I woke up today while walking down High Street. I was entirely dressed, and my body moved on its own. I could not stop. A humid mist clung to the ground. No cars traveled down the road. A harsh silence stopped any sounds, even birds or crickets. The morning sky was filled with gray clouds.
I assumed I was in a dream at first, but that illusion was crushed pretty early on.
"Good morning, Owen! Did you sleep well? I hope so... you're gonna need a lot of energy for today, kiddo! Trust me on that one..."
I said to myself. I figured out, I tried to scream. He didn't let me.
"Nuh-uh-uh! Be quiet, be quiet, shh-shh-shhhhh.... shh, little buddy. Calm it! We're almost there, after all. No sense in bitching and whining now!! So, just sit tight, and relax."
I couldn't move. I could only think and observe. Grey pulled out a cigarette and lit it up in my mouth. He smoked and chuckled.
"How've ya been, buddy? Me, I've been doing greaaaat. Yeah, super great. Not actually though, not actually though. Lemme ask a question: do you know how fucking irritating it is... to be sealed off in a godforsaken, ugly mask? Do you?"
No, can't say that I do.
"Ha! Getting a bit snippy. I like that. I've always admired that. You can be quite snippy if you're in the mood."
He took a long drag from the cigarette.
"Honestly, I told you so. I told you this would happen. You didn't believe me. You tried to stop the inevitable. But here we are! You thought you could stop it all with that stupid ritual. But child... there are cracks under the surface. Superstition isn't going to save you any longer-"
You really like hearing yourself talk, don't you?
"I could ask the same of you, really. Heh."
He threw the cigarette aside and stepped it out.
We reached Churchland Bridge. He walked to the side of it between the two railings, guarding the harsh drop to the river and the highway. He kept walking.
What are we doing here?
"What were you doing here all those months ago?"
It dawned upon me; he was going to kill me. He was finally going to kill me.
"Yes, that is what I'm doing. You really love hearing yourself talk, huh?"
"Because you betrayed me. We were going to be together forever. But you said no. You tried to kill me. I'm only returning the favor. Is that really so wrong?"
We were nearing the middle of the bridge, which was the highest point of its curve.
How did you take control of me again?
"I already explained that, remember? Sowing season has holes in it. Though I have nowhere near the degree of control that I used to... but regardless, this is the end."
We reached the middle of the bridge. He stepped on top of the railing. The wind suddenly picked up. No cars, no people. Only us. Everything slowed down. I felt Grey look down at the water nervously.
What happens afterward? How are you going to escape if I die?
Grey pulled something out from under my shirt. It was his mask. He threw it to the pavement.
"That's how. Don't you worry your pretty little head; I've got this all under control."
He looked down at the water again. I could not think of anything else to say to bide time. I tried and tried and tried to take control back over my body. Nothing worked.
I finally just accepted it all. There wasn't anything I could do... and I was going to die.
I was going to die. I am going to die. I am going to die I am going to die I am going to die.
It's alright. I'm ready.
My memories flashed back to February. I stood on top of the railing... the chilled air beat against me. Tears dripped down into the freezing water below. I felt gravity slowly nudging me to take the jump.
It was now on the verge of summer. The river is below. Nothing is in our way.
I was prepared to go. But Grey wasn't. He stood there for a full minute. I could feel his hesitance. I could feel his... something. I couldn't exactly gather what.
But he did not want to jump. And because of that, there was enough time for Steven to pull him off the railing and slam us across the head with a baseball bat.
We fell to the ground. Grey felt all of the pain. I felt none of it.
"What the hell, Steven!? Why would you do that to me, holy fucking shit, agh-"
"Stop that. You and I both know that you're just embarrassing yourself right now."
It was only a distraction, the pain. Steven grabbed the mask. He held it over the water.
"If I drop this... what happens?"
I felt Grey's panic.
"Nothing. Absolutely... nothing."
Steven let it slip a little and Grey gasped aloud. He tried to reach for the mask but Steven pulled it away.
"Let Owen go and I won't kill your precious mask."
I could feel him trying to think of a way out. Any way out. And he might have found a way. But I found the energy to kick his ass straight out of my body before he could pull any tricks.
I fell to the floor. All of the pain from the baseball bat surged into my mind. I grasped at my head. Steven could tell I was myself. He dropped the mask, and knelt down to help me out... just as the Ghoul, carrying a limp body, appeared before us and grabbed the mask. The Ghoul forced the mask onto the body, and Grey fell to the ground. He picked himself back up, and for the first time, I faced Grey off in the physical world.
"Fuck! This body is so weak... couldn't you find anything else!?"
"Focus on these two for now, brother. We will worry about bodies later."
Grey cracked his neck.
"There is no more mercy for any of you. I am playing for keeps. Run if you want to buy more seconds to live."
"Ha, as if."
Grey stepped towards Steven. Steven tried to hit him again with the bat. Grey dodged and punched up into Steven's chin. Steven dropped the bat.
The Ghoul attacked me. He pulled out a knife and slashed at my gut. I grabbed his arm and he pushed me into the railing. He tried to stab into me but I held him at bay long enough for Steven to trip into the Ghoul and knock him off. I slapped the knife out of the Ghoul's hands and I punched Grey in the face. Grey laughed, and grabbed me by the throat. Steven kicked Grey in the balls and he let go. The Ghoul ran for the knife. Steven tackled him. I grabbed Grey and I attempted to throw him off of the bridge. Grey jumped out of my arms and landed on the railing. He jumped off of it, landed behind me, and pushed me into it. He held me against the railing, and brought out a knife. He almost plunged it deep into my back.
