"Shady," Brood said firmly, the sort of tone that made a child think they were in for a stern talking to. It was a voice he used often when commanding his officers, the same authority laced through it. But when he shut the hatch door behind him and as he descended the stairs, I could see the look wasn't the same as the voice. There was humanity, it was a look I knew all too well. The bad news face, I've seen it so many times in the peers around me or while staring at my own reflection. "we need to talk."
I moved aside the files to acknowledge he had my complete attention. He sat down in an old creaky chair that could barely even be called such. The same one I found him in often when I wake up. "What is it?"
"You have all your memories back."
"...Yes." I answered with after he paused, staring expectantly at me.
"I understand they will take some time to sort out."
Again, the same pause and stare. "Correct."
"So you remember things you did as a child to certain people around you." I simply nodded this time. "You asked me earlier how the wards at your house are doing." I nodded again, my eyes watching his every movement. Anything to give me a clue to what was going on in that head of his. "The wards are in tact, but you know now they are useless. They have been useless for some time now."
"Effective but useless?" I quirked an eyebrow, confused on the way he phrased it. "They are doing their job to protect my kin, how is it useless?"
He sighed. "Mystery was concerned about your mental state. She never made mention to you anything she found to be... Unusual." I narrowed my eyes, encouraging him to continue. He folded his hands in his lap, sitting forward. "You are aware before she left that she was tuning her own talents. Seeing auras and learning about them, it brought her to realize something she had seen when you two first came into contact with one another. I'm speaking about when you let her into your house, the time you spent there before establishing the mansion as a base."
I held my bandaged torso, pulling myself up further to lean back against the headboard of the bed. "What about my house?" I asked, my eyes raking him over with suspicion and curiosity.
"Mystery visited there again sometime after Prosper attacked and you were away. It was when she began to understand what she was seeing better and discovered something you are not going to like to hear."
"Stop dancing around it and get to the fucking point." I spat, glaring now at what he could possibly have in store for me.
He leveled his gaze with mine, the humanity slowly dissolving away back to the professional agent we've come to recognize him as. "Your family is dead, they have been dead for a while now. What is living in your house isn't real, Mystery said the best way to describe it was what Executor makes with his clones. Unlikely the same manner of creation, but same effect. Tulpa effect, that is. At least that is the closest thing we can describe it as. We believe they are just as unreal as you lost friend whom you dub Smiles."
"You hurt a lot of people after that, Smiles was one of them." Joshua pointed at a grave next to Billy's. "She got the worst of it."
"You killed her, you indirectly killed Billy-"
"She's dead in body. Her conscious still exists because of you."
Family, family, family... Dead?
All the confusion, pain, everything I felt when the memories first came flooding back hit full force. I was hurled into a sea of images, moving pictures, voices, screaming and crying... All these emotions just filling every corner of my mind.
My eye sight blacked out, my brain was everywhere, I could faintly hear Brood yelling.
Apparently the stress from all that shit induced a seizure. That was fun.
"How is she doing?"
"I'm fine." I interjected once coming to. "Now get these goddamn straps off me."
Brood was rubbing the bridge of his nose slowly. "They are necessary if you trigger another seizure. Your mind is fragile-"
"REMOVE THESE BINDINGS OR I WILL DO IT FOR YOU. THEN YOU'LL BE SORRY!" I stopped myself, taking in a deep breath before slumping back into the bed, a quiet laugh escaping me. "What does this look like? Some kink film? Please. We're going about this all wrong-"
"She's fine." Joshua stopped me with a peeved look, his face flustered slightly. I smirked bitterly as he removed the straps and then raised my hand and pointed at every unnecessary person in the room and then to the hatch door.
"You." I pointed to Joshua. "And you." I pointed to Brood. "Stay. The rest of you have all my love and thanks, now get the fuck out." I didn't care for their mumbling, any swears or insults they had directed at me weren't any different than what I've grown up with. I wasn't about to start caring now. Brood once more took up sitting in the same chair, Joshua positioned himself across from Brood at the end of my bed. "Ok..." I pulled myself up once more and leaned back into the headboard. "What was this about my family being dead too?"
"W-what?" Joshua stuttered as he looked between Brood and I. The agent sighed heavily, obviously he had not wanted the third party involved just yet. I dared him to challenge it as we stared at one another. "I've seen your family-"
"They aren't real." The agent interjected. "You have been having nightmares since your memories returned, I have been sitting and listening to what you say during them. Mystery made sense of it when I contacted her. Your family is dead and has been replaced with false living beings."
"Like Smiles." I glared skeptically. "The Caged One said Smiles was dead, like Joshua, but existed because I wouldn't let go." Joshua's face turned into a hard glare, even more of a skeptic than I currently was. "I should call Mystery, hear it from the source herself." I slid my legs over the side of the bed, trying not to verbally wince. "And check this shit out for myself."
