Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bringing in Help

Before I go into what happened after, I should finish up my arrival in the hospital room.

We sat in silence for a few moments. She knew what I wanted to ask, and I knew she was going to resist, but I had to see for myself. Not just to judge the damage, but needed to see the proof that things had really escalated this far.

“Let me see,” I said.

She shook her head.

“Celeste,” I said again, “let me see.”


Violet interrupted in order to give Celeste back her rosary, but it didn't make me lose my resolve. I had to see it for myself. She was in pain, I realized that, but I just had to see.

She saw that I wasn't going to give in.

“Zeke, don't make me,” she begged, and I think that made me soften a bit, hearing how tired she sounded, how defeated.

“I'm sorry.” And I was. But the sooner I saw it, the sooner I could get to work.

She finally showed me, and when she did I made sure to be as gentle as I could be with her. But there it was, that large fucking scar on the back of her neck, his mark like a god damn target sign. I cursed under my breath as I touched it as gently as I could.

Not gentle enough. She screamed and pushed her face into the pillow. Violet gave me that look that Lizzie used to give me whenever I had screwed up big time, so I put my hand on her back to try and comfort her. I dunno if it worked or not. I like to think it did.

Then I went into the interrogation. What happened, how she was attacked, was there anyone else involved, that sort of deal. What she gave me was what I already knew, but double-checking always helped. Practical Cat was by himself, as far as we knew, and he was strong enough to at least take control over her long enough to do...whatever he wanted. No one really knew what else he had done. I certainly was okay not knowing.

This was a big job. Not only was I going against Practical Cat, but Keaton and whomever else the FBI had sent out here were still around. Sorry, folks, but if I'm really gonna do this, I need to call help.

I went outside to make the call; I didn't want them hearing it. He picked up on the second ring.

“Welcome to Movie Phone,” he answered with.

“Wren, I need you down in Maryland for a little while.”

“Oooh, we going cat hunting?”

“Just keeping an eye on things for now.”

“Aw, that's no fun.”


“Alright, well, I'm in Philly right now, gimme a couple hours, and I'll be right down. Meet you at the hospital?”

“I'll be here. See you then.”

During those couple of hours I decided to take a walk around town and see what there was. During my walks, I was able to deduce two things: one, nothing of importance ever seemed to happen here, and two, none of the people seemed to emulate suspicion like the people in Indiana did. None of them looked at me funny or treated me differently; if anything, they treated me as just another speck among the many specks of town. If there was a cult in America that worshiped Slender Man, it had not reached this town; of which I was particularly grateful for.

After a cup of coffee and a bagel, I went back to the hospital to wait. Wren finally arrived about forty minutes after that, and hopped out of the car acting as if he was right on time instead of a half an hour late. He looked perky and chipper given the situation, which would have been odd for anyone who didn't know him. Wren never lost his cool, ever. He was always calm, cool, and in control of himself.

“Alright, so where's the patient, doctor?” was the first thing out of his mouth.

I led him inside, keeping an eye on him and wondering how I was possibly going to explain this one to Celeste, who absolutely hated his guts. He's not exactly Mr. Popular these days, even by me, who knows him. But hey, this was desperate times. And even though the proxies wouldn't be scared off by him, the FBI would be a little weary before touching this one.

“What were you doing in Philadelphia?” I decided to ask him.

“Working on that favor you asked of me.”

“Any luck?”

He sighed. “She was there for three weeks in March, then took off. I don't think she went far, though. She leaves a bit of a trail wherever she goes, Philly's just the third town since we split ways. I think she wants to be found, Zee.”

“Well, hopefully we won't keep her waiting too long.”

We were outside her door when I told him to wait outside; knowing Celeste, I wanted her to hear it from me before he just waltzed in. He didn't complain, just shrugged and leaned against the wall. At least he's not the kind of guy to bombard you with protests when you tell him to do/don't do something.

When I went inside, Celeste and Violet were still inside and they both looked up at me as I closed the door behind me. I have no idea why- maybe it was Ava's warning, maybe it was these two girls' personalities, or maybe it was a disturbance in the force that is my life- but I was very, very nervous as I told her that I had called in someone to help me out.

She knew without me even telling her who it was.




“It's just for a little while, until you're better-”


“Really, Zeke? Really?” Violet's look on her face was one of absolute loathing. It was a losing battle, for sure, but me being me, I wasn't going to step down, and her being her, neither was she.

"Zeke," Celeste glared at me and for a fleeting moment I felt like I was back in grade school. "He is a CRIMINAL. I don't know what he did, and I don't CARE what he did, he is not being around me."

"I understand you don't like him, but he's the only help I have right now. He's a SWAT officer-"

"EX-SWAT, I would hope."

"Yes, ex, but still SWAT, and that training doesn't go away. And right now, that's good enough for me. Look, I don't trust him, not completely, but I need the help, Celeste."

She wasn't budging, and I knew it was going to take some time. And then Wren decided to step in and make everything worse.

“Yo, can I come in now, because the nurse is giving me weird looks-”

“Get out of my room!”

“Woooah, easy there, chica, I'm just here on Zeke's invite-”


“Will you get him out of here, Zeke, please?”

“Will everyone just calm down!”

“Why are we even yelling? I didn't do anything yet.”

“She doesn't want you in here, asshole!”

