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The Answer

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When we walked in the dark-side of the earth, the portals to the unknown, we discovered true evils and terrors inconceivable. But it was not those terrors and horrors that had discovered us, rather it was us who discovered them.

I always worked late nights. That's the problem with being self-employed. You get the work from people when they come to you. Sometimes I got jobs from the police when they needed help with a case. Sometimes, just to pay the bills, I had to haul some low-level thug or wannabe gangster out of an alleyway and into the station. Being a private detective wasn't easy. I was always under constant fire from the media by being a modern-day "vigilante". Stuck in a world that believed only the government should have those abilities. "Only the government should offer those services."

Problem is, the government's always a little slow. People like having instant gratification. Or at least, some kind of result by the end of the weekend. Sure, I got arrested a few times for taking evidence from a crime scene, obstructing with justice, that sort of crap. Eventually, the department set up a nice little "private agency liaison" in their offices. She was a quiet woman with a degree in communications. I guess that was a promotion from being a liaison to "Neighborhood Watch" organizations. Diana was my handler, though, and could always get me work if I needed it.

My name is Kurt Jacobs and I always spent late nights in my office. It got my wife pissed off enough that she ran out on me, taking everything but the guns, bed, clothes, and whiskey. It didn't matter. Everything I needed was in the office. My own personal living space, really. When I didn't have work, I had time to write. So I wrote my experiences, as fiction. I had been published a few times, actually getting a couple bestsellers out there. It was a good way of making some cash for savings. Even though I might've been close to having a million dollars, I never moved out of the two-bit apartment. It was all I needed.

One late night, I was writing out a new story about one of my previous cases. There was a knock on my door. "It's unlocked!" I told him. He stepped in the light of my office. The man was balding, or at least was shaved. He had reddish-brown eyebrows and blue eyes. he had a stubble growing on his cheeks and face. He wore a long, brown trench coat. He spoke with a soft, yet raspy voice, "You never answered my question, Kurt."

"What?" I asked, rather puzzled. He didn't make sense. This was the first time I had ever seen the guy.

"My answer. What's my answer, man?" he frantically asked again.

"What answer?"

"You tell me what answer! You left me hanging on the suspense! I was tortured waiting for you!"

I removed my gun from my coat and was about to draw when I saw his tazer bolt launch out at me. I felt the pain arcing up my arm and I fell off my chair and hit the ground. He walked around my desk, stood over me, and told me angrily, "I have wandered, looking for offerings to appease him! You told me you had an answer and you never answered! You should've just given me my goddamn answer." He lifted my whiskey bottle in the air and swung it down.

I awoke in a dark room. My vision was blurred, but there were several boxes around. I tried to stand up, but my hands and feet were handcuffed to a wheelchair. It started to become clear, and I attempted to wheel the chair out. My hands could barely touch the wheels. I struggled to move towards the door, when my shoulders were grabbed from behind. "Stop struggling. You're going to help me." 

"What the hell are you doing?" I asked, when he started wheeling me down a hall.

"You're going to give me my answer. You're gonna write it out for me so I don't forget, you're gonna help me, and then you can go." He told me that, but I have a hard time buying that he'll just 'let me go.' We stopped at a table. Around me, various tools, and a board with several newspaper clippings and pictures of...

god...

All clippings of previous disappearances. Violent kidnappings on the streets. Usually the homeless, but sometimes, just somebody unfortunate to be wandering the streets. They called the kidnapper the "Hobble" because of the way three witnesses had reported that he walked. when I turned to look at him when he walked around, he was waddling, off-balance. He stepped around me, and lifted up a typewriter onto the desk. He placed a sheet of paper in the typewriter and said "Now you're gonna write. Tell me what my answer is."

"What answer?" I asked. He slapped me across the face, and told me to wait. He walked over to a backpack, and pulled out several objects. I could hear clanging and arguing amongst himself. I heard an object drop, but I couldn't quite turn my head to look back at him. He had picked it up, though, and began walking towards me. I heard the flick of a switch. "You wanna tell me what my answer is?" He said.

"What the hell are you talking about? God dammit! What are you on?" I screamed.

"You stubborn piece of shit." He grunted, and and he ripped off a strip of duct tape. He forced it onto my mouth, and I started thrashing. There was nothing I could do but wiggle in the chair. Then I felt his blade touch my ear. "You're gonna answer me after this." He started cutting down. The pain shot up and down, slowly cutting through the cartilage. I was screaming into the tape, like anyone would hear me. I felt the ear wiggle and flop, until it fell off. He picked it up and placed it on the table. "Maybe you didn't hear me last time. Well, I hope the other ear works..." He told me. He ripped the tape off. "What. Is. My. Answer?"

"ANSWER TO WHAT, DAMMIT?" I screamed. "You give me an answer first! Answer to what?"