Joshua grabbed my legs and turned me back onto the bed. "Not happening, @#$--Shady." He corrected himself, I could hear his teeth gritting together. "You're staying put."
"Just shoot me up with painkillers. I'll be good." I flashed a grin, he was not moved by it. So I kicked him with obvious irritation. "Don't play mom with me, mines apparently dead." I snarled and once more moved to get off the bed. Brood abruptly stood up, again we challenged one another as to how the situation was going to play out.
"You're tactical, Shady. Imagine if you left the wards now. What would you call your current condition?"
"Open season." I muttered.
He folded his arms, "Precisely, and you have plenty of enemies waiting."
"And an obsessed love-sick stalker." I stared flatly at Joshua as he seethed. He's damn well known for his grudges, looking at his fists tightly balled and slightly shaking I could only imagine. Given the situation on top of which Advocate's timing during our meeting. Oh boy, Joshua was not going to let it go. "I'm going to rip his dick off."
Brood lifted a finger, adding to the list of bullshit. "The Advocate is another big concern with your condition. He's already proven to be able to get in and out of here even with the wards in check."
"And has grown bolder. Anyone can read it from how he's contacted and showed up more and more in your posts." Joshua sneered, his usual big brother role from our past seeping in. It was somewhat touching despite all the negative feelings floating between us.
"That too, Shady. We are already on alert after he killed one of our men the last time. The wards might be providing some help so that he can't kill anyone inside the mansion -which we aren't entirely sure is even stopping him-, but the moment you leave any kind of protection will be going with you."
Joshua looked up at Brood, "Your men would escort her if she wanted to go, yea?"
Brood nodded, I looked between them both as I leaned my head back against the headboard. "Yes, but the Advocate has proven capable of eliminating my officers if he wants to."
"I can handle him. I want Joshua covered at all times, though. Besides, I'm not limping as badly anymore. If I watch how I shift my mid-section I'll be fine, otherwise." I interrupted their macho talk about the damsel. It was really hard not to glare, despite the fact they were just discussing my safety. Relying on people is not something I've ever been good with, it wasn't the role I allowed myself to have. "I will be going back very soon. I have to." I sighed and brushed back my bangs. "I can't just sit here and believe you're telling me my family is dead yet still floating around. Like Executor's minions but of my own creation. Like that clone of me he had stationed there. Heh..." I looked at them both. "When Mystery and I first met, while he had me kidnapped and tortured, he stationed a fake me with a... A fake family." I chuckled, "How classic."
Joshua slid up the bed and ruffled my hair, I looked at him and saw the hate was severely lacking. There was anger, confusion, pain, but the hate had diminished. Was this pity? I didn't want it. I stared at him trying to distinguish between the two, instead of shoving his gesture away I just pulled out of his reach. "You should call her." He said sincerely, I was looking at Brood who was looking between the two of us. "Your famous Mystery." Joshua ended with, I couldn't tell if he was being snarky about it or earnest.
"...Right." I agreed to it and spent the rest of the day processing it and trying to get her to respond.
She finally did answer and we had a long discussion.
Fuck me. I keep seeing just images of my family... Just dead. It isn't how Executor strung them up in the dreams, it's worse. It involves their child with an axe. All of them, in the night just gone. Was the house still in working order because they were being willed into existence or whatever? Had no one really noticed... If such a thing is true. If I really killed them under His influence... I don't even know.
I want to ask the Caged One and wait as she never responds to me. I guess I still can, only this time I won't see her. There's nothing left, we are together again as one. I've never felt so sick in my life. It seems like everyone I come into contact with gets killed sooner or later. I never felt like the source of a virus before, but it seems like this infection I have affects everyone. Mr. Sunshine--Ethan being the first.
Joshua let him down after they left, he laid around at the foot of my bed and just stared. He can't really speak, broken sentences at best. His mind is that of a child's still, mostly. Despite the brute-like body that clearly says he's a man on the outside. And yet, despite all of this, looking into his eyes and reading his body language I can gather he understands. That he knows, because he was there during all of it. I remember, every chance he got to try and ease my burden as I tried to free him from his.
"I killed them! They're all dead because of me. I can't go back, Ethan. I don't- I don't-" The little girl clung to the boy's sweatshirt. "I don't have a home anymore. You'll die if you keep trying to help me. You can't anymore. Ok? Promise me."
"I want to die."
"It would be easier." He mumbled, both of us shaking. "No more suffering for you."
And then I was drowning as Ethan held me under the water, in the lake just at the base of the hill where Limeport Asylum was.
