Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Earlier this morning, around 5 a.m., There was a knock on my door.  I got up, still kind of half asleep, and opened it.  Poe was there, fully dressed in one of those lacy black dresses she always wears for some reason.

"Um, Messi, you...I think you need to see this.  It's important.  You, uh, might want to take that one recorder you use for those interviews."

Looking back, I maybe should have known that something was wrong.  I think that was the first time I had seen Poe alone.  Before, she had always been with Caper, always sticking fairly close to him.  But either way, it really wouldn't have mattered.

She took me down the the apartment where she and Caper stayed and tried unlocking the door.  Her hands were shaking pretty badly, and she kept fumbling with the keys.  Second warning sign that I missed.  But anyway, she opened the door, and that was when

I don't want to write this.

At first, everything seemed normal.  Caper wasn't exactly the tidiest guy, and the room was usually pretty unkempt.  But Poe always kept her side clean.  Now, the entire apartment was trashed.  Not only that, things were broken.  The computer, one of the dressers, some dishes...this wasn't a normal mess.  There had been a fight.

Poe led me around a pile of junk to where Caper was lying on the floor.

"He's here," she said.

Caper nodded weakly.  He looked...well, he didn't look good.  His eyes were all unfocused and he could barely move.

"Hey, Messi," he said.

"Caper, don't talk," Poe told him.  "I'll let him know what happened."  She turned to me.  "The tracking didn't go as planned.  We managed to get our hands on the tape.  We checked it out, and could have easily ID'd the girl.  But then Caper destroyed it.  It was the last lead we had to finding that girl.  The blog's ended, and everyone who could or would have pointed us to her is dead.  And then, um...well, you know who got upset, appeared during the night--"

"He tossed me around," Caper wheezed.  Poe glared at him.

"Why'd you destroy the tape, Caper?" I asked.

He looked up at me.  "She was just a kid," he said, as if it was a stupid question.  "I couldn't let them get her."  He smiled.  "She was a cute thing, too.  I like kids.  Got a real soft spot for them."

"Caper," Poe said quietly, "please don't talk."

"But it's what I doooooooooo..." he said.  She kind of glared back at him.  "Sorry, I guess that wasn't funny."

I turned to Poe.  "So how long ago did you call the ambulance?"

She shook her head.  "It's...not coming, Messi.  He's, well, gone against...well, you know who, and he showed up personally for this.  If we can save him tonight, what happens next?  All three of us know that Caper's already dead."

"That reminds me," Caper said weakly.  "I've got a confession.  This is kind of the first time I've died.  I'm not really a reanimated corpse."

She looked down, trying to glare at him, but the tears were starting to come.  "Caper, if you weren't dying, I would hit you for that.  Just...please, save your energy."  She reached out and grabbed his hand, and he smiled a bit, weakly nodding that he understood.

"Hey, um, Caper," I said, "I know I haven't known you all that long, and I know that I keep talking about how I can't stand you, but...well, you've been a really good friend.  It's been nice knowing you, I guess."

He nodded again.  "Sorry about that Q and A thing I wanted to do.  If they still want questions answered, just tell them that all the answers are 'ponies.'  That should satisfy them."

Poe was really fighting back the tears at that point.  When he finished talking, she couldn't hold them back any longer.  She leaned over and hugged him where hey lay.  "Thank you so much, Caper," she sobbed.  "Thanks for everything."

He smiled.  "Poe," he said, "I'm bleeding internally."  She let go of him, backing up a bit, hurriedly whispering apologies.  "But it's been great.  I don't think I could have ever found a better partner."

He lay back and closed his eyes.  "Hey, guys...I think I see a light.  I think it's time.  I should maybe go towards it."  He exhaled, a tranquil look suddenly coming over his face.  "Yeah, that's warm.  That's really nice.  That's...that's kind of hot.  Oh, god!  Oh, no, it's from the flames!"  He gave a weak scream, followed by an attempt to chuckle.  He ended up coughing out blood.

Poe wiped her eyes, allowing herself a smile.  "You jerk."

He smiled back at her.  "Goodbye, Poe.  I'll miss you.  Can...can you hold my hand again until I'm gone?  It's nice."  Then he turned to me, and he had the weirdest look in his eyes.  He was trying to smile, trying to look calm, trying to be strong, but he looked terrified.

