The squares of lights, grimy yet blinding in their brightness, were still imprinted on the back of Jay's eyelids. A decent enough last image. Jay had closed his eyes tightly before it had arrived. He had not seen it, but he had felt it. He could still feel it. Encasing his body like water, moving him, perhaps. Jay wasn't entirely sure. The only sensation that seemed real and tangible to him was the searing pain in his abdomen. He could almost feel the bullet, lodged somewhere inside, nestled and tearing at the things trying so hard to keep him alive. His hands seemed to be frozen in place, clamped down over the wound in an effort to keep the blood in. He could feel his attempts leaking through his numbing fingers. Jay wondered briefly what he was bleeding onto.

Vaguely aware of the slight, water like pressure of what he assumed to be the faceless creature leaving him, Jay was tempted to open his eyes. He could still see the squares of light, comforting and high, though. He was afraid that if he opened his eyes, he would lose that image for something much worse. Taking a shuddering breath, his fingers involuntarily squeezing down on the wound, Jay peeked through his eyelashes at his new surroundings. They were more familiar than he had anticipated. The red-tinged lighting of Tim's living room was a stark contrast to that of daylight streaming into the basement of Benedict Hall. The house was silent, although Jay knew that this sort of silence was unnatural. Void of all noise. "Tim?" Jay asked the silent house, his voice ragged and small, swallowed up by the empty house. "Tim?" Jay called again, louder now, desperate. He wanted to be found, seized with the overwhelming desire to not die alone. The silence provided the answer Jay already knew. Tim was not here. Aware now that he was still sitting up, Jay moved his head back slightly, finding that he was leaning against the wood paneling of the counter that divided the living room and kitchen. He was bleeding onto Tim's carpet.

The discarded, cut-through zipties that had been on the floor were gone, as was the kitchen knife. Tim had been back here, then, maybe to collect him. Maybe not. Or perhaps something else had tidied away the evidence of his escape. Jay could barely feel the pain now. It felt unreal and distant, as if it were happening to another person. He had been here before, in this spot, although the circumstances had been radically different. Tim had taken his camera and left him tied up, with the idea that Jessica would have to be dead, no matter the actuality, to protect her. But as Jay thought about it now, he couldn't bring himself to be very upset over this. The anger was gone. Had he apologized to Tim? Jay couldn't remember….

Seconds ticked by into minutes and Jay could feel himself slipping. The drumming throb of his pulse under his hands was becoming more sporadic, losing tempo. Jay pressed his head back hard against the wood paneling, the grooves between the panels digging into his scalp. A sensation Jay could feel, standing out against the now dull ache of the hole in his stomach. Closing his eyes again, Jay attempted to return to the image of the squares of light, but instead found only the imprint of the oval mirror and lock, to the right of Tim's door, outlined in purple against his eyelids. Benedict Hall was far away, as was Alex, and the faceless man. And Tim. He was alone here. He was going to die here, in Tim's living room, and Jay knew who would find him. Blinking away the image of the mirror, Jay closed his eyes once more, this time trying to recall the image of Tim standing in the doorway just feet away, telling him that he wasn't taking him with him.

Not this time.


The hooded man slipped into the living room through the back door, unnoticed and silent. Approaching the prone, shrunken figure slumped against the wall, the hooded man kneeled down. Removing the glove on his right hand, he reached out, pressing two fingers against the exposed neck of the body. Apparently satisfied with what he found, the man stood up, taking a few moments to arrange the glove on his hand once more. He left, as he came, silently through the back door. In the silence of the living room, the blood had already begun to dry on Jay's hands.