As I mentioned in this post, Konaa realized that something needed to be done about the 23s kids and recruited Shaun and I to help. So that's what we've been up to. Driving to Canada to brave a bigass forest of death. Sounds like something out of a comic book-maybe that's why Konaa was so hyped.
We met up with Konaa in town and took a little while to get the introductions and reunion shit over with, but none of us were really much in the mood for that. It was good to see him again, but what we were about to do kind of put a damper on things. I'll be honest, we had no plan for how to get out, we just knew we had to try. I thought there was a fair chance I was going to die there.
But, well worth it. These guys needed my help, and I wasn't going to leave them be. Not anymore.
After meeting up, we all headed for the forest. I was struck by how utterly normal the place looked. When I was a kid I used to love playing in the woods. Cam and I spent a lot of time there. Which, I guess is part of why...
Off the point..
The point is. The forest looked normal, not threatening or foreboding, and the only thing that made me uncomfortable is the fact that Canada is fucking cold.
One last kiss, then we headed in. It seemed normal from the outside, but the fuckery set in pretty fucking quick once we started onto the path. It went all dark and foreboding, and as we went on, the little noises started. Rustling in the brush, crunching of gravel. All to get us turned around and spooked.
Easy enough to ignore, after the first few times. We remembered the place is designed to fuck with us and kept going.
Next, we saw a person on the path. Just for a moment, he spooked and ran off when he saw us. Worked out fine for us, though. He led us to the right path to get to the camp-after passing through several types of hell, we made it to the area that was theirs. Sewn together tents strung up in trees made a roof, sewn together... I don't even know made a floor. It was big-way bigger than needed for eight kids, and there was too much stuff around, as well.
It was... a reminder. Of how many we had failed to save. How much these kids had already lost. More important on a practical level, it was empty. We set to searching the place, hoping that we weren't too late. Found a lot of random things about, all seeming to have their own sad stories, but no sign of life. Till Shaun found a set of dogtags.
Let me tell you, it's not the most promising start to a rescue when the first time you meet the people you're trying to save one of them has a knife to Shaun's throat. We got it sorted, though, with some introductions. The guy with the knife turned out to be Richard, the guy from the path turned out to be Lyle, Elliott and Alex were off to the side nearer to me, Suze... raged at them from a little further back, and there were three others whose names I'm sad to say I didn't get.
There was talking, a lot of calling us crazy, a lot of us acting tough and capable so they'd trust us to come with. Then... a flash of red. Red hair. Green eyes. Giant curled grin.
Next thing we know, one of the girls grabs her torso and it just... falls out. Terrible and disturbing, obviously not fixable. I grabbed the kid closest to me-Elliott, as it turns out, and Shaun, and start to run.
We're not even out of camp when Richard starts yelling at us to stay still because 'Cheshire' as they called him (Which chilled my blood for other reasons) only went after moving targets.
Cue a discussion on our four parts-four because Elliott grabbed Alex's arm-on whether to run or stand. Meanwhile, Konaa was arguing with Richard and Suze and Lyle-none of them wanted to leave. I wanted to help, but there wasn't time. If I went to intervene, we might've all died. So we started running. Just in time for slendershit to come out of the forest behind us and start wrecking things.
The four of us were running hard and fast-not least because Writer was still following us- when Elliott starts telling us we're going the wrong way. Apparently he had a vague idea of where the exit was from his time with Harper, AKA the Collector. It was while we were trying to catch our bearings that Harper found us and started telling us to get out while we still could. He was... defending us. Drawing Writer's attention, telling Elliott how to get out.
I really... as much as I'd like to think otherwise, I don't think Harper made it out alive. But there's no questioning that he saved all our lives.
Elliott led us the rest of the way out, and we found Richard there, just outside the forest, laughing and crying with relief and probably a hundred other things. Konaa... tried to go back in-but Writer wouldn't let him back in the loop, so he just wandered around for a bit before we all cut and run.
I'm glad to be fucking out of there. It was... bad. We were in there for a couple hours, and... well, it was so... still and quiet and disturbing that I'm pretty sure it kicked my imagination into overdrive. I saw things that... are impossible. It's all mind fuckery. This shit can't actually be real, there's just no way. But tricking us into thinking it is... well, that's easily done in such an environment. I can't help but wonder if perhaps that's all it ever was. Mindfuckery.
Not to take it lightly. That shit is more terrifying than any weapon, harder to resist than a good poison. It's just...If that's what it was, then I'm honestly amazed at how well Richard and Elliott are doing. How solid they seem, in spite of the horrors they've faced.
At this point, it's a race back to Hope-I'm hoping we can get home before the proxy kill squads find us. I expect Writer has some groveling to do for letting them escape-if this... whatever it was was important enough for all of this madness, I'm guessing he's going to get some serious flak for letting it fail. I'm more worried about random goons-not because we can't take them, but because I honestly don't want Alex and Elliott's first days out of the forest to be marked by fighting. They've done enough, they deserve to rest.