Project: Phantasma

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XIX. Live, Cause You're Dying

The darkness was the same, but the things inside it past and present weren’t. It was quiet, allowing the deafening sound of silence to ring in their ears. The open street lights they occasionally ran into have started to decrease but the air was now far fainter from the rancid smell of blood.

They didn’t know where to go, and the bicycle they were now riding on was the one that was seemingly leading the way, following the cobbled road that was now cleaner than the town proper’s. Trees started to line up the road and the salty scent of the ocean made them feel more of nature. Gab has the flashlight on his left hand that was on the left handle, while his right was doing the turns and stability. Kim must have been asleep. She’s silently breathing as she leaned on his shoulder, hugging him tightly, though it might have been hard to balance if she was sleeping. He thought maybe she’s scared, or just prefers to keep silent.

Gab liked the feeling of warmth for a change, and from a girl he admires. He still couldn’t believe she survived the clown attack, but Punchline was right. She was fine. But something troubled him. Something about encouraging her true thing. He interrupted the clown while he was at it out of rage. Whatever it was, he was afraid that Kim would completely break down. It was important to him that she felt safe, and felt all the warmth he could give while looking for a safe place. He could feel Kim’s heart beating fast, and he knew his was the same.

Soon the road became dirt and they began to think that the way they were going wasn’t getting them into a city that can help… Or it must be a transition from one city to another.

The salty scent of the ocean was starting to disturb Gab. He could hear no crashing waves but it smelled so close. He wished to smell smoke or something industrial, a good sign of a busy city. They were stopped by a fence that stretched sideways. Gab waved his flashlight and saw a steep cliff and an eerily stagnant body of water that stretched farther than his flashlight can illuminate. Looks really big, but it’s stiller than Ben.

“Where are we?” Kim asked as she loosened her embrace and peeked around Gab’s shoulder. She no longer had her glasses and couldn’t see any better. Kim sounded light and tired.

Gab was more serious than Black. “I wish knew.”

“… An ocean?” Kim muttered under her breath.

Gab heard something from Kim but didn’t find it important at the moment. He was awe-stricken. It was deader than the Dead Sea, which technically is not really dead compared to the body of water in front of them. “Is it a lake?”

It was less of a lake than Justin. They went back to the bike and took the left road, following the fence. No road signs. No lights, except the noticeably faint flashlight. It seemed like miles have been traveled but there’s no way to tell. There’s not even a way to tell the time.

Kim began to doubt that they’re going anywhere better or safer. She had this unexplainable feeling that it’s the wrong way. Her hug enabled her to listen to Gab’s heartbeat through his back. It was beating a little faster than way before. She couldn’t possibly ask him if it was his hormone’s job or fear and uncertainty. Somehow she felt she wanted something from Gab but couldn’t tell it. It was a little less of affection and more of something else. But that something else was at the tip of her tongue.

There’s this suicidal feeling for both of them that teased them about ending this misery through jumping off the cliff. They just kept silent, with the hopeless feeling of being lost. Gab thought suicide was an illogical excuse for escape, but was thinking to do it anyway. But every time he thought about Kim, he felt bad for even thinking about it. That would leave her alone.

Kim got shocked by Gab’s sudden yelp as the bike swerved to its left side in a drift, a few feet away from a fenceless cliff. It looked like there was an impact that blew the fence away. Something unclear is visibly floating on the dead body of water. Some vehicle must have plunged to death. Gab was breathing hard. “No… No… No. We’ll be just going around in circles. There’s no next city… This is an island!”

Kim was speechless. She looked at the continuation of the dirt road on their left, following another stretch of a fence.

Gab saw where Kim was looking and beckoned her back to the bike. “We have no choice but to follow the road,” he said. His voice was shaky, unlike the brave and firm Sherwood before. It’s like their survival and will to escape was just for nothing.

She had no choice. She couldn’t do anything that would help but offer companionship, the only thing keeping them both out of insanity. They drove in silence for a couple of minutes and came upon a harbor, a pier that seemed to have seen better days (this idiom is fucking obvious by the way.) There’s a small boat but Gab thought of the possibilities.

Kim and I. Alone. In a boat. Without the necessities. Unsure of which direction (definitely not One) to row to. Without any experience whatsoever in sea transportation.

It well felt like a ticket for dying in the middle of the ocean.

He gave off a sigh (not like that of the Gangnam Style guy) as he turned around and saw a warehouse. Kim was looking at it all along, with an expressionless face. She seemed to be destroyed in soul (not like the one who Supermans that hoe.) Gab was disturbed by this feeling. Lugging around an insane girl wasn’t comforting at all. But she still was insanely cute for him.

