Okay then... where do I even start?
Things have been crazy since my last update, and that means a lot coming from a person like me. I'm pretty sure this house I'm in is going to be torn down soon, and once that happens, I'm not sure what I'll do. I suppose I'll try to focus on the present for now before I concern myself with the future. I'm going to attempt writing to the few people who might find this story. I'm in a bit of a rush, as there is much to explain in so little time.
If you are up to date with the story so far, you may know of my concerns about the coming Halloween. As it turns out, these fears were almost completely unfounded. Perhaps my dread of what was the come blurred my vision at the time. Thankfully, law enforcement kept close watch of the property, not allowing any trespassers to find their way into the house. I wish that it ended that way. I wish I could say nothing else happened and all ended well. Unfortunately, you wouldn't be reading this story if that was the case.
Would you believe me if I told that my entire existence would turn out to be stranger than it ever had been before? Would you believe me if... if I told you that it has been a couple of months since I last updated you on my predicament, despite the technology in front of you saying otherwise? I've been stranded in this house with only my mind to keep me company, and the seclusion has been tampering with my mind. I'm not even sure what's real and what isn't.
I chuckle at how drastically different I think and feel between this story and the last. It must be odd for you to see me like this. I'm a bit flustered right now in all honesty. I swear that there is something out there watching me. I don't think it's a being. It seems like an abstract force of nature, and that's all I can think to describe it as. Certain things just don't add up, and I'm not sure if they ever will. Still, I'm hungry for answers which seem unattainable at the time being. It's almost like an itch I can't seem to scratch.
Perhaps I may have seen this coming all along. The strange occurrences that seem to happen out of nowhere. The computer incident in its entirety, my entrapment in the house. Things like that don't happen without reason. No matter how wonky this afterlife can be, there must be someone or something maintaining the rules of this place, right? It can't all just be a big coincidence I have the power to type to you guys either. There has to be a meaning behind it all and thinking of all the possibilities drives me crazy. I have found myself staring up at the ceiling in deep thought, pondering for hours at a time about my situation.
I remember on Halloween night watching the police cars outside the house, making out men in uniform walking by through the tiny slits within the barriers attached to the windows. They stood menacingly, glaring at every child who passed by. Not a single meddler stood a chance of entering the property, so I knew I could relax a bit and try keeping my mind occupied. One of the best ways to keep boredom at bay is browsing the internet, but this night would be different. Upon sitting on the wooden chair and looking at the monitor, I found myself rolling my eyes at a familiar, rather annoying sight to see. There was yet another app on the screen which I had never seen before. I stared at it, not moving a muscle. I slowly moved the pointer to select it but stopped once I found myself hovering over the application.
I leaned back in my chair and placed my hands on my head, looking upwards. There was no way in hell I was going to open the app. I looked down at my palms, watching them twitch slightly. My eyebrows shifted as I stood up and walked to the door, slamming it shut. I marched downstairs and leaned against the wall, closing my eyes and breathing deeply. Why the hell would I open it? Why would I repeat the actions that lead to the death of a child, and forced me into seclusion?
Time seemed to come to a standstill that night. I constantly found myself checking the clock, sitting on the staircase. I found it hard to think clearly about anything, my mind occupied with the trauma I recently experienced. If you have ever been in a situation like mine, you'll understand my state of internal turmoil. That Halloween night, I sat with tears staining my face, curled into a ball on the hardwood. This was nothing new to me... I had been doing that since last Halloween. I guess I'm not exactly the best at coping, but it's hard to move on when only your thoughts can keep you company.
Before you ask, I have tried to contact the living over the internet. I have tried to email relatives, send messages, and even enter various facetiming services. I can't seem to connect to those at all. I am confined to certain parts of the internet where my existence can be kept under wraps. This only further proved my theory that there were indeed rules to this place, and something was seemingly controlling them as it pleased. However, my greatest evidence towards this presented itself as sleep overcame me.
Ironically, my dreams had been vacant despite the vast amounts of pain and guilt I had been through. As soon as my mind plunged into restful darkness, I would sleep rather peacefully through the entire night, worn out by the tears I've shed. That night, however, was different. The first thing I saw after passing out was a room of pure darkness. It took a while for my eyes to adjust, but I soon began stumbling around until I felt my fingers touch the surface of the wall. I allowed that surface to guide me around the room until I felt a switch, and then I flicked it upwards.
