The Ones That Fought
Even though the spinning kaleidoscope of his vision Garret could still see that fist reeled back and ready to strike him as he lay vulnerable. The dozens of blows that had come before it made the world a fuzzy and confusing place, the sound of distant rain and obscure voices shouting dulled in his ringing eardrums. He had only just fallen down and yet already the merciless striking all up and down his body from dozens of enraged residents had drained him of any energy or will to fight back. Somewhere in that dizzying, rolling world he could hear voices calling his name, men, woman and maybe even a little girl, but in the fog of his mind he couldn't fathom why. Why in fact, was he here on the concrete, huddling as best as he could against the abuse that rained down upon him? He was sure there was an important reason, but his dimming consciousness couldn't spare the effort to remember.
The fist above him reached the peak of it's momentum, wet flesh glittering in the grim firelight paused in the air to above, before swinging back down at him. Even though it took less than a second for the first to fall, that second stretched out for an eternity or seconds for Garret. 'If that fist hits you at that speed, you're going to be badly injured.' that cautionary though blared in his mind but with any ounce of strength to resist sapped, it was all he could do to pray that some final moment intervention, through grace of God or a pitying observer would happen and he would be safely shielded at the last moment.
But sometimes wishes don't come true.
The blow struck his upper lip as solid as a rock, his head whipping back and his neck jerking awkwardly on his spine under the pressure. As the knuckles rolled off his lip Garret let out a muffled, agonized scream as his front teeth caved in under the strike, insurmountable pain racing through his whole skull as he could feel each tooth snap and twist free from his gums, some disappearing into the night sky and others clinging inside his head by scant nerves, blood fountaining out of his mouth.
That last damaging blow was enough to rouse his sense of self-preservation. Unable to The pain, that terrible, dizzy, insufferable pain blinded and deafened him to all the world, shutting down all his senses until he was isolated. He was trapped in a dark little world of pain but all around him he could still sense danger. Figures standing over him, fists and weapons ready to finish him off, but above all that a sneering golden ursine face.
"There is no need to be concerned of dying here. You know this isn't where your story ends."That demonic, mocking voice echoed all around his head andmixed in with his suffering. He felt a chillingly cold set of hands wrap around his head, and it only took an upwards glance to realise Golden Freddy was gripping his skull and clenching it in between those deceitfully soft but strong paws, his fingers gripping at the shattered remains of Garret's teeth.
Just an illusion, just an illusion, there was no animatronics fighting him. So why did it feel so real? Why did it feel like those paws really were there, really pulling at his loosened teeth? Was it through the gullibleness of his own mind, or was it Golden Freddy's own strength, to project such undeniably authentic suffering into his head?
Golden Freddy continued to squeeze harder and tighter, and above him the swirling figures reassembled for another beatdown, this time the deadly glint of knives joined their array of weapons. 'If you don't do something right now, you'll die. Golden Freddy will kill you. They will kill you.'Another flurry of alarmed thoughts racedthrough his head, urging him to react before it was too late. It was dark, it was scary, he could no longer hear the voices of his friends nor see their faces. All that remained was that leering golden mask, pulling him in closer, jaw hanging wide open into his ear as if to whisper, the man whimpering as hollow, dusty breath fell upon his ear.
He did what any creature that wanted to live would do - twist and thrash his body violently in all directions, not caring who or what he hit. He had to struggle, that was all he knew. As his knee bucked he hit something hard and a stray fist swung sideways as he rolled onto his back drove off another creature. Pushing with his feet he scooted away from the numbers of people and bit by bit they backed away, Golden Freddy nowhere to be seen. No one was hitting him anymore but he still shielded his face from further harm, the other frantically wiping blood out of his eyes.
Muffled noises distinguished as shouts and screams slowly came into focus and as he opened his eyes properly for the first time since he had been thrown out of the truck, he looked up to see Gracie Orton standing over him. With the girl's intervention the leader of the riot barked a fierce order and the attackers and hoodrats skulked backwards but still looked keenly on, searching for a way to get another strike in.
The scene before him was a tumultuous scrap frozen perfectly. Amelia had been half-dragged off the truck-bed but scurried free from the leering men grabbing at her as they scampered back. Mrs Collingwood had climbed onto the roof of the car and
as evident by the feebly moving bodies on the ground, had fired off a few shots. Mr Orton had rushed straight into the action, grabbing and thrashing men around like they were ragdolls until the sound of his daughter's voice caught his attention. In that moment, everyone had whirled to look at them. To look at him, and his bloodied, broken face.
She had her back to him but her hands raised a outreached to shield him from further assault. Her shoulders were drenched, she was crying and shaking, and Garret couldn't help but respect the little girl as she defiantly stood between him and his attackers, who had backed away out of concern for hitting her. They might have smashed his teeth out, but at least they wouldn't hit a little girl, he thought bitterly.
"Eyy dawg, isn't that Timothy's little sista?"
"Shit you're right man, that's Gracie. The hell is she doin' here?"
"Move out of the way, girl! This is for your brother!"
"Shut up, didn't she just say somethin' about her brother?"
"Fuck man, that cop was so close to biting it too."
"STOP! PLEASE STOP IT!" Gracie screamed at them in an unstable, child-like manner. "This man is nice! He helped us find my brother's killers! We were even on our way to stop them!" She cried out, her weak childish voice juxtaposed to the vicious, rough surroundings it echoed around in. All around, faces that had been snarling with savagery were now exchanged confused, sometimes nervous stares.
"What the fuck you talking about, girl?" The leader, who had been drawn back by the rest of the crowd as they retreated, stomped back ahead to stare down Gracie in an attempt to make her back off. Although her face was obstructed from view Garret could see her shoulders tense up as the tough young man loomed above her, but even with her hands trembling at her side she stood her ground.
"Mr DeWitts is a good man. He figured out who killed my brother and my grandmama. We were gonna stop them until you guys attacked us!" Her voice cracked and wavered just as a terrified little girl should sound, but her words still rung throughout the area. This time it was the leader's turn to stiffen up as he realised all eyes had swivelled onto him. Here he was, staunching standing threateningly over a little girl and a wounded man who was supposedly on their side. In a flash, things didn't seem to be going his way.
"The hell you talking about, girl? Don't you know these cops just shot your grandmama dead?" Refusing to back down the leader snarled and gestured at Garret, still struggling to get to his feet. Dizziness and pain continued to rack his mind and it took him to focus all his inner willpower to prevent himself from slipping into unconsciousness. He could hear Gracie standing right over him, in the face of a crowd that had just finished beating him. Struggling bit by bit feebly getting to his feet Garret worked himself into a kneeling position where he could shield Gracie from any punches thrown her way.
Everything in his head common sense included screamed to get back, to get away, to put as much distance between his already injured self and the still very angry crowd before him, but at the forefront of his mind was the part warning himself not to let a little girl be subject to their wrath. On the outside his right arm looked limp resting loosely against his torn jacket, but out of sight his fingers tentatively searched through his pocket until the familiar feel of the pistol grip came into contact with his fingertips. Funny, he thought. This would be the second time he would point a gun at this snarling youth before him, and this time the tension was higher and there was no Will around to defuse the situation.
"No, those people weren't the police!" Gracie shook her head fervently and knelt down beside Garret, gripping his shoulder to help him back up and making a deliberate attempt to not look at his gruesome injury. "They were bad men from an evil company that pretend to be the police! Mr DeWitts was helping us warn the police but you guys attacked us and now look what you've done!"
Her voice was so fast and high-pitched that the words ran together in a shaky mess but still they rang clear and as he listened, Garret was taken aback by how acutely that little girl understood the situation. She had gotten the last part about telling the police wrong since they were alsonow being pursued by the police, but he still had to give her credit. Most kids wouldn't care or be able to understand simply choosing to cower and hide, and yet not only had she understood everything, she was bold enough to face this bloodthirsty crowd and confront them with the truth.
"You expect us to believe a bullshit story like that?!" A woman cried out with scorn a few rows back and was quickly followed by numerous shouts of agreement. By now Mr Orton and Amelia had been pinned to the ground, both of them still protesting and struggling for dear life and even the dexterous Mrs Collingwood had been caught, spindly white arms held stiffly behind her back by several men. There was no one around to help him and Gracie as they faced these people alone.
"Iff you donn' beliebe uss, den beliebe diss." Garret muttered lowly, each word crudely and painfully forced out in defiance of the ruined state of his still heavily bleeding mouth.
The ringleader realised all too late that the dark blur whipping towards his face was a gun, neatly concealed in the detective's back pocket. Of course. He'd let this little bitch distract him long enough for that cop to recover and grab his gun, and now he was going to die. Of fucking course. He had already tried killing this cop once before, hadn't he? And that time, he had been shown mercy thanks to Will helping out. After this, there would be no way that even the smallest glimpse of mercy would be shown to him, not this time. Oh well. Goodbye Will, goodbye Andre, goodbye Tim, goodbye shitty fucking world.
He closed his eyes and waited for the inevitable bangthat would end his life. He had seen it happen more than once, he knew what was coming. All around him he heard roars and cries as that deadly weapon came into full view of their audience, aimed right at his head.
He waited, and waited, but there was no flash, no bang, no eternal silence. Had something gone wrong? Had someone stabbed that cop in time? Nervously one eye flitted open to see a surreal scene before him. Just as he had expected the detective had moved with lightning quick speed to hold the gun inches from his face. But instead of looking directly down the barrel, he was staring at the gun flat on it's side.
He couldn't understand this bizarre scene. It looked like this bloodied and battered cop was holding his gun out to him with both hands, almost as if he were offering it up in defeat. What… was happening? They had been just about to kill this man, his mouth smashed into a red mess and his friends clearly in for the same fate. So… why… did it look like he was giving up? It made no sense, and that very fact made him back away nervously.
"W-What the fuck are you doin'?!" He scowled, nervously eying the pistol. His mind was screaming to snatch the gun away before the cop remained his sanity and shot him, but another, lesser part of him warned that this might be a trap.
"I rweloaded dat juss' befoa. D'ere's enough bwulleds to kill you, a duzzen odders, and send da rwest packin." Assiduously Garret pushed out the words, carefully avoiding pressing his tongue against his gums lest he make the damage worse. It made his manner of speech gimped and childish, but it was compensated by the serious and grave tone and expression.
"I could hab dunn it, and you know it. But I didn't. Dere's an explanation dat's too long to gibb now..." He paused to spit out a trail of blood that had mixed in with his saliva. "Juss a sh- shawt while ago, I medd William. I made a pwomise to him dat I'd avenge da people of this ci-ciddy by exposin' da ones responsible."
People murmured and shuffled about until the narrow street rumbled as the legendary name of Will was dropped, growing in favour as the detective placed the pistol on the ground and backed away, pulling Gracie with him. All around, confirmation that Garret had indeed been seen speaking in a friendly manner with Will the night before hummed until there was no one left to contest it.
