I was bored. So I wrote this. Don't judge me.
I needed a break from my FNaF Fics, I really did. So yeah, Operator X is going to be updated like the rest of my stories, along with another story of the Binding of Isaac fandom which will be coming soon.
Enjoy, and leave a review if you have time!
Beware of the Trees
The dog sat on his haunches, panting as the clouds moved away, finally allowing the warm rays of sunlight to fall upon the edge of the forest. His dark brown coat shone in the sunlight as his tail wagged back and forth. His blood red eyes scanned the gravel path, waiting until he saw the one with the mark. The dog's eyes widened when he saw a figure approaching over the nearby hill; he wore a black cap, white T-shirt and blue shorts. He was whistling a tune as he jogged past the dog, who ignored him. That man didn't have the mark. He could pass.
Shortly afterwards, a young girl rode by on a pink bicycle, and the dog scowled. That one was also without the mark. He listened as the girl's squeals of joy slowly faded into the distance, his gaze never leaving the path. He'd sat here for two whole days, not eating, drinking or sleeping. Only watching. His head hadn't so much as tilted for all that time; it was his job to find the one with the mark, and he didn't intend to fail.
It was late in the afternoon; the sun was setting, painting the sky with beautiful shades of orange and purple. A figure was standing on top of the hill. And the dog barked excitedly as he saw the faint red glow coming off of the person, visible only to him. Whoever this person was, they had the mark. And the mark meant that their future was already predetermined. Yapping enthusiastically, he bolted out of the trees, his tongue hanging and drool dripping from his mouth.
It was a teenage girl who was now walking towards him; to the dog, she looked around fifteen. She wore a black hoodie and ripped jeans, though her hood was kept down, revealing the long brown hair that spilled all the way down to the small of her back. She looked at the dog with surprise as he bounded towards her, standing on his rear legs once he'd reached her.
"What's up?" She asked, stroking his back with a small smile creeping onto her face. "You know, you're the first dog who's ran towards me instead of away from me." The idea made the dog want to scoff as he playfully licked her hand. The girl knew how to pet him well; he found it hard to believe that other dogs would flee at the sight of her.
The dog suddenly realised why exactly this girl had been given the mark; she was one of the sufferers, one of the victims of the world. From what she'd said, it was probably her parents. That was usually the case when it came to people like her. It was a common trend these days; one he despised, but hatefully accepted.
The girl rose with a sigh, and looked back behind the hill, at the blinking lights of the town.
"I think I should go back now." She muttered to herself. She smiled at the dog, patting him one last time before heading back down the hill. "Maybe I'll see you around." The dog didn't hesitate as he bounded back towards the woods, before looping around the hill in the direction of the town. The girl still hadn't made it down; he had time. Barking madly, the dog raced off into the distance, to find the marked girl's house. Now it was time for him to leave his own marking; the rest would be up to her.
"Why were you out so late?!" Amanda flinched as her mother kicked the table. If the woman felt any pain from the action, she didn't show it.
"I told you that I was out for a walk." She pointed out in an attempt to make her mother see reason. But surprise, surprise, she wouldn't listen.
"You didn't tell me that you'd be gone for five hours!" Her mother screamed, and Amanda backed away slowly. Her mother's anger usually subsided when she was further away.
"Yeah, okay, I didn't do that. I did say I would be coming back late, though."
"That doesn't change anything!" Before Amanda knew what was going on, her mother had pushed her up against the wall. Her back hurt like hell, but she forced herself to keep a straight face. She couldn't afford to let herself cry. Tears just made everything worse.
"I told you to come back by three! Now it's six!" Her mother screeched, and slapped her on the cheek, causing her head to jerk to the left. "You're absolutely useless!" Amanda winced when she felt the nails digging into her arm, trying her best to hold back the tears.
"What are you crying for?!"
Suddenly her head was against the ground, her mother kicking her body as she closed her eyes and wept silently. She didn't scream. She didn't shout. She just lay there, as the torrent of kicks came over her body, over and over again.