“Yeah, and I can think of a hundred better places to be in than a hospital in some tumbleweed town in the middle of nowhere, but seeing as how she's been fucked up by a social retard controlled by a medieval woodcut come to life, it looks to me as though you could use all the help you can get-”


She suddenly clasped the back of her neck as smalls drops of blood hit her pillowcase. In all the commotion, her stitches has ripped open, and right then she was doing her damnedest not to break down and cry right in front of us. Violet held her and tried to calm her down while I forefully shoved Wren out the door and called for the doctor, while inwardly cursing up a storm and keeping myself from strangling all of them.

Needless to say, things have not been going very well.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Maryland Hospital

Drove down to Maryland the other day. If you're unaware of why, or you just don't follow what's going on in the world, well, that's your prerogative, but basically what happened was Ms. McLachlan decided she was going to try and take on her proxy problem head-on.

Obviously it didn't work out, otherwise I wouldn't be down here.

She's alive, but she's in bad shape. Broken toe, dislocated shoulder, defensive wounds on her wrist, and a hell of a lot of blood on the outside that should be on the inside. That, and an operator symbol on the back of her neck that her proxy carved into her skin. That's one part of Wren's story accounted for, though I wouldn't call that good news.

Maybe you saw the fight we had before she left. Maybe you didn't. Maybe you don't care. Regardless, here I am, and I'll stick around for a little while until she gets better. Not permanent, but long enough.

Maryland, Jesus, it's almost as bad as Indiana, but at least it's not overrun with far as I know. Everyone seemed decent enough, less conspicuous than the people at Damien's workplace were. I went up to the receptionist's desk and asked for Celeste's room.

“Are you family?” she asked me.

“Close enough,” I replied. Hey, I baby the girl enough, don't I?

“Third floor, room 42. I'll take you.”

I turned around and was face to face with a brown-haired, brown-eyed, and very pissed off girl behind me, speaking to her but looking right at me. She looked a very artsy type, stick-thin, very frail-looking, not too formidable at a glance, yet still looked very, very capable of pulling a gun on someone who disagreed with her. This, I hastily deduced, must be Violet.

The attendant opened her mouth to protest but we had already left her behind. I hurried my pace, half to get there as quickly as I could, half to try and avoid this girl that was giving me a death glare. For as sickly as she looked, though, she knew how to keep up.

“So, are you him?” she asked me.

“Are you going to hit me if I say yes?” Should I be afraid of a little girl? No. Was I at least weary? Given the last post, yeah, just a little bit.


“Then I'll wait to answer that until after I've seen her.”

She didn't agree with that one bit, but she put up with it. Her friend was my only concern at that point.

I don't know what I was expecting when I went through that door. Maybe I was expecting an empty room with no one but her, maybe I was expecting that maniac standing over her with a blade, ready to finish the job. Or maybe I should have expected her parents to be in there with her. In any case, I didn't, so that's what surprised me when I stepped through the door and saw her father and her step-mother in the room, with her laying in the bed, partially awake and looking as though she had been hit by a semi.

She looked at me as I came in and looked around the room, and I don't know if she knew who I was immediately, or if she had no clue until I opened my mouth and she heard how bad my voice sounded. Or maybe her being half-conscious kept her from guessing. At least she had the sense to keep quiet while I encountered her parents for the first time.

“Who are you?” her father asked me.

“Detective Riley, I'm recently transferred.” Go with what you know, and they already knew my name because of Keaton. “I'm here to ask Ms. McLachlan a few questions about the other night.”

“The police were already here,” her step-mother retorted, and as she said it she eyed me suspiciously. I'm pretty sure she didn't buy my story one bit, but I kept it cool.

“I'm just doing a follow-up, ma'am,” I answered. “Procedure, you understand.”

I wasn't sure if they'd buy that. Celeste was, for the most part, a pretty smart girl, and I'm assuming she got her brains from one of her parents, and it was most likely the one she spent all her time with. Then again, he did marry the She-Devil, so maybe not. I just braced myself.

“I see...” her father looked at her daughter, who thankfully still had the sense to be quiet and not give me away. “Do you want us to leave?”

“It would be best if you did. You can come back once I'm finished, however.”

“And why is she here?” Angel nodded coldly towards Violet, who looked like she was shrinking under her gaze but nonetheless didn't move from her spot.

“I invited her to help fill in certain gaps of the story,” I explained, which I think surprised Violet as much as it surprised the other woman. “And also to get her account of where she's been for the last few months.”

I told them to give us half an hour, forty-five minutes top. At this point, I think her father finally accepted my story, because he said his good-bye to his daughter and walked out, nodding to me as he left. Angel, however, seemed a bit more resistant to leaving, as she stopped as soon as she was up to me.

“You should do something about that cold,” she said.

“Already am, ma'am,” I assured her. She gave me another cold stare before she walked out, Violet closing the door behind her.

I went over and sat at the chair and looked right at Celeste. For months now I had been commenting on this girl's adventures and occasionally we would exchange some heated words, but now here she was right in front of me, albeit a lot of bruises. It felt weird seeing her in person after all that, like an internet friend that you finally meet after a long time of correspondence. You're not exactly sure what to say, what the first words should be, so finally you just talk about what you know, what's familiar.

For me, it was, “What did I tell you monkies about jumping on the bed?”

For her, it was, “Go to Hell, Strahm.”

Simple enough. Enough to make me smile a real smile for once. Which I appreciated.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

On my way to Maryland.

Curiosity just signed a cat's death warrant.