The room was immediately flooded with bright lights, the sudden shift forcing me to shield my eyes with my hands. After a few seconds, I let my eyes get used to the light and surveyed the area around me. I was greeted with the sight of hundreds of wires spreading out across the floor. Various large monitors adorned the walls of the room, and in the middle of it all was a single white computer, each and every wire entering it from its countless ports. I recognized the computer as the same one within the white room where my story truly began.
I approached the computer cautiously, fully aware of my movements within the dream world. In retrospect, that may have been the second lucid dream I had ever experienced. I allowed my fingers to curl around the chair in front of the desk, my ears perking up with each mechanical sound that occurred within the room. As I began sliding the chair out to take a seat, I felt something on my shoulder. It was a hand... slowly pulling me backward. My heart stopped and I froze, unsure what I should do. The fingers on my skin were cold as ice, and they were longer and larger than what any normal human could ever possess.
I winced as the hand owner's equally chilly breath stung the back of my neck, causing my hairs to stand up perfectly straight. I took a deep breath, telling myself over and over than it was all just a dream. Whatever was behind me wasn't real, and nothing it could do to me could hurt me in the long run. Clenching my fist tightly, I turned and laid my eyes on the thing behind me. I jumped back a bit upon seeing its face. A single eyeball was unnaturally placed into the thing's head, almost as if it was lodged in there rather than grown. It had no mouth, no ears, nor did it have any skin. It was a being of muscle and bone, the only actual tissue being the hands which it had used to touch me.
I backed away from the figure, staring at it with bewildered eyes. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before. It towered over me menacingly, shuffling forward periodically until I found myself pressed against the desk. It leaned over and stared at me with its large eye, seemingly studying me. Without notice, I felt a searing pain in my ribs. I screamed out loud and looked down, only to find that one of the creature's bony appendages had been jammed into me. I was only able to watch in horror as the bone was dragged upwards, further tearing at my flesh. Several agonizing cries were emitted from my throat. I couldn't even recognize my own voice amidst the shrill cries, for they were almost animal-like in nature.
I looked upon the monstrosity before me, my heart slamming against my chest. My lip quivered as the beads of sweat ran down my forehead and onto the ground, mixing with the pools of crimson blood. My legs wobbled, and I collapsed to the ground, completely helpless. Several inhuman grunts and gurgles were made by the foul creature before it picked me up and threw me in front of the computer. It pulled me by my hair and forced my face in front of the computer screen, making me watch as a single app sat within my vision. It was the same app I had neglected to open earlier, and it consumed the entire screen. The creature leaned in and practically pressed its moist lips against my ear, whispering ever so softly in a hoarse, inhuman voice.
"Open it, Marcus."
"Open it, Marcus."
"Open it, Marcus."
These words repeated for what felt like an eternity, each syllable dragging on forever. No matter how much I struggled, the creature's grip was too strong, and I could not escape. The words echoed within my mind, the whisper becoming louder and louder until it felt as if my eardrums would burst. It came as a shock to me that, as soon as I thought I couldn't take it anymore, the voice suddenly became silent. I fell to the ground as I realized that I was no longer being held in place. I spun my head around, only to find an empty room behind me.
I arose and dusted myself off, holding my head in pain. A throbbing sensation within my cranium was all that I could truly focus on for a while before I was able to return my vision to the computer. I stared at the app and read the text underneath it. As it turns out, the file was now titled "Open_Me_Marcus."
I woke up soon after that, and the very first thing I did was rush to my room. I threw the door open and stepped inside, hastily approaching the computer and turning it on. I impatiently tapped my foot on the ground as I waited for it to boot up, and once it did, I was greeted with the home screen. Right in the very center of the monitor was a familiar sight. A single application. I'm sure you already know what its title was.
By this point, my heart was beating at rates I hadn't previously thought possible. It was then I knew that something wanted me to open the app, and all of my theories about some type of force controlling my experiences did in fact exist. There were certain rules I had to follow, and if I didn't follow them, I would be punished. I had little to no control over my destiny, and this realization caused me to strike the desk before me with great force. What had I done to deserve such treatment? Could my "crimes" within the mortal realm really have been so terrible as to warrant a punishment like this? I kicked and punched everything within sight, repeating various swears and curses out loud.