"Oh, get up!" Amanda felt her mother grip her arm, before she was wrenched up to her feet and slammed against the table. "Alright, you little shit. Don't you dare ever come back so late. You understand?" When she didn't answer, her mother forced her head onto the table, pulling her arm upwards until she screamed. "Do. You. Understand?!"
"Yes! Yes! I understand!" Amanda cried out, before her mother pulled up her arm a little higher.
"Who are you addressing?" Her voice was cold, and Amanda closed her eyes out of fear.
"Mum! Mum, I understand!" Suddenly her mother released her grip on her arm, and the limb fell onto the table as Amanda gasped in pain.
"Go to your room. Don't let me see you for the rest of the night. I have business to do." She rubbed her wrist, groaning as she heard her mother's footsteps fade away.
This was the way most days went. Amanda's mother got angry at the strangest things, from not brushing her teeth to not watering the flowers. Her family's priorities weren't exactly straight, that was for sure. Sighing, she straightened her body before heading to her room upstairs, her head still ringing. She spun the doorknob, slamming the door behind her and instantly falling face first onto her bed.
Amanda grabbed her pillow, hugging it close to her chest as she cried to herself, rocking slowly back and forth. At no point in her life had she ever thought of living as easy. Her life was like a roller coaster that never went up, only shooting down. Days felt like weeks, weeks, felt like months. While everyone else around her was always happy, she was the one who suffered from depression.
After a few minutes, she forced herself to stand up, shakily taking a few steps towards the full body mirror on the wall. Amanda pulled off her hoodie, revealing the navy blue tank top she was wearing beneath it, as well as a massive streak of blue running down her side; the new bruises she'd received from her beating. She poked them hesitantly, before gritting her teeth as pain shot through her body. She sighed, absentmindedly rubbing her cheek and sitting back down on her bed. Amanda could hear her mother's drunken yells from downstairs, probably directed towards her mug for having a tiny handle, or a nail in the floor on which she'd stood.
As she lay down on her back, she turned her head a little to the left, in order to look out the window. There was a tree branch which she had once used to climb out the window when she wanted to leave in the night; however, a bird's nest was now on top of it, and she'd since stopped using it. Amanda smiled as she saw the nest, in which lay two white eggs. The mother was there, wings stretched around them.
Amanda cursed as she heard the doorbell ring. Her mother hated it when people came to their door this late; usually they were just idiots attempting to sell something, but she still seemed to think they were scum. She heard the sound of the front door opening, but was surprised when her mother didn't shout at all. Instead there was just the tinkling of wind chimes, and then the door being abruptly closed.
Footsteps were thundering up the stairs, and Amanda sighed. Apparently her mother did want to see her. The door was flung open, revealing her mother with her hair in a mess and a USB stick in her hand.
"Do you know what this is?" She asked, and Amanda sat up, giving her a shaky nod.
"It's a USB. Why?" She questioned. Her mother just scowled, before grabbing her by the ear and pulling her out of her room. "H-Hey!" She cried as she was tugged downstairs, trying her best to grab onto anything which might hold her back. "Let me go!"
The only response she got was a slap on the face, and she yelped as her mother dragged her into her office, seating her in the chair.
"Put it in. I don't know how to use it." Amanda gave her mother an Are you kidding me look, but gulped when she received a glare in return, plugging the USB into the computer. She typed in her mother's password, RNot2Day, and opened File Explorer, selecting the USB.
A single file was on it, called smile dot jpg.
"You found this outside?" She asked, and her mother snorted.
"Obviously. Come on, open it."
"It could be a virus." Amanda protested. "You have no idea what this could be."
"I told you, open the file." She sighed to herself, clicking the file and opening it.
Then all hell broke loose.
The screams were what attracted the neighbours. Of course, Amanda's usual cries of pain were common at this time of night. It wasn't as if the police could charge her mother for domestic abuse, since there was no evidence apart from screams. But when two shrill screams were piercing the air, it was obvious that something was wrong.
Miss Jones was the one who called the cops. It had become a habit of hers, every time she heard the screams. And every time, the police came out with nothing; but that didn't stop the woman from trying.
