with a sigh, as if he had thought about it and repeating it was too much work. "The Lady needed some quiet time, away from familiar faces. Had she been prevented..." There was a pause as he looked me over. "Well, you would be bleeding with her previous state. The thing needed silence, emptiness. Perhaps not the black void she normally takes comfort in, but it was useful all the same to calm our monster. It would be unpleasant if a second Lenore reared its ugly head."

"So letting her go three quarters insane was better off than fully insane? I suppose I understand the sense in that.." I shivered and wrapped her arms around myself as I looked around the room, trying to find a distraction from the men in front of me. I was more and more uncomfortable with their presence in my home the more time went by.

Prosper advanced forward steadily during the conversation, like a predator. He eased up behind me, only inches away from my ear and whispered, "You're trembling," in a low growl, a raspy chuckle following afterwards as he sidestepped me to walk to Executor's side. His hand reached into his jacket and grasped a file to pull it out and drop it loudly onto the table. At the sound of Prosper's whisper, I went from trembling to full-on shaking like a leaf. I was the proverbial lamb among lions, and fuck, I had little choice by that point.

Executor continued on as if Prosper's taunt meant nothing to him. It probably didn't. "Which means there is time to mend the broken pieces. I cannot involve myself in this affair, for reasons both obvious and not. My presence will also only further traumatize her. The Lady needs some fresh air; seeing as I assisted in your night terrors in the past I am hoping you'd like to kindly return the favor." Executor said, though between us it was obvious he was not giving me a choice. The illusion of one, a kind gesture at best, to keep me from screaming.

I listened intently to every word from Executor's mouth, unsure as to which proxy's form to keep track of. The news of Lenore's mental break brought no reaction, but at the mention of Shady's pain I flinched visibly. Silent tears began to fall from my eyes. I impatiently wiped them, afraid of losing my view of the two of them for even a moment. To speak or not to speak, mind racing. Time was definitely not on my side. A glance at the file, a glance back.

My thoughts were as clear as Executor's manipulation. I needed to help Shady, somehow interfere to make an escape possible. The thought of why she hadn't reached out for help sprang to mind before I shook her head, clearing it away. It didn't matter. "I would have helped you without the intimidation, Executor. What exactly is it you need me to do?"

Prosper's grin grew at my words, shaking lightly with silent laughter. Executor turned his head and gazed upon his creation. The moment his masked face fully faced him Prosper fell silent, the grin weakened back to a small one and the shaking stopped. There was a small twitch in his face before he let out a slow exhale of air. His head bowed as he evened out.

Executor looked back to me after calming his second. The news of my assistance obviously pleased Prosper, just as the whole bit with Lenore and Shady. It was all he worked for and it thrilled him to see things fall into place. The dreamwalker knew this better than anyone.

"Break her out of there. If you want to keep an eye on her afterwards that is your own choice. I only need a friendly face to let her know she's not gone yet, give her a bit of a nudge in my place. Be my temporary advocate." He said, some thin amusement in how he worded the final part. The room itself could be felt growing silent and chilled as Exector pushed off the table. He stood straight as always, taking a stride forward into arms length distance.

Leaning forward his arm extended, hand stopping inches from the side of my face. He traced his hand over the air, just a fraction from my skin. "If you decide to help her further I advise you do nothing to cage her behavior. Release the Lady, I will not tolerate any obstacles in her evolution." Executor warned, hand dropping back to his side as he calmly straightened back up.

My fear became overwhelming, small white lights dancing in front of my vision, marring my view of his mask. The shaking grew worse and worse as he grew closer, a small sob escaping as he invaded my space. His words chilled me from the inside and out, my "choice" plainly set before me. I cringed back from his touch, finally giving up whatever token resistance I had been playing at since he walked in. Keeping my eyes on his was too much for me at the moment, though I hadn't broken. Not yet. I was simply playing my cards as close to my vest as possible in the terrifying situation. If I gave him what he wanted, he would hopefully leave.

"I'll help her as I see fit. I'll contact you when I'm sure of my plan, though rest assured, she will be out soon. Intact. No matter the damage, all will be as you want." I closed my eyes, breathing in and out long enough to regain my composure before looking back up at him. Some small amount of courage burning in my eyes, only slightly fearful I would be struck for it. "If that's all, please leave. I don't think I can take much more company right now."

"As you wish." Executor nodded once to me before turning to Prosper. "Leave it and then follow." He instructed before looking back at me once, his form then vanishing from sight.

Prosper's grin sprang to life as he shoved his hand into his pocket and pulled forth a folded piece of paper. He lifted it between his fingers and showed it to me before setting it down on top of the file on my desk. "My number, you'll need it." Prosper glanced over the pile of papers, looking them over with some sort of twisted pleasure. His maroon colored eyes met mine, "Tread carefully." He chuckled before vanishing after his master.


Leave Me Alone

I've tried to stay out of sight, I really have. I rarely comment, I mainly keep my irritating little rants to myself. My business stays mine, your business stays yours. The way it should be, right? Hell, I don't even whine about going insane anymore. I think I mostly have that dealt with... But that's neither here nor there. A few things have come to my attention that I can't really ignore this time. It's time to drag myself out of retirement for five minutes to talk about the past, it seems. Joy of joys, I get to talk about my life with virtual strangers!

Okay, first of all, I just love how no one decided to warn me Gallows had been in my house. Not a single person. I had to find out through a fucking blog post, from a pair of psychotic proxies that NEVER FUCKING POST. Ugh. I'm so happy that the people that are supposed to be watching the house decided to 'leave' for those three days G&G decided to camp there. Sleep in my bed, and do.. whatever the fuck they did while they were waiting for me to come back. I moved away for a reason. I'm not going to come back to pick up my mail or say hi. Please just leave me alone, Gallows. I finally managed to get over you, and I don't want to be dragged back into more proxy bullshit just because you want an 'easy lay.' Just.. for fuck's sake, stop looking for me. Your following me to the East Coast is just desperate.

On a related note, damn it, Advy, stop being creepy in my comments section. I've been gone for two months by now. You took my blood, you got what you wanted, good grief, why do you still want to "play" with me? You have a girlfriend. A nice, slightly crazy girlfriend that probably needs your help right about now. Go bug her. Now. GO AWAY GOD DAMN IT.

Let's see, who's next in this virtual hate letter? Oh. David. I almost forgot about you. The next time you go whispering around that you'd like to take a crowbar to my face for "confidence boosting" reasons, I'll find a way to drop you in an alkali bath and probably do all of humanity a favor. I'm not the shrinking wallflower you raped in your friend's basement. Go bone Ronan. Seriously, you people have too much time on your hands if you're bugging me.

And on to the real reason for the post, the thing that maybe has me a teensy bit scared, and the reaaaaaaaaaaal reason that I'm ranting here and I'm avoiding again and maybe god damn it now I'm just blathering on gotta stop now. Okay. Okay. Phew. I think I'm good. I think. I mentioned that Gallows was trying to follow me, right? Well.. HE has someone trying to follow HIM. A nasty little thing by the name of LeCroix. She was present for that nice little town burning that G&G pulled back in December. She.. well, she might want a little bit of revenge. The police chief was kinda sorta her uncle. Who she loved. A lot. Lol, whoops, thanks a LOT, Gallows. You make my life so much harder, you pain in my ass... >.>;;

Guess who was present for the carnage? Me. With all my pretty little connections. She wants to "ask me questions." Right. That's code for badgering me until I tell her where Gallows is, maybe with a side of torture if I fight a little. If it weren't for Shady looking out for me, god knows how long it would have taken me to find out about this LeCroix bullshit. Sigh.

Joshua and MASC managed to cover my tracks pretty well, thankfully, so I don't think she'll be able to find me. The fact that I have to deal with this bullshit despite quitting everything is irritating beyond belief. But hey! Since I know Ms. Crazy Bitch reads my blog: LeCroix, you have my attention. Try tracking someone that actually hurt the ones you love. You aren't going to find me, I'm sure as fuck not telling you where I am, and I refuse to set foot in my old house again. Your chances are shit, and my patience ran out a long time ago.

I know I'm sending mixed messages, my friends. I can't help it by this point. I'd rather not be here, writing to you. I'd rather be living my life. I thought, well, maybe if I asked nicely I could cut the ties that bind. I've been trying so hard to live my life away from the violence and the hectic bullshit, oh god, I really have. I'm fighting to stay awake as I stare at these words, wondering if anything I say will have any effect. Unlikely at best, but I have to try. I have people I'm protecting this time around, and I can't afford to lose my sanity or my peace of mind again. I can't do it. I won't. You understand? Heed my words, they're for your own sake.


Settling In

My life is slowly coming together, here among the noise and the smog. My roommate knows more than she lets on, but we let each other pretend we don't have our secrets. I get to feel.. normal for a while. No posting about the death and mayhem that follows the Fossils. No Trackers giggling over knowing where I am. No Proxies thinking they have something to hold over my head because they've been in my home. Well, except for maybe one. But I'm not telling who. If you can't guess, you really don't need to know.

I'm looking for a job, one that's a bit more flexible than the one I had before. I've put in plenty of applications, and I.. I have friends here that are willing to help me. Some of them new, most of them old. I can sit and watch Fight Club for the first time, and giggle over Marla and Bob's bitchtits. I can go to sleep from behind a locked door, and not have to worry about some fucktard with supernatural powers walking in and tying me to the bed or torturing me. I can, *gasp*, have friends doesn't know who They are. I'm swallowing my pride and applying for government help until I can get on my feet, which I would never have done before.