It took me a while to settle down and catch my breath. There is a certain point where you lose control of your body and mind once you are angry enough. It took me several dozen minutes of rage-induced destruction across the room to finally come to my senses. I viewed the clutter and mess I had made and took a long, deep breath, somewhat relieved to have gotten my energy out. This form of retaliation would be useless to stop whatever was happening to me, and I knew it. I also knew what I had to after these events, because even in my state of anger the computer remained unharmed. I peered at the screen before sitting down in the chair and gripping the mouse. I hovered the pointer over the app, closed my eyes, and double-clicked.
I opened to eyes to be met with a blue screen in front of me, followed by several seconds of the flickering of a strobe. Strange sounds were produced by the machinery, and then the monitor faded to black. It proceeded to restart and reopen itself. Then, the home screen came into view, followed by a white text box with a blue link in it. Clicking the link opened the browser app to a seemingly unlisted YouTube video with zero views. The video began to play, and I squinted to get a better view of what it contained due to the poor lighting of the recording.
From what I could make out, a silent cameraman was walking down a street in the dark. Despite the poor lighting of the video, the quality was stunning, and the video was capable of running at 1080P. It was because of this that I was able to identify a bright neon sign the camera passed by. I paused the recording and looked closely, trying to discern the words on the sign. It appeared to be a street name. I won't release it of course, but I can tell you that my eyes widened as I realized that it was my street.
The camera passed by a few more houses before coming to a stop and turning to the right. The camera focused on a large house in front of it. I gasped under my breath as the lens zoomed in on the familiar structure. It was at that moment that my breathing came to a standstill. I rose from the chair and slowly made my way to my bedroom window which gave me a full view of the front yard. I didn't see a single person out there except for a patrol car parked nearby. I returned to my seat and continued watching the footage. The video now showed my front door, completely ajar.
Once again, I leaped out of my seat and rushed downstairs, only to find nothing there. The door was still closed, and there was nobody outside. I had thought that the YouTube video I was watching was a live stream of some kind, but it turns out it really was just a recording. I shivered at the thought of someone recording themselves within my own home before returning upstairs. Thinking about the connection between the video and whatever was making my experience in the afterlife the way it was, I realized that it was more than likely that the cameraman wasn't a human at all, but something else. I stopped dead in my tracks. Could it be... the thing keeping me here? I already knew the video had some relation to the theory about my predetermined fate, but could the camera operator be that very force? There was only one way to find out, and so I returned to the video.
The recording showed the cameraman ascending to the second story of the house. I didn't notice it at first, but not a single stair on made a sound. The footage transitioned to my bedroom door. Once more the doorknob was in full view, yet the door opened without being touched. I instinctively turned my head to look behind me, only to find nothing there at all. The camera operator then approached my desk, and for the first time in the entire video, I got a glimpse of the person's body. An arm extended and opened one of the drawers attached to my desk, placing something inside. I couldn't see what the object was, because it was just out of view of the camera. Once the operator was done with its task, it turned around and exited the room, the footage cutting to black.
I closed the tab and found my eyes wandering to the drawer shown within the video. My curiosity had reached its peak now, so I gave it a slight tug until it opened. I stooped down and peered into it, looking for anything conspicuous that could be in there. Let's just say... it wasn't hard to find. Let's also say that when I did find it, I launched myself back and placed my hand over my heart, vainly attempting to breathe as my lungs seemed to collapse in on themselves. There inside of the drawer, was a black mask. The same black mask my attacker wore on the fateful night of my death.
I simply could not comprehend what had happened; it showed as my breathing became exasperated and my legs felt liquified. Sudden realizations soon hit me as I sat there on the floor, shaken to my core. The windows weren't boarded up in the video. The house looked in better condition than it was now, and the inside of it seemed decent. That recording... was taken before my murder. But how the hell did the cameraman sneak into my house like that? Millions of questions rushed through my mind as I struggled to think of answers for each of them. In my state of panic and hysteria, it took me a while to really get to the important ones I should be focusing on.
Who is the camera operator? Why would he put the mask into the drawer if he was just going to use it later during my murder? The timelines simply didn't add up in my mind. If the cameraman was my murderer, why would he sneak into my house, sneak out again, break into my house and kill me, and then sneak back in before the police arrived but after I died just to put the mask in the drawer? Nobody in their right mind would do that; it simply made no sense. It was almost as if the person did it just to mess with me, like it knew all of this would happen and I'd see this specific recording in the... it was if it knew that my afterlife would be this way and made the video to torment me.
