Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Fractured Guardian

This guy is seriously cracked.

But in that really great way that makes someone like me feel normal, so... not complaining, I guess. I've met worse. Though my head did have some complaining to do after he was done jackhammering his way into my skull. Only tells me AFTERWARDS that he'd never done anything like that before.

I could have shot him.

But, anyway, rewinding a bit. He is kind of a liar. Kinda. If I wanted to jab at him I could call him that. Because the first time he dropped by, he did not announce himself at all. He just turned up at the very same Cafe where I was attempting to enjoy a coffee. Walked right through the front doors wearing a sheer white lab coat and a black cowboy hat. Those, along with his near pale-grey skin made him look like he'd taken a tumble out of some weird, black and white movie on a really cheap budget. Like, really cheap. Seriously. Who the hell wears a labcoat with a cowboy hat. Who. Besides this idiot, I mean?

At the very least, he didn't try to pretend it was some big coincidence.

 "While I often do show up in random cafes 
and single out stragglers by pretending to know them, 
this is definitely not that."

In fact, he had a theory.

One that inspired him to track me down and have a nice little one-on-one, but not in that Cafe. Voicing concerns about the entire place turning into a "blood hall" if he was right. Which sounded bad enough to catch my attention and not just dismiss him (you get paranoid about ambushes and traps in this business) when he suggested we should take our conversation somewhere private. Max didn't really seem to like him all that much - growled at him from where he was curled up at my feet - but Fracture seemed far from offended. Simply commenting that he didn't think they allowed for dogs in here.

"They don't. But Max is a regular here so they put up with a stray like me.
Look, Fracture, the only thing close to 'private' I have is a park bench
or whatever one-star motel I decide to to break into."

"Let's break into a motel room."

"...You definitely need better pick-up lines, mate."

 "Pick ups where never really my strong suit... how's this:
'Hey hot stuff, how about we break it a cheap room for some private investigating?'"

 . "...Still not the worse line I've ever heard.
...Or used. 
...Or have work, actually.
In any case, this may be another thing to add to the
long list of stupid things I've done, but...
You did say 'murder hall'.
Call me a bleeding heart, but I can't ignore that."

The motel wasn't far. Just around the block, really. There were others mulling about, so I opted for picking the lock. I went in first, Max at my heel, and Fracture closed up after us. And that... would be when things got uncomfortably personal very VERY fast. Got backed into the wall, but not before I'd drawn my glock and had it kissed under his jaw. I actually think that surprised him a bit - I'm fast. I was always a fast draw. Being trained under Cypher just made me faster. And I'd had my head screwed with enough to know when I wanted someone to back off and back off NOW. Mind control. Mind alteration. Memory block. Memory implant. Preception filter. Loop. I didn't know what the hell was pinging around that brain of his, so was sure as hell going to protect myself until I DID know.

And what his theory came to be... was that he was concerned that the Redfuck was taking refuge in the last place anyone would expect him to. And where his prime pursuer would never find him.

In my head.

I wanted to debate it... but stopped myself. Slowly lowering my weapon and holstering it. After all, Redlight had been in "Nightscream's" head for months, and Sam hadn't known. Why would I be any different? Besides... if Redlight WAS in my head... then it made killing him pretty damn simple, right? Just a round-a-bout with my favorite weapon and a bit too much pressure on the trigger. End of story. I could see that Fracture knew what I was thinking, from the simple gravity in his stare on me. We all get that, eventually. When we've seen enough death. A brace you put on yourself when you feel it coming again to take someone else. He had that look.

I just ripped the bandages off my head. Threw them on the floor. He didn't even react when I turned my stare back onto his. One blue eye, one gaping socket surrounded by gashed skin, slowly healing. He just... placed a thumb just below each side, below my eye and where my eye should have been, and then placed his index fingers on my temples. Instructing me to keep my eye open. To relax. Warning of possible discomfort as he leaned in awkwardly close. The blue in his own eyes taking on a strange light...

It started mild. Like a pinch. Just uncomfortable. That was it.

But then... it started to heat up. And BURN as something flipped in my head and I... I began to remember. Images flashing out. Ripping out. Morphed and distorted but REAL and... and Redlight was there. Not in my head, not as an infestation but as a memory. A smoking and charred figure struggling from Eden and running into the Empty City with me following right behind at a mad sprint. Determined to catch up. Determined to finish it, no matter what. The bastard shifted though. Coming back here. On this side. Leaving me there, struggling for breath as I was left behind once again. Screaming out in frustration and sleep deprivation and everything... and then I... I saw... something I had actually managed to forget. Suppress. Just... ignore.

