Match Ten: Puppet:
Arthur isn’t in control. Not even of his own mind and body. This week has been a weird one for him.
Arthur walked up to Im Yong’s front door and knocked. He shifted from side to side. The Englishman smiled as the door opened.
“Good morning, chap!” he said. The Korean boy blinked at him.
“Uh… good morning?” he asked. Everything about the Englishman looked unnerving. He moved like he was on strings. His manner of speech sounded robotic. Even that grin on his face looked creepy.
“And how are you today?” Arthur asked.
“Fine? Are you feeling okay?” Im Yong asked.
“Why yes!” the Englishman said. “Why wouldn’t I be?” The Korean boy shook his head.
“Never mind,” he said. He couldn’t help but feel like this was a TV prank show. The boy resisted the urge to look around for cameras.
Then England had to come in with a gut punch.
“How is your sister doing?” he asked. Im Yong froze for a moment.
“Fine,” he mumbled. He didn’t make eye contact once.
“I see,” Arthur said. “She misses you; you know?”
“You really should talk to her.”
Im Yong looked up at him. Why was he saying this? Who took him about his problems with his twin? The Korean boy took a step backwards.
“You are creeping me out,” he said. Im Yong stepped back into his house. He tried to close the door but Arthur grabbed it without blinking.
“What are you doing?” Im Yong asked.
“Just talk to her, lad,” Arthur insisted. “She misses you so much.” The Korean man looked alarmed.
“What’s gotten into you?” he asked.
“Please?” Arthur asked. Im Yong clinched his teeth as he tried to close the door.
“Okay, I will talk to her,” he said. “Please go away.” Arthur just let go of the door and it shut in the Korean boy’s face. Im Yong opened the door and looked outside.
The Englishman was gone. Im Yong didn’t even hear him leave.
The neighbors saw it too. An old lady next door was taking out her garbage. She happened to look up and see the English man outside on a rare occasion.
“Arthur?” she asked. He turned as if his head was on strings.
“Hello, Mrs. Welles!” Arthur said with a huge grin. “How are you today?”
“Fine,” she said. “And you?”
“Right as rain!” the young man said. He did a little hop as he spoke. The old lady had an odd look on her face. Why was he moving around so much?
“Are you okay, dear?” the old lady asked.
“Of course!” the English man said. His grin looked so painful. A thin trail of blood ran down his tear duct. The old lady kind of nodded.
“Right… I haven’t seen you around lately,” she said. “Has everything been going well? Did something happen?”
“No, no,” Arthur said. “Everything is fine. I’m fine.” He shifted around in place. The old lady put her trash in the bin.
“It’s nice seeing you,” she said. “I’ll see you around.”
“Okay, bye,” her neighbor said. He turned and walked back to his flat. Arthur walked as if he had stick legs like a puppet.
Hecate and her sisters gathered in the living room.
“How do you guys keep messing this up?” she asked.
“Look we’re trying!” Sabine said. “The ingredients around here crap this time of year!” She had her arms folded across her chest, frowning. The older sister threw back her head and groaned.
“You’re having people asking questions,” she pointed out. “We can’t afford to have attention drawn to us.”
“Well excuse you!” Tessa snapped. “You try operating the puppet while dealing with the archangels!”
“Excuses, excuses,” the older sister said. “You have got to do better than that!” The nightcomers glared at her.
“We’re not as strong as you,” Sabine said.
“That’s no excuse,” Hecate said. “You are just as strong as our dear sister Lucy was.” The other nightcomers looked at her with cold looks. Their sister just shrugged. Lucy would’ve know how to manage both Arthur and the archangels.
“Girls, what are you doing?” Allison asked from down the hall. The nightcomers looked up.
“Nothing,” they all said.
“Then get back to work!” their mother shouted. “We don’t have any time to waste!”
“Yes, mother!” the girls all shouted. Everyone scattered back to their tasks. Hecate sneered to herself. Sure, she would play the good daughter for now.
But soon, she would have her edge in this game. It would only be a matter of time.
Meanwhile, Arthur sat in his chair like the mindless doll he had become
The spell need tightening up. Sabine and Tessa got right to work. Where did they go wrong? The nightcomers looked over their spells. They thought everything was going right. Sabine looked at her spell book.
“I told you not to cheap on the ingredients!” Tessa hissed. “We had the money to pay for that shit.” Sabine rolled her eyes.
“We didn’t have the time,” she said. “Do you know how long it takes to hunt that shite down?”
“There is the internet, you know?” Tessa said back.
“And how do you know you’re not getting ripped off there?”
“Will you just shut up and help me get this over with? I don’t want to hear Hecate’s mouth anymore about this. She can be such a cunt.”
“Yeah, yeah. Let’s just get this over with.”
The girls looked down at the spell. Tessa ran her finger down the list.
“Cinnamon?” she asked.
“Check,” Sabine said.
“The real stuff? Like the actual bark.”
“You have to do this right!”
Sabine rolled her eyes as she groaned. “Why do you have a stick shoved so far up your ass?”
Tessa closed up the spell book. “Get a pen. Make a list. We are going shopping.”
“Online?” Sabine asked.
“In the store,” Tessa said. Her sister stuck out her tongue.
“Fine,” she said. She walked down the hall to the back rooms. Tessa sat back, smirking. While she was on her own, the nightcomer began to plot her own plans for the game. And it would start with Michael.
By sundown, the nightcomers came back with bags on ingredients in hand. This time, they managed to get it right. The spell was going to work properly.
Meanwhile, Arthur still sat in his chair like the mindless doll he had become. He didn’t move when a fly buzzed by his eyes.
Francis came by Arthur’s apartment and knocked on the door. This time, it was his turn to check on the Englishman. First Japan. Then England. And now Italy started acting weird. The countries wanted some hint of normalcy at this point.
He looked up when the door opened. Arthur saw him and broke into a huge smile.
“Francis! Old friend! How have you been?” he asked. The French man blinked at him.
“Good… Are you feeling okay?” he asked.
“Of course I am!” Arthur was quick to say. “Why wouldn’t I be?” His grin looked so painful. A small trail of blood ran down his tear duct. Francis tried to pretend not see what was wrong in front of him.
“We haven’t seen you around lately,” he said. “Have you been sick or anything?” The French man reached out to touch his forehead. Arthur took a step back.
“No, nothing like that!” he insisted. “Is there something you needed?” Francis slowly shook his head.
“No…” he said. The French man resisted the urge to turn around and run.
“Okay,” Arthur said. “I have to go now. Have a nice day. Goodbye.” He turned and walked back into his apartment. Francis stood there as the door called in his face. His stomach dropped.
“Arthur…” he said in a soft voice.
That’s not him. It’s someone pretending to him. I can’t prove it. I don’t know what the end game is. Something isn’t right. I can’t put my finger on it. His eyes. He looked like he was in so much pain. Arthur wanted to scream at me. When he bled from his eyes, I could see him crying for help.
But he can’t.
He’s not in control. I don’t know how to help him. I don’t know how to save him. I’m amazed that he’s been hanging on for so long. If this keeps up, Arthur could disappear.
However, that isn’t the only thing that scares me.
The parks and forests have been silent in my country. I can’t describe but it looks like a hint of what’s coming for us all. And frankly, I don’t think that any of us is going to survive.