A Sickening Frequency Distortion

This is where your sanity gives in and love begins.

Don't lose your grip. Don't trip, don't fall. You'll lose it all.

Paralyzed – The Cardigans.

That night had been dark, darker than most nights. He remembered sitting on the edge of his bed, staring off at the window in a trance as he wondered why the night suddenly felt so unfriendly, so foreboding. The snow was falling so gently outside but it didn't seem right. It didn't present the usual comfort that is brought the raven-haired boy. He couldn't recall what had woken him from the restless sleep he had fallen into earlier, only that waking had been fitful, sweaty, fearful. The branches outside had seemed so angry, unsettled, as they clawed at his window through the falling snow. A fleeting dark thought came whispering that the snow was much like falling innocence; once it touched the ground, it was no longer pure and untainted. It was at that, that the young man was suddenly gripped with irrationality, wanting nothing more than to capture the snow, to preserve such innocence and keep it from it's undeserved fate of becoming tainted and inhuman.

He'd shaken his head, having decided that such a thought was foolish and impossible.

Where had that thought even come from? Certainly not him.

Honestly that was a stupid thought in itself, where else would it have come from?

Stan had shaken his head again, the trance broken as he turned and flopped back into chilled covers knowing in his heart that thought in itself was stupid as well. How long had he been sitting like that? He wasn't sure. All he knew was that something hadn't been right, that everything about the world felt wrong and cold like the snow or even the slow, inevitable creep of a predator stalking through the shadows of his every step always just out of sight. A shudder was what willed Stan to drift off again.

And then.. then it had gone dark.

Only it'd been more than that, more profound than any darkness to exist as it swallowed and suffocated his very being. It had made his ears pop with the pressure and head ache with a deep resounding throb before his gaze slid to the side, staring aimlessly at a figure that stood a ways from him. Impulse encouraged him to trot forward toward that same statue of a human standing so still, a familiar someone in a just as recognizable orange parka.

Kenny?

Stan had stopped, a vice around his heart as his stomach churned violently with his gaze locked intently on that same achingly familiar figure. He should've looked away but he couldn't, God help him he couldn't. Something was wrong, so very very wrong. The sound of liquid had slowly but steadily come to his attention, thick as it fell with heavy patters onto an invisible floor.

It was like looking at a train wreck, something so horrifying and yet all he'd been able to do was clutch a hand against his own chest as if that would relieve some of the painful pressure building there. His gaze was more specifically locked, unwavering on the darkness beneath his friend's feet, the unmistakable pool collecting there held a distinct splash of color that had made his stomach roil at the sight of it. He couldn't look away from those tattered sneakers or the gore steadily collecting around them even as those same feet had begun that damning turn to him. It was then he realized he hadn't wanted to look up, didn't want to know what had become of his best friend. Deep down, instinct had whispered soft with warning that see was believing, that seeing would make it all the more real.

And yet even despite them feeling, Stan's eyes had wandered up to properly gaze upon his friend.

Upon the carnage his friend had become.

Stan's hands wee gripped knuckle-white into the fabric of his black pajama shirt by then, a series of tremors sliding down his spine with the steady mantra of 'Oh God, why?' barreling around his skull in panic. Kenny's parka gaped open at his midsection with what could only be his intestines spilling out to dangle haphazardly with only the blond's own hand clutching at his stomach to hold back the tide. He watched Stan sadly with an eerie calm through streaks of thick red that seeped from an obvious gash peering from his blond strands with a telltale peek of white bone amongst the wreckage.

"Stan." Kenny's lips had trembled with the word, longing and heartbreak in the soft sound and oh gods there was a whole chunk of his calf missing.

All he could manage for a moment was to shake his head in terror. Had he not seen Kenny just a few hours ago? It'd been in passing but the blond had been healthy none the less. Then it had to have been a dream, it couldn't have been anything else and yet he couldn't fix, couldn't will away the others pain. Stan never claimed to hold any sort of mastery over dreams but even he knew that this was beyond intention or will.

"K-...Ken?" the name was stammered, uncertain. He took a trembling step forward only to have a wave of nausea set him back. Kenny's bloody and blistered mouth gave the smallest most gentle of smiles, his hand free of intestines reaching forward to grasp at his best friend.

And by God that feeling had returned ten fold, so wrong wrong wrong.