I finally saw for myself... what Cypher refused to talk about. What he saw in The Castle that time.


My Sam.

I will always... love Sam. No matter what this world turns it into.

It doesn't matter that Sam didn't even recognize me, or maybe it did. But it didn't understand why. Couldn't make the connection. It... the love of my life... stood before me in that City... as a puppet under The Plague Doctor. A human essence infested with disease upon disease. Boils and blisters and festering, oozing pus and fever so hot it blistered my skin just being near it...

and rats

Sam was... infested... with red-eyed rats.

I saw them staring out at me from under the tattered remains of that hoodie. Their hair... wet... from where they had been... nestled into...

Sam attacked me. Grabbed me - felt like acid on my skin - and threw me. Sam... literally threw me with a strength it didn't even look like it could manage and I went flying. Until I wasn't. Until the middle of my back hit something hard, but the rest of me didn't. The sheer pain that split through me in that instant was... unbelievable. A 'snap' that jolted me from head to toe, right into my core. White hot agony. And I screamed out... before flopping down. Hitting the pavement below the post that had just...

I couldn't feel my legs.

I guess that's what they call irony, isn't it?

But "Nightscream" hadn't finished yet. In fact, that had just been to immobilize me so I couldn't... fight back as much as it kicked me over and kneeled down on me. One leg pinning an arm, the other on my chest, while its glove wrapped around my throat... and the rusted, filthy blades of its gauntlet came to my face. Cutting down one side even as I struggled. Even as I pleaded for Sam to just... remember. Calling back to old times. Trying to spark some recognition, any recognition, throwing out any name I could remember from our lives together... or even from Sam's own life as a Proxy. Anything. Anyone. I tried... as its gauntlet positioned the bladed thumb over my eye. And then pushed in. Sliced in before there was a pop and a gush of hot blood as I couldn't... bite back the scream in my throat anymore. That blade still pushing back... until it stopped. Just stopped. And I saw... Eden flashing before my eyes.

That's what Plague wanted from me. Why He pulled Sam out of the Castle on rotten strings to do this. 

He must not have been able to See into the chaos of Eden.

He wanted to know what happened.

He could have picked anyone to strip that from. He picked me. Probably to torture Sam. Probably because, somewhere lost deep inside, Sam is still awake, in some sense...

Someone else showed up then. I'm still... trying to remember who.

But up until that point... that was what Fracture saw and felt when he cracked into my skull. And it was what I re-experienced and re-felt. 

So, yes, the neighbours probably heard the screaming. Fracture falling flat on his back with hands clawing into his skull and hair as his body violently convulsed and seized and curled. I, myself, collapsed to my knees the second his hands came off of me. Everything pitching and swirling in my head as the wall came down and I was Awake to so much more than before. I felt... hot. And sick to my stomach. But I managed to avoid passing out... only to then realize that Fracture had done just that. Max forced himself into my face. Whining and licking until my hands numbly dove into soft fur. Stroking him. Burying my face partly until I wasn't hearing my heart pounding in my ears anymore. Until I could breathe deep again...

When I was ready for moving again, I got to my feet (with a new wonder of how I possibly could) and managed to get Fracture into the bed. Leaving him to rest there as I went into the bathroom to change my bandages. Seeing my wounds... especially my missing eye... in a whole new way...

I felt so sick.

When Fracture woke up, we talked. And we talked for a WHILE. After he answered a few things in a way that I felt were positive for me, I told him about a... theory of my own that I've had for a little while now. An insane little idea that's been rattling around in my attic. I was honestly expecting to be shot down...

But, not only did he think it was possible... he was actually on board to help me.

From the way he talks about things, I don't even think he is FROM this dimension, but he's going to help anyway. And we need it. More than any of you realize we do. And time is just getting shorter and shorter, but we've... progressed. Even now, we're closer than we were.

The 'Book' he mentioned here is a part of that. It was an idea he had, and I think it'll help. We've since met up and done the exchange.

I've since thought of another detail that could help us.

A detail I've been trying to get a hold of for over a month now.

I know you are still alive, kid. I've been confirmed of that much. JUST ANSWER MY DAMN MESSAGES ALREADY.