I guess Smiley was waiting for something. Maybe it wanted Slendy to come after me first.
I'm still not sure why the Slender Man came to me for all this. Shouldn't he have fucking contacted, oh, I don't know, Smiley if he had a fucking problem with what it was doing?
I walked inside, not really being as careful as I should have. I mean, Smiley's never had a problem with me shooting it, not since it fucked up my face. It was just an old storefront, after all. Abandoned for renovations. One of the half-dozen other abandoned buildings I've seen since I started all of this.
So imagine my fucking surprise when someone fucking shoots at me the moment I walk in the fucking door.
And then immediately starts apologizing about it.
The kids were in back. They were barely seven or eight. They'd been stripped down completely and a heart shaped dotted line had been cut into the surface of their skin, around the heart. They were huddling in fear from a very large, very fat man who had a crazed expression and a hunting rifle.
I didn't realize who it was until he started mumbling "God help me."
Jack of Thorns. The proxy was the Jack of Thorns.
I ducked behind a counter and he took another few shots at me. Started rambling about this being necessary, that he was so sorry, Queen of Swords, but this is the only way. The only way that the Smiling Man would "take back" what it had "shown" him.
He said that maybe Smiley would let him keep the kids. To make up for the daughter he had butchered. He could have a family again. He asked why I couldn't see that.
I tried to shoot him, but I'm not used to shooting with just my right arm.
So I ambushed him with the knife, up close where the rifle would be a liability. You'd think it would be hard to kill someone with a knife, but it's so easy. You just pick a spot where they'll bleed out from and slash it. Then you go on the defensive, wait for them to weaken, and then slash again. It's so easy. Especially if you're smaller and faster than they are. Especially if you're athletic and they're out of shape and have no idea what they're doing.
Why does it have to be so easy?
And he thanked me. He thanked me, and apologized the entire time. Said it was necessary even as he bled out. Asked for God to help me. To help us all.
I knew him. Well, I kind of did. Was he trying to warn me about this? I wonder if I should have listened to him. But it's too late now. He's dead and I killed him and that's all there is.
I gave the kids a card. It has addresses, like for the Tutorial and Brighter Than A Spoon and other people who have been somewhat fucking successful in Running. It also has my email address. I told them, when their special tall friend comes back in ten years, this stuff'll help.
I hope it will, anyway. I called the police from Thorn's cell phone and I got out of there.
I leave Boston tomorrow. I'm not sure where to after that. No trail from Smiley at the moment. Maybe STAB or Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band or the SCP Foundation or whoever the fuck is out there is suppressing the info. I really don't fucking know.
At any rate, I'm headed west. Might as well get a head start.