"Budd if you're so sure I'm da guilddy one here, d'en feel fwee to shoot me."
He made no further attempts to speak or move. He shooed Gracie away from him despite her protests until a pair of protesters pulled her away, and then passively kneeled as he waited for the leader to take action.
"NO! NO NO NO NO NO! GARRETTTT!" Amelia shrieked and thrashed about in despair as the leader tentatively swiped the gun off the ground and examined it, but she couldn't overpower the people pinning her to the soaking wet footpath, and whether it was because they had no will to resist or were simply mesmerized by the situation unfolding before them, both Mr Orton and Mrs Collingwood simply lay slumped, watching intently.
With a scowling face full of confusion - and just a little bit of fear - the leader swiped that sleek black shape off the ground and aimed it Garret's head, nervous eyes shifting from the weapon in his hand to the man's bleeding face before him.
"Is… Is this a fucking joke?!" He snarled, taking another step back, gripping tightly onto the pistol for dear life. He was the one who had a deadly weapon now, but for some reason he felt deathly vulnerable. Everyone around him was watching, countless sets of eyes all boring into him. The entire neighbourhood was observing intently to see what he would do.
Some stood with narrowed eyes and clenched fists, a warning that should he shoot this man, they would be quick to exact his revenge.
Others lounged back with smug grins or stood at the foremost of the tightly coiled circle of people, shouting and hollering that if he didn't kill this man, there'd be hell to pay.
With everyone this divided, it didn't matter what he would do. Intentional or not, this cop had sown discord in the riot he had roused, and now it was set to devour itself. What was the right thing to do? He didn't believe this pig's story, not one bit. And after that humiliating stint two nights ago, he wanted nothing more than to finish the job he had done on his face with a bullethole.
He didn't give a shit about anything else, including how this cop had peacefully surrendered to him. He couldn't understand it. It was such a stupid move, right? It was the same as granting him permission to kill, right? Then… why did his finger feel so wrong on the trigger? Was there something he couldn't see?
An impossible and strange situation where killing and mercy were both disastrous options, everyone was crushing him with impassable pressure to make a decision, and many lives were on the line… Hadn't Will been in situations like this so many times before?
That's right, whenever something in this place went wrong, Will was the one who calmly showed up and without a hitch, defused the situation. So why wasn't he here? That was what scared him. The one person that he begrudgingly respected that could solve this, that always solved this, wasn't here. Why? Why did this cop know about Will? Why was this happening to him, to his neighbourhood, why why why? Was his blood supposed to ring in his ears like this? Was there supposed to be a voice whispering in his head?
A roar, a flash, cries and gasps and the yelp of a wounded man resounded through the street as the leader discarded all hesitation, aimed the gun at Garret and fired at him without remorse. Amelia's gut surged as she saw his body jolt from the force as a thin streak of blood burst out from his body, the ex-detective wincing and slumping down in pain, but his chest still heaving. On instinct her eyes snapped shut. She couldn't take it anymore, she couldn't withstand witnessing another attack.
"Too bad for you Will ain't here to fix this pig, because now I have to make an example of you!"
He had felt the bullet pierce his body right below his shoulderbone, his whole body jerking and reacking with pain as that tiny shard of metal exploded out his back and clattered around on the concrete. The wound throbbed and ached through the rapidly reddening hole in his shirt, but to everyone's surprise and horror, the man slowly slumped back into a kneeling position. The only evidence he had just been
shot was the blood as his heaving chest as he held back down bile, but those aside, he endured it with as much persistence as the human body could supply.
"Again, in the head this time!" A woman laughed, fist-bumping into the air only to be smacked down by another woman.
"Bitch, it's because of violent people like you this protest will go to shit!" She snarled, struggling as another two men came forward.
"Bitch, yous' da one that just hit her!"
"She's got a point though, this is fucked up. We're not really gonna stand here and let someone get shot, right?"
"I-It's just a pig, ain't it?"
"And do you think the courts will accept that as a reason for murder? We started this protest because of people being unrightfully being killed, right? We're starting to be just as bad as them!"
"The hell we are, it's justified if we do it!"
All around them the riot swiftly dissolved into dissent as people moved into smaller groups of opposing beliefs, destroying any chance of it worsening. Snarling in rage but thoroughly terrified the leader dashed forward and smacked Garret across the jaw, before slowly and hushedly placing the barrel to his head. As surreally serene as ever, Garret passively stared past him. His eyes were glazed and his eyebrows ever so slightly furrowed, almost as though he were looking or perhaps even listening to something far off in the distance.
"Why aren't you doing anything? You're gonna die, you know that, right? Why aren't you trying to save your life?! I don't fucking get it! ANSWER ME!"
His yellowed teeth gnashed crudely as he spat at the kneeling man, flecks of spittle landing on his face. Again, and then again, and again and again and again he yelled that question, until it became desperate begging.
He understood why this policeman as so calm. Why he was able to look back at him without the slightest trace of concern. He could see the reason in those careless, maddened eyes. He was calm because he knew something that they didn't, and that 'something' gave him the reassurance to not be afraid.
"'cause I know who's in dat helicopda, wight behin you."
His subconscious told him that the helicopter had been there for a few moments now, but he had been too fixated on shooting Garret to realise. He could hear the blades whirring and splatting the rain, his hoodie whipping in the gust of wind.
His eyes dilated in shock but his head never turned to look. Instead, the tense grip of his fingers softened until the gun slowly slipped from his fingers and clattered onto the ground, swiftly followed by his crumpling body. Like a doll that had been dropped out of disinterest the hoodrat's knees buckled and he plummeted forward, a single pool of blood forming around the hole in his head.
" MTF Delta-3 in. Hostile down, we have clear sight of target. Target is moderately wounded, we need immediate extraction on the ground, over."
Curious faces gathered around the corpse to see why he had fallen down, reeling back as that pool of lifeforce slowly flowed out into plain sight of the whole crowd. With a whip of his coat, Garret Folks cried and leaped back send folks fleeing to cover as in one fluid motion snatched his gun back up in one hand, and gripped Gracie by the other, holding her body close to his.
"Negative Delta-3, the crowd is too thick to obtain target. Maintain visual of the target until reinforcements arrive."
Any belief that Garret or any other cop might not be as evil as they were made out to be had been instantly vaporized in the eyes on the neighbourhood, and now and forever more they would be the enemy of the people. Frightened eyes gazing up at the frame of the helicopter noted a lack of police markings, but it had fired in defence of that other cop on the ground, right? That meant only one thing, and now in seconds this crowd had gone from startled, to quivering with lust of vengeance.
"'dime do go. Lezz go Gracie!" He growled, Gracie's smaller frame immediately slung over his healthy shoulder as he staggered towards Orton's truck. As he forced out the first few steps in a dash across the street, seething figures with weapons and clenched fists moved swiftly to charge him, apparently no longer afraid of his pistol.
"Negative, Command. Target is in imminent danger. We need to suppress the civi-GRRKK!AAAARRGGGGGH! I-It's in my h-heaa- UAAAARRR!"
"Delta-3, come in, are you ok? Come in, Delta-3?"
" Yeah, We're fine. As I was saying, we need to butcher every last civilian, right?"
"What?! Delta-3 no, that's excessive use o-"
BLLAT BLLAT BLLAT BLLAT!
As he ran, it was hard to Garret to understand what was happening. There was a viciously loud noise not unlike the hiss of an enraged swarm of bees above him, people were crumpling up and exploding into gore as they ducked left and right, and all around him golden bullet casings were plummeting from the sky and clattering onto everything below.
His head swivelled upwards and everything became clear in a flash. A literal flash - as the gunner in the helicopter above had switched from his sniper rifle to the mounted minigun on the helicopter side and with a decisive amount of pressure on the trigger, had begun laying waste into the crowd. The vicious orange spark of the minigun whirring and dozens of invisible bullets ripping through everyone and everything haphazardly rang aloud to the music of terrified screams and the looping satisfied purr of the gun as it did it's job.
"Shit Delta-3, what the hell are you doing?!" "Delta-3 come in, cease your fire!"
"Command come in, what do we do about Delta-3?" "Delta-3, disengage from combat immediately!"
"Shit someone take that helicopter down now! How are we going to make a cover for this many deaths?!"
People scattered like leaves in a hurricane in a desperate bid to move to safety, but with the numbers as thick as they were and the road so cluttered, dozens of people had no choice but to struggle against the others in front, just as helpless as they, before they were mowed down without mercy. Among all the chaos and terror he could hear the confused and alarmed cries of organization staff as they desperately ordered their helicopter staff to stand down, but even the command's orders fell upon seemingly deaf ears as the massacre continued, the helicopter's radio falling silent.
But there was no time to focus on that. Limping and trudging with Gracie over his shoulder with every ounce of remaining energy left, he dragged her towards the only safe spot he could recognize - the car. He had swiftly noticed something important. Although it looked like the gunner above as indiscriminately desiccating everyone below, they were taking extreme care not to hit him. That's right, they had just admitted they wanted him alive, right?
As he came close to their getaway truck he gave an agonized roar and threw Gracie over his shoulder with all his might, sending her whizzing through the air and landing safely in the backseat with a light pompf! Unheard under the hellish noises happening outside.
His head snapped around this way and that, looking for his friends among the bodies; those completely still and those still struggling. It was so dark and hard to see, the violently flashing sparks and lights everywhere only making it harder to peer through the chaos, and it didn't help that the stream of bullets still washed up and down the street in search of survivors, shredding anyone that dared to move.
Mr Orton had gotten to his feet, freed from captivity the moment his attackers had either fled the scene or gunned down the same as the rest, and now he was pulling a wounded Mrs Collingwood back into the truck, blood streaming from a wound in her calf.
But they weren't the ones he was concerned about. Where was she? His eyes nervously darted all around the area that she had last been pinned down but there was no one there save for a few crumpled bodies as the last survivors scampered away, the last of their frightened screams disappearing. Ignoring the rampaging machine above him he sprinted around the bodies, gripping their limp, redded forms and cruelly shoving them aside as he peered through the faces for a familiar one.
"Come on Garret, we gotta go!" Mr Orton yelled out in his bass voice, revving the truck engine to life, flattening his foot on the pedal until it's spinning tires gained traction and rolled their way over the bodies blocking their exit.
But Garret wasn't listening. All he could focus on there the bodies before him as he sprinted from pile to pile, tugging sleeves and checking faces. 'Not her, not here, not like this!' Over and over those alarmed thoughts rang out, his desperation andanxiety growing tenfold every second that he couldn't find her.
"We need to go, NOW! GARRET!" Orton's impatient voice called out, but for a second time he was met with silence. Biting his lip, Mr Orton looked between the
ashen-faced Garret as he kneeled in the ground, the aircraft still flying above them, and the now open path of road they could use to escape. A traumatic, horrific disaster unlike anything he had just witnessed had occurred, and if they didn't most fast everything from the police to the national guard would come rolling down on them, mysterious organizations aside. There was no time to search bodies!
