Trash, that's what it is. Theories and plans and ideas and the corpses of a thousand dead Gods. I should've known I'd never be able to protect Ben, never be able to find the right plans or ideas or leverage. After all of that, I thought I could outsmart Him. Yeah fucking right. Of course I'm not special, of course I'm just being screwed over. I don't get special Conduit powers or fucking Revenant buddies looking out for me. Just mindraped by a faceless alien abomination from a place beyond the comprehension of man. That's why I went. I knew He was going to be there, and even though I couldn't think it, didn't know it, I was operating for reasons I didn't understand because He's still in my head and I was going to make a deal, after all my clever plans fell apart and all my leverage evaporated into nothing. Me for him, keep Ben safe and make a swap.
I wonder, sometimes, if He's playing a long game and I'm not even the target. He made it clear enough falling there that I'm not important in all of this. I'm only here because I'm essential, however insignificant a requirements He has of me.
God. I was going to be so much more coherent than this. I'm trying to hold it together for Ben, but he wasn't there. He didn't Fall forever with nothing but a pathetic little rope to save him. Oh, thank God we brought that rope. I was going to get all meta on the game and take a ball of string into the maze, before it all went to hell. The symbol is, of course, the thing so it's not like I was going to use it properly. It gets you out because it's rope not because it shows the way, and it would've worked. I could tell. The abyss stares into you long enough and you get to do some staring back of your own before you decide you want to bash your head against the wall until your brain bleeds out your ears and your eyes stop working.
That's all noise, you have to understand. That's my brain screaming in agony as I try to comprehend what happened to me there. I've gotten it all out now and I think I can attain something close to coherency from here. So please, don't worry. I'm close enough to okay that nobody needs to panic.
We found the house easily enough, being that we'd lived there and nothing at all had changed in the town since we'd left so long ago. It's literally gone absolutely nowhere and changed not at all, but that's alright. It was empty, and that really should've been the first warning sign. One house in the entire street for sale, and it's ours, as if this whole thing has been laid out just to make everything easy. It was obviously a trap, but we went in anyway. We (or rather Ben) broke a window to get in, and of course I made a bee-line for the closet in our old room. I don't know what either of us were thinking at the time, but it all seemed so much like the right thing to do.
He was there the moment I opened the closet, and the weirdest thing was that there was no warning. The house went from that stark weirdness of a building completely void of furniture to downright fucking horrifying in a blink of an eye without so much as a by-your-leave. He was rooted into the walls of the closet and three or four meters taller than the closet should've allowed but at the same time kind of just tall enough to fit. He was part of the closet and formed like a mangrove tree, all twisted and knobbly, but with roots burrowed into the walls where the branches of His arms should've been. He strained to move towards me with this horrifying tearing sound, and the mass of twisted limbs just kind of shifted and stretched, like it was made out of plastic, or some sick approximation of flesh.
He had the teeth again, and the madman glare without the eyes. I don't know how He does it, but I can feel them watching me, boring into my soul and tearing every pretense I've built up over so long to nothing. He was looking at me, looking into me, and he was doing it all without a face - just a thousand rows of teeth. It's been so long since I've seen those teeth in my dreams, but I can still remember what it felt like to be eaten by them. Have you ever stabbed yourself with a pin or something like a sewing needle? I'm not sure if I was the only child who had a morbid interest in what pain was like right up until I started feeling it, but I can't've been the only person to be stabbed by a needle. It's not the pain that gets you though, it's the pressure. The way each point just kind of crushed the skin and flesh a little before it splits through and tears you apart.
Ben tells me that's about when I full on lost it - right when I opened the door and saw Him. It's the last thing I remember, losing control as He just kind of shifted towards us, grinning that maniac's grin. From there I can't recount what happened physically, because I wasn't all there any more. I'm told I collapsed as He sunk His teeth into my foot and dragged me into the closet. Ben had one end of the rope for our oh-so-clever Labyrinth plan and I had the other, so even though all he could see in the closet now was black, he just held on and kept pulling until eventually he managed to drag my unconscious body back out.
