Monday, April 4, 2011

The Red Building

For the third time in my life I find myself emerging from the rabbit's hole, only this time I have absolutely no idea how I made it out.

I suppose that's a spoiler for how this story ends, but hold on a minute, it gets better than just that.

I drove to the park where Rick O'Connor said that the red building was. I got out with my gun, a lockpick, a flashlight and some extra batteries. My ID stayed in my back pocket in case I needed it, just because you never know when you might run into someone who wants to see some. At this point, I feel like being without an ID of some kind, real or fake, feels like being bare-ass naked in the middle of a four-way intersection.

Traveling through the park, I caught last-minute glimpses of people out and about. It was around eleven in the morning (I know, I'm not stupid. Who knew?), and mothers were taking their children on a stroll in their carriages. Nice little gathering of people. I always enjoyed those feelings of normal. Even if they were random and short.

Before long, I was deep in there, out of sight from everyone else, back in my own little messed up world. The warm feeling I had been feeling was gone. Now it just felt like every other time I was near forests these days. On the one hand, it meant I was close to where I was heading. On the other hand, I liked the feeling of being safe.

Trying not to panic, I just started repeating one of the old kid's stories in my head. Today's winner decided to be the Three Little Pigs. In my mind's eye, I could just keep picturing that damn wolf pounding on the door: “Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in. Or I'll huff, and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in!”

Probably not the best mental image to go in with, but it worked.

When I saw the red begin to appear through the trees, suddenly I remembered my dream. The surroundings were exactly as they were then; to the detail. This was it. This was definitely the place. And sure enough, through the clearing there was the red building, in the park, exactly where Rick said it was.

He was right about that part.

Time to see if he was right about the other bit.

I went to the door and began to work on the lock, and as I was working, I felt a paranoid feeling, like something was off, like I was being watched. I looked around at the surrounding area but there was nothing there, not even a bird. This must have been what Damien had felt when he came, that feeling he felt when he had gone in. I don't think I would have felt it if it really was nothing in there.

The lock wasn't hard to pick and before I knew it I was inside this dusty, empty room with a draft from a broken window that I recognized instantly as the one he had broken to get inside; looking at it then, I was glad I went through the door. I was in the right place, I had to be. I started looking around for that trapdoor that he had gone down.

I found it, closed, towards the back of the building. I flipped the lock keeping the door to the floor and opened it, and before long I was staring down at the stairway from Damien's story.

Only...it was longer than he had said it was. Even from the top I could see that it went down pretty deep. That confused me for a moment, but I brushed it aside. Maybe the way down would seem shorter than it appeared.

Well, it did, but even now that it's all over I still feel like it was more of its own doing than mine. And it wouldn't be the only time I would feel that down there. There is something wrong with that place, the architecture is all screwy, and I realized that the moment I got off the stairs and stepped into that corridor.

Dark. That's the best word to describe it, pitch black dark. And cold. Really cold, colder than a basement belonging to a building like this should have been. All I had was a light jacket, and that was not enough. So I started moving to keep warm, flashlight on and gun out, ignoring the very obvious blood splatters against the wall, an omen that I should probably get out while I still could.

And again, this corridor was different. Damien had said that there was just the corridor leading to the one room, nothing else, but as I walked I could distinctly see doors along the walls, leading into what appeared to be cells. All of them were locked, and quite frankly the thought of exploring them made me feel faint. Peering through the bars, I had a feeling that they were cells, possibly to hold their sacrifices. Only if I had no other place to look would I think about poking through them.

Eventually I ended up in the chamber from the tape, the orgy tape. I looked around, careful where I touched; God only knew how many STDs this place carried. I finally found the other door, the one that lead to the sacrificial chamber. My walk there was considerably shorter than his, and I was inside before long, looking at a table that had sacrificed...how many children?

Too many.

I looked up, and I was surprised that you really could see the sky from here...but how did that work, this far underground? And...wait, how the fuck was it night? I had gone in in the early afternoon, but sure enough it was night time, moon, stars and all. I could see Orion's belt from where I was. It did not make any sense.

