Pretty sure I've never unintentionally missed back to back weeks before.....don't worry-I'll make up for it with a cool extra long section of action and exposition!
[Pure Human - Impure]
"I'm tired and I don't feel like waiting," Blake said "If you're up for it, we can always go to the murder house we found last night if the cops haven't been tipped off yet. Plenty of beds to choose from if you don't mind sharing it with a corpse." John shrugged and they made their way to the front door and knocked.
Anin opened the door a crack and peeked through before she threw it open with a smile. "Hey guys!" she said "Want some coffee?" Blake happily walked in, going directly for the kitchen. John stayed behind with Anin. "Sorry about earlier," she said as she closed the door. "You're sorry?" John asked "You went and ended up a wreck on the floor, screaming your head off. We thought you went insane? What do you have to be sorry about?" Anin shrugged. "It was weird," she said "And I know the trouble it caused you guys with Joey."
"About that," John said "I was hoping we could catch him either before he left or, more obviously now, when he gets home."
"Don't worry," Anin said "We talked a long time earlier. He's sorry for a bunch of things."
"Is he sorry for trying to hit me?" Blake asked from the kitchen.
"He tried to hit you?" Anin asked.
"He shouldn't be sorry for that," John said "A lot of people want a crack at Blake. But we're sorry for how things have gone so far. This isn't turning out to be what any of us expected."
"It's okay," Anin assured "You don't have to wait for Joey. He said it might be a long night and he said it was okay if you guys needed to crash here again."
Anin and John made their way to the kitchen where Blake had already poured three cups of coffee. "Maybe I didn't want coffee," John said as he sat down. "You act as if I won't just drink it then," Blake responded.
"So what happened today?" Anin asked, eager to learn what Blake and John accomplished after the hospital. "Well, we followed up on a lead," Blake said "But then they died." Anin froze and tilted her head. "They...they died?" she asked.
"It happens," Blake said.
"What did you do?"
"I didn't do anything. He offed himself before we could ask any questions."
"Wait, he was dead when you got there?"
"Uh...sure, yeah. By the time we got *in* the house, he was dead."
"How's his head though?"
Blake paused at the question before answering "Dead too, I'm afraid."
"No. Okay, how did he kill himself?"
"Tried to eat a gun. Pulled the trigger before he could swallow."
"And the brain?"
"All over the ceiling."
"There a morbid reason why you cared about that specifics?"
"Well if the brain was intact, maybe I could tap into it."
John cocked an eyebrow while Blake leaned in, interested in what Anin said. "You can read minds?" he asked "Even dead ones?"
"Something like the stunt you pulled at the hospital?" Blake asked.
"Kind of," Anin replied "Living brains are difficult, and ultimately you're guided by what the owner allows. A dead person, I have free reign. Short, because my invasion into the organ expedites the decay, but if there's something you want known, it takes me no time at all to figure."
"You've done this before?" John asked, not sure if he felt comfortable with the topic.
"A couple times," Anin said as she sipped her coffee and put the cup down "One time a man paid me a lot to read the brain of his dying grandmother. I was present as she died and then I was asked to get in her brain to find the combination to her safe. Never did learn what he wanted in the safe, but the pay was good."
At John's urging, the subject was changed to more lighthearted things. They spent the next few hours chatting about idle subjects, diverting their minds from the events of the previous days. When the hour was late enough, John stretched his arms and excused himself upstairs for the night. Blake and Anin lingered a while longer.
Anin looked down at her empty cup and thought about making more coffee. "You don't want to sleep, do you?" Blake asked. "Would you want to?" Anin asked "I'm not that tired. I'll be fine."
"We can do what we did last night again," Blake suggested "I promise not to antagonize the big bad again."
"No, that's okay," Anin said "It wouldn't help. I'm mentally exhausted if anything. Don't worry about me though, I'll be fine tonight."
"I don't believe you."
"And there's nothing you can do about it either way."
"Fair enough," Blake said as he stretched his arms out "No use trying to offer help to someone not interested in it."
Anin hummed in agreement as she took the empty cups to the skink.
"Welp, I'm off to bed," Blake said.
"You mean the couch."
"After a cigarette of course, right?"
"Not so sadly, yes."
Anin laughed as she stood up and made for the stairs. "Just lock up when you're done," she said and was gone. Blake retrieved a cigarette and played with it in his hand before he headed outside the front door. The night air was cool, but definitely hinting that spring was happening. Blake took a lungful of the fresh air before hunching over to light his cigarette and poisoning himself again.
