I’m stupid. Deities I am so stupid. I actually had myself fooled for a bit. Thought that maybe I was somehow making a difference. That my words might actually fucking mean something and that there is something left in this world that isn’t covered in blood.
Right, backtracking a bit so that you guys can understand why I’m such a jackass. As stated in my last entry, there was a knock on my door. This was weird for several reasons. One, if it was someone I knew they wouldn’t have knocked, they would have used their cell phone to call me. Two, no one knocks on doors around here, they ring doorbells. Three, it was almost freaking midnight!
Being at least occasionally intelligent, I went over to one of my front windows, shutting the living room lights off first so that whoever was out there wouldn’t be able to see me very well. Even with that precaution, I made sure to stay far enough away from the screen that someone couldn’t thrust a knife at me through it. I then demanded to know who the hell was at my door this late at night.
And the voice that answered me was...just a normal voice. He sounded utterly exhausted, but calm. “I told you I'd be coming here, Kay.”
It was Zero. Of course it would be Zero. Who the hell else would it be?
There are days that I wish my life was a movie. Not because of happy endings, or super powers, or anything that unrealistic. No I just want to have the ability to always know what to say. If I was a movie heroine, I would have the perfect snarky badass response to the fact that the man who had officially become my third fucking stalker had knocked on my door like he was expecting to be invited in for tea and crumpets. But my mouth opened and instead of something smooth I said, “Oh deities, are you fucking kidding me?"
If he was the slightest bit amused by my inability to process the fact that he was at my door, he didn’t show it. Instead he stood at my door and I stood at my window. I could see the mask that he wore, the same mask from the pictures he posted on his blog, back when he was still a hero and I could see his katana in its sheath strapped to his back. He stood there with his hands in his pockets and we had a conversation through my window.
Z: You have something I need. I ask that you let me in.
K: Yeah, not so much. How dumb do you think I am?
Z: *He laughed softly.* Despite my recent...actions lately, I'm not actually here to hurt you. You asked me a question, I wanted to do my best to answer it.
K: There is no despite your recent actions. Your recent actions are everything! How the hell can I believe that? You still haven't told me how you found out where I live!
Z: *He shrugged.* Not too certain myself, I just...go places nowadays. Look...I'm hoping that maybe helping you helps me as well. Maybe something about these pictures...
K: So you really don't remember sending them to me? You weren't just being an asshole?
Z: Heh...I get frustrated a lot, sure, but I've never sent hate mail to anyone, especially in drawn form...
I’ll admit, that made me laugh. This whole conversation had taken on a surreal aspect, he was making a joke, and it almost felt like by laughing I had admitted a weakness. I tried to pull myself back on track.
K: How can I believe you? You've been bragging about killing people, Fighters and Runners like me.
Z: Bragging? *He sighed* Shit, I hate it more than anything...look, I don't like being out here in the open, but I really don't have any way to promise my intent.
I stared at him for a moment. Maybe he was insane, but he was also very similar to a religious nutcase. The way he talked about that sword on his blog, you could tell that there wasn’t anything he valued higher then it. That he thought it was a holy weapon or something. And I thought I knew exactly how to get rid of him.
K: What about your sword? You can't actually think that I would let even think about letting you in here with a weapon.
He looked at his sword. I could see this almost panicky Iook go across his face and for a moment I thought I had pushed the right nerve, that he was going to leave.
Z: I really don't want to just leave it out here, but maybe you could...hold onto it? Be careful...
And he pulled the sheathed sword off of his back and held it out towards my window, the handle towards me. I stood there just staring for a second before cracking open the screen wide enough to pull it inside. So now I was kind of stuck. If I didn’t let him in now that I had his sword, he would probably go berserk. If I let him in he was probably going to go berserk. Way to go Kay. And I was pissed off enough at myself and him for putting me in this position that I deliberately invoked a nasty little echo from his past.
K: Well you already knocked, so when I open the door make sure you keep your hands where I can see them. I'd make you lay face down, but I suppose you won't be able to look at the pictures too well that way, will you?
He nodded at me.
Z: Just...easy with my sword. It’s all I've got.
I’m too gods damned soft hearted for my own good. He just sounded so weak and afraid once I was holding his sword. I opened the door warning him to keep his hands where I could see them and to keep his distance from me. I put his sword in my closet and let him enter my living room.