It was then that he had reached for Kenny in turn, in panic and fear even as pain ripped through him sharp and unyielding. The threat he felt so deeply in his core came in the form of arms reaching from that deep-seated darkness with hands so terribly dreadful that pulled bile fast to his throat. They all reached, some clawing, some gripping, but each of them some varying degree of rot so foul that some were riddled deeply with the wriggle of maggots. Stan watched in growing horror as they each found their mark, seizing tight hold of the blond's arms, shoulders, thighs.

The scream that came was horrible, heart-shattering with the depth of terror and pain it contained. Intestines spilled unhindered as flesh ripped with slick, sickening wet sounds. He watched on still even as his friend was unceremoniously dragged backward screaming to be slowly swallowed by the dark despite the raven-haired male's impulsive dash after him once thought returned enough for action. His lungs heaved with a maddening scream to match the ragged one sung so powerfully by the victim of hands so horrid. It filled his ears, tore his soul, and even as the tattered and broken blond slid from sight, the sound didn't stop.

No, no, it only grew worse with hundreds of voices, chorused in the sound of pain, of anguish, of terror and madness.

Stan felt the drop of his as they buckled and he fell to that same unseen floor, his fingers twisted in his hair as his voice joined that never ending song of agony, corruption, and sorrow. The sounds were distorted and laced with static that sounded as if he were hearing every voice through hundreds of radios at once. Warmth slid free of his nose, his ears, but the sound wouldn't stop, wouldn't let up with the leak of blood even as it drove him higher and higher with so much pressure, so much pain that he was sure his head would explode and oh God it he couldn't- his head it was-

The snow was back.

He recalled staring wildly at his window as his body sprang from sleep, heaving as he sat up. The imaged had been nightmarish, so unlike anything he'd ever-.

That was it. A nightmare. It was a nightmare. It had to have been.

And oh how deeply he wished for that.

It was in that moment of wishful thought that his cell suddenly began to go off with a familiar ringtone that he hadn't heard in weeks. In an instant he was lunging for the innocent little device on his nightstand where it played the ever amusing tune 'Satisfaction' by Benni Benassi.

Except right then it wasn't so amusing.

Kenny.

Brow furrowed, he fumbled the device between his ever trembling fingers, still feeling the leftover terror of his dreams. It had to have been a dream, nothing more nothing less. And yet despite the continued reassurance from the more logical bit of his brain, the rest remained cynical as always, doubtful and uneasy. But still he answered, wondering what would have driven the blond to call him in the middle of the night when they hadn't spoken in weeks.

"...Kenny?" Stan inquired softly, still uncertain as to whether his old friend was the one on the other end of the line. He flinched as the sound of static met his question, loud and distorted. He shuddered, ready to hand up when he heard it loud and clear:

"S... Stan."

He froze, cold terror flooding his veins as the ever familiar voice of his long time friend echoed distorted and twisted through the static sounding broken and hurt. Stan's heart pounded unbearably heavy in his chest as he shook and answered feebly. "Y-.. yeah. You okay?"

"S-stuck.. pleas-.. help.."

Stan hardly knew how he'd heard the weak and painful plea through that same noise that hissed terribly in his memory of the terrible images of his nightmares just moments before. He swallowed the lump in his throat as he leapt from his bed and to go about the messy task of yanking on dirty discarded jeans from his bedroom floor, his shoulder acting as a clamp to secure his phone to his ear.

"Kenny, where are you?!"

He'd been shouting, close to panic but the fear was so terribly real in that moment.

"Pond."

And the line went dead.

Just. Like. That.

The word Kenny had uttered was simple yet riddled with a thousand meanings. He allowed his panic to push back his last memory of Stark's Pond deep into the recesses of his mind to be masked by the ringing of his aching head. He threw open his bedroom door, mildly aware of his mom exiting her own to investigate his unintentional commotion. She'd shouted his name but he continued on to make his mad descent down the stairwell toward the coat closet by the front door.

"Stanley! What's going o- oh my God, you face!" she screamed, her initial question faltering as she ran down the stairs toward him. Stan paused at just long enough to be startled by her statement, glancing into the mirror hanging inside the hall closet only to stop in the middle of zipping his thick brown leather jacket he'd gotten for Christmas, mind floored again.

