After the last post, about meeting Joshua, I left. I went home and thought about what he said, long and hard. I ignored the fact that I was in debt to the Advocate during then. My mind was debating on what needed to be done.
That night I left to go to the graveyard, I searched for the exact spot we were earlier. I found her tombstone and stared at it. Right next to Billy's and I didn't even know... I had laid between both of them without even realizing it was her's. There's a reason I call her things like Blondie or Smiles, because that's all I remember her by. Until today. Now I don't even know. Even now it just fucks with my head. I don't know how long I was there for, standing in the dead silence of night, in the goddamn cold. I made up my mind before I went there, sucked it up then that I was there, and stabbed the shovel into the ground. I dug until I hit the coffin, cleared the dirt aside as I began prying open the upper half of the casket. When I did it was not what I expected.
Joshua was right. She was dead. The decayed body of a skeleton laid in the coffin, still and silent. I stared at the loose ring on the thinned, mostly bone finger.
"I gave her that. We joked about being married. One day she was upset so you-I- we bought that ring and gave it to her. We told her we would make her happy one day. It was the first time we allowed ourselves to be affectionate with anyone. Her smile made our heart warm."
"Once upon a time..." I murmured, my eyes gazing over the corpse. "Who have I been seeing, or was seeing? Is it really her, or is someone fucking with my head?"
"She's out there."
"Impossible. She's right here, I can see her, smell her, feel her. This right here, this is real. She's right fucking here!" I shouted, "And she's fucking dead!" I glared, at the dirt and filth covering the coffin I knelt upon. Shoulders shaking as I rubbed the bridge of my nose and questioned, "Who did Billy really see overseas?"
"DON'T FUCKING LIE TO ME!" I screamed.
"She's dead in body. Her conscious still exists because of you."
I looked upon the Caged One within my mind, seething internally. "Are you daring to compare me to the Executor?"
"Far different yet oddly alike. You must speak with Mystery, she knows more than she wanted to say before."
"And as always people fail to tell me things I really need to fucking know."
"...What... What the hell-- Oh I knew you would stoop so low." I looked up and saw Joshua staring down, a mixture of hurt and rage across his face. "How could you violate her like this? Her of all people, you selfish bitch!"
I looked back down at her, closing the lid because I really didn't want her to see or hear this. If she could. At that point I really didn't even know what to believe. Was it true? Was this all my fault? Did I kill her?
I got out of the hole and stood, receiving a backhanded slap across my face. I nearly fell back into the hole but he grabbed my shirt, ripping me forward and tossing me to the ground. "Joshua..." I grunted, pulling myself back up. "You don't want to do this."
"No, #$&^@%^^&%, I don't want to. I kind of fucking need to do this." He said, throwing a punch that I blocked. There were a few differences between him and I, I swore on a daily basis, he did it when angry. Not just angry, when furious. And a furious Joshua is just not what I wanted nor needed. Because a furious Joshua was a lot of trouble.
"If you need to blow off steam-"
"You fucking abandoned us! US! Your family, your friends, everyone! You don't come to her funeral, and then Billy's." Joshua pulled back his arm, seething. "There were four of us, now there's only two and it's all your fault."
I stared at him, "I know." was my response. Even if I couldn't remember there was something in my gut that told me he was right.
"Then you should understand, better than anyone, why I need to do this." He pulled out another handgun, taking aim directly at me. I didn't move, how the fuck could I argue that? "You're not just associating with monsters, #@$#%&$, you are one."
I snapped, launched forward and latched onto him. He hit the tree, gun firing past my head as I slammed him back into it. Screaming at him, "I am not a fucking monster! I do everything, everyfuckinglittlething, to keep myself from becoming one. I give monsters chances, I help people, I am trying to find solutions to end this shit. I work endlessly, it's my job except I'm not being fucking paid!" I slammed his hard into the tree, ignoring his wince as he hit me. It didn't loosen my grip, not by a long shot. A knee to the ribs, a hand on my neck squeezing before he managed to shove me back off him.
