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I Am the First

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I am hiding. I do not know where I am; it is dark, and cold, and the trees press too closely to the industrial ruins that form what little of the landscape I have explored. There was a cupboard in this room; I hid in it. Whatever this place was once, this must have been a supply cabinet, for I have found several pens and notebooks. I will record my flight, for the comfort of what little control it gives me. I can hear Them moving outside. I will not write any more, for fear of attracting Them.

I am running. It is difficult to write while running, as it is obvious, and I fear my penmanship will suffer for it, but I must write. Writing is control, control is sureness, and sureness is life. They are after me; even now, I can hear Them gliding amongst the trees, so close, so very, very close... There is a tree here larger than any other. I have a hiding place there. I will not write any more.

I am afraid. Fear is a good thing in this place made of cold and hopelessness; fear signals that you still live, that They have not found you. I am almost happy to feel fear; it is like an embrace, a warning sent by those that love you. They did not find me in the tree; I have eaten some of the food stored here, and I will move on shortly; if you stay in one place for too long, They will find you. I will not write any more.

I am eating. There was a sealed vault in one of the decrepit warehouses that clog this part of the area, a vault that I had not previously breached, and would not have if I had not found a note in an office a few miles from here that provided the combination for it's door. Air is still flowing in and out through tiny vents in the walls, so I have sealed the main door; I am safe here, for now. I can hear Them outside the door, but They seem to think that I cannot get through it. I will not write any more.

I am sick. I found one of Their victims today; I have voided my stomach, and not by choice. What They did to him... It was vile. He had a pistol near him, but it was empty. I took it anyway. I have long forgotten the words that are used to wish one well in the afterlife, but I said what I could. I hope wherever he is, it is better than here. A battlefield would be better than here. I will not write any more.

I am watching. I have found a rooftop with only one hidden entrance, easily barricaded from this side, and I have decided to camp here for the night. That is, if there was a night here; there is only the constant, dingy gray light. A group of Them are flitting about in the shadows of a courtyard directly below me; they are watching the windows, but they will not look up. They seem to be following the orders of a leader of some sort; this is the first, and possibly the only, time when I have seen them and not had to flee in the opposite direction. One of Them seemed to question Their leader for a moment. It was eviscerated, and It's corpse was set upon by It's brethren. It was sickening: I looked away, and when I looked back They were gone. I will not write any more.

I am contemplating. I do not know how long I have been in this place, but I do know that it has been three months since I found a wind-able pocket watch, which I have used to keep careful track of the passage of time. It is another form of control, just like writing. It keeps me sane. I have spent a quarter of a year here, that I could keep track of, and know little about this place. I must find out more. I will not write any more.

I am anxious. I have made my way back to the Vault to weather the Bad Night. For most of the month, the sky in this place remains unchanging, but for one night every month a full moon appears on the horizon. This is a Bad Night. Their howls ring out through the air, and They are more tenacious and savage than ever. I believe it is something about the full moon that excites them so. It was nearly impossible to survive the Bad Night before, but now that I keep track of time, I am forewarned and can prepare accordingly. The walls here are invincible, and the vents dissipate my scent so I should be safer here than anywhere else I know of, yet... Some primal part of me fears the Bad Night. I will not write any more.

I am tired. I have been unable to find a proper place to hide for two days, and therefore have not slept. It is not the longest I have gone without resting; my memory of that lengthy unrest is hazy, but the scars are still as definite as ever. I hope to find a proper resting place soon, or I will begin to make mistakes. Mistakes are death. I will not write any more.

I am napping. After three days, I have found a place to rest; this cellar is more dank and dark than the landscape outside, but it has some stored food and there are only small vents and a thick iron door that provide access to this place, and I have barred the door. I am sleeping on and off, keeping watch for when They track me here. Somehow, They can always track me. I will not write any more.

I am map-making. After the three days I spent running, and remembering That Time, I have decided to create a comprehensive map of the area, marking down hiding places and food stores. Hopefully, this will prevent me from going too long without sleep, and prevent me from being caught out in the cold. Both of these scenarios are lethal. I will not write any more.

I am repairing. I have found what appears to have been a place of maintenance for small timekeeping devices; there are bins filled with every possible part and other watches, even a compass, which will assist greatly in my cartography. I have taken the time to liberate some of the pieces to replace the worn ones in my watch, as well as pause for a moment and write in order to collect my thoughts. This is not a very safe place; while I will mark it on my quickly developing map, I will not delay here longer than I have to. I will not write any more.

I am reading. I have discovered a small library in a basement to the north of the Vault. The room here is sealed, and all of the books are in good condition, but none of them are in a language I can understand. Fortunately, there was a book here that translated the unfamiliar words into a language I knew. I have taken this book and will be studying it avidly over the weeks to come, in the hopes that I can achieve the adequate comprehension necessary to begin the deciphering of some of the larger tomes. I will not write any more.