Chief Miller's car only pulled up after a good half hour. Hell, he hadn't even bothered to turn on the lights that he was supposed to use. As he pulled into the driveway of Amanda's house, the car jolted a little to the left, hitting the fence. He opened the door, looking at the damage he'd caused.
"Oops." He muttered, before turning around to look at the house. "Well, might as well get this over with." Miller had been to this house at least fifteen times, due to reports from Miss Jones. Every single time there had been little to no evidence of this reported domestic abuse, though he always found it suspicious that Amanda was hidden in her room whenever he came.
Sighing, the man walked up to the door and rapped against it with his right fist.
"Miss Reed? It's me again." To Miller's surprise, there was no reply. Usually by this time, there would be a yell, followed by a command for Amanda to go to her room, before her mother would open the door. But this time, there was none of that. "Miss Reed!" He knocked again, and to his frustration, there was still no reply. "Miss Reed, if you don't open up I'll be forced to kick down the door." Silence followed, and Miller gritted his teeth. Maybe this time, it was serious.
He pulled out his gun, and kicked at the door with his foot. The wooden frame split as the door was flung open, and he advanced forward, entering the kitchen. Most of the plates had been thrown onto the floor, and blood was splattered onto the table. Miller frowned, as his blood went cold. Maybe it was serious this time.
When he opened the door to the office, he froze. The computer had exploded, and shards of glass were scattered around the room. Amanda's mother lay on the ground, facing straight up with her eyes open. She was completely still; lifeless. But beside her, Amanda was the exact opposite. She was spasming wildly, her limbs contorted into positions which shouldn't have been possible. Her eyelids were jittering as her head snapped back and forth, with no clear pattern.
As Miller approached Amanda, he realised that she was whimpering a little, as tears poured from her eyes.
"Shit. God. Crap." He sputtered as he tried to keep her still. "Jesus girl, slow down. Slow-" He cursed and leapt backwards as Amanda's shadow seemed to move on its own. The darkness began to shift, as it began to leap about, reaching towards him. "What the fuck?" Miller had never seen anything like this. Amanda's sporadic breathing began to quicken, as the shadows began to grow out of control. "Shit!" He turned back, slamming the door shut.
"This is Miller. I'm going to need backup."
That image, smile dot jpg. Amanda could still see it. That dog, staring at her, the beckoning hand in the bottom left of the frame. It wouldn't leave, wouldn't get out of her head. Even when she finally woke up in the hospital, all she could see was that stupid hand.
Permanent damage to the lungs…epileptic seizures…
Amanda cried to herself as the image continued to haunt her, while the unknowing doctors continued to list all the things that the stupid image had done to her. Apparently, the computer had exploded; for that, she hardly cared. It was a pretty terrible one, anyway. The other thing she'd heard was that her mother was dead. For that, she thought Good riddance.
Amanda found it hard to believe that her mother had ever loved her. She'd fed her, kept her under her roof, for all of those years since her father had left, but never had she felt any sort of love for her. Not once.
It could be disastrous…added with her depression…
The voices kept on drifting through, but Amanda wasn't paying much attention to them. She thought of , and only that. The dog and the hand, ominously reaching. It was funny; she only wanted to think of that, but whenever she did, it hurt her. Like a knife cutting through her skin. She was torturing herself on purpose.
"Ah, Miss Reed. You're awake." Amanda tilted her head as she heard Chief Miller's voice.
"Chief Miller?" She croaked wearily, as the hand entered her mind again. "I-I can't see you."
"What are you talking about? Your eyes are open." He sounded genuinely worried, and for that Amanda felt guilty, even if she hadn't exactly done anything wrong.
"I can only see the image. It's still there."
"What image?" He asked, intrigued.
"The one on the computer; smile dot jpg." Miller fell silent, and Amanda gulped. "Did it actually explode?"
"Yeah." He muttered quietly. "The computer exploded. Do you know how that happened?"
"No." She responded immediately. "Not really. I just opened the file-" She frowned, and rubbed her eyes. "Please tell me you found the USB."