A lot has changed. I feel more free than ever, honestly. I put all my old pictures, notebooks, and files on people into storage under a name none of you know me by. I put the key somewhere safe, and I only really brought the mementos that meant something to me without being bloodstained or cause misery. A certain knife, my book and dvd collections, my computer, and maybe a quarter of my old clothes. A few sentimental things.

I've gone from a shut in whose only real company were the people who were running for their lives or trying to fuck her life up, to someone that's giving an honest shot at a real life. I finally told my "family" that they were out of a 'job', and that they could go back to what they were doing before. Or, keep tricking the organization into giving them a paycheck for a charade I knew about. They weren't terrible people, deep down, just afraid and in need of the money. I could understand that. I'd be a hypocrite if I judged their will to live.

 Let's see.. oh! I even have a date! One that seems fairly normal, if a little arrogant. I managed to find this cute little hipster kid, with eyes so blue you could drown in them. Yeah, I think I'll have fun with him.  Maybe get laid, who knows? I haven't gotten the chance in months, and I feel like making the neighbors a little... jealous. ;) You know what I mean.

Most of all, I haven't had to look over my shoulder as much. I've managed to cut ties with my old town. After the bloodbath my dear Graves and Gallows put it through, I'm sure no one will be missing me or my friends any time soon. My boss wanted to kick up a fuss about my leaving on such short notice. I handled that fairly easily, as he had a fairly bad habit of taking whores to the local motels and fucking them in rooms without drawing the blinds. All it took were a few pictures, and the promise that I was leaving for good. Only condition was a few paychecks and a glowing letter of recommendation for the next place I decided to frequent.


Off the Radar

So I've made it to my destination. Honestly, I've been here for a while now. I had a few friends help me get where I needed to go and keep under the radar for a while. Find a job, find a place to live, start unpacking my shit. I got all that done within a week. I haven't bothered posting, not because I've had nothing to say.. but because I couldn't stand the mythos as its been for the past few months. My followers had gotten whiny and demanding, and I was getting enough followers to rival the bigger name blogs. You know, the ones that actually ARE being chased by the Fears and have something to worry about. Namely, not me.

But really,  let me repeat myself. I couldn't stand you fuckers. One minute you're telling me I'm being too whiny, the next minute you're telling me I don't open up enough. That there isn't enough "plot", like this is some goddamn made up story. Like I'm some protagonist for you to root for or boo at when I don't go your way. Yeah, fuck that. I have some news for you kiddies, and it may come as a slight shock to the ones that weren't paying attention: Most of the innocence and genre-naive crap on this blog was a fake. One big show for you idiots that fell for the Love, Hope, Rainbows angle. Yeah, I gotta admit, before I got my memories back, I was still that chick. That wanted us all to hold hands and fuck like bunnies before we died.

But hey, guess what? That changed fairly early on. Did anyone actually notice when I started talking about the Fears, or did you forget to take your blinders off long enough to notice when my act slipped? The moments where I got so tired of your one-liners and your pointless melodrama that I started calling you on your bullshit? No. Most of you honestly didn't. I could go back and point it all out, but it'd be that much more pointless chit-chatting. More hand-holding, and walking you through it all. I won't do it. It's time my followers learned to do their own homework.

Point being, I'm back. Sort of. Not because any of you have changed, but because I have. Because I still have things I need to say, and I'm not going to let a few scars and tragic moments stop me from saying them. I still have a people I care about, and they're digging graves for themselves. It's time to haul their asses out and rip them a new asshole for being so stupid while I was gone. I mean, seriously, even when I was kissing everyone's ass I was less genre-blind than you lot have been. Well, I guess I've been ranting enough for now. I'll likely go back to lurking, like I have been for the last few weeks. Just keep in mind, I'm not dead.


Opt Out

Look, I know what happens to the kiddos that keep playing with fate. The kids that keep having the bad guys storm the gate. Well, in this case, my gate's all broken. Everyone has a key, and damn it if my "castle" isn't on a fucking proxy mapquest by now. I'm just.. I'm tired of all of it. Being bitten for extending my hand (in the case of my houseguests in December), people passing out my address (everyone that's shown up at my doorstep, most notably David and Advy), and my interviewing people seemingly making no difference in all this.

I wanted to help people, so I opened up my home. I wound up being slashed, burnt, dragged through glass and fire. My town's been set on fire, my friends and family killed, and ya know.. just when I thought I had a chance at things returning to normal, some fucker with a fascination with needles wound up showing up in my bedroom. I can't win for losing.

I've been friends with the best and the worst of 'em. I've interviewed some strange people, that's for sure.. but somehow, in all of it, I managed to lose sight of the why. I let myself get caught up in the effort of it all. My work stopped helping people, and ya know, it just wound up falling flat. My pain wound up superceeding the effort I put into this thing, and apathy set in. I started looking for the next reason to care, and in a way, for the next reason to write. Hell, I remember when I thought love, hope and rainbows were possible for all of us.
Thing is, I've been through this song and dance before. Blah blah, dreams in darkness, blah blah I wound up being put through the gambit. I did it for the people I loved. Now, well, they're either dead or spitting in my face. I'm left wondering what the point is. Every proxy worth his (or her?) salt knows where I live, and for all I know they tell stories about the girl dumb enough to trust them. Same for the Runners.

....I just can't find a reason to care any more. Advy's visit took the last bit of goodwill and concern I have for all of you. Sure, I want everyone to hold hands and sing songs. Stay alive and hold their loved ones. Sad thing is, it just ain't gonna happen. When even the ones I'm helping start stabbing me in the back.. I realize it's time to be genre-savvy here, folks. Nothing's ever going to change, the way I'm doing things. I'll keep sticking my neck out for the same people that wanna chop it off. Extend a hand to have it bitten. I'm sure all of you know the feeling, but trying to help, to record has been my job since I first found out about Her. The Lady of the Strings, the one with her Jester and pretty little Noh mask. In a way, I suppose you could say it's been her strings making me dance this entire time.

I'm tired of being a joke, of being the girl everyone fucks with and decides to drop by for "a spot of tea and a side of torture." Can't you tell I've been trying to help this whole time? Of course not. Dia's the lady with the interviews and the nearly nonexistent sense of self preservation. I'm sorry, but that's over with. This.. this whole thing is over with, if I have anything to say about it. The night of the Advocate's visit, I did a lot of thinking, but mainly.. I did it while I was packing. The last straw, if you will. I want to be able to come home from work, and have someone waiting. A kiss and a warm bed, no bad dreams and maybe, just maybe not having to be afraid someone's going to be waiting with a knife or a gun.

So, I'm leaving. I've already gotten my main sentimental shit and clothes together, and I'll come back eventually to take care of the rest. Coerce my boss into giving me a glowing recommendation. In return, I'll stay the fuck away from this town and all the terrible memories that are associated with it. You may have guessed it, but I'm pulling a childish stunt. I'm running away, classic as can be. And ya know? I don't think I'll regret it.

As for this blog? Well, I'll leave it up until I can figure out what I want to do. I can't even trust coming home any more. Kinda wish I'd figured that out a while ago, really. I'll be traveling around for a while, getting some space from all this stupid shit. Wherever I settle, I plan on it being somewhere... crowded. Urban, maybe an apartment? Definitely a roommate or a two, someplace where people can hear me scream if something happens to me in the future. God, how morbid is that..? Anyway. I wish y'all good luck with it all. Really.


A Fascination with Needles

I opened the door to my house, dropped my keys on the table and kicked off my shoes as I in. I'd just had another long, thankless day at work with barely anything to show for it. The sun's rays filtering through the windows had started to weaken. I hadn't really noticed how late it was until the sun's setting reminded me. I rolled my neck, listening to its cracking with some satisfaction. Sleep had become less of a nightmare lately, and my life had finally started to settle down. I felt.. almost happy for once.

I padded softly through the hallway to my room, unbuttoning my blouse and pulling my socks off as I went. I pulled the door open to my bedroom with a relieved sigh as I unbuttoned the last of the buttons, more than ready to lay down. I froze in the doorway as I caught sight of my bed. My shotgun was laying in pieces atop my bedspread. As I looked closer, I noticed a few of them were missing. A thought came to me, and I raised my head in horror to look around the room in. A certain "friend" had threatened to come by, and sure enough.. leaning against the wall by my closet was a man waiting for my return from work.

The Advocate laughed at my obvious surprise, idly tossing a scalpel back and forth from one hand to the other. "Hey there Dia, I remembered what you said about the shotgun.. hehe. How was your day? You seem surprised to see me." He put the scalpel down and casually approached my bed, picking up a piece of the shotgun and playing with it as he did so. "I want my interview." He sighed, eying my open blouse. "Sorry, darling, I'm already taken."

I quickly turned to the side to cover myself, torn between my curiosity and the urge to button my shirt again. I settled for watching him while I tried to calm down. When I finished getting dressed, I turned back to him and crossed my arms in front of me. "I thought you were making idle conversation. I didn't know you'd take me so seriously." I paused, eying his hands in relief as he put the scalpel back in his bag. "I thought I was alone here, I sure as hell wasn't angling to give you a peep show. Um... no offense, but what are you doing here?"

He rolled off the bed and onto his feet, "What do you think I'm doing here? Sheesh, I thought you were a little quicker than that, me," he approached me, attention locked on me.

"Don't be such a stranger, come on in and shut the door. This is a private interview, remember? Hehe, wouldn't what the others to hear," he stated in hushed tones, insinuating that we weren't the only people in the house. "Now, what should we discuss first? I'm sure you have more questions with blatantly obvious answers in store for me, don't you?" he snickered, beckoning me to take a seat on the edge of the bed.