"Hey, Messi," he said, "Am I a bad person?"

I tried


I couldn't answer.  I watched as the light went out of his eyes, and I couldn't give him his final answer.

-Don't Shoot The Messenger-

Monday, June 27, 2011

Once Upon A Time

There was once a young man named Kyle.

Now, Kyle was a cheerful, easygoing boy.  He had a close circle of friends.  He came from a happy, close family.  And he maybe fought with his parents and older brother sometimes (doesn't everyone?), but he still loved them, and maintained a good relationship with all three.  Sure, he had some things to be stressed about, and like all people, there were days when he just couldn't take something and broke down crying, but no major life trauma.  His life was, all around, pretty good.  In fact, he got the kind of idyllic, happy life that most people these days rarely get.

Now, Kyle had a brother.  His name was Alan.  Alan and his little bro got along pretty well, and enjoyed spending time together.  And then, one weekend near the end of the school year when Alan came to visit Kyle for his birthday, the elder brother decided to show the birthday boy a neat little YouTube series that one of his roommates had contributed to Horror Movie Friday.

That series was called Marble Hornets.

Kyle enjoyed the series, even though horror wasn't really his genre of choice, and started looking into it.  He found more series starring the same mysterious beings.  He kept watching, kept reading, kept getting drawn deeper and deeper in.  The paranoia started getting to him.  He started hearing noises.  He started seeing things.  It starts small, and he tried to get over it, but the paranoia just got worse and worse.  The trees everywhere seemed to be watching him.  He kept feeling presences outside his windows.

And then he saw the one thing that he had been both expecting and dreading itself.

His brother could tell that something was wrong, no matter how hard he tried to hide it.  He sat down with Kyle and had a talk with him.  Kyle couldn't help but tell Alan everything.  After all, he trusted his brother.  Alan scoffed a bit, as he had only seen Marble Hornets a couple of times and thought of it as just a stupid video series, but he was still concerned for Kyle.  He told him to back off for a while, not to let it get to him.  He even let Kyle stay with him for a bit so that he could keep him company.  Kyle calmed down some.  Surely a change of scenery to get his mind off of all those stories would do him good.  And it did, to an extent.

But Kyle couldn't fight the paranoia completely.  And, as it turns out, it wasn't just paranoia.  The same thing that had stalked him back home was stalking him at his brother's house.

And Alan saw it himself.

The night after Kyle saw it at Alan's house, it showed up outside the window.  Kyle, asleep on the couch, was blissfully unaware.  Alan, however, saw it.  He opened the door and stepped outside.

"Hey," he said, hoping it would understand.  "Look, could...could you leave my brother alone?  He's a nice kid, and he really doesn't deserve any of this.  After all, I was the one who got him involved in this in the first place."  He felt kind of silly after saying it, as he realized how terribly lame and weak it sounded.  "Look," he tried again, "I hear that there are people who work for you.  People who do things so you don't have to get your hands dirty.  I'm a hacker, you know.  I can...get onto people's blogs and deliver messages or something.  Look, I don't care what it is you want.  I'll work for you, just as long as you leave Kyle and everyone around him alone."

The faceless man sort of tilted his head a bit.  Then, he reached out an arm to Alan, and what sounded like a thousand whispering voices filled his mind.  He couldn't understand anything they said, but he still somehow understood the intent: the faceless man accepted his offer.

Alan quickly headed inside, scribbled down a quick lie to let Kyle and his roommates what was going on, and followed his new boss into the night, terrified of an employer that, not half an hour ago, he had thought was fictitious.

Yeah, Kyle, you were right.  It's me.  Pretty good story, huh?  Enjoy it at all?  Now quit bothering me about it.  You don't have to read it anymore to figure it out since I know how much you hate the blogs.  You and your friends just go back to making your vlog.  All these other nice writers are waiting for me to continue my story to play their game.  You happy?  Now promise me you'll stop reading the blog and just leave me alone with this, okay?  I don't need you starting to comment and messing up my immersion.  No offense, of course.  You just tend to screw things like this up a bit, isn't that right, bro? ;)

-Don't Shoot The Messenger-

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Role of Stories

I recorded this a bit ago, but with the whole Alex interview translation and Zero's death, I didn't have time to post it.  I've had some time to reflect on it, though.

