“The night of the carnival was when I first saw Him.”
That was the beginning of our conversation that transpired last night. We were playing rummy on her bed and I was winning when she suddenly sprung that thought on me. At first I wasn't sure what she was talking about, but then it hit me then.
She had seen something that night; something that I hadn't. I should have realized then what that was going to do to her.
“When...you saw this...guy?” I asked, wanting to bite back the words I had spent the last couple of months speaking out against.
She nodded, her face scrunched, looking like she was going to have another breakdown. She gets them randomly, and each time is ever more depressing than the last.
“It was when we were watching the fireworks...I looked over at you, and then I saw Him out of the corner of my eye, He was looking right at me...that was the night I realized it was no joke. And then when you COULDN'T see Him...that's when I knew He was after me...”
“Why? Why does he want you? What did YOU do?”
“Nothing. It doesn't matter. He takes everyone, no one is safe.”
I thought of all the victims- Victoria, Jessica, Sam, Eric- and I shuddered. That definitely seemed to be holding up.
“He's been visiting me...” she continued. “Every couple of nights...and He shows me what He really wants...”
“And what does He really want?”
She looks at me, and I automatically know the answer. Of course; it wasn't HER name painted on a ceiling in blood, was it? Stupid question.
“Zeke...you always said that your childhood home used to scare you...did you ever see Him?”
I shook my head. “It was just the paranoia of a little kid living out in the woods, Lizzie-”
“For twelve years? Yeah, it's the middle of nowhere, but most kids get over it LONG before that!
I tried to remember if there was a time when I ever saw a face looking through my window, but it all came up blank. I remember noises, the usual twigs snapping and leaves crunching, but I never saw anyone really hanging around my house. Of course, in the middle of the night, it always SOUNDED like someone was outside, but we never had any incidents.
“Nothing ever happened.”
“But He was THERE. He showed me looking through your window when you were a child. He showed me walking into your room and staring at you, just staring...”
Now I'm certain I would remember THAT. If someone had come into my room, I was a light enough sleeper that I would have heard him.
She watched my face and knew that I wasn't going to remember anything any time soon. We sat in silence for a minute or two before I decided to press on with the question that had infuriated me since our fight.
“If you knew it was going to get this bad, why the hell did you keep digging yourself into all that crap? Why keep researching if you knew it would come back to haunt you?”
“At first, it was the excitement in me,” she explained. “When you told me what that one commenter had said, I was curious. Then when I remembered those videos you made me watch, I was fascinated by the idea of Him, the idea of this being that existed through what I thought was fear and paranoia...so I started reading more, learning more, figuring out what has made Him so feared all over the Internet. I wanted to figure Him out.
“What I didn't realize...even though other people have warned of it...was that the more you know, the easier you are to being one of His victims. And the more I knew, the more I got wrapped in...”
Jesus. She's comparing it to being in a gang almost. The further you get in, the harder it is to get out.
“When I realized it...I tried to avoid learning any more...so...so...” She sniffed and looked at me, guiltily. “So I asked Eric to help.”
My blood froze. Eric...
“I didn't mean for what happened to him...I thought if he just helped out a little bit, He would ease off of me...I was so focused on just getting myself off the hot list that I didn't realize that it was effecting him too, not until it was too late...I'm sorry, Zeke, I'm really sorry-”
I didn't want to hear it. I didn't want to acknowledge it. Didn't want to think that Lizzie's snooping is what got our friend kidnapped...
“Lizzie,” I asked seriously. “Is Eric still alive?”
“He's not dead...yet...” Lizzie shook her head. “I don't know what they're doing with him, or what they're going to do, but he's still here...”
Some good news, at least.
“Lizzie...we need to find him,” I said. “And your little friend. We need to find both of them, and we've got to put a stop to this-”
She actually laughed here, and that surprised me. Felt like I had not heard her laugh in weeks. But it wasn't her usual laugh; this one sounded cold, way too cold.
“You can't stop Him, Zeke. Do you think He would still be doing this if He could be stopped?” she asked me. “Why do you think all the stories involving Him end the same? Marble Hornets, that incident with Logan Renault...it all ends the same. He always wins. Sooner or later, He's going to take me too.”
“Well, I'm not going to let him.” I said, and she just gives me this look that makes me feel like she knows I'm going to fail, but I don't care. Slender Man, Conaghan, or someone else, they're not laying a finger on her, or me. They're fucking with the wrong guy.
She looked down at the bed. “As for where we find them...He'll let us know when it's time. He always does...”
And that was really it. I know you were probably expecting a longer conversation, but that was really the gist of it. It certainly explained some things for me, but also raised more questions. The answers to those, though, were something we'd have to figure out later.
I did ask one more question, though a different related topic. As I was tucking her in, right before she closed her eyes to pass out, the question that had always kind of been on the tip of my brain finally made its way out-
“Lizzie, why did you set me up with that blog?”
She laughed again, but this time it was warmer, more like the laugh I was used to.
“You get your feelings out in a journal better than you do with words or actions, Zeke. That's always been you. So I created it for you so that you could figure things out for yourself.” And here she gave me that look, that little mischievous look that always both annoyed me and intrigued me.
“I wanted to get you to admit that you were in love with me.”
I smiled and called her a cold-hearted bitch, to which we both laughed at. Then she closed her eyes and I waited until I was certain she was asleep before I left her to her dreams and went back downstairs to try and write this out.
I don't know what's going to happen...but I do know that when the time comes to find out, I'm going to give it everything I've got.