I nodded slowly, shutting the door behind me without turning to see what was there. It was obvious I didn't want to take my eyes off of him, though whether it was from fear or something else, I wasn't sure. I walked over to sit on the edge of my bed, moving a few over the shotgun parts over to make room. I thought for a moment, then cheered up slightly. I smiled to myself, looking my visitor over from head to toe. "Inviting yourself in, playing with my toys and crashing my party, not even asking for permission. How rude of you! You could try being nice to me for a bit, instead of insulting my wit."

The Advocate cocked his head to one side, obviously amused. His attention was pulled from me as he sauntered across the room and began examining the contents of his bag.  "Me? Rude? That hurts, Dia, it really does. You should get to know me." He turned to face me as he reached into his satchel and removed a syringe filled with a blue chemical substance. "I'm quite the gentleman. Hehehe. As far as party crashing goes, though, I see no balloons. Is there a party going on?" He was now approaching me again, getting very close to my face. "Maybe a surprise party for me? Hehehehe."

 I leaned back in mock disgust as he moved closer and closer to me. "...I don't suppose taking off your mask would be possible. You know, akin to taking off your hat when you're in someone else's house, ya know?"

His hand twitched spastically, and he giggled before continuing. His mask was about eight inches from my face as he spoke, "If I wasn't being nice, Ms. Renalda, you wouldn't be breathing." He wiggled the syringe near my face, "As for my mask, I would take it off but... then I'd have to use this on you," he pointed at the syringe. "I don't think you'd enjoy that, would you?" He stood up straight suddenly, and his tone became less threatening, "Next question."

I stared up at the syringe as I debated over what I should do. I could play along with him, and possibly get him out of there without any real confrontation. Or, I could try fighting him. Problem was, I didn't know what was in that syringe, nor did I know what he'd do if he were provoked. Clearly making a decision, I started talking again. "You told me something happened to my blood when you held that little Halloween shindig. Why exactly did you fuck with me? Actually, better question, what the hell did you do to me?"

"Do to you?" He cocked his head to the side and in a spinning flourish, he moved across the room and sat behind me. "I've done lots. Are you talking about the blood samples I took during Fright Night?" He squirted some of the chemicals out of his syringe absentmindedly. I began to worry a little as the liquid ate away at my bed's covers. That at least narrowed down my choices to an acid of some sort. "Oh, I haven't done anything to you yet, just took some little vials of your blood that I have in my basement. It was fascinating. I've been playing around with some chemicals, and wanted to see what would happen... your blood didn't disappoint. As for why I'm messing around with your blood, well why not? Actually, the reaction I got from your sample was quite exciting!" He giggled, touching my shoulder. "Would you like me to show you?"

I cringed from his touch, my eyes flicking between the syringe and his mask. His presence itself was bothering me to begin with, but to have him so close was just plain fucking creepy. The last time he had been so close to someone he knew by name, well.. it was his girlfriend. Somehow I doubted it would end so well. I gulped and scooted over a few inches in a not so subtle attempt to get away from him. "I think.. I think that would probably be a very bad idea, Advy. You don't know if my body would react the same as my blood alone would. I would also really, really prefer it if you didn't do it. I have no clue what's in it, but it's probably bad."

He gave a low chuckle, dripping more of the chemical compound on the floor, "True. Aw, sorry about the floor. Hehe, it seems the syringe is hungry... it's drooling!" He laughed again, then continued. "Smart choice. You probably would have ended up a puddle of half melted intestines on the floor if you had said yes. Hehehe," he kept the syringe in one hand and motioned with his other hand, "next question".

"U-um... what are your plans for Shady?"

"Wedding bells, of course!" The Advocate replied with a laugh, humming a tune and becoming distracted for a moment before continuing. "Shady holds a very special place in my heart. Hehe, she's my star pupil and she will be my masterpiece once I've had my way with her lovely little mind," he tapped his head for emphasis.
"She and I are quite alike, actually. Hehehe, it's obvious we're destined to be partners in crime. I just have to show her how to really let loose, and I can see already that she's dropping her resolve." He paused, thinking.

"The rest is a surprise. Hehe, I can't wait." He pointed the syringe in my direction, "Why'd you do the nasty nasty with Gallows? What's up with you two? Hehe, hormonal teenagers... Explain, I'm curious."

I scooted back on the bed, stopping to move the pillows aside and lean against the headboard. I took a deep breath, trying to figure out how to call for help without alerting Advy. I'd have to put some space between us to even think of it succeeding. "I like him because he's honest. He's a psychotic, blood-crazy bastard who wants to kill me.. but he was the only one to really get close to me, and show me any real affection. I hadn't gone out of my way to keep anyone from touching me, but he wanted to be close to me. No one else put the effort in. Emotionally, sure, but these scars of mine change how I view the way people deal with me."

"I know he wants to gut me and play with my organs, but after everything.. he's just on par with the rest of the shit I deal with. Anyone actually frightening me at all is a nice change. I guess, when you get right down to it.. he was there in a way no one else wanted to be. So the threat of death was almost worth it." I grinned and eyed the poster on the wall over my bed, hiding a certain memento from Gallows. "Plus, the sex was really fucking good. I need to get laid more often."

Advy groaned. "Horny woman, it's a good thing I stopped you with your little strip show earlier," He snickered, shaking his head in an exaggerated 'shame on you' kind of way. He had noticed me scooting away from him, and had risen to his feet again. He started examining some of the more personal decorative items in my room, sifting through whatever was in reach. "Note to self, Dia likes kinky sadistic men," he giggled.

"What's your story? Everyones gotta have a sob story, ya know? Hehe," He set the syringe back in his satchel, crossing his arms and cocking his head. He seemed genuinely interested.

I rested my head against the headboard again, amused by the fact that the Advocate had taken my undressing after work for a strip show. "Everybody fucks, Advy. Don't worry, I'll keep my hands to myself and resist your overwhelming charm." I snickered then at the thought of having sex with Advy, then shuddered when I thought of his needle fetish. I was secretly terrified of them, and it immediately brought my mind off of sex.

"My sob story's rather boring. Dead family, ex Gatherer, lover killed in front of me. Between you lot and the Fossils, I've had my hands full for a while. It was just starting to settle down again when you decided to show up. Which, by the way.. while I appreciate the gesture, I would prefer a little advance warning before anyone visits me. I would also prefer it if people stayed the fuck out of my bedroom."

The Advocate reached into his satchel, and pulled out a pistol, clicking the safety on and off. "Hmmm... funny... Its... funny," His eyes were fixed on me. "Shady almost got shot. Hehehe, I saved her of course. Now I've got myself a gun. And you don't. Who's going to save YOU?" He snickered, and aimed the gun in my general direction. "Bang. Bang. Bang. Just kidding." He dropped the weapon back into the satchel lazily. "What was I saying? Hehe." He walked back over to the bed. He whispered in my ear, "Do you feel safe?"

My bravado began to vanish. The more time went by, the closer he got to me, the more I realized how much trouble I was in. The simple fact was, I was alone with a man that could easily kill me. No help, no weapons, no back-up coming to save me. My mask started to drop, and Advy was left with... well, me. I was scared, worried, and I didn't know what to do. I dropped my head, and whispered back to him, "No, I do not feel safe. Please.. don't hurt me."

A low chuckle began in the Advocate's chest and grew to a roaring cackle, and as his laughter grew louder he stumbled backwards and pressed his hand against his diaphragm. He fell back into a sitting position with his back against the bedroom's door. He sighed, "Ha... that's cute, do you practice that often?" He giggled. "I'm just playing with you, dear. You're not one of those useless piggies that I gut on a daily basis, no, you're special. You've got personality. I like it. I can't say I won't hurt you," He started to rise again, dusting his legs off, "but... I may leave tonight without scratching you once... Hehehe..."

He started rummaging through his bag again, "I'm getting bored, next question." His mumbled flatly, tone changing completely.

I pouted before flopping down on my stomach, giggling as I rested my head on my arms to watch him rummage through his bag. "Aw, phooey. Most people fall for that right off."

I gave an overdramatic sigh before asking another question. "Fiiiine. Tell me about your pretty little experiments. I wanna know what you've been doing with your spare time."

He paused for a moment, glancing at me and tilting his head. "Are you mocking me? Is Dia mocking me?" He repeated the question to himself and added, "Do I need to get the gun out again?"

"....no. I'm not mocking you, just trying to give you the "Dia" you're looking for. Everyone has a different version, and it's easier to just give them what they want."

"Oh really? Hehe, and how do you know what I want?" He dropped to his knees and leaned forward, his face inches away from mine. "Are you calling me predictable?" His hands twitched towards his satchel.

I coolly looked him in the face, unruffled by his sudden change in demeanor. "Everyone has something they want, Advy. You're predictable in your madness, love."

I shook my head, smiling to myself. "Tell me what you want, then. You're dodging my questions, and I don't want to bore you. What's the show you're looking for?"

The Advocate stood up straight. "You're a riot." He said flatly.

He walked over to the wall across from me and leaned against it. "Experiments, lots of 'em. It's a shame none of the recipes have worked as desired... All of my Venus trials have resulted in dead volunteers. The majority of which exploded... Messy, but oh so fun to watch." He tapped the wall, taking a moment to pause before continuing. "I just can't wait to test out the final product... Oh, the eternal hunt for the right test subject. You... well," He giggled, "Your blood showed potential, but without the rest of you it just ended... strangely. I wonder what would happen if I all of you, not just a vial of your blood, to test with..." He was reaching into his satchel, but then apparently changed his mind. "Anyways, I'm rambling now, aren't I? What was your other question?"