He sighed, and spoke "The answer you promised me. Years ago, you and your wife moved into that apartment in Chicago next to mine. I always heard you talking. I heard the tapping on the wall, Kurt. You tapped. You tapped Morse. I tapped back. I whispered in the vents. I tried to talk to you. Then you both left. I had to follow you. I had to track you down. I had to have my answer. You moved into that apartment and I couldn't find a spot, so I watched you. I watched your wife leave and I kept trying to talk to you. I kept tapping. I kept whispering. Whispering for my damn answer. Asking the question. When you moved here, I knew, I knew this is where we'd meet, this is where you'd help me."

The man had been following me for god knows how long. I asked him, "What is the question?"

"How could you forget? How?" He steps back to the table and picks up another object. "You selfish SHITHEAD!" He slammed a baseball bat into my knee. I felt it break. it turned red and started bleeding. I screamed against him. "HOW DO I STOP IT? HOW DO I STOP HIM! HOW DO WE STOP HIM?" He screamed. 

I couldn't respond to him. I was in so much pain. I looked down and saw the break. The bone was pressing against my thigh. Any harder and it'd have punctured the skin. I gasped and coughed out, "Stop who?"

"The shadow man. The dark man."

"Who?" I asked, still grunting.

"I don't know his goddamn name."

"How do you know him? Why?" I asked.

He told me, "He's always been following me. He's skinny, he's slender. He's all dark. He follows me everywhere. When they put me in the building, the institution... He was always on the ceiling, because he had me alone. He did things to me...

When they put me up on the table, the shock treatment, all that...he's sitting up above me, looking at me, his claws with their venom dripping off... his sharp little teeth, and he's saying to me... 'you're mine now.' Like I'm his prey. I left here, I ran away. I ran away to get away from him, but he just kept following me. Everywhere I went, I saw him."

He pointed down to his feet and removed his shoes. "He gets into my body... I had to cut off my toes. All of them. He trips me up, so he can get me while I'm down. I had enough." Stumps remained where he cut his toes off. "He lives in that hall down there." He said, pointing to a dark hall. Red tape across the door, with one light-bulb hanging from the ceiling. "If you go past that yellow tape," he said, while pointing to the entrance to the hallway, lined with tape, "you're cursed. If you go past that door, you're dead."

"To keep him from coming after me, I give him people. Other people. People he sees, people he wants. He tells me he'll leave me alone if I give him something else. I take people off the streets, and put them in there for him. He just keeps asking for more..."

It started to make sense. This psychopath, split-personalities, killing people and throwing them in there. Whatever they did to him in the asylum didn't work. The shock treatment probably made it worse. But where does this attraction with me come in...

"When you came here, I knew something was calling you. It couldn't be chance. This was fate. We were supposed to meet each other. This is how we stop it. That's what answer. How do we stop it? You're gonna write down the answer on the typewriter. You're going to brainstorm ideas. You're going to tell me how to help me. We'll write it together." 

I look at him, with my handcuffs holding my hands. My leg is still broken. "I can't write like this. One, I need a fucking splint. Two, I need the cuffs undone."

"I can't undo the cuffs. A splint I can get."

"How do you expect me to write?"

He undoes the cuffs and cuffs them to the typewriter. "Start writing." He tells me, while he walks out.

I wait for him to leave. I start thrashing against the typewriter, looking for weak-spots, rust on it where I could break it. I pull it into my lap so I can get freedom. It falls right onto my broken knee.

FUCK...

I ground my teeth, trying not to have screamed. I pulled the chair backwards, trying to reach a window. I look out and started banging against the glass with my head. I nudged the glass window open, and saw a man walking out front. "Help me!" I screamed.

"Are you okay?" he asked. The man appeared to be a police officer. "I noticed the truck out front and this is a locked up storage-"

"He kidnapped me! He broke my fucking..." I watched as the stranger tazed the cop with the stun gun. He looked towards me, rather angrily. 

The police officer was brought in on a wheelchair, handcuffed the same way I was. "Pig, you shouldn't have come here. And YOU..." nodding to me, he growled "I will deal with after." He turns to the cop. "You'll buy us some time." He wheeled the cop down the hall. "God, please man, I have a son...I have a three-year old son..." the voice drifted down the hall and I hear the door open and close.

I started struggling with the cuffs and typewriter. I needed to get my leg back in place. I couldn't straighten it, so I lift the typewriter in the air... Maybe there's another way...No. I gotta do this.

The stranger woke me up. "Look at you, improvising. You were out for a good four hours, Kurt. Must've hurt, real bad. If you screwed up the Typewriter though, I might've had to kill you. You could've ruined everything. You haven't written a goddamn thing. You aren't helping me."

I decided to play along to his game. This was the only way to keep myself alive. "Look, what tools do we have, okay? We need tools."

He smiled, and said "We have hammers, nails...the bat, the knife... Tazers... Gas... Your gun and the cop's gun. I've got some dynamite and fireworks. What are you thinking?"

