The Draik in Black: Pictures of Darkness - Part Six
The Lupe happily raced towards his friend. The sun was shining brightly on a cloudless day. The air smelled crisp and the grass was freshly cut. The green Zafara turned around to greet him with a smile.
"Troy! It's been too long!"
The Lupe laughed happily as he gave his friend a tight hug. The Zafara laughed as well before they broke the embrace.
"So why did you want to meet in Buzzer Park?" Troy asked, giving the Zafara a big grin.
"Well..." Jack started, looking behind Troy for a moment. It was only a quick second, barely noticeable. "I figured it was a close enough place to both of our homes that we could both get here easily."
Troy nodded and then hugged his friend again. "I've missed you, buddy. So tell me all about it!"
"Sure!" the Zafara started, then suddenly looked to his left. His face suddenly soured. "Not here."
Troy felt a bit confused. "What do you mean, not here?" he asked, as he turned to look where Jack just had. "What is it?"
"Don't you see him?" the Zafara said.
The sky started to turn dark and cloudy and the air turned cold. It seemed like darkness was starting to spread from their own shadows.
"See who?" Troy asked, tiling his head a bit.
"He's behind you, Troy!" Jack shouted.
The Lupe turned around and saw that a faceless Draik dressed in black was standing behind him.
Troy screamed and turned back to Jack. The Zafara's face was also missing, and it sounded like he was screaming horribly unnatural sound. Darkness quickly enveloped the Zafara, ripping him away from Troy.
Troy was still screaming as he turned back to the faceless Draik. The Draik in black was right in his face. Darkness suddenly consumed everything....
Troy woke with a start. His heart was beating fast and his body was drenched in a cold sweat. His paws were clenching the covers of his bed as he looked around his bedroom. It was empty. The light was still on, illuminating himself and his furniture.
It was only a nightmare.
The Lupe closed his eyes, trying to catch his breath for a moment as he brought a paw to his forehead. He couldn't have been sleeping for more than an hour. Troy wiped his brow clear of sweat as his breathing started to slow down.
After about a minute, Troy had calmed down from the nightmare. He opened his eyes again and got out of bed. He walked over to his bedroom mirror and looked at his reflection.
Troy hadn't slept in three days and it showed. His eyes were bagging, his ears were hanging low, and he just looked completely exhausted and his blue fur was disheveled. The nightmare didn't help at all.
"Still surprised my fur hasn't turned white after all this..." Troy muttered to himself.
He shook his head and decided to get some milk to help him sleep. Troy unlocked the door to his bedroom and headed down the hall towards the kitchen. He didn't notice that a figure in a green mask had been watching him the entire time through his bedroom window.
Troy went to his front door before heading to the kitchen. He checked the knob to make sure that it was still locked. It was. The Lupe gave a small nod in satisfaction before he continued on his way into the kitchen. Troy grabbed a glass out of the cupboard, went to the fridge, and pulled out a carton of milk. He poured the milk into the glass and began to drink it.
The image of Jack screaming and without his face from his nightmare flashed into his mind.
Troy dropped the milk carton in surprise and it spilled all over the floor. His heart began beating faster as the memory of the nightmare lingered in his mind. He shook his head, trying to shake those thoughts from his mind as he gathered some paper towels to clean up the spilled milk.
"Jack... please be safe...." Troy thought as he cleaned.
The Lupe started to feel exhausted again as he finished cleaning up the mess. He put the cup in the sink and washed it out before heading back to his bedroom. Troy checked the front door once again and still found it locked. He also peeked out from behind one of the window curtains to take a look outside.
He didn't see anyone.
Troy had calmed down again as he returned to his bedroom and locked the door behind him. The Lupe collapsed onto the bed and rolled over so that he was looking at the ceiling. He stared at the plain white ceiling for a moment before he started to slowly close his eyes. Troy then took a deep breath and opened his eyes again, seeing the same white ceiling. He nodded a bit to himself before closing his eyes again, feeling slightly calmer.
"Hopefully that's the last of the nightmares," he thought to himself.
Troy took another deep breath and slightly opened his eyes.
The green masked figure was looking down on him.
Troy screamed and blinked several times, crawling backward in a frenzy on his bed until he hit the headboard. He shook his head quickly before looking around his bedroom.
The figure was gone.
The Lupe was breathing hard and broke into a cold sweat again. He was alone in his room. No masked figures. No faceless Draik. It was just him.
Troy sighed in relief.