I raised a brow at his antics, his wording causing some slight worry. "What exactly are you trying to do with your "final product?"

"Let's just say, it will change the world." He giggled. "I can't spoil the surprise though, you should know that!"

I pouted again, staring up at his mask in mild curiosity. "I love spoilers, but I'll take your word for it. So, tell me, Advocate my dear. Why'd you come here in person? We could have just as easily done this in a different way."

"Maybe I missed you, missed you so bad," He sang in a jazzy tone. "Hehe what can I say? Face to face is always so fun. Plus, I wanted to play with your little toy over there," He pointed to the disassembled shotgun. "But wait, there's more," he continued.

I slipped a hand down to my pants pocket, pushing a a lady's speed dial as I did so. I covered the action by sitting up and acting like I was pushing myself up off the bed. I prayed to myself as I stood that my phone was still on airplane mode. I hit the green call button, turned to Advy and continued to act enthralled by his ramblings. "Go on, tell me how you missed me, Advy baby. Tell me why you're here, if you feel like being serious."

He laughed, but continued, "Not only did I want to visit you for the heck of it," He climbed to his feet and shuffled over to me, and put his arm around me. "I need a little something from you, dearest Dia." A needle for drawing blood appeared in his hand, its point aimed towards my face. "Would you mind if I borrow some of your beautiful blood? Hehehe..."

He gave me a light push. I tumbled back on the bed, looking up at him in fear. My eyes crossed to keep the needle in focus as I did so. A tiny sound could be heard as the phone connected, which I hastily started speaking to cover up. "It isn't borrowing if you don't give any back, Advy. Please don't touch me with that, I'm afraid I may start screaming. You wouldn't want anyone to hear what's going on, would you?"

"Oooh maybe I would... hehehe." He leaned down, lowering his syringe as he did so. "I was only asking to be polite. I don't have to be nice. It's not like you really have much of a choice. It's for science, for me. I need what I need. If I don't get it now, I'll have to come back and get it later... And I may not be in as pleasant a mood then..." I swung  at him, and he rolled off of me with a laugh. "Feisty. But seriously, shut up and come here." He stood up, brushing himself off as I scrambled off the bed and swung the door open. "Dia..."

He sighed and grabbed my arm as I tried to sprint from the room. I screamed and tried  again to hit him with my free hand. He ducked, stepped around me and twisted my arm at an angle behind me. There for a moment, it seemed like he would break my arm, but instead he kicked me behind the knee and let me go. I stumbled forward and hit my head on the wall. I shook myself and ducked into the kitchen to try to grab a knife, yelling back at him, "What's so damn important about my blood?"

"What's so important?" He mused, caressing the needle delicately. "That's what I'm wondering as well... but I know that your blood is the first sample to give me positive results. So, please, donate to my cause." He casually strolled into the kitchen, "You seriously think I left your knives untouched?" He gave a low sigh, "Do you think I'm an idiot?"

I glanced at the rack in horror, then back at him. "Fuck! How long were you in my house, Advy?" I realized how close he had gotten to me, and abandoned my search for a weapon in favor of looking for an escape route.  As I ran past him, he extended his arm and slammed into me with his elbow. As I lost balance, he grabbed the front of my shirt and threw me out of the kitchen into the hallway leading to my room. I tumbled across the floor and slammed against a wall.

He walked up to me slowly, paused and kicked me in the hip, shoving it out of socket. That was when he suddenly paused and eerily turned his attention towards the bedroom. He saw the phone laying on the floor, and it clicked in his head that it was connected. To who, he didn't know. But when he turned his focus back to me, his body was unnaturally tense. "Oh no me, big mistake calling for help... Now I have to entertain an audience, don't I?" Laughter roared from his mouth as he grabbed me by the neck, lifting me. "Would you please scream? I would appreciate it." I graciously obliged, screaming like a banshee from hell. If the fucker wanted me to put on a show, I could at the very least hurt his ears while I was at it.

"Good girl," He stroked my cheek with the tip of the needle, leaving a scratch. He loosened his grip and released my neck as he drove his knee into my stomach. I was stunned from the blow, and it was the opportune moment for my assailant to reach in his satchel and...


The loud sound of Joshua's gun firing hung in the air for a moment.

"Sorry about your phone, it had to be done." Came the mock apology. He had shot my phone from across the hall, destroying it. He started humming, and as he returned the weapon to his satchel, he withdrew a wet cloth.

"Darling.." He pressed himself against me, trapping me between his body and the wall. "One more question." His mask was inches from my face.

"Does this smell like chloroform to you?" He pressed the wet cloth against my face, and I blacked out.  


Speaking with Sigma

A lady contacted me a while back, one that needed help, specifically an interview.  (Of course, isn't that why everyone contacts me these days?) Scribe Sigma of the Archive wanted someone to talk to, and wanted it recorded. I was confused as to why someone would want to talk about the things she did, until I met her. Now it's painfully obvious. Without ado, the Scribe Sigma interview:

Sigma left me a note to meet me at a park nearby my house. I'd like to pause here to swear a little bit. How do people keep finding out where I live? The timezone on my blog isn't even right! Anyway. I arrived to find her sitting on a park bench with a bottle of beer in her hands. If I had to guess, I'd say she was about thirty years old, with dishwater blonde hair falling just past her shoulders. She raised her head at my approach, the leaves crunching beneath my feet signaling that I was directly in front of her before she really even acknowledged me.

Me: "Have you been waiting long, Sigma?"

Sigma: "About two minutes. Do you define that as long or short? I can never tell with some people."

I looked down at the alcohol in the Scribe's hands, frowning to myself. Her skin was pale, and her overall appearance rumpled. Her clothes were wrinkled and her hair tangled. The bags under her eyes were dark, from what little could be seen under the dark sunglasses she wore. The fact that she was wearing them at night irked me. Like abuse victims do to hide their black eyes, and everyone knows what they're doing? It felt exactly like that.

Me: "Not long at all. I'm here, and I gotta say, I'm worried. Can you.. can you put the beer down while we talk? It makes me nervous."

Sigma hesitated, but slowly set her beer down on the ground. Then she looked at me. "How old are you, kid?"

I relaxed slightly and sat down next to her on the bench. "I prefer it when people aren't holding possible weapons when I talk to them, sorry. I'm twenty four. Why do you ask?"

Sigma sighed before responding. "It's like all you bloggers are in the same age range. Mid-teens to mid-twenties. Makes me feel old." She laughed. "I have two sets of childhood memories swimming in my head and I feel old."

Me: "We're vulnerable. Afraid. Easily mislead and manipulated, before we find our places in the world. It really isn't surprising to me." I paused for a moment, then continued. "Will you tell me about your new memories? It might help you tell me your story."

Sigma leaned back against the bench and was silent for a moment as she gathered her thoughts. "I assume you know what the prerequisite for joining the Archive is, right?"

Me: "Pretend I don't."

Sigma: "We've all been touched by the Grandfather-- or I guess you'd call him the Blind Man. The old guy with no eyes who wanders around libraries? Yeah, every member of our organization has met him at least once. Every one of us has had our childhood memories taken by him. I can't remember anything about my life from before my first period when I was thirteen."

Me: "And survived? Isn't that.. rare?"

Sigma: "What the Grandfather? No, kid. It's rare for people to die from encounters with him. You just lose little bits and pieces of your life. He collects memories. He's not like that tall suited guy or that dick in the gas mask; you know, the one that impersonates dead people. The Grandfather is more... subtle than that."

Me: "I'm aware. He wants childhoods especially, but I'll go ahead and assume he likes the 'strong' memories as well. Has anyone figured out yet why he wants them?"

Sigma: "The official Archive doctrine is that he's a collector of knowledge, but no one really believes that. We don't know why he does what he does. You really think humans can ever truly understand Them? But look kid, we've strayed a bit from the subject. You asked me to tell you my story, remember?"

Me: "Just setting the story straight, for the people that'll read this that don't know what he does. But go on. Tell me your story."

Sigma: "Well, like I said, we've all met him once. But me, I'm special." She pronounced the word with an odd mixture of pride and disgust. "I've met him twice more. The first time was a few years back, after I joined up with the Archive as a Martyr-- like a black-ops agent, but not as badass. He gave me a set of new childhood memories. They belonged to a kid named John Kramer. Well, it's one thing for the Grandfather to take memories. But it's another thing entirely for him to give them. As someone who's received memories, I'm considered a Gifted, like the chosen of the Grandfather. I guess it's roughly analogous to a proxy, but without the need to obey a super-powerful, god-like being attached."

Me: "Gifted? I'd say cursed, but this is your life we're talking about. Has he ever.. directed you to do anything? Or wanted you to do something specific for the Archive, or him?"

Sigma: "Nope. Never. He just showed up and gave me some new memories. Then a few months ago, he showed up again, gave me another set. A more... disturbing set. Tell me, kid, do you know what it's like to be raped while someone you trusted just stands there and watches with absolutely no concern for your well-being?"

Me: "Something akin to that. I know what it's like to be raped for days on end, and to be abandoned by those you loved because you were "tainted." Because it was too hard to stand by me. So, I suppose it's a technical no. "Did this rape happen to you, or to the person whose memories you inherited?"

Sigma: "Not me. But it feels like it did. It feels like they're my memories. Hell, for a while I even thought they were my memories. But no. They belonged to my half-sister. Fuck, I didn't even know I had a half-sister until it happened. Her own mother-- the former Analyst Alpha-- had her impregnated using fucking shadows as the semen. They were trying to see if they could create a new one of Them. Didn't work. The girl stayed pregnant for years. So that Alpha bitch decided that, since me and her daughter shared a father, she should try and fucking transplant the fetus into me. What kind of fucked up mad scientist shit is that?"