And then I understood that that was exactly the point. This place did not make sense. Maybe it was always like this or maybe it was after the cult stopped using it, but this building was supposed to be confusing, was supposed to be a maze, just like the warehouse. In order to tear you down from the inside, make you vulnerable

Little pigs, little pigs

and then he comes and rips you apart.

Let me come in

It was time to move fast. I started looking around the room for whatever was down here that could help me. I started looking under the altar, around the room, for any items left behind, and then I started searching the walls. Along the sides of the altar I found a set of pictures...hieroglyphics, I think they were. As I remember now, the images fly through my head:

Three long, wavy lines...almost life lines of fire...or water?

A face down semicircle.

A...I think it was a branch. Or a flower. Or a cane, I don't fucking know.

Circle with an X running through it. Big surprise.

Finally, a man...I think. Naked, faceless, looking as though he were pondering something.

Then the big picture on the wall, the one that put the rest of them to shame, for it was the most gruesome. Bodies. Just endless piles of bodies, some thrown on top of each other, some thrown into a river of probable blood, but all of them dead. Except two. One, a pharaoh sitting in his chair, and the other the many-armed man standing before him.

I remember just being transfixed by these images for a moment, then moving on. I had to move fast; I could feel something coming, even though nothing had actually happened...and then I heard the noise. This large growling noise, almost a dull roar, that rang out from somewhere deep within the building. I turned and just as I looked towards the door, the batteries in my flashlight died.

My throat started burning as I reached into my pocket for the extra batteries. I unscrewed the lid

Or I'll huff

and tipped the dead batteries out and

And I'll puff

screwed the lid back on

And I'll blow your house in

and turned the flashlight on to find Eric standing right before me. Blood was caked all over his face.

“He's here,” he said. “Time's up.”

The flashlight flicked off and on for a brief moment but when it went back on he was gone. And before I could question it, candles on the wall flicked on and the door opened and he slowly stepped through, his pale surface looking right at me.

LITTLEPIGSLITTLEPIGSLETMECOMEINORI'LLHUFFANDI'LLPUFFANDI'LLBLOWYOURHOUSEINIMEANI'LLBLOWITRIGHTTHEFUCKIN

I couldn't move. I couldn't think. I could only stare at the enemy that's haunted me for the last year. His hands were at his sides, his head tilted, and...the tentacles weren't out yet, so that was a good sign. But there he was, in all his slim seven-foot-tall glory, looking right at me.

And then, in my head, something snapped. I grinned. The fear that had gripped me just a moment before was gone, and I was right back in the warehouse like I was all those months ago.

“Welcome back,” I croaked through the now blazing pain that had overtaken my throat. “You finally got the courage to find me, did you?”

I took a step forward, daring myself further. He did nothing.

“Yeah, that's right, you remember me, don't you?” I giggled, which given the circumstances was probably not the thing to do. “I'm the one that got away. I'm the one you didn't get. Were you embarrassed by that? Were you embarrassed that I've escaped you more times than anyone else?”

Still nothing. He just kept watching me with that stupid head tilt he did. That just made me laugh more, that this fucker that everyone feared so much was not doing a thing to me.

“I'm starting to think everyone's fear in you is misplaced,” I croaked, close now that we were face to face. “What do you do, anyway? You stand there and you look at us and you drive this fear into our heads, but get past the paranoia and you're just a stick with arms in a cheap suit. Nothing scary about you at all, you cowardly piece of-”

There was a swish and a whip and a loud CRASH and before I knew it I had been grabbed by my shirt by a tentacle and slammed against the altar so hard that I had caused its legs to smash and the surface to collapse. I stifled a cry as he stood over me, two other tentacles drawing from his back. Despite the back pain and the blood trickling from my mouth, I managed a bloody sneer.

“Yeah, that's right. That's the Slender Man I want to see,” I growled, or I tried to growl; my throat was practically useless by now. “I wonder what you really look like under that pathetic costume of yours-”

He raised me back up for us to be face to face. Even without a face, I could feel just how angry he was, how angry I was making him. And this made me laugh harder, knowing that little old me was getting him angry. So for good measure- and just because I seemingly had a death wish- I mustered up some blood and spit it right into his face.

