The cold sky night sprawled over for the first time in weeks. The grey twilight was gone, replaced with the stars and the black blanket the stars shine through. If I could have smiled, I would have. I couldn't even grin. Not even sigh. All I could do was stare at it with a slight contentment. This was misery.
I heard voices, whispering and biting at the back of my neck with their rotten, dying breath. This had been occurring since earlier that evening. They would not stop. They knew I was about to silence them. It was driving me insane. I think I would have gone over the edge if I had to bear it any longer.
I walked alongside the layer of bushes and trees that outlined the space between the parking lot and the tiny suburban sanctuary to my right. After about two or three minutes of walking, I saw the tiny church shed, composed of bricks. With the lantern's glow, I could see the familiar graffiti on the back of it.
At the top, below where the broken back window used to be (the hole had been filled with bricks now), were three sevens in a row. Insignificant to me in my childhood, insignificant to me now. However, near the bottom of the brick wall, were new signs. There was two new assortments of numbers; 444 and 417. I squinted at these numbers while the lantern glowed in my hands.
I left the shed behind, and walked into the tiny hidden forest. I had only been back here once in my life. That was when I was a kid, with my little brothers, a cousin, and a friend. We were exploring. There was a tiny stream back here, made up of sewage and groundwater. It was disgusting! We ignored that and played all around it. We ended up angering a hive of groundbees and running for our lives. We all got stung, but my little brother Alec got stung in the ear and ended up just standing around like an idiot. I ran back, grabbed him, and got out of there, despite getting stung even worse.
That moment is still engraved into my memory. That moment of pure fear... but also the love of my brother overriding that fear. Just like all the moments in the past year, where I rose above my fear and conquered it. I don't think I've ever really been afraid of Death. At least, not to the fullest extent.
Hell, I was ready to embrace it far before Grey had entered my life. I would have probably killed myself without him around. My life without Grey was still quite shitty. My mother was...
It's too late for explanations behind who I am now, isn't it?
I was reminded of the day back at Luca's house, when we walked into the forest and emerged in another universe. It felt like I was venturing into another land. The lantern seemed dimmer in this new type of darkness, this new type of shadow that darkened everything with a new found mystery.
This new area I had walked into, I did not recognize. This place was not the forest I had ran through when I was a kid. This was a large forest, that would be more at home in the mountains. A mist flowed over the grass like a carpet. It was much, much colder now. The dark whispers that had been stalking me were now accompanied by screams and moans. I bit my tongue, trying not to scream.
Sowing Season was gone. Peter Rivers' temporary defense against The Dying Man no longer worked. If I had not fought toe to toe with phantoms beforehand, I would have collapsed to the ground in a frightened heap. The sounds would not stop and in the corner of my eye I could see past the veil that separates the dead from the living and all the horrific things that sight would induce.
My grip on the shovel tightened. My hand was bleeding. I wasn't going to falter.
A few minutes passed by, I came across a lake; shimmering under a moon made of anger and angst. This was the spot. I would bury everything here. No one would ever know. I could have just thrown it all into the river, without any care or precision, but it would become somebody's problem down the line.
No one will feel pain from this monster again. I will carry this weight. Even if it leaves me insane.
The mist cleared away near the lake, which allowed me to scope out a spot where I could bury the mask. I noticed that, almost everywhere else except one tiny area near the shoreline, there were decaying autumn leaves. I picked that spot.
I put the lantern down next to the spot, and started digging. I ignored the pain that gnawed at my hands. I ignored the biting cold. I ignored the sounds chewing at my ears. I would dig until I collapsed from exhaustion. It was the only way.
There were new sounds though. I could hear a car door slamming. I could hear heavy panting and muddy shoes slogging through the grass and dirt. I could hear cement blocks shredding against one another. I could hear the wild animals running away from the area. I could hear a man with a heavy Northern accent ordering another man around. He was pushing the other man down to the lake.
"Get down there, now. Yeah, that's right. Listen to me before I shoot you dead."
The two are at the shoreline now. One of them continues to speak.
"You really should have watched your back, yknow. The entire group has been swayed with my lies. This is my town now. And you're nothing. You will pay for the hell you brought me. You will drown in it."
I knew that it wasn't really happening, but it still felt so real. It felt like I was actually witnessing it all, without even looking at the incident actually happen or even paying any actual attention to it.
"Any last words, ...Luca Brasi?"
