Part 12: ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS
PART 12: ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS
Audio by Ladderface, Stinkmeister and Triangle Head
For the first time I didn't have any options, no hopeful plan or bed to hide in. Penny knew it wasn't me that took her papers. She didn't believe it was Nook. I don't even know who she thought did it but if I guessed wrong she'd keep killing until I guessed right... or there was no one left. I don't know if I could live with that. And then what would she do to me? Thoughts flew through my head like bullets but were inevitably rejected like golf balls off a brick wall. I didn't know what to do. Seconds passed like eons.
"It was me!"
Shocked, I glanced over to see a gangly figure. A tall, relatively older boy had stepped forward. He was missing a leg from the knee down and moved slowly on a makeshift crutch.
What are you doing?!
The sides of his head were flat, lacking the telltale silhouette of ears. He couldn't hear me.
Oh Phillip. You always were a troublemaker, hmm? Why don't we take a walk together?
She giggled to herself at the thought of forcing Phillip to hobble alongside her on a pleasant afternoon stroll before again leaving the balcony. Phil. I knew that name. He was one of the children that had sent back a message to me when I was mapping the island. No guards dragged him along. As he shambled past and caught my eye there was the briefest hint of a grin on his lips. I was beginning to think that everyone had lost it when I realized that Phil had a plan of his own. But whatever Phil was planning to do wouldn't work. Penny would never believe that this boy, barely able to round the corner of the house, was capable of breaking in at night and running off with her documents.
He was already gone. The entire crowd was mesmerized, staring into the empty side lot where Phillip had disappeared from sight, waiting for screams or for Penny to appear again from the balcony. And then what, we'd choose another sacrifice and go on like this into the night? This was the closest thing to a shot in hell I'd ever have and my body reacted before my brain could tell it to stop.
I spontaneously twisted from the grip of the guard who had, himself, become transfixed by the anticipation of the scene and made a break for side where Phillip had disappeared. Maybe between the two of us we could overpower the deranged mouse, maybe without her canine entourage we stood a chance.
I turned the corner to see Penny hunched over the boy like a vulture. Both figures were covered in blood but one was not moving. Phillip was dead, yet the blood was not entirely his. On the ground beside Phillip was his crutch, the end of which had been sharpened to a dull point. I hadn't noticed before. In Penny's side a deep gash oozed inhumanly thick, dark blood. At the sound of footsteps behind her she had stopped what she was doing to look. She had been digging through his chest with her clawed arm like a gleeful child rooting through a discount bin of video games, looking for organs she'd like to keep and tossing the rest haphazardly to the ground around her.
My sight suddenly went black, as if to save me from the inescapable trauma, but in truth it was because guard dogs had plowed into me from behind, knocking me to the ground. The key in my pocket dug heavily into my thigh before springing freely onto the dirt.
As my vision returned I was shocked by Penny's gruesome visage hovering over me, key in hand, eyes blazing.
WHERE DID YOU GET THIS, BOY?
There was nothing to say. Penny grasped me with uncanny strength for a mouse with a gut wound and literally dragged me through the mud, through the back entrance of the house and up the stairs.
She shrieked to the guards:
Back in the bedroom, she propelled me with superhuman force against a wall and I slumped to the floor. She closed the doors to the balcony and rushed at me, burying her claw deep into my shoulder to hold me in place. Her face pressed against mine and my terror rose as I was forced to stare deeply into my own eye.
Where is Tom? WHY ISN'T HE HERE?
My voice cracked. Her clawed fist was cutting off my windpipe.
T..told you, Tom's dead.
She slammed me hard against the wall.
You couldn't kill a fly, you weak waste of meat. WHERE'S TOM?
I don't know why I hadn't realized it sooner but Penny wasn't unaffected by Tom's death. She just hadn't believed me until now. Vitriol was beginning to boil in my veins. I exploded furiously:
He killed himself! He killed himself because he couldn't stand the thought of having to live one more minute with a hideous failure of nature like YOU! He'd rather be dead than have to wake up every morning next to a MONSTER!
Penny's face suddenly twisted between unimaginable rage and emotional anguish before settling on something approaching neutrality. She let go of my punctured shoulder, small rivulets of blood trickling down my chest, and took a step back. Her voice buckled from that of a shrieking ghoul to an unfamiliarly human tone.
He committed suicide? Because of... me?
I was transfixed by the emotional rollercoaster playing out before me. Penny was looking past me now, her eyes glazed over, her thoughts a thousand miles away.
Tom, we were supposed to be together. You said it would only be a few more days before they got here. Just a few more days. We were supposed to be together. Forever.
Her face, distorted as it was, had begun to display the sincere appearance of regret. It was almost more disturbing than her wrath, which unexpectedly regained control as her gaze returned to me. A deranged grin overtook the corner of her mouth like some unseen puppeteer had pulled it there.
Do you know what I'm going to do, Billy? I'm not going to kill you. No, that would not be fitting. I'M GOING TO MAKE YOU HURT. FOREVER. That's what Tom would want. I'm going to start with your hands and feet...
Penny began listing the ways in which she would happily mutilate me for as long as possible. She had lost herself in bloodlust, dreamily gazing skyward while she fantasized about every possible way she could make me suffer. It was terrifying and I believed every word of it.
But Penny had made a mistake. She was used to ruling with fear and it had served her well for a long time. Penny never knew fear, herself. She didn't know it the way I did. She didn't understand that she was a virus and that every shot she injected me with built up my tolerance. This was her last shot and it was a big one, but it couldn't kill me.
I was the vaccine.
My body had become a processing plant for adrenaline. As Penny continued to blather on about my torturous future, I slowly rose to my feet. My muscles were clenched so hard they ached. I finally did what I had been too afraid to do in the past. What Tom had been too afraid to do.