My beating heart and fast breathing suddenly stopped as I found my eyes wide open, unblinking. The unlisted video introduced to me by the app, the nature of the video, and the mask inside my drawer specifically for me to find once I was dead. There appeared to be a clear and distinct connection between the man who was presumably my murderer and the force controlling my afterlife. As my mind wandered to these almost outlandish possibilities, a single horrifying thought entered my brain. What if... my murderer and the force controlling my afterlife are the same?
I shuddered at the very idea. My killer tormenting me in the eternal afterlife is a horrifying thought. Him pulling all the strings, torturing me mentally and physically. That possibility would answer some of the questions I had about what was happening to me. It would explain why I experienced so many nightmares and horrific scenarios in death, why I was plagued with the awful memories of my life, and why the murderer was never found by the authorities. It would be impossible to capture someone like that, wouldn't it?
I advanced toward the ski mask and extended my arm. My fingers grazed the black fabric. It felt moist... very much so. I picked it up and looked it over. I don't know why, but I was intrigued. I felt an attraction to the object. A strange sort of aura surrounded the mask, causing a shift in the air. Everything in the background seemed to fade out of view, and then, out of some sort of inner instinct within me, I put the mask on.
The dark material blinded my vision for a moment. I slid the mask down until my eyes were matched up with the eyeholes, and then I was able to see the area before me. It wasn't my home. In truth, I had no clue where it was. Everything seemed completely different. Before me was a barren landscape where broken down houses stood, charred by fire. The sun had set, and the moon had risen, its glow revealing the chipped road leading down an abandoned street, every sign in the distance dull and faded.
I ripped the mask off and looked around, back in my room. The place I had previously been was gone. What... the... hell. I stared at the mask longer, completely bewildered by it. What had I just seen? I carefully put it back on, intent on seeing the devastation once more. Sure enough, I saw what I had seen previously. Chaos flooded my vision.
I trekked along the road of broken gravel, wary of the broken glass and metal pipes spread around as far as the eye could see. I saw not a single breathing lifeform. The vegetation around me had dried and rotted. Cars were broken down and melting from the intense fires burning on top of them. It appeared as if the entire world had collapsed in on itself. As I progressed through the treacherous landscape, I began to hear a sound in the distance. It sounded like chanting ahead of me. Deep, distorted murmurs and whispers. I edged closer to the noise and found myself peeking around a corner, peering at the noise's origin.
About a dozen burning cars sat in a semi-circle, and in the middle of the ring was a single truck. In the bed of the truck stood a man. He was tall and muscular, and he held a dagger in one of his hands. A crowd of around a dozen people stood in front of the man, each kneeling down chanting. The man looked down upon what I could only assume were his followers. He smirked and opened his arms wide. Upon doing so, a man emerged from the crowd and approached the truck, dragging something with him. I cupped my hand over my mouth as I saw that it was a body he had in his grasp, and a small one at that. It was just a child.
I snuck closer and hid behind an overturned van a few dozen yards away from the circle. I peered over the top as the man threw the child onto the bed of the truck. The kid got up and looked at the man with the blade who towered above him. The child screamed, but only for a second. I shielded my eyes right before the dagger struck the kid's chest. I couldn't bear to see it unfold.
The body tumbled down to the ground, and the followers dragged the kid away. I then watched as they surrounded the kid in a full circle. The tall man mumbled something under his breath, and each follower withdrew a blade. In the blink of an eye, each man slid the blade across his neck and then collapsed to the ground. The leader hopped off the bed of the truck and made his way towards the writhing dead bodies. He stood before the pile and began screaming. The shrill cry echoed throughout the area, and it was so loud that I thought my ears would bleed. He was speaking a strange language I had never heard before. Then, something happened which I will never forget. I gasped as the bodies rose from the ground and opened their eyes. I watched, utterly mortified, as their skin began melting away and they all embraced each other, their flesh fusing together. I gagged and found it hard to breathe, yet I still found my eyes fixated on the form before me. The tall man smiled and stepped back, still smiling. He was so proud of his work.
The air around me became hotter and filthier. I found it hard to breathe as embers and ashes rained from above and smoke filled the streets. The bodies in front of the tall man had melded together and began wriggling on the ground, inhuman cries of insurmountable pain echoing throughout my surroundings. Their arms and legs had been seemingly re-purposed to grow extra appendages, and the spines and bones inside of the once human bodies had been shifted to become exterior extremities, sharp blades protruding from the skin.
