David's come back.
I woke up last night to a smell that I thought I had forgotten. Turns out I haven't. Gasoline is gasoline is gasoline and smelling it anywhere other than a gas station is usually a really bad sign. So I woke up and turned on a light. Gasoline was everywhere. On the floor, on my couch cushions, it was even near my bed. I'm not sure how I slept through that. I must have been very drunk. Now that I think about it, I had a bit of a hangover.
Which was probably why the music was so loud. It started a few minutes after I turned on the light. Some kind of rock bad. Female vocalist. I followed the music to a window in the living room. David was standing about fifteen feet from my house. With him was a lighter, a boombox, a fire extinguisher, and a megaphone. A trail of gasoline was right in front of him.
He saw me, and picked up the megaphone. "I thought I'd help you get out of the house." he said, then looked at what seemed to be a case of some sort, "You have about fifteen minutes to pack. Or stop me. Either way."
"What if I don't get out?" I yelled back at him. He gestured towards the fire extinguisher. "I'll get you out. I'm not going to hurt you Ronan."
I believed him. I really did. But at the same time, the threat of fire isn't pleasant. And his rescue plan didn't seem well thought out. So I tried to get out of the building. I really did. I stood at the doorway for five minutes. The boombox changed songs a couple times. I couldn't do it. Of course things hadn't started burning yet. I had a good sense of preservation. I might get out once there was fire. So I went to pack.
This probably sounds really silly, reading this. That I just talked to David as he threatened to burn my house down. But I was scared and helpless and I couldn't do anything but hope I could get my more precious things out before I was dealing with a lot of hot fire.
I went to my room and started putting things in the bag least soaked with gasoline. My laptop, some clothes, a pack of beer, some music I particularly liked. My baseball bat.
I stopped when I got to my baseball bat.
I had done a lot of damage with that, back when I was a bad guy. Back when I wasn't afraid of anything. Sometimes I thought that the me from the past might look at me now and laugh. He'd laugh a lot. I was a failure who couldn't do anything. Who drowned himself in beer and tried to help people he never met but ultimately made them hurt. I was now in a soon to be burning building, just waiting for it to blow up.
What had happened to me?
I held my baseball bat and remembered all the painful things. Minori's empty eyes when I had last saw her, The dead bodies I had found, David with Minori, the family I had betrayed. I didn't want to lose anyone. Didn't want to hurt them anymore. I was so afraid of the pain, that I just kept on hurting. At that moment, I decided all this pain had to stop. And only I could do that.
I took hold of my baseball bat and went to the door. I didn't even stop at the doorway, just went outside and towards David. He smiled for a minute before I caught up to him and swung. He stumbled back and I swung again. I swung until he was on the ground. I probably broke a few bones. Not that it would stop David if he was motivated, but it would slow him down. He started laughing and I stopped for a moment.
"Hello Ronan." he said, and the hand with the lighter in it moved. I raised my baseball bat, but he signaled me to wait and put the lighter in his pocket. "You're out of the house." I looked back and noticed that I was. There was no panic. No fear. I realized it was what I had to do, and I did it. Everyone always says that's where true courage is. Perhaps they're right.
"What do you think you're doing?" I asked. I had meant to yell at him, but it came out as a low whisper. Cold and threatening. I remembered that voice, that conviction. It was almost like coming home. David recognized it too, and he smiled more. "I'm helping you." he said.
"Well stop helping. I don't need you to fight my battles for me." I answered.
"I don't want to fight your battles. I want to stand by your side."
I hesitated at that.
I know many of you don't like David. You have good reasons. He's a monster. I don't have any delusions about that. I've known him for around twenty years. I've seen him laugh in the middle of a murder. I've seen him do far worse than that. I know him more than anyone else. And because of that, I see what many others don't. I can't really explain it. Even if I did, it's possible you wouldn't believe me. But part of me will always like David, no matter what he does.
That part of me is what convinced me to lean down towards David and kiss him.
It was long and sweet and gentle and don't rub this in Elaine it's complicated enough already.
A song started. I sort of liked it. sort of slow, sort of sad, sort of hopeful. "This is it." David said, pulling away from me, "What are you going to do now?"
I looked over at my house. The only place I had felt safe for six years. My prison. "I'm going to fight him, David." I said, "I can't let him do this any more."
David looked sad and happy at the same time. I don't know how that works. "You know if you go after the slender man, my deal can't protect you anymore." he told me. I nodded. Then he put something into my hand. It was the lighter. I looked at my house one more time. Then I lit the trail of gasoline.
let the flames begin
When The Mad Ventriloquist first started using third person, he hadn't meant to use it to run away. He just thought that if the slender man used thought to find people, typing without first person would make it confusing. It was protection. When he decided to stop hiding he dropped it. But he's going to start again. Because now he really is in danger from the man in the business suit. But it's what he has to do. So he will.
The Mad Ventriloquist is reborn.