It's R E A L.
“IT’S REAL! LIKE LAST NIGHT! IT’S REAL!”
I’m screaming now, pointing at it, spittle coming out of my mouth and dribbling down my chin. I couldn’t fight it.
“DRU!” Doc is screaming at me and I open my eyes. I’m gasping for air. The world’s dark but this time my eyes are open. I’m shaking and there are tears in my eyes and my back and chest are burning. I struggle to breathe. “CMON!”
Lights shatter overhead, we scramble away from the sparks and shards and underneath the table we were just sitting at. Wren is pushing chairs out of the way and looking out into the chaos. People are running away from the monster, the monster they just came to celebrate. It throws chairs and swarms around the room on it’s long limbs, roaring and screaming. The girl it grew from is just standing there, watching, along with the young man and a few others blocking exits. They’re all wearing black, their eyes all red. The screaming turns to whimpers and hushed whines of fear. The con-goers are corralled and sit paralyzed in fear as far from the center as possible.
“What the living fuck?!” Wren screams. “WHAT. THE LIVING. FUCK.”
“Oh my god, oh my god.” Mayday reaches out for my arm. She’s got a grip on me with her nails digging into my arm. The only feeling I have is the churning in my stomach. My head is full of cotton. I’m shaking. “Oh my god, Dru, oh my god.”
I just look at her. My mouth has gone dry. She looks at me, tears streaking down her face.
“It’s TRIGGER.” I barely breathe. “It’s-it’s real.”
“I don’t know.” Doc mutters, putting a finger to his own moving lips. “But we need to get out of here.”
But, I do.
“What do you mean?” Mayday hisses at me the same time Wren does. I look at my friends, and inhale, and exhale all I know in this breath. Of how I had a feeling that we were giving power to something that didn’t exist, and the fandom was helping, and now this cult.
“So, this was the nail on the head.”
“Okay,” Doc tugs at the back of his neck, there is sweat on his upper lip. “This strengthens my case of us getting out of here.”
“We need to run.” I agree, my eyes darting around the room. It’s so big, there’s so much. There’s too much. “We need to go.”
“They’re guarding the doors-“ Wren covers his own mouth as TRIGGER swings its head towards the front of the room. It’s many eyes in its shadowy form turn in our direction, where we hide in the shadows. I cover my own mouth and stare blankly ahead, past it, at the door. The pain in my stomach gets worse, my other hand reaching down to clutch my stomach.
“Will you finish what you’ve started, Andrea?” The girl calls out into the crowd, in the shadows, she can’t see us from this far. I sink lower to the floor. I don’t know how this could possibly get any worse. Correction, it really could not get any worse. This girl is going to get me murdered, just like I said she would, just like I knew it could go wrong. “We came all this way to get your answer.”
I take a sharp inhale through my nose as the monster turns away and looks in the left corner of the room. Doc wraps his arm over my person. I keep shaking against him, my fingers digging through my shirt into my stomach as another pang runs through my abdomen and through the rest of my organs. I grit my teeth, squeezing my eyes shut as the pain travels up my spine and into my brain. It unfurls across my forehead and I tuck my head down and writhe in pain. Doc presses his palm into my back.
“It specifically asked for you, Andrea.” The girl calls out. “For reasons well known to all in this room.”
“Dru, do not look up. Do not engage.” Doc whispers in my ear, his voice tight and sharp.
“We need to make a break for it.” Wren hisses. “We need to move.”
“Andrea, will you not come to meet your creation in the flesh?” The girl calls out. “Followers of TRIGGER, does that not ring a bell?”
“This girl is nuts!”
I shake my head no over and over and over, refusing to reopen my eyes. I know it’s hunting, I know what it’s thinking. I know this monster as much if not more than I know my own self. It was supposed to just be words on paper, a poisoned, stained page in my journal. But now it’s here, now it’s alive.
“Let’s go.” Wren starts moving.
“Wait!” Doc demands and then there’s a shriek. I open my eyes and in the darkness, a young man who most likely made a break for the door, is being held down by two of the black-clad persons. I watch the girl look up at TRIGGER, who is staring at the young man with all of its eyes.
“This is part of the promo, isn’t it?”
There is a pause, a beat taken and we all look at each other. I shake my head no, I don’t want to say a word, I can’t say a word. I’ll get myself killed, I’ll get my friends killed. I can’t bring myself to stand. My thoughts drown in maple syrup as I sink into this pain I can’t shake.
“You think this is a game?” The girl asks him. “Just a gimmick?”
“You’re pretty convincing.” The young man retorts, struggling. Some of the audience stands up, starting to assume the same. Instead of screaming for them to run, I press harder into the carpet.
“Let me convince you more, for this monster is more than you could ever imagine. We who feel shall rule the world.”
She steps back and looks up at the monster, and gestures to the young man. I watch as TRIGGER behaves smoothly instead of sporadically, as it leans forward and stares into the boy’s face. He struggles, and all the eyes go completely red. I’m shocked back into my own story, my own points, my own designs. My mind reels back and I gasp at another louder pain that makes my ears pop.