The creature shambled back and forth, attempting to keep its balance. It took a bit to grow accustomed to its new form, and then stood up on its two hind legs. The being roared into the night sky, slamming its hands and feet into the cars surrounding it, each blow having enough force to send the vehicles back about a dozen feet. I backed away from the scene slowly, hands trembling in fright. I no longer wished to be there in that nightmarish place any longer. I backed away further, always keeping my eyes on the tall man and the monstrosity he created. I kept retreating until I felt my body come into a contact with a large, mushy substance. I turned my head around and launched myself backward, screaming in terror at the sight of another monster directly behind me.
The sound of my cries caught the attention of the two beings near the truck, and each looked up at me. The tall man cocked his head, apparently surprised by my presence. I picked myself up and hastily made my way to the street opposite of the monsters and the man, curling my fingers around a broken street lamp. The tall man raised his hand and motioned towards me, commanding the beasts to advance forward. Advance they did, and I found myself running as fast as I could in the opposite direction. More creatures began to follow me. Some came from the sewer pipes below, some emerged from the defiled houses to my right and left. They stood as tall as trees, crawling and shuffling on spider-like arms and legs. They had many eyes, and I felt each one peering into my soul.
No matter how fast I sprinted, the creatures were faster. They were quickly gaining on me, and I was becoming weary. I hopped over a nearby fence, only to see the hellish horrors chasing me break through them with overwhelming strength. They tripped over each other, hunger illuminating within each of their eyes. Their mouths stood agape with dozens of rows of teeth protruding from black gums. Their bodies smelled of rot and decay even though the humans they were composed of were only freshly dead. I saw what they had done to the environment. The destruction and chaos they brought with them were at an unprecedented scale, their darkness and evil intent swallowing up and spitting out all structures and creatures in site.
Their roars they emitted radiated within my skull, and it was maddening. I clutched my ears and screamed in agony, desperate to escape the noise. Through it all, I could hear the bellowing laughter of the tall man in the distance, his deep and distorted voice filled with malice. The chanting of the strange language I couldn't discern echoed within my mind, causing an intense migraine that made me collapse to the ground and hold my head. My eyes clenched shut as I screamed and kicked my legs in the air and ground my teeth, my head throbbing. The air had become impossibly hot, and I began sweating profusely. I knew what that meant, and I opened my eyes only to be met with hundreds of eyes peering back at me.
I felt a myriad of hands and feet press down against my body as the swarm encompassed my body, I struggled to break free, but they were stronger than I ever was. I felt their bones scrape against my body and slash my skin, causing various streams of blood to formulate around me. I felt my eyes begin to flutter, darkness beginning to overwhelm my vision. Then, I remembered something. The mask! I had been so wrapped up in the nightmarish scenario playing out before me that I forgot about it. I tried to wiggle my arms free of the monsters. I just needed to slip the damn mask off. I screamed as one of the beasts picked my head up and slammed it hard against the concrete. My vision went blurry and the world began to spin. I thought it was the end of my existence. I thought I would cease to be, consumed whatever evil forces were attacking me.
I closed my eyes and prepared myself for my fate. However, it wasn't my screams that I began to hear, nor was it the screams of the tall man. No, it was the screams of the creatures in front of me. I opened my eyes to witness several of them darting away, and to my right I saw several others, their bodies oozing a strange substance as they lay on the ground, unmoving.
"Get up, we have to get moving before they come back."
A rather large fellow in khakis and a bloodied white shirt stood behind me. He extended his hand, and I took it.
"Quickly, follow me," he said to me, his tone dead serious.
"Hey, man, thanks for the assist. Who are you?" I inquired. How had a soul survived in this horrible place? I wanted to escape then and there, to pull my mask off and end the reality I resided in. However, I needed answers.
The man faced me whilst jogging backward. His sunglasses stopped me from seeing where exactly his eyes were, but I assumed they were looking into mine.
"I'm just a pizza delivery boy living in a post-apocalyptic world."
"And your name?" I asked.
"Name? The name is Edward Jaygel, but you can just refer to me as EJ."
"Edward, that was incredible! How the hell did you take those things out like that?"
A small fluorescent glow emitted from EJ's belt. The light seemed to surround a large combat knife. He must have noticed that I was viewing it because he grimaced and shifted his shirt and pants in an attempt to conceal the weapon.