"Yeah, we found it." Miller said as Amanda reopened her eyes, blinking at the light. "It was in perfect condition. Not burnt at all, even though the computer was in pieces. And it had that file on it, smile dot jpg. I've got men who are about to open it if you-"
"Don't open it." She interrupted, gripping his hand as her vision cleared. "I don't know what happened to me, okay? I have no clue. But that image is what did this to me. If you show it to anyone, it's the end." Amanda pulled him a little closer, widening her eyes. "Promise me you won't show it to anyone." Miller gave her a small grunt to let her know that he understood, before stepping away from her hospital bed as she loosened her grip.
"You know, usually people don't answer my questions before I even ask them." He mused, as Amanda weakly sat up, leaning her back against the wall as she gasped for air. It was difficult for her to breathe, as whenever her lungs expanded, a bolt of pain would rip right through her body. "You're the first person to do that. It's either you're a mind reader, or something's up with that image. So do tell me, what exactly did you see before you started to spasm on the floor?"
"There…" Amanda gulped, absentmindedly rubbing her wrist before continuing. "…there was a dog. I don't know what breed, so don't ask. But it was staring at the camera, and it looked…like a human, or something. And it had these two teeth; god, those teeth. Human teeth, I think. But it was hard for me to tell, in that light. Uh, and then there was this hand in the bottom left. It was beckoning, or something. Reaching out – god, I can see it now."
"So, why did that make you...you know." Miller questioned, as she shrugged in confusion. She brushed her bangs behind her ear, as she leaned forward a little.
"I have no clue." Amanda whispered quietly, before lying back down, groaning as she hit the bed too hard. "Fuck. But you…you need to destroy that USB, no matter what it takes. Mum found it outside; maybe you should put the word out there."
"Right. I'll do that." Miller made a noise that was probably the equivalent to a loud snort, before walking away to head out the door. "Take care of yourself, would you?" The door closed, and Amanda sighed. The lights were beginning to make her feel lightheaded, as her eyes slowly drifted closed, and in the hallway people exchanged words incomprehensible from this distance.
Go to sleep.
Her eyelids snapped back open, but they were closed as soon as they were lifted.
Go to sleep.
The world faded away, and the last thing she saw before blacking our was the hand, reaching out from the darkness, beckoning not to the dog, but to her.
Go to sleep.
The dog raced through the trees, bounding over twigs and leaves, as the moon rose in the sky and the birds stopped chirping. It was exhilarating, but it was his only break from the job he carried out day and night. The master didn't like it when he didn't do his job; everything, including the timing, had to be perfect. Timing was one the dog's many specialties, but his most dominant field of expertise was fear. Like the fear instilled by the image on that USB, smile dot jpg. He'd used that so many times that he hardly even thought about it, but there was always that tiny bit of satisfaction whenever he placed a USB on another sad family's front doorstep.
When the dog reaches a clearing in the middle of the woods, he skidded to a halt, barking at the air as the clouds covered the moon. All of a sudden there was almost no light in the small clearing, except for the two fiery orbs which were the dog's eyes. The master liked the dark; he was always watching, and no one noticed him thanks to cold, dark shadows. Just the thought of the master stalking his victims was enough to make the dog yap in excitement. After all, he did very much admire his master.
"Smile. So good to see you again." The dog spun around as the being stepped out of the shadows. Everything he wore was black; his suit, tie, pants and shoes all sharing the dark hue. His skin, while perfect, was completely white, including his face. There were no eyes on his face, and neither was there a mouth or ears. It was like a blank canvas, waiting to be painted on.
"Master." Smile's voice was hoarse as he bowed his head down. "I have planted my mark on the girl. She will come to us."
"Good. I will admit, there are times I pity those with predetermined futures. No matter what they do, they can't change their fate. I'm curious as to what this girl's future is. Good, bad, in between? I suppose we'll just have to wait." Smile tipped his head back as he roared with laughter, before abruptly stopping and lowering his head again.
"Isn't it funny? We know that those who are marked have their futures predetermined, and yet there is no way to see what they are. We might as well just assume they're like everyone else."
"The difference, Smile, is that anything that happens to people like them are meant to be. There are no accidents. No bad luck. There is only fate, and to be completely honest, I like that idea."
