Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Chapter Twelve: Once

The White King Enters

Start Chapter 12:
Once upon a time, there was a little girl who told stories about herself. Once, there was a little girl who wanted to be famous and claw her way into being in the stories. "Once upon a time" consumed her life. And once, the little girl grew up and was average, or below average, at almost everything, and this once hopeful and limitless little girl grew up and got pregnant young and dropped out of college and married her abusive boyfriend. Once, or twice, or three times or more, this girl pretended that what she had was a happy ever after. She grew up to know that she was common, that she was dull, that nobody would mourn if she were to die. Nobody would mourn because she could not help but isolate people. Try as she might, she couldn’t help but grow up under the knowledge that everyone was so small they might as well be average. So this little girl, so full of promise, grew up to be another nobody in a blank cast of thousands.

There was something that made this little girl special, though. The White King watched her. You might say that she wasn’t special because of this—the White King sees everyone, his eyes are everywhere.  But everyone is special, being graced by the White King’s eyeless gaze. He holds us all and cradles us to sleep. He loves us. The little girl was having her story told, like a footprint in the snow that would quickly be closed up by the swiftly falling snowflakes. The story would be memorial to her and the White King’s footsteps, but nobody would read it. None but her most dedicated biographer would truly know her, much like all of mankind. Alone inside shells that crumble like dust, humanity lives in isolation, forever.

Once Elizabeth tried to run. Once she failed. One more held in the White King’s arms.

She had been in the empty city for three weeks. She ate what she could, choking down tasteless food that wriggled and felt rubbery under the tongue, and occasionally crumbled to dust beneath her teeth coating her lips with the limp flavor of death. Elizabeth learned to run, and to run fast, as night and day the long shadows became reaching arms and formless silhouettes in the dark became formless men that had long abandoned mankind. Elizabeth learned to read and learned to think, and she felt more alive than she ever had been capable of before. This was something solid and interesting and new, a way of breaking from everything she hated about herself. But there was still the matter of her son to consider. Michael weighed on her mind day and night. She knew she had to save him.

So she appealed to the internet, that faceless, soulless amalgamation of crazies and busybodies. She trusted her fate to them, let them guide her, and perhaps that was a mistake. She cast her nets into the unknown, darkened waters that were filled with strange and terrible fish. And she waited, oh how she waited, for the world to begin anew. She waited for that spark of inspiration, which would light up the world and show to her the path forward, that would illuminate the truth from the fiction. Elizabeth was foolish to think she could ever discern the two.

She foolishly wrote a chapter of the story herself. Elizabeth didn’t see the elegance of the tale, didn’t understand that her meddling meant nothing in the grand scheme of things. She understood nothing. Elizabeth followed what she thought was the story she had written. Instead she followed the original path, so similar to her own tale but better written and grammatically correct. She crept out of the window of the house she had been staying in and stole onto the street.

The streets of the city were darkened and empty, but for the too long shadows and the hollow, vacant windows. The vacuum of a world was grey, and looked as akin to dust as its food tasted. Elizabeth’s footsteps brought up clouds of powder that quickly fell back to the earth, covering her footprints. The world went back to being undisturbed, and dead.

She waited, as she had written and as the Author had written also, for the shadow men who were not quite human to walk past. She crept along the alleyways, sure that they couldn’t see her and sure that the shadows could conceal her. Several times, the yellowed air became oppressive, like the clammy hands of a nervous first date. The thick air grasped her, and she felt sweat roll down her back. Even as she clutched the grubby, graffiti-ed wall behind her back she felt numbed too it, like it was a distant dream of another place. Elizabeth turned sluggishly, trying to be quick, as she felt something brush her shoulder. Of course, there was nothing there. She did not feel it as the shadows tugged at her clothes or suckled on her feet. The woman trotted on through the increasingly oppressive city, gulping down the stale air as she followed the monster men.

