Silence stretched out between us. There was nothing that could really be said. After all, we had all just heard the gun go off. It was my first time hearing a real gun. It’s a sound I wished I never heard. Blank faces and wordless mouths, we all just walked around with no aim.
I watched as some went to confirm for themselves to see who had been killed. They walked, slow and dead-like, as if their movement were possessed. As if their bodies had to see the corpses before they could accept the reality of the situation. And once they saw whatever it was that awaited them, they returned back to their stalls.
One of Agatha’s friends, a colleague by the name of Karen, simply refused to move from the spot she was standing in. Instead, she trembled in place with her eyes fixed on her friend’s unmoving body.
I didn’t blame her. It was all I could do too.
The story hit BBC breaking news about fifteen minutes after the police arrived. The building was cordoned off and we were being ‘extensively’ questioned. For most of us, the story remained the same. For others, it changed.
From where I sat, shivering under a blanket that had been offered by the ambulance services surrounding the area, I could hear snippets of statements being made and it only made my ache heart so much more. Somehow, Blank had ruined normalcy.
Fallon had been the guy to get the gun. The lucky guy to carry out the Blank’s mission. He was currently sitting in the back seat of a police car with a blank look on his face. I reckon he was watching the rest of his life pass him by. For a brief moment, he lifted his head and our eyes locked for a few seconds.
Emotions danced in the sudden light in his eyes before fading and I understood why.
I was to blame.
As I gave my account of what occurred to the officer interrogating me, it became more apparent that I was to blame. I could see all of them, sneaking a glance at me. Judging me with their eyes because, somehow, I was the reason for the deaths of our colleagues.
My head hung low as I spoke, my eyes to the floor. Shame and guilt surged through me and there was nothing I could do about it. Nothing. Somehow, in the space of half a day, I had now become the prime suspect for another crime that had nothing to do with me.
My knees buckled under the weight of the guilt that assaulted me and I let the tears flow unhindered.
Some time later, hurdled to the corner of the building that now lay empty, Jack pulled me aside to awkwardly let me go. He told me that HR would send an official letter to me with details about my severance pay. I nodded and accepted it. There wasn’t much to be said after that.
Red and blue lights dazzled as the hubbub of reporters filled the air. Katie was declared missing with the building cameras unable to find out how she had suddenly vanished from her cubicle. I knew who I blamed. And the reporters had a name, however ironic.
Blank. And like his name, everything about him was blank.
And for me, to a larger extent, I knew the Oni-Masked Guy was just as involved with this as Blank was.
Sara came to pick me up and I sat muted next to her during the ride home. I was surprised she took me back to the family home and not my apartment. Then again, I would have probably drunk myself silly if I returned alone back to my place.
At least here, I could drink and still wouldn’t be alone.
Tristan wasn’t home when we returned. Sara informed me that he had gone out to see a few friends regarding an old project of theirs. That he’d be back in the morning. I nodded and went into the house. I found my way into the kitchen and soon enough, alcohol was filling me up.
I don’t know when I started crying again but I cried and drank. I have a vague memory of Sara holding me close as I performed both actions. I don’t remember much anymore, if I’m to be honest, but that feels like something that happened.
I have been prefacing my story with phrases, urging you and telling you to press play. I mentioned that there’s an importance in it, an urgency that shouldn’t be ignored. Listen to me and listen well. There are powers beyond our understanding at play. Powers that are writhing and squirming on the underbelly of reality.
Powers that want you.
It was the scream that woke me up first, followed swiftly by a pounding headache that threatened to punch through my skull. I scrambled to my feet, tripping as I did but with a forward momentum.
It had been Sara’s voice. Sara’s scream.
Somehow, through the drunken nature of the night before, I had found my way upstairs to a room. I raced towards the stairs, missing the first step and tumbling all the way down. As I rolled to the landing at the bottom of the stairs, my head hit something and the headache pounded louder.
Slightly delirious from the headache, I looked up to see Sara crawling away from a package to the side. I could hear quiet sobs from her as she shuffled away and I shook myself. I dragged myself to her and carried her up before turning her to face me.
As she lifted her face to meet mine, I let go of her and moved back instinctively.
I didn’t mean to. I didn’t want to. But in that moment, I was… I don’t know what I was. My mouth worked to say something but nothing came out. Just empty sounds. My hands trembled but the only thing that filled the silent air was the sound of my sister crying.
“What…” I began, willing myself to move closer, “What happened to your eyes?”
Her sobbing got louder and I found the strength I needed to move. Before I could embrace her, she lifted a hand to point towards the package by the stairs. The one I had hit my head on when I fell down the stairs.
My confusion turns into a frown as a question popped into my head.
How did she know exactly where the package was?
Moving tentatively towards the brown square-looking package, I saw that it had been torn open haphazardly. Strips of brown strips laid to the side and I slowly bent to pick up the package.
Clearing away the fold of packaging, I see what she was pointing at and I dropped the package to the floor. She screamed again, clasping her hands over her eyeless sockets and the realisation of what was happening made me wretch. Bile filled my throat and subsequently coloured the carpeted floor by the stairs.
It took a few more vomits before I managed to unveil the package properly. Secured in a ziplock bag was a pair of eyes staring back at me. Sara trembled on the spot and pointed to the bag before whispering what I already suspected.
I gently move them to the side and she walked towards the bag, touching it lightly before pulling away. Somehow, she was still linked to it. Somehow. I swallowed the fresh shit gathering in my throat and look back towards the package.
Underneath the ziplock bag was a small note addressed to me.
“Follow the address, Will. Let me give you some answers.