Garret was starting to give up and despair was beginning to set it. Precious minutes were slipping away as clothing and hair slipped through his hands. Where did she go? Did she run away? Did she get taken away? Why wasn't she here, even as a body? He was terrified of finding her body, oh so terrified, but some stray line of thought told him finding a body would be better than wondering forever. If he didn't find her how, there would be no chance of meeting again, dead or alive.
With a frustrated snarl he shoved a body down the biggest pile, the pale frame rolling until it collapsed in a muddy-red mess, small keychains scattering across the road. It was then he was about to give up. There was no one else left alive and with no victims to butcher, the helicopter had switched its focus onto him, hovering lowly with curious intent, like a distracted bird of prey, right before the kneeling detective.
"Garret, I gotta leave now! I'm sorry!" Orton gave one last attempt at convincing Garret to follow, but his sagging back showed no signs of listening.
Desperate and heart-broken Garret turned away in defeat, but the rustle of clothing made his head snap back around. Over there, two metres away. In that dumpster by the alleyway, someone was struggling with the lid. 'No way, it couldn't be, right?' With a load creak it swung open, and a gasping face nervously pulled themselves to the brim, terrified eyes darting about. 'She couldn't have… right?'
But she did.
"Amelia!" As she timidly pulled herself free he called out her name in a relieved but equally terrified voice, hobbling towards her with as much speed as his wounded body would allow. That gun didn't want to hurt him at any cost, and with the truck right beside him, they were safe. But Amelia was all alone… if he didn't get there first, the reticle of that gunner would.
"G-Garret, what's going on?! I-I didn't know what was happening so I hid!" She sobbed out, melting mascara smeared across her face as she kicked herself free from the trash and sprinted to him. With one swoop of his arm he deftly plucked her off the ground into a tight hug, squeezing her waist briefly before pulling her along to the car.
" Command to all units, be advised, MTF Delta-3 has breached Foundation protocol with use of excessive force on civilians and defiance of orders. Aerial Units Theta-6, Sigma-2 and ground unit Beta-12 are to engage the rogue until, all other units are to capture the target."
"Roger, pursuing rogue unit."
"Theta-6 copy, moving to obstruct enemy."
"A-Are we really taking down one of our own units?"
"Of course, they've gone rogue! They're an enemy now, shoot to kill!"
With the other two nameless men nowhere to be found Garret dragged her into the back of the car instead, landing on Gracie as the three of them panted and gasped for air. He hadn't even pulled the door shut when Orton slammed the accelerator until it was parallel with the ground, the truck speeding off and bouncing over a dozen bodies before finally finding the free, open road. Gripping the headrest Garret pulled himself up to get one last glance at the scene they were leaving behind.
It was surreal. So horrible and grim that he instantly regretted looking for a second time. Hundreds of bodies and parts of bodies, everywhere, scattered all across the road and against buildings and objects, spattered red with blood, their motionless forms sending up eerie shadows across the walls. Phones, tools, weapons and personal items lay about, dropped, shattered, shot and left behind. But the most horrifying was the silence. Just minutes ago, that street had been bustling with noise, nearly humming with it, but just a few seconds of someone holding down a trigger had replaced that with a deathly, stifling, choking silence.
A hundred lives vanquished in seconds. All because of him.
He was still in a daze. All of them were. Everyone was huddled with gaping-wide eyes, staring glassily ahead. Amelia, Orton and Collingwood, and especially Gracie, all of them had just witnessed their first massacre, and if he hadn't been quick enough to gather them up, they would have all died too. It was completely within their right to be scarred for life.
"Garret...I…what…" Amelia forced out broken words through her ragged gasp, clinging to both Garret and the seat as if she would die if her grip on either of them waned. In Between her and Garret Gracie had huddled up into a tight unresponsive little ball, her fuzzy black hair covering her whole face. At first he wanted to pull back her hair to check on her, but he already understood what she was going though. A
little girl had just witnessed a massacre, on top of facing an angry crowd and this whole fucked up situation to begin with.
"I'm sowwy dis happened 'd you, Gracie. No child should have 'd see dis." He said lowly, squeezing her shoulder. There was no response. Not that he expected any.
"Oh… Oh god Garret, what did they do to your face?!" Pulling herself up as the truck careened down the road, tires screeching and swerving as they took to the now abandoned streets, Amelia noticed the sheer damage of his face up close, tears brimming and running down her face. With no concern for Gracie she leant over to get a better look at the damage, biting her lip and wincing. His entire upper set of front teeth had been caved in, with shards of tooth and bone sticking out of those redded, bloodied gums as blood still oozed out of his mouth in alarming amounts.
Shaking her head, it was all she could do to rip shreds off the torso of her top and press them to his mouth, taking great care not to touch the actual injury, before wrapping her arms around his waist in a tight hug.
"I can't believe this happened! After everything! Those people were just hitting you over and over again and I couldn't do anything, and it was so scary and confusing!" She bawled into his shoulder and confessed her feelings, nearly forgetting he was injured as she clung to him.
"What the bloody hell was all that?! Garret!" Still catching his breath, Orton was staring intently at him through the rear-view mirror. Trembling, bloodied hands clinging to the steering wheel, his angry glare was dangerously similar to the ones borne by that now annihilated crowd.
"What the fuck did I just see happen?! What the FUCK did I just see happen to my entire goddamn neighbourhood?!" Orton was screaming, but there was also hints of tears in his eyes. Even a tough male like him was shaken to the core, having witnessed the complete eradication of everyone he had come to know from his childhood until now. Slightly widened eyes pinned on what he perceived as the culprit - the man in the back of his truck.
"Hey stop!" Amelia yelled back, grip tightening on his waist as she took to his defence. "Look at what those people did to him! Look at his face!"
"I know what they did, and I know it was wrong. But does that mean they all deserved to fucking die?! Even the ones that just stood there?!" Orton snarled back at her, nostrils flared.
"No… I…!" He waited for Amelia to snap back, but to his surprise her eyes widened and she slumped down against Garret, as though she were dazed from being hit on the head. Her eyes were unfocused and her skin took on a pallid colour as she bit back the urge to scream. Both Orton and Garret understood the meaning of that change. It was only just beginning to sink into her that what just happened, really just happened. It wasn't a lie, or a delusion, the five of them had been the only survivors to crawl out of a swift and decisive genocide. A fact like that was too big for the human mind to process, and now the cracks in all their sanity was beginning to show.
"Ohhh god… All those people… t-that really did happen didn't it, Garret?"
She looked to him for support, for confirmation or denial, not caring which one it was. In the blink of an eye her safe, stable world had been ripped out from underneath her, and now she felt like she was plummeting. No, she and the whole world she understood were both plummeting down together towards an uncertain fate. The only thing that had been stable, something she could rely on the last few days had been this man she was clinging to now. She was terrified, more than anything, more than even dying, that he would leave her behind, leave her to her uncertain fate in this swirling madness. So whatever he said was the truth, was the truth.
"Yeah, it weally 'appened." He finally admitted, voice stifled through the already bloodied rags of clothing. She pulled a face, on the brink of screaming, crying and laughing at the same time, before slumping down in desolation. There was nothing left to say, nothing left to add. Something that shouldn't have happened, something that no one should have to witness, occurred right around them. No, they were the focal point of it all. Did that make them guilty too?
"It was unfortunate, so many poor souls lost. But I'm certain that God will avenge all of them." Mrs Collingwood said vigorously, briskly tending to the wound on her leg. Even from here Garret could tell that it was a serious wound, no less serious than the gunshot hole still bleeding in his shoulder, but she displayed no ounce of pain nor fear. Eyes glazed and nerves steeled, she was willing to press onwards with their crusade, still holding the rifle under the other arm as she wrapped a shredded pair of leggings tight around her wound.
Her calm and collected remark had just enough composure to uncoil the tension in the car for them to stop yelling at each other. What followed was an uncomfortable silence as everyone stared ahead, unsure of what to say. What was there to say?
They were still on the run, still being hunted. The engine whined each time the gear shifted, Orton pushing the machine to go as fast as it could towards their end goal,
and the pervasive silence inside the car was a stark contrast to the whizzing sights and sounds on the outside.
"...Garret?" Amelia broke the silence, squeezing his arm.
"Mmm?" He grunted back, not wanting to squander energy on unnecessary words. He was already starting to feel dizzy from exertion and blood loss, his head pounding and his palms growing weak and cold. If he pushed himself too hard from now on, his body would collapse on it's own. Was he unable to do this on his own anymore? He looked from Amelia, to Mrs Collingwood, to Mr Orton. They were all just people he had come to know, conveniently forced to work together against greater forces that intended to swallow them all. They were all just a ragtag band of folks, but he trusted them. Did they trust him?
"Why did you give that man your gun?"
He didn't give a response, and his blank, empty face had no explanation either. Both Mrs Colling and Mr Orton were looking at him too know, all of them curious to understand why he had done such an insane thing at the time. It had even gotten him shot!
"...da whole dime, I could still 'ear dat organizaijyun communicading in my ear." It was humiliating for him to talk like an infant, hating each garbled word as it came out of his mouth. But even so, everyone else still keenly listened to them all as he slowly spoke. "Dey had found us among da waiot, budd seems like dey wan' me alibbe now. Dey were saying dey couldn't breach da crowd da get da me without risking me geddin hurt in da crossfire."
"So you gambled your life by tossing them your gun?" Mr Orton snorted, swerving around a corner and neatly nicking a small roadsign. Just in time too, as a convey of… Foundation, did they call themselves? Came rolling down the street, fortunately failing to see the brown truck as it dipped away.
"...you're waight Ordon, I made a gamble." He grimaced back through the blood shroud covering his face. "Da Foundaishun wan' me alibbe, so dey sen' in dat helicopder to prodec' me undil help arribbed. But… I knew dat crowd wanted me ded, so I had to sdall for dime undil da Foundaishun could help. Dass why they shoodin'."
Mr Orton quivered in the strangest way, his eyes bulged and his knuckles rapped upon the steering wheel in mounting anger. When he scowled like that, it was a swift reminder of how strong and imposing a man he was. "It's getting pretty hard to
understand you through all those missing teeth, detective, but it just sounded to me like you just admitted you sacrificed my entire neighbourhood, ALLof the people I've come to know in my lifetime, just to save your own skin. Is that true?"
A cold chill rippled through the air as Orton waited on a response. But Garret didn't falter, his eyes narrowed to slits as he firmly gave a reprimand. "I diddn' habb much of a choice, Ordon. We were pinned bedween dat manaic crowd and Noel's men, I had to think of someding! If I had known dat dey would kill so many people, I would'n' habb done wat I did, but it's too late for dat now."
"The detective is quite right." Mrs Collingwood's soft but fevered voice came to his aid. "He said it himself, right? It was either empty his whole pistol clip into the crowd and hope the death and confusion bought enough time to gather and escape, or bait the Devil's forces into shooting those unruly rioters. He made a plan with our survival as his top priority and acted upon it. I stand by his decision." Mrs Collingwood nodded softly, and her voice was quickly backed up and Amelia's anxious and wavering, but indignant voice.
