This was his chance. Quentin watched with wide eyes as Nea tilted her head and spat in Michael's eyes. Seeing the giant monster take a step back and shake his head in surprise almost made Quentin laugh, but instead he waved his hand just enough so that Nea could(more) see. She pointed, with just one finger, towards the exit gates. Michael let out a low growl and her hand stilled.
"Haven't had enough?" she called out, raising her voice so Quentin had time to escape. Michael was watching her struggle, and he tilted his head just an inch as Nea coughed up a mouthful of blood and let her eyes begin to close.
Michael rubbed at his eyes, letting out another growl. Gross, Quentin thought to himself, when Nea spat at him again with the last energy she had. She could have used it to struggle, but why bother? Quentin wouldn't be able to save her. Before the light in her eyes died out, she pointed at the generator again, this time without trying to hide it. Michael didn't see it.
Instead, he had turned around, and with wide eyes Quentin saw him begin to lift the mask to wipe at his face thanks to Nea's bodily projectiles. He glanced towards the exit he could just barely see through the trees.
This was his only chance.
Both to escape, and to see the killer under the mask.
Well. He would simply escape another time.
Michael's eyes were kept shut, and though it was hard to see his features in the fog, the idea that he was plain-faced almost made Quentin numb-at least until he set the mask back on and looked right at Quentin.
As he was being carried to the hook, Quentin spotted the exit. Just one missed opportunity. (less)
Very rarely, perhaps once every fifty trials, Quentin is blessed with the feeling of absence. The absence of Freddy from the corner of his mind, and in his dreams. He always notices it immediately, and never questions why it happens-perhaps Freddy gets bored watching him, and moves on to(more) another unfortunate victim for just one day.
Those are the days he spends sleeping, catching up until he sees the familiar striped sweater. Quentin's a master lucid dreamer-the second he goes under he comes up, barely asleep, and he goes home.
It's empty-he doesn't dare try to dream up his parents, or Nancy. It wouldn't be them, after all.
Sometimes he does, however, imagine the survivors and killers.
The first time he'd been able to sleep and dreamed, he imagined killing the Trapper, then the Wraith.
But for the first time in a long time, when Quentin turns a corner in his own dream, free of Freddy, he doesn't recognize the neighborhood.
Not at first, at least-the sun is out, and there are faceless humans on the porches and on the sidewalk. But all Quentin has to do to recognize the place is look up-and freeze.
Michael Myers is standing in the center of it all, turning his head from house to house. One of the lots is empty.
Quentin...dreamt this up, right? He's not in someone else's dream, because that's not possible-
But when Michael turns, Quentin can see his shock because the knife he's holding falls to the road.
Quentin doesn't know why, but he feels safe here. Michael can't kill him before he can wake himself up. He takes a few steps towards the other man until he's face-to-chest with him. Wow, he's tall.
Then, with as much force as he can, Quentin slaps him.
Stale beer. Strewn glasses. Sweating cans. Wet rings on polished wood. Big Ed steps under the light. Towels the sweat off his forehead. Mumbles something about a special guest into an overly-hot mic.
Nobody looks up. 'Cept me. When I see Lev hunch his way to the stool(more), guitar in hand, I almost choke. He doesn't say a word. Just looks around the bar, as if defying anyone to stop him. No one does.
He starts playing. His fingers move stiffly. The homespun bandages on his wrists and hands come a little undone. Strain creeps into the corners of his eyes.
He is transcendent.
Not because he played well-- his technique was always rigid, off-tempo-- but because he was unstoppable. The sacrifice was evident. Playing had cost him everything. He'd given it, even when the music gave nothing back.
As I watch, the bleary, beer-soaked background of the bar begins to fade. I see the fires of hell begin to rise around him, like serpents striking. Even as the flames began to lap at his flesh like a rising sea, even as his flesh begins to yield and give way to ash, he does not stop, until absolutely nothing is left.
I realize he has something I will never know. But then, I suppose I have things he'll never know as well.
The first time happened during Quentin's second trial.
Surprisingly, although the first had been bad, afterwards when he woke up in front of the campfire he had only felt relief as he cried his eyes out in front of the other survivors. The next trial, however, he realize(more)d a horrifying truth as he listened to Meg shriek as she was strung up onto one of those awful meat hooks.
This was hell-a hell none of them would be able to escape from, even with death.
Something in him snapped that day, and he had never felt as broken as he did in that moment.
The generator exploded under his hands-the pain was real, but there was no way anything else was-and he fell to the ground before screaming. He saw a pair of boots beside him as Claudette tried to pull him to his feet, but when she saw he wasn't moving, even she had to abandon him.
The next pair of feet in front of him were bare, and covered in strips of cloth. The Wraith set its bell down, and Quentin ducked his head under his arms as he waited for his second death of thousands to come.