"You're denying yourself of every urge to slit someone's throat. You feel everything those monsters do. Only difference is you're-"
"I don't want to become them. I don't want to be a murderer. I don't want my hands covered in unnecessary blood. I feel what they feel, every tick, every instinct, every little thing that drives me up the wall before I pull myself back down again. EVERYTHING. And what do I do, Joshua? What do I fucking do? I restrain myself, I take a different course of action that benefits people. I don't fucking slaughter them!"
He took aim again, "But you want to! I can read you. Hell, that fuck job saved you, he knows. How long have we known each other for? You don't think I didn't see this before? I should have done something before. None of this would have happened if I just..."
"How am I supposed to know when I don't remember anything from before!" I yelled at him, acknowledging the gun with a glance. "You act like I'm going around murdering people with my own two hands."
"You might as well be." I winced, knowing just what he meant. "You killed her, you indirectly killed Billy-"
"Road Runner set that up and I don't remember ever doing such to her. Joshua, I don't remember. I don't remember anything. I'm just doing what I can right now from what I know presently. And that's helping people, not killing them." He stared at me, skeptical as ever. "I don't want to hurt people and you can't keep blaming me for things I don't remember or that weren't in my power to fix."
"But you do want to hurt people." He fixated on it, I felt my insides twitch.
I shook my head, a lengthy exhale of air leaving my lips. "People piss me off. It's hard to feel for them as a whole, but individually I don't want to hurt people. Individually I understand people."
"So you just want to hurt the mass as a whole?" He cynically replied.
"No, Joshua, NO!"
"You like hurting people, #@%$^#%^%, you like having the ability to dominate someone and destroy them. You like cutting people open, you like everything about death, pain, and murder. It fascinated you as a kid, you used to play Five-Finger Fillet to see if one cut would differ if you went at different speeds. You act like I don't know you. We grew up together, you ran away when things got serious. Just because you did doesn't mean I don't know you still. You don't just throw that all away and you don't just throw our friends away." And this is why Joshua and I are known as twins amongst peers.
"What interests me and what I actually do are two separate things. I don't intentionally go around fucking up peoples days." Joshua scowled at me and I back at him. "You're pissed off because of what happened, things that were out of my control and half of which I don't remember. I'm not going to stand here and try and justify myself anymore to you. I don't need to explain myself when my situation is crystal fucking clear. I'm not a fucking monster and it hurts to hear you even... Even..." I grabbed my head with one hand, shaking it. "I don't even know what I'm doing. It's guesswork, tactical decisions happen more on foot. There is barely any planning because things are so sudden, like with Billy. If I knew things would be different, if I had a hint, a map, a plan of attack, I'd strategize it all differently. I'd switch places in a heartbeat, faster than that even. I left at the first sign of this unusual shit, it worked to protect you guys. That's all I've ever tried to do. Even if it meant breaking my promise to be here always, to break your vows that we as a family would protect one another to just uphold my own and protect you all. But that all turned to shit." I shook violently, glaring at him. "I'm done trying to justify this all to you, Joshua. I'm done. If you can't understand-"
I felt him wrap his arms around me, something I haven't felt in a while now. For a moment there was genuine care, until the barrel of the gun pressed against the back of my head, his head tilted away from it. He could shoot, right then and there. He was going to, and I knew it. "You can't help what you are. I-"
Hands were upon us out of nowhere, turning my head I saw the bird mask come into view for a moment. The worst interruption one could ask for. Within the next we were flung to the ground in a completely different location. A shoe impacted my stomach and I was flung a short distance before I hit the ground, coughing hysterically. Road Runner was near Joshua, picking up the gun as she checked the clip. I pulled myself up, running in their direction. She took aim down at him, ready to fire when I collided into her side. The bullet firing directly before him.
"Fucking run!" I screamed, shoving Road Runner away as I ran to him, grabbing his arm as we bolted into the old building she brought us to. It looked like another old mansion, no doubt we were in Jersey still. Maybe Philly, even. Places had plenty of scattered, abandoned locations. Old mansions included. We ran into the front door, gazing around briefly as we were greeted with pillars in an open room. Stairs to the far left of the room, both sides having opened archways into other rooms off this entrance one. Straight forward led to the large kitchen, right to a dining room, left to a living area. Upstairs were bedrooms, bathrooms, and closets, further up the attic, down below the basement and wine cellar. Simple layout, as I found out later.