Thoughts raced through his mind over what could have happened that would cause Melrose to commit suicide and for Bryant to freak out at the prospect of talking about it in public. His thought strayed to the address given to him and John and what it could possibly be. He also thought of Anin and how much more stress she could handle from her fear of sleep and the fading man in her dream.
Blake pushed all those thoughts aside as he tried to wind his brain down and enjoy his cigarette. Tomorrow he promised himself some answers. Either Matthew will make good on his previously unknown name, or the address and Bryant would offer clarity. One way or the other, there would be real progress. And if there was a way figured to find those loose creatures, that would be good too.
Blake took a long drag to finish his cigarette and flicked it away, content to call today to a close. As he turned to reenter the house, he stopped at a familiar sound. The whispers he had heard the previous night were heard again, this time louder, though not loud enough to make out.
He closed his eyes and concentrated on the whispers. There were definitely more than one person out there and they were talking to each other, but Blake just couldn't figure either what was being said or even if it was English being spoken. They were definitely close though and Blake didn't like what that suggested. When he glanced behind himself into the darkness surrounding the house, the whispering suddenly ceased followed by a crashing sound of glass not too far away, most likely from inside the house. "Yeah," Blake said to himself softly "This bodes well." He opened the door and closed it, quickly securing anything that remotely looked like a lock on the door.
"Hey John!" he called out, hoping the man upstairs hadn't fallen right asleep yet. He made his way through the darkness of the living room while reaching into his coat for his lighter. "John, we might have a slight problem!" Alarm bells were going off in his head and he wanted to check to make sure the back door and windows were secure. The sound of a gust of wind coming into the house from the kitchen made his heart sank. Something had gotten into the house.
The kitchen was dark, but enough light found its way in from outside to illuminate all Blake needed to see. A large black figure was on all fours on the ground, it's head sticking up and pointing at Blake. Blake froze in his tracks as he palmed his lighter in his right hand and brought up his balled left hand to his face. The figure began to stand up to match Blake's position, it's long and slender arms hanging at its side to show elongated claws dancing in anticipation.
Still shrouded in shadow, the figure tilted its head at Blake as a curious growl escaped it. "What are you?" Blake asked in a voice that seemed distant to him as instincts were screaming at him to do anything but stand still and admire whatever he was facing down. Behind him, he heard clicking, like sharp nails striking softly on the hard surfaces behind him. Blake chanted a phrase softly into his left hand as he ignited his lighter, the clicking sound behind him getting louder and closer as the whisper sounds from outside were once again heard.
"Light up the night," Blake called out as he brought his lighter to his face and unfurled his left hand like he was releasing the chanted words to the flame. Immediately the lighters flame exploded into a bright light reaching to every corner of the area around him as the creatures in front and behind shrieked and covered their eyes and faces. Blake held his beacon high as he marched for the kitchen, the humanoid creature, gray and nude, fell over backwards and scrambled away from him. "I'll ask again," Blake said, secure in the heat and light of his beacon, though he knew it wouldn't last long "What in the world are you?"
The creature flipped over onto all fours and leaped for the sink and back out the broken window it had entered from. Blake pondered going after it when he heard Anin screaming upstairs. The beacon light was already beginning to fade as he sprinted for the stairs and took them two at a time on his way up.
The door to her bedroom was closed and locked but Blake could hear something besides Anin moving around in there. John was already trying to shoulder his way into the room, gun drawn. The door was made of cheap wood and was already cracking and splintering at John's large frame hammering into it. "Where were you?" he screamed as Blake reached him.
"We have a pest problem," Blake said as his beacon faded but the hallways light was all the illumination they needed "We need to vacate." Anin's screams continued as John slammed into the door again, forcing the wood to buckle beneath him but not break. He stepped back and put his foot through the door, creating an opening. "Maybe I can reach my hand through and unlock it," John said as Blake heard something behind him.
He turned around and saw a creeping figure, ready to pounce. "I may have been followed," Blake said. "What?" John asked as Blake pushed him aside as the creature lunged at them, missing them and instead putting itself through the door and getting caught. "I have an idea!" Blake quickly said as he grabbed the creature's flailing legs. "Oh, lovely," John said as he scanned around for any other creatures lurking. "No headshots!" Blake yelled as he yanked and pulled at the bruised and bleeding body of the creature until it was back out of the door and tumbled with it against the wall before kicking himself away. The sprawling creature quickly composed itself and was about to get up when John fired four shots into its chest.