I repressed a shudder. "I couldn't imagine how that poor girl felt. Why would they even WANT to create another one of Them?"

Sigma gave a really bitter laugh then. "The same reason we do anything in the Archive: to pursue knowledge. I hate it when people call us a cult, but I guess, in a way, we are. But not for the Grandfather like everyone thinks. It's Knowledge we worship, and we don't have an ethics board to regulate our experiments. ...But I have to wonder why the Grandfather gave me her memories. It seems almost too hopeful to think he was trying to warn me of the dangers. That's... too nice. No, he's probably playing a long game with me. One I'll probably never figure out." She paused here to reach down and grab the beer bottle, then she took a drink before setting it down again. "Sorry, but I needed that."

Me: "Don't apologize for the drinking. I could care less about that. It's the glass itself that bothers me. Now, you say there's no ethics board at all to this organization of yours?"

Sigma: "None at all. It would get in the way of progress, you see."

Me: "Evil in the name of progress is still evil. I'm sure those memories of yours would agree."

Sigma: "Hmph. At least one of them is so sheltered she doesn't even understand 'evil.' Besides, the Council of Seven-- the Alphas-- is theoretically supposed to act as a check against itself."

Me: "Obviously it doesn't, if rape and scientific experiments of that magnitude are going on without even an investigation. Is there no way for reform, or someone else to bring it to?"

Sigma: "Well, seeing as the old Analyst Alpha was recently torn apart by Nightlanders...." she briefly pauses here and suppresses a shudder at the memory. "Hopefully the new one will be less of psychopath."

Me: "Forgive me if I don't feel sympathetic to someone as cruel and fucked up as the old Analyst Alpha. Do you vote in the new members, or is it decided by seniority, or something I haven't thought of?"

Sigma: "The other Alphas choose from the Beta, Gamma, and Delta. After Analyst Alpha died, the rest of the council voted and chose Analyst Gamma as her successor." She gave me a level look. "How many people have you seen die?"

Me: "I've seen enough breathless bodies to last a lifetime, if not more. Why?"

Sigma: "Have you ever seen someone literally torn to pieces and splattered all over a room? Because let me tell you, no matter how horrible the victim was, that's not an image that leaves your mind."

Me: "I can't imagine that it would. Besides an unfortunate few victims I've found, I can't say that I've actually seen the process being performed. Just the aftermath."

Sigma: "Then I'd appreciate it if you kept any comments concerning the old Analyst Alpha's death to yourself, since you clearly have no idea what the fuck you're talking about."

I stared at her in disbelief. "Just because I haven't seen someone be sliced and diced in front of me, doesn't mean I don't know what the hell you're talking about. That isn't their only method, so kindly keep your swearing to a minimum. I'm not some ignorant chit you picked up off the street to tell your tales to."

Sigma laughed. "Oh, yes. Because admitting you've never had the experience and then claiming you know what it's like isn't contradictory at all." She keeps laughing. "I'm sorry. I haven't laughed in a while." At this point she stood up and looked down at me. "Actually, you strike me as the naive one. Look at you, so belligerent. Do you think that makes you intimidating? I was wondering why all your interviews tend to feature arguments. Now I see. You use words like 'evil' as if they have a meaning, and then you turn right around and say you're content with someone being torn apart. That's a child's understanding of morality."

Me: "Evil exists. I'm sorry if that bothers you. I'm sorry that he died in a terrible way. He inflicted pain on innocent people, good people that didn't deserve what happened to them. He would have continued inflicting said pain if he were still alive."

Sigma sighed. "She. Not he."

Me: "Like the gender really matters here, but fine. She. She was the one behind those experiments. How can you condemn me for being happy she's dead when you harbor the memories you do?" I shook my head angrily. "Who knows what the hell else has transpired behind closed doors because people let it happen. How many people have to be hurt before someone does something about it?"

Sigma looked straight at me, and then took off her sunglasses. Her eyes were gray and bloodshot. I don't mean she had gray irises and a bunch of red. Her blood veins were grey as well. Like someone drained all the color from her eyes. "You recall what I said earlier. That the Grandfather chose me?"

Sigma's eyes were obviously a point of importance, and I tried to be very careful about the conversation that followed. "Yes. The Blind Man chose you, and gave you The Gift."

Sigma: "Exactly. I was chosen and given a 'gift' by one of Them. Now, think about all of the people out there you know have been chosen in such a way. What are the overwhelming majority like? People like Thoth, the Faceless Bastard, Jester. What trait do they share?"

Me: "Jaded. Bitter. Confused, and generally in quite a bit of pain. It's more a curse than anything. Oh lord, when you think of them. They are grateful for the ones they serve, and follow them to the grave if need be. See Them as a kind of family. Is THAT what you're referring to?"

Sigma: "Not the answer I was looking for, but I suppose it leads to my point just as well. Would you be happy if, say, the Jester died?"

Me: "...No. Then again, I make no attempt to hide that I'm biased."

A smile of amusement spread over Sigma's face. "Really? So you're happy if someone who did horrible things in the name of furthering knowledge dies, but not if someone who does horrible things because it amuses him dies?"

Me: "Like I said. I'm fucked in the head, I'm a hypocrite, and my moral compass is more than a little skewed. Trust me, I'm aware. The obvious difference between your examples and my point is this: Your Analysts? They choose their path, of their own free will and enjoyment. You know as well as I do they enjoy their job, their lifestyle. The things they do. Not so different. But people like Thoth, Faceless Bastard, and Jester? They were Chosen. Like you."

Sigma: "Are you familiar with the Eye?"

Me: "Very. Judgmental Fear that likes to torment, am I hot or cold here?"

Sigma: "Exactly. And it's view of the world is very black and white. And it operates by very stringent definitions of good and evil. The other day I was typing a file on a little child who stood up to a school bully. The Eye killed him for being no better than the bully. So who the hell do you think you are to say whose death is a tragedy and whose death is a triumph? The moment you start treating death like it's a good thing, you become just like Analyst Alpha. She thought her crimes served a purpose. She thought she was justified, just as you think her death is justified. If I were to accept her death as a good thing, I'd be just like all those all those other maniacs They chose. Look at me. Look at my eyes. Do you see his mark upon me? I was nearsighted before he gave me these memories. Now? Now I can see every pore, every minor imperfection on your skin as clear as day. I can see the fucking spider climbing up that tree twenty feet behind you. I will not lose my humanity out of some childish sense of good and evil. The world is not. That. Simple!"

I nodded, lost in thought. Her words hit a nerve, several of them to be. I'd had come here in an attempt to help Sigma, but it seemed as though Sigma had become my own version of the Eye. The effect was.. unsettling.

I cleared my throat. "Would you.. would you like to have an honest interview for the rest of this? Without dealing with the Gatherer mask? It's.. I can't keep it up, not under these circumstances with you."

Without warning, Sigma suddenly threw her head back and laughed. "Damn that felt good. I myself had been trying to piece together what was bothering me so much. It looks like arguing with you let me put it into words." She smiled. "Yeah, I guess an honest interview would be alright. Thank you."

Me: "I can't in good conscience sit here and fight with you over petty bullshit, when neither of us want to. When the things I'm saying make even me sick." I couldn't help but smile. "Thank YOU. Getting to stop with the bullshit will be nice. Provoking people gets old after awhile."

Sigma put her glasses back on, then reached down to her beer bottle and took a drink. She paused. "Huh. Empty already." She put the bottle down again. "Alright. Interview. So what did you wanna ask me? And I'm sorry, but remember that there is a LOT about the Archive that remains classified, but I'll do the best I can to answer your questions."

Me: "How do you come to get your jobs, when you aren't Chosen? Is it by blood, or is there an ad they run in the paper? I mean, I know that sounds silly, but it's something I've never been clear on."

Sigma: "You mean how does the Archive recruit? Collectors. Their job is to gather field data and search for potential members. They keep an ear out for rumors of people having weird memory problems or suffering from amnesia, and investigate to see if the Grandfather was connected. Then we join and are assigned to a calling."

Me: "So how was the Archive founded?"

Sigma: "That, sadly is something only members get to know. I can, however, tell you that the group was founded in 1886."

Me: "Okay.. I suppose it's been around for a long time. It also proves that the Blind Man's been terrorizing for a long time. It throws out a certain theory or two people like to lean on."

Sigma: "Oh, you would not believe how many theories we've thrown out. You know that Core Theory thing that was popular a few years ago? We called it 'Transmythical Theory' and it was discredited in . Granted, it wasn't exactly the same as Core Theory, but the idea of Them being storybook monsters that follow archetypal rules remains the same."

Me: "There's a theory going around that they're the Old Gods. That our fear is the new form of their being worshipped, and their cultists spread fear in their name to make Them go stronger. What's the organization's view on that one?"

Sigma: "That actually matches up pretty well with our most prevalent theory. We call it the Iceberg Theory. They are multi-universal beings, but their existence is so large that only a small piece is actual present in each reality. They change their forms to reflect the prevalent psychology of each universe, which is why a lot people see them as being connected to specific fears. But because a small piece exists in multiple realities, how they actually behave depends on which universe you live in."

Me: "That ties into the belief that each person is like a separate world, a separate universe from each other."

Sigma: "That is one explanation, yes. Though Dimensional Bleeding is also considered a likely explanation. There's really no consensus on which of those is the more likely one, though."