But that time, death didn't come. The Wraith set him in front of a hatchdoor, and when Quentin looked up, it lifted a finger to its mouth. A secret.
Quentin was not supposed to live, and he was not supposed to be repaired like the generators they were always repairing.
He never told anyone about that.
The second time Quentin broke was months later. He had been asleep when an awful, familiar feeling swept through his chest and he woke with a start as the other survivors arrived.
"There's a new killer," Dwight said. "The Nightmare."
You thought that to keep it together,
you needed to keep it within you.
All that time you let the knots tighten at the core,
fray at the edges
(more) like you were.
Am I being dramatic
in this retelling
am I saying, being, feeling, doing something
that normal people don't do?
Well, did you ever want to be 'normal',
drugged, tempered, inured,
or to let the feelings flow through you?
So let it go,
let your cells melt into the sea,
let your love find its way back through you.
You would tell a friend it's okay to feel what they feel,
find their voice in the bubbles,
breathe easy till they find the shore,
"Ew," Nea said, upon first seeing Meg. The other woman scowled, and even the mud on her face couldn't keep Nea from noticing the embarrassed blush on her cheeks. "Shut up," Meg said. "Dwight accidentally tripped me."
(more) Nea's smirk dropped. "Were you caught?"
"No! Lucky for me, the Nurse went after him instead."
Dwight broke into the campfire clearing from the woods, letting out a long-suffering sigh. "Sorry, Meg," he said. "I could've gotten you-"
"Say no more," she said with a grimace. "I never know what the Nurse is thinking." The bespectacled man lay down beside the fire before abruptly falling asleep.
"You were gone for a while," Nea said. "You must be tired, too."
"Oh, yes," Meg said. "But I want to get cleaned up first."
"Come with me," Nea said.
The stream was just barely hidden away from the campfire. Meg's face split into a grin at the sight of it. "Holy crap," she said. "How long-?"
"It just showed up one day. Sit."
Nea pulled off her plaid jacket, setting it in the water before bringing it up to Meg's face and rubbing off the mud that had dried on her cheek. Hopefully Meg didn't know that she was doing this just to be able to get close to her. Her crush closed her eyes, humming quietly as Nea moved onto her other cheek.
"You're in a good mood?" Nea asked at last, stepping back to see what spots of dirt she'd missed on Meg's face.
"Yeah, actually. Unlucky for Dwight, but the rest of us got out. The hand signals Claudette's been teaching us are really helpful."
"Yeah?" Nea asked.
"She even made a joke using them before."
Nea wondered if Claudette could show her how to sign 'I love you' without Meg realizing instead. (less)
Claudette stiffened as she heard the whirring of a chainsaw start up again. She'd been too late for the others, and now it was just her versus the Hillbilly.
She never knew just what to make of him-a large part of her time she spent against him, sh(more)e put towards watching him.
The Killers had all been human, at one point.
Would the Hillbilly be here, if he had been born a normal human?
The deformity stretching from his shoulder to his neck didn't seem like something the Entity would do. No, he had most likely been born like that. Claudette flinched as she watched him run into a fence. He smacked it with his chainsaw, and in those moments, Claudette simply sighed to herself and turned to sneak away.
What Claudette wasn't expecting to see beside Jake's body was the dandelion. So vivid was the spot of yellow that she nearly tripped over her feet in shock before hurrying towards the plant. She'd never seen one here, in a trial. She crawled towards it on her hands and knees, fingers twitching to just reach out and inspect the beautiful plant.
She was so distracted she failed to hear the footsteps behind her.
At least until she heard a noise that sounded like surprise.
Claudette gasped, turning and crawling backwards as she watched the Hillbilly step towards her-no, the dandelion.
He knelt down, then reached out for it.
He jumped at her voice. "If you take it, it won't grow. It...it'll die."
Like she was going to now.
The Hillbilly picked her up without any resistance. She let the tears fall freely down her face as he walked with her until suddenly he set her down-in front of the hatch.
She sobbed. The dandelion would live. So would she.(less)
"C'mon," Lance said, head tilted back against the bathroom door as he turned the maintenance lock, the metal giving a solid, satisfying click. Shiro leaned in, forearm pressed against the door beside Lance's head, brows drawn together as he furiously, silently reminded himself where he was and what he(more) was thinking about doing.
"May I remind you," Shiro said, voice strung tight with the last vestiges of his restraint, "I am at work. Matt is expecting me back soon."
"Matt's not the boss of you," Lance said, chewing on his lip and meeting Shiro's eyes with a sultry expression that he wore so, so well. Dammit.
"Actually, he is," Shiro said. Lance put his hand on Shiro's hip and guided him in closer. "His family owns this bar so yes, when I'm at work he /is/ the boss of me."
"Boring," Lance breathed. "Kiss me."