He held her shaking shoulder and she faced him. She was teary-eyed but had an expressionless face. Gab pulled her closer and hugged her the tightest he can without hurting her. She was trembling but responded with an equally tight hug. Gab tried to put on his firm tone. “We’ll get through this, Kim. That warehouse must have something inside. Well. Obviously. It’s about the only building we’ve passed since we went through the dirt road. I’ll be in front of you; you stay close behind, okay?”

Their heartbeats were both fast but uneven. Kim’s was faster but she knows half of it wasn’t because of Gab. Gab let go and Kim kept the embrace for a couple of seconds. She wasn’t scared of what’s inside. She’s scared of what’s about to happen, like they were really supposed to go there.

Gab aimed his dying flashlight towards the huge green double doors of the warehouse. The green paint was faded near the edges and around the two handles, giving away the color of wood. They pushed the right (not the one that means correct) door and made a heavy creaking sound. The effort needed was a bit more than Gab expected. Waving the light inside, he saw colorful products that were rather slightly fading on dusty shelves. It wasn’t a warehouse. It’s a badly placed library. It was bigger than your normal convenience store, but not remarkably big. What’s remarkable was the sheer number of dusty books. Putting books near the ocean was a bad idea. There were 10 big shelves in the middle and more shelves against the walls.

Kim looked unaware of her surroundings to Gab, but she thought she knew it well. Following closely, she looked around and believed she’s seen everything she’s seen in this town before. She just doesn’t know it yet. But she knew she will know it soon. More than Beyoncé.

The building was much like an abandoned warehouse on the outside. There were tables on a side with 4 seats each. The slowly peeling wallpaper resembled that of the Blanc Puree’s. The flashlight died for a couple of seconds. He bashed it with his palm until it revived. All the books are in blue hardbound and all look alike, except their spines have different titles. “Duskfall Festival”, “Mysteries of Duskfall” and everything about some town called Duskfall. He couldn’t understand if it was a popular mythos in Silvercrest or possibly a town of idolatry. After a moment of browsing, something caught his eye. “Randall Hildright and the Class Zero Phenomenon”. He opened the book on a random page and saw the following:

“Nobody in this science business will ever believe something unsubstantiated, let alone something deemed as fictional. My Class Zero Attention Deficit Disorder has a far more plausible premise, but a man codenamed Nocturne stole the data from me. I have evidence for the Class Zero cases, including my work with codenames: Punchline, Nightmare, Painkiller, Onslaught and Blindspot, but I sadly did not have the chance due to their current hiding.

I cannot believe those ingrates. Without me, they should be dead by now. They already exacted their revenge, but none of them returned. All of the Class Zero patients have defied the conditions of mortality, so now we all are even. They came back to life after my choosing of the ones that died horribly. My morgue seems to have remained under suspicious eyes for a thankful eternity. All of them have a close connection to their profession or death in their new horrific form but are still afraid of my alleged alter-ego, one they call many names, such as The Vanity Sculptor. It sounded like Donatello running naked around the town with a chisel. They agreed to shorten it to The Sculptor, but I’d rather call him Hildwrong, because, you know. I am Randall Hildright. Ba dum tss.

My face itches a lot as a write this, because of this burning sensation of bugs endlessly scurrying all over it, to the point that I have scratched a considerable amount of flesh off by my own nails alone. I didn’t care for my physical appeal. I’ve always been bullied as ugly. I never combed my hair anymore, attend to some stuff like acne. Burning my face to kill the nerves was futile but in my own will, and I haven’t been able to go outside ever since. I am afraid of unwanted attention. If only I could wear a new face.

I had no idea I was becoming him; Hildwrong or Donatello or The Sculptor, but his constant writing on my diary has apparently become our means of communication. I have over 20 diaries since childhood because of him and it became more apparent that he was the reason of most of the misconduct wrongly blamed on me. There had been reports of me standing and staring on a corner, times of being snobbish, times of having no clue of what has just been talked about. All of them are common to one attribute that I find chilling. I was smiling through all of them. His taking over of my body has become increasingly frequent and longer and I am afraid that his domination might soon become permanent, due to the increase in trend… But he promised me one thing. He wrote at our last conversation as of now that:

“Your days of being bullied because of your looks will soon be over. They will feel it first, then all the other ones who never-endingly brags about their facial value. They have no value to me, but your feelings are something that has more value than mine. I thank you a lot for being non-hostile towards my unauthorized use of your body, and with that, I will give you the ultimate gift. A new face, every now and then. I will first hunt down your Class Zero subjects. They fear me. Then I’ll switch back to you when you have acquired a mask. But you must understand… I can only change back to you from daybreak to sundown. But whenever it requires, I have to take over and carve to satisfy my thirst. I do not need to intake anything. The thirst is visual entertainment.”