The dried blood that stuck caked and smeared down down his face in a crusted river from his nose almost seemed to mock him in accompaniment with the bit that peeked so tellingly through his hair.

No doubt it had come from his ears.

The panic rose up like a storm in his throat.

"Gotta go, mom, I got an emergency call." Stan's words tumbled from his lips as fast as he could before he'd ducked from his mom's worried reach. His fingers undid the locks in record speed before yanking it open to disappear in the flurry of snow as fast as he could manage, strong legs carrying him with the ease of a well trained baseball player. Sharon's shouts faded into the wind that picked up around him despite his ears already clogged with the sounds of his own heart's rapid palpitations. Stan sometimes wondered if it had been wise to have foregone his jeep, but he couldn't have been bothered to care at the time as the spike of his fear drowned out his thoughts and senses. His lungs froze with the freezing air as his face stung from the wind that bit angrily at his skin. Without a scarf or hat he was more at mercy to the elements that he'd ever been, practically begging for nature's more cruel attentions.

In his naked he had clutched that damnable cell as if his life depended on it.

Or Kenny's.

Stark's Pond had been cold and dead, more unwelcome the night than it had ever been in comparison to any night he'd ever snuck out to it. The shadows had threatened him, all the low hanging branches reached out like they wanted nothing more than to snatch Stan from his mission with morbid intentions. He'd trembled hard as he ran, his efforts to reach Kenny again redial after redial for naught though he wouldn't have been able to speak around his lack of oxygen and nausea.

But of course the line was dead.

It could never be so easy.

"Kenny!" he'd called desperately, breathless and still unsure of where his voice had come from or how he'd found it to say anything at all. He screamed it again as he threw himself through the line of trees to the sight of the frozen pond itself before he stood, lips blue and cracked from the cold as he stared around wild and frightened.

Had it all been a trick?

No, Stan had answered himself,as his eyes fell on an ominous shape taking form several feet out onto the ice. From the distance, he couldn't quite figure what it was, the heavy snow-pregnant clouds blocking moonlight as they gave birth to a much thicker blanket of snow.

There was something else there or more like, someone else. Quick but cautious, he'd approached the figure sitting out in the snow at the bank of the pond, a familiar male hunched with his head buried in folded arms. The main tell as to his identity was the blue ear-flapped hat that sat on his head, a tattered yellow puffball dangling haphazardly from the top. He reached out with pale frozen fingers and gently touched the others shoulder whose form was enveloped in a thick blue hoodie and worn jeans. He had seemed just as sloppily under-dressed as Stan had been.

"Craig..? Craig Tucker?" He'd asked softly, tone curious and strained as he tried to gulp down precious oxygen with frozen lungs. At the time he wondered what Tucker had been doing out there. He promptly received his answer with muffled words.

"I... got this strange call.."

Dread filled the raven-haired young man yet again, his wide eyes looking back out at the chilling expanse of ice with unhindered fear. It was then that he noticed the unmistakable shock of orange of the indistinguishable shape that lay in a heap upon the heap of ice. It was desperation that pushed him to step out onto that godforsaken pond, fear that whispered out pleas of denial, pleas for it to be anything other than what he feared deep down. With each step Stan moved quicker in his trek across the ice, stumbling and sliding toward that foreboding mass lying just a few feet away.

Oh God why had he done it?

Why did he have to look?

Horror froze him where he stood.

The eyes that had stared back at him were a milky frozen white, Kenny's once tan complexion as frostbitten and icy as the rest of him. It never failed to unnerve him to recall how the others lips had been parted as if he were to speak, to utter some fearful word or warning further imprinted into his memory by his permanently frightened expression.

He hadn't been able to help the sudden broken sob and how his stomach heaved once his eyes traveled lower to fix on what remained of his old dear friend.

While Kenny's shoulders and right arm had remained relatively undamaged, everything below his armpits had appeared shredded, torn apart and laid wide open for the world. It'd been obvious that some things were missing, large parts of winding frozen and rotting intestine didn't seem to be there and Stan was so sure that even in the lump of strung out carnage, there was supposed to be a heart there in the blond's open chest cavity, some semblance that he'd lived once. The huge chunk missing from his left forearm, ripped clean off through the sleeve of his parka, gave him a glimpse of the clean shine of white bone and ruptured vein. His legs laid a full four feet from his halved and torn torso.