"That's right! G-Garret was just looking out for us, r-right? He wouldn't endanger us if it wasn't necessary!" She was trying her best to sound confident in him, but even as she spoke she shot him nervous glances across the seat.
"And how long have you known him, two days? Who's to know what kind of person he is!" Orton snarled back, watching as Amelia visible cowed in the mirror. Her cheeks were flushed red and her hands were trembling in her lap, but she didn't let up.
"I-It's true I only just met him but… I-I don't expect anyone to understand but…" She bit her lip. "Garret, he… I feel like I've known him since I was a child. I have no explanation for it, I really don't. But no matter what, I feel like I can trust him!"
"I feel da same way. I canno- I'm nod able to explwain id eiva. Budd id's the same for me." Orton had given her an incredulous look, and before he could respond with another scathing remark Garret came to her aid. Now again all eyes were on him. Amelia was giving a weak smile, Mrs Collingwood was staring intently, and Orton's incredulous look had only grown.
"Do you expect me to believe any of that?!"
"We don't expect you to believe anything." Amelia retorted, feeling confident now that Garret was agreeing with her. "I know it sounds strange, but it's true. Garret… are
you sure we haven't met before? Were we classmates in school, and we forgot? Did we both have our memories wiped?"
He shook his head, before gingerly pressing his lips together. His broken gums protested furiously, but if it meant he could talk properly, he was willing to endure it. "If I've ever met you before Amelia, then I have no memories of it. But when I look at you, I feel like I'm looking at someone I met long ago."
This feeling of familiarity had been growing in him until it was reaching a fever pitch. Who was this woman sitting across from him? Why did he feel like she was so close to him? She was a stranger, he knew nothing about her, but even the scent of her perfume was nostalgic, reminiscent of memories his mind of devoid of. With everything else going on it hadn't been something he had focused on, but now the coincidence of it was starting to unnerve him.
"You have met, God tells me so." Mrs Collingwood's firm smile only grew as Garret and Amelia looked at her in shock.
"What do you mean?" Garret asked warily, still suspicious of the true nature of the spirit she considered 'God'.
"God explained to me, that you two have met before. You were close back then, too. But he says that due to the circumstances, neither you, nor I are capable of fathoming the truth behind that statement."
Everyone stared at her in confused silence. Garret and Amelia were bewildered but uncertain, humouring the possibility that she was right for only the slightest moment. Orton however was completely baffled, eyes flickering between the three of them as he realised he was, again, the odd one out.
His mouth opened to protest and he shook his head madly, but no words came out. It was followed by a confused and frightened expression, before his face crumbled into something he could only describe as resignation.
"Sorry, Garret." His bass voice rumbled underneath the whine of the car engine. "I don't mean to attack you like this. Haah. In the end, I suppose I owe you my daughter's life. It's just that it's very hard to be grateful right after witnessed my entire neighbourhood be massacred."
"You don't owe me any apologies. Seeing something like that would be traumatic to anybody. I won't hold it against you for being distraught right now." Garret calmly replied, trying his best to listen to both the radio feed and Orton. Something was
wrong. They had been careening down the road for some time now, twisting and turning down roads in a desperate bid to get away, but nothing had been following them for some time now. Even know, the telltale signs and landmarks hinted they were only a few blocks away from their destination, it was only a few streets more capitalized by the stretch of open green field between the road and the forest treeline, and they were free. Or at least, he was entrusting their lives to Will's integrity. The radio chatter had also quieted away to only a few tepid mentions of their presence, all of them travelling in the completely wrong direction.
Wait, didn't they know they were heading in the direction of the park? Why would they think they were heading away all of a sudden? Something like that was a major mistake, major enough that even a novice strategist would notice it straight away.
" Then, shouldn't a rogue detective notice when he's being fooled?" That unholy voice whispered into his ear, his skin turning cold and clammy as that breath of death threatened to drain his lifeforce away.
He realised it instantly, but instantly wasn't a sufficiently quick window of time to react. Orton too was looking at him in the mirror, so naturally he didn't see the sleek black car in front of them until it was right upon them.
" Theta-16. Target found. Engaging now."
"ORTON, WATCH OUT!"
Orton's reaction was lighting quick, even without looking himself the alarmed, screaming expressions on the two in the back was enough to make his foot come crushing down upon the brakes, swerving frantically to the side in a desperate bid to stop the car. At the breakneck speed they were travelling on the slick road, the tires and brakes screeching and whined in protest as the back half of the car slide forwards, the flank of the car blockading the road in front of them rapidly growing in size as they crashed into it, until all he could was a horrified expression faintly behind the tinted glass.
There was a deafening roar of smashing glass and twisting metal as the two vehicles collided, the back of their truck mercilessly driving through the back half of the car, Garret's view was of a horrified face as the truckbed came through a man's door, cleanly cutting him in half. And then his head turned away on instinct as the windows buckled and shattered, a sea of tiny fragments of glass flowing his way.
The motor died upon impact and so did the lights, plunging them into confusing darkness, and after his head had whipped violently in the crash he found himself
gazing about dazedly at the hazy situation. Orton had hit his head against the steering wheel and was fumbling to get back up. Mrs Collingwood had already cleared the shattered glass of her window free and was already angling her rifle at the enemy. He couldn't see how many there were, but he could see bodies, struggling to break free from the wreck, others lying limp against the wrecked frame, their bodies twisted in impossible ways.
Amelia too was clutching her head in dizziness, and Gracie had been thrown forward, lying in a cradled position on the seat, blood running free from a small tear on her forehead. His head felt muddled and the whole world sounded distant as a ringing sound reverberated through his head. Everything was so confusing, so muddled, he couldn't fathom what do.
But the ringing stopped. His eyes and mind came back to focus.
" All units be advised, target vehicle has crashed into main Theta-12. Re-route and engage."
"Orton! Get the truck started again!" Garret yelled at the top of his lungs, and all at one chaotic noise began to shake the car. Bullets zipped through and past the car as the surviving few agents had circled around to the sheltered side of their car, opening fire with their rifles as they took cover. A rogue bullet struck Orton in the gut, the brute man snarled in anger, the pain snapping him to his senses.
"Get those fuckers off me first!" Orton barked, twisting the keys savagely in a bid to get the car started and drive free. No one but Garret had noticed yet, but half a dozen other vehicles, larger, tougher, and more military in appearance had swerved into the intersection one after another, enemies preemptively leaping from behind doors to take position. As Orton swore and urged the key on the engine shuddered and whined, but made no attempt at coming to life.
CRACK CRACK CRACK
In the front Mrs Collingwood relentlessly purged the other agent survivors of the first car, three deft and well-aimed bullets effortlessly cutting down three men as they cowered behind the wreck, slumped down like unloved dollies. Without a skip she whirled around, her skirt and hat whipping after her as she sat down on the windowframe and lined up her gun against the truck roof; her aim shifted to the new agents in the distance and her eyes narrowed with deadly intent.
With one hand Garret snatched the dazed Gracie off the floor, clutching her body tight to his but down low to shield her from incoming bullets, the other snatching
Amelia's gun up off the seat and taking aim at the steadily increasing number of agents gathering behind car doors and other covers. These ones appeared to be much different than the ominous suited goons he had seen so far. These men held rifles and body-armour, and judging by the orders they barked to each other and the flanking positions they took, they were adequately trained in combat. These were deathsquads.
"Get down!" He yelled at Amelia, waiting until she had ducked safely out of his line of sight before his finger began to pump the trigger, firing bullet after bullet at their enemy. His shots were almost in tempo with the defiant grunts of the engine as it resisted Orton's panicked attempts at getting them free.
Survive, they had to survive. That was their only objective right now. To stay alive meant to drive away, and to drive away meant to get the car running again, and to get the car running again they had to fight with every bullet and ounce of strength they had. His frenzied fire and Mrs Collingwood's near flawless aim had kept their pursuers at bay, but already he could see their numbers swelling even as another helicopter began to hover above, their spotlight exposed their full truck with it's glaring spotlight.
An image flashed of the five of them laid out under the spotlight, their torn bodies riddled with bullets and drowning in a thick pool of blood as the soldiers kicked through their bodies, but with gritted his teeth he suppressed the hallucination, not that it bothered the golden bear that was watching him, it's empty eyes swirling.
A volley of returning bullets laced their way across the car, Garret's eyes bulged and his teeth clenched as deadly shards of metal tore up the chairs and rained down upon the truck frame, narrowly missing his head time and time again. Orton let out a bark as a bullet tore through his stomach, the spreading red rose on his shirt entirely ignored as the engine finally leapt to life.
Without waiting on anyone Orton pinned the accelerator to the floor and with an agonized and haughty screech the truck tore free from the metal wreck it was buried in, madly leaping forward to mow down a young agent cocky enough to sprint forward. Alarmed but composed, enemy soldiers took aim and fired at the front of the car in a desperate bid to cut them down. With the car moving it was impossible to line up a shot and they knew it, dozens of soldiers stepping out from cover to take the opportunity.
Hundreds of bullets tore at their car as it swerved to get away, most of them harmlessly bouncing off as the empty truck bed shielded them from most of the harm. But another surge of pain possessed his hand as a wound exploded to existence in his hand, his gun vanishing out the window as his injured digits let go. Another bullet had nicked Mrs Collingwood in the shoulder as she stubbornly continued to aim, and another two roses of blood flowed from Orton's chest as he was struck again and again, his breath becoming laboured as his energy drained in tandem with his blood loss.
" They're breaking free!"
"Move to block the target!"
"Negative, they've gained too much velocity!"
A single car had moved to block them, the last line of obstruction before they were free. In the end the desperate attempt was a waste, as the brown truck effortlessly smashed into the car's bonnet, sending it flying back as they tore back down the road, unbidden. Behind them the gunfire died off as dozens of men sprinted back to their cars, clambering back in to catch up. Garret wiped the sweat off his brow with his uninjured hand as he watched them. It would only take a few more seconds before the chase would resume, but a few seconds could be all they needed to escape. It was all he could hope for.
"Keep going! The park is just around the corner! Only a bit more and we're safe! We're safe!" Garret cried, doing his best to give Orton a reason to stay alive long enough to drive them to safety. But there was no promise of definite safety. There never was none. He was only riding on the unlikely hope that William had been truthful, and that they would make it there alive.
Orton must have heard his words, as even without speaking he gave a grunt, thin trailed of blood running out of his mouth as he death-gripped the steering wheel, swirling it with all the power his brawny muscles could offer as they rounded the corner - the distant promise of sanctuary coming into view.
There it was, there it was! It was at the other end of the road, past the fence, past the wide open expanse of grass, but there it was. The start of the forest path, just as Will had promised. In his exhausted, desperate, and fearful eyes that reassuring view seemed right before him, and yet at the same time distant, miles and miles and miles away, far beyond any chance of reaching there.