"I can't be doing this here," Shiro surfaced from the kiss breathing hard and fast. Lance grinned, his hand warm on Shiro's neck as he arched away from the wall.
"I can't," Shiro tried again, and made absolutely no effort to stop what he was doing, thigh between Lance's legs and hand down the back of his pants.
"You think about doing me on the bar," Lance said, reading Shiro like a book while his pants slid down slightly and Shiro puzzled out the logistics. "In front of everyone." He twirled his fingers in the loose end of Shiro's ponytail, thoughtful, /devious/. "That's not very sanitary, Shiro."
Lance let out a little delighted grunt when Shiro picked him up, bracing him against the wall. "In front of everyone," he repeated as he sank effortlessly onto Shiro's cock, legs tucking neatly over his hips.
"Lance, shut up," Shiro said, and when Lance smirked, kissed him again.(less)
Dwight sat underneath the windowsill as he tried to catch his breath. He must have already spent half an hour creeping through the grass and trees, but the trapdoor was nowhere to be seen, and the Trapper was most likely aware of what he was aiming for.
(more) "Screw you," Dwight whispered, directing the comment towards the Entity. Suddenly there was a snap outside. Dwight shut his eyes, waiting as the footsteps came nearby, and then left again.
He stood up after a few seconds and took off in the other direction.
"Shit," he said aloud, trying to pretend as if Meg was still with him. It made him feel less terrified. "I can't seem to remember if I'd even seen it earlier today-"
A bear trap snapped nearby. Dwight felt tears prick his eyes and quickly crouched beside a locker and a brick wall, covering his eyes. His heart was pounding. There were footsteps, and then silence.
A hand closed around the back of his shirt.
Dwight wailed initially, but a minute later he was simply resigned to his fate as The Trapper pulled him onto his shoulder and began to walk.
He heard a familiar howling and his head lifted just as he was dropped to the ground in front of the hatch.
The Trapper turned away but he grabbed at the heel of his pants. The killer turned to stare down at him, adjusting his grip on his club. A few tears dripped down Dwight's cheeks thanks to his fear, but he held on regardless. He should be dead, but he wasn't.
"Thank you," he whimpered. Underneath the mask, he saw the edges of a mouth set into a deep frown. The Trapper had a face.
The Trapper had been human.
Dwight crawled backed into the trapdoor's tunnels.(less)
Michael didn't answer, but the younger man saw him adjust his grip on his knife after a pause. That was all the answer he needed, anyways, as he turned back to the generator on the second story of the house. "Let m(more)e know when you're gonna pay me a visit," he called back down. It was just him and Michael left. Meg had found a key and gotten out with Laurie and Feng, leaving Quentin to finish repairing the last two generators and escape on his own.
"When I finish, can you let me get down-oh," Quentin said. He glanced back to the ground only to see Michael had disappeared without him realizing.
Suddenly nervous, Quentin let his hands fall still as he strained his ears. He couldn't hear anything besides his breathing, so after a second he nodded once to himself as he continued working on the last generator he needed.
He cheered to himself when the generator sparked to life and the two escape entrances were glowed in a bright orange light for a few seconds.
Quentin jumped from the second story floor to the ground, only slightly stunned as he began to sprint. Where was Michael? Surely he hadn't gone off far-
Quentin yelped as he was suddenly grabbed by the back of his shirt. Of course. As if Michael could ever take his eyes off him.
"You're smitten," Quentin said, as Michael hoisted him over his shoulder and began to make his way to the basement.
Once hooked and done screaming, Quentin simply stared back at him. Michael lifted his mask just a few inches. The ghost of a smile crossed his lips.
"I enjoy it."
He was talking about the view-both looking up at Quentin, and now looking down.(less)
"Dwight," Meg began, her voice dangerously low. "What did you do to my wallet?"
"Meg, we're in hell," he said. "Your wallet doesn't do anything but weigh you down. What were you thinking, asking Claudette to hang back with you until you found it? Are you worried The Wraith's going(more) to use your credit card or something?"
"You're such an ass," Meg snapped, ignoring Claudette and Jake's wide eyes. Even Ace sat up straighter, glancing between the bickering pair and Bill to see if he needed to interfere or not. When the older man didn't move, only scowled at Dwight, he sat back down.
Meg growled and stepped forward. She kicked a pile of dirt and ash from the fire into Dwight's face. "My family pictures were in my wallet, you ass!" she snapped at last, turning away before anyone could notice the tears in her eyes.
They were all gone.
Meg didn't know how long she cried for, only that her throat hurt and her eyes were dry after she was finished.
She started at the voice, turning to see Nea squatting down a few feet away. "That was a real shit move of him."
"I don't need you to tell me that," Meg mumbled, rubbing at her eyes. "I-sorry. I'm just upset."
"Your words didn't bite. No worries. Can I come closer?"
After a second, Meg shrugged. "I don't care."