It was like..

like..

like something had been eating him.

Or perhaps it had been someone.

No- God- fuck these stupid reminiscing thoughts.

But still he thought and remembered with chilling clarity the one thing that left Stan undone and broken as his eyes had laid on the cell phone clutched so tightly still in Kenny McCormick's frozen right hand, obviously off-

and obviously broken.

Call him crazy, but he knew what he had seen and in that moment that world had tilted, spun, and the thunderous roar of his heart deafened him even as the blood-darkened ice beneath his feet had rushed up to meet him. But then there were arms, solid as they hauled him upright to keep his face from meet the painted gore of Kenny. He recalled struggling, vainly, with only the image of those same arms from his previous nightmare coming to mind at that time as he was dragged away from the broken image of his tattered friend.

"Stop it, Marsh." It had been a simple command, cold and stained with weariness. He'd gone slack into the hold of Craig Tucker himself, who pulled him back to the bank of snow where Stan had first found him. There had been wrenching, loud sobs and it had taken him a long moment to realize they had been falling from his own cracked and bleeding lips. He would never forget how his wind bitten cheeks had burned with the flood of hot tears or even how his blood warmed his smarting lips the smallest bit while he'd been busy clutching onto Craig's slighter build with a hold that said his life depended on it.

As they sat in that snow, cold and numb to the bone, they'd shared no words. There were only his broken sobs into snow-wet material and Craig's empty expression. He wasn't even sure how long it had been before the taller male dialed 911 amidst their mourning silence, giving their location with the promise of an emergency. Above all, he remembered the silent tears that had rolled down Craig's cheeks and his suddenly furious expression cast out at the ice. But still they'd said nothing.

Stan was still grateful for that silence.

The police found them over half an hour later.

But that was three months ago- three fucking months- since Stan had found Craig at Stark's Pond that dark and frigid night coupled with Kenny's remains. He stared off absentmindedly at the wall calender from a nail by his door, his blue eyes cold and sightless for a moment as he saw the date without actually seeing it.

Three months and Stan felt like he was still sitting there on that snow bank.

Only this time he was alone.

That night the police had questioned him profusely, unable to believe he'd received such an impossible phone call from a very much long deceased Kenny telling him his location. It didn't help that the moment he tried to find record of it in the call log of his blackberry, they'd given him a ridiculous look of disbelief and irritation when he'd found that the call wasn't there. By the end of night, not only was Stan exhausted, agitated, and confused beyond belief, but so were the detectives. He'd only been released because his mother had shown up hysterical before she confirmed Stan's mad dash from the house just as he'd said. It'd done well enough to clear any suspicions they may have had about his whereabouts prior to the discovery.

Craig hadn't been so lucky. Stan had heard that they'd kept him for much longer without a witness to account for him leaving his home or where he might have been.

However, the moment Craig mentioned having gotten an 'odd phone call', they dropped it all and let him out, impatient and irritated with both boys.

After all, for them to corroborate with something so damn strange in separate rooms when one of them had a rather solid alibi was certainly the straw that broke the camel's back.

Then there was school and the giant pain that it became. At first all the other students simply looked on in pity, sorry that Stan had been the one to find his friend in such a brutal state, but soon it was the mystery that took hold. They all knew from living in a mountain town since birth, for most of the students at least, that no bear could have stood on that ice and done damage like that without falling through nor were there any known wolves in that area. For the longest time, parents sat on edge and children became more scared of the dark than any child rightfully should have to be.

It was a month when it all finally set in, when he finally started receiving the look, the one that held such a degrading amount of pity and apology for his loss that it quite frankly bordered on irritating. His teachers had tried to excuse him from his homework at first, his baseball coach even tagging in to suggest that he take time off from the team.

But Stan did his homework anyway. He needed the distraction, anything to help him think about anything but what was lost, even though he used to loathe doing his work. When it came to his coach, he'd immediately confronted him, demanding to know whether he was doing poorly. The answer had of course been a sheepish 'no'. It wasn't like he'd been the only one to lose a friend. Even Cartman was being offered breaks (which he took) as well as Kyle. But.. because Stan was one of those to have actually found him..

It was just fucking maddening.

