"You're just like him, you know?"
"That one scrawny fuck. The creepy kid with the black hair and immortalizing complex."
"Yeah, that guy!"
"What about him?"
"Didn't he get around to telling you? He's criminally insane."
"No, but that doesn't surprise me."
"You're so much alike."
"I've never killed anyone."
"Insanity comes in more forms than one. He's criminal, while you're... a manic."
"You'll suffer his fate."
It was as if she spoke in riddles these days. Her twisted humor and disgusting pleasure in my torture made me want to stab something. Comparing me to that deranged monster was beyond insulting! Honestly, calling me a manic. Hah! Am I crazy? Of course. I hear a raspy voice talking to me from a painting I did that came to life. No one else can see or hear her, but she's always there. So... crazy? Yes. Manic? Absolutely not. Like him? I'd kill him and myself before that happened.
Walking down the street, I had never felt so... observed. I got the weirdest looks from everyone and I couldn't figure out why. I looked like most everyone else. I wasn't wearing my pajamas, messy make-up, my hair was brushed and pulled back, my clothes didn't have any holes in them. People were just stupid.
I made it to the street corner and pushed the button for the crosswalk. I shifted around the weight of my two bags of groceries and stood next to some skinny kid with a backpack and a beaten-up old teddy bear. I had to say, I thought it was pretty strange to see a kid like that with such an old toy. What was he, eleven? Twelve, maybe? His clothes looked worn and like they barely fit and his bear was dirtier than shit. Even though I was half tempted to ask him about it, I decided not to even bother with it. I shifted my bags around again as the light changed for us to walk.
I wasted no time getting to the other side and turning the corner. I was so focused on just getting back to my apartment that I didn't even notice the kid following me. Not until he called out for me, anyway.
"Hey lady, please wait!"
I stopped and turned around, eying the kid suspiciously. He ran up to me quickly and held out his hand. In his palm was an apple, and although I didn't understand at first, I took it from him anyway.
"It fell out of your bag when we crossed the street. You'll have to wash it, but it should still be good."
I looked down at my bag and saw a rather large hole in it. The only thing holding everything inside was my now-squished bread. I sighed irritably and shoved the apple in my other bag, not really caring anymore. I was a few more blocks from my apartment and I knew the rest of this trip would be a pain-in-the-ass. Why didn't I just take my car?
I muttered a quick 'thanks' to the kid and stalked off, but pretty soon my bread caved through and the contents of my bag were all over the sidewalk. The kid rushed up to me and started gathering my things. Seeing no hope for the bag, he scooped them all up in his arms, and stood next to me.
"Um... I can carry these, if you want."
I raised my eyebrow, but scoffed and agreed to his help anyway. I signaled for him to come along as we walked in awkward silence. I could feel him glancing at me from the corner of his eyes. He was observing me, too. I wanted to stop and punch him right at that moment, but I didn't. I just stopped and snapped at him.
"What are you looking at?"
He backed away, clearly frightened, and made this weird "squee!' noise. I glared daggers at him, commanding an explanation. His legs quivered and I could vaguely hear him stuttering out a response.
"Y-Y-You look f-f-familiar."
I looked the kid over again, trying to see if there was something about him I recognized. I knew I'd never seen him before, but I was getting a foggy memory of a kid that was described to me that seemed like him. I still couldn't put my finger on it, though, but his eyes widened and I think he figured me out.
"You were that lady."
"Yeah, I remember you. You grew out your hair. I never got to meet you, but I saw you a few times over at the scary-neighbor-man's house."
Scary-neighbor-man? Was he talking about... no, it couldn't be... Johnny's little...
"Yes, ma'am. Todd Casil. I lived next door to Nny for a little while before he went on vacation. He always called me Squeegee."
He was the little neighbor kid I heard so much about? The one Johnny went on and on about being innocent and always giving him bandages in the middle of the night? Wasn't he like six, though?
I shook my head, remembering that that was a couple years ago now. Of course the kid got older, but it sure doesn't look like he's lost any of his childish charm. I nodded at him, finally understanding the situation. I didn't really know what to say to him, so I just turned and kept on walking. He followed after me and we went the rest of the way to my apartment in silence.
I led him up the stairs and unlocked my door and had him wait outside for me. I set my bag down on my kitchen table and came back to get my stuff from him. As I took everything from his hands, I thanked him again, this time being a little nicer. He smiled at me and waved as I shut the door. I waited and listened for his footsteps to fade away before I put my stuff away.
"So you finally met him?"
"Squee? His old neighbor."
"Yeah. Wait, wait! Old neighbor?"
"Weren't you listening to him at all? He said he lived next door to him for awhile before he went on vacation. That was five years ago and he hasn't been back since."
"How did I not know that Johnny left?"
"Because you're too busy living in fear! Think about it! No more sightings of him, no more phone calls, no more people getting kidnapped and murdered on a regular basis. You've been so wrapped up in hiding in this Godforsaken place that you haven't been paying attention to the outside world!"
"Enough! I don't live in fear! I bought enough mace to blind that creep twenty times over!"
"In any case, you've met the boy."
"You think that happened by chance?"
"It's called a coincidence."
"You were never lucky enough for things to be a coincidence. Not even before I became a part of your life."
"What does it matter that I met Johnny's old neighbor?"
"Well, you see, he's also part of this puzzle. Like you and like Johnny, the kid's fucked up in the head."
"Johnny was criminally insane. You are a manic. That kid has a mild, but still growing case of psychosis. In other words: three crazies were fated to meet one another."
Sickness stopped talking to me again after that. I had no trouble believing that Johnny was criminally insane, what with him committing murders and trying to kill me and all. But I know for a fact that I'm not a manic. I don't know what breed of crazy I am, but that's not it! I can't speak for the kid, though. He seemed perfectly normal. Well, actually, no. Most people, especially children, are rude little devils. He was a pretty nice kid. Abnormal as that may be, it didn't mean he had mental problems. Three crazies were fated to meet, eh?
"A/N: Well, this is the first time in a long time that I've written a JTHM fic. It feels good to be back. Anyway, this is going to be a multi-chapter story, so reviews are going to be extremely appreciated along the way. All I can say, and this is a stressed warning, is that I'm not great at updating on a regular basis. If that will be a problem, then stop reading now. This story will be finished, I promise, but it might not be on a very fast schedule. Just be patient, kay? Anyway... review? Please?"