"Once you've stayed in a place like this long enough, you learn a couple of things."
I hesitated before speaking once more, unsure of whether or not to ask about blade he tried to hide. I decided not to and tried changing topics.
"So, where are we heading?"
EJ ignored my question and lead me down a tight alleyway and came to a stop in front of a rusty door padlocked shut. He unlocked it and opened the door. He reached his hand into the darkness ahead and flicked the light switch up, causing a warm glow to flood the space ahead. A staircase leading down into the ground appeared, and EJ re-locked the door before descending the steps. I followed him and closed the door behind me. Stuffing my hands into my pockets, I took note of the heavy concrete walls around me. We were in a bunker of sorts.
EJ and I found ourselves at the bottom of the stairs, and a large square room crafted from stone stood before us. There were a few sets of wooden furniture scattered around, but besides that the area was empty. EJ pulled up a chair and sat in it backward, looking long and hard at me. I leaned against the wall and tried to avoid eye contact, but he just wouldn't stop staring. After a long silence, I decided to speak up.
"Why did you bring me here, EJ?"
He finally looked away and tilted his head upward, looking at the concrete ceiling.
"You looked like you needed help, Marcus. Where else did you have to go?"
I froze. I hadn't told him my name yet. How did he know? How could he...
"EJ, how did you know my name?"
EJ's eyebrows shifted and his face changed into one of confusion.
"Hm, whatcha mean?" he replied.
"I never told you my name. Not once. How did you know my name was Marcus?"
He got up from his chair and walked to the other corner of the room. He let his eyes fall to the ground and placed his fingers upon the cold walls.
"Oh, I know a lot of things, Marcus... Marcus Wade. Deceased man, who has spent his entire afterlife wondering how and why. Those two questions have been your entire existence, along with the guilt of your past and actions that haunt you. Some actions which you have done even after death."
I balled my hand into a fist and glared at EJ, my entire body beginning to tremble.
"Who the hell are you, and how do you know me?"
He chuckled and looked up at me, showing a mouth full of teeth. It... unnerved me, to say the least. I pressed my back against the wall and never stopped to let my eyes wander from the man across the room.
"Thanks for coming, Marcus. I'm glad I have this opportunity to speak to you one on one."
"What do you mean by that? Were you expecting me? What is this place, who are you? Answer my questions, damn it!"
"Yea, I've been expecting you. For the longest time now, in fact. I'm glad I found you in time. Those things were all over you. I was almost too late to save you."
By this point, I knew he wouldn't tell me anything about him. I looked him over. There was no way I could restrain or beat someone his size. I decided it would be a better use of my time to find answers to other, perhaps more important questions I had. I would try to pry more info out of him later. Maybe he knew about the afterlife and could help me in some way. There was nothing normal about this guy after all, and he was clearly withholding information.
"What are those things, anyway? Those... creatures."
"Those are what we survivors call the few. They are beings not from this Earth which, ironically enough, embody humans. They are dangerous and can be made from the carcasses of man."
I was left speechless upon hearing this. I didn't want to believe it, but how couldn't I? I had seen with my very eyes the way that monster was molded by the dead.
"How did they... hurt me? I'm dead, aren't I? How did they injure me like that if I can't be hurt or killed?"
I rubbed my head and winced as the pain coursed through my body. It was a sensation which I hadn't felt in the longest time. EJ chuckled once again, which immediately grabbed my attention.
"This world isn't like your own. You're in an entirely different reality, formulated by what may or may not happen depending on how you live your afterlife. While you spectate this realm, you can be hurt and killed. There are no boundaries which can't be crossed here. Sadly, I have no clue what would happen to you should you be killed. "
How I lived my afterlife? All of this was connected to me? How could this entire world and its fate be determined by one man? I couldn't believe it myself. Such a concept seemed impossible.
"Damn it, how do you know all of this!? Who are you?"
My voice became louder as my anger rose through the roof. I had only found myself with more questions than answers and it was driving me utterly insane. EJ narrowed his eyes, not too pleased with my attitude.
"I watched it unfold. All of it. I have seen the world end and the rise of the creatures who terrorize this place. I have witnessed countless lives being lost, and I have seen terrors beyond anything I could ever imagine. I know things, Marcus. I may not know everything, but I know enough to know that the future lies in your hands."
Yes, you read that right. This guy had told me to my face that my very actions could affect the fate of countless lives. I was just as confused and skeptical as you are, reader. What made me so special? Why would such a burden be placed on me?