While all of that was happening, I was in the darkness, listening to His song, having my soul weighed and a thousand other unpleasant things. I think for part of it I was remembering the twisted memories he uses to talk to me. I can catch snatches here and there of me killing Mom, and Ben, and Dad and every pet I've ever owned, and of Him, sitting where Dad sits, or standing behind my mother as she comforts me, or playing catch with Ben or holding onto his bike as he tries to learn to ride it, but it's all impossible to hold onto and I don't really want to try. But that was all secondary to whatever it is that passes for conversation between us. I've never been good with dialogue, I'm half insane right now and He doesn't actually speak, but it's all burned in my brain so I might as well write it down.
I remember the car crash. He is standing on the side of the road watching, as Sidekick dies and James is killed (possibly, I don't really know). Or I remember it again, and instead of driving into a tree, it is Him I crash into. I'm not quite sure.
Clever. He says, in that way that he doesn't. He almost sounds like He is proud of me.
I think I ask Him something like "What do you want?", which was very much not what I'd planned. In response I get about a thousand flashes of people with their organs so carefully bagged, and forests totally devoid of human life. I see fire tearing apart cities, and fog creeping into cracks in houses where the last few people shelter in fear. I see His branches lifted to the sky, tearing apart the stars and the moon, rending all that is and will be apart into nothing.
He doesn't understand deals. You can't write up a contract and have Him sign it, but He understands that I understand deals, and that I know I have betrayed Him, and it's enough.
Payment. He says. I want payment. Or, You have wronged me, and I will make you suffer for it. Something akin to that. It's not really important seeing as he doesn't say it at all.
"I can work with payment. We can make another deal."
He chuckles when I suggest bargaining. I know He does, because I can still here all the children laughing with Him, shouting and mocking.
No. You had your chance. Now I will take everything.
I laugh here. I don't remember why. For some reason the things He was forcing into my brain were amusing me. I don't know why, but I remember what He was trying to say. They were pictures. Thousands and thousands of pictures of my brother killing me, or me killing him. The one I remember the most clearly, the one that stands out in my mind and the one that amused me so much is of Ben setting fire to our hotel room as I hang myself with the bedsheets. I don't know why it was supposed to be funny.
I said something here in response, but I've forgotten what. Everything else has a cutting kind of clarity to it, but I don't remember what I said. I do remember that it made Him furious, though, because after that He just rages for what feels like forever. The closest analogy I can think of for it is a dog going absolutely apeshit on somebody, tearing and ripping and just sinking his teeth into them and shaking, but that's not even really how it felt.
You are wrong. All you plans are for nothing. I will destroy all that you love before I take you. He says. Or something. No! There is no place to hide from which I will not find you both. almost fits too. I'm not so sure. It's hard to transcribe when I don't know what I said.
"Fine." I say, suddenly feeling the pull of a rope I didn't know I was holding. "If there's no deal I can make, then come and fucking get me, if you can ever catch me again."
Again? He asks, amused and confused by my words. Why would I need to find you again? I have you now.
I was talking absolute shit, of course, and He knew it, but it kind of helped or I just have excellent timing and I said that right before Ben managed to pull me out, because I don't remember anything else but black until I wake up on the side of the road, with Ben shaking me, begging me to wake up and crying like the little girl he is.
And so here we are. In an undisclosed location chosen solely for it's internet access (I have several webcomics to keep up-to-date on people, that sort of thing is very important), trying to figure out a way to get back into the hotel and get all our stuff without alerting the cops. Because while I was having a chat with Him, it seems the New Girl was making a police report about a beating and an attempted rape at the local police station, sporting several impressive bruises to back her story up. I don't know how she found us, but I bet He was involved, and I don't know how she explained not being a local to the cops, but they apparently bought the story. The cops have had a car parked outside the hotel pretty much constantly since we got back from the house, and when they're not there watching the place, she is, with a phone in hand.
So yeah. We're basically fucked. But there is one small sliver of good news. The road I woke up on the side of was the one that marks the boundary to the Crown Lands near my house, and Ben says I came to the moment he dragged me across it, so I'm not so sure it doesn't provide some sort of protection against Him like it used to when I was a kid. There are a lot of stories about Sacred Woods or other Sanctified Places, even if James usually called them less complimentary names, but I didn't actually believe they existed until now. I'm not such a fan of ever going back, though, because spending enough time in them dilutes whatever keeps them pure, seeing as we bring thoughts of Him with us. But I guess it's good to know it's there, for emergencies or something, seeing as Servants can't get in.