After he pulled me out of that hole in the ground, we rolled along in his car for a few miles without a word. We both just glanced at each other now and then, with no idea what to say.
You need to remember, I remember him as a weird, almost mechanical thing that I engaged in battles to the death with as some kind of Demon Samurai. Simply by conversing with each other, we "won the internet" by virtue of existing. Even after we came to this world in our respective fashions, war was what we knew.
You know what? I'm saving our conversation in the car for later. We didn't talk about anything particularly important.
That said, Nick wants to talk about Hope.
I hadn't noticed. I was too busy trying to sucker-punch it with Hell Hounds, and then try to redirect said Hell Hounds from exploding through my body on the way to their target. And then I realized that somehow, Ellen COULDN'T see IT. But that wasn't our problem right now. Our problem was the fact that the house was shifting. It was no longer a single, stable physical location. The house had gone Eldritch, and going out the window could take you to the roof, the basement door could lead to the bathroom, and the bathroom door could lead you to the lunchroom. Everything was fucked. The people in Hope were going to get massacred at IT'S leisure. Well we couldn't have that, now could we?
Nick shouted, "Keep the dimension's stable! We need to actually go straight!"
I did my best. It made sense. As one solid object, our small group had a far greater chance of maintaining cohesion and sticking together as we moved through the warped and twisted floors of hope.
What did not make sense, was him repeatedly shouting, "YAH MULE! YAH! YAH! YAH MULE! YAH!"
The Hell-hounds kept running. I think I heard one of them mutter about devouring his undoubtedly delicious spleen.
They slipped. I do not begrudge my comrades this. The door we were on fell off the bodies of the Hell Hounds as they charged into a broom closet. Based on my understanding of the flow of dimensions, that would take them back through a confusing chain or rooms that would eventually lead to the "Slender Man", dropping both of us to the floor.
Nick brushes off his clothes calmly as I got my bearings. I had my sword out from under my coat, and my hands were shaking. What was this madness? This was no war that I had ever known.
Nick says, "First priority! You grab Elaine I...need to go make this mess even MESSIER! And maybe hold the house intact so that everyone can actually get out of here the direct route."
I paused for a moment, feeling the world around us normalize as Nick started chanting something. He pulled out his new staff, and started stumbling around in an awkward circle. He was going to give them a way out, one way or the other.
Meanwhile, I had to get everyone out as best as I could, as fast as I could. I dived into a closet...taking me back to where Elaine and the others were. This is what happens when time and space get screwy. The door that takes you in one direction may actually take you somewhere else. Nick was maintaining a normal path to the door, but anyone who decided to take a detour would be in serious trouble if they didn't have the kind of senses he and I played around with.
The moment I arrived where we had been having a peaceful lunch previously, I saw Elaine get flung against the wall by thin air. I could feel the presence of this "Slender Man" there, but I could see nothing. Two people died instantly after that.
I watched a redheaded gent pour gasoline on the grand piano. Fire was filling the house, exactly according to my plan. Everything else had gone cockeyed, but THAT had remained unaffected. I watched the flames lick the gasoline, and set the entire thing ablaze. I had spent two days preparing this trap. I wanted to appreciate it.
He saw me, and his green eyes sparkled. He was enjoying his work. I knew who this guy was, based on all the information I've put together recently: Writer.
Of all the things he could have expected however, me dressed as Sherlock Holmes, complete with the oddly checkered hat and overcoat, was probably not one of them. I held up a magnifying glass, and shouted at Writer:
"ELEMENTARY, my dear Writer! Just remember: Fire is the devil's only friend, as the old song goes!"
How I ended up here, dressed as Sherlock Holmes during all of this, is a tale for another time.
More likely it'll only help one or two people, and there won't be any change in the lives of anyone who is currently stalked. But that's the point: we have to have hope.
For all the bad shit that happened at noon today, I can say that Hope lives on in all of us. And the legend continues.