John watched the dying creature just in case while Blake reached into the hole and unlocked the door. The gunfire spooked the creatures into fleeing so when Blake and John rushed inside, they could only see the last creature jumping out of the broken window and disappear into the night. Anin was curled up in a corner, her knees to her chest and arms wrapped around herself, shaking uncontrollably.
"Everyone alright?" John asked as Blake took a knee by Anin and checked her. "That's odd," he said. "What's wrong with Anin?" John asked, worried. "She's fine," Blake said.
"That's not odd, that's good," John said, exhaling and rolling his eyes at Blake.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Blake said "Good that she's alive and unhurt. But why?"
"We got here in time, that's why."
"No, we didn't. How long did it take us to get in here? These things aren't exactly known for taking their time killing."
"They didn't kill that one little girl. They just probably wanted to traumatize Anin."
"It just doesn't make sense. Why were they even here?"
"They must have followed us."
"We were driving all over town all day."
"Then yesterday when we went straight here from one of their nests. You mentioned you thought you heard something last night."
"Then why not attack last night? Something doesn't fit."
"I don't know what answer you want, Blake."
"I know how to get them," Blake said as he looked to Anin and put a hand on her shoulder. "Talk to me," he said "Tell me they didn't make you comatose too." Anin stopped shaking and steadied her breathing as she looked up to Blake. "I don't know what they wanted from me," she said "Three of them came in, one blocked the door. I scrambled from the bed to get away but they didn't try anything."
"These things have done nothing but kill," Blake said as he stood up "Why change that now?"
"I'm pretty sure they weren't hanging around us for a friendly game of cards," John said.
"Well, we don't know anything about them," Blake said "Even what they are."
John walked to the door and looked out at the dead creature in the hall. "They don't look natural," he said as he glanced away "That's for damn sure."
"Good thing you didn't aim for the head," Blake said as he grabbed John and they walked for the stairs "Because now we can interrogate it."
"It's dead, Blake."
"I know, that's why we can!"
They went downstairs and out the backdoor, John ready and vigilant with his gun while Blake walked casually. "Does Joey lock his shed?" Blake asked. "I didn't even know there was a shed," John said as Blake effortlessly opened the doors and used his lighter to illuminate as he looked about inside. "Those things might come back," John said nervously "Weren't you the one earlier advocating for an evacuation?"
"They're not coming back," Blake said as he found what he was looking for "Not right away at least. We have a bit to figure some stuff out." He killed his lighter and returned outside with an axe. "Good idea," John said "Defend ourselves in case they return." Blake shrugged "Sure, that works too," he said as he returned to the house and went back upstairs.
"Find Anin somewhere comfortable," Blake said as he stood over the corpse of the creature. "And what are you gonna do?" John asked. "Anin's going to read this thing's brain," Blake said "All I'm doing is making it easier for us to bring the brain to her." John quickly went to where they left Anin and helped her up and to a desk chair, trying to ignore the continuous thumps of an axe striking down on a corpse.
"I may have made a mess," Blake said as he carefully walked in carrying a head. "Are you insane?" Anin said as she watched Blake walk over. "Didn't Joey mention already wanting new carpeting up here?" Blake asked "He won't mind the blood. Now anyway, this thing isn't too dead. If you can do that mind reading trick you told us about before, we might actually make a break in this case."
Anin bit her lip as she eyed the head in Blake's hands. "I don't think it's going to work, Blake," she said "This thing I do only really works on people, not animals let alone whatever the hell that thing is."
"It's humanoid," Blake explained "And I'm pretty sure they use tactics so they aren't completely primitive. But of all the crazy stuff we've done, you're drawing the line here?"
"Yes...no," Anin said as she shook her head "I don't know. Do you think it'll work?"
"One way to find out," Blake said as he offered the head. Anin slowly took it and laid it in her lap, whining about the cold wet blood that was getting all over her lap. "I did say I wanted to help," she said as she positioned the head upright facing her. She positioned her fingers around the temples on the head and closed her eyes and concentrated.
Blake and John watched her a moment as she slowly dung her nails deeper and deeper into the head. "Is that normal?" John asked as he and Blake tilted their heads at what was happening. Anin opened her eyes and just stared into the head while blood ran down her hands as she dug, her fingernails now buried and out of sight.
She grunted and whined suddenly as she closed her eyes tight and seemed to be fighting something internally. "Seriously," John said "Tell me when it stops being normal." Blake snapped his fingers at Anin and shouted her name. "Well I'm out of ideas," he said as Anin opened her eyes to reveal pools of black just like the creatures.