Because every step of the way he was there. I was chasing someone who never left as a kid. I burned down a part of my town and walked under the bridge... And the tall figure in a suit was there. Mr. Sunshine was there when we switched locations. Prosper crouched, I could see his shoulders shaking with silent chuckles. The devil. And Executor came walking out of the blackness of the woods, adjusting his mask as he said, "This the thing?"
I remember all these things but I can't yet fully separate whether or not I murdered the very people I grew fond of as a child. By that I mean directly, not indirectly just from given relations. The truth is buried beneath all the illusions, every lie ever told to me or that I told myself. But when I look at Mr. Sunshine I see the truth so clearly. Just one look tells me everything I don't want to hear.
So if this is the truth. If they aren't really there and this is all just some projected illusion I keep trying to live through... Well, that just means there are a lot of questions left open, on top of which a lot of new ones to add to the collective. But the one thing that surfaces is: This is selfish, I need to learn how to drop the illusion and let them rest in peace finally. They deserve as much, for all the hell I put them through. Mystery is unsure how to accomplish such and suggested the basic method of elimination.
But thinking logically I can't do that. Not until I've solved what will be done with the property I grew up on. Joshua offered to move in there when I nearly melted my brain trying to figure out how I was going to handle all the little details.
"You'll need to gain ownership of the property and in order to do that they'll have to move or die. Signing ownership over to you and living in it will raise suspicion, those tax douchebags will ask questions." He had said. The prior wouldn't work if they were going to disappear once I figured out how to do that, given formed relationships with people around them. And if they were going to move it would be as a whole family, or my sibling would find a separate place no doubt. It didn't make sense if I was left at the house alone, despite being a legal adult. "You don't have a job so you have no way of paying for the property. Your family isn't real anymore, they are just walking figments of your imagination. My suggestion is that an accident happens, you handle the affairs of the deceased and take the life insurance money to support the house at least for a little while. That way you get what you need and they can rest in peace finally." My brain went a mile a minute trying to wrap around the situation. I wanted the fakes I created gone, despite the fact it was going to hurt like all hell. This isn't what they deserved. I was lucky enough to see what life would be like if I grew up with them, if they didn't die years back. I looked up at Joshua and he understood perfectly. "I guess we better get working."
Once I'm healed we are going to set the plan in motion. I spoke to Brood already, he's sticking his hands into the legal matters which will hopefully help move things along smoothly, especially with switching ownership. I'll be putting a lot of things into storage until another time, Joshua is going to transfer to a closer college, return to his old job, and move into my house to keep an eye on things. You know, while I work and all here. I told him he'd make a great housewife, would buy him a nice apron and everything. He punched me for it. Something familiar and calming about it, was nice. Brood said Joshua will have two MASC soldiers with him.
This sounds bad. I'm going to plan an "accidental murder" to eliminate my fake family that doesn't even exist, cut any family ties to people that still exist through it, take over the property, and Joshua along with two MASC soldiers will live there. This sounds like some evil Overlord is taking over or something. I can't believe I am doing this bullshit.
"You need to be healed before we proceed." Brood had said, it would keep questions to a minimal when the funeral and what not would come around. On top of which he still doesn't want me going out after our last conversation. Please, I got impaled on Sunday night, it's been enough time, right? And painkillers! GLORIOUS PAINKILLERS! Ha.
Ah, hell, who am I kidding? When we change the wrappings and I see that nasty wound (stitches look pretty cool, haha) I can understand why I should remain here. I'm in pretty fucked up shape. You know, an open pipe would do that to a person. Bleh.
But I'm going out anyways shortly. I promised DeMii before the whole... Impaling thing... That I'd take her and Lullaby out. It had to be delayed but seriously, if I can walk and aim a gun I'll be fine. Road Runner got fucked up, if she attacked me while in her shitty condition than kudos to that bitch. I mean, seriously, the balls it would take for that. But I'm doing pretty alright with moving about now. It's not as pathetic as before, I'm good.
Ughs... I'm really trying to make light of this situation. It's not working. Fuck it. Fuck all of it. I know the truth. I murdered Smiles, I murdered my family as a kid (what kind of kid does that shit? Influenced or not.), I indirectly murdered Billy. Two of the three are alive and I'm going to kill them all over again. And now I'm going to murder Road Runner and anyone she pulls into this if I have to. She can't save herself. Dia didn't want me to do this but I am. On top of it, I'm not apologizing for it. I don't want to kill anyone but I've come to learn that I'm not the sort of person that does what she wants. I do what is hard and what is necessary. I'm not a proud person, I just know what needs to be done.
I'm not going to let anyone else die because I was chicken shit or had morals getting in the way and didn't get the job done right.
Stay safe, folks,