Wait, was this possible? Before his very eyes their goal continued to vanish further and further away until it was no exaggeration to say the forest fringe was nearly out of sight. And on top of that, his head was beginning to fill with excruciating agony, his vision twistin as though he had a severe fever, his heart sinking, spinning and plummeting into deeper despair as he began to doubt to possibility of survival. Judging by the cacophony of pained grunts and moans, he wasn't the only one suffering this sudden bout of delirium.
" There was never any chance of you making it there, Garret. You already knew that.It's about time you give up."
Wait, impossible sights, sudden inexplicit pain, an ever-growing sense of despair… Hadn't he experienced these all once before? This wasn't right, this couldn't be right.
That Golden sneer wavered for just a moment as Garret locked his eyes onto the remote sight of that small garden path, and it froze where it was.
"Keep looking at that entrance! Don't take your eyes off it for a moment! We're almost there, we really are!" Garret shouted as feverishly as he stared, pushing his way through the waning illusions and excruciating, but phantom pain. It was definite now, the more intently he focused, the more apparent it became that Golden Freddy's attacks were weakening. No, it wasn't the sight. It was his own determination to get there. His determination to live. His conviction to share his story, and the story of Fazbear's Pizzeria with the world. His concentration shifted from the view to his own heart, how much he wanted to live, how much he wanted to stand in a courtroom alongside Amelia and see the men chasing them arrested for their crimes. To see Golden Freddy and his lackeys exorcised or destroyed or purged from the Earth. As his conviction in himself soared, Golden Freddy's mental attack broke off entirely.
They had tore down the length of the street now, several cars doggedly pursuing them, and with heave they leaped over the sidewalk and smashed through the flimsy wooden fence, tires slipping across the wet grass. This was it, there was nothing in between them and safety but that stretch of empty grass. But to his shock the truck began to slow as Orton clutched his head, too overwhelmed by Golden Freddy's assault on his mind to maintain his foot on the pedal.
"Keep looking! It really is there! We're right upon it now!" Garret urged them on no longer caring about avoiding the damage done to his gums, filling their minds with encouragement to fight off Golden Freddy with his own hope. That's right, when it
came to a fight against despair, only unwavering hope could fight back. That's what they needed. That's what he needed to draw out of them all!
"We can do it! We can! It's right there! All we have to do is cross that forest line and we're safe! Don't you want to live? Don't you want to live to see all the lost lives avenged? Then keep on fighting! So long as there's a reason to live, don't give in to the pain!"
It must have had an effect, as their speed surged anew, the distance rapidly closed as he maintained a locked gaze on their goal, until he could see the intricate details on those stone lanterns. He could feel that arcane influence in their minds retreat and inch away, setting them free of their mental invasion.
All five of them were staring intently ahead now, the determination garnered by Garret flowing freely between them. They were all determined to live. Determined to see another day.
"Get ready to run!" Orton growled through his blood soaked mouth. "We'll only have a few seconds to run into the woods before they follow us!"
"Remember, God told me. No matter what happens, God let it happen for a reason." Mrs Collingwood said tranquilly, one hand tightly clutching the crucifix dangling from her neck.
Garret felt a warmth envelop his hand, and without looking he recognized that warm, comforting sensation as Amelia's. "Garret, let's get out of here together, ok? Even if it takes us the rest of our lives, I want to be with you until I can understand why I feel so quickly for a dork like you. Is that alright, Garret?"
She squeezed his hand.
"That sounds like a happy ending to me." He smiled back.
He squeezed her hand.
"Look out, they've breached the park perimeter!"
"Someone cut them off!"
"Shit, they're too fast! There's no way we can flank them at this range! Central, what do we do?!"
This was it, right? This burning sense of relief in his heart, this overwhelming sense of comradery between them. It was all justified, right? They were there now, only a few hundred yards away. There was no way their pursuers could catch them in time. They had done it! They had succeeded! This was their happy ending. Their victory. Against everything, they had prevailed against both Golden Freddy and The Foundation in what could only be summed up as a desperate bid for survival, not without it's sacrifices.
But it didn't matter. This was a happy ending for all of them, right? They could hide,
regroup, reorganize, plan anew...
" Didn't I say it?"
Golden Freddy manifested before Garret in an instant, that large, clunky animatronic frame crushing him into the fabric behind him, those hollow eyes pressing right up against his until those soul-ripping voids were all he could see, swallowing, swallowing, swallowing, devouring twisting and warping, rending and tearing until nothing's left.
"There is no happy ending."
The world flared into pure white as the truck suddenly detached from the Earth. Garret could only cry out in shock and alarm along with the others as a deafening roar shocked the truck as it was violently flung away, spinning and hurtling madly until triple blurred visions of the green grass, the night sky and hellfire spun around outside the car. He clung on for dear life but it was no good, as the arc of the flying truck met it's end they were violently flung about the vehicle like helpless puppets as it smashed and rolled across the ground again and again and again, their world becoming a maelstrom of crunching metal and hellish orange and red as the flames of hell razed outside.
As they came to a stop Garret was gasping for breath, both trying to recover from that situation, and analyse this new one. What was happening? They were about to win, right? What had happened? They were still going to make it out alive, right?
His confidence was crumbling.
The truck had landed on it's side, so Amelia and Mrs Collingwood's doors were blocked. He himself was in the air, suspended by the very seat belt that had saved his life. Below him Amelia lay again her sealed door, her eyes scrunched in pain, but
her chest still heaving. It was the person beside her that filled him with nauseating shock.
She had clung on for dear life, but her little human body had simply been too weak and small to survive an ordeal like that. Gracie Orton's twisted body lay on top of Amelia, her neck bent at a surreal angle and her glassy, lifeless eyes staring past Garret up into the night sky, permanently frozen in undulating horror.
He wanted to throw up, forcing the bile down. He wanted to cry for her, forcing the tears back. They were so close, he wouldn't let it end like this! Not like this!
Suppressing any human urge to mourn or panic Garret looked at his door, trying his best to block out the image of rising flames beyond the window. The crash had broken the lock, making the door handle useless. But the frame had warped just enough that the door was sitting slightly ajar. Already he could feel the heat of the flames burning through the metal beside him. They were trapped in a oven cooking them crock-pot style, immediate escape was both prudent and necessary.
Angling himself against the tangled seatbelt, he lined up the heel of his foot with the centre of the door. His foot lashed out against the blockaded door, the metal twisting only slightly upon the blow. He lashed again and then again, alternating both of his weary feet to pound upon their prison door, scraping it free inch by inch.
The metal was scalding hot now, even through his shoes it burned his toes. Feverishly he shook his head to shake beads of sweat out of his eyes as he struggled to focus in the sweltering heat. In the front the pale form of Mrs Collingwood effortlessly slipped past the staggered form of Orton and leapt out the open door. Whirling around with only a little less grace than before she began to tug on Orton's arm, delicate face scrunched up as she fought to pull him to safety.
His feet pounded on the weakening door without abate. He had to get them out. It was right there, right there! Just past that door, just through the flames, was their victory. They were on the cusp of bringing their foes to their knees! He wouldn't let it be taken from them, to hell with that smug Noel and cursed bear!
With a final righteous THWOCK upon it's side, the door burst open, cool night air rushing in and filling his lungs, possessing him with strength anew. He ignored the searing pain as his fingers clutched onto red hot metal, pulling himself and Amelia out into the cold night sky. He had never been a strong man, most of the other men at the station looked down on him. He was too weak and delicate to wrestle with thugs, and that's why he was a detective, and not an officer. That was what they thought of him, anyway. But in that sweltering red hell, the pain and desperation was
enough to suppress any self-doubt, and with superhuman strength that could only be granted by the most base desire to live, he tugged both of them free with his half burnt fingers. They came tumbling over the underside of the truck and roughly collapsed in a heap on the soft, wet grass.
The relief was enough to make him want to collapse and fall asleep in the receding pitter patter of drizzle coming down upon them, but instincts kicked in and he jolted upright. Beside him Amelia was also getting to her knees with a startled expression, still unclear about how she got free of the now openly burning car. Struggling and slipping on the grass he got to his feet and staggered over to Mrs Collingwood, helping her pull Orton free from the flames hungrily licking at his body.
The pair of them struggled to shift his much heavier weight up and out, and just when he was considering letting go, a sudden surge of energy helped them tug him free against the side and out, and Garret looked down to see Amelia had leapt up too,tugging alongside them. Falling down, Amelia's added strength had been just what they needed.
Orton too was getting to his feet, trying desperately to shake of the dizziness as he fumbled around, looking for his daughter. Above them a helicopter blared it's spotlight down, leaving them exposed as they huddled against each other and as Garret recognized the things attached to that machine above, he instantly understood just what had snatched their clean victory away.
Attached to the helicopter above were racks of missiles. It was an attack helicopter, and in the last moments out of desperation the pilot must have launched a rocket to stop them. Not at them of course, because that would kill their precious target.
Garret's eyes scanned the field until they fell upon exactly what he was anticipating to see. Just a few hundred yards to the left, a large crater scarred the land, feeble flames beaten back by the rain. The helicopter must have fired at just the right distance to send the car flying tumbled and spinning to a stop, but avoid killing Garret. Barely, anyway. As it tumbled amid flames, the gas canister must have caught fire, setting their ride ablaze with them still inside.
He looked beyond the frame of the car to see an even grimmer sight. The agents, no, soldiers of The Foundation had caught up to them. Parking their trucks to form a formidable defence, dozens of soldiers stood in position ready to fire at anything other than Garret that should dare poke their heads out from the safety of their shelter behind the crashed truck. As expected, the radio was dead silent. No longer were they going to humour him with their chatter.
"Wh-Where's Gracie? Hey, where's Gracie!? Someone tell me!" Panic set in as it dawned upon Orton that his daughter wasn't among them.
Garret didn't know what to say. How could he explain it? How could he tell a man that his little girl was dead? In the end, he didn't have to say anything at all. It was his dreadfully widened eyes and inability to respond that told Orton where she was far more clearer than words could ever hope to achieve.
Orton's face shrunk into something resembling abject abyssal horror as he clambered back into the truck, searching for his daughter. At the sight of his black hair bobbing above the truck side an order was barked and a volley of bullets shredded the upper half. Realising that Orton was too concerned for his daughter to notice or care about the bullets zipping inches above his head, or the fire burning away his clothing Garret also leapt back up to pull him back, and that's when they saw it at the same time. No, this was Garret's second time seeing it. He had already seen a vision of Gracie burst to a crisp, right?
At the sight of his daughter's pitiful, charring body, any sense of awareness faded for the man's eyes. His body lost all sense of motion, his hands slipping and allowing Garret to pull him away from gunfire right above them. That was until at the last minute inhuman rage seized control of Orton's body, muscles visibly bulging and tensing as Garret was tossed away like a feeble rag.