And that, fortunately enough, is the last thing I remember, other than being flung towards the stone wall. All I know is that next thing I remember was waking up on a couch with a dark-haired girl seven or eight years younger than me staring at me. Once my vision cleared, I recognized her as the girl I had seen leaving Damien's workplace.

“You okay?” she asked.

I slowly sat up, looking around the room. It was just a small little pad, the only lights coming from lit candles, but it was warm enough. It was safe enough. I looked at the table and saw that all my equipment was still there, gun, flashlight, and all.

“Yeah, I'm alright,” I whispered, still feeling the burning in my throat.

“Good.” And without warning, she slapped me right in the face. “That was the stupidest move you could have ever made. What were you thinking, idiot?”

She shook her head and started moving around the apartment, grabbing my items and stuffing them in a bag. I studied her for a moment, her hair, her eyes, the way she acted, how she had been watching me the other day, and a random thought occurred to me.

“You're Kiera, aren't you?” I asked. “Damien's ex.”

She neither confirmed nor denied my statement. She threw some food into the bag and threw it at me.

“You made a big mistake,” she told me. “Coming here when you've got the entire FBI looking for you, into a town that's much worse than that, do you have a death wish? Huh? Did you really think you could just walk into Damien's workplace asking about him and not send up red flags? Do you not realize how close you came to disappearing yourself in there?”

“The hell are you-?”

“Did you really think this cult was just a group of old timers at the church? It's the whole fucking town, Strahm, why do you think everybody's looking at you funny?”

“Wait...the whole town?” I jumped to my feet. “Bullshit, no way they could get away with that-”

“Couldn't they? The government already turns a blind eye to Slender Man, why not turn a blind eye to a town full of people who follow him?”

The people in the shop...But how can a cult just stay in full light in town and not have any passerby’s notice? It's easier to hide a cult within a town, but if the cult IS the town...and no one was ackowledging it...

“Okay, hold on,” I said, trying to slow her down. “I need to know the whole story. Can you take me to Rick, can he tell me about this? Because this doesn't make any sense-”

“Oh come ON!” She finally turned to me, her eyes full of fire. I can kinda see why Damien would go for her. “I knew you were here following that bullshit story, but I didn't think you believed it THAT much. And you're the one who's supposed to be the great detective?!”

“Will you slow down please? What the hell are you talking-?”

“Zeke, Rick disappeared on August 27th. A week before Damien did.”

She turned back to what she was doing, leaving me standing there with what I imagine was the stupidest look on my face that I had ever kept there. That wasn't...there was no way...how could...was I really supposed to believe that this was all a lie, that everything Rick

(Rick?)

said was a lie?

“How can that be? How can no one know he's missing?”

“With everyone and their mother focusing on Damien's story, you really think anyone's gonna notice if his brother goes missing?” She finally threw me the bag. “Now go. You can't stay here, they know you're here, they're sending some agents over-”

“Wait a minute-”

“Listen to me,” she growled, grabbing my shirt; Christ, this girl was forceful. “You never should have come here. This was not your obligation to come here and fuck with things. You want a sense of purpose, you can do it somewhere else, but leave things here for someone else!”

“Someone...Damien?”

“You need to get out of here.”

“Is it Damien?”

“Get out of here now-”

“Kiera!” I grabbed her arm just as she threw the door open. “Is Damien alive?”

She pulled out of my grasp and pushed me out, bag in my arms. “Get out of town. Don't come back.” And then she slammed the door in my face.

So there I stood for a minute staring at a brown-colored metal door and wondering how many shrooms I had been fed during my black out. This didn't make sense. Well, in a way it made sense but it still didn't really make sense. The town being the cult...that was a stretch. Rick not being...well, that could be true, I suppose, but...if he wasn't Rick, then who the fuck was he?