I was shocked when I heard that, but I kept digging anyways.
I hear cloth being ripped... possibly whatever had been shutting that man also named Luca up, and he spoke.
"You bastard, you're not getting away with this! Yo-"
A gunshot. I don't stop digging, but my hands do begin to shake.
"Shut the fuck up."
All I could hear from that Luca was a gurgling and a strange cry.
The Northern man laughs, and begins to softly whisper something.
"You never worked well with our group; not with the faults we found.
So we fixed you with cement galoshes, so no one can save you now.
Unless you have friends among fish, there will still be no air to breathe.
You could drink up the entire ocean, I'll still find someone to be everything we know that you'll never be."
I looked to my left and saw the ghosts of the past materialize. There was a man on the ground rolling around and writhing in pain, clutching his abdomen. Standing over him, ...was Norman Rivers.
The Northern man was Norman. He was behind everything that happened. It was the old man.
Luca.... this Luca had gotten in the way of some group. The group aimed to profit off of the Dying Man infection of this town. They got rid of Luca so he wouldn't interfere with the plan.
Norman pushes Luca into the lake and lets him sink.
The past vanishes and I am hysterical. I decided that the hole I had dug was plenty deep and I fetch the mask from the bag. A sharp pain plunges into my arm and rips through it. I ignore it, and throw it into the hole. I sit there for a moment, to catch my breath.
A new whispering, clearer than ever before, begins behind me. I ignore it. I wasn't going to be stopped.
So touch me or don't
The whole absurdity of the situation had upset me. Norman wouldn't hurt Luca, would he? ...No, it was all a coincidence, that Luca was a different Luca. Same name, different person. It was just as absurd as Luca hurting me; it wouldn't ever happen. Not between friends.
Just let me know
The lantern's glow is upset by new shadows, but I ignore it. It was just more ghosts from the past, wasn't it?
Where you've been
I look down at the mask and give it one last, final stare. The past few seasons of pain and suffering races through my head. It's funny how fast time is. Funny how long place lasts. Teaching me time and place was a hell of a way to destroy the last bits of sanity I had left.
Or we could leave it alone...
I was about to get up and bury it, but. My shovel was no longer by my side.
I'm sure there's someone who knows
Confused, I looked to the other side of me, and then near the hole. But the lantern's glow is almost entirely extinguished and I realize that
Where you've been.
My very own shovel collides with the back of my head and I am pushed into the ground. The shovel hits me over and over again all over my body and I shout in pain. I do not get a chance to see who is hitting me in the blind flurry of sharp metal crashing against my body.
I manage to kick away the metallic end of the shovel, and I roll sideways. I get up, and kick at the figure, who was wearing a grey hoodie, just like I was. He was wearing the hood up at first... but it falls away from his face, and the sight breaks me.
He smiles, and then smacks the shovel across my face. I fall to the ground and spit blood into the dirt. I look over and see him picking up Grey's mask... and putting it on.
All hell breaks loose then.
Streams of grey energy shoot away from the brims of the mask and from its eye holes. Luca's screaming just as something else inside of the mask begins to scream. An uproar of sudden gust pushes away from Luca, causing the trees to sway back and forth and dirt to swirl around the scene. Waves roll away from the scene over the lake. The lantern is knocked over, and pushed into a tree, causing that light source to vanish.
Aristotle's Cosmos appears around Luca. A kind of wall rises up from the circle's outline, but it breaks like glass. Luca's clothes begin ripping at the seams, torn apart from the power erupting from within his body.
I get up and try to tackle Luca. He sees me, and laughs. He raises his right hand... and degausses a gigantic, grey beam from the palm of his hand. It stars off small, but morphs into a shot taller than all of the trees and it rips through them like they're twigs.
I'm not directly hit, but I am pushed away from the blasts. Slowly, I feel my power to degauss come back. I try to summon my own giant energy blast, but nothing comes out but tiny electric-gold sparks. Luca laughs, and raises his left hand this time.
I'm pushed away in the blast. I was caught at the side of it, due to jumping left at the opportune time. Unfortunately, only catching some of it still hurt me, and I was pushed into a tree nearby. I begin to lose consciousness.
I see grey degaussed energy rise up around Luca, and I hear a cackling. The universe crumbles around him, and the forest fades away. The tree I was laying against turned into a brick wall; above me, the numbers 417, 444, and 777 could be seen.
It was the morning and I was shivering, and wet from my own blood.