Chapter 5: Raphael
Roseston Park, Washington
"Stupid, stupid," I stopped to pick up a rock and I threw it off the edge of the trail, down into the trees below. "God, why did I do that?" I stumbled along the path, without a flashlight, until I got to the bottom. Now it was just me and the trees. The sun was coming up, but it was still pretty dark. I thought I smelled smoke farther off, but I ignored it and kept walking. The Chaos Pirates had kicked me out. Why? Hell if I know! Was it because I accidently shot Rose in the knee? Nah, that couldn't be it! They'd thrown me out, taken my "professional" clothes, my guns, even my hair gel, and I had just kept walking, out of the city and into the woods. And now I was lost.
The leaves crunched under my boots (I got to keep those) as I continued walking in a random direction. All I had left was a white t shirt, some jeans, and a black leather jacket. They'd tried to take my contacts too, but that was taking it a little far. Tired, I leaned up against a tree, sucking in air, feeling sorry for myself. I turned around and punched the tree, giving myself red marks on my fist, plus a bonus splinter. "Agh…" I held my hand, "Shit!" I kicked the tree, knocking off some of the bark.
"Need some help?" I whipped around to face the speaker, but there was no one there. I turned back around, not seeing anything in front of me either. The wind rustled the trees a little bit, dropping a few leaves onto the ground. The voice had been no more than a whisper, almost soft enough to be the wind. "I'd run, if I were you,"
"Who's there?" I turned around again, my back leaning against the tree so I could see if anyone was creeping up on me. "You better shut up or show yourself! Now!" I yelled loudly enough for some birds to fly off a nearby branch. I knew I was screaming to reassure myself, to hear a voice that had an owner.
"Run…run…" the voice came again. My vision blurred. Then it came back to normal. It blurred again, only this time, my vision got darker as well. Things started to creep up from the sides of my eyes, gray static almost, and then a horrible screeching sound that seemed to come from nowhere, yet I heard it all the same. I screamed and clapped my hands over my ears. I took them away, knowing it wouldn't help, and I saw blood on them- my ears were bleeding. Not only that, all the blood from my body seemed to be coming out of them, making me stumble, hitting the trees and making more blood splash onto the grass. My vision darkened until it was completely black and I fell over, hitting the ground with a thud.
It must've been only seconds later when my vision came back. Hardly. I could see again, but something was wrong. Everything looked dark. No, every shape didn't look like a black mass, but even though I knew it was morning, it seemed to be night. I looked down at my watch: 6:54 AM. I looked back up at the sky: pitch black. I heard a crash behind me, as if a tree had fallen down. I looked around and didn't see anything, until I looked up. From wherever the noise had come from, there was now smoke rising and the sound of fire crackling. An orange glow came from the distance. I heard the same sound from my other side and turn back to where I had been facing originally. The same thing had happened, only closer, much closer. So much closer that the smoke was now suffocating me.
"Help me!" I tried to call out, but it came out choked off because of all the smoke covering me like a blanket. So I did what any normal human being would do: I ran. Not only did I run, I ran towards the fire.
"Raphael!" A blond woman called from inside a door way, one that led into an alleyway filled to the brim with stinking garbage and rats, graffiti and (occasionally) gangs about to go at it. A little six year old boy in a gray t shirt that was white once was sitting on the steps of the building opposite his, rolling a plastic airplane back and forth, bringing it up into the sky and leading it back down.
He looked up now, smiling, as his mother came outside for him, "Come inside, sweetie. You shouldn't be out here now. Not on your birthday," The boy giggled, taking hold of his mother's hand with his own, his plane in the crook of his other arm. The woman and the boy walked up a narrow staircase single file until they got to the door of their home. Before they went in the mother kneeled down so that she was at eye level with the boy, "Now, before you go in there and see what your daddy and I have gotten you, you have to promise that you'll act responsible and loving to this new thing, as well as to any friends you might make in the future," A flicker of sadness crossed her face as she said this, but she quickly banished it.
She opened the door to reveal a man with torn clothes and soot all over his face, but a smiling man none the less, holding a small bundle of fur in his lap. He held out the puppy to the boy, who came running toward him, arms outstretched, "Daddy! Daddy!"
"Happy Birthday son," The man handed the animal to the boy, who hugged it, tears coming through his eyes. While his son was distracted he looked up at his wife, shaking his head sadly, and the wife's face became crestfallen.
That night, the woman and the man sat down with the boy and the dog, and explained to them that sometimes, families ran out of money and that sometimes, you had to make a thing called "sacrifices". The dog was only visiting. There's no way they'd be able to take care of it properly without being able to take care of themselves. The dog ran away that night, not even staying for the 24 hours it was promised. The boy went with it.