With my recent study of science and magic, it seems that magic is far from summoning unicorns and controlling the elements. It closely resembles what modern people call witchcraft, or black magic. I’ve got the books from a guy with an upper-class British accent named Latham Hawthorne. He mistook me for one Mr. Joshua Rhineheart and a man called Mr. Bruno Frye, both who still has scheduled transactions from him.

I argued this is a different novel from Dean Koontz’ and he readily believed me for he scoffs at nothing. He said that someone else with the surname of Hildright ordered from him, but he couldn’t find the records. I bought this $200,000-worth book called Beelzybob Hyropants which I thought was another Squidward’s Suicide-esque story. Boy was I wrong. Inside the leather that felt like rubbery, preserved flesh was weird incantations, rituals and other demonic writings that chill me to the bone marrow, by a guy named xXx_ObViOuSlYnOtSaTaN_xXx. I suddenly had the knowledge to extract multiple Class Zero data for some unexplained reason, and found out Hildwrong was a result of that case.

Normal Multiple Personality Disorder patients only suffer it mentally, like what I believe is happening to me, but Class Zero makes it so with physical appearance too. It seems that I have the Class Zero of MPD as well. The cause of why Hildwrong is existing still remains as a mystery, even to himself.

My subject for Class Zero MPD has the following profile:

Codename: Twitch

Gender: Female

Status: Single Alive Undead

I found her dead, confined in the Silvercrest Hospital. Her bones were broken and there have been signs of other atrocities to her. After some time, I have been able to resurrect her, albeit in the same condition. People confined her in Dark Raven after seeing her attack someone. She was confined in the hospital after murdering everyone in their village, claiming she protected them from the devil. She apparently gnawed at their necks savagely. She isn’t well aware of both personalities with respect to her crazy side. She is experiencing mild numbing of pain receptors only in this personality and, like all the others, has immunity from conventional death. Both personalities have a distinct laugh, and is probably the only thing the same from both of them, including gender. She acts boyishly. The way I saw her in Silvercrest Hospital for the first time, I believe she was beaten to death by an assailant that was soon gnawed at the neck. Poetic justice? I don’t think so. Upon extreme adaptation, she can now crawl on any solid surface, defying the law of Gravity, cause fuck Physics. Her movement consists of abnormal twitching, hence the name, with sounds of snapping bones. The straps on her straitjacket now have blades that she claims are more useful than her arms. It seems that she did equipped them only with her mouth. She, like Hildwrong, has some sympathy for his other half, and returns to somewhere in London before turning into her alter-ego. The alter-ego doesn’t know anything about Twitch, but has memories from the latter that could be unlocked upon provocation.

I know nothing of her alter-ego, but she has muttered what her name was.

Kimberly Chan.

With the recent rumors about Silvercrest turning into Duskfall, I will prove my Class Zero Phenomenon is not just a rumor, while turning people into something better as well.”

Gab was stunned in disbelief. Of all the books in the library, he happened upon this book that contained a lot of what he wanted to know.

The clues dawned on him like a waterfall full of hate. That’s why her laugh was weird. That’s why she sometimes acted different. When she was left with Jane, she must have snatched the opportunity. When Lilith said about another spy, it was Kim. When Onslaught said something about a spy, it was Twitch. When Punchline said encourage, he meant true... Personality. That psycho and Kim... Are the same person.

His chest felt heavy of disbelief and what seemed to be hate. He was

He suddenly heard something that was mentioned in the book. He looked around with his flashlight and discovered Kim was gone. His heartbeat quickly jumped to turbo and he wondered if he should call her name out or not. The large door closed.

Something might be out there, and I making a sound might yield quick death. If it can see, it should have gone to where this light is, and killed me… Or what if it has an ambushing mindset and is watching me closely right now? What if that sound was Kim falling on the floor? He thought.

He gripped his revolver out of his pocket and aimed it with the flashlight on stab-grip. He cautiously walked around, sensitive of anything that sounds foreign (not the Chung chang ching or Hijo de puta kind of foreign.) He could only hear the slight creaking of the old floor boards he was stepping on. He could now see dust particles on the light beam, but still couldn’t see anything moving.