I went over to visit Caper, kind of pissed about the whole William thing.  I just can't escape this guy's goddamn tall tales.  Pretty much the first words out of my mouth were "Why the hell is William telling your stories?"

I wasn't expecting the reaction I got from him.  He was quiet for a few seconds before turning to me.  He started to roll up his sleeves, grinning.

Caper:  You wanna know how I got these scars?

[Obviously, the scars weren't real.  He usually wore t-shirts, and he doesn't have any scars.  But there, on his arms, were angry-looking scars.]

The Messenger: Caper, I don't have time for another one of your stupid stories.

C: There are a number of variations on that one.  The most popular is my two year stint in a Japanese Martial Arts Cult, made up entirely of Koreans living in Idaho, who on the last day of my initiation into their now-defunct brotherhood made me pick up a scalding metal wok using only my bare forearms.

[I guess the thing that made me keep listening was the fact that he wasn't telling a story.  He was reciting.  As he spoke, he grabbed a book from a shelf, opened it to a bookmarked page, and continued reading.]

C: In the past, the wok has been heated in a kiln; recently it's been full of red hot coals.  The story's an absolute crock of shit, or should I say wok of shit--sorry; I know, I know I should learn to crawl before I walk; sorry again; sorry again; I mean not for being sorry the first time or for that matter the second time--but, you see, it's so hard to argue with all those whirls of melted flesh.

"Show them your arms, Johnny" Lude will say, in his most offhand over-the-top manner.

"Aw come on.  Well, alright just this once."  I roll up my left sleeve and then, taking my time, I roll up the right one.

"He got that in a cult in Indiana."

"Idaho," I correct him.  And it goes on from there.

I'm sure most women know it's bull but hey, they're entertained.  I also think it's somewhat of a relief not to here the true story.  I mean you look at the horror sweeping all the way up from my wrists to my elbows, and you have to take a deep breath and ask yourself, do I really want to know what happened there?  In my experience, most people don't.  They usually look away.  My stories actually help them look away.

Maybe they even help me look away.

[At this point he looked up at me, closing the book.]

C: But I guess that's nothing new.  We all create stories to protect ourselves.  [He paused for a bit.]  So who's The Messenger, and why is he listening to other people's stories instead of telling his own?  What's he avoiding?  What's his story?

[I didn't say anything.]

C: You understand a bit more now?  That thing with William...he didn't have anything anymore.  He didn't have a name or a past.  He chose the name himself.  I chose the past.  And he's not the first.  All these lost broken people with absolutely nothing...suddenly, they've at least got an identity.  They're a person again, or they can at least pretend to be.  It's something that they can hang on to.

M: And what about you?  Why do you tell all your stories?

C: What, I can't have a bit of fun?

M: Who are you really, Caper?

C: You really want to know?  All right, then.  I've been around for longer than you think.  My real name's William.  William Navidson, actually.

M:  [I was...surprised.  I'm not sure now, but when I talked to him, it sounded like he was genuinely offering details of his life.  I...are...are you serious?

C: Maybe I am.  Maybe I'm not.  Who knows?  All that matters is that whoever I used to be...I'm not that person anymore.  I'm Caper now.  Nothing from my past really matters anymore.  It doesn't matter that my father was an abusive drunk or that my girlfriend aborted the son I desperately wanted to have or that I once experimented with a dog in college or that I raised a baby dragon from a hatchling and went on globe-spanning adventures with it before the government took him from me and put him down.  Because whoever I was, whoever I may have been--I can't be that person anymore now that I work for The Big Guy.  You've gotta cut ties with the past, because it'll only bring you down in this line of work.  I, every day, have to work on luring people out so that other Agents can kill them.  I've got blood on my hands, Messi.  I may not kill them directly, but if I were still who I used to be, I'd cry myself to sleep every night.  If I'm not me, if I'm someone else, I'm somehow able to live with myself.

M: Caper, what was that book you were reading out of?

C: *laughter* Really, Messi, you've mentioned Logan on your list of dead people, but you don't know the significance of where he lived?  Well, whatever.  You should really read it sometime.

M: Okay, but what's the book?

C: Well where's the fun in that if I just tell you?  Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some tracking to do.

M: Oh, mind if I watch?