20 years later he staring into another disappointed face, one of a girl in bed, her pink eyes glaring up at him as she turned the other way. Two more people, laughing at him, talking about him in ways he couldn't understand, being yelled at by the richest, dumbest man that ever walked the earth.
I screamed and plunged into the flames, wanting them to consume me entirely. But they wouldn't. They were gone. As soon as I felt the pain of them licking at my fingers, they vanished. The sky was still dark, but the fire and the falling trees ceased to exist. But I continued to run. I ran until I came to a clearing, one that opened up into a huge mine shaft in the mountain. There were crates here and there, running along the side of the clearing, as if it was a pathway for me to enter. A note was tacked onto one of the crates, but I continued to walk into the darkness of the cave, ignoring anything that might remind me of human civilization.
The mine was cold, empty, and dark. There were no sounds, aside from the occasional creaking of pipes and pounding footsteps echoing farther in the mind. I couldn't see anything without a flashlight, so I stuck out my arms, hoping to hit something. "Mother fucker!" My hand banged against something hard and metallic, almost denting the side of my hand. I squinted to take a better look at whatever it was that had massacred my hand and recognized a rusted generator. I pushed down on the handle and the sound of electricity coming to life flowed through it and into other parts of the mine. It produced a soft green glow that illuminated a small doorframe that led out to the rest of the mine.
I took a deep breath and began the slow descent into the mountain, being more careful this time, hoping I wouldn't hit my hand on anything again. I brushed something plastic with a lot of divots that seemed to all go down to the same depth. I took it from its hook, feeling around it until I felt a bigger part of it sticking up and I pushed it forward, casting a small circular glow in front of me. I shone the flashlight around, scanning the near empty room until I found the doorway that would lead me into the mine itself. I stopped right in front of the door, another thought popping into my head. I turned back to the room and looked around the walls until I found a cabinet labeled FOR EMERGENCY USE ONLY.
Surprisingly unlocked, I held the flashlight under one arm and opened the cabinet, revealing some small cans of gasoline and a pack of matches. I took the matches and stuffed them into my pocket. Then I took two of the cans and, making sure they were sealed tightly, put those in my other pocket. I was about to take a third, when a blood curdling scream came from the darkness of the mine, forcing me to drop the can, spilling it all over the floor. I bit down on my lip to keep myself from screaming, biting down so hard that I felt my lip break open and blood beginning to trickle down my chin. I put the flashlight back in my hands and swung it around so that it would shine through the doorway.
I took a few steps forward and didn't see anything. Soon, though, I heard running footsteps overhead, two sets of footsteps, in fact. I shone the flashlight up at the ceiling to reveal a catwalk hanging over head. I was able to follow the footsteps with my light until they disappeared into another room on a higher floor. A few seconds later I heard a clang, as if a metal bar had been brought down on someone's head and then been dropped to the floor. The scream came again, followed by a different scream, higher pitched, more in rage than agony.
I ran forward, looking for a flight of stairs or something. I found a ladder and started to climb up that, still listening to the sounds of struggle. As I neared the top of the ladder everything turned eerily quiet. I had turned the flashlight off and now had it tucked against my waist, the plastic rubbing uncomfortably against my stomach. I stopped climbing, instinct telling me to press myself up against the rings as tight as I could. Nothing except my own breathing reached my ears for a while, so I took the next few rings and pulled myself up.
Still not wanting to draw attention to myself, I kept the flashlight off and crept up against the wall, inching down to where I was pretty sure the fight had taken place. My heart was beating in my chest so loudly I was sure the other people- or things- in the mine could hear it. Sweat was trickling down my face and I was breathing much more heavily than I would've liked. It felt like years until I finally reached the door way that must've lead out to the catwalk. I peered around the corner and could just make out the faint shape of the giant platform, only being held up by a few cables that had been there for who-knows-how-long. Straining to see the other side, I could just make out the outline of a person, standing there, just staring. I blinked again and they were gone. I blinked for a third time and they were back.
I wanted to blink again, but the outline not only had what looked like a hand reaching out to me, but a face. Only it was more like two black holes that must've been the eyes and an even blacker hole that could only be the mouth, stretching out in a silent scream. But the eyes didn't have any expression; they weren't in pain, or anger, or sadness. But the way this character came across, you could almost feel the pure rage coming off of it in waves.