"They probably don't." Smile muttered, as he looked at the shadows behind the tall man. A single black tentacle was slithering out from the darkness, leaving behind a trail of black ooze. The dog softly prodded the appendage with his paw, and suddenly the man jerked forwards, as the tendril was whipped back. Four tentacles burst out of his back, poised menacingly as if they could easily impale him.
"Don't touch me." The tall man hissed threateningly, and Smile took a few small steps back.
"My apologies. I'll be off, then. The clouds have almost cleared." Without another word, the dog bounded off into the darkness, as the tall man looked up at the sky.
"So they have." He mused quietly, turning around and walking into the trees. The tentacles retracted into his back as he ambled forward, straightening his back. Then all of a sudden the crunching of his footsteps was gone, and the woods were silent yet again.
Amanda jolted awake as she felt her body being pressed down. She made an attempt to move her arms, but found that her entire body was restrained by something pressing down onto her. Her eyes fluttered open as her body was forced backwards, and gasped for breath.
"What the-" she attempted to yell, but before she could react a hand was squeezing her throat, preventing her from breathing. She clawed at her throat, as she looked up and saw the face of the man on top of her. He was young, maybe in his twenties, with a wild look in his blue eyes. Messy blonde hair peeled over the edge of his head as he gave her a sadistic grin.
"Hey there, baby." He laughed, and Amanda shuddered when she realises he was reaching between her legs. "Sh. It'll all be over soon."
"L-Let m-e go." She choked on her words, as his hand continued to squeeze around her throat. "I-I can't-t…" Suddenly he loosened his grip, and she gasped as her airflow was unblocked.
"Sorry, darling. Can't have you screamin'. I'm sure you understand." Amanda jerked as she felt him pushing himself at – no, into her, and cried out in pain.
"Stop it! Stop it!" She wailed at him, trying her best to push him off of her, but to no avail. "Fucking get off-" His hand tightened around her throat again, and she gagged.
"I believe I did tell you to be quiet." He whispered softly, and Amanda widened her eyes. She could hardly believe this was actually happening. She was lying in a hospital bed near death, being raped by a man who was probably her doctor. It was too bizarre a scene for her to comprehend. She gripped the railing of her bed, and forced her knee into his stomach.
Groaning, the man fell backwards, clutching his stomach as Amanda sat up, and sent her foot smashing down onto his face.
"G-Get the f-fuck away from me!" She stuttered as the man attempted to grab at her. She pulled down her hospital gown before launching herself at him and knocking him down.
"Argh! Bitch!" He easily shoved her to the side, before forcing himself back on top of her. "Come on, it's all right. Everything's alright." He rubbed his hand against her thighs, and Amanda squeezed her eyes shut. "Just smile."
Her eyes flickered open, as the dog came back to her, his flaming eyes staring into her and his two human-like teeth jutting out of his mouth.
Screaming in anger, Amanda pushed the man back, shoving him up against the wall. He groaned in pain as he hit the white plaster, a black spider web of cracks forming where he'd made contact with the wall. Her shadow began to contort, and rise up behind her like some sort of wraith. The man widened his eyes as the shadow grew a tentacle, which snaked through the air towards him.
"You really shouldn't have done that." She whispered, as she tightened her grip around his through. "You really shouldn't have. It made me mad." The shadow jabbed forward, penetrating the man's flash and invading is body. Amanda laughed as he screamed, and dark spittle oozed from his mouth. His pupils began to dilate until the whites of his eyes were no longer visible, before his head snapped backwards as the tendril broke his neck. His legs went limp as she withdrew the tendril, and watched the now lifeless body of the rapist to the ground. She breathed heavily, her chest heaving as she smiled to herself.
"What the hell is going on?!" Amanda whipped her head to the left, suddenly feeling sick. She clutched the side of the bed, before lurching forward. The black ooze dripped out from her mouth, and she stared in shock as it hit the floor, causing it to sizzle. Her shadow reverted to normal, and she gasped for air, her breath uneven.