The further she walked, the sicklier the world became, an odd mix of grey and yellow with an edge of green. The light began to creep away from her, a nervous and fleeting ally. As she reached the toyshop darkness had fallen but for the lampposts, and as she crept inside, she tried to avoid thinking of the strange redness the room contained. Her hands touched against sharp toy cars, jumbled jack in the boxes, tiny cloth puppets. The floorboards creaked ominously, and she worried that the ground would collapse beneath her feet, not noticing of course that it already had.

Elizabeth knelt. Her fingers brushed against a cheap, plastic carpet, and she grabbed the scratchy underside and pulled the rug back. Indeed, it was almost too obvious, too cliché, but beneath it was a trapdoor. Curious, and desperate, the little girl in her adult shell dropped her pale legs down onto the ladder. She descended the rickety metal ladder, feeling the blistered and rusty paint and the ominous creaks of the steps beneath her. She climbed, and climbed, and climbed. It took hours, but finally she reached the bottom, and then…

It was a library, lit by the bluish glow of the computer monitors that lined the walls. The stench of old books was not enough to cover the new and plastic smell. There was a faint whirring of fans, and the slight crackle of pages. Elizabeth saw a hulking shape hunched over a desk. Eyes glancing back to the ladder, the single door, and the thousands of old tomes, she crept towards the shadowy figure, realizing some part of her plan had gone terribly wrong. Swallowing her rising panic, she choked out a foolish, “Hello.”

The Author turned around, and beneath the shadow, he smiled, “Good evening, Elizabeth.”

Her voice breaking slightly, Elizabeth murmured, “You’re him, aren’t you? The Author?”


Elizabeth choked back an insane sob and clenched down on a peal of laughter. “Tell me—what do you want? Why are you doing this?” She couldn’t bottle her emotions any longer, as she burst out, “Where is my son?”

“Oh, dear Elizabeth. You’re just a character. A puppet. A single tiny part of an intricate tale, woven as closely as the web of a spider. I don’t owe you anything but a stage, which has been set, and a plot, which has been in motion. There is nothing more for you. As to why I am doing this, you can take your guess—I am sure, or I hope to be sure—that the readers will. Maybe I’m your helper, maybe I’m the White King’s, or maybe I’m a character myself following the rails of another, more incompetent author. Maybe I’m trying to sacrifice you for myself. Maybe I am you. There are no answers here. A magician leaves some tricks a mystery; otherwise it’s just no fun.

As for your son—perhaps those cries answer your question?” The Author grinned devilishly once more, as a child’s sobs echoed through the single door, “He’s in pain. The cultists are foolish, inelegant, and perfectly willing to put a child in pain if they believe it will aid the White King. He garlands the children as his crown. Now think, what are you going to do? Run for your son, perfectly, but know, if you continue with the story, you will die. The story will end with your corpses side by side. And I shall rewrite the story so as to improve it, over and over and over again, and you will relive it each time in the knowledge that this choice is coming and you will always choose the wrong one. Or you can leave. The doors will unlock. You will have to run, but you will survive. The story will be too boring to rewrite with no real conclusion. There’s your choice—perpetual torment, or freedom.”

It would be false to say she didn’t hesitate. A life lived in pain is no life at all. She could be free again, she could be happy again. But she couldn’t, not without Michael. It was the awful truth, and it was terrifying, because he was writing her life and he knew what was going to happen next. Nevertheless, she moved past the computers to the door, and grabbed the handle.

She said a name. The Author smiled.

She pushed her way through the tunnel and she could remember the description she had read in The Author’s drafts, of the eldritch and creeping halls, filled with the ghosts of the long dead and the yet to die. It was dark, though her eyes picked up faint reds along the corridor as the light in the distance bounced along the long and winding tunnel. The walls were covered with some kind of ichor, oily and sticky beneath her hands as she scrambled along the jagged rocks. She slipped slightly, bruising her ankle, and stopped for a moment. Then, the crier of her darling son forced her onwards.

