Fred paced back and forth in his tiny cell which seemed to be closing in on him by the second. He was panicking, his thoughts rushing past at a mile a minute so he couldn't catch them. His head was buzzing, making it hard for real problem solving to happen.
"Stop panicking!" his brain demanded. The words stayed inside his head instead of coming out of his mouth, but they were so un-Fredlike that he had to squash them away.
"I mean it! Stop stimming and pacing right now!"
Still trembling, Fred obeyed.
"Good. Now. You are going to get out of here and you are going to live, but you have to calm down."
Fred shook his head. No. Not like this. He couldn't give into the mania. He couldn't go back to the way he'd been.
"Would you rather die?! Is that what you want? To die here? You'd rather die than be crazy, is that what I'm hearing?"
Fred squeezed his eyes shut and covered his ears.
"Don't give me that! As long as you're alive you've got hope. If you're dead, there's no hope. Don't you understand that?"
Somehow that registered. Fred stopped trembling, and he slowly lowered his hands. He opened his eyes and looked at the window, a solid determination falling over him.
"Good. Now. Climb out."
But I can't-
"Yes you can! Believe me!"
Fred reached up and put his hands on the windowpane. He balled up his right fist and punched at the glass that was still there. But at the last second he lost momentum and his hand bounced back off the glass.
"Afraid of a little cut? Fine! Take your shirt off and wrap up your hand like in the movies."
Angry, Fred punched the glass again, this time breaking it. Deep cuts all down his forearm started to bleed as he punched out the rest of the glass. Then he put his arms out the window to pull himself out. As soon as he poked his head out the window, though, he pulled it back in. No way could he climb down the wall of a two-story building, not if he was starting headfirst.
But as soon as he thought about it that way, a strange calm came over him. He was in control. His decision would determine what happened next, not theirs. He could choose to wait here until his body couldn't go on anymore, or he could climb out the window and crack his skull on the pavement, or he could let himself bleed out. He hadn't been in control for a long time, not in the asylum, not in his freedom and not in this cell. But damn it, if he was going to die because of this, it would be his way. And the success of his climb was in his control. Whether or not he made it out of the window alive was in his hands and nobody else's.
Fred put his hands back and pulled himself out again, this time without turning back. The glass scraped his stomach and deep red showed up on his white tee, but he didn't care. He brought his right leg out, squeezing it through the narrow window. He got his foot caught and he had to grab it and bend it as hard as he could to flatten it so he could get it out. Then he brought it down to rest on the narrow ledge of brick that separated the stories of the building. His second leg was harder, but he managed to get that one out too. He almost fell getting it there, but by some miracle he didn't.
Then all he had to do was jump.
Everything happened in a blur. Someone was out on the street shouting, was it the man from before? Or someone else? Fred landed hard on his right ankle, then took off running and limping as best he could. A black car sped down the road and someone Fred knew jumped out. He psychically blasted the sidewalk in front of the man- men, now?- chasing Fred. Then this familiar man grabbed Fred by the collar and threw him in the back seat of the black car.
The car peeled down the road, the driver talking calmly to Fred. Fred's head was buzzing again. tiny bits of glass in his skin stung. Blood oozed slowly from his many cuts. Words from the driver made no sense. He was aware that they were questions, easy questions and not interrogations, but he still couldn't answer them.
"Whatever happens now," said his mind, "just know. You got out of there alive." That thought comforted him as he let himself drift off to sleep, uncertain if he was going to wake up.
Fred was having ugly dreams. They were all over him, those monsters in the dark. He was suffocating. He couldn't move his arms. They took them away. Someone was screaming at him to fight, don't just sit there and let them kill you! But he was trapped, and now falling, why was he falling?
His body jumped a little and he woke up. Fred wasn't in the domain of nightmares. Actually, the opposite: he was on a cot in a church basement. There was a bathroom nearby, and Fred got up to splash some water on his face. When he caught his reflection in the mirror, he realized just how much he had been through. His face was sunken and dead-looking, his shirt blotted with blood. Someone had carefully wrapped his arms in bandages, and bandaged his stomach as well. He also looked and felt extremely grimy, so he took the time to he wash his face, neck, and hands. He looked into the mirror until he was sure it was Fred who was staring back at him.
Fred stepped back into the main basement. He looked around the room, trying to piece everything together and see everything he'd missed last night- well, yesterday- oh, whenever. There was his cot, under a row of narrow windows near the ceiling that were too much like the one he'd escaped through. Nearby was a bookshelf lined with study bibles and devotionals. On the other wall several long tables were folded up, probably there for fellowship events. On the front wall hung an elegant wooden cross, with a banner hanging over it that read, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:40, NIV)" There was a chair under the display, with a pile of rags heaped on it. In addition to the bathroom, there was a door to the outside on one wall, a door to the stairs on another, and a door to the kitchen next to that one.
Fred stepped closer to admire the handiwork of the cross. The edges were smooth and tapered, and down the center was carved an intricate design of doves and vines. The edges were smooth and polished, and there was a crown of thorns carved out of the same wood, hanging over the cross section just above the banner. Fred was not a religious man, but there was something moving about this display. It was a work of art.
"Remarkable, isn't it?" the pile of rags said.
Fred jumped out of his skin and yelped.
The pile of rags straightened out, looked up and grinned at him. Fred recognized that pasty, sickly face. "Crispin? But how-?"
"Oh, please," said Crispin with a sneer. "Just because I can't see you doesn't mean I can't smell you."
Fred sniffed himself subconsciously. "No, I mean- how are you alive? You're supposed to be dead."
"Let's just say that the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." He smirked. "I've always wanted to say that."
"So- they didn't kill you?"
"Don't sound too disappointed, General."
"What are you doing here?"