Amanda looked towards the door to see a doctor standing there, a look of pure horror on his face. Without hesitation, she pushed past him and stumbled into the hallway, gagging on the smell of the black ooze. Visitors staggered away from her as she ran forward, with no clear goal in mind apart from to get away from the corpse. She smashed into the reception desk, accidentally placing her fist into the computer.
Choking violently as her lungs contracted, Amanda rushed to the elevators, clicking the down arrow over and over again as the terrified receptionist made a call on the phone, probably for security. Panicking as the elevator opened, Amanda grabbed the confused boy inside and threw him out before pressing G. As the doors closed, she could hear frantic yells and the heavy thunder of footsteps before the lift began to move downwards.
Stumbling backwards she grasped the rail, and slowly sank to the ground. She'd done it; she'd killed that man. That stupid, fucking rapist. But she didn't feel happy about it. Instead, she was disgusted at herself. Amanda had seen it; her shadow, acting like it had a conscious, as it formed that tentacle and impaled that man through the chest. How had she done that? She'd heard what the doctors had said; her lungs had been severely damaged, but that should have been it. Why was her shadow acting up all of a sudden?
Shaking her head, Amanda rose as the doors of the lift opened, and she rushed through the lobby, desperate to escape the building. Uniformed men were standing near the doorway, and her heartrate picked up as she sprinted for the glass doors.
"Hey!" As she burst outside, a man grabbed her arm. She ripped it away, snarling at him and spitting a glob of ooze, which fell onto a patch of grass.
Amanda could hear sirens as she ran barefoot, stumbling as she ran down the hill. There were men converging on her from almost every direction. The only clear path was the woods; it was her best shot. Taking a deep breath, she sprinted for the trees, ignoring the angry shouts of men behind her as she reached the tree line. Stumbling and cursing she made her way through the woods, cutting her feet on jagged rocks and sharpened branches as above the moon shone and behind her men yelled.
Up ahead Amanda could see a clearing in the woods, and she raced forwards, heart pounding. Somehow, she could tell that if she made it to the clearing, she'd be safe, at least for now. Something about the moon shining down onto that one patch of land made her heart skip a beat as she broke through, landing on the ground of the clearing.
But the men didn't stop. They continued to run forward, ripping their clothes on piles of bracken and screaming as they charged. Maybe she'd been wrong. Perhaps this had been a hopeless escape attempt from the very beginning. Amanda felt something drip down her face as the man approached, and rubbed at her cheek and looked at her finger. The tears that were running down her face weren't made of water; they were consisted of the black ooze she'd been vomiting earlier.
She closed her eyes as the men entered the clearing, pointing their rifles at her.
"God, you led us on quite a run." The leader panted, as he stepped forward. "Amanda Reed, I'm arresting you on the charges of-" before he could finish, a massive tentacle impaled him through the back, causing a massive amount of blood to spurt from the front of his chest. He looked down, gaping as his men cried out in horror. His body was tossed to the side, and Amanda opened her eyes when she heard the men firing wildly at the trees.
There was a flash of metal as one of their throats was slit, the man sinking to the floor as the one beside him emerged from the woods, screaming as his arm was ripped off by an unseen figure. Three more were swept aside by more tentacles, and Amanda widened her eyes when an animalistic figure on all fours jumped onto a man, and tore his throat out with malice. It was the dog she'd seen at the edge of the woods, earlier today. He looked at her, baring his teeth, and she gasped.
This was the dog who'd appeared in . The humanlike teeth, the flaming eyes, all of it was the same. He kept looking at her for a moment or two before dashing back into the shadows, to finish off another unlucky person. One man was thrown onto the ground next to Amanda, his eyes gouged out and legs torn off. She saw another have his stomach sliced open by a scalpel, before his attacker pulled out his kidney and began munching on it greedily, to her utmost disgust.
"Help us!" She whipped her head around as she saw the final man, dragging himself along the floor with a single hand, all his other limbs bent at impossible angles. "Help us, please-" A black tentacle snaked out from the shadows, and wrapped around his ankle. He screamed as he was dragged back into the darkness, before three more tentacles appeared, each one wrapping around a limb. The four appendages all pulled in opposite directions as the man screamed, before his body was torn into pieces. His head fell next to her, and she gagged at the sight of his eyes; the pupils were dilated completely, like the man she'd killed in the hospital.