Who was he...and that was when I started getting angry. If he lied about who he was, that made his entire story questionable. Meaning he wasn't working with the cops. Meaning Damien didn't kill himself...but that they killed him instead. That had to be it, right? That's why Kiera didn't tell me, isn't it? And we all just accepted the story and let those fuckers kill off another one of us...

I kicked the wall furiously as the reality of this sunk in. Slender Man's influence was everywhere. Even before the servants started their tirade, they were picking us off. Damien died right under our noses, and they covered it up. We're all expendable. God damn it, God DAMMIT...

I wasn't in my right head space when I left, which was why I didn't really see the two agents following me until I finally turned the corner and out of the corner of my eye saw them. Not even trying, they had the suits on and everything. This wasn't scouting, they were going in for the arrest. Problem was, I was tired, I was confused, my head hurt, my back ached, and I was just not in the mood to deal with their shit this night.

So I went down the alleyway, making sure that they followed me, and waited until I was halfway before I turned around and shot one of them three times in the chest. The way the bullets impacted his chest it was apparent that he was wearing the Kevlar vest, but three bullets to the chest is going to fuck you up no matter what you're wearing. He went down like a sack of bricks, and the other one fell backwards on his ass in shock. He raised his gun, but I was just a tad bit quicker and before he knew it he was clutching his badly bleeding arm, his gun clattering a few feet away.

He tried to crawl, but I slammed my foot onto his chest, grabbed his collar, and pulled him up towards me. His teeth were gritted in pain.

“Go on,” he growled. “Kill me.”

“No, you don't get off that easy,” I said, looking him straight in the eye. “You're going to go back to base and give your boss a little message for me. Tell Fisk I'm on to him. Tell him to stop following me, stop following Celeste, stop following Kiera, stop following everyone. Tell him to pull back every single agent he has working in the field right now, and when he's done with that, ask him why he's busy defending the wrong people and letting the right people die-”

“You're never going to get him to stop, he's always going to come after you-”

I'm not done!” My voice was all but gone at this point, so I squeaked a little towards the end of that, but I didn't care. I was beyond caring at this point. All I had was rage. “Also I want you to tell him that I'm done playing nice. Now, I gave that agent in Ohio a Get-Out-of-Hell-Free card, and unfortunately you're about to use up my last one. I've had fun playing games with you and your little friends, but now I am no longer in the fucking mood. No more freebies. The next agent he sends my way, I'm sending his head back in a box. Got it?”

He just stared at me as if he had never seen anything quite like me before, but he got the message. I threw him back down on the ground, grabbed my bag, and took off, taking care to hock a big wad of spit onto his partner as I left that alleyway and the long hike back to my car. He groaned as I spit on him, and from that I gathered that he was alive, and probably would survive my little surprise. Just as well. As angry as I was, I wasn't ready to go on a mass murder spree quite yet.

I'm now a few miles out of town, laying low, re-gaining my bearings. I'm making the trip back home tomorrow. Whether or not this trip actually did me any good, I can't say for certain. Still too many questions. And now a whole different threat as well.

I need sleep...fuck.

42 comments:

  1. My god Zeke.

    ...

    I'm not sure what else to say beyond that. But I think you might have made a mistake. You told them to stop following Kiera... how did you know they were already on her? You may have accidentally given them someone else to follow.

    I doubted the legitimacy of the Rick O'Connor messages from the start. Everything just seemed to... neat...

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  2. Oh, and nearly forgot after all that. Someone else has been posting in here. Claims they know you. Any idea who?

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  3. Zeke -- jesus, we were so worried about you. I'm so glad you're okay (you know...relatively speaking).

    But some of these things just don't add up. How did Kiera get you from the building to her apartment? How do we know she's not one of them?

    If she incites you to violence, the local police can and will use all they've got to find you, and unlike the FBI, they know they area. You could be at the business end of one of their ever-so-infamous gambits.

    So you're doing the right thing; leaving town is the smartest move at this point. Whether they actually have the Tall Bastard on their side or not, or have control over him, you don't fuck with the occult. If Damien is alive, I'd imagine he'd hear about your visit to his hometown. If he needs you, he'll contact you. Until then, just leave this to die.