Something sticky was dripping on the ceiling to the floor, a strange spongy tissue, like the inside of a pumpkin baked on the sidewalk of an October day. There were odd lumps within the stringy matter, and it was unnervingly warm. She slipped on the ground and gasped, a part of the string slipping into her open mouth. It was sweet. She shuffled onwards blindly, her stumbling toes battered and her breath shallow.

She broke from the tunnel, and was suddenly deposited into a dark, red room. There were mutterings along the walls. Michael’s crying was suddenly very close to her. She slipped again, and fell forwards, onto a level, clean platform with some sort of symbol carved into the stone. Her fingers explored the cracks, as she felt too tired to stand back up. And then Michael’s sobs crescendo-ed again, so she pulled herself to her feet and stumbled onwards. Her eyes grew used to the new light and she noticed humanoid shapes in the darkness. The whispering was everywhere, in the air of the room, in her throat.

Hazily, she saw below her, quite close to her feet, the little, shivering figure of Michael. With a dreaded finality, she collapsed onto the concrete next to him, the sound of her landing akin to the banging of a coffin lid. She was slippery with blood not her own, and he was covered in his own blood, already dying. It was at that moment that Elizabeth knew she was ended—both she and her son were over and dead. Elizabeth held out her worn, calloused hand, and grasped Michael’s pudgy mitt. His face was wet with tears, but as the whispering turned into a high pitched hum, he stopped sobbing and stared upwards, his large eyes staring into the dark.

Elizabeth glanced at her son, and began to cry herself. But she couldn’t move. She and her son were both dead, because she was tired. Because she was pathetic. And she knew her last thoughts were to be those of a drying fish far from the sea, wheezing and whimpering and unable to protect her own. Elizabeth was caught by a coughing fit, as the lights seemed to grow warm around her, and Michael’s quivering lips switched into a smile.

Elizabeth looked up from the slab, barely able to force her head upwards. She saw, in a final choking hopelessness, the White King rise from the musty dark. He was tall, yes, and stately, as the stories had said. He could see her without eyes and he knew her without thought. He was finality, more so than death. His steps left footprints, in the blood. He was still there after Elizabeth had closed her eyes, and she sighed in relief, almost laughing at how ludicrous the feeling of relief was. Then he held his arms aloft, waiting for his children.

Michael stood first, and tugged on his mother’s hand. “Come on, mommy. Don’t be scared. It’s not going to hurt anymore, and it’s going to be forever.”

Elizabeth began to sob again, almost blind with fear. Michael, smiling, his body shredded and falling apart, tugged on her hand again. “Come on, mom. He can wait forever, but we can’t. Can’t you hear his song? It’s time to go.”

Elizabeth shakily stood to her feet, no longer at the whims of her own will but the will of something or someone other. She leaned down and pulled her son into her arms, holding him into her shoulder. She felt his warm blood coating her shirt, and sobbed. The fear was greater than ever, now, but also distant. She stared at the White King, and he waited, for he was patient. Shakily, she nudged the fading Michael. “I love you, Mike.”

“Love you too, mommy.”

Slowly, trembling profusely, she began to walk towards the White King.

Once upon a time a hoarse little girl began to sing;

"You're a lost little lamb,
Come into the fold,
Come into the fold,
Come into the fold,
You're a lost baby sheep,
Come into the fold;
Your mother will keep you warm."

Holding her son, she walked into the White King’s arms, and he greeted her.

End Chapter Twelve

The White King Exists

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Chapter 12

“Elizabeth walked down into the streets. She ahd to find her son, and she knew the only way she was going to be able to do that was to find the terrible men who didn’t look like men so she started to search the city for them. For a while she didn’t find them and she started to give up hope, but it was as she got sadder because she thought her scheme had gone wrong that she realized that the terrible men who weren’t men were coming towards her. So she hid for a while until they had gone past and then followed them back into their layer, which was hidden very close to where she had been working. It was underground in a creepy basement beneath a toy shop which was even creepier. Down there there were a group of men in hoods alongside the men who were not men and they were standing in a circle chanting for their evil lord to turn up. There were candles and blood marks on the walls and standing over it all was a man in a gaudy robe who was writing surrounded by several other men in robes who were all muttering while looking over his shoulder, and he knew she was their, and she knew that he knew she was there. She wanted to run but she couldn’t and anyway at that moment they brought Michael out . He was scared and looked very cold. Elizabeth needed to help him so she ran right into the circle and grabbed him and then ran away and she could hear the cult behind her and the men who were not men and then she grabbed a rock and bashed one of the men in the head and he died and then she got hit in the leg but she and her son got to the edge of the town and it faded back into life. She knew they had to run and would probably run forever so she got some supplies and took Michael in her hand and they walked off to run from the monster forever. The end.”