Me: "We can't have all the answers, can we? It'd make it too easy. Besides, I think it'd put organizations like yours out of a job if we did."

Sigma: "That's true. The Brokers would hate it if everyone had answers."

Me: "No one would ever get paid. So, out of curiosity: Where are these Catacombs of yours?"

Sigma: "Like all Pathways, they don't exist in this reality. But, being Gifted, I can summon them. Just like proxies can summon the Path of Black Leaves." She seemed to become a bit distant here. "I used to hate it in there. I refused to use the Catacombs, even if my life was in danger. But recently... well, I've needed some alone time, and the bone-spiders don't bother me."

Me:"I'm going to assume from that statement that it was a sanctuary for you after you received that second set of memories."

Sigma: "In a sense, yes."

Sigma looked around the park, apparently to confirm that no one was nearby, which made sense, since everyone was probably asleep. "Would you like to see them?"

Me: "I'd be delighted to."

She nodded and walks over to a nearby tree, placing her hand on it. A few seconds passed, and then the tree started... falling apart. As if it were made of bricks, it came to pieces, revealing a long dark stone corridor. Torches lined the walls of the hallway, which extended into the shadows. Just beyond the light of the torches, the shapes of strange, spider-like creatures could be made out, scurrying to-and-fro. "Here it is," Sigma said. "The Catacombs. Somewhere deep in this network of tunnels, His library sits. I've never seen it myself, but I've seen the spiders heading for it, carrying books of memories on their backs."

Me: "Have you ever thought about going and seeing it for yourself?"

Sigma shook her head. "Oh hell no. The memories I have here are bad enough."

I looked inside the corridor in curiosity before turning to Sigma again. "Well, you just proved you could summon the path to it. Can't doubt you now. So, what will you do next? With all these memories, I mean."

Sigma shrugged. "The job of a Scribe is to record data. Between them there's about twenty-six years worth of memories. And yes, that does include infancy. It'll be a long time before I've finished transcribing them."

Me: "I meant personally, love. You can't drink away your sorrows forever. I'd like to see you happy at some point."

Sigma: "Heh. I'd like that too. But like you said earlier, being chosen in a curse. I have no idea what the Grandfather has planned for me. But... I think I can soldier on. Talking with you has been a huge help. I'm grateful. Maybe next time you can bitch at me until you feel better."

I started laughing, and my hair fell in my face. But it was fun. The first time I actually felt happy to be there. "I think I'll look forward to that. Believe it or not, helping people IS what I try to do. Being 'Dia' gets in the way, so your bitching was more helpful than you know."

Sigma smiled and nodded. "Well, see you next time, Dia." She stepped into the Catacombs, and the tree slowly began to rebuild itself.



The Game of the Gods- So there's this.. spooky little game going on. They're calling it the Game of the Gods, named for two bored, sadistic Gods, Hermes and Mercury. Two men's lives ride on what the commenters on the blog decide. I'm looking for recruits, because there just plain aren't enough people trying to save these people's lives. "Game." Yeah, my ass. Sadistic fucks.

X- X, oh X. I've been meaning to write about this lady for months, and it keeps... slipping my mind. I think somehow, some way we have a peek into an alternate reality. Maybe.. maybe even a pocket dimension. She runs into an insane Sage, a bloodbath orgy, deadbodies, hallways that don't make any sense, and.. well, you'll have to read for yourself. There's even a spider Slendy that scares the hell out of me. I highly recommend it, if you want a mindfuck or want to watch sanity slippage in progress.

Cassandra- Lost girl, goes by the name of Cassandra. Sweetest little thing, with a really.. well, fucked up past. Did I mention she managed to forget it, and I suspect she has Mr. Tall Dark and Slender following her?

Amy-  A jaded writer that has what seems to be constant exposure to the Fears. No explanations yet as to why, though a troubled backstory's been hinted. She refers to the Fears as Gods, ones that haven't been written about correctly.

Adam- A very confused young individual that needs help. Alot of it.

Mephi- ...I honestly don't even know how to explain this one. There's time travelers, Doctor Who references, Fears aplenty, and hell, enough tropes to blow your mind. I-330, well.. I fangirl all over the place for her. ;)

Locomotive Breath- Stuffy old fucking man, fighting the Cold Boy.  Another Scribe, of sorts. I'm a little bit biased, as we might have gotten into a fight.. or several.. but in all honesty, he's trying the best he can to help. Doesn't mean I gotta like him.

Thomas Blake- There's a specific post.. well, it shows one of the Fear's symbols. It's.. worth checking out, I'll leave it at that.

Ryan/Remedial Sketchbook-  Some very beautiful artwork, by a dear friend.

Jcarlson- A friend of mine, Jcarlson, is in danger. Pretty badly. He's in an institution, under the 'care' of a Doctor Beakman. Beakman is a deranged freak that unfortunately has power over the place by the name of Shady Lawn. There are.. people dying, lit up.. like a candle.

The Foul Rag and Bone Shop- There's this.. Serpent Lady. Boyd Walker's found a new.. Fear? Maybe?

Here's another list post for you. There are some friends, some enemies, and some.. I don't even fucking know here. Plenty to "be wary" of, I can assure you. This should be it for a while. Stay safe.



My little attempt at fanart for Nightscream, hope everyone likes it. The art itself stretches the page, soooooo.. I'm going to just give a nice little link. ;) Let me know what y'all think, okay? Going back to bed for now, later.


Tying Up Loose Ends

I puIled open the glass door, my eyes scanning the room for the man I had agreed to meet. Never having met him before, the best I could guess to help me find him was to look for the most suspicious guy in the place. After a moment, I spotted a man with a hat pulled down low over his face, dark sun glasses, and monotone clothing sitting in a small chair near the back, facing the door. I smiled half-assedly and headed for the back, flopped down in the chair opposite his and set my bag down on the ground next to me. "You Messi?"

He looked up with a smirk, knowing it was me.  "No, pretty sure I'm fairly clean."

I ran a palm over my face for a moment before sighing. "Fine, you prefer I use your real name?"

Messi: "I'd really rather you didn't, actually.  Just saying that anyone else would have given you a funny look for that.  I'm assuming you're Dia, then?"

I replied, "Of course. You knew who I was as soon as I walked in the door. It's not like I tried to hide any of the signs." With that, I pointed to the various symbols of the Fears sewn into my bag, most notably the operator symbol. "At the least, I'd have had an interesting day, walking around this city. Might have even gotten into a fight or two."

Messi yawned and slipped his hands under his sunglasses, pushed them up a bit as he rubbed his eyes.  "So you're here to meet Eddie, right?"

Me: "Among other things, yes. I'd have preferred you simply give me the address."

Messi: "What, my address, or Eddie's?"

Me: "Eddie's. I have no use for yours. I already had it." He narrowed his eyes at me, and asked me, "...how the HELL do you have my address?" I grinned and pulled a small writing pad out of my pocket, setting my phone on the table to do so. I flipped through the pages until I hit the one labeled "Don't Shoot the Messenger", and showed it to him. "This right? I know it is, I just want to see if you'll lie."

Messi: "...I can decline to answer, you know."

I laughed and ran a hand through my hair. "Sure, sure. Just like I can decline telling you how I got ahold of all these names, addresses, and phone numbers. But your saying that pretty much confirmed it, anyway."

Messi: "So you're not gonna tell me how the fuck you got ahold of that, are you?"

Me: "Temper! Why do you care? It's my having it that's important, isn't it?"

Messi sighed and shook his head.  "So how you liking New York, then?"

Me:"The parks are nice, as are the museums. The people.. not so much. I could do without the crowds."

Messi: "Yeah, the whole place sucks.  Anyway, I'd recommend that you, you know...never visit that address." I laughed and held up my hands in defeat. "I'm not going to go strolling into a trap. Besides, your friends might recognize me. I don't wanna catfight with that little religious extremist friend of yours. What was his name...? Screwtape?"

Messi: "Yeah.  Nee-chan might not take to kindly to you, either."

I giggled and started watching the people prepare the coffee over at the counter as a distraction. "Aww, and here I thought we could sit and reminisce about old times. You'd think she'd like me better after that the shit that happened this fall. Not my fault her David-sama decided to play with me instead of her."

Messi: "...I shouldn't even ask how you know her, should I?"

Me: "Do you really wanna know, hun?" He shook his head and fell silent for a few minutes. "Sorry you won't get the chance to meet Poe." I closed my eyes and nodded. For the first time, I acted like I was serious about the whole thing.

"Yeah. She's my favorite. It's probably best that I don't see her. I..don't want her to get into any more trouble. I can't guarantee I wouldn't hurt her partner. That's who she's off with right now, isn't it?"

Messi: "Uh...no. They'd actually be in here with us working if she was with him. I think she's spending time with Nee-chan."

I shrugged and looked down as I tried to hide my disappointment from him.  "How's she doing, by the way?"

Messi: "She's...pretty good.  Better than she has been."

Me: "And you're together now, right?  How's that?"

Messi: "Yeah.  She's kind of hard to gauge at times, but she seems...happy.  Or happier, at least."

Me: "You two seal the deal yet?"

He broke out coughing, clearly embarrassed.  "It's been open and out there for less than a month.  Do you really think that Poe, of all people, would be up for something like that this soon?"

Me: "True. Um, look, can we get this show on the road? You gotta have other shit you'd rather be doing."

Messi: "Yeah, sorry.  Let's go.  The cab should be here soon."

After I gathered my things, we walked outside. He came to stand beside me, and shifted his weight awkwardly as we waited for the cab to arrive. I fished a cigarette pack and lighter out of my bag and pulled a cigarette out. My hands shook for a moment before I could get the lighter to strike and light the damn thing, and tossed the pack and lighter back into my bag afterwards.