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Pushing off the wall I dove at Penny, balled fists wailing at her malformed head, her stomach wound, her neck and shoulder- anything that presented itself a target. Utterly taken off guard by the assault she stumbled backwards, trying to protect herself. An occasional swipe from her clawed arm would tear into clothes leaving sharp gouges but I couldn't feel a thing. She stumbled to the floor, a dumbfounded expression on her face. I pursued Penny, who had driven herself up against the doors to the balcony and resumed my frenzy. She screamed in agony and crashed through the french doors, fresh hatchet wounds scoring her body. I lunged after her, slamming us both against the balcony railing. The entire population of the island stood below, overcome by the bloody
As I pressed onward with the grim melee, action became a blur; I no longer knew what I was striking, just that I couldn't stop. In one last blood-curdling moan, Penny lifted herself over the balcony, grasping around my waist and neck and I toppled over with her, axe flung from my hand.
We landed three stories below with a moist thud. Penny was crushed beneath me. I could feel my chest shudder from the impact; a rib may have snapped. Penny was not so lucky, as she had absorbed the full impact plus my own weight. I raised myself to my knees and dropped my fist into her unprotected face heavily. I did it again. And again. Until it was nothing but bloody pulp. Her head tilted to the side, unmoving. Her face had been distorted beyond recognition from the thrashing and my eye rolled freely from it. I picked it up and held it like I had won some sort of demented carnival prize.
This is mine.
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The crowd gathered in a circle around the scene, mouths agape. The air hung heavily around us, soundless, except for my weighty breathing. Pain was starting to seep back into my limbs when another sound floated in on the breeze- a low hum that seemed to pulse from an indeterminable distance.
Residents began to look towards the sky, confused by the barrage of strange events that were throwing their world into disarray. Suddenly a shout went up from the far end of the crowd.
Slowly a dark speck on the horizon came into view, moving rapidly toward us until the trees around the house were disturbed by the hovering aircraft.
I glanced nervously at the animal residents. Some had started to flee. Some stood in a terrified stupor. The guard next to me looked at the corpse, then at me, then at the chopper hanging in the sky as though he were trying to piece together what had just happened and had blown a fuse. I expected residents to start raining down upon me, avenging their leader, but the wrath never came. They just stood there blankly as the helicopter touched down on the large patch of grass in the mansion's front yard. On the helicopter's side was a symbol; a white field with a radiating red sun.
Armed men hopped from the helicopter and formed a perimeter. A tall man in a suit waded through the bewildered crowd to where I was standing.
He offered his badge for inspection and asked with a slight accent "Are you Tom?"
And that's where my story ends.
If you're reading this journal, I suppose you're wondering what happened next. I'd feel remiss if I didn't transcribe it here, at least for my own peace of mind.
I was taken into custody and returned to the US. The United States government asked me to record what happened on that island and I wrote up this official document. It's taken years of professional psychiatric care to get to the point where I can even think about it without having a mental breakdown. I'm almost thirty years old now. And sitting here, looking at the big picture I can barely believe any of this myself. I'm sure all of this will be filed away under "C" for crazy and never seen again.
But it helps to see it written down.
I still haven't returned home. It's been a long time and by now I'm sure my mother has moved on. Maybe I would just shock and upset her. Maybe I'm just afraid to go home. But I'll do it someday soon. Honest.
Oh, I guess for posterity's sake I should mention how they found us. It was much later that I learned a distress beacon had been set from the mansion. I think Nook had told Penny that he was going to fly in more doctors to help her. She had killed most of the originals.
But that left me wondering for a long time why he had to die if he thought someone was coming to rescue them.
Why did he kill himself? My psychiatrist says that when people experience severe trauma they often validate their fears. She thinks that Tom was so afraid his last plan for escape would fail like everything else that he killed himself to make sure it came true. I think that's bullshit. Tom died because he was past his breaking point. I had learned that Tom was my only real friend. What I didn't realize at the time was that it went both ways; I was his only friend. When Penny had ordered him to bring me to the mansion he couldn't do it. He didn't want the memories. He didn't want the guilt. He didn't want the judgment. He took the easy way out.
I was hooked into a government laboratory for months. They ran a lot of medical tests on me since my days on the island. There was something different about me. I was resistant to the gyroids. They aren't sure if the gyroids produce a biological or chemical reaction in people or if there's some other explanation, some sort of undiscovered mystical power. But they were able to use samples of my blood to make a vaccine that seems to be relatively effective in combating it.
Penny didn't cross right the first time, so when she had my eye implanted into her own head and she began to revert, her body rejected it. It was literally killing her. It made me wonder if she used to be even worse, even stronger. If she hadn't been weakened by the transplant could I possibly have taken her down? Better not to think about it.
In other residents, my genes would occasionally slowly reverse the gyroids' effects. Some of the residents they used it on even slowly returned to their human selves, as though the crossing were just a virus or a radiation that could be purged. Though I was resistant, I was not immune. Nobody can tell me just how long it would have taken me to cross. Maybe months, maybe days.
Some people say everything happens for a reason. Would I do it all again if I knew I could save these people? The honest truth is… I don't know.
The island has been condemned. The Japanese military, not knowing what to do with the dangerous gyroid statues, began to ferry them out in small numbers to a particularly deep part of the ocean and sink them. I guess it's safer than keeping them in a lab or using them to develop weapons, but something occurred to me just recently. Even though they would only dispose of small numbers of the gyroids at a time, at the bottom of the ocean they must be piling up in large amounts. And I can't help but wonder; if they turn humans into animals…
What do they turn animals into?