Anyway. I went there, I went where I was supposed to meet Brian and he wasn't there. So I got in my car and waited. I checked my email account, I checked my facebook, the youtube channel, even Brian's twitter account. Absolutely nowhere was a sign of a message from him. Ian called some of the people we went to school with to see if he'd left letters... nothing. So I just headed over to a local park to meet the family.
My father and I got there early as per usual, we sat out on the hill looked at all the cars and trucks parked in the grass and all the people on the hill, laughed at a racist man who insulted a hispanic man and then promptly spilled his beer on himself and we generally had fun. But that's when it all started to act up again. The damn voice was in my ear again and all at once it was like the people around me sort of fell away. Not literally just, I was forced to recognize that I was different than them yet again.
I got up, walked off. The park this hill is in connects to a small nature area/forest which is really a lot larger than you expect from looking at it so I decided to go off there for a little privacy. I thought if I was alone she might shut up, calm down so I could go back. That wasn't how it happened. That wasn't how it happened at all. I started to have vision problems. At first I didn't equate it to what used to happen... you know, seeing what looked like the inside of a room or seeing people or things out of one eye. I just thought I was having issues focusing. I'd see trees that seemed misformed or out of shape or tilted. And the laughter and the voice associated with it started to get louder. By that time I thought I was done, literally ready to dive off the deep end until I realized that the ground was starting to realign itself. The dirt path was starting to go straight and narrow again.
There was something up ahead and though the trees were a bit hazy they were almost right. The something up ahead wasn't though. It was a person, rather tall by the looks of it. Long hair, dark, hanging loose in the failing light. He kept turning his head this way or that, big fellow that he was. He looked, abnormally tall. I raised my right hand and called out to him. I saw some sort of movement out of him, his own hand raised. He was hard to focus on so I assumed he was just off in the distance a ways and was waving to acknowledge my voice.
But when he and I lowered our arms at the same time I got a sickening feeling.
Despite what I may think about how impossible it was I soon realized I was watching myself. From behind. So I did what any sane person would do, while cursing the irony of the statement even as it came to my mind. I turned around. The man I was looking at was still visible and he was facing me from a distance, mismatched, uneven trees surrounded he, or I, for that matter. But there just off to his left was a new shape.
It was a woman.
Not just a woman, I think it was the woman, because as I froze there her voice became louder. I was hearing her more clearly, seeing... MYSELF more clearly. She was walking hunched over almost like a god damned animal but she was walking. When she stopped and lifted that mangled face with the eyepatch and the busted lip and I saw the image of myself shifting... changing, I broke. I don't know why it was that moment that I broke. But I broke and I screamed and I ran, off the path. I shut my left eye because that is the eye the sees this... strangeness. I tried to get my camera out while I ran but it was dead. I was so caught up in trying to turn it on that I just didn't see the tree coming.
When I came to I was sitting against a tree and the camera was balanced in my lap, still off. I opened both eyes but everything looked absolutely normal. I didn't see myself or any... woman. I didn't know how long I'd been out but the light looked the same. The sound of breaking sticks caught my attention and I lifted my throbbing head up a bit higher. Whoever was running at me now was practically a kid, though I guess “teenager” is more appropriate. He didn't say a damned word but I knew he was out of breath by the jagged rise and fall of his chest.
When he didn't talk I asked if he knew the way out. He replied with a hoarse negative and so I started talking to fill the silence while I got to my feet... with his help, sad to say. My camera and my phone were in working order, not much time passed. My back was screaming so that every step of that damn walk back to the main path and finally out of the damned forest.
I asked the kid if he'd seen anyone else in the woods but he said he hadn't.
I've got a lot to think about, and that is true. But more than that, I want time to consider the possibility that maybe I really have lost it. That was part of what I was thinking about between then and now. I've got more decisions to make. With Brian MIA, as it were, and so many questions left unanswered and even not understood... I don't know if I've even considered all of the possibilities. I have to consider that in addition to having lost James, Quinn, Jess, Dan... I may have lost Brian too. It may be down to Jon, Ian and I. But to do what? To survive? Well... I don't think it wants me dead.
It's had all the chance in the world.
As for this woman, I'm going to go looking up and myths she might match that maybe I read as a kid, just in case I'm going the kind of crazy you only get out of your own bad nightmares.
Don't get me wrong, I haven't forgotten about Abbey or the videos that I appeared in on youtube channels that this thing seems involved with. I will handle the first of those as it comes and the second part, well there's nothing more I can do. I need to focus on the here and now and the unanswered questions left to me.