I am concerned. I have been using this notebook to keep notes to help with my slow progress with the dictionary and have been using the limited number of pages at a prodigious rate. If I continue at this pace, I may exhaust this small notebook within the next few entries. It is a Bad Night again; I am back in the Vault, desperately attempting to ignore the savage howls that permeate the air even here by studying the dictionary, but have only found true comfort in my old habit of writing entries. It is unfortunate that this book's unrenewable pages shall soon be filled to their fullest as I have grown rather fond of it, but I have had the idea to leave it in the Library when it is finished; perhaps someone else, if there are any others left, will find it and be heartened by the account of at least one other person in this cold, unforgiving place. The moon will be down soon, and then it will be time to leave. I will not write any more.

I am studied. I have reached a point in my pursuit of this frustratingly evasive language that I now believe I can pursue one of the more complex books present in that storehouse of knowledge. I have journeyed from the Rooftop, which I have further fortified, to the Library in hopes of this. Upon my return, I found a single bullet inside one of the draws of what I can only assume once belonged to the librarian of this place. God knows how it got there, but it fit in the pistol I retrieved two months ago, and that is enough for me. I now have a method of self-defense. I will not write any more.

I am frustrated. I have moved several of the larger, thicker books from the Library to the Cellar, which is a much closer stronghold than the Vault, and have spent the last few days attempting to decode these dusty old tomes and the spiny runes contained therewithin, but my efforts have been largely in vain: I have still yet to determine whether these books are historical, scientific, or romance novels. I will not put pen to paper except to take notes for some time now, so this will be my last entry until I finally have some inkling as to what is contained so tantalizingly close behind these pages. I will not write any more.

I am listening. Tonight is another Bad Night; that alone is enough to give me more anxiety than I feel I need, and I need to take some sort of break from the decoding. The process is slow, but I have been able to translate about an eighth of one of the books into my native tongue and would have continued throughout the night if something hadn't struck me. Along with a description of the meaning of each word in the other language, the Dictionary also gives a phonetic inscribing of each word; I have discovered the language I am pursuing to be rather guttural in pronunciation, belying the eloquent flow of it's written form. I have attempted to pronounce a few of the words, to varying success, and was engaged in this exercise when They began to howl. I was shocked to hear that the howling resembled very closely the pronunciation the Dictionary had given to the phrase "Over here!". I have a sneaking suspicion, but will say no more until I have confirmed what I think to be fact and not simply conjecture. I will not write any more.

I am realizing. My suspicions are confirmed. Through numerous risky eavesdropping attempts, as well as one more Bad Night, I have realized that the language of the books is the written form of the language of Them. I have been able to translate several of Their conversations, at least what I could hear of them, and discovered that They are not united, as I had once thought, but split into clans that follow pyramids of leadership. I do not believe that any of this will stop Them from ripping me to shreds, however. I do believe, however, that something happened to Them at some point to make Them this way. There aren't many pages left in this notebook, and I believe I will leave tomorrow to store it at the Library, as well as forage enough to bolster my sad supplies. I will not write any more.

I am terrified. I was... I was leaving the Vault, and there was one of Them. Right there. Standing in the middle of the square. It saw me at the same time I saw it, so there was no sneaking away; I was cornered, as I would have to run right past It to get out of the square, and I could not retreat back to the Vault and seal the door again before It was already on me. It quickly got over it's surprise and raised It's head to howl and alarm, and, out of desperation, I quickly did the only thing I could come up with at the time. I spoke a single word in It's language. Wait. It hesitated, then cocked It's head slightly at me, as if confused. I said it again, a little softer. Wait. It seemed wracked by indecision; something about being able to speak It's language had shifted the situation; I was now on ground slightly less perilous than the quicksand of a second before. Slowly, I approached It; I do not know what I was thinking. I do not know what I hoped to gain, but I spoke a few more words as I approached it, hoping for connection of some kind. Patches of fur just visible through the tatters of it's concealing black cloak quivered. Then, I took one step too many and It, almost out of instinct, lashed out at me, razor sharp claws extended. I shot It. I... I took the gun, with it's one bullet, shot It in the head. The life went out of it, and it slumped to the cobbled street. I hid in the Vault. I am still hiding in the Vault. The body is gone now, and the wolfish features that I had seen underneath the hood when I had taken that last, fatal step were no longer available for examination. I was fine with that. I will bring this notebook to the Library tomorrow. I will not write any more.

I am writing. I still lack crucial pieces of the puzzle, pieces that may lead me out of here, or to death, but what I have is better than nothing. This is the last page. After this, I will select a new notebook. I am going to place this in, to what I understand, is the autobiographical section, which I have completely cleaned out and moved to the Cellar. I will not write here again.

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