" RRRUUUUAAAAAAAAAAARRRRGGGGHHH! GIVE HER
With a demonic howl of righteous fury Orton leapt over the truck and ploughed down the field towards the enemy, one huge foot pounding after another as the distance between him and them narrowed at an alarming rate. They instantly focused their shots on him, hundreds of bullets swarming towards him like a nest of enraged bronze wasps. One struck him in the chest, another in the belly. One more tore through his left thigh, and another nicked his neck, but still he kept on sprinting in defiance of the dozens of openly bleeding gunshots throughout his body. His back was to them so Garret couldn't see the expression on Orton's face, but judging by the range of nervous to outright terrified expressions on the soldiers faces before him, it must have been the demon mask of a vengeful father.
But in the end, a human body is still just a body. Even with inhuman strength and indomitable rage, the dozens, numerous, countless bullets riddling his body made him succumb to the pain, his sprint fading into a stumble, and then a collapse. Even as it lay there exposed by dozens of spotlights and riddled with dozens more bullet
casings, he didn't move another inch. Not even another spasm. Then above the swarming whine of countless guns firing in the dark another order was barked, and at once every last one fell silent.
Garret turned away, nauseous. First Gracie, and now Orton. Pitiful deaths just the same as he had already seen, unfolding before him while a dark chuckle resounding in his head and in his head alone. His eyes invariably fell on Mrs Collingwood, who was already reloading her gun and peeking around the corner. Beside him Amelia inched forward, her smaller body quivering from the cold and from the dread and adrenaline coursing through her veins.
Funny, she had always considered herself a strong independent woman, she thought grimly to herself. Now in this confusing demented situation, where the only things she understood was that half of their people were dead, and the other that their safe sanctuary was within sprinting distance, all she could do was to meekly cling to Garret's forearm and hope that he would solve the situation. When… did she become this… dependant on him?
"Ah well, we came this far, didn't we?" Realising Garret was looking at her with a sad expression not unlike sympathy, she gave a small, graceful smile and shrugged. "You two need to run along now. It's time for me to fulfill my promise."
"What do you mean?!" Amelia protested in alarm. "We're completely surrounded! If we take one step from out behind the truck they'll tear us to ribbons! Just like… oh my god, just like that other man!" She clasped her hand over her mouth when it finally hit her that Orton was truly dead, and that the three of them really were surrounded in an impossible situation.
"What she means is, they won't shoot me. They want me alive. If I hold you close to me, they won't shoot you either." Garret hesitantly explained, desperately hoping Amelia would get the next point without him having to explain it. It was cruel enough already.
"What about you?" Amelia turned to Mrs Collingwood in confusion, before her eyes widened as their words finally clicked.
"I'm already content with being this helpful thus far." Mrs Collingwood spoke softly, as if saying goodbye to a small child as she patted Amelia's cheek. "It's sad that I have to leave so close to the finish line, but I learnt something important!"
"And what would that be?!" Amelia said back, wiping away the tears that were beginning to spill. She understood what was happening. She could tell by the forlorn expressions in their eyes.
"My sweet Sasha is still on this Earth being tormented, I can feel it." The mother insisted, tightly clutching her gun. In the background, Garret could hear barked orders and distant chatter as the defense line of soldiers slowly began to inch forward. Above them the helicopter monitored, but made no attempt to shoot for fear of striking Garret.
"I must protect my child, that is the promise I made to God to absolve me of the sin of neglecting my son in life. But I cannot aid him while I am trapped within this physical body of mine. To protect him, to show God my love and regret, I'll discard this flawed physical body of mine."
The words she uttered were insane, something only a madman would rant in the dark, and yet she was talking so calmly, so softly. She had already made up her mind on what to do, and she was unshakably convicted in what she believed. Even now as Amelia panicked and pleaded Mrs Collingwood calmly stood up and brushed down her dress, leaning up against the truck.
"Wait, no, no no no don't do that! Please stop! We can think of something for us all to get away, right?! Can't you take her too, Garret?" Amelia tugged firmly at his shirt, begging at him with her eyes for him to procure a miraculous and sudden plan of escape. But he could only look back at her with empty, already defeated eyes.
Gripping Amelia's waistline and ignoring her startled squeals, Garret bent his knees and turned over to look at Mrs Collingwood.
"When I say go, do your thing. I'll take Amelia and run." He said lowly, trying to hide the regret in his voice at having to abandon an ally. No, a fellow pawn was expending itself for the sake of another two pawns. 'That's what this nightmare is all about, right Golden Freddy?'He thought to himself bitterly, and a deep rumbling ofdiscord in his chest made him feel that he demon in question had heard him.
"There's no reason to be afraid, you two. No matter when you die, I'll be on the other side to welcome you to heaven." She nodded confidently.
"Thanks for the offer, but I think after all this I'm headed to hell." Garret said back wryly, trying his best to keep this goodbye positive while it could be.
"If that's the case, then I'll come down and fight to save your souls myself." Mrs Collingwood replied lowly, and Garret wasn't sure whether to be relieved or frightened. After meeting her for a second time she didn't seem as crazy as before, and indeed she had a personality that he could call pleasant. But whenever it came to religion or spirits or children, he eyes dilated and a maniacal grin claimed her face, which was exactly what was happening now.
Without waiting for a response she whirled around the truck and sprinted forward, limping on her wounded leg, but stopped immediately in her tracks. Garret cringed and waited for the inevitable torrent of bullets that would punish her hesitation and shred her to bits, but to his confusion it never came. Tentatively he peeked around the corner of the truck Mrs Collingwood had been behind, and he saw a very curious sight.
A very curious sight indeed.
In the expanse of grass between them and their slowly advancing line of enemies, a woman had appeared. Where she came from, he couldn't tell. She clearly wasn't dressed like The Foundation soldiers, and yet she hadn't come with them either, but it was undeniable that over there stood a tall, elderly woman. Her clothes and skin were faded like ash but the details of her form crisp and clear. Her arms were neatly folded at her waist and her back stood rigid as she presented a small object in her hands, softly winding away.
It wasn't just him seeing it either, as Mrs Collingwood was also keenly observing her sudden appearance, as was The Foundation. Who was she? Why had a woman suddenly appeared in a near-supernatural way? He couldn't understand it. If it wasn't just him seeing it, then it wasn't just a hallucination, right? There was really someone there. But outside the realm of delusion, things like this couldn't happen, surely?
"Wait, isn't that the head servant? Agatha-" Amelia's voice audibly trailed off in shock as it dawned upon both Garret and her who that person was, and what her being here entailed.
"G-Garret, am I seeing things?!" She squeaked out, eyes darting in sporadic panic between him and the anomaly out on the field.
"No, there really is someone there that shouldn't be." He slowly replied, cold sweat running down his neck. For him, this was only a small step deeper into the realms of madness he had already fallen deep into before. But for Amelia this was her first taste of the supernatural. The first unveiling of a world she had never seen before. So many realizations and revelations were running through her head as past
suspicions were confirmed and new horrors were considered, that familiar mundane safety net of 'reality' crumbling away in her head and before her eyes.
As if she had met her herself, Mrs Collingwood grinned and walked to stand beside her, gun still aimed at the enemy. No one dared shoot, several soldiers anxiously whispering to each other. This wasn't good, an anomaly had manifested right as they cornered their enemy. And if the rumours coming from Sigma-6 were true, then it was someone they had already killed once.
Suddenly the fluid winding motion of Agatha's hand stopped, and Garret realised what it was. It was a perfect replica of the small wooden music box she had gifted him shortly before she died, except this one was blood-red.
Gently with two fingers as if to take great care, the spirit lifted the lid of the music box up.
TORÉADOR, EN GARDE! TORÉADOR!
ET SONGE BIEN, OUI,
SONGE EN COMBATTANT
QU'UN ŒIL NOIR REGARDE,
ET QUE L'AMOUR T'ATTEND
TORÉADOR, L'AMOUR, L'AMOUR T'ATTEND!
The same instant that lid flipped open, the open field was bombarded by booming noise that sent the earth shaking, sending everyone present to their feet. Even though the words were different Garret immediately recognized the some as the one Agatha as ascribed to Luther Palatine, and any belief that this may all be mundane after all was eradicated.
Through some supernatural means the classical Toreador song was blasting from that tiny music box in the spirit's hands. To him, the song was playing at a level that was incredibly loud, but not enough to cause discomfort, but he couldn't say the same for the men on the other side of the field.
To them the music was literally deafeningly loud, the sound waves almost visibly rippling through the air as the song played shattered all their truck windows at once, and even the helicopter above whirled about as the pilot struggled to tolerate the earsplitting music reverberating through his brain. All around them soldiers were falling to their knees and clutching their heads as blood began to flow from their ears.
This really was happening. Right in front of his eyes. The spirit of someone he had met only once had come to his aid by blasting impossibly loud music at his enemies, sparing them an opportunity to escape. Even though she wasn't looking at him, her eyes sealed closed with a dutiful slime, Garret could tell she was aware of his presence. 'Go.'Was the single command she was saying to him.
Wasting no time Garret got to his feet and pulled a stunned Amelia along with him, supporting her weight as he limped towards that garden path with all the speed his injured legs could offer. Behind them he could hear shouts as the enemy realised he was getting away. Confidently strutting forward, Mrs Collingwood fired off her gun, cutting down a soldier. Before his limp form had even fallen to the grass, she had reloaded her gun and cut down another, firing round after round, snatching bullets from her tote bag, reloading the gun and firing with a second each time.
"All units be advised, an anomaly has manifested at the Site of Target. Anomaly is believed to be a Remnant-class spirit so euclid procedure applies. Units are to assist in suppression of anomaly until Spirit Suppression Task Force reinforcements arrive." No longer caring if Garret heard, the command broadcast that warning to all the soldiers, although very few could hear it under the earth-trembling din. For the few men strong or deaf enough to endure the pain, they bit their lips and held down on their triggers, trying their best to pin Garret down with bullets as he advanced on that forest path.
And then another curious thing happened.
As he limped away Garret became aware of another trail of fire moving past him, moving towards the direction he was fleeing from. As their paths met, Garret looked down and realised the grass was burning in a shape of a human foot bone.
The small sparking embers of footsteps grew in ferocity and torrent of flame after torrent of flame shot up into the night sky as those burning footsteps sprinted past him, past the ruined truck, and stopping right beside the still forms of Mrs Collingwood and Agatha. Billowing furiously in defiance of the rain, that curtain of flames parted away to reveal an even more horrifying sight - a human skeleton standing upright in the rain, snarling savagely at the cowering soldiers. Its bones were charred black and in the numerous and fine cracks all throughout them, orange and red glowed brightly. All around it flames coiled, rolled, fell off and swirled around it, as if the fire itself were a delicate toy that it could readily manipulate.
The skeleton pointed an accusatory finger at their enemy and shrieked aloud in a foreign language that Garret could only surmise as Chinese. Its words were difficult to hear as they warped and winded in an ethereal way, their meaning made even harder to decipher under the still blaring music from Agatha's spirit, but still the skeleton roared and spat it's words with venom he could feel sink into his soul, even without understanding her language.