"Don't let this beat you, Troy," he said to himself. "You're better than this."
He calmed down enough to crawl back into a normal position in his bed and started to fall asleep again...
Troy wasn't sure when he had woken up. His mind wasn't focused on much of anything. He found himself walking through his house for no reason. His eyes were unfocused and glazed over as he wandered the rooms and halls of his Neohome. Even though he had left the lights on, they had all gone out.
He didn't know where he was going or why. In the end, it didn't matter. His bedroom door didn't lead to the hallway. It led to his dining room. Leaving his dining room brought him to the bathroom. Leaving there brought him to the kitchen. The dimensions of his house were no longer working. It was broken, just like Jack's house was.
All three of the masked figures were here as well. As Troy moved listlessly through his Neohome, they didn't move or take any action against him. They simply stood in the darkness and watched as he wandered through the rooms. No, that was inaccurate. All three of them were holding cameras. Every few seconds, a masked figure would take his picture as he moved through his home.
Troy blankly stared as he continued his mindless trek. His ears seemed hypersensitive to the noise of the cameras. It was like he could actually hear the white noise of them working every second. It sounded like a storm of invisible Unidentified Petpetpets were swarming all around him.
He didn't know how long this had been going on. He couldn't think. He couldn't concentrate. He couldn't comprehend what was going on. It was like his body was moving on its own and he wasn't in control of it. At some point, he ended up in one of the hallways of his house and just stood there with his head against the wall. Slowly, Troy began to slide down the wall, his ears still filled with the storm of white noise ringing in his head.
Once he was about halfway down, the Lupe just collapsed onto the ground and turned around. He slid himself backwards across the floor into the closest corner. His moves were stiff and robotic. From that point, he just looked up down the hall with a blank stare on his face. He didn't even blink.
The Draik in black was at the end of the hallway.
Troy didn't move. It was like he couldn't feel his body at all. He was aware of his surroundings, but couldn't do anything about it. He just looked at the faceless Draik with a blank and dull expression on his own.
The Draik in black began to move toward him. He took surprisingly long steps as he walked toward the Lupe. Troy remained still, looking at the Draik as he came closer and closer with every passing moment.
The Draik in black simply walked past him slowly, not even stopping to look at him with his blank, white face.
Troy finally blinked, and then found himself back in Jack's house.
He was in the closet in the hallway. The door was shut as he was stuck in the small enclosed space. Troy still wasn't moving under his own power. The storm of sound was still buzzing in his head. Somehow, he had gotten a black marker in his hand. Without moving or thinking, Troy began writing on the door and walls.
"YOU ARE WHO YOU ARE. WHO ARE YOU?"
Troy slowly turned around to see the drawing of the Draik in black that was on the back wall. Mechanically, he began to write under the picture.
The Lupe then dropped the black marker. He looked down for a moment and saw that it hadn't landed on the floor, but on a white mask. Troy stared at the mask for a moment before and then he slowly and mechanically reached down to pick it up and put it on...
Troy woke with a start. His heart was beating fast and his body was drenched in a cold sweat. He brought a paw up to cover his eyes as the sun was shining brightly through his window. It was daylight. He was in his bed. This was his bedroom.
"That nightmare..." Troy muttered to himself. "It felt so real."
At the very least, he wasn't completely exhausted anymore. Troy actually felt rather well rested, despite the nightmares. He hopped out of his bed and unlocked the door to his bedroom, only to stop just before he opened the door.
There was a picture of the green masked figure on the floor. Judging from its position, someone must have slid it under his bedroom door.
Troy picked it up and examined the back of it.
"SMILE FOR THE CAMERA."
The Lupe was confused at the message that was delivered to him. However, when he opened the door, it all became clear.
The hallway was plastered with photographs. All of the pictures looked to be of himself in different rooms and hallways of his Neohome. His face was blank and expressionless in the photographs. Under each one, someone had written the time the photographs had been taken.
Troy couldn't believe what he was seeing. It hadn't been a nightmare at all. It had actually happened. Towards the end of the hallway, the photographs showed the green masked figure had been standing over his bed.
What was odd was that there were no pictures of when the Draik in black had walked past him from the hallway. If that wasn't a nightmare, then why was that not recorded?
Troy's head began to hurt and he started coughing again. The Lupe fell to his hands and knees, surrounded by photographic evidence of his nightmares being real.
"Please... stop," he coughed out to no one in particular. "I just want to see my friend again..."
It took several minutