Encounter 19: The Devastation
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I awoke amidst rubble. It was dark, cold, and my senses were numb. My mind was foggy, and I was unsure of where I was. I was under something, something that should kill a normal person. But I wasn’t truly a ‘person’ anymore, and rules like that no longer applied to a creature such as myself.

It was quiet as well. There was not a sound beyond that of the wind, carelessly whispering a plain tone. I took in the ambient noise, waiting for something or someone to break it. That never happened. 

I let out a sigh, hearing the voice of Abigale Quinlan ring in my ears. It was enough to remind me of my strength, my immortality, and of what I did the past few hours. I had absorbed and consumed everyone I loved. I freed myself from being dependent on others, for they were now and forever a part of me.

With a smile on my face, I slowly evaporated the wood, concrete, and metal shrapnel that surrounded me into dust. Afterwards, I was met with a night’s sky. It was a glistening array of stars, twinkling across a dark canvas, while a half-illuminated moon brought light onto the night. It was beautiful. It allowed me to ignore my surroundings for a short while.

I was in the remains of the Flare household. It was demolished, devoid of any standing walls, furniture, or even flooring. It was no longer recognizable as a house and was little more than a pit full of rubble. I felt bad for doing this, as I now knew how important this house truly was to the Flare family. It was a special and nostalgic place, one that I viewed as my ‘home away from home’ myself. Back when I was human.

I looked around my blackened surroundings, only to see that I was in a ditch. A large hole. An honest to goodness crater at least forty meters in diameter. I walked out of it, feeling the winter winds brush against my unclothed body, and was met with… a wasteland. No houses were standing, no lights were on, and there was no sign of people as far as I could see. It was a sight that reminded me of post-apocalyptic video games. Of seeing pictures of bombed-out buildings in my history classes. Except this was real. It was familiar. It was Oransen. And it was destroyed.

The quiet around me was unnerving. I shouted into the night’s sky, saying a simple hello, and the only response was an echo. Nothing. There was nothing that answered my call, and nothing to deny a suspicion I had begun to build in the back of my mind. 

Desperate for confirmation, I shakily planted one foot after another across the asphalt, stabbing my feet with shards of glass as I did so. I did not care. I registered the pain, but it was nothing compared to the suspicion plaguing my mind as I made my way to the house across the street, searching it for confirmation. 

The scent of blood was followed by the sight of it. A dull scarlet stained a pair of bed sheets that clumsily contained half a person. I did not look any further, let alone search for the other half. I had all the evidence I needed to confirm my suspicions. I was a… killer.

Something in the back of my mind broke. My vision blurred, my ears were ringing, and I felt myself tumble to the ground. 

How could I do something like this? How was it within my power? How was this even possible? I looked deep into my mind to make sense of this, and… I found it. I replayed my last few minutes of consciousness. I remembered how I went after Maxxie, became one with her, and then pursued everyone else, becoming something even less human than I already am. Something that truly resembled a monster. My friends, their families, my mother, all gone. All were consumed by me and then, finally full, I… pleasured myself. I fucking masturbated! And as I did so I… I lost control. I did this

I dry heaved as I recalled my horrific actions, spraying my person with bile as I wallowed into a pile of debris, not caring that I was being stabbed by nails as I did so.

“I’m so sorry,” I said, my face filled with tears, “I’m so sorry everyone. I never wanted this. I never even knew I could do something like this. I… I couldn’t do something like this! This can’t be real. This can’t be fucking real!

It was then that something inside me shattered into nothingness. The confidence, the bravado, the person I had adopted since I woke up on December 31st. It was all gone. I was back to myself. Back to Jad Novus. And all Jad Novus could do was panic. Panic, roll around the ground and cry. That is, until a voice appeared in the back of my mind.

It was light, distant, and familiar in a way I could not pinpoint. It was a comfort, an escape from the reality I was subjected to. I listened carefully, focusing on the voice as it grew louder and clearer. I began to make out words. I began to make out the voice. I began to understand what I was hearing as one voice populated my mind. But then one became two, two became five, and five became thirteen. The voices of everybody who I had absorbed. All talking at once. 

“What’s happening?”

“Where am I?”

“How is this even possible?”

“I can’t move, and everything I feel is… different.”

“Is this supposed to be Oransen? Oh God, how did this happen?”

“Did… Jad do all this?”

“Is this what death is like?”

“You… raped me.”

“Wait, who’s that? What’s going on?”

“Hello? Can anyone hear me? I’m… I’m scared.”

“The fuck is going on here?”

“Somebody, please, help me.”

“No! No! This can’t be happening!”

“Jad Novus really is a murderer. He killed all of us.”

The voices could hear each other, and they began to understand what happened. That did this. That I am the reason why they cannot move, why they are seeing the destruction, and feeling the body of someone else wallowing in the wreckage as they become overwhelmed by noise. The noise could not be controlled. It could not be stopped. It could not be repressed. It just happened, and I was too scared to try to speak. To try to explain my actions.

Is this what Abigale meant? That they would be with me forever… like this? A part of my mind? A voice in my head? While one may be tolerable, this… this was the one pain my body could not endure. The one wound that would not heal. It was constant and relentless. It was a perpetual migraine, and I desperately needed to satiate myself, to distract myself from the noise. I needed escapism. I needed validation, proof that I was not as destructive as I thought I was. 

And so I ran, dashing through the town while my mind was bogged with noise. With the sound of my name spoken contemptuously. With the sound of people crying, screaming, and going through the stages of grief. 

I ran faster than I ever had, blazing through all the rubble that was in my way as I headed towards someone else who was familiar. Someone I felt I could talk to… but as I neared her house, I saw that it was like all the others. A paltry pile of debris that hid corpses.

This was Vivi’s house. Where I learned that my friends were still alive. I had never known Vivi all that well, but I liked her as a person. I would have never wished anything bad upon her, Anita, or Gem. They were nice people who helped me in my time of need. But now… Vivi’s face was shattered, with the only recognizable part of her left being her sprawled red hair. Anita’s head had been divorced from her body. And Gem… I found an arm that matched his proportions and shared the same skin tone. I did not have the courage to look for anything else.

From there… I wandered. My mind was full of noise, and my eyes were full of death and devastation. Cars were demolished, valuables were shattered, trees had fallen, bushes were ripped asunder, pavement malformed. But most of all… it was quiet. There was no mechanical ambiance, no sounds of wildlife rustling about, and nobody driving or walking along these roads. My footsteps were the only sound, and they echoed loudly as I moved throughout this town, with no destination in mind… until I reached my unconscious destination.

Oransen High. Or, at least, what little was left of it. This expansive building was reduced to little more than a pile of rocky chunks, unrecognizable components of what was once a grand, imposing building. Now… it was nothing but a grave. The same was true for everything in Oransen, but this… was special. It was the place where Jad Novus went on a rampage. Where he killed over a hundred people. That is how society will remember this place. That is how the world will remember me. It is the grave of all of those students, and of… Jad Novus. I wanted to turn away… but I couldn’t. I had to see this place with my own eyes. 

The halls, ones that I had known by heart, were rendered indistinguishable. The floors collapsed into one, causing the contents of this building to be mixed and mashed into a maddening mess. Yet, it still held signs of an earlier travesty. I could see floors and walls that had been stained by blood. I spied the glimmer of a bullet. I smelled the scent of potent chemicals. And I saw a lot of yellow tape, tattered about everywhere. Even with my aching head, I still could not leave this place, and I began to speak aloud, if only for myself.

“This was not done by my hand, but I did so, so much worse. All because… I could not accept my situation. I refused to be remembered like that. I refused to give up my friends. I refused to let my mother go all her life, thinking that her son was a killer… well, I sure as shit proved them all wrong. I’m not a killer… I’m worse. I’m a rapist. I’m a mass murderer. I’m a true monster. And I didn’t have to be! If I had given up, I could have led a normal life, I could have saved everybody whose life I so callously stole from them. …If I started anew, if I played along with Abigale Quinlan from the beginning, if I was who she wanted, this might have never happened. If I was stronger, this would not have happened. But I’m not. I didn’t do any of those things. And this is how it all ended. All that matters is what happened… and what happened couldn’t have been worse.”

“I really am worse than her, aren’t I? I’m worse than Abigale Quinlan.”

As those words left me, a more intense migraine came on, another deluge of voices screaming out at me, their words crossed and muffled, and all I wanted was to be free. To be free of this fucking bullshit! I looked around me and grabbed whatever I could, using it as a tool for me to harm myself. I stabbed myself with chunks of wood and metal, beat my head against pipes and bricks, and rammed my body against anything that seemed like it would rip my skin. I wanted to be immersed in pain, in anguish, to combat the noise, to punish myself for my evil acts. 

I wanted salvation. I craved absolution. I wanted some way to escape this sick, twisted hell that my life had become. I looked up at the night’s sky, shouting and pleading for something to end it all. To free me of the regret, despair, and overwhelming self-loathing that was overbearing my senses. Time became vague, and eventually… it stopped. It all simply ended.

I then came back to you, Verde, the person who put me through all of this, and the person who has oh so graciously listened to my mess of a story. I hope you’re happy. I really, really fucking hope this was all worth it.