"What if we leveled the place? We destroy everything," I suggested.

"No, because he can just leave the place..." he answered.

"But what if his home is destroyed?"

"It just won't work, man."

He really believes that. His mind plans the contingencies to keep furthering the fantasy. To keep it in play. He can't let anything stop it.

The door opened down the hall, creaking.

"Shit..." he says, wheeling me in front, a few feet away. The cop stumbled out of the room. His head was bruised, one eye swollen shut. He fell to the side of the hall and started mumbling. "You stupid shit... You killed them all. Almost killed me."

"Shut up," the stranger said. "I've got your gun and I will blow your brains out..."

"You're just a psychotic..." the cop mumbles, trailing off.

"Kurt, he's lying. What good would it be for me to just kill people like that? I didn't touch them..." the stranger told me.

"Detective Jacobs..." the cop mumbled. I turned at that name. He knows me. "Your wife didn't have a miscarriage. You think she left you because of the job..."

"SHUT UP!" the stranger said.

"She left you because she aborted that baby. She lied to you. She didn't want to have kids. But her "miscarriage" destroyed you, didn't it? That's why you worked late nights. That's why you started drinking."

"How do you know-" I was cut off by the stranger. 

"I am going to fucking murder you," the stranger said.

"Kurt... you can stop this guy. I know you can. You can bring her back to you."

The cop was dragged back into the room. What the fuck...

I started writing. Everything that had happened. My thoughts. I wrote about the man. He needed help. He wanted an answer, I'd give him one. It was silent while I wrote. I got my answer summarized, for him to read. That cop couldn't have known any of that. How...

The door opened again. The stranger walked out, gun in hand. "You've been writing!" he said. "Let's see!"

He was silent while reading. I looked back at him. "What the fuck is this!?!?!"

"You need to," I told him.

"You're insane! You're trying to kill me!" he screams.

"This is the only way you will solve your problem."

"WHY, GOD, Would I walk in there? Why would I go in there alone?"

"You've had no problem taking anyone else in there."

"At HIS MERCY."

"He isn't real. Face your fears."

"Fuck you," he screamed. "He's real and I'll fucking show you. How do you think that pig knew all that shit about you? Unless..."

"Unless what?" I asked.

"Unless you and the man are in it together! That's why you came back here! You came back here to bring me back here! To trap me! You PIECE OF SHIT! I'll murder you! I'll burn you, you liar!" He went to the table and picked up a can of gasoline. I thrashed against him, screaming, while he had doused me in gasoline. I choked and coughed. He moved back to the table and picks up a lighter. He flicked it open and lit it. "I hope you both burn."

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Diana, handgun in her hand. Her finger close to her mouth, shushing me. She was ready to shoot him.

"And I don't mean you and the man. I mean you..." He pulled out his gun, twisted around, and fired four times into Diana.

"NO!" I screamed.

"AND YOUR BITCH!" he growled. He fired shot after shot into her. That was when I picked the typewriter up with both hands and started breaking it against the table. He watched her burn, Diana. My handler. He murdered her. He's watching her die. The typewriter finally broke apart. The sound of it breaking apart was muted by him firing my gun into her. One shot after the other. I lifted the typewriter up and started busting the legs of the wheelchair. I wasn't going to be able to stand straight with a recently broken leg. Once finished, I picked up a crowbar and used the tape he had on the table to splint my leg. I picked up his knife and started limping towards him. He had enough time to turn around when I stabbed it into his shoulder and tore it down his back. I felt his blood seep through my hand, and I pulled the blade out and went low, severing his Achilles tendon.

He screamed, and fell to the ground. I started dragging him towards the hallway. "No, kill me, man! Anything but that! Please!"

Shadow man or not, he was going in. That was the one thing that would either fix him, or destroy him. I dragged him into the room while he was still pleading, and I lifted him back into the darkness of the room. I kicked him in the head twice, and walked out. He was screaming for me. "Kurt! Don't leave me! Don't-" Before I made it down the hall, the door slammed shut and clicked. I turned around to face it. A few footsteps approached behind me.

I turned back around, and standing by the table was Diana. I rubbed my eyes and she was gone. I walked back towards the hall door, and it was unlocked when I opened it. All the bodies, lined up against the wall, staring back. All dead. But the stranger, the stranger was gone. His body was never found inside the room. There were no exits, no way he could get out, aside from the door.

When I called the cops and they came to the crime scene later, my handler approached me. "The detectives said you thought you saw me here, tonight? A cop too?"

"Yeah," I answered.

"We found a cop inside, but there was no trauma like you said. He was dead the same way everyone else was. Natural heart attack, somehow. He had the tazer scar... all of them had tazer scars, but that was it."

But it was not those terrors and horrors that had discovered us, rather us who had discovered them.



Written by Scorch933
Content is available under CC BY-SA

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