One of the things that certainly didn't help was that ever since that night, Stan had become jumpy and paranoid to the point that even Kyle seemed a little exasperated despite how understanding the Jew tried to be for his best friend. Always there was the chill at the base of his spine, particularly when he sat in the solitude and darkness of his own bedroom. It sat heavy like a chunk of glacier ice beneath his skin, raising the fine hairs of his neck to stand on end as he'd lie there, convinced of eyes on his every move.

Then there were the noises.

Those wretched noises.

They came shortly after Kenny's death, rapidly at that with the telltale shifting within his closet like someone was trapped within its confines coupled with the insistent tapping and scratching outside his window. He'd lie there, shaking and trembling as the voice of his subconscious whispered in wonder if what had ultimately gotten his blonde companion would now come for him. There had even come a night when he'd nearly called the police when he'd rolled over half asleep to be met with the ominous black shadow of a man very clearly standing in the dark of his open closet door.

A shadow gone after a duel lunge for the lamp ended in Stan being the light-bathed victor.

He never left his closet open again.

A little over a month still and Wendy dumped him, her thoughts being that "he just needed to get over and stop thinking that the boogeyman was out to get him." That had sent him into a fit of rage that had left his locker taking the brunt of his misdirected fury. And then Kyle- Kyle...

He tried to look sympathetic only to suggest that maybe Wendy had a point.

Stan stopped telling him anything after that.

His friends- or what remained of them- continued to grow away from him rather rapidly. One misdirected joke from Cartman left his nose broken by his fist at a speed that both startled Kyle and the general populace crowding the hallway that day. Now the very much fat young man preferred to sit with and bully Butters at lunch save for the occasional return to 'their' lunch table.

Of course he hadn't even gotten in trouble for the whole thing. Part of him almost wished that he had.

It was irritating.

Kyle hung around of course, but personal talk was pretty much kept at a minimum, particularly talk of Stan's jittery fears. He kept it all to himself, knowing all too well every little thing the Jew would say. Even when he cracked after two months of silence and asked him if he was really all right, he'd looked him straight in the eyes and lied. It was all he could do anymore.

And then there was Craig Tucker, or what he'd come to notice regarding the only other person that might understand him even a little.

The swimmer became more shutdown, more expressionless than before with dark heavy bags beneath his brown eyes. One thing that mildly agitated him was how Craig's friends seemed to stand closer while his own were drifting away. He wondered if the odd trio that stood with him believed Tucker about what happened that night or if he was suffering the same terror every night within the confines of his room like he was. Would his friends believe that as well?

He didn't think so. It had to be all in his head or something. A nightmare of his own making?

Three long tiring months and he felt as if he was still sitting on that snowbank.

Stan leaned over the edge of his bed, cursing the morning as he pinched the bridge of his nose and leaned over as he often did nowadays, the habit of his childhood having never quite died. Still exhausted and yawning to show it, he pushed himself to a stand and began halfheartedly tugging on clothes for the day. Grunting, he snatched his keys from the nightstand when he was through and pocketed the ever ominous Blackberry cellphone. He never really wanted to be near it much but found he could never really keep it away, like he was always ready to pick up for another call.

The baseball player carelessly trotted down the stairs, opening the coat closet and pulling on his brown leather jacket over his red hoodie with a beanie reminiscent of the hat he wore as a child. Wearing the hat was something he couldn't seem to give up, much like a few of his other friends. So when he outgrew it, he ended up going on to buy another one nearly identical to the original. Of course no one came to greet him or ask him where he was going, all house occupants still very much asleep. It was only eight in the morning on a Saturday after all and sleeping in was something his family did on those days since he was young when nothing special had been planned.

After the addition of worn tennis shoes, the raven-haired teen left his house, closing the door and trotting up to his old black Jeep Wrangler in the drive. Without delay, despite his draining exhaustion, he quickly pulled out of his driveway and began driving through his cozy town of South Park toward the destination that had become habit to visit once a month now like clockwork.

The town cemetery.

The route there was uneventful and empty with streets fairly barren of life beside the odd old person here and there, the only people with a mind to wake so early on a Saturday for no real reason. On the other hand, there were those who had no choice but to wake just to slave their lives away from 9 to 5, even on the weekend.