A gunshot. Grey cried out in pain. He dropped the knife. I looked around and I saw Madelyn near Steven and the Ghoul. The Ghoul backed up, hands in the air, away from Madelyn.
"Get the FUCK away from them!"
"Where the hell did you get a-," Steven started to say, but was then interrupted by Madelyn shooting the Ghoul five times in the chest.
The Ghoul fell to the ground, and stayed there, still.
"...Fuck that," Grey said as blood spilled from his chest. He grabbed me, and before Madelyn could aim at him, he tossed us both over the bridge. Everything... everything slowed down. Like we were in an action movie. Grey, who apparently recovered the knife or had another one on his person, stabbed me in the abdomen as we fell.
I realized that I was most likely going to die.
I looked down. Beads of blood spilled everywhere throughout the air. The sky was now the watery grave we were falling to. I heard everyone scream my name out.
I made the decision, even if it would kill me... to challenge Grey to a William Tell right then. Grey's eyes widened as he realized what I was going to do. He tried to push away from me, but I grabbed him and hugged him close. I tried, with all my might, to pull us out of reality.
"I can't believe you actually did this."
I turned around and everything sprung into existence, including Grey. We were on the hill with the tree. The sky was pure blue and it was quite a nice day. Everything fit except Grey. He stood there, clearly upset and past angry. He was ready to throttle me into oblivion.
"You pulled me down in here to fight you. That has got to be the most idiotic thing you've done. And here I thought that maybe, you'd change your mind. But everything's been ruined, and you've pulled us into a William Tell. Why are you so selfish? You know you're going to die. Why don't you stop being afraid, and face death with dignity, instead of continually running away like this?"
"Why should I do that?"
"Because it's the way things are. You need to own up to your mistakes and-"
I stomped the ground and screamed. The entire dimension shook.
"I DON'T OWE ANY OF YOU ANYTHING!"
Grey backed up a little.
"...But you do. You've ruined countless of lives-"
I rushed Grey and grabbed him by the throat. I threw him to the ground and I began to choke him to death.
"YOU KEEP TELLING ME TO ACCEPT DEATH, BUT TELL ME- WHAT IF YOU WERE TO DIE IN THE NEXT FEW MINUTES, HUH? WOULD YOU ACCEPT IT?
He tried to talk but I gripped down harder.
"All my life, I've been pushed around by people who don't know what the fuck they're talking about! I've been told countless of lies, I've been pushed down and beat til I cry, I've never had any guidance and no one can ever seem to tell me why! Well, guess what, I've. FUCKING. HAD IT. I am sick of you, my mother... everyone!"
I punched him once. I imagined him as my father, who left me behind and never seemed to care enough to get me the hell away from here.
I punched him again. I imagined him as every bully I've ever had, from telling me I was just a fucking weirdo, or choking me out in the soccer field.
I punched him another time. It was for the officials, judges, all of social services, for turning a blind eye to everything I've ever suffered through, and for what my siblings have lived through.
I punched him another time for my family turning a blind eye to all of it. It was a half-hearted punch.
And then, I punched him several more times. I imagined him as everything my mother had ever done to me. From the emotional manipulation to the physical abuse to the verbal abuse to every goddamn thing she's ever said to my grandmother.
Grey's mask hid a face which, at this point, had to be completely broken. I felt like I was smashing up raw meat at this point. I felt guilty for letting all of this anger. But then I realized I didn't release even half of it yet.
The final blow... for everything that Grey has ever done to me.
I grabbed him by the throat. I began to choke him to death. I saw the human eyes behind the mask panic and then, cry.
I ignored it. I kept choking. But I was not prepared for the next one.
I let go of him. I could not continue. I felt sick to my stomach.
He gasped for breath. He pushed me off of him. He got up slowly. He looked so weak and fragile. He was shaking. We locked eyes.
I don't think I'll ever be able to describe completely what I saw in them. But, for the first time, I did not see malice or hatred or sarcasm in them. For the first time... I saw fear in them. And sadness.
The world began to break apart. We kept our eyes locked as the world shook. Between us, the world split. Grey faded away. I remained.
I had come out on top in the match, but I did not win the William Tell.
If anything, it was a draw.
I woke up to see Madelyn's face above me. I smiled. I felt like... I didn't think I was dead, but I didn't think I was alive either. I just existed, and she just existed, and I was happy for that. But then the rest of the surroundings came into view, and I saw that Madelyn was crying. Steven was beside her, and he was frantically stuffing his shirt onto my wound. Feeling came back to me, and I winced from all the pain. I was so cold, and so wet, and all the blood... I felt faint, and I almost passed out again, but Madelyn pulled me back with her voice.
"Are you okay?"
"I'm probably dead but that's okay I heard heaven has some cool things like Jesus and laffy taffy and I don't fucking know and-"
She put her hand over my mouth.
"Don't overexert yourself, you fucking dork."
I nodded, she kissed me on the cheek, and I don't exactly remember what happened next. They took me to the hospital. They claimed someone attempted to mug us on the bridge, and that I, being the headstrong idiot I can be sometimes, tried to play hero. Because of that, I got stabbed for my troubles.
Disclaimer: if any cop sees this THIS IS TOTALLY A WORK OF FICTION as you can see by all the monster on monster action and like who believes in monsters right haha crazy people that's who haha aha ha...
But anyway. I'm in the hospital right now. Steven's here, watching cartoons on the television with me. Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy. Haha.
I feel kind of giddy because of the pain killers I'm taking but otherwise I think I'm feeling okay. I could worry about the Ghoul, as he disappeared when Steven and Madelyn rushed for me, and I could worry about Grey's next move-
But all I want to do is take a goddamn nap. Unfortunately, Steven won't let me kick him out, so he'll just have to nap at the same time as me so it won't be weird.