Messi: "You smoke?"

Me: "Yeah. Kind of a requirement for the life I have. Only vice I really have anymore."I took a drag, and watched the tip flare red before I let my arm drop back down to my side. I looked up to watch the smoke for a few minutes before I spoke again. You ever wonder if there's something we coulda done different? Something that would have changed this messy situation?"

He shrugged.  "Not really.  Nothing I could have done, other than, you know, let my own brother die."  He looked at me, smirking a bit.  "And was that a pun?" I glanced over at him and shrugged, smiling. "Maybe." A cab pulled up.  "C'mon, let's go." I  nodded and opened the door, motioning him to get in, before I followed suit and slid onto the seat.

We sat in near-silence during the trip. Messi paid the driver as they left, and stepped out.  "We've got a bit to go yet.  We'll have to walk, though."  He pauses, then speaks a bit more quietly.  "So is this really the only reason you're here?  To visit Eddie and the husks? I find of kind that hard to believe." I waited for a young couple to pass us before speaking. "It's my first priority. I had other business to take care of while I was in town, but that's mostly been taken care of now."

He shook his head.  "Why travel all this way to see what you can see somewhere else?  Why here?" I looked down for a moment before giving a sad glance off to the side, staring off into space for a minute. "This place matters to me. Those people deserve better, and they likely wouldn't get it from anyone else. Besides, like I said, I had other things I needed to take care of. Some of it really important. This is my last stop before I can go back home and sleep in my own bed. I'll be glad to see this place in my rearview mirror, to be honest."
He asked me why I was there, and I paused before answering. "A contact in St. Louis wanted an interview. A.. friend of mine needed some running money, some help. My exfiancee needed a reminder to keep his mouth shut. A few other odds and ends. You know. The normal."

Messi  nodded, stopping in his tracks in front of an obscure looking building.  "Well...we're here.  I want to talk to Eddie some, and then...I don't know.  Spend time with the others.  I don't know what to do or say, but...I'm going to at least try." He looked over at me.  "What are your plans, exactly?" I fiddled with a stray thread to my shirt for a second before I answered him. "Color with them. Give them some pictures. Talk with them, tell them some of my stories. Talk to Eddie, maybe.. maybe have a few conversations you don't need to hear." He nodded.  "Guess we split for a bit here.  Take care of our business here.  That sound good?"

I wandered inside to go talk to the husks. I sent Eddie a friendly wave as I dropped down next to a familiar looking body in the middle of the room. He took a few steps toward me before noticing Messi behind me. I could visibly see as the gears turned in his head, working out why the two of us were here. Why we were here together went unsaid. I'm not sure I would've had an answer if he asked, if I were really being honest. Eddie eyed me a bit suspiciously at first, but after maybe half an hour he stopped acting like a pack of Runners were going to come in with torches and pitchforks.

Messi and I both made our rounds through the room, trying our best to cheer them up. We both knew it wasn't going to change anything, but at least for me.. knowing that we tried was better than just letting them be alone all the time. It was oddly like going to a nursing home, with a little more insanity and much more sadness. These people were stuck with no ways out of their own heads. Their handler was overstressed and in the middle of a social relations nightmare. Speaking of, I did wind up speaking to him a little. He was surprised to see me there instead of trying to hide or run. He knew as well as I did that New York wasn't the best place for me to be. Showing up at a Husk den was one of the biggest gambles I could make.
I gestured a bit to his bottle of pills, and asked about the state of his dreams.

We fought, and talked, and I even managed to make him laugh a little near the end. He reluctantly agreed to.. help me some, in exchange for some information I still had on the area. He not so kindly suggested I get the fuck out of town after this meeting of mine, to which I agreed wholeheartedly. There were.. more details, but that's the extent I should probably mention. Messi places a hand on my shoulder to get my attention. "Hey.  You ready to go?" I glanced at Eddie, who just turned his back on me and walked over to the table full of notebooks over at the side. "That's probably the best goodbye I could have expected."

He nodded.  "The cab's just got here.  It's waiting for us.  You hungry?" I let my hair hang forward in my face before nodding. I paused for a second, and then shyly took Messi's hand for a second. "Can you.. can you just pretend I'm a friend of yours for a while, while we eat? I.. think I'll need it, but.. I'll understand if you don't want to." He smiled a bit wistfully.  "I don't make friends anymore, but...you might at least count as an acquaintance. Shouldn't be too hard to pretend." I tightened my grasp on his hand, waved to Eddie with a sad smile.  I pulled Messi outside with me, letting him follow along just behind me as we got into the cab and told the driver where we were going.

I leaned my head back against the seat, looking for all the world as if I were about to take a nap. Messi looks over at me.  "Oh, yeah, you've been busy for a while, haven't you?  Must be tired."  He pauses, realizing what he's doing. "Right, sorry, I'l let you sleep." I shook my head and mumbled under my breath to him, "No, if I sleep now I'll stay that way. I just.. my eyes hurt. I've been doing alot of driving lately. I wanted to close them.. just for a minute.." He  nodded.  "So where do you want to eat?" I raised my head up long enough to crack an eye open at him, glaring as I spoke to him."You know this town the best. Pick your favorite place, I'll pay. Just don't ask any more stupid questions."

Messi: "You've gotta have some opinion, though.  Fast food?  Fancy restaraunt?" He smirked. "Candlelight dinner?" I growled for a second before I caught myself doing it. "Messi,  so help me god if you ask me again, I'm going to start calling you by your real name for the rest of the night." I rested my head back against the seat and starts tapping my other hand against the door just under the window, trying to stay awake long enough to get to where they're going.

Messi just kept pestering me. "You like Italian?  there's a decent place with pretty good food that's not too expensive in the area." I sat up and glared at him. "Will it make you stop asking questions? Then yes. I love Italian. Let's go." Messi  nodded and wisely decided to shut up for the rest of the trip. When the cab pulled to a stop, I handed a twenty to the driver and started making shooing motions at Messi. "Go on. Open the door, I'm not opening it into traffic."

Messi asked me as we entered, "Hey, how old are you, exactly?" I asked him if it mattered. He rolled his eyes, and replied. "I'm not gonna get wine if you can't have it." I sighed long sufferingly and pulled him over to wait for our server. "Old enough." I put on my most charming smile as an older gentleman in a server's outfit came over to us and gushed about the restaurant and the decor of the place. I coyly asked if we could possibly get a booth towards the back, if it wouldn't be any trouble. Messi mumbled in my ear as I spoke to the waiter,"I'm gonna make sure they ask for identification, you know."  He grinned a bit.  "But come on, let's eat."

I paused to glare at my 'date' in the middle of my conversation with the server before I turned back and began to act the ditzy young lady once more. The server's smile turned more manipulative as he glanced downwards at my chest before he agreed and lead us toward the back. I dropped his hand long enough to slide into the booth and started asking silly questions about the drink selection and the dinner menu. After he handed me the menu, I pretended to look it over before I ordered. I paused long enough to ask for Messi's choices, asking if the man taking our orders would mind getting them a few appetizers as well.

I waited long enough for the man to be out of earshot before I turned back to Messi and dropped my fake smile. "What? I'm hungry.." Messi shrugged.  "And I haven't had much of an appetite for a while." I unwrapped the utensils and fiddled with my water glass for a minute before murmuring, "Well, when you have people harping on you about your eating habits, and half-serious threats about what'll happen if you don't.. you learn to shut up and eat." He shrugged.  "It might also have something to do with finances.  Used to eating less."

I stopped fidgeting long enough to stop and look him in the face. "If you're hungry, eat whatever you want. Order more, if you want, hell, order enough to bring home to the girls. It's not like I'm going to bitch about it." He shook his head.  "We don't go hungry.  And besides, last time I stuffed myself, I ended up throwing it all up." I scoffed, "That's not what I said, now is it? Either get some more, or I'll just have bunch of food ordered to your apartment. Your choice." He growled, and even though I couldn't see his eyes through the sunglasses, it was clear he was glaring at me.  "We don't need your fucking pity."

"It isn't pity, you prideful jackass. My job, the one I get paid for the one I don't, is to help people I fucking want to. Pull your head out of your ass long enough to see that. I trusted you enough to let you see my face. You think I'm going to pity the guy with my secret?" He shook his head.  "We don't want help.  That's that. The sentiment is appreciated, though." I sat back and pouted for a second before shrugging. "Long as you aren't a dick about it, I don't care. So.. out of curiosity.. why are we still out and about? I eat as much as the next lady, but aren't you the same guy that refused to even let me see you over skype? What's your deal?"

I had obviously not made any efforts to alter my appearance or hide my face, and for the first time seemed to realize I hadn't. He shrugged.  "I had to show you there in person.  Not exactly an easy place to find, and I didn't want you calling me every five minutes to ask for directions.  Besides, it's what the hat and sunglasses are for. Not too many people anymore I'd even remotely consider an acquaintance, and if you're going to make the effort to come all the way out here, I might as well at least show you around some."

I thought about it a moment before agreeing and thanking him, apologizing as an after thought for being suspicious. Our appetizers arrived at that point, and I took the distraction gratefully. Messi looked down and continued eating, our table falling silent. After a few minutes of awkward silence, I looked up and blushed a tiny bit before asking him something quietly. "So, this isn't an interview. We, ah, we don't have to act like someone just died, you know. So.. would it be that big of a deal if I asked you to take off your disguise?" He paused.  "Not now.  But yeah.  I will." I asked him when, and he replied, "Eventually.  When we're not in a place where I'd draw so much attention looking like shit."  He looked up at me.  "No pictures, though."