"What the fuck?" John asked as he and Blake peered closer to Anin, who was beginning to look about like she were just waking up and unknown to how she got where she was. "I think we can officially say this isn't normal," Blake said as Anin snapped her attention to him, studying him with her black eyes. She breathed sharply through her nose as she opened her mouth and reacted strangely to how the air tasted to her.
"Hey!" Blake yelled as he got in Anin's face "You're not Anin. You're that thing, aren't you?" He pointed to the head in Anin's lap that she still had her fingers dug into. She looked down at the head and slowly returned her gaze to Blake. "What are you?" he asked. Anin looked back and only a small growl escaped her from the back of her throat.
"What. Are. You." Blake demanded as he leaned in closer, getting practically nose to nose with Anin, who did not appreciate the invasion of her personal space. She hissed, causing Blake to back away and give her a chance to answer. "Human," she spat with a voice not her own. Blake looked back to a worried looking John before returning to Anin. "You're not human," he said as he pointed down to the head again "You're that thing. And whatever that thing is, it sure isn't human."
Anin looked to Blake with a sour expression. "So I'll ask again," Blake said "What the hell are you?" Anin sat for a moment and growled while her fingers twitched in the creature's skull. "I am human," she said slowly as she now leaned closer to Blake "What the hell are you?" Blake cocked an eyebrow. "I'm human," he said "Always was, always will be."
"No," Anin said quickly, now more comfortable in her current situation and body. She held up the skull still embedded in her fingers for Blake to see. "This," she said as she gestured with the skull "This, I, are the human here. What are you suppose to be?"
"I assure you, I'm the human," Blake said
"Impure," Anin said "Tainted...changed. No longer human but some bastard creation. You are no longer human."
"And what does that make you?"
"Pure. I am what lies beneath the facade of impurity bestowed upon you by your false gods. You are what we became through tampering, and we are the base of your existence.
"You're a monster, hate to break it to you."
"Aren't we all?"
"You're also dead, living off borrowed time from an unwitting psychic."
"I will share my demise with you, gladly."
"You mentioned my false god. Who is your god?"
"You could never comprehend the-"
Anin sat back with a look of shock, then indifference. "You know nothing of my god," she said "And they will take back what is rightfully theirs, starting with their creation."
"And what do I call you?"
"I am nameless."
"Hi nameless, I'm Blake."
"Your petty personalization means nothing. You are as nameless as I in the eyes of the true gods."
"And Anin? The person you're piggybacking on?"
"Cute. Can Anin come back out and play?"
"This one is gone, just like the rest. The tainted will be cleansed of their tampering until they are left whole again and pure."
"As the god intended." Anin then bowed her head and glared at Blake, looking ready to strike. "Play time's over," Blake said as he grabbed the head and tried to pull it away, but Anin was dug in too deep to take it. "Hmm," Blake mumbled as Anin stood up and shifted herself so to strike Blake in the head with her elbow before she took off running.
"Stop that psychic!" Blake called as John jumped in front of the broken doorway to bar exit. Leading with the head, Anin charged at him and they both collided and wrestled to the ground. She repeatedly smacked John in the face with the head as she slowly slipped from his grasp. She then raced out the door and made for the stairs.
Blake tailed her and dove to grab her right before she turned for the stairs. They rolled about fighting until Anin positioned herself on top of Blake. "Nimble," Blake said "Even without hands. I wonder if Joey gets to benefit from that." Anin raised the head over hers and prepared to strike it down upon Blake. "Die!" she hissed as she jerked downward with her arms-
-And a gunshot rang out, sending a bullet into the head and exploding brain matter out and onto Blake. Anin's hands sprung free of the head and she wore a blank shock expression as if she were the one being shot as she fell over and onto Blake. "Are you guys alright?" John called as he holstered his gun and ran over. "Just peachy," Blake mumbled under Anin as John pulled her off of him.
"Nice shooting," Blake said as John helped him up. "I figured you'd be okay with headshots now," John said as he then picked Anin up and carried her back into her room and laid her on the bed. "She gonna be okay?" he asked. "That thing," Blake said "Whatever it was, was just ripped suddenly from her body. I can't imagine that being a pleasant experience."
"That thing said it was human and we weren't."
"Yeah. It said a lot of things I wanna look into later."
Blake looked to the hall where the headless corpse still laid. "I'm gonna make a call," he said " Gimme your phone. We can get this thing checked out on the down low, make sure it didn't come from anywhere but here. It says it's human? Let's find out."
"Where are we going to do this? Because I'm pretty sure this house has enough bloodshed."
"I know the perfect place."