The monster's still inside her. I've nearly got everything in place to free her, though. I'm so close. So close. I'm going to get her back, and then we're getting out of this town. We're running far away, to a place none of this can ever find us again. I'm never going to let her go. I'm never going to put her in danger. I'm going to be better than what I am now, what I've become. She'll help me. Judith understands me. Judith has always understood me.
Down there, inside that red brick building, I found her. I don't know how long I wandered through those long corridors. I can't remember. How many times did they twist in on themselves? How many impossible rooms forced me to shut my eyes to avoid the madness of their angles? I can't remember. I think my mind refuses to, actually. It's makes sense. After all, the most merciful thing in the world is ignorance of that which would drive one insane.
I'm reminded of that every damn day. Every damn day when I stare that madness in the face and refuse to blink. That's another quote for another time.
I found her sitting on the altar. Now, lifetimes later, I wonder about all the children who were slaughtered there where she was perched, kicking her legs like one of those same innocents. Now, just a few hours after, I realize I should have been more suspicious of why my love would choose such a place to sit and wait for me. At the time, though, I only had one thought on my mind. There was Judith. For the first time in months, she was right there. Right there.
I called out to her. She raised her head, watching me as I ran to her. I wrapped her up in my arms, whispered her name so many times. I cried. For the first time in months, I cried. I was so happy. She was safe. I could stop everything, and go back to living.
Then she spoke.
TA: "Oh my, I don't believe I've ever had anyone be quite so delighted to see me. Certainly your family reacted well, but they weren't nearly this jubilant."
I recoiled like I'd taken a bullet to the chest. Stupid. So stupid. I should have known it wouldn't be that easy. First rule that all of this should have taught me: It's never that easy.
TA: "Ah, now there's the reaction that I'm used to receiving. Fear, loathing, disgust. All typical responses to being in the presence of something that you just cannot accept.
"Poor little boy. You simply must wake up. I'm here. I will always be here. You cannot kill an idea. You cannot simply remove it from someone's mind. It always lingers. It's always there."
I couldn't think. I was sure it was over. I was sure it was her voice on the phone. It wasn't just another trick. Just another cruel trick.
TA: "Damien claimed I was gone from his mind, but was I really? No. Damien became me. That voice he spoke of? Me. The willingness to do anything to achieve his goals? Me. The use of the beast to complete his plan? Me. I didn't disappear from Damien's mind. I was integrated into it. 'Skhisma' was us, united. Perhaps Damien had more control, took us down a path that I wouldn't have chosen, but the fact remains the same. You cannot kill an idea.
"You can only accept it."
A: "Judith would never accept you."
I found my voice. It replied with a laugh. It stepped towards me. I moved away. It could kill me if it wanted to. I wasn't ready to die. Not yet.
TA: "Oh, wouldn't she? Judith never truly had control of her life. She was always told what to do by others, and she did. Then, one day, I come into her life. I offer her a way to take control, not just of her life but of all others. I give her a means to an end. I offer her freedom to do what, deep down, she always wanted.
"Maybe she didn't consciously accept me, but her unconscious did. It's why I have this level of dominance. Deep down, Judith loves this. She loves being in control of everything you do. She loves the way you chase after her, even when you'll never succeed. She loves how you're nothing but our little pet."
It was trying to get me riled, catch me off guard. It was working.
A: "Did you only bring me down here to torment me more?"
A: "You're sick."
TA: "My mother said the same thing once. It's a bit amusing, actually. She always said that Damien was going to be somebody. She always said Damien was going to change the world. Even I'm not quite sure where I started, but I think it was her..."
Her words trailed off.
A: "So what now? Are you going to keep mocking me?"
TA: "Oh, no. I intend to kill you. I'd love to keep you as a toy, but you're simply too much trouble."
She pulled out a revolver. I imagine it was Dean's. It was missing after the murders.
TA: "I simply cannot abide by loose ends."
A: "Judith won't let you. She won't let you kill me."
That cold laugh again.
TA: "Really? You truly think she doesn't hate you? Oh you poor thing, she despises you just as much as she loves you. You kept telling her what to do, kept trying to control her. Your arrogance weighed upon her mind, and she knew someday it would drag her down with you when you finally self-destructed. Did you know she was planning on leaving you?
"All I'm doing is giving her what she wants. That's all I've ever done. Right now, she wants you gone."
She pointed the gun at me. I think I tried to move. I can't remember. It's all a blur. The gun went off. It missed. I heard Kiera scream at me to run. I did. I ran down that hallway. It bent as I did. It started sloping under me. I tripped and slid the rest of the way down. I slid and I slid and I slid. It felt like hours. It probably was. I was down in that pit for two days. I think I spent most of it sliding down down down...
She was at the bottom.
K: "Where the fuck have you been? We need to get the fuck out of here?"
She started running. I didn't ask. I just followed. Brain was shut off. Everything was survival. A gunshot behind me. Judith was there. She turned down a hallway. I kept following Kiera. She growled. Judith in front of us. Kiera tugged me down another corridor. Another gunshot. Another miss.
On and on the cat and mouse game. Hours. Days. Days down there. I lost Kiera for some of it. She entered a room and it was suddenly gone. Just brick wall. I heard footsteps behind me. I ran again. The darkness never stopped. I don't remember all of what happened. No matter what she says, I don't remember. I just ran. Nothing else. Just survival.
And then, somehow, I was outside. I didn't even make a turn. One moment I was in a dark corridor. The next, I was in the doorway to some house. I walked out into the moonlight. The woods rose up before me. I saw It. It stood there in the distance, swaying in the trees. I blinked, and It was gone.
Footsteps in the house behind me. I ducked out of the doorway. I didn't know what was going on. I didn't know if it was Kiera or Judith. I peeked in the window. It was someone else. A man in his late twenties, looking around this abandoned house. The way he moved reminded me of a police officer, though he wasn't dressed as one.
And then he turned and looked right at me. I bolted around the side of the house. There was just something about him. He shouted after me.
???: "Come ooon! Show yourself! I know you're out here, fuckface! COME ON!"
I just kept running and running and running... and I was back in the building, running up stairs with light pouring in from above. I grinned. Somehow I knew I was almost out. Somehow I knew. The sunlight burned my eyes as I broke through to the surface.
The first thing I felt was someone grab me and start shaking me.
K: "What the fuck is wrong with you? What were you doing back there? What the fuck? I knew I couldn't trust you. I fucking knew it. You leave my house after tonight and you never fucking come back."
I don't know what she was talking about. She says things, but I don't remember. I swear I don't remember. I'm so tired. So so tired.
I'm just happy to be alive. I survived the building. I survived TheArsonist. I'm almost done.
Judith will be home soon. I'm sure of it.