I smiled sheepishly and looked around. "What would give you the notion I'd take a picture of you?"

Messi: "Just a precaution.  You might try to out what I look like."

Me: "What if I promised never to show another soul, or Fear for that matter?"

Messi: "I'm also not particularly photogenic.  And I don't put much stock in promises of people I've met once.  No offense."

I shrugged and went back to eating. "Whatever."

Messi: "I'm not a people person.  You've maybe noticed."

Me:"I am. Maybe you've noticed."

He looked down at this, and what he said next surprised me. "It's a shame we met under the circumstances we did."

I raised an eyebrow and looked over at him curiously. "What do you mean by that?"

Messi: "I dunno.  I just think we would have gotten along fairly well."

I smiled rather widely. I let my hair hang back in my face again as I looked down at the food without really noticing it. "Yea, I.. I think so too. You seem like a decent guy, when you aren't biting my head off or calling me ugly names."

Messi: "Like I said.  Not a people person."

I laughed. "That's your normal, then?"

Messi: "Well, it's...more intense, I guess."

Me: "Uh... huh. Well, I'm not normally the flaming inquisitive bitch that I act like. I.. well, I don't think that'd be a good idea to tell you, but.."

I had an idea then, a way to trade with him for  his trust. "I'll tell ya what. I'll tell you a secret, if you'll tell me one. Doesn't have to be important."

Messi: "As long as it's off the record.  I don't want you sharing it."

I grinned. "I'm sharing everything else, but these two things, i'll strike from the record. Yours and mine. Well... yours, at least." I opened my bag and rummaged around for a while before I pulled my little wordpad out. I flipped to a certain page and showed it to him. "Do me a favor and look at this page again."

Messi "...Yeah.  What about it?"

Me: "Same thing you saw earlier, right? Now look at the other side of it." I flipped the page over and shows him the other side, pointing to a certain address. One we had just been to. "See anything familiar?"

Messi:"...how long have you had that?"

I thought for a second, visibly making counting motions with my fingers. "Um... since fall."

Messi: "Then tell me...why in the HELL did you even let me know you were going there?  You could have just popped in and out without even letting me know."

I flinched and chuckled nervously. "Because... of the secret I'm about to show you." I leaned over to the side to rummage in my bookbag again before I came up for air with a very odd and extremely decorated notebook in my hand. Careful not to jab my hand on the safety pins attached, I straightened up and held it up in front of him. "Any idea what this might be?"

Messi: "Just a guess, it looks like your crazy book."

I rubbed my temples with my other hand for a moment before I handed Messi the notebook with the other. "Yea. You could call it that. It's, well.. it's yours now. It's the reason this was my first priority. That and well, you."

Messi: "The reason what was your first priority?  And what about me?" I fought the urge to facepalm. "My meeting you, that was the first priority. I told you that earlier. Just.. just hang on to that for me, yea?"

Messi: "...you came all the way up here just to visit me? I'm touched, but do you mind if I ask just why the fuck that is?" I closed my eyes and resisted the urge to start raising my voice.

Me: "That notebook in your hands happens to be incredibly fucking important. I'd.. appreciate it if you took care of it for me. It recently very nearly fell into the hands of people that would use it against me, or just plain blackmail me with it. And you're.. pretty much the only one I'd trust not to give a fuck about it."

Messi idly started to page through it, and I put a hand out.

Me: "Don't do that, not yet!"

Messi: "You'd trust me with this?"

Me: ".....Yes."

Messi: "Geez, why not?  You handed it to me, why can't I look at it?"

I gritted my teeth and reached out for the notebook in a half-assed attempt to take it back. "Because, damn it, I said not yet. This is likely the only time I'll ever get to meet you, and I'd prefer it if you didn't see the shit inside until after I left, you get me?" I looked down. "Look, if you want to look at it, I guess I'd be okay with that. Preferrably, after I leave. Just... avoid the back until we're done."

Messi: "Okay, I get it.  I'll look at it later."

I visibly calmed down and stopped leaning over the table into his face, returning to my side. I sighed and waved a hand at him in irritation. "Go ahead and ask your questions, I can tell you want to."

Messi: "Okay.  First of all, why are you giving this to me? Second, what makes it so important?"

Me: "Because part of it's written to you, and because you're the only person I'd trust with all the information inside. Don't get excited, the information on the Fears or most of the people I work for (or with) isn't in there. Which leads me to your second question. It's important because... it talks about who I was while I was a Gatherer, and hell, even before that. It has a few of my less catastrophic dreams, some prophecies, hell, even some information about my life now that no one knows yet. And... it has my real name in it. Some pictures..."
I covered my face in my hands and took a breath as I thought about the possibility of Gallows or Ferus getting ahold of it, as they almost had. "You can see why it'd be important for someone I can trust to have it."

Messi idly started paging through the book from the back, not really looking at it.  "So what am I supposed to do with this?"

I winced as I saw him looking at the pages I specifically asked him not to look at. "Hide it. Look at it, if you want. Just make sure no one gets it. Hell, put it under your mattress or at the top of your closet for all I care. But.. it's the last piece of me before the Fears came into my life. Please.. please protect it for me. I wouldn't beg if it weren't important."

Messi: "And why didn't you just mail it?  Why did you give it to me in person?"

I blushed and started to avoid his eyes rather studiously. "Erm... well, first of all, mail delivery fucking sucks. Shit gets lost, and I wasn't about to trust anyone with the damn thing unless I had to. Second, it's.. it's fragile. And time-sensitive. And third, well... other reasons."

He looked down at it.  "I'm gonna have to write a hell of a report for you, aren't I?"

Me: "W-what makes you say that?"

He tapped the cover with a finger.  "Well, I caught a few names in it, and it looks like I'm not the only one it's addressed to. I guess it's fine if you're handing all your final words to me. It's kinda my job, after all."

I looked up quickly. "Do not share the front page with anyone."

Messi: "Why not?  What's on the front page?"

Me: "Look at it real fast. It has my Gatherer name, my real name.. and.. at least three of my personas written down. I can't let people know those names, or me as anything but Dia."

He  nodded. "Right.  Well, I don't really think it matters after you're dead, but I'll keep the private information out of it." He swallowed the rest of his wine before calling the waiter over for the check.

I nodded and zoned out, trying to deal with the fact that I finally gave up my notebook. I looked up and pasted on an overly bright smile for the server, saying goodbye as I stood and grabbed my bag, still zoned as I waited for the man to finish with my card."

Messi: "I could have paid for myself, you know."

I snorted and went back to my fidgeting until the server came back with my card, threw a random bill on the table for the tip and walked out without waiting for Messi to catch up. He threw a bill on the table and follows my out.  "Hey, um...thanks for the notebook, I guess?  And thanks for coming to visit, you know...them." I shook my head sadly, my good mood having left me as soon as I had told him the real reason for my having been there. "You won't be thanking me when you read it. I expect I'll get quite a few angry messages and phone calls, and I'll probably ignore them unless you have something besides yelling to do." He looked down, slowly removing his hat. Underneath, his hair is a mess. Just a little too long, and definitely unkempt.

I turned to him in surprise. "I didn't expect you to do that, you know. Aren't you afraid I'll tell someone what you look like?" I smiled despite myself and reached up to try and make some semblance of order out of his hair, trying not to get too close to him as I did so. The hair refused to cooperate, which just made me try harder. He pulled me back, removed the glasses, and looked at me.  "I think I look generic enough.  Especially if I clean up a bit." His eyes had very noticeable dark circles under them. He looked like he hadn't slept in a week. I dropped my hand and held my arms out  to my sides as if to say "See?" "I don't know what to say, I mean.. the best I could do to make it fair would be to show you the scars from.. before. I don't really think you'd be interested."

I looked up at his face carefully as I tried my best not to show anything looking like pity or remorse in my eyes. It would only set him off.  He chuckled,"Yeah, I know, I look like shit. Guess that's what happens when you've got a stressful workplace environment."I smirked and made a little box with my fingers out in front of me, like I was trying to look through a fake camera. "You're cute." He blushed and kicked his feet at the ground and grumbled at me for that one.

"Yeah, laugh it up. But yeah, if you've got any ideas on how to get these dark circles out, by all means." I laughed just to fuck with him. "I can't help it bitches wanna fuck me. Man, woman, whatever, they all like what they see. You? Yeah, you're cute too. Why don't you try sleeping? And if not that.." I thought for a second. He chuckled.  "Poe and Nee-chan seem to love L so much.  Don't know why any lady would, considering he'd look like this in real life."

Messi grinned before looking solemn as he stuck his hands in his pockets and hunched over. I squeeed rather loudly, then blushed and covered my mouth. "THAT'S what it is! Oh my god!" I shut myself up and backed up a couple of feet, trying to act like I didn't just go fangirl as hell. "Also... vitamin K cream, consuming vitamin C, and putting cucumber slices over your eyes should work."

Messi smirked, "Vitamin C's the one in orange juice, right?" I giggled. "Yes." He nodded. "Well, I...I enjoyed meeting you, Dia." I smiled and tipped an imaginary hat in his direction and waved before I walked up to just in front of him. He looked down at me with a frown, visibly uncomfortable. "You'd better get going, though, huh?" I leaned up on my tiptoes, kissed him on the cheek, and told him goodbye. I grinned and walked off in the opposite direction as his apartment, disappearing around the first corner I could find. As I left, Messi rolled his eyes and put his hat and glasses back on.  "Fucking flirt."