The first thing I noticed about him was that he was large. I mean large like my ex fiancé large. The second thing I noticed was how beat to shit he was. He could barely hold himself upright without swaying and he limped like crazy. So I figured that if he did go berserk, being in pretty crappy physical condition would probably balance out the fact that he could probably lift me up one handed. The third thing I noticed was that the mask he wore had eyeholes that were large enough to very clearly let me see his eyes. And they were practically mirrors of my own in how tired they were. But at the same time, if I hadn’t already known I was talking with a madman, one look into those eyes would have been more than enough to let me know what I was dealing with.
He looked around and seemed rather surprised as he saw my crystal collection laying on the tables and windowsills.
I remembered the last time he and I had spoken, over Doctor Cairo’s Ustream, where he had accused my research with crystals to be mumbo jumbo and I was quite grateful to feel myself getting mad again. Better to stay mad. He was acting harmless enough at the moment, but it would be easier to fight someone I was mad at rather than someone I was pitying.
K: Oh yes, I forgot. You have issues with my crystals.
Z: I was frustrated with things again...hmm jade *He picked up a piece.* I've actually seen this stuff wither and blacken, probably the only thing I've seen that actually seems consistent.
I then noticed that he was wearing a backpack and nearly smacked myself. I’ve read the damn blog entries, I knew that his sword wasn’t his only weapon.
K: You can lose the backpack or leave.
He set it down by my door without even blinking. Nothing like the emotional reaction he had to handing over his sword. I suppose that he doesn’t love his other knives quite as much. I felt a little bit safer so I thought I would at least be polite while we were discussing my area of expertise.
K: Odd because that's not one of the properties I've ever heard of for it.
I picked up a piece of quartz that I never let far from me anymore. The quartz I used to stab Tom in the eye.
Z: Would you believe I suggested that to Nessa once, that maybe jade could help either cleanse her, or ward off corruption. *He sighed.* I got it from a card game I played...heh....but the next time I saw her, that last time, she showed me a little warped dragon figurine, as black as night...
And there it was again, that pity creeping in. Stupid, stupid Kaylin, who never could resist the call of a hurting soul, who always has to try and take care of people, who always has to try and save them. I shoved my hair out of my face in frustration and tossed the piece of quartz at him, hoping to remind him that he did not want to fuck with me.
K: I'd be more inclined to use this for a cleansing.
I started moving towards my computer room, making sure to move backwards so that I wasn’t turning my back to him. I needed to get him out of there. I had a freaking serial killer standing in my living room making conversation about crystals. What the hell was wrong with me? If he was telling the truth about just wanting to see the pictures that he claimed to not remember drawing, I needed to let him see them and have him get the hell out of my house.
K: So do you want to see these or not?"
He nodded and followed me. I pulled the envelope with the pictures of out the desk and handed them to him, glaring at him as I gave it to him. I guess the power of my glare isn’t much though, he simply sat down in my computer chair and rifled through them while I stood there, waiting for my explanation.
K: Here you go. Proof that you decided to add yourself to the list of people and things that felt a need to stalk me.
Z: I don't remember making pictures of you....these look nothing like you.
K: Pictures of me? Wait, that's supposed to be me?
Z: I think so...and now I've damned you. Now somehow, I've...I've told it about you, I think...and it's going to find you. *He slumped down in my chair.* What have I done to you?
K: Damned me? What the hell are you talking about?
Z: The tree, somehow...I think it's going to come for you. I think I tried to warn you about it.
K: Why would it be coming for me? And how would warning me damn me? And why the hell couldn't you have said something instead of scaring the fuck out of me with the pedo stalker mail?
Z: I don't even remember drawing it! I can't sleep, I have to keep moving every day, I've got people on both sides trying to kill me, because everyone knows I'm crazy...and I'm just trying to end this madness, Kay...I...don’t...know...how I did this.
At this point we both fairly upset. And the last I thing I wanted was to deal with an indignant psychopath while I was so upset I was nearly in tears. I took a deep breath and attempted to calm myself down.
K: Alright fine. Let’s go with you don't remember doing it, even though I still find that far too suspicious. So why do you think you would have needed to warn me?
Z: I wanted to warn you because you were so nice to me, that since I'm responsible for all this, the least I could do is warn you what was coming...
And I swear to you folks, I think I felt something in my brain break a little bit when he said that. I sat down in a chair and stared at him dumbly for a moment before I was able to make my brain connect to my mouth again.
K: Let me get this straight. You somehow found my address, sent me pictures that you don't remember drawing, left cryptic threatening sounding comments on my blog, and show up at my door armed in the middle of the night to talk to me all because I was nice to you?
Z: I guess so. Have you seen the leeches yet? I think they feed on it sometimes. They won't be hard to hurt, they just explode, like water balloons. I didn't see anything that could help me, and I've already hurt you too much. I should go.