C:  [He paused a while before sighing]  Fine.  I'll show you.  Just...make sure that you don't let anyone know what blogs these are that I'm tracking, and which I'm tracking with.  You see this blog here?  Well, it's been talking about a young girl.  We don't know her real name or her exact location, but we know that she's somewhere in D.C.  Well, we're finally starting to pinpoint her.  You see this post?  Pretty clear as to where her exact location at that general time is, and we might be able to get our hands on security tapes to identify her from what we know.  After that, we'll be able to ID her, and it should be a piece of cake from there.

M: That's...impressive.

C: *sigh*  Yeah, is.  In fact, tomorrow, Poe and I are headed out to do some field work.  Speaking of which, she's been working on some tracking herself.  Some idiot of a runner's leaving a ton of clues to other runners' whereabouts, so she's been watching that pretty closely.

M: You tracking any of those?

C: Nah, they're too far west for us to concern ourselves with.  We're...headed for the girl. [There was a pause.]  Well, Messi, it's been great talking with you, but like I said, we're taking off tomorrow.  I should, you know...pack up some and get some sleep.

[He forced me out the door pretty quickly after that.  Said he'd be back around the end of the week.  Still didn't tell me what book I was supposed to be reading.  Anyone have any ideas what he was talking about?]

-Don't Shoot The Messenger-

Friday, June 24, 2011

From Zero to Hero to Zero

I never thought I’d actually be happy about one of these.  And yet, somehow, I am.

He’s gone.  Timothy “Zero” Holiday.  Here's the report. 

[EDIT: I've gone ahead and posted an updated version to Zero's blog since the writing of this post.]

There were a couple Agents in the area tracking him when he went into a forest.  They went in after him when he didn’t come out.  They found a huge, dead tree (the surviving Agent says that they should have noticed a tree like that towering over the rest of the forest).  Zero was hanging on one of the branches.  One of the two got closer to make sure that it was, in fact Zero, and that he was, in fact, dead.  He managed to yell back that the ripped-open abdomen was pretty conclusive before…well, we’re not sure what exactly happened, since his partner is extremely unstable and unwilling to talk about it at this time, refusing to say more about it than “the fucking tree got him.”

The surviving agent also managed to grab a backpack belonging to Zero from near the tree, as well as the smartphone he posted from.  The mask was also at the base of the tree, but the Agent who didn’t survive had that.  They were unable to track down the sword and jade elephant he had discarded earlier, and, strangely enough, all the bones had vanished.  Not a trace of them anywhere.  All that’s left of Zero is a backpack and a phone…and not even that anymore, as the backpack has been burned and the phone smashed.  The sword and the elephant are still out there, though.  Good luck to anyone who thinks they can find them, I guess.

I’ll admit, it was hard for me to remain professional for this one, just because…well, I don’t know.  I guess he’s just been striking nerves lately.  In fact, I've decided to hold off on posting this to his blog, just because I feel like I wouldn't be able to avoid taking shots at him and it's just not right to spit on a dead guy on his own blog.  See, we...had a bit of an exchange not too long ago.  Let me get the posts for you.

Anyway, in this post, he mentioned Jekyll as one of his victims.  Listed under people who “deserved it.”  He is, of course, referring to Hyde, a friend I’d mentioned before who helped me through things when I was first getting involved.  The thing is, Zero didn’t even know Hyde.  I did.  Zero probably never even read Hyde’s blog, so he wouldn't know that Jekyll wasn’t Hyde.  Sure, they shared the same body, and a few similarities, but the two were…not the same person.  And neither of them “deserved” it.  Take it from me, Hyde was just a broken kid who was working for The Boss because he had nothing left.  All he had was the name Hyde.  And that asshole took that way from him, too.  I got a bit upset about that and left this comment on his blog.  Well, he decided he’d come over here and retort with this:

“you know, at first I didn't give a damn about you bitching about Hyde. I mean, why the fuck do you care? You leave this big defensive comment on my blog about him and shit, and I really didn't give a damn, but fuck it.

You wanna know why I called him Jekyll?

Because it makes him a real man to me, not some bullshit proxy that I killed, I call him Jekyll as a sign of his humanity, whatever the hell was left of it.

And if you've got a problem with THAT, then fuck you too.”

What a guy.  Isn’t he great?  Jekyll was human, but once he became Hyde, I guess he just ceased to be a person.  I guess that this means that I’m not a human either.  Or anyone else I’ve talked to here.  William, or the people who call themselves William, have lost everything.  Are you really going to say that you can’t look at them with pity as people?