Suddenly the hellish flame skeleton swept both arms up into the air and for a second all moisture in the air vanished in an instant, the air itself rippling and crackling with burning tension before everything exploded into flames.
Billowing upwards and swirling all around, giant tendrils of fire, hellish, angry, sweltering flame unlike anything Garret had seen before leapt up and snatched clusters of soldiers as it raced across the grass, wrapping around them in coils until their panicked and agonized screams faded until the roar of the spreading fire and the din of the pounding music. Their guns and armour were useless to save them as soldiers sprinted and collapsed as the supernatural flames burnt through down to the bone. And those soldiers that remained unharmed anxiously backed into quivering huddles against each other as they realised the towering flames had spread out to form an insurmountable wall between them and their reinforcements, not only cutting them off from retreating, but providing an opportunity for Garret and Amelia to escape.
"All units be advised, another anomaly has manifested, identity confirmed to be Remnant-class spirit 'The Burnt Lady'. Anomaly is highly destructive but present members are NOT to allow the target to escape."
Unwaveringly loyal to their superior's orders right until the bitter end, several veteran soldiers continued to advance and in face of the peril before them, the hardened grim expressions and set jawlines telling tales of far worse nightmares encountered long ago. In the face of little to no cover they hustled forward, kneeling to provide their allies with covering fire as they advanced flank by flank. But this time the target of their gunfire wasn't Garret.
Her termination wasn't essential to the mission, but as another hardened soldier's head flowered open and crumpled to the ground, the others quickly realised that killing her was vital for any of them to survive. The way the next bullet was reloaded barely before the last one was fired from her antique rifle and the way she calmly but zealously swirled around firing shot after shot with vindictive accuracy all without skipping a beat made it clear that she was a formidable combatant that needed to be stopped before reaching Garret could even be considered. No, she was a monster. Even now as she bled she laughed aloud, eyes alight with righteous glee as she withstood their barrage, the metal of her gun glinting as brightly as the flashes from the barrel.
"Ahahahahahaaaaaahhhhh~ Can you see your mama, Sasha? Look how strong your mama became for your sake! I won't let a single of these these sinners live, ahahaha! SSSSAAAASSSHAAAAAA!"
Standing between the still and tranquil Agatha blaring her crazed Toreador March and the violently flickering and twitching skeleton of Lan-Fen, Mrs Collingwood put up a gallant final dance of death as the bullets ripped through her still very mortal
body, the speed of her reloading only slowing slightly as her legs and chest were shredded, specks of blood splattering around as she twirled, that pale dress of hers torn and bloodied, her length black hair whipping about as she took another step forward, lining up her last shot. All in the meantime, Garret could only watch in horror and dismay as he limped along with Amelia, leaving Mrs Collingwood to her fate.
"Can't we go back and help her?" Amelia pleaded, but Garret shook his head and pushed on.
Her breath was uneven, her balance unsteady. She could feel it now, her life force was draining away from her body like sand through a broken hourglass. The physical vessel that tied her spirit to the earth was crumbling away, but instead of fear and sadness, all that was reflected in her eyes was overabundant joy.
"Ahhh, I'm so grateful, so grateful! I'm so very grateful I could live such a fulfilling life, to serve such an honourable role! Lord, I surrender myself to you. In exchange for this worthless body of mine, please cleanse me of my sins! Please bring out the revenge of my child!"
The gun fell from her weakened grip and landed in the grass beside her as her knees buckled. In that sweltering conflagration a single living woman knelt alone, raising her head and arms to the heavens above, her head tilted directly upwards to the bleak, black sky below. And yet she was smiling. Her hat had fallen away to expose a mangled face was matted with blood and her mortally wounded body was abandoning her, and yet that sincere, exuberant smile never left her lips. Even in the last moment of her life she was giving praise to her god, and just before the last bullet tore through her head Garret was sure he could see just a sliver of holiness in that mad woman's dilated eyes before they faded to mist.
Their numbers had been desiccated, but beyond the glowing orange veil of fire The Foundation's reinforcements must have arrived, as a new wave of soldiers pushed through Lan-Fen's blaze, many of them seemingly unaffected now by Agatha's song as it continued to shake and tremble their trucks. Even as the snarling skeleton hurled fireballs and consumed entire trucks in curling tendrils of flame their numbers were quickly growing.
That was until a massive white claw rose high into the sky, all eyes snapping up to follow it as it arced down, slicing a half dozen men in half as it swung cleanly through them. Their bodies remained frozen for a moment, as though it had only been an illusion, before a thin seam of scarlet appeared at their waistlines, growing and spilling until their innards burst forth, upper and lower halves of men collapsing down upon one another.
Garret's head swivelled to see where it had come from, but there was no need to strain himself to see. For right before him, between the two spirits already present, another had joined their ranks. With a low but effeminate bellow it charged, wildly swinging it's pale white claws as they stretched out, pulling apart machine and man alike as they bore down upon the unlucky souls in front of them, sending limbs and shreds of muscle and tissue hurtling across the field with each vicious swipe.
His head tilted up, and then up and up and up as an altitudinous frame rose up out of the earth to tower above them all, swaying it's freakishly lanky form. But then his eyes flitted straight back to the place where that monster had arisen from, and a terrible realisation clicked in his unstable mind.
It was Mrs Collingwood. There was two of them now. One, was a crumpled and pitiful corpse slumped on the grass, as lifeless as the other dozens of bodies and halves of bodies scattered about the blazing battlefield. But beside that corpse stood the towering imposing form of a new Collingwood. Just like the other spirits her outline was faded and pale, her already wan skin colour now truly devoid of any colour. Her tall shape had become exaggerated until her head was above the treeline as she looked down, her formerly serene smile now permanently frozen into a sadistic upturned sneer, sharp teeth exposed between those delicate, frozen lips. Her ebony hair flowed freely as she took massive strides forward the opposing forces, two sparks of malevolent hate beaming out from underneath the brim of her faded, torn hat.
Amelia too had frozen, flabbergasted as another impossible and surreal nightmare took place before her.
"G-Garret, i-i-is that really?"
"Yeah, she died. But it looks like she'd rather keep playing anyway." Garret looked to Amelia with a shrug, wishing he had some was to comfort her. She looked utterly terrified, no, by the way her mouth was frozen half with the urge to scream and half with the urge to give into the madness and scream mindlessly, he could tell that these eldritch horrors were becoming too much for her to handle. Not that he blamed her, anyone who had seen what they had seen this night would have surely lost their sanity too.
The gargantuan form of Mrs Collingwood sauntered forward, undaunted by the volleys of bullets that had just seconds ago torn through her physical body like wet paper. Her long, spindly legs, more like spider legs than human legs, covered a great distance with each patient stride, allowing her to swipe through their ranks even as
they fled for their lives, dropping their guns and screaming as a ghastly visage of a bone-thin woman sliced through their companions, all while flames and deafening sound rocked and scorched the earth. Three anomalies showing up out of nowhere? And all of them working together?! This was an impossible situation to beat, impossible!
The brave but foolish helicopter pilot, in a bid to help his allies on the ground escape from the massacre below, fired a missile, grinning as that sleek silver arc shot across the sky and exploded into an ever-expanding ball of fire around her head as she turned to look. But as the smoke cleared the pilot's confident smirk was washed away, as now the Tall Woman was right upon them, her eerie smile and serrated teeth threatening to swallow the cockpit whole.
In a panic the pilot tore back at the lever to get away, but a sudden and violent shaking that wracked the whole frame, causing him to lose all control.
" AAAAGGH! MAYDAY, MAYDAY! IT'S GRABBED UUUUUUSSSS!"
"All units be advised, usage of SCP-3086 has been authorized. Anomalous spiritual activity will withdraw soon, standby for further orders."
A terrified shriek filled the radio feed as the Tall Woman gripped the tail of the helicopter with both hands and with frighteningly powerful strength for those gangly arms, swung it down to the earth on it's side.
Upon striking the ground at full speed it exploded upon impact, bursting into flames and sending burning bodies flying everywhere as they leapt to their deaths. But that was enough, with a guttural moan the Tall Woman began to drag it across the earth as the blades still spun furiously, chopping up everything in the way into fine strips.
Soldiers looked up in empty despair as the last thing they saw was a rapidly spinning pair of flaming blades as their bodies were carved up and mixed into the soil below, the ground flowing red as the Tall Woman drove her makeshift weapon deep into the heart of their reserves.
But then something went wrong. Her actions became more dulled, her shoulders slackened as though she were suddenly drained of all energy. And not only that, as Garret anxiously looked around, he realised the music began to warp and fade like an oldtime record player as Agatha's form turned solid and began to flicker in and out of existence, and wall of fire that the Burnt Lady had held up until now was beginning to waver, and along on their left a convoy of jeeps was rapidly speeding their way.
"Eta-5 In! We broke through the barrier! Apprehending target now!"A victorious voiceboasted across the radio, and as Garret looked up at the convoy that was now right upon then, he could see a young man grinning confidently, radio in one hand.
"Run Amelia!" Garret cried, pulling her along as fast as he could do while shielding her body, but even as both of them heaved and sprinted with everything they could muster from their drained bodies, it was only a matter of seconds before the convoy encircled them, men jumped out from trucks and knocked them down, screaming and waving guns in his face. As he fell down he pinned Amelia to the wet grass, refusing to give them an opportunity to execute her. In the distance the other spirits had turned to help, but already their weak, pale forms were fading away, until there was nothing left but the ruinous effects they had had on the land to prove they were there.
The youthful man that had roared over the radio feed had jumped down from his truck, and as he marched over to Garret's battered form on the soggy ground, he boasted his capture.
"Commander Wilheim of MTF Eta-5 in. Target and accomplice apprehended. Detaining now."
He barked loudly into his radio amid cheers of his soldiers, most of which had been whimpering mere seconds ago.
"So you're the big Garret DeWitts, huh?" The commander turned his heel to spit at Garret with disgust. "What a pity that so many men had to die tonight over someone like you." He sneered, Garret's head whipping back as the man whipped him across the jaw with the back of his hand, sending searing pain through his face anew.
"I would kill you, but Mr Noel was forced into returning you to SCP-2140-6 alive, and that spirit is not to be trifled with. You already saw how it seized control of that helicopter pilot to massacre that riot." He leant down, gleaming rows of teeth at Garret while he sneered. "All just to save you."
If it weren't for the half dozen men pinning him down, Garret would have snapped his gun out and blown that man's brain out in there was nothing he could do now, he could only wriggle and struggle against the overwhelming weight of the soldiers suppressing him and hope for a miracle. Even though hoping for miracles had let him down so many times before.
"Alright boys, tie him up and put him in the truck. Noel is waiting just outside of the combat zo-GRRK!"
"Commander, are you ok?" Several soldiers nervously approached their leader's spaspming body.