Road Runner broke open the door, firing the gun with calculated precision into our direction. I shoved us behind a pillar. She teleported around it, we dodged as she fired again. "W-what-"
"Sh!" I could only get out from her rapid movement, a bullet skinning my side. "Follow my lead." I ordered, hearing the clip fall as another was reloaded somewhere within the ruined room. I looked at where we were positioned in the room, halfway through. I wanted upstairs. Less open space, more rooms. Mansions had a lot of interconnecting rooms which could work to our advantage and help boost defenses. Joshua pulled me aside as Road Runner fired a shot from around a pillar a few rows in front of us. I looked at the hole, eye level to where I stood. So she really was trying to kill me now. I smirked bitterly, flicking Joshua's hand lightly, "Up." I said before rolling around the pillar, dodging across the room as Road Runner opened fire once more. He bolted for the stairs, I circled a pillar and pressed into it.
"Lost composure. Useless." I could hear her hiss to no one in particular. The gun fired again in my direction, a bullet skinning my collar this time. I growled, relocating as she teleported ahead of me, aimed point blank at my face.
"Lenore." She cocked her head. "Fuck your face." She pulled the trigger but nothing came out, I laughed gleefully punching her mask with all I could muster. "And learn to fucking count." I went to punch her again, she caught it. Swung my leg to kick out at her knee, she dodged it, her leg wrapped around my own and tugging my forward awkwardly. I forced my weight backwards, her light frame faltering as I became dead weight and brought us both down. Rolling through the filth I sat on top, my hand already in a fist as I cracked the side of her mask. Road Runner screeched, not in pain but fury, clawing open my cheek with one hand as the other gripped the back of my head, I found our foreheads colliding as she head-butted me violently. Enough to make me see spots before she shoved me off.
"Wasted, wasted, wasted." She hissed voice distorted and inhuman. "Useless." From the pouch around her waist she pulled out another clip, whispering beneath her breath various insane things. I could see string was tightly coiled around her right wrist and up the forearm of her jacket. Following the strings I could see three dead mockingbirds hanging like some kind of twisted bracelet. The string was wrapped around their feathery necks tightly, leaving them dead and dangling.
Like hell I was going to let that insane fuck take Joshua away as well. I began pulling myself up, head spinning as the ground beneath me spun as well, my balance faltered as I stumbled before standing up as awkwardly straight as I could. Gun reloaded, she took aim. There was an immediate bang, but not from her. Joshua stood on the stairs with a sawed off shotgun and Road Runner was gone. No blood, nothing. Just a gaping hole in the pillar she stood in front of.
"Get over here before she comes-" He was thrown through the railing of the stairs and hit the floor with a yelp. The shotgun slid near enough, I launched forward and grabbed it, taking aim for the stairs but she was gone. I whirled around, she caught the barrel, kicking me in the ribs and sending me back to the ground. Joshua was already up, charging her to the ground, pulling a hunting knife from his pocket he stabbed it into her shoulder. Road Runner screeched again, teleporting.
I rolled myself into a stand, "Up." I ordered, he followed directly as we bolted up the stairs. "Bedroom?"
"Third, right." He rushed as we ran, slipping into the room and locking the door. A trunk was opened with some weapons and other old things. "Bathroom connects to another room, that room connects to a small balcony."
"Sure took your sweet ass time figuring that out." I sneered, shoving some bullets into my pocket. "Good, means we know a little more of the layout."
"Why are we here?"
I looked around, "No idea. Maybe she was living here? I don't know. I don't care right now." I loaded the handgun, tossing him the shotgun. "Careful with that. Takes out a big bite of people."
"Don't want to die?"
"Method isn't creative enough for me." I smirked at him, shoving a second gun into the back of my jeans.
Footsteps could be heard and we froze, I could hear her breathing heavily, whispering to herself still. "Come out little worms. Little, insignificant worms. Come and see the light of day." She almost sang the words as she quietly walked. "Come say hello to the birds." The door broke in half by her powerful kick, she roared and we fired. Road Runner was gone from the doorway to the corner of the room, shoulder bleeding, mask scratched and cracked, side bleeding. I licked my dry lips and took aim, she was gone again.