The fucker is dead, and I can’t help but be happy about it.  He’s not going to kill anyone else now.  He’s not going to spread his bigoted slander about us Agents around (I’d like to remind you that, unlike him, most of us have never killed anyone).

Goodnight, sweet prince, and mobs of demons drag thee to thy torment.

-Don't Shoot The Messenger-

NOTE:  May get a report up on Zero's blog eventually.  May not.  I don't know.  I don't feel like it'd be a good idea when I can't remain unbiased in this.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Interview with Alex

I was, admittedly, a bit surprised at this guy's name.  Poe directed me to him (because I wasn't going to trust Caper's suggestions), and I think I made a bit of a weird face when I heard that he chose "Alex" as a name, because she laughed at me a little bit.

Well, I got there and I found out why exactly he chose the name.

Ever seen A Clockwork Orange?  Yeah.  This Alex was dressed like that Alex, weird gear-like thing under the eye and everything.  He had, in essence, become the character.  He even talked in that slang.  That's why this took so damn long to get up: I had to translate everything he said. 

Anyway, here's the interview.

The Messenger: So, Alex, is it?  Are you up for an interview?

Alex: *nods*

M: Okay, so, first question.  How long have you been working for The Boss?

A: Only a malenky bit, oh brother.  Nearing half a year.

M: And why did you start in the first place?

A: *grins*  Well, you know.  Wanted a bit of the old ultraviolence.  That feeling you get when you give some malchick a tolchock on the gulliver is simply divine.  Give a dvotchka or three the old in-out-in-out.  It's real horrorshow. 

[Note: I understood almost none of this.  I asked Caper and Poe if they were familiar with this A Clockwork Orange at all, and Poe offered to help translate and get the right spellings.  Caper also offered, but I think I trusted Poe to be a bit more accurate, especially since I think she's a bit of a bookworm.  Anyway, I think what he said is that it's fun to be violent or a delinquent.]

M: Um...okay...?  Next question.  How did you get involved in all of this?

A: Oh, I've always liked the ultraviolence.  The millicent were already suspicious of me, so it was no problem joining up.  That's how it was already when I viddied most of TribeTwelve with my droogs, anyway.  We smecked at it, but it made us a bit uneasy.  My droog Jason got a malenky bit too into it, and started acting all bezoomy. No-litso razrezzed him up about a month later.  Viddied it myself, Jason creeching and wailing the whole time, the krovvy spilling out everywhere, and I admit that I sicked a little.  But my droogs and I decided to join up instead of fighting.  Now they're all bezoomy, all glazed in the glazzies.  And your faithful narrator, oh brother?  Fine and feeling real horrorshow.

[Translation:  He said something about always having been a delinquint already, so it wasn't too big of a step to join Slendy.  Anyway, he got involved when he first watched Tribe Twelve (which he and his friends thought was a joke), and joined up instead of fighting when Slendy came and tore up his friend a month later.  That's what Poe claims, at least.]

M: Look...could you just cut the stupid Clockwork Orange slang?  I have no clue what you're saying.

A: [He had been wearing a sort of devilish grin on his face, but it suddenly vanished.  His entire demeanor changed, and he suddenly got a scared look in his eyes.  He wasn't Alex anymore.  He was just some scared kid again.]  Look, have...have you ever read the book?  You don't know what happens in the end, do you?

M: I've seen the movie.  Alex gets brainwashed into being good against his will or something, but he manages to get his free will back in the end.  Continues on with the "ultraviolence" as you call it.

A: *shakes his head* need to know how the book ends.  There was another chapter that they didn't include in the original American release.  At the end, he--Alex, that is--decides that he's bored of being bad.  He settles down.  Starts a family.  That's...that's why I can't break character.  I need this chance.  This chance to start over.  I'm trapped here, and I need some way, some little bit of hope, that no matter how bad I am, no matter what sort of things I do, how many people I kill...that there's some hope that I can leave this all behind.  It''s not fun anymore.

M: ...I', I'm...sorry about that.

[He was shaking at this point.  I was quiet for a while so that he could regain his composure.  When he finally looked up again, he had the grin back on his face.  He was completely back in character.]

A: What's it going to be then, eh?