The man had suddenly froze up midway through his order, his face frozen into a mask of surprise, before his eyes rolled up and he fell down, and they all understood why he had collapsed. His back was a pincushion of hundreds of rusted syringes and scalpels embedded all across him, each one stabbing deep, deep into a vital organ.
"S-Shit, what happened to boss?!" One cried out, backing and stumbling away clumsily from the corpse of their fallen leader.
"There's another enemy!" Snarled another, his gun snapping from person.
"I don't see anything!" Another said nervously, followed by another few men.
"It might have shapeshifting abilities, be on the lookout!" One barked, before realised everyone had pointed their guns at him first.
"C-Central! This is Private Mackey of Eta-5, commander is down, repeat, the commander is down. Suspected fourth Remnant cl-NNGGH!" A bald man screamed aloud and spiralled down to faceplant on the earth, a dozen scalpels perforating his neck. But that time they had definitely seen something flit past in the background.
"W-What was that yellow? Was that the Golden Freddy they were talking about?!"
"S-Shit, isn't that the leader?"
"Calm down, Golden Freddy wouldn't co-operate with spirits like these."
"It didn't even look like gold to me anyway, more like… blonde hair."
"Yeah, I can-"
That last reply was never finished as another body leaning against a truck slumped down forever, syringes jabbed deep into eyeballs and straight into his brain; an instantly lethal blow.
But it wasn't that pathetic corpse that made everyone cry out and stare, but instead the creature that was on top of the car.
It looked like a ragged, feral woman with wild messy and uncontrollable blonde hair whirling in all directions, blotched and drained skin littered with innumerable needle marks, limbs shrunken and veiny as they clung onto the truck roof, sharp hands crushing the metal under their powerful grip. Beneath that messy bush of hair, two pin-prick eyes glinted in the smouldering fires, a psychotic grin carved into it's haggard facial features.
"S-Shoot that fucking thing!"
At once every man turned to that mortifying creature, wrapped their trembling fingers tightly around their triggers, and pulled down hard.The air was lit up with muzzleflash every split second and hundreds of smoking casings fell to the ground, but by the time they reached their destination they were passing through air.
A soldier only had seconds to look up as the monstrous Torri yanked his long hair upwards and split his throat, dropping his chocking body to the ground and leaping to another victim in the same motion.
Desperately they tried following her motions, but they were far too erratic to predict. It didn't move like a human, it leapt and skulked and shuttered around on all fours back and forth, side to side, throwing it's confused victims off mark before leaping in for the kill.
"Central in, understood. We have a visual of the anomaly, confirmed Remnant-class spirit now designated as 'The Mad Woman'. SCP-3086 has been refired, stand-by for clean-up."
Wailing and screaming the men ignored Garret entirely, too concerned with the hell fiend dancing and slicing between the lot of them, grabbing a man by the throat and effortlessly throwing him into a truck windscreen, impaling him on a large shard of glass. He screamed and clutched at the base of the spike of glass through his chest to pull himself off, only for Torri to grip both sides of his head, and with a sickeningly wet POP tore his head clean off his spinal cord, holding it up to the others like a trophy.
" FOR GARRET"
Now was their last chance to move. A final miracle! At the last moment, Torri of all people had come to their rescue from beyond the grave, and he wasn't about to waste it. Leaping back to his feet he pulled Amelia roughly up and pushed her forward.
"Run! Let's go!" Garret barked and followed as she broke into a sprint, limping behind her. Realising he couldn't keep up with her she stalled and waited for him with startled eyes.
"Come on Garret, it's right there! I'll wait for you!" She promised, running back to him until he snarled and shook his head.
"No you won't, go! All that matters is that someone makes it out, so just go! If I don't make it, then it's up to you to expose what happened here so go go GO AMELIAAAA!" He bared his teeth and yelled at the top of his voice, with such desperate eyes she had never seen before, that the mere sight of them shocked her into obeying, her soft face crumpled into sadness as she turned tail and spirited away, tears streaming down her face all the way. Stumbling and tripping she flitted past the forest canopy, past the stone lanterns and disappeared down the path, her crunching footsteps receding into the dark along with her lonely, startled crying.
Garret was right behind her; but his feet felt impossibly weighted and his body had no more energy to squander, making the small gap feel like miles as he weakly trudged along. He was close to collapsing. He should have collapsed a long time ago. It was only his desire to live, to follow her down that path and hug when they were safe, that made him groan, lift up that next foot, and plod it down.
Nearly there, nearly there, he didn't dare take his eyes off that path lest it vanish before his eyes, channeling all his lifeforce to making it come closer to him. Nearly there, nearly there, he was under the canopy now, he could hear the soft rustle of the leaves in the wind. Nearly there! He had done it! Against all odds, he had done it. Those soldiers were so far behind that even if they stopped fighting Torri, they would
have to shoot him to stop him. This was his victory, his complete victory! So… why was Golden Freddy standing before him, chuckling darkly?
The vision of his haven spun away as his face smacked into the gravel, a sudden weight had fallen down on him back just as he reached the lanterns and now he was pinned to the ground! No, no, no no no no not like this! The stoic man letting out a very disturbed shriek as the possibility of survival dwindled like a candle dangerously at the end of it's wick.
He had to fight! No matter how strong a soldier was, he could kill them! Even if he had to bite their neck or eyes out, he'd do it if it meant he could crawl an inch further. Any empathy or concern for any other living creature was gone as he rolled onto his back, unnerved by how easily his enemy allowed him to do so.
His sight was filled with only one thing - a shrunken, twisted version of Torri staring down at him, that torn, bloodied mouth drooling as it nuzzled into him.
" GARRET. NEVER LET YOU GO." A husky, strained voice rasped into his ear, and Garret reeled and shirked back in both horror and disgust when he realised what had happened. This thing wasn't Torri. He could see it in those eyes. They were lifeless, empty eyes, devoid of any human warmth. Just like Golden Freddy. Whatever this thing was, no matter how much it resembled her , it wasn't her. This thing was like a mutated shell that she had left behind, nothing but rage and delirium remaining.
"Get off! Leave me alone, Torri!" Garret wailed, pushing and kicking at it like a feral animal, but his resistance only seemed to excite it more. Seconds ago it had been slicing and gutting people with fanatical zeal, but sensing his retreating footsteps it had bounded after him like an eager puppy, completely oblivious to how it was endangering his life.
No matter how he writhed and screamed and struggled she kept him there, eagerly grunting and drooling. The creature couldn't even understand why it liked him so much, what compelled it to remain close to him, it could only follow it's most base instincts.
He looked back up at that smiling face, his heart and soul brimming with contempt and resentment at the creature that was snatching away his life and dangling it before him, until he realised it was mocking him. 'You created me. Now you die by me.'it's eyes told him. He wanted to deny it, to shut it out and excuse his life from this retribution… but it was true, wasn't it? He had caused all this. He had been warned to stay away, given so many opportunities to turn back. But he had insisted
on coming this far, and now look where it got him. He was bound by a creature he himself had created through the act of murder right in front of the one place he had been promised a safe place, all under the assumption that a man he had met just that night was telling the truth about a magical vanishing church. Oh well, at least Amelia made it out. Dying… wouldn't be a complete waste of time. That was his only consolidation.
As if that realization reflected in his eyes was all it had wanted, the Mad Woman sinking its claws into the earth around him gave a small, approving nod before fading away. But there was no time for relief. The moment she vanished the shadows of a whole platoon of men swirled around him, and just before a rifle butt knocked him into darkness, he saw one last image of Golden Freddy standing among them, leering with those clunky, blocky teeth.
" Would you like to see what's going to happen next, Garret?"
Garret woke up unable to speak. He struggled only to find his arms were bound with itchy, rough rope. His arms and mouth bound, he was cold, shivering, bleeding and kneeling on some very, very familiar black and white tiles. It was dark all around and he could hear whispering, but there was no one else in sight.
Suddenly before him a stage light exploded to life, illuminating the wooden stage he recognized from just hours ago, complete with the brick walls and cloud decals. But instead of the normal animatronics he had both expected and dreaded to see, something far more terrifying was waiting for him.
On the centre of the stage stood an animatronic similar to Golden Freddy, but different in many ways, only some of them worse. It's body was larger and clunkier, it's chassis was faded, torn and eroded all across it's body, it's hands were sharpened down to raking claws of metal and it's freakishly massive rows of teeth jutting out of it's skull were bent into a lunatic jeer. Unlike it's doppelganger Golden Freddy this one's bright red eyes were full of life and overabundant enthusiasm as it fidgeted restlessly on stage. Adjusting it's little purple bowtie first, it swept the tiny purple hat off it's head and bowed deeply.
" LLLLLLLLLLadies and gentlemen! Tonight as the epic conclusion to Garret's epic heart-pounding tale, we have a special celebration for you! I, Nightmare Fredbear, leader of the Nightmare Ensemble and Foremost Servitor to our Lord
Golden Freddy, humbly invite you to watch, gasp and shudder with exhileratioooon~ as we end this tale with a special surprise finale!"
The monster gestured to it's left and other spotlight lit up, illuminating a chair he recognised as the office chair from his desk.
The monster gestured to it's right and a third light lit up the stage, revealing the nervously sweating face of William as he sat upon a luxurious throne, his hands bounded tightly with phone cable.
" That's right! That's right! Tonight we have a special treat of not one, but two protagonists! So please, stay in your seats, pull up your undergarments and join us in the season finale: 'The Double Executions of Garret DeWitts and Thiiiiiiiird Kiiiiiiinng!' AHAHAHAHAHA~~~~!"
As the monster giggled and spun about on stage in an overly dramatic, theatrical way, there was a thump and Garret realised there really was something behind him. Arching his back, and turned around to see no less than 13 pairs of eyes glinting at him in the dark.
" Get up on stage."
A/N: At just over 19,5K words this is by far the largest chapter, and that's excluding the fact that the next chapter was supposed to be the ending for this chapter and for Garret's arc, but I realised that by then this chapter would be far too large to read. Instead, the second 'Garret' arc will end and the third arc will begin in the same chapter. Not how I wanted it, but sometimes chapter length dictates plot flow.
On another note, we passed 1,000 reviews! This is a major accomplishment for me, never would I have thought this story would come this far. Words alone can't express how grateful I am to you guys for both being such frequent and enthusiastic readers, as well as doing such a good job to spread awareness of the story elsewhere. So to show my gratitude, after the next chapter I'll be holding a Q/A! Please feel free to ask me whatever questions you would like me to answer between now and then at the end of your normal review, and I'll try my best to respond to every one in detail. Since Q/A can't be included as regular chapters I'll have to host it elsewhere, probably on Google Drive. Please do note that naturally any questions to do with spoilers of any sort will be ignored, as will anything too private or inappropriate. Those aside, I'll try to be honest about everything!
Other than that, thank you again *very* much for helping me reach 1k reviews for the first time, and I'll see you when the arcs cycle through!