"Bathroom." Joshua called, falling back into the shared shithole. I backed up quickly after him, he scouted the room carefully as I locked the door. "Videogames, huh?"
I rolled my eyes, "Not even close, dumbass." I motioned for us to switch sides, he complied. "Reload the shotgun too. You're out."
"Are you counting?" I just looked at him. "Right, should have guessed."
"You catch the balcony? Any good to jump from?"
"No go. No trees to catch us, straight down to an old stone work patio." I cursed, he pointed into another direction. "Master bedroom has a bigger balcony with a flimsy old tree. Near the top of the stairs there's a window too."
I sighed, "Across the fucking upstairs or in the open. Bloody fucking fantastic." Road Runner teleported between us, we both took aim and hesitated realizing we were really aimed at one another. She teleported back out just as fast. Joshua and I stared at one another, slowly exhaling our held breaths. Dirty bitch. I motioned for him to come my way, he nodded. A bang came from the door we entered through, I in turn opened the opposite one. There she was. Joshua fired over my head (and in that moment I was so glad he knew how to fire a gun, thank you game hunters), Road Runner's hair slowly fell to the ground. He clipped her barely. I ran into the room with Joshua following, opening the door to the hallway opened up gunfire from her. I tilted the door, which barely even was useful for proper shielding.
I fired back on her when she went to reload, in a blur she disappeared into a room. Stopping I slipped my hand into my pocket, pulling out my phone and tossed it to Joshua. "Speed dial, number two. Ask for Liam."
"CALL!" I shouted as Road Runner picked up her gunfire again after teleported to a room closer to our position.
"Liam?" He asked after a few seconds, "LIAM." Joshua shouted over the gunfire, "Joshua. We're being attacked by a bird chick. We, yea, @&$--I mean Shady." He paused. "I don't know where-"
"FUCKING TRACK THE CALL!" I shouted at them both.
Joshua shoved the phone at me. "Wants you."
"What?!" I snapped, glaring at Joshua as I listened between Liam and Road Runner. "Old mansion in the woods, I'm guessing near Philly, more-" Road Runner screeched, firing once more. "PHILLY, NEAR PHILLY!" I shoved the phone back to Joshua, "Stay on the call, he'll find us, get to the master bedroom."
I stepped out into the hallway once the firing stopped, sliding behind a mirror and a few boxes stacked in the hallway. An inch of dust covered the so call barricaded. I fired on Road Runner's location only to find her gone. Joshua had crossed the hallway, a scream emitting from the room as he came running out again. "NO GO, NO GO!" Road Runner slammed into the wall as she slid into the hallway, snarling as she pulled out of the indent she made. Her shoulders shrugged off the plaster and excess material, mask tilting to stare at us.
My gun aimed at Road Runner and fired, she dodged left. I fire again, she dodged right, coming closer oh so slowly. "Stay on the call, get Liam and his guys here now!" I yelled to Joshua. He went to reply but she caught the back of his shirt and they were both gone. Her tall, lean form towering me a moment later as she stared down, head cocking. I barely had time to block her gun as it swung at me, pain shooting through my arm as it connected. I hit the wall with a grunt and used it as leverage, kicking out and striking her in the shoulder. Hopping over the barricade I gained distance and fired, she sped forward, taking a bullet to the arm. She teleported again, below I could hear gunfire from Joshua before she teleported behind me. I turned, she grabbed my face and lifted, slamming me into the ground and nearly breaking my nose in the process. Gone again, gunfire came from downstairs. I lifted the gun, she teleported over me and I fired immediately. It hit her mask, cracking it and skinning across her forehead. Screaming she lifted a foot and slammed it down, I dodged narrowly.
She was gone again, using her usual dirty tricks. Joshua came flying through the wooden floor and landed on the second level with a wheeze. I grabbed his arm, half dragging him until he managed to catch his footing. We ran down the hallway and into a closet, closing the door as footsteps creaked up the stairs. Silence.
I flicked his hand, he flicked back. Good, he was good to move. I placed a hand up on his shoulder, he winced. I felt warm liquid, he was bleeding. Tempted to punch him, I did not. Instead a silent sigh left my lips.
"In twenty." Joshua whispered. "Mid-West."