She wrote.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


i changed the password and i'm looking through the drafts, but...

 this was a draft

every time i start writing again it changes to what i've written, a draft from weeks ago, due at midnight tonight. but it keeps changing. i'm not changing it. i've rewritten this so many times...

but at the end it ends with me running more.

i've been running. the men- no, they aren't men, they're monsters- they've been following me. they get closer, every day they get closer and i need to get out. but they're so fast.

one of these drafts. i keep reading it, but it can't be true, can it?

it's about michael. it describes his death from every perspective.

he's in pain.

he hurts.

i can't help him.

and then he's going to die. it says i'm going to watch him die. he's in a room, it says. the men take me to the room. he's going to be sacrificed for the slender man before my eyes, it says. it talks about how he is torn apart piece by piece and i can't move, i can't do anything. but i have to. i have to save my son. but i don't know how to do it.

he's hurting right now. i know it.

the room is described as small and big at the same time, and in and out, and dark but in a chiarascuro way (i don't know how to spell it...) and his blood is spilled. my son... i'm his mom. i have to do something...

someone, tell me what to do. please...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


it's me, elizabeth. michael's name was  the password, broekchen, what else would it be? and there are notes and things in the drafts section... this guy knows everything about me, including every job i've ever had and every person i've ever dated, every hospital visit and all kinds of things. what am i going to do?

it's so violating. and why is his password so obvious? he knows i'm looking for michael. he knows that. so why...

there are drafts. i don't want to look at them, but

shit, there are people downstairs, i heard something break. i'll post this, and if i don't comment quickly, well... you can use your imaginations. or maybe you won't have to, i'm sure the author would be happy to fill you in. see you later. i hope.
You really thought you could get away with it, didn't you?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Chapter Eleven

The White King Enters

Start Chapter 11:
Elizabeth stared at the computer screen for what seemed like hours. Nobody was helping her, nobody was reaching out to her, nobody was answering her pleas. She didn't know what to do, and she was most likely going to die. There would be no way out for her, no place for her to hide, nothing left. She shuddered, trying not to cry again, and again she failed, her tears falling to the floor in a waterfall of pathetic sniveling and whimpering. She couldn't control it, some other force had taken over her life, had taken over everything. 

Even her perception of the world was breaking. Elizabeth felt ill again; it was like her very thoughts were under the control of some other person, some malevolent being was making her thoughts seem rushed and inconsolable. She couldn't focus half the time, and as she attempted to read the blogs, her thoughts stopped half way through. As though there was something else there.

It was the Author, whoever he was, manipulating her, destroying her. It was the Author who had brought the curse down around her, breaking her family and burning down her life. It was the Author who had such power to make her mind melt and meld to his will. She had to find him, and make him pay, of this she was certain. She stood, and glanced at the clock, and at that moment the whole world seemed to freeze around her. It was six o'clock. It had been hours since Dacre had left to collect Michael. He hadn't called or sent anyone round, nothing had gone wrong. But something had to have gone wrong, they shouldn't have been gone for so long. A long way gone...

She panicked, dressing herself into more workable clothes and grabbing Dacre's keys. They shouldn't have been gone for so long. She paused for a moment, thinking, trying to think. She had to be sensible and do the right thing for Michael and Dacre. She grabbed the phone and called 911. Nobody picked up. Once again the world seemed like it was melting around her. She sprinted down the stairs, barely noticing the unnatural quiet that was settled around the apartment building, around the block, around the city.