M: I think I'm done here.  Thanks for your time.

-Don't Shoot The Messenger-

Monday, June 13, 2011

Who was William?

Some of you may remember back when I posted about one of those guys who's been completely broken coming up to me and telling me that his name was William.  And then a different one claiming the exact same thing.

Well, I've been keeping an eye on the Broken ones for a while now.  I'm curious about them.  I want to know what exactly makes them tick.  How they act, and why they act the way they do.  Agents are relatively easy to understand.  Even if I don't really consider myself an Agent, I've got motivation.  Hyde had motivation.  Caper has a motivation, even if he won't tell me.  Alex (I interviewed him the other day; you'll be hearing his story soon) has a motivation.  I assume that Poe has a motivation, and I'll need to get around to her.  All the Agents have motivation of some sort.  The Broken?  They've got the opposite of that.  They're dead inside.  They've been forced into this against their will.  They're not going to act like normal people.

But yeah, I've been keeping an eye on the Broken.  I think I'm starting to figure a few things out.  It's strange how exactly they tick.  Were they all former runners?  Random people who just went insane?  Former Agents who...mentally regressed for some reason?

Lately, I've seen a lot of the Broken in this area start dressing the same.  Picking up the same mannerisms.  And they've started to become slightly more coherent.  I tried talking to one the other day.  A lot of the time he'd blank out, and I'd have to ask him about three times before he realized he was being asked a question, and not everything he said made sense, but he could at least carry on something resembling a conversation.  The conversation is highly fragmented, so I'll just give you the bullet points.

I started by asking him what his name was, and he looked up at me, huge bags under his eyes.  "William," he said, slightly confused.  "My name is William Jameson.  I'm 33 years old [there was no way he could be older than 25].  I live at [address undisclosed]."  And from there, he kept listing all this private information.  Some of it pretty clearly either contradicted what I could tell about him from a glance or earlier information he had given me.  The whole time, he had this look on his face like something was off, but he couldn't quite understand what.  Like he knew that this person he was telling me about wasn't him, but he couldn't quite grasp that fact.

He kept rambling nonstop until he couldn't think of anything else, and then just trailed off and fell silent.  It was a few minutes before I could coax another word out of him.  He just sat there, staring down at the floor, as if his mind had completely shut down.  He threw out a sentence here and there, but nothing of any real value.  He finally started talking again about the third time I got around to asking him what he did.  He looks up again, like there was this light going on in his head.  "Well, I...we...he...."  He trailed off, completely confused.  It's like it was dawning on him that he wasn't really William, and that the whole life that he had constructed was a lie.  I changed the subject quickly before he shut down completely.

"So how did you first hear know.  The Boss.  The guy we work for."

His face lit up again, the confusion clearing away.  "Well, my father and I were stunt motorcyclists.  We had a pretty good life, until I found out that my dad had cancer.  The Big Guy offered to heal my dad if I came and worked for him."  I froze.  I had never heard anyone but Caper call him "The Big Guy."  William continued.  "My dad actually did recover.  He got better.  The doctors said it was a miracle.  And then, his first big show, he had a terrible crash."  He snapped his fingers.  "Dead, just like that.  So now I'm stuck here."

I shook my head, thanked him for his time, and headed out.  I'm going to have to talk to Caper about this.

I think I may have figured something out, though.  The Broken have nothing anymore.  They don't know who they are.  So they find things they can latch on to.  Constants.  A name.  A particular style of mask.  A story.  Anything they can to construct some sort of identity for themselves.  I have no idea who William really was.  Was that one guy who came up to me really William?  Is anything this William said about himself true of the last William?  And how many people think that they're this guy?  Who was William?

And more importantly, is he still alive?

-Don't Shoot The Messenger-

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Interview with Caper. Again.

I tried talking to Caper again to get his backstory, and I guess also to figure out what exactly it is he does.  I don't know, I don't get around too much, so I don't sit down and chat with agents that often.

Poe came with him today.  She's usually hanging around him pretty closely.  I think that they must be partners or something.  She seems a bit gloomy, though.  Never really talks much, always wears these lacy black dresses like she's at some kind of funeral, and spent the entire interview sitting off to the side, barely saying anything.  I'm actually glad she came along, though...she gave me a better sense of what exactly was true.