A scowl rested on my lips, I flicked his hand. Alright, twenty minutes. We killed five already.
And then blood dripped from above us, I squinted as Joshua tugged the light switch. Sprawled against the ceiling, palms and shoes flat against the walls, was Road Runner. Contorted to be partially hanging upside down. She craned her neck into a disturbing angle, the black voids where her eye holes on the mask were gazing down at us. Everything was still within the small closet. Then Joshua bolted, his hand curled around my wrist as I was dragged backwards out of there. Road Runner hit the floor, ripping the door off its hinges as it dared to try and close on her. We ran towards the master bedroom, she appeared ahead of us. Joshua fired, she moved as the wall behind her was impacted.
We went the opposite way, backed up near the top of the stairs, a door on either side of us and a large window behind us... As we found out when Road Runner teleported in, kicking us out and into the weak ass tree that barely broke our fall. Road Runner was on us in a matter of seconds, I found myself flying and landing against a tree yards away. Joshua was thrown past me, broke a dead, thin tree in half. I could hear him groaning and got up, moving to help but she grabbed my arm. I turned, bringing my elbow down against her arm and removing myself from her hold. Turning up my arm I swiftly shoved that same elbow against her throat. She stepped to the side, catching herself and immediately move in to attack. A punch coming my way, and despite the darkness and moonlight being obscured by the trees mostly, I saw it. I saw the white of the Caged One from the corner of my eyes all at once, and the fist coming my way was reduced in speed almost. I found myself to the side of it, and every visible muscle in Road Runner's body stiffened.
My opposite hand flexed, fingers curling in and before I knew it my body moved on its own accord. White crossed my vision, and then blue eyes were staring into mine. My body was moving, all I remember is that. Gliding across the grass and when the whiteness finally faded Road Runner was holding the side of her mask that was cracked further. A large chunk broken off from the jaw leaving it visible to see the snarl forming upon her lips. A lens in her mask shattered allowing me to view the light brown hue that glared.
"You aren't using what was given to you. What you were born into. Act. Fight. Kill. Survive. Murder is only you showing you rank higher than her on the food chain." The Caged One whispered, Road Runner lifted her head, staring hard at me. "Most of all, she deserves this."
"Ah..." The insane woman hissed, her voice as distorted as before. "There's the beast once seen in the days of young."
"What are you talking about?" I questioned, my brow quirking.
She bent her knees, lowering herself into a prowling stance. "I shall show you."
I hit the ground, not on my own accord but from being purposely forced down by the one who shared this body with me. Successfully dodging Road Runner as she tried to swipe at me from behind. Looking down she attempted to stomp me beneath her track shoes, I rolled quickly and continued until I managed to hop back up. The whiteness began to show at the edges of my vision. Road Runner came at me so fast, I took up the best defense I knew which was boxing. I blocked her punch against my forearms that pressed tightly together in front of my face. She dropped, swiping her leg at mine. The whiteness in my vision grew, lines, almost like veins; spread across my vision. My body moved on its own accord again, jumping up and back from the attack.
She teleported, appearing to my side and again I was dodging her attack, confused even by my own body.
Caged One? I called, my heart racing as I blocked a kick. This isn't adapting. This isn't evolving. This isn't normal! I screamed, completely alert to the fact my body was reacting to a woman that was moving at amazing speeds.
"This is truth. There isn't anything to evolve into, the tools you had since your birth. It is only a matter of remembering." She whispered. "Awakening."
Into what?! I felt the air pass by my head as Road Runner's fist passed by it. "INTO WHAT?!" I screamed, the white veins in my vision spreading, growing, and then it was all I saw. And all I felt was my body gliding once more, suspended but moving. My veins pulsed, it felt like my heart was humming, vibrating. My own breathing filled my ears, heavy, labored. The sound of wood snapping filled my ears in what seemed seconds later and my name was being called over and over again. I opened my eyes, squinting as I stared ahead of me and saw the grass had drag marks and I was indented into a dead tree. Road Runner was in front of the mansion, one arm wrapped around her head, the other one hanging limply as she wailed. "What..."
"Don't." Joshua grabbed my arm, pulling me from the tree. I winced, looking down to see my thigh was cut open and there were all new open wounds and already forming bruises.