Amanda looked into the shadows, gulping as the figures who'd saved her stepped out of the darkness. There was the dog from smile dot jpg, who barked at her happily as he licked his lips from the blood around his mouth. Next to him was a man wearing a blue mask, his eyes completely dark. A black substance was dripping from his left eyehole, and he hastily moved to wipe it off. On the other side was a girl in a white hoodie and shoes, wearing a dirty white mask over her face. To her right stood a man with white makeup, wearing a black hoodie now splattered with blood. He had no eyelids, as he stared at her with his wide eyes filled with endless curiosity. And in the middle of them all stood the tall man, his face blank as a canvas and his black clothes covered in the blood of the men he'd killed. His four tentacles retracted into his back, and he knelt down, staring at Amanda.
"Hello. You led those men on quite a chase." The tall man chuckled, extending a hand to her. "Are you alright?" She gave him a shaky nod, staring at his face and gulping.
God, he has no face.
"Are you afraid of me? Are you afraid of us?" He asked, and Amanda nodded hesitantly. He laughed, and a single tentacle extended from his back. She flinched when it reached her, but relaxed when it simply caressed her back. "You've had a long day. Maybe you just need to clear your mind." He said, and she grimaced a little.
"Boss, back up a little. She's shaking like crazy." The tall man whipped his head around as the man in the makeup spoke, a smirk on his face. "Relax kid. Boss man is always like this."
"Shut up, Jeff." He hissed, before looking back at Amanda, who surveyed each person with wonder in her eyes.
"Who-Who are you?" She questioned the tall man, who retracted his tentacle.
"I…I am Slender Man." He said soothingly as she looked at his body, as if only now noticing his slim form. "And these are my underlings."
"Oi, don't call us that." Jeff called out, and Slender Man's four tentacles suddenly shot out, flailing in the air.
"I told you to shut up." He growled, and patted Amanda's head.
"What's wrong with me?" She asked him worriedly, as she shook violently. "My shadow's changing, I can't breathe without it hurting like hell…help me, please." Slender Man rubbed her back as he tilted his head, tentacles relaxing.
"Your shadow is becoming unstable; it's the reason why your lungs are damaged." He explained. "With your condition, you won't last a week." Amanda looked down at her hands, and cried as he continued. "However, I have something that can help you. A substance that will supress your shadows, so that you can live." Her eyes darted upwards, expression hopeful.
"Please, I-I…" She choked and gasped for air, before continuing. "I need it."
"I'll give it to you, on one condition." Slender Man said, and she nodded enthusiastically.
"Name it." He tilted his head, and chuckled.
"I'll give you the substance…if you become my Proxy." Amanda gave him a confused look, and frowned.
"It means that you'll be bonded to me. Forever." He explained. "You'll be like them." He motioned towards the figures behind him, and leaned forward a little. "Your body will stop aging. You'll receive superhuman strength and agility. And most importantly, you'll live. But like I said, you'll be bonded to me forever. Whenever I give you an order, you will obey it without question. Whenever I ask you to go somewhere, that's where you will go. You will be my servant, living to obey only me. Are you sure you're up for that?"
Amanda gulped, and looked at the Proxies congregated behind him. All of them stared at her, either expressionless or their faces hidden behind their masks. Sighing, she nodded, and took his hand.
"Okay. I'm in." Nothing happened. No sudden fires or explosions, no shooting stars, no feeling of bonding. Just a decision made, made purely out of survival instinct. But as she said those words, she could feel that if Slender Man had a face, he would be grinning.
"Alright then. Tell me then, what's your name?"
"Amanda. Amanda Reed." She told him, and he laughed as he rose to his full height.
"Everyone, please welcome Amanda, the newest member of our group." Instantly the dog bounded forward, landing in her lap. Just like that, all the nightmares and vivid images of went away, and Amanda laughed as he licked her face.
"I knew you seemed like more than just a regular dog." She grinned, as the rest of the Proxies stepped forward to greet her.