    And what Dr. Cairo says is true: there was someone who hacked your laptop while you were away. He didn't use a name, just the initial "W." He wasn't angry, he seemed...amused at something. The more we told him to piss off, the funnier he seemed to think we were. He said he was an old friend; do you know this joker?

    I'm glad you're okay, again, Zeke. And, I know it was small and probably doesn't matter but...thanks for sticking up for me to those FBI bastards. It means a lot.

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  4. If he's who I think he is, he's no friend of mine.

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  5. Good to see you are still kickin Strahm. Shoulda taken those feds guns though, never know when the extra round would come in handy. Ammo's expensive nowadays eh? heh.. So, any interest in divulging who Mr V V might be?

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  6. ZEKE, FUCK MY FUCKING LIFE WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU FUCKING DO THAT YOU STUPID FUCKING FUCKER.

    DO YOU KNOW WHAT? FUCK IT. FUCK YOU ALL. I'M TELLING YOU.

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  7. Ava, you wouldn't even tell us WHAT we weren't supposed to do -- now you're angry that we did it?

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  8. Calm down Ava. Strahm's actions were foolish, yes, but when has he NOT been known to run head first into danger? Heh...if he DIDN'T go down there I would think that he were actually dead and it was just some proxy writing these messages now to mess with our heads.

    Don't fault the man for being himself. Thats the one thing that He cant take away from us.

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  9. http://thelondonlibrarian.blogspot.com/2011/04/zeke.html


    Read it, EZEKIEL. READ. IT.

    I'm going to go away now, and I''m going to calm down and then I'm going to SCREAM at the heavens because NO-ONE EVER LISTENS TO THE LIBRARIAN.

    AND SHUT THE FUCK UP, SHANKS. DO YOU KNOW WHAT'S HAPPENED HERE? WHAT HE'S DONE?

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  10. Celie. It was the Catch-22 to end all Catch-22s. Tell you and damn you. Not tell you and HOPE TO HELL you picked up on my animosity.

    Celie, please, are you SAFE from that woman?

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  11. You mean Mary-Ann Compton? She's in Sheppard Pratt, Ava, she's not getting out of there anytime soon. Not that she's violent or anything in the first place. She's not dangerous, just creepy as hell.

    You've got to mean her, right? Who else could you mean?

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  12. Dude. You are out of your mind. o.o

    Glad you're still alive.

    ~Alora

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  13. NO, CELIE. NOT LITTLE MISS MENTAL, YOUR FUCKING STEPMOTHER. ARE YOU FUCKING SAFE FROM HER?!

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  14. What...what are you talking about? I live with the bitch. I can keep away from her, but my bedroom door is my best protection.

    Why? Ava, why do I need to be safe from my stepmom?

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  15. Celie, I love you, you're the closest thing I have to a best-girl-friend. I'd email you if I could, but FUCK MY INBOX.

    She's not SAFE, Celie. And I have a feeling that she will SERIOUSLY fuck shit up if you don't GTFO ASAP.

    And that door will not save you.

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  16. Where am I supposed to go? To my mom's? She barely has room for herself.

    If I can find a place before the fall, then I'll get out. But I barely make enough as it is. I'll figure things out, okay? And besides, if I'm not out before the fall then it doesn't matter, because I'll be at college, six states away from her.

    Don't worry about Angel. She's crazy...but I don't think she's violent. Yet.

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  17. Well, at least you managed to escape by the hair of your chinny-chin-chin.

    Jekyll

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  18. The cult controls the entire town. Well damn. Time to work through a whole new series of nightmares.

    Consider the Aikido Practitioner, and his strategy when fighting two opponents. I'd be less cryptic, but who knows who could be reading at this point. ^_^ Good luck!

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  19. Has shit officially hit the fan?

    ...Not quite yet, I think, but it'll be soon.

    Meantime... fucking hell. ><

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  20. Zeke, have you ever read House of Leaves? It's disturbingly reminiscent of that red building. It may not be of much use, but it may be worth a look-through.

    Stay safe, man. We're all behind you.