"The man," I muttered under my breath.
"Excuse me?" EJ replied, asking me to repeat myself.
"Who is the tall man I saw?"
"The one who controlled the monsters?" asked EJ in an attempt towards clarification.
"Yes, who is he and what does he want?"
EJ walked towards me and took a deep breath. I could see regret formulating within his eyes. I listened closely, knowing whatever he had to say would be especially important.
"Marcus, some men just want to watch the world burn, just to gain the satisfaction of knowing they were the ones to accomplish such an evil deed. That man embodies that ideology. He's a power-hungry manipulator who tampers in forces unknown to even him to gain what he wants. In this case, what he wants is the death of suffering of every man, woman, and child he can find."
I eyed him warily, and he seemed to tell what I was thinking before I could even say it.
"Yes, Marcus. I do know a lot more than I should about this man and the dark arts he dips in to. In truth, I used to work with him closely. I helped him with his goals until I too was to be sacrificed for the cause. That was when I barely escaped with my life. It's why I stand against him now. If I don't, I will be killed, and my body will be used to craft more of these demonic freaks he creates."
I was at a loss. This guy worked with the tall man? If that were the case, what were his true motives? Was he truly trying to survive and help me save the innocents who would be affected by the coming catastrophe, or was this part of a far less righteous plan?
"How can I trust you then? How can I trust someone who was okay with that kind of plan until it started becoming bad for them?"
"Because if you don't trust me, you'll be allowing the death of many, and you're going to send the rest of your afterlife reviewing the memories of how you neglected to be the man you needed to be. You will spend the rest of eternity filled to the brim with regret and guilt, all because you didn't listen to me."
I paced back and forth, placing my hands over my face and groaning under my breath. I had lived my entire life being selfish. Was I really going to spend my afterlife the same way? I thought for a moment. I had the chance to make up for all my shortcomings. I had a chance to forgive myself, and perhaps... even forgive myself for what happened that fateful Halloween night. I had the chance to save people. The chance to prove to myself I was different than the man I was in life.
"Sure, I'll help you. What do I need to do?"
EJ unveiled the blade and showed it to me. It was the most magnificent object I had ever laid my eyes upon.
"What is that?" I asked. I had never seen something so magnificent. I wasn't sure how or why, but when I looked at the clean metal and saw my reflection within it, something powerful resonated within my very soul.
"This right here is the weapon of choice to defeat those beats which lurk within the night. It was the tall man's way of ensuring that if the mischievous creatures ever turned on him, he would be able to defend himself and survive. It has been blessed with the otherworldly powers the man has knowledge of. I stole it after abandoning him and his followers to protect myself."
The tall man was behind all of this. He was some kind of crazy cult leader of sorts, and he had brainwashed people into sacrificing themselves for him just so he could make these monsters to do his bidding. I felt as if I would puke. Such actions disgusted me.
"Some say the tall man is a demon within a human's body. Others say that he is chaos incarnate or some sort of warlord god who only exists to wreak havoc across the Earth. Truthfully, I believe that no matter what he is, this blade I possess may be the key to destroying him. Mortal or demon, the supernatural power this weapon holds can defeat any being it can cut through, and that includes the tall man's flesh."
EJ looked once more, ensuring that I had picked up on all that he said. I nodded my head up and glanced at the weapon, my eyes reflecting off the steel.
"Look, Marcus, I know this is a lot to take in. I know that this information has turned your reality upside down, but I need you to work with me. I'm kind of like you in a way, you know? I have regrets from the past. I've done horrible things to help forward the goals of a megalomaniac, things far worse than you can imagine. I'm trying to make up for those mistakes and maybe do something good for the world. I know you can relate to that."
He was right. There was nothing I wanted more than to do good for the world in order to repay society for becoming the man I was. Once I died, I thought that I could never make amends. Now, I had an opportunity to do something positive.
"The universe chose me to help you. I saw visions of you and your afterlife. I saw the potential within you when I dreamt. Some sort of force that exists gave me those visions for a reason. It's how I knew where you would be today. I think the visions, the afterlife you experienced, and my situation are all connected."
Could his words be true? They made more sense than the events I had seen unfold. I was to stop a crazy cult leader that summons demons to terrorize Earth. I was truly dumbfounded and overwhelmed.
"You still haven't answered my question. How am I connected to all this? What makes me the one? Why did you have these visions of me?"