Again, recorded the audio for a decent transcript.  It went something like this:

Messenger: So, Caper...let's try this again.  And please...please just cooperate, okay?

Caper: Yeah, sure, whatever you say, Messi.  Let's do this thing.

M:  Okay, um...I guess I'd like to start with what exactly it is you do.

C: Oh, well, me and Poe, we track.

M: Track?

C: Yeah, we hunt down runners.  Find out where they are.  It's pretty exciting.  I get to be a bit of a detective!  Like Zeke Strahm, only evil!

M:  Uh...huh.  So what exactly does that entail?

C: Well, we read blogs.  Lots of blogs.  We also write a few and use the characters to gain their trust and goad information out of them.  You've actually hacked...three of my blogs, I think?

M: Um...sorry about that?  Wait, how do you know what blogs I've hacked?

C: Found your list when I was going through your shit.  By the way, I should probably give you the list of blogs that those who do this are running, because, like, half of your list is written by people on our side.

Poe: It's not that many, Caper.

C: Okay, it's not that many, but you've hit a few.  I'll let you know.  Anyway, we pinpoint the locations, and other people go in and take them down.  Of course, we do some actual field work, too.  I was actually a park ranger for seven years, so I've got some good experience with actual tracking.  [At this point, I shot Poe a questioning glance.  She just sort of shrugged like she wasn't sure either.]  But yeah, we don't often get involved, although sometimes we slip up and have to, well, clean up our messes a bit.  Isn't that right, Poe?  [Poe nodded, so I guess he's at least telling the truth about that.]  You know, Messi, you should really consider tracking.  We've got great dental.

P: We've got terrible dental.

C: Yeah, we've got terrible dental.  Don't become a tracker.  But yeah, that's what we do.

M: So you've been involved in..."cleaning up messes," as you put it?  I'm assuming that you experience a bit of death, then.  How exactly do you handle it?  I mean, it's gotta be tough, unless you're a complete psycho. [I suddenly realized that it was, in fact, possible that Caper and/or Poe was a complete psycho, and that I may have pressed a button.  Fortunately, I think I was wrong.]

C: Well, it is.  I mean, it really, truly is.  The first time you see a man jump out a window and see his splattered remains on the ground below, you can't help but break down.  Have a cry.  Probably lose your lunch.  Spend the rest of the week contemplating your navel.  But you grow dull to it.  Eventually, it doesn't bother you so much when the guy jumps out the window anymore.  By about the fifth or sixth time, you maybe wanna even push him yourself just to get it over with faster.  Eventually, it maybe even becomes fun.  You know, there was one time I tied a guy to a bungee cord before pushing him out.  I think it was a bit too long, though.  Ended up being pretty funny: WheeeeeeeeeeeeSPLAT!  WheeeeeeeeeeeeeSPLAT!  WheeeeeeeeeSPLAT! [He used little hand motions to show the movement of the supposed Bungee Victim as well.  I really didn't know whether to laugh or not.]

M:, how long have you and Poe been...I dunno, Agents?  Is that the term?

C: Well, I guess Poe's not really an Agent, but about half a year for her, give or take a month.  That about right, Poe?  [She nodded.]  As for me...dammit, can't quite remember when exactly.  I know that it was sometime between November 5, 2004, and last week.

M:  ...You're not taking this seriously, are you?

C: No, no, I'll talk.  Just give me a minute to collect my thoughts.

M: [to Poe]  Do you have any idea?

P: [She shook her head.]  He was here before I was.

C: Okay, I'll talk.  I'll start with my real name and occupation before all of this, I guess.  My name's Henry Gale.  I used to give hot-air balloon tours, before all of this.  That's who I was.  Now for how I got involved.  My dad got a job at...some place.  I'm not sure.  I think it was actually a branch of the PTC.  Anyway, a while later, I learned that he was actually fighting The Big Guy.  Of course, I didn't get along too well with my dad, and one day, when I was out, I met up with some Agents.  I got along okay with them, and while I didn't plan on switching sides, it got me thinking that maybe it wasn't necessarily them who were the bad guys.  Anyway, after that, The Big Guy started turning his eye on me.  I felt paranoid.  I felt scared.  I felt unsafe.  He hadn't appeared, but I could feel him there.  You know, same story that a lot of people had.  Anyway, things...changed one night.  I was almost asleep, when I suddenly felt The Big Guy's presence.  I froze up, unsure of what to do.  I knew he had come to claim me, and that if I was alive at the end of the night, I'd be working for him.  And do you know what he did?  His tentacles came out, grabbed me by the arms and legs, and hoisted me in the air.  And then he ripped my clothes off, and the tentacles started coming out like in all those Japanese cartoon things--I never watch anything like this, of course, I just happened to see it once or twice over Poe's shoulder [she looked a bit offended at this]--and the tentacles know, assaulting me in, well...places.