"Same as you, claiming sanctuary."
"I don't understand."
"One too many cannonballs to the head on the battlefield, eh, Bonaparte?" Crispin chuckled to himself. "Your brain's still kiltery-jiltery. Oh well. I'll spell it out for you. I faked my death and I'm sorry to say I did a piss-poor job of it. Won't take too long to unravel that web of lies, since there's not a shred of physical evidence. The G-men wanted me gone, want to make a clean job of it. They tried to smother this poor, feeble-minded invalid with a pillow. I broke the charade, and his wrist, and Nurse Hidaka showed up just in time to bash him over the head. I asked her and that other one to spread the rumor that I died, just as they wanted it done. Won't hold up under any sort of scrutiny, but it gave me a chance to run, so to speak. So I did.
"And here I am."
He finished his story, and Fred didn't speak. He was looking at the cross on the wall. He was wondering if it was a relief that Crispin was alive. It certainly didn't mean that the enemy wasn't dangerous, but it meant they weren't infallible. Of course, Crispin was a bit more cunning than Fred, but if Fred was once again under the protection of the Psychonauts, there was yet a chance that he was safe.
"Penny for your thoughts, General."
Fred ignored him. Still, it was a pity that Crispin wasn't dead. Cruel though it was to think, he would not rest easy knowing Crispin was still around.
"Lovely woodwork, eh?" Crispin said. He was still staring straight ahead with his creepy blind eyes. Fred assumed that he had "seen" it by running his hands over it. Or maybe he'd been here once before and seen it for real, because it had a thin and undisturbed layer of dust over it.
Crispin continued, "They say it was carved out of a tree planted in Whispering Rock by a monk who was following God's blueprint... although he probably just thought he heard the whispering of the rock, if you know what I mean. Although who knows? Maybe the Lord did send him craft patterns telepathically."
"Is that true?"
"No," said Crispin, "I'm just making that up off the top of my head. In any case, why don't you make yourself useful and run a cloth over it, get some of that dust off it? It looks dreadful."
"Huh? Oh, sure." Fred went and got a dish cloth from the kitchen, then brought it back and started wiping the polished wood. "You don't know it looks dreadful, you know," he informed Crispin. "You're blind."
"My eyes don't work," said Crispin, "but that doesn't mean I can't see."
Fred stopped dusting. He slowly turned his head to look at Crispin, who was still sitting in his chair, right beside Fred, still staring straight ahead.
"Goodness, have I got dirt on my face?" Crispin said lightly. "Hand me that clean dishrag, would you?"
Fred held out the dish cloth, staring at Crispin with his mouth slightly open. "Thanks, mate," said Crispin. He reached out and felt around until his hand made contact with the dish cloth. "Do me a favor, would you? Kneel down and look at me head on. Yes, like that, thank you." Crispin raised the cloth and wiped the streak of dirt off his face. "Much better. Thank you."
Something clicked in Fred's mind. "You... you're using clairvoyance on me. Aren't you?"
"You are a smart one, aren't you?"
"I didn't know you were psychic."
"Well, I wasn't when we met."
"So when did that happen?"
"It's not something that just happened all at once. It was the psitanium, you know. I don't know when it happened, but I was never inclined to try until I realized my own eyes were no longer working, and I just tried my minds eye. Incidentally, did you know that one Mr. Boyd Cooper is pyrokinetic now? I don't think he does. Someone ought to tell him before he burns the office down by accident. Oh, or has he done it on purpose already?" Crispin paused. "The rest of them are unchanged. At least I think so. Doctor Loboto may know how to make confusion grenades, but I think he just naturally has that effect on people."
"What about me?"
"Unlikely," said Crispin. Then he tilted his chin up. "Why don't you try?"
Fred looked around the room. He settled his eyes on a small mug on the ledge of one of the high windows. He focused his whole mind on it, wrapping around it, willing it...
But there was no effect.
"Guess not," said Fred.
"Don't feel too bad," said Crispin. "You can always go back to Whispering Rock and hang around the psitanium a bit more. See if you can't develop some psychic powers of your own." He caught the reflection of Fred's face in his own eyes. "Close your mouth, Bonaparte, you're starting to catch flies."
Fred quickly shut his mouth and looked away from Crispin. He wasn't used to the idea of Crispin being able to see.
"Could you do me one more favor?"
"It depends," said Fred, still looking away.
"Could you look out one of those windows for me?"
"Uh, okay..." Fred was suspicious, but he did as he was asked. There were a few narrow windows near the ceiling that he could easily see out the window without even having to stand on his toes. Around his chin level, the ground outside began. There was a tree trunk not too far away. He could see the crevices of the bark. There were ants crawling up and down the near side of the tree, hinting at its poor health. The sky was mostly clear, with only a few wisps of cloud.
"What am I looking for?" asked Fred.
"Nothing," said Crispin. "I just missed being able to look out the window."
Fred turned around. Crispin had stood up and was walking unsteadily over to Fred. His arms were out, searching for obstacles. He was only a few steps away from his chair and he was already lost. Fred had stepped too far away, and without a trinket of his to hold onto, Crispin could no longer see through Fred's eyes.
For the second time in his life, Fred felt pity for Crispin. Without even making the conscious decision, he reached one of his stubby arms out in front of Crispin's face. Crispin's hand brushed Fred's, felt around to see what it was, then he closed his hand around Fred's wrist. Fred guided him over to the wall. "Back in range?" asked Fred.
"Yes, thank you."
And, unlike the last time, Fred's pity didn't bite him in the butt.
The second part of this chapter was written over a year ago, around the same time as the first Boyd Cooper thing. I really like this Crispin better than the one I wrote in my Pyschonauts one-shot "Agony," although I can see both of them being valid interpretations based on what we see in the game.