She had to walk to Michael's grandmother's house, which was when she noticed how very wrong everything was. There was no traffic in the streets, there were no animals in the trees, no people in any of the buildings or in the restaurants. The city was, empty, dead. Which made it worse when Elizabeth arrived at the house, and there was nobody there. An open gate, and abandoned meal, and no sign of the Grandmother, Dacre or Michael.

She would soon feel their pain.

End Chapter Eleven

The White King Exits.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Chapter Ten

The White King Enters

Start Chapter 10:
Elizabeth had been bedridden for several days. There were no burns on her arms; in fact, there was no evidence at all that the fire had existed even for a moment. The certainty that Elizabeth had felt faded quickly, and as she woke up on Thursday she knew that she had been stupid to think for a second that she had been on fire, that there had been anything but the blood. The blood was still overwhelming her senses, her every thought. All she could think about was Rebecca's eyes, hollowed out and empty, her life spreading out over the floor. Elizabeth was numb as the doctors spoke to her, explaining her situation, talking about "trauma" and "stress", about broken bones and splints. She felt too numb to really comprehend anything, too distant to even want to.

It was Dacre that came to her rescue. Dacre organized the health insurance, talked to the doctors, and made sure that Elizabeth was getting the treatment she needed. He talked to Michael's school and kept communications up about Michael's well being, making sure Michael had a place to stay. He negotiated with the press and with the insurance companies. And he made sure that the police left Elizabeth alone for as long as possible, and stayed by her side when they came to talk to her.

The police were gentle in their questions in any case. She was a victim, bloodied, battered and bruised after all. Bones broken. Heart broken. There was no reason for her to be suspected. None at all. She answered their questions mechanically, barely glancing at their faces, her eyes on the ceiling as she thoughtlessly picked at the plaster cast on her arm. She told them about Rebecca, everything they knew about her. She told them about her job, and the people at her job. She told them, briefly, about her ex husband, and her sister, and the troubles. They gave her information in return, they told her about Rebecca's family, about Michael's mental health, and about the state of her workplace and the crime that had been committed there. They had found no bodies, and that was worrying, even though the fire had been so all consuming. There were so many patrons and employees there, they should have found something, a bloody charred hand, or a cracked and bubbling skull, or a baked and well-cooked eye.  The police were theorizing that the fire had been aimed at her, it had started a little after she should have arrived and had consumed the entire building within minutes. Witnesses had spoken about a tall man at the scene of the crime, but they had been unreliable hobos, druggies, drunkards. The police told her as much as they were allowed to.

They went on to say that the police were organizing with a therapist to meet with Michael and Elizabeth, though it wouldn't be able to be for too many meetings, as the insurance wouldn't cover it. Dacre nodded politely, and then noticing Elizabeth's worried frown and her sick and tired eyes, shooed the police out. Dacre sat back at the end of the bed, tenderly looking at Elizabeth. She seemed so small, so tired, so weak and afraid. "Tall man?"

"What?" Elizabeth replied, the words catching in her throat.

"You blanched when they mentioned a tall man. Why?"

"N-no reason," Elizabeth lied.

Dacre took her into his apartment when the hospital released her on Monday. She sat on his worn couch, counting the cracks in the walls, willing the blood stay back. Elizabeth was scared and sick, and the only thing she felt control of was the safety of her son. He was staying at a relatives, he was safe. Or was he? Panic caught rose in her chest, was he safe? Really? Surely nowhere was safe, nothing was safe, not with the monster hovering at every corner, in every window. Surely there was nowhere safer than your mother's arms... Elizabeth felt guilty for sending Dacre off to collect Michael, but there was no other way for her son to be safe. Not even with Elizabeth's own mother.

Elizabeth herself didn't know what to do. She couldn't run, not with the plaster and bandages and broken leg. She could  hide, and hope that the people who knew how to deal with the monster would advise her. She didn't know what to do, only take instructions from the outside. She sat at Dacre's computer and tried not to sob again.