By the time Stan pulled into the cemetery parking lot, he was more awake and aware of his surroundings than before. With a sigh, he parked and climbed out of the Wrangler, locking up in the process before he began the short trek across the lot and onto the dirt path that led the living through the rows of dead. Looking on with tired eyes, he paused as he neared his old friend's grave, noticing that someone had gotten there before him.

Tucker.

Hesitant and confused, the shorter of the two continued his set path until he came to stand beside the silent young man. He couldn't help but notice he was wearing nearly the same exact thing from that night. They stood there unmoving and silent for a time before Stan's nerves got the best of him so that he blurted, "So you two hung out a lot right before he died, huh?"

Craig turned, his blank expression falling on him who stood only a few inches shorter. "Well, I have you to thank for that I guess."

Harsh.

Stan's cheeks burned a bright and ugly shade of red, the color of shame. It was true, painfully so, and he still regretted the night that he slugged Kenny in the face over four months ago. After that particular 'incident', the blond had all but outright refused to go near him, the damage done to their friendship too great at that point. It was barely a week after said incident that he'd begun to notice him hanging out with Craig of all people. And frequently at that.

"You're still a dick, Tucker," he grumbled for lack of anything better to say. The other grinned rather suddenly, obviously amused.

"And you're still a fucking asshole, Marsh. Does that make you feel any better?"

Stan scowled at the other, feeling his anger rising for the first time in a month. He'd be lying if he said it didn't make him feel the slightest bit better. It was refreshing when he'd all but stopped reacting to much of anything, much to the concern of his family and Kyle. If anything, he was surprised more to see Craig grinning in such a way or even at all, short of malicious and more than aggravating to look at.

On the other hand, Craig did it out of pleasure, happy to see a reaction for his own.

They grew silent again, the air thick with tension as Stan's gaze wandered to drift over the surrounding graved in irritation. Part of him wondered how the hell Craig could manage to get him worked up at all seeing as how even Kyle could hardly wring a smile out of him nowadays.

"Dick," he muttered before a strange and sharp tug yanked at the dead center of his chest, warm as it forced the air from his lungs with a bit of a grimace to accompany. He pondered leaving, wondering if his asthma was to blame for his lack of breath when a sudden iron grip clamped down on his forearm. Startled to all hell and back, his head whipped toward a silent and deathly pale Craig.

"Tell me you see that, too." Stan's brow furrowed as he slowly followed the other male's hardened gaze ahead of him, his chest and stomach at war- one hot and constricted while ice fell hard into the lower pit of his gut. Terror gripped him stong and true, his wide blue-eyed gaze falling on the bloody hand gripping the top of their dearly departed friend's headstone from where it reached behind it.

"J-... Jesus Christ, dude..." he stammered softly, his skin going clammy as his hands shook Another hand joined the first, the skin visibly frosted with a fresh paint of gore splashed across the flesh. They gripped harshly at the stone, scrambling to drag something up from behind the stone while they left dripping hand prints on the still new marble in their wake. Stan took a step back, halted only by Craig's surprisingly strong grip that held him anchored there in his horror. He'd have resisted, protested, but found neither of them could say a word or tear away from the sight of blond hair as it rose into view, arms joining the hands that busily hoisted up the new arrival.

Oh God, no.

"Kenny?" Craig suddenly spoke aloud, his voice rough and unsure. Stan could feel himself shaking his head in disbelief even as a familiar and torn face came to rest in their sight. Shock flooded their systems like a torrent when they locked eyes with the wide and terrified blue eyes staring back at them from beneath filthy and blood-soaked bangs to match their own. His cracked lips parted to speak but the only thing he could expel was a thick river of blood and gore that splashed onto the marble stone below.

"Oh fuck, Kenny..!" Scorching hot streams ran down the face of the shorter male of the two as the words blurted free of his mouth. He stepped forward toward the mutilated blond, his unrestrained hand outstretched. Craig watched intently, brow knit in fear as his grip remained unrelenting on Stan's arm to keep him from taking the bloodstained hand that reached out in turn. Kenny's movements jerked in minute movements reminding him of static, his head suddenly snatching to the side and twitching like a child with Tourette's on speed perhaps. Not normal.. too fast. Vaguely he recalled a horror movie in the back of his mind in which the monsters did something similar- the nurses from the film that brought Silent Hill to life.

There was something wrong with this. With Kenny.