"Tell me." I demanded, watching as Road Runner stumbled into the wall of the mansion, slamming herself into it again and again as she cradled her head.
Joshua glanced at his watch, "You kept up with her, broke her arm around her back and said to her, 'You think I forgot? I remember. Everything.' before twisting her arm forward, breaking it again and grabbed her head with your other hand. She started screaming and flung you." He glanced again. "Few minutes."
"How long was I..." I stopped when I caught Road Runner staring our way, her chest lifting and falling in heavy heaves. The woman flickered out. I swore just as I felt myself picked up from behind, and suddenly I was crashing through the rest of the glass from the window we came out of. Joshua landed downstairs somewhere.
"Do you see?" The batshit insane woman said, a kick to my ribs skidded me further down the long hallway.
I coughed a few times, choking on air. "No, because I don't even know what happened."
"You're not complete yet. You'll never be complete until we come to a solution." I was pulled up by the collar of my shirt, feeling her fist impact my face I hit the floor. Felt her hovering over me, her presence was maddening for various reasons. "Luckily I know it."
Then she was gone from the upstairs, except I heard screaming below, followed by a thud. "Joshua?!" I called, pulling myself up as fast as I could. Uncaring for hitting the wall as I stumbled. I got to the stairs and could see him crawling backwards away from her.
And then there were lights as a truck parked outside. Road Runner stood alert, staring out the open front doors, I could barely make out her head as it quirked to the side at the angle I was at. There was a moment of silence, shadows moving in front of the lights. I looked out the window I was thrown out of and back in through, seeing guns being raised by the shadowed figures. I whistled to Joshua, he looked up at me as the first bang went off. Road Runner screeched something inhuman, clutching her already broken arm as fresh blood spilled down it. Joshua crawled up the stairs and I pulled him up the other half, dragging each other away from the opening. She teleported, the sound of the front doors being kicked open fully we could hear.
"Shady?" Liam called. I alerted him to our position upstairs, but before a reply could be made gunfire broke out below.
"Fuckity fuck fuck fuck!" I hissed as I pulled Joshua up, he winced holding his ribs as we ran. We dodged around the various sized holes in the floor, giving us brief glimpses of the battle raging below. Road Runner teleporting in and out, sprinting all over the goddamn place. The squad closing around her, I watched as she flung one of his men aside before a bullet clipped her mask, the tip of her beak breaking off. The woman snarled before disappearing, and we continued to run. Taking a right down a narrow hallway, looking for any exit. I helped Joshua across a hole in the floor just before fingers curled around my ankle, I was dragged through the hole (and loose board to get across the hole) to the first floor. I hit the ground with unforgivable force, the air knocked out of my lungs. Gunfire sounded above me and I pressed into the ground, arms instinctively covering my head. There was a screech in the distance, far side of the room and the gunfire chased it. Just as I was pulled off the ground and stood upright. It was a brief sight of seeing Liam face to face again, I would have felt relief had Road Runner not grabbed my other arm and ripped me from his grasp. I felt myself pass through the air and land against a rock, and I know that because I distinctly heard more than felt my head collide into it.
Disoriented I felt myself clawing at the ground, trying to pull up to a stand but I kept slipping and crashing back down. The smell of oil filled my nostrils and as my vision began to refocus I came to see the ground was saturated in it. Joshua was near the front door, calling for me and demanding someone come to my aid. I grunted, pulling myself up sluggishly, stumbling like a drunk. A breeze was on my back, a bullet fired past as it faded. I looked at the figures positioned behind pillars through-out the room, and there was some relief.
They fired upon Road Runner with precision, a trained force of nature. Completely focused on the bitch of an enemy. She swiftly began attacking them, I watched as they covered each other, blocking her off semi-effectively. Her teleporting began up again, coming in and landing a single (annoying) hit before vanishing. Leaving her next appearance unpredictable, but they defended well enough to stay on their own two feet. She appeared in front of Rob, her reflection caught in his goggles just as she landed on his torso. A screech emitting from her throat as her leg was cut open on his machete, but it didn't stop her. She crawled up him, her sneakers on his belt as she hovered over him. Her hand pulled back, a rusty pipe posed in her hand and prepared to strike.