She couldn't feel it, but a countdown had begun. Eight... She couldn't see it, but the tendrils were all around her. Seven... She couldn't know it, but there was no way out. Six... She couldn't think it but it was hopeless. Five... She couldn't help it, but it was all intertwined. Four... She didn't know it, but she was going to die. Three... She couldn't stop it, but her son was dead in his eyes, as well. Two... She couldn't halt it, but the world was ending. One... She would find out for herself.

Soon all would be dead.

End Chapter Ten

The White King Exits. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Chapter Nine

The White King Enters

Start Chapter 9:
Elizabeth was still screaming. Her knees gave out from beneath her once more, and she fell to the floor retching and sobbing. Rebecca's blood crept across the floor and soaked Elizabeth's knees as she desperately tried not to vomit. Her mouth tasted sour, her head pounded and she was shivering as though she were freezing though the room was as warm as a sauna. The blood was congealing quickly, painting the door and walls in a morbid decoration, a sticky, bloody mural. Michael was using the blood to draw on the walls. He painted what seemed to be his family, flowers, cars, superheroes but there was something else there... Beyond the  happy scene with a painful medium. 

"Michael... Michael... Mike..." She stumbled over her words, still sobbing, still screaming. She couldn't do anything but repeat herself.

Michael smiled happily, still painting with the blood, "Rebecca went out with the man and he said I had to draw. She said she would be back soon."

"But she's... she's... Michael-"

The panorama Michael was creating was coming together. A tall figure dominated the scene, its long limbs reaching around the other stick figures. Elizabeth wailed more, as she at last saw the creatures tentacles made up the rest of Michael's picture. The wavering limbs made up each figure, each house, each flower, each hero and villain; the message was clear. The monster was everywhere and everything. It built up the world, from the roots to the branches. Everything was his.

Elizabeth stared up at the roots. The blood was surrounding her. Was this what Rebecca had discovered? What Michael might have learned?

Dacre burst through the front door, and stopped at the sight of the blood. Trembling slightly, the young man moved towards Elizabeth, slipping an arm around her shoulders. "I- it's-" he tried to speak, but the words caught in his mouth and spluttered out like a broken engine exhaust.

He took a deep shuddering gasp and tried again; "Michael? What are you- what happened?" 

"Rebecca went away so I stay here to play," hummed Michael in a singsong voice.

Dacre shivered, looking seriously unwell, and pulled Elizabet up off the floor, moving her away from the growing pool of blood, "Stay here, okay? Don't move. Don't look. I'm going to go call the Police but I won't leave you alone, okay? I'll be right back. Okay, Elizabeth? Don't move. You're safe here. It's going to be alright."

He left her alone in the room with her son and her thoughts, both of which were difficult enough to deal with. She wanted to feel in control again. There had never been a time she had felt more uncertain, more unsafe, and she wanted to get out of it, she wanted to escape, she felt sick and scared and sorry. Her world was burning, and she was losing everything, and she couldn't handle it. She felt tight across her chest and her muscles were aching, her skin prickling, and the world was... her world was burning. A singed smell mingled with the blood. Her fingers were burning, smoke rising off her skin as the fire burned her flesh. She screeched again, the pain terrible and all consuming. She leaped up from her seat, as the flames consumed her arms, her legs, her head. She fled the room, blinded by the flames. She felt like her blood was boiling and bubbling under her skin, that was crisping beneath the fire that was consuming her body.

As she ran, she couldn't see her own feet, and she tripped. Elizabeth fell down the stairs, her bones crunching as she hit each step. As she crashed into the wall at the bottom of the stairs, her vision began to fade, but was clear enough to be able to see that there were no flames on her body. Her hysteria had been unwarranted; there had been no fire at all. Was she going mad? Perhaps. But in the end in either case it was her own mental weakness that drove her to fell such pain, see such hallucinations.

She would wake up in hospital three days later, on Thursday the Fifth of May.

End Chapter Nine

The White King Exits.