"Stan.. Stan wait!" He yanked back on the other teen's arm, keeping their hands from successfully grabbing hold when Stan leaned too far, sneakers digging into the loose soil. Stan gasped out softly, frowning and reaching forward again in a scramble when Kenny suddenly yanked his own hand backward, his lips moving frantically, fearfully as a cascading rush of blood poured free in place of words.

Stan finally paused in his frantic rush to reach the mauled blond before he and Craig both watch in horror as arms, impossibly long arms, reached out from the place behind the stone and gripped onto Kenny in various places. The blond screamed, the wail akin to the terrible sound of his nightmares that always left him shaking and nauseous. The limbs, covered in their own horrible varying stages of rotted flesh and wriggling maggots began dragging the dead boy back forcefully with Kenny digging so hard into the stone to resist that his nails began to painfully tear off.

Concern overwhelmed reason as Craig released Stan, both moving in synchronized unison in a rush forward before each gripped one of Kenny's arms in a desperate attempt to stave off the rotted hands. Stan felt himself gag as he felt the meat of the blond's arm squish and tear beneath his fingers and new the other held felt the same sensation when the taller shouted in disgust. They fought in a panic to keep hold, skin and muscle tearing to fall free beneath their palms. All the while Kenny was screaming helplessly, the crimson of dead tears sliding down his gashed cheeks where the bone and teeth were beginning to show through beneath ripping skin from all the struggling.

A wave of corrosive stench signaled a new wave of rotted hands, catching the two off guard as they ripped the blond from them to leave them holding strips of decaying pale flesh, meat and tendon in their fingers even as they crashed to the ground. Both boys moved in tandem again, scrambling forward to follow Kenny as he disappeared behind the headstone, the air filled with his wordless screams of distorted terror and anguish.

Just as they reach the stone-

It was gone.

Stan blinked, his breath quick and heart pounding as he found himself standing right where he's been at the start of it all, before Kenny's untimely appearance. He jerked, hands trembling violently. He looked at Craig who appeared just as shaken, the others eyes set ahead and face a ghastly pale white.

"Did.. did that.." he asked quickly only to trail off as his hand found his inhaler in his pocket simply to reassure him that it was there should he be unable to slow his breath.

Craig simply shook his head at first before he spoke at all, gesturing lamely ahead of him to answer without Stan clarifying. "I'm.. pretty sure it did."

Stan's gaze flitted back to the headstone and fell on the bloodied hand print of Kenny McCormick that remained, trailing from front to back. The baseball player shuddered suddenly before he dropped to his knees without warning and began to vomit into the grass. Craig crouched beside him, his hand rubbing along his back awkwardly without thinking. It didn't even occur to him to tease the him about his weak stomach, his own flopping around his intestines like an icy fish wriggling on a hook.

"I-... I need to.. I need to leave." He pushed himself to his feet fast just as he finished, the words leaving his acid burned throat in a rush. Craig regarded him warily while Stan quickly averted his eyes from both his gaze and the disgusting puddle of stomach contents he'd left to fester in the grass. Craig stood silently, watching closely as the more unsteady male stumbled a bit before gripping an innocent headstone and taking a deep breath or two.

"Stan.. about what we saw.." the taller began, his tone careful but flat.

Stan stopped.

"What we saw? I-.. I didn't see anything."

Craig froze, his usually guarded expression nearly startled before he retorted, his tone growing angrier with each word. "You're.. going to.. You're going to act like that didn't just fucking happen?"

Stan didn't reply or make any notion that he'd heard. Rather, he kept walking, determined to reach his jeep waiting in the parking lot. He shook, his limbs almost numb with step and knew the other wouldn't follow. He could feel Craig's furious brown-eyed gaze locked on his, but he just kept walking.

He was being a coward. A scared nervous wreck of a coward.

And they both knew it.

"The sweetest way to die."

Hello darlings. As you can see the changes aren't large and in charge but they're there and I hope you enjoy them. I'll start reworking chapter 2 tomorrow. For those of you reading for the first time, I hope you enjoyed it so far. There are four more chapters waiting to greet you. ;)

As for the matter of a sixth chapter to be written so the story can be continued, that's actually something happening. I was finally able to find my muse and begin outlining the little demon.

It'll make you cry, little ones.

Or so I can only hope.