Nea moved to sit behind Meg, so their backs were up against each other. "They're still in your memories," Nea said at last. "They didn't exist in that wallet. They exist in your head."
Meg felt a sob catch in her throat again. "It felt like that was my last connection to them. Now it's all gone."
She felt Nea turn and pull her into a hug. (less)
Footsteps above him. Meg's final dying scream could be heard on the other side of the neighborhood. Quentin cowered behind the chest, squeezing his eyes shut as if he could ignore the horrible view around him.
He was in the basement- in the jaws of the beast.
(more) The hooks dripped red with blood, but thankfully none of his friends had been strung up here-this time. Although the trial took place in a number of worlds, the basement was always the same.
Quentin hated it.
He had only been a part of this hell for a few months now-maybe years, now that he thought of it-and somehow, the trials and the killers terrified him just as much each time. He was going to let his friends down again, thanks to his near-permanent sleepiness. His fingers were still burned red and numb thanks to the fact that he failed fixing the generator four times in a row.
Miraculously, the killer hadn't come to him then, but that meant that he didn't know who he was against now.
Some seemed to take pity on the survivors. The Wraith watched them silently now and again, only to turn away before attacking. The Trapper stepped into his own traps on purpose sometimes-Quentin had noticed.
The Huntress never missed an axe. The Hag always left her signs-
The first stair into the basement creaked.
Quentin covered his mouth with a hand, biting back a whimper. He closed his eyes. He just wanted to sleep. He wanted to go back to sleep and forget all about Freddy, and killers, and the Entity, and-
Quiet breathing in front of him.
He looked up.
The man in front of him was unfamiliar, wearing a white mask.
Quentin's shoulders dropped in defeat. The jaws had snapped around him. (less)
In the jaws of the shark
there is just one thing
to focus on.
(more) None of that un(fully)convinced happiness
that leads you to question
why everything around you
is so damn good
and when it will all come crumbling.
In the thick of it,
you are there
in a way you never can
when you're alone
with nothing to fixate on.
This is why
people who have kept their heads straight
in war zones,
walked through fire,
built their worlds back from inundation,
are often plagued
by the slow crumble of thoughts
that trails in after.(less)
"Next time you're in the area, leave me a sign," Evan said, as he hugged Jake to his chest and prepared to put him up onto the hook. "I won't go so hard. You'll have a chance of escaping-"
"And you'll have a chance of being punished," Jake said.(more) "No can do."
"A sign, my saboteur," Evan said, shaking him gently. "Just let me know somehow."
"You want me to let out some owl hoots?"
"Why the hell not."
Jake paled at the trap only a foot away from his hand. He lifted said hand and tilted his head to the sky before opening his mouth.
Somewhere in the distance, he heard the wires of a generator crackle and explode. Grimacing, he went back to work on his own, minding the bear trap but working hard anyways.
If The Trapper somehow lost sight of Dwight and Meg both in the boggy swamp of the Pale Rose, well. He was simply off his game.
"Okay, Jake," Dwight began one night, leveling his friend with a serious expression. "Out with it."
"You know," Meg said, poking him with a stick and glaring at him with no bite. "Hoo, hoo! Ring a bell?"
"We tried it without you one round. You know what happened? We all died. But when you do it, nine out of ten times we all live. What gives?"
"Look," Jake said, struggling to think of a valid explanation. "I think," he began. "Maybe you guys suck at owl calls?"
"Seriously?" Dwight asked. "Jake."
It wasn't as if he could tell them. "I don't know, guys," he said. "I just tried it once to see if it'd throw him off. Maybe he thinks he knows my voice or something?"
Dwight sighed. "Sure."(less)
Broken promises still have merit. We need them more than we know. What we first find when analyzing them is the regret of a choice made and a goal unmet. We compare that outcome to the prospect of absolute success.
For example: we often perceive ourselves as being full of potential and failing to achieve. But think about it. The reverse is a lot more likely. Maybe we weren't meant for anything, and only our fear of failure tricks us into being better than we really are.
Somehow I feel better looking at the problem that way. Like maybe all the grinding and scraping isn't for nothing, after all.
I swore I wouldn't let feelings of powerlessness turn into apathy.
I try to weave right and wrong into my personal narrative, but I can't help thinking that all the joy and suffering I'll ever impart on the world exists in tiny bubble of time that collapses within a few measly decades of my death.
We build, and build, and build. Why?
What difference does it make whether or not it falls before or after the end of our lives? It falls. Always. Knowing that, I don't know why I go on building. But I do. Almost all of us do.
Pan out, and we are a green-brown flame, cold and low, burning across the surface of the earth.
Pan in, and individual lives start to take shape. But you can only hear them when you block out the din of a million other voices, each every bit as important as your own.
But that's what line-breaks are for. We can start again.
I swear I'll be more than I was. And who knows. Maybe I will be this time.