He stood up and I watched him sway again. And all those stupid must take care of people instincts just came rushing back to the front of my brain. Before I could even think logically I was standing in front of him, insisting that he sit back down, that he should be in a hospital.
Z: I can manage, I don't have a choice really. I'm on a deadline. Goodbye, Kay. Maybe I'll kill that tree before it comes for you, or before it takes full control of me...
And that was when I started remembering that I was arguing with a serial killer. But I also realized that said serial killer was damaged enough that maybe I could knock him down, tie him up, stop him.
K: You are probably a full foot taller than me as well as at least a hundred pounds heavier than me, but I could probably give you a good hard shove right now and you would keel over. In fact, I should, it would stop you from hurting anyone else!
And oh I swear I think I hurt his pride when I said that! He did that thing where guys straighten their backs and try to make their shoulders look bigger. Kind of the human male equivalent of how a cat puffs itself to look large to an enemy. He looked down at me, assessing me, and started speaking again.
Z: So...you want to kill me then? Hmm, Kay? Death by your hands? Certainly you've had to kill before, certainly you're no stranger to it now. But...you don't get to kill me. No, I still get to atone for my pride and my vanity before I can die. Then you can get in line with everyone else who wants to do me in.
K: Kill you? When the hell did I say kill you? Not everyone is like you, you know. Not all of us think that killing is the only option. I've killed, but I've also incapacitated.
Z: For the wrongs I've done to all, and the wrongs I've done for you, why wouldn't you want to kill me?
His voice trembled when he asked me why I wouldn’t want to kill him and that was when I lost any ability to try and hurt him. The self-loathing, the bitterness in his voice. It was too much. I thought maybe I could help save him. Maybe I could somehow convince him that he could stop this. Stupid, stupid me. How the hell have I been through so much, yet I still remain so idiotically naïve.?
K: Because you can still be saved. I've told you before and I will keep saying it, my heart hurts so much for what you and she went through. But Zero, she would not want you to do this. It's wrong and you know it. You can stop and you can find a better way. You wouldn't be the first person to go down a wrong path and turn back around.
Z: Wouldn't you burn your soul to ash if you could save those you care about? Or in memory of those you failed to save?
K: Not if there is a better way. And murder is never the right way!
Z: And what other ways have worked? Running, dying by its hand, amnesia? This isn't so simple to think that truth and good prevail. I said before that if I had to play a villain to fight this thing, I will...I just…
And then he started to cry and my heart broke. This poor man, standing in my home crying because he just wanted the nightmare to be over. Just like I want. Just like we all want. He rubbed at his mask and kept speaking.
Z: There's no other way for me, for any of us. We can't just wish him away. Not all of us get a happy ending, Kay, not for me anyway.
Z: Not Remnant...
His arms fell to away from his face to his sides and looked at me with a pair of pain filled eyes that seemed completely lucid for the first time since he had walked into my home.
Z: Remnant, Zerosage, they're just cover identities, another mask that I wear. I have a real name.
And just like that, he told me his name. I don’t know why. And I won’t tell you guys what it is. It just doesn’t feel right to share that. I put my hands on his shoulders and got him to sit back down in the chair.
K: Alright, [DATA REDACTED]. Why are you so convinced you can't have one? Or at least a better one then what you've decided to do?"
Z: Because I know better. Because I've spilt too much blood. Because...you reached out and touched a viper, and were struck by it. Ame.... Kay...if I don't do this, the tree will kill me. All I can hope for is to leave this world in a better place before I fall. Maybe then everyone can forget all about me.
He was crying even harder now. He honestly believed that he had somehow sent that tree thing after me and I could hear how much he hated himself for it. I reached out and pulled the mask off of his face.
Guys, he’s my age. I had always assumed he was like most of the people that blog. Late teens, early twenties. Some poor kid that spent too much time online and had his life taken away before he even had a chance to start living it. But no, he’s my age, maybe a little bit older. The kind of guy that if I had met him under other circumstances I would have shyly admired him and hoped that maybe he would ask for my phone number. And for some reason that made my heart hurt even more.
K: I won't forget you, not after all this.
And I couldn’t help it. I reached out and I wrapped my arms around him and I held him while he cried and sobbed. And I thought that maybe somehow I really had gotten through to him. That he could be like Reach was and turn himself around.
Pretty dumb of me huh? He fell asleep and I left the room. He proceeded to get his stuff and sneak out of my house. Probably on his merry way to start killing again. I had the chance to stop him but because I was stupid enough to think that he was somehow hearing me, he’s still at large, a danger to all of you.
And the bastard stole my piece of jade.