Last night, I had the wonderful opportunity to impart some information to the Free Radical. I am now considering telling the story of how myself and a few of my compatriots happened across those two poor Choir victims, but I will have to ask the permission of those involved and ensure that it does not contain any information deemed inappropriate for the public to hear. Hermes tolerates the existence of this blog, but I walk a thin line and prefer not to be forced to take it down if someone were to complain.
It is, however (even with our connection to the Archangel) extraordinarily rare to hear somebody complaining from beyond the grave, so I shall take this opportunity to tell of an associate of ours.
Anton lived a lonely life, a man shuffled all across the world and considering no land his home. The only real sense of identity he had was as a Buddhist, and as such he became rife with self-loathing at the things he had to do on the streets of Chicago. When we found him, he was deep in depression and on the verge of suicide. We helped him, however. The Timberwolves gave him a home and a family, and did not force his hand to evil deeds. He incorporated the Archangel into his own theology as the personification of Nirvana, and although many of us were... uncomfortable with him twisting our faith around himself, Anton was quiet about his beliefs and Hermes' predecessor ensured that the issue was not pressed.
After failing to show up to several 'meetings' despite confirming that he was interested in our product, an affiliated dealer then went off the radar entirely. Concerned with the money in our pockets, several of us went to go track the dealer down (Anton included). Simply enough, he was at home, but he looked like hell. We instantly assumed that he had been injecting questionable heroin, as his left arm had been rotted down to the bone but he was still alive and breathing. Anton, having the most first-aid experience, tried to patch him up - but the dealer died on the spot, as if he had simply been waiting for someone to say goodbye to. "Goodbye, Anton."
I had been unaware that Anton had known this man. Anton seemed to be unaware of this fact as well, and we chalked it up to eldritch shenanigans and allowed the matter to rest. However, shortly after, Anton began to sleepwalk every night. He complained of terrible, vivid nightmares - he would wake up naked in a place where the ground was made of hot iron, and then innumerable terrible beasts would swarm over him, tearing him apart.
Over, and over, and over again.
Sometimes it would be with iron nails, or the teeth of giant red beasts. Sometimes he would be pierced by arrows, or have his flesh stripped off strand by strand as if it were made of string. Then every morning he woke up, still screaming, as the wounds of his dreams were still present, and only he could see them. I decided to help him through this, linking his dream to hell (although I did not specifically recognize it as the Buddhist hell at the time) and thinking that perhaps he was having a crisis of faith. I was right, in a way. As these nightmares continued, he became certain that this was the fate that awaited him after death. His belief in the Archangel had been wounded, and I feared for his safety.
While this was going on, there had been a string of serial murders in the area committed by a man wearing the skull of a deer. Usually we stayed out of such matters, thankful that at least those murdered were in a better place, but then one of our own was killed. He was just a young one, and had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Instantly the attention of the Timberwolves was upon the murderer, and the packs were sent out to hunt.
We cornered him in a dingy alleyway, guns drawn. He looked familiar, in his filthy blazer, with his vague accent...
He introduced himself as -Hart-, and asked why we hesitated. I replied (for I was quite a bit less sophisticated in my early days) "Shut the fuck up Anton, we know it's you. Get that stupid mask off and face us like a man."
He removed his mask, and our suspicions were confirmed - we were facing Anton. However, we knew that it was -Hart- before us. The posture, the expression, the way he spoke was all wrong. It took us approximately ten seconds to determine that something was horribly wrong, and another five to fill -Hart- with lead. The screaming that resulted afterwards was very much Anton's, and I recall cussing very loudly.
"I don't... I don't..." he repeated, in a pleading voice, as he bled into the gutter. Then at the very last moment he calmed, looked up to us with dull eyes, and thanked us as he died. -Hart-'s murder spree continued uninterrupted, and we ended up losing three more good men before we got the sense to send the victim as far away as possible and make sure he couldn't get back to pass It on.
Old pain doesn't die (it waits), and I would prefer not to relive the experience once more to glean a meaning from it. Find your own this time, if it so suits you.