I had to know. I so desperately needed the answer to the most important question I had. EJ looked dead into my eyes, his face completely straight.
"Because, Marcus, you were the first man to be killed in order to bring forth these evil creatures who reside in the darkest parts of reality. That is how I knew who you were after seeing you within my mind. All of the tall man's followers have heard of you. The very first one to be sacrificed."
I felt faint and stumbled back a few feet. EJ rushed over to me and came to my assistance, helping me maintain balance. Everything felt so surreal and I felt so... I don't know how to describe it. I suppose it would most closely relate to disbelief, but even that doesn't accurately represent the state of emotional and mental turmoil I experienced.
"You mean... my body is in one of those things? You mean I was used as a vessel to... to murder others?"
EJ sat me down into a corner of the room, a look of concern and pity simultaneously expressed on his face.
"Try not to think of it that way. You were a victim, Marcus. I know how it may sound, but you are not at fault for the actions of others. You've already experienced enough grief. Please don't allow this revelation to upset you further."
He was right. I hadn't enough time to feel guilty over this as well. I already had enough problems weighing me down, and I had no room for more. I had a job to do, and I intended to do it to the best of my ability.
A loud thumping noise could be heard above us. EJ looked up and grimaced towards the ceiling.
"C'mon, let's go," EJ commanded.
He hurried up the stairs in front of us, and I followed suit. He opened the door and we walked outside together, taking in our surroundings.
"If you are going to be the one to save people, then you should learn how to defend yourself," EJ said to me, handing me the hilt of the blade he carried.
I took the weapon and held it tightly within my hand. EJ pressed his finger against his lips and crept forward, peeking around the edge of a building near him. I silently walked toward him and looked as well. One of "The Few" stood in the middle of the street, viciously gnawing on the carcass of some sort of animal.
EJ motioned me to advance towards the beast.
"It's okay, I'm right behind you," he told me. I believed him. If things got bad, I could just take off my mask and escape to safety at any time.
I got within a few feet of the monster, being as stealthy as possible. I raised the dagger, and with all the strength I could muster, I launched myself toward the beast. I jammed the blade into the pulsating human flesh before me, and the creature screamed with the moans of dozens of humans in intense pain. I stabbed again and again, and the monstrous foe did its best to shake me off. I was flung against a nearby vehicle with such intensity that it knocked the breath out of me.
I grasped for the handle of the knife and stood once more, facing the spazzing demon in my sight. It oozed blond and rotting, liquified muscle from the punctures I made in it. It rushed towards me, using its many hands to grab me. I sliced each one that I could before it released me and, in a fit of rage, rushed me with its mouth wide open. With one swift strike, I rammed the blade into the roof of its mouth. Its various eyes rolled back as the creature fell to the ground, defeated by my hand.
EJ came to my side and patted me on the shoulder, his smile clear and apparent.
"See? You're a natural. Don't worry about having overwhelming strength or speed with that thing equipped. A single strike can cause unbelievable pain within even the toughest of enemies, as you just saw."
I admired the tool within my hand, its edge now soaked in blood. Maybe I was strong enough to defeat the evil forces which would consume the world. Maybe... maybe I could do something meaningful in my existence.
"Now, Marcus, you know what you have to do, don't you?"
I nodded my head. I was ready for the mission I was tasked with. I was ready to do what I had to do to stop the tall man from murdering many. I smiled a bit. I would finally have my revenge as well. Revenge to those who killed me and damned me to be left alone with my own thoughts. I would finally be free, and whatever forces that control the afterlife I reside in have graced me with a chance to free myself of that which burdens me and move on.
To those of you reading this, I will do what I can to defeat the tall man and his hell spawn. Some of you may be affected if I fail. You could possibly lose those you love, and perhaps even yourself. It is that realization which motivates me to do this and be the man I need to be. Perhaps, be the man I wish I could have been all along.
EJ placed his hand on my ski mask.
"I'm going to take this off now. You must return to your own time and reality. I am certain that the abstract being behind all of this will supply you with whatever you need to complete your destiny. Godspeed to you, Marcus."
I saw my vision begin to distort as my room came back into view. The room where I would come to my computer and type this to you. However, I heard EJ one last time before everything went back to normal. I heard him say one more thing that would make my blood run cold.
"Thank you for bringing my mask back, by the way. I've missed it.”
Written by Icydice
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