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Withered Soul

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Author's note: The following takes place two months after the events of Apparition.

It's been two months since my fellow detective Jack Drayson was found dead in Garnatus Hospital for the Mentally Ill. We knew each other since we met on the first day of the police academy.

He did always seem distant, though, so I wasn't surprised that he had to be sent to that asylum. We were like brothers, even though we never slept under the same roof. But now isn't a time for sorrow.

The way everyone heard was this, during the night on his fifth day at the asylum, he had broken off one of the metal rods attached to the bed and slit his own throat with the sharper end. But recently, even though the chief dismissed it, an ex-resident of Garnatius brought forward new evidence. His name was Brian Linkensberg, age twenty-seven, and the following recording was more than unusual:

Me: Ok, Mr Linkensburg, tell me what you know.

Brian: Do you remember when people were dying off, when they heard strange noises in the night?

Me: Vaguely. The case is closed, we know that the drug that makes you sane was what made you people hear things.

Brian: Oh no, sir. Oh no it wasn't. It was the body, the body...

Me: Body? What the are you talking about?!

Brian: The body's fang shall reveal the eyes, the eyes of ancient times, when three were one but the divide, the body, the heart and the soul...

Me: Sir, if you don't start giving me answers, then GOD HELP ME-!

Brian: There is no God, detective! The one who killed your friend and countless friends is gone and the next chapter is beginning!

Me: Ok, now we're getting somewhere. Who the hell was it?

Brian: Some believe that there was a time when we existed, before the beginning of life, before the Big Bang. They called him the Nightmare. He was one, but when everything happened, he became three!

Me: I'll just play along and ask you; what did the Nightmare become exactly?

Brian: A child called the Tainted Body, a man called the Blackened Heart and an elder called the Withered Soul. He's returning, mister. The Tainted Body has killed many, has fed off of their fear and nightmares. The stone, the stone!

Me: The stone? What kind of stone?

Brian: A black stone! Your friend touched the tip of it and let his mind give in to the despair... Please, whatever you do, destroy the stone! Don't touch it or the second of the three will awaken!

So, that was a pretty disturbing conversation, I admit, but it did a explain few things. It entirely explained what happens when you let out a man who's mind is still damaged. And what did I do next? I touched the stone. I admit, I was a little ill at first, but the feeling went away after a few seconds.

That night, I had a dream. I was in a black void, and light was shining from three pillars. The first one stood feebly, as if it was on its last few years of strength. A strange symbol was carved on one side.

The second pillar had a black mass swirling at the very top of it, pulsing as if it was a heart beat. And the third pillar was crumbing, from age most likely, but still looked brand new with a crystal ball shining light from... wait, what was making it shine?

And suddenly, the ball of black exploded. It surrounded me, pressing its cold and toxic contents against my skin and blood. It was in my throat! I was drowning, slipping away...

And I awoke. It took a few seconds for my eyes to adjust, but in the darkness was an old man. He wore a grey cloak, his white long hair pressed against the edge of his hood. I tried to look him in the eye, but then I noticed. He had no eyes. He didn't even have a face. Instead, all he had was a solid mass of black tar, or something like that. Without thinking, I threw my alarm clock at him. Then he vanished.

I was still tired, and felt a little wet, as if I was swimming. Oh god, I couldn't breathe. Something was crawling out of my mouth, from the bottom of my throat. A shape emerged. It was a... boy? No, it wasn't. He had pure-black hair, no ears, a row of yellowing shark-like teeth, and a symbol where each eye should have been.

In my last few moments, I heard his voice, "Your end is our beginning."

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