"I'm slightly offended that you even considered that I was normal." Amanda blinked, and stared at the dog.
"You can talk."
"Yes, I can talk. Don't look so surprised." She raised an eyebrow, setting him down.
"Okay. What's your name?" she asked, and the dog yapped.
"My full name? That would be Smile Dog. But everyone just calls me Smile." He told her, still grinning stupidly.
"Don't get too attached to him." Amanda whipped her head around as the girl in the white hoodie spoke. "Before you know it, you'll find dog shit in your bed, and know who to blame." She chuckled, pulling her hood back, but keeping the mask on. "I'm Kate, by the way."
"Hi. Nice to meet you." Amanda attempted to stand, before promptly falling back down.
"Here, let me help you." The man in the blue mask said as he put his arms around her waist and pulled her up. "And my name's Jack. Eyeless Jack."
"Hi. And uh, thanks." She said, and he waved her off. Everyone's eyes drew towards Jeff, who shrugged and looked at Amanda mischievously.
"Well, I guess you already know my name." He said, and she laughed.
"Yeah. Jeff." He snickered, and shook his head.
"That's just my first name. But out there," he waved in the general direction of the town, "they call me Jeff the Killer. It's on the internet, actually. I'm quite flattered by the attention, I must admit."
"If you're all done, I'd like to give Amanda the substance now." They all turned towards Slender Man, who sounded annoyed. Amanda nodded, and walked forward as he produced a tiny bottle of greenish liquid. "You'll need to take one of these every twelve hours. Don't overuse them; we've only got a limited supply. And we could make more, but it's less a matter of how difficult they are to make and more a matter of finding the ingredients." He told her, and she nodded. "Okay, open wide." She opened her mouth and tipped her head back as Slender Man unscrew the bottle, and poured the contents down her throat. Just before it hit, he chuckled. "Make sure you don't gag."
Amanda gave him a confused look, before the flavour hit her. It tasted like raw eggs, mixed with blood and spoilt milk. She lurched forward, gasping as she staggered. Slender Man laughed as the rest of the Proxies stared at her, dumbfounded.
"Well, that certainly interesting." Jeff murmured. "How did it taste?"
"Do you really need to ask that?" Amanda asked him, feeling irritated as she looked at Slender Man.
"Well, now you're officially bonded with me." The tall man laughed, and clapped his hands. "So much to do, so much to do. Let's head home. I'm feeling hungry."
"This isn't good, Miller." Chief Miller sighed as Officer Watson tried to bring across the same point for the fifth time. "People are asking questions we don't know how to answer. She was vomiting black ooze, for god's sake! What the hell even it that?"
"I get your point, Watson." He muttered, as the officer frowned. "Just keep them quiet for now; we'll think of something."
"Sure thing." As Watson raced outside, Miller grimaced. The citizens definitely weren't happy. There was now a manhunt for Amanda Reed, an action he'd tried his best to prevent. Unlike most people, he genuinely believed that the girl was the victim here, but wasn't able to convince anyone else. People were too willing to believe the majority.
"Chief Miller." Miller whipped around as a man approached him, wearing suit and tie. "I'm Detective Amsel." He introduced himself, extending a hand. Miller shook it, confusion evident in his tone.
"It's a pleasure to meet you. What are you doing here?" Amsel's eyes darted around, before he grinned.
"I know that you saw Amanda's shadow did." Miller jolted, and frowned.
"How do you know about that?"
"Oh, don't worry about that." Amsel brushed him off. "You should just worry about the fact that things like this have happened before."
"What?" Miller was stunned as he absorbed the information. "You mean, the jumping shadows and everything; that's a thing that happens naturally?"
"Oh, we haven't seen jumping shadows before." Amsel admitted. "No, we've seen worse things. A man with eight appendages. A person who eats organs. A dog that speaks. I work with a group of people who investigate the supernatural. We call ourselves The Organization." Miller stared at him in silence, comprehending the situation.
"Oh, and by the way, I'm heading back to base soon, so we can discuss this latest occurrence." Amsel told him, turning around to walk out the door. "I reckon you should come with me. After all, you must have a lot of questions."