The flashlight suddenly died. He was frozen in fear for a moment. He could have sworn there was a thud and a couple of snaps while he was tapping his flashlight, but it must have just been his tapping. Kim was not the Kim he once knew, and had perverted thoughts to. She was the sweet one who laughed like a psycho while being cute. She was also the one who was twitching with broken snapping bones and looked more hideous than your average bogeyman. Better yet, his flashlight was as dead as a majority of the people in Duskfall.

“Gab… I need you,” Kim’s sweet voice bellowed in the dark room. “Please, don’t shoot me.”

He suddenly was teetering with anger and tears. “Kim! You lied to me!”

She was in tears. She had difficulty talking. “I... I didn’t know I was doing it... I never wanted to hurt you guys... But... But now I know.”

Gab felt his knees weaken. His shoulders relaxed as he held his face with his left hand. “Why?!”

The reply was vigorously scary laughter and snapping sounds. “I think I’ve given my other half enough freedom… I don’t want to be carved either… Thanks for being such a good friend for her. I didn’t know what she saw in you, but I commend you greatly for your sheer courage. We’ve never encountered someone who single-handedly- No. Who needed little help from some people? Someone that could stop us… Temporarily, but for a very long time. Long enough to wake up and find a world without that wretched Sculptor!”

“I don’t get it! If you guys want me to kill him, why would you guys try to kill me first?!”

“It’s to test if you have the ability to stop him.”

“That’s bullshit! Why not just help me with the killing?”

Her maniacal laugh echoed throughout the whole building. “Those who are afraid of him don’t have the power to stop him… We are afraid for a reason. You will know why we are testing you when you finish this.”

“The logic of you monsters are SHIT. I am killing you guys, right?”

“Yep.”

“So how can you guys see a world without him if you guys are DEAD?! And if I, the promising test subject of you assholes die, no one will stand up for him right?! SO YOU GUYS ARE FUCKING DESTROYING THE ONLY HOPE.”

“You’ll understand in due time,” she said stubbornly. “When you escape.”

“I’m almost a step away from this nightmare!” Gab said with false hope. “Let me escape! I’ll kill the Sculptor for you!”

“You’ll be stuck to being one step away from this nightmare you call. Did you even love my Kimberly?”

“Get away from her body!!!”

She laughed maniacally. “I can’t. We are one.”

He was stalling Twitch as he reached out carefully for the books, feeling his way towards the door, all the while gauging where she was.

“I am very sorry, Gab. But I’d pick myself over my other self. She can die. I cannot. Being carved for someone who will soon die is such a foolish move.”

He could hear his own heartbeat and his breath. He sure wishes she couldn’t. After moments of tense fumbling, he accidentally taps the handle of the door.

“THERE YOU ARE!!!” She said as her snapping bones made haunting music with the rhythm of her drunken but accurate footsteps.

He pulled it with everything he’s got, knowing that his life counted on it. The footsteps were becoming louder and closer, to the point that he was doubting if he’s gonna make it. The doors creaked and his flashlight was accidentally dropped, in which it turned on and revealed that he was two steps away from her mouth. He screamed in horror as he opened the door enough for him to fit, dodged a bite as he picked the flashlight up and ran like hell. He didn’t remember where he parked his bike so he was forced to continue running, following the road.

After a couple of seconds, he ran so far already but he became more afraid for his life. The haunting body music of Twitch seemed spine-tinglingly close, like her mouth was two inches away from the back of his neck. He could feel breathing on his nape and saw the end of the road. The pulsating blood on his temples and his overloading heart was nearing its limit due to the sight.

A cliff.

Gab turns around with a fist that connects on Twitch’s jaw. His right foot that strived for balance was answered by air. He plummeted down facing the sky with terrified eyes. But he remembered the revolver.

Is it too late? He thought. He aimed the revolver towards his right temple as he plummeted down. Time seemed to slow down.

“NOO!!! YOU’RE MINE!!!” She said as she dived down to kill Gab with her own hands… Or blades. Or teeth, for that matter.

Gab could see her silhouette and the four straps with blades on the end were billowing wildly with the wind resistance. Everything was in slow motion. He suddenly smiled, something that Twitch was intimidated by as the flashlight that he let go spun around and illuminated his face for a brief moment. He held his gun straight to Twitch’s unmoving face. She had nowhere to dodge.

He could not see it, but her pupils constricted as he started to shout. “Hasta la Windows Vista Home Premium Service Pack 2, Cabron!”

The sound of a gunshot.

A thud.

An impact that destroyed a flashlight.

Another thud followed closely.

And then there was silence.

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