I finally blinked for the fourth time and it was gone, replaced by darkness at the other side of the platform. I glanced down at my pockets, not seeing but knowing the gasoline was there. If I had dropped it, at least I still had the matches. Still not risking my flashlight, I put one foot on the catwalk, immediately feeling it sway beneath me. I grabbed onto the thin railing with both hands, one on each side, as I slowly brought my other foot onto the suspended sheet of metal.
I counted to five under my breath, taking a step every time I got to five. I had my eyes closed the entire time, my stomach beginning to feel sick as the platform swung back and forth in the darkness. When I finally got to the other side I jumped onto solid ground, letting out a huge breath as I did so. I forgot about what I had seen on this side for a minute while I took out the flashlight and clicked it on. I shone it around the room, which I saw had a small area near the back left corner sectioned off with a tall chain-link fence. There was a door, also made out of the material, to get inside. My flashlight finally fell on a crumpled shape near the back of the room. I walked forward, and as I did so, I realized it was a girl.
From what I could tell she had extremely pale skin and what looked like dark purple hair. She was on her side, breathing, and even with the flashlight beaming right on her, trying to ignore me. I reached out my hand to tap her shoulder and it was then that she whipped around, now facing me. I stepped back a little when I saw the wound on her face. There were stiches below her left eye, or at least there had been, for they were now ripped open, exposing the flesh on her cheek. "What the fuck are you doing?" I cringed when she said this since, with her wound, I could clearly the flesh near her mouth moving, and little blood was dislodged at the sudden movement as well.
"Uh," I tried to address her without looking directly at her face, "Well, uh, I was just trying to see if you were okay. After that thing-"
"What thing?" She cut me off, but I noticed that as she did so, she glanced to the doorway leading to another area of the mine, her eyes flickering back quickly. "It's just me here. Except for you," The girl winced in pain a little and brought her hand up to her face, tenderly touching the wound under her eye, and coming back with some bright red blood on her fingers. She wiped them off on her sleeve, leaving a dark trail.
I rolled my eyes and sighed, "When I came in here there were two people running on the catwalk up here, and judging by the sounds and your appearance, I'm guessing one of those people was you. But who was the other person?" She just shrugged and continued the finger her wound. We both stopped when we heard it- the same scream that had greeted me when I first came. I started to grab the girl on the floor, trying to get her to stand up. "Quick, we've got to get out of here before-"
"Don't touch me!" The girl moved away from me and punched me in the jaw before turning and running towards the chain-linked area.
"God…" I just stood there for a moment, holding my hand against my bruised jaw, when the sound of loud approaching footsteps brought me back to realization. I ran into the chain-linked area with the girl, closing the door when I was in. I leaned all my weight against it, knowing we wouldn't have much time before that thing, whatever it was, came into the room. "Get something heavy and push it against the door! Now!"
The girl looked around our small area until she spotted a couple of crates against the wall. They weren't that big, but she stacked them up against the metal anyway, hoping that would hold. I had dropped the flashlight when I entered the small room, so I picked it up now and shone it through the fence. The attacker was quickly exposed. It was a person in a blood stained hood and old, stained jeans, their black hair tangled and hanging in front of their face. I stared in horror as I recognized the two black holes that served as the eyes and the gaping black hole that must've been the mouth. The creature screamed again and threw themselves at the fence, shaking it violently and reaching its bloody fingers through, trying to reach me.
"Those crates aren't going to hold it," The girls voice sounded from behind me and I knew she was right. With a deep breath I screamed and barreled into the door, breaking it open so that I was out with the attacker. It came running at me, tackling me onto the ground and constantly scratching my face, shrieking in rage. I could feel the skin coming off of me in ribbons, my flesh exposed and being scraped over and over again with those sharp nails. I finally pushed it off and my hand went eminently to my face. Half the skin was gone. I took a shallow breath and reached up to my forehead where the most skin was gone. Finding the first loose layer of skin, I dug my fingers underneath, screaming as I yanked it off my face.
Flesh came off with it, along with that tearing sound that no one wants to hear, until my face was void of skin and I had thick pieces of it sticking to my hands, tissue flying everywhere. I reached into my pocket, pulled out the gasoline and poured it all over my exposed flesh. I screamed, not stopping as I pulled out the other can and splashed over the creature as it came at me again. I whipped out the matches, lit one, and dropped it on my face. It burst into the flames as I tackled the assailant, setting it on fire too, and with my last bit of energy I threw us onto the catwalk with so much force that we broke through the rusted metal and crashed onto the ground in a blaze of fire.
No one is entirely sure why Raphael killed himself, not even Claire, and she was there with him in his last moments. No one would ever know who that person in the mines was, either, or why he/she had blood all over them. Raphael's remaining skin still lies within the mountain in Roseton Park.