Liam's arm launched out, grabbing her by the loose ponytail which effectively ripped it out. His hand tangled within her messy hair as he tore her off Rob and turned, throwing her head first against the nearest pillar. His free hand pulling out his black side arm, barrel against her skull. He fired the moment he took aim but she was gone from his grasp, a hole impacting the pillar. Shoving away the side arm he pulled his main gun back around and raised it, prepared immediately for her reappearance. Rob was swearing and from the closer distance now I could see his calculated gaze was ablaze.
Strelock was over to the right, I caught him roll out from behind a pillar and fire upon Road Runner. She froze, clutching her side before vanishing again. He got up easily and took aim, looking for where Road Runner would come from next.
And then once more I went crashing into the rubble, her sitting on me. A single gunshot and she fell motionless, minus the occasional twitch. Slowly her body fell to the side, motionless and I was able to pull myself back up.
"Fucking thank you." I breathed, looking up at Justin who looked beat up as all hell, despite him shrugging it off. I crossed the rest of the room as swiftly as I could, wanting to get out.
"Can we just get the hell out of here?" Joshua yelled impatiently from outside.
A faint smirk cracked onto my bloody lips. Looking back into the room the body was gone, my expression fell immediately. "Li-" I went to say as an explosion of heat broke out from the kitchen, flames raging across the oil and spreading through-out the first level. Their guns were up, my mind raged as we were right at the front door, so close to just being done with this one persistent problem. Liam pushed me back, closer to the exit and behind them. We could see Road Runner's figure flickering in and out of the fire, a shadow of warning letting us know she was still alive.
And out from the flames a broken white mask flew, skidding a great distance and landing near us. It set off alarms in my head, I could see the whiteness edging its way back in. The Caged One stood ahead of the squad, unseen to their eyes. Her dress caught a spark, flames running up as her short hair danced; her gaze was wild despite her eyes being dead. A disturbing contrast. I opened my mouth to say something but a figure flickered into sight to my right. Knees bent, low to the ground, directly at my side. Her broken arm hung loosely, I didn't even see her still useful one move. All I felt was pain. My feet lifted off the ground, an involuntary shriek leaving my lips as I stared down into Lenore's burning gaze.
Then I was rushing downwards, my back hitting the rubble directly before the front door. Pain was surging through my torso, my vision obscured momentarily by the rush. I stared at the tip of a fair sized pipe, rusted and chipped. My eyes traveled South and I saw that this pipe was sticking out of my stomach. Looking back up I could see her, clear as day.
"The solution is your death." She said, so calmly. I felt nothing but immense pain from the gaping hole she created, from the pipe impaled into my stupid body. She was crouching next to me a second later, her hand on my head. I could see a smile curve onto her lips as she tilted her head while looking down at me. A gun fired, she vanished from our presence.
I could hear Joshua, barely. All I felt was the pain surging, blood rushing, my ears only hearing the beating of my own heart. They pulled me outside as quickly and carefully as they could, the cool grass on my back bringing very little comfort. Joshua was at my side, I just kept looking at the pipe sticking out of my stomach, disbelieving this situation entirely.
And then whiteness from the corner of my eye, the Caged One kneeling at my other side and leaning over. Completely unnoticed by the others. "Best time out of any." She whispered. Just like that, I was gone. Suspended once more within that whiteness, but I was unmoving and there as a whole. I squirmed, trying to pull myself up from this arched angle but was unable to move. My arms were held out at my sides, legs dangling as I was arched in the air, completely confused. Behind me the Caged One was, her lips at me ear. "We are on even grounds. I can touch you now." She spoke calmly, her hand resting on my left shoulder, the other reaching across my right as she leaned into my back. "This is going to hurt." Her voice betrayed nothing, her fingers curled around the whiteness itself and pulled as if it was a curtain. Pulling back she began tearing, "A lot."