M: Caper....

C: And then the one tentacle goes down my throat, right?  And he starts really jamming it down there--

M: Caper.

C: And the other one goes up my rear, and starts forcing its way up there--

M: Caper!

C: And they force their way through my digestive system, until they're both in my stomach, and when they've reached that, I could swear I felt them high-five each other--

M: Caper, shut the fuck up, now.

C: And I could swear that in the aftermath, while I had an extremely loose grasp on consciousness, I could see him smoking a post-coitus cigarette....

[At this point, I lunged at him and started attacking him.  Caper's kind of a big guy, and I'm...well, I'm not particularly buff, so I wasn't too worried about hurting him.  I think Poe just kind of rolled her eyes a bit, so she mustn't have been to worried either.]

C: Jesus, man, cut it out!  I'm kidding!  What are you, my drunken mother?

[I stepped back, the urge to kill him subsiding a little as he lay laughing on the floor.  I wasn't about to laugh.]

M: Okay, Poe, what's his story?

P: I, um, don't know.  Do you want me to tell you the one about his grandfather with a heart condition, or the one where he's a reanimated corpse of some sort?  Because those are kind of the ones that make the most sense to me.

M: Reanimated corpse?

P: I've been working with him for months.  I've never heard the same story twice.  Believe me, that' of the more rational ones.

M: Okay, what about yours?  How'd it start for you?

C: Ooh!  Lemme tell it, Poe!  It was Concrete Giraffes.

P: I'd, uh, actually rather not talk about it right now.


And from there, there's really nothing else of any value.  It's clear that I'm going to have to just give up on getting anything of value from Caper, but I might try talking to Poe again sometime.  I'm also probably going to have to find someone who's not a tracker.  See what they do.

-Don't Shoot The Messenger-

Saturday, June 4, 2011


It's a funny thing.  You can't gain it unless you've already given it yourself.  Sounds like a riddle or something.  Look, I don't even know where I'm going with this.  I think I've just realized that a lot of you guys really don't trust me.  And why would you?  You know nothing about me, other than the fact that I work for The Boss, I'm a hacker, and I report on deaths.  I guess it's time to open up a bit more.

I'm 27 years old.  Just under six feet tall.  Light brown eyes, dark brown shaggy hair.  No beard or mustache.  Thin.  Used to be about 150 lbs. before taking this job.  Now I'm closer to 140.  I'm eating about the same, so I guess it's the stress.  No, you don't get a name or location other than "America," at least not yet.  That's for my own safety.

I grew up in...well, I'm still in the same general part of the States, so I'm not going to give you any specifics, but I grew up in a decent home.  Parents never split, but they worked pretty hard, so I spent a lot of time alone.  On top of that, I lived in a small town (I'm in a bigger city now), and there isn't much to do in small towns.  So I became a black hat hacker, just as a hobby to fill time.  I ended up getting pretty good at it.  Not good enough that the government got suspicious, but good enough that I could do quite a bit of damage to an unsuspecting site.  Not that I ever did that, though.  At least not to any sites that didn't deserve it.  As for an actual job, I'm working with the IT department of my Alma Mater.  Well, at least I was.

Started working just about a month or two ago.  I'm actually pretty new to all of this.  I first heard of him in...late February I think?  Wasn't too terribly long.  So yeah, the first time I saw him, I made a deal with the devil, but sometimes there are things worth selling your soul for.  Unsatisfactory, yeah, but I'm not quite willing to share yet.

As for what I do, well, I guess you already know.  I read blogs, for one thing, and do some research on them.  More importantly, I work on hacking blogs in case deaths need reporting.  And, of course, I report the deaths.  It's really not much, but it apparently helps, because I'm still here.

That's me, I guess.  Hope you all trust me a bit more that I've opened up some.

-Don't Shoot The Messenger-