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  21. Strahm,

    That was rather reckless. Of course, if you are looking for clues, then that was probably the best place. At least you went prepared.

    However, what evidence have you that you can trust Kiera? The creature was angry at you escaping it, by your own surmising. Shouldn't it have killed you then and there? It certainly could have. How did that girl get you out? And why wasn't she killed either? Then she tells you a few conveniently faith-shaking details (notably refusing to give you a one word answer that would be useful to you) right before your tails catch up and move in. Don't latch on to the words of the fiery woman so quickly, Strahm. She could be a member of the cult trying to get you to move according to their own agenda, and making you think they are more powerful than they really are.

    Moreover, do you have any idea who the VV person who accessed your laptop was? I don't expect a name, but do you think that you actually know them?

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  22. I want to know you put a bullet through Fisk one of these days. And a blade. And maybe some other lethal objects.

    And then ride to the sunset, because you're Zeke Strahm, the one guy we expect to win against all odds. In the end, we all are here for you.

    Kick their collective ass.

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  23. ...why did I expect more answers to come of this than questions? That was stupid of me.

    I guess we got something...right?

    I'm just...

    I'm really glad, you're okay, Zeke. Though I'd expect nothing less out of you. Hah.

    ~ Branwen

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  24. sorry to see another day Go by while that bastard fisk and his hench yet breath air

    are yOu Okay you seem a taD stressed

    gtg Just gOt a call from my common sense and he dislikes this Broken channel of communication

    stay strong ZEKE

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  25. Were you willing to go when you saw him?

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  26. I don't what to think of this. One part of me wants you to just heed Kiera's warning and leave. The other wants you to keep pursuing this. I don't know which is correct. I'm of no help. Sorry.

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  27. I honestly have no idea what Kiera is talking about. I've been perfectly fine, outside of dealing with the fallout from Damien's death. It doesn't help when spiteful ex's attempt to further insult the family name.

    Zeke, perhaps you could refer her to get some sort of psychiatric help? She's clearly delusional. And, on the topic, you don't seem to well yourself... In fact, you seem to be just as mad as Damien was.

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  28. Calling people crazy is my thing Rick.

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  29. ah, shall they apepare?
    the blakc coem clsoer
    tehy feal adfaskdfl;.......
    everything?

    regard

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  30. Rick? Rick O'Connor? Where the fuck have you been?

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  31. I decided that I couldn't stay in that town after Damien's death. I picked an out of state college and moved.

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  32. I don't believe this Rick.

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  33. And Zeke, you seem to think it unique of yourself for how far you have gone. Remember that there are others who have survived as long and longer than you.

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  34. It sounds to me like Rick is just crying "You're Crazy!" to try and discredit people.

    Not everyone is out of their mind, Rick.

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  35. I don't believe you, "Rick".

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  36. Yes "Rick", we totally believe you. We'll believe you even more if you take the mask off your face. Just saying.

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  37. Yes, because it is infinitely more logical to believe in a world with impossible beings and a cult that controls an entire town than to believe that maybe, just maybe, the world makes perfect rational sense and some people out there simply have mental issues.

    But I lost my will to speak with such people after what happened to my brother. I'm done here.

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  38. Rick, this concerns people who have seen the creature in question. Namely, Zeke.

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  39. Do not trouble the man, people. After all he can only believe what the Tall One wants Him to believe. Or maybe we are just trying to lead you astray? Tick tock, Zeke, tick tock.

    ~Regards

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  40. Aw, Zeke, come one man! Those agents were just going to invite you to an ice cream social like I told them to. You shouldn't have shot them!

    All kidding aside, I've been gone for a while, but I wasn't aware they were following any of the others. The way they said it, it was only you, and for reasons I can somewhat understand, when you look at it from their side.

    But I totally understand why you won't turn yourself in as well. And I don't care if I get kidnapped again for saying this, but, I hope you don't. You really are our best chance. I wish you the best of luck, friend.

    --Ryan

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  41. The last man to spit in the Tall Thin Douche's face (or lack thereof) is dead.

    ...

    Or is he?

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