Images both still and moving, faces, identities, dates, numbers, words, advice, lies, love, hate, emotions... So many fucking emotions. A surge of just... Just everything. She was gone and I was absorbed into a life I couldn't remember, until that moment. I could see Joshua as a child, and Smiles, and Billy. I could see all of us, and then there was Mr. Sunshine. Ethan. ETHAN. Ethan Raleigh. And her. The bitch. Road Runner. Lenore, Lenore Grigor. Bad Man Walking. My family, dead? Confusion, pain, it tore through me as the the thoughts on how impossible that was came forward. I knew they were alive, just like Smiles. Right? Right?! I could hear screaming, Executor's mask coming forth. Prosper, Owen McCarty. Every person he's killed came flooding back in one single flow of information. It was worse than the Darklings. This experience, it wasn't just voices talking all at once. It wasn't me being caught up on everything I forgot. It was images too, still and moving, it was words burned into my brain, it was emotions I didn't know I've ever felt before to add to it. My focus was everywhere. All at once I was looking in every direction, just trying to grasp a hold of everything.
And then my name. My single identity to validate who I have been over all these years. A lie, a truth, something! ANYTHING to tell me that this life I have been living was worth something. That it was me.
"Me. It has always been me. And when that wasn't good enough it became you. Then there was us, and I realized it could never be just that." The Caged One spoke, it came from all directions. Her image flickering through all the information swarming in my head. "Two halves to the same hole, separate and broken. It needed to change." A sharp pain raked through my entire body, coming from inside me. My heart, my head, my soul twisted and contorting it felt like. Her young form appeared in front of me, the gaping hole from Road Runner visible only without the pipe. I stumbled across the air, blood spilling out of my. The Caged One reached her hand out, into the hole and I felt my insides turn. The pulsing and humming from before returning full force, it felt like everything in my was vibrating, on the verge of collapsing. "The solution was us becoming whole and in order to do that we had to be reborn. Lenore has sealed her fate. You wish for revenge..." She faded before my eyes, and looking down I was beginning to as well. "Granted."
The Caged One, I could hear her screaming and then someone laughing. Both merging into one as the light of the moon caught my vision, my eyes returning to the real world. My body was laughing uncontrollably, even at the sight of the pipe I couldn't stop. Feeling my damp cheeks, seeing Joshua's worried face staring down into mine, screaming. Liam's hands were bloody as he raised them, motioning at Joshua. Someone grabbed him, pulling him away. Liam looked down, mouthing something at me but their voices were nothing but silence. All I heard was the howling of my own laughter.
I don't really remember what happened after that. Occasional glimpses come to me, small fragments. I think my body just collapsed in on itself, really. The pain must have just driven it to its limits. Joshua says Liam and his men tore out the pipe and did quick work on the wound to hold me together and keep me alive until we returned to the mansion. I've been passed out on and off for two days now. Of course my body even now refuses to rest properly. I was in one of the spare rooms with the medical equipment. Hooked the fuck up to all kinds of fun things.
When I first woke up I saw Brood talking to Liam, Joshua passed out to the other side of me. I tried to sit up and they came walking over, telling me to stay down. Which was easy enough considering I was strapped to the bed. Confused as hell I hoarsely asked, Brood said I was thrashing all night. Liam and his men were getting ready to leave now that it was morning, I coughed, grinning tiredly as I wiggled my hand in the straps. He leaned down, taking it in a firm shake. I gave my thanks for coming, especially with Joshua being present. They saved an old friend of mine from certain death. Liam lit a new cigarette, smirking and telling us to get some rest.
Despite all the shit, people coming and going, it's good to see there are allies that are reliable.
Joshua is stuck here, Brood won't let him leave and after Advocate's farewell words I'm glad for that. He helped bring me down here and stood for a few minutes, obviously trying not to act on being pissed off. Just have to work through it.
So yea, it's been two days since then and here I am. Relocated to the cellar and am bedridden for a while. Privacy now that the hatch door is on, resting pretty easy... And so bored just sitting here. But I've got my trunk next to me, filled with things to read. So that's something. On top of which I think a lot of these new thoughts will be distracting me for a while. No sign of the Caged One. I guess it's true, we both sort of disappeared and we're back to being whole. Actually one person, no voice in the head or lingering presence. It feels foreign, having all these thoughts. Yet familiar. I can't stop smiling once I start, despite all this. I have a REAL name, a REAL identity.
I know who I am and now I know what I need to do.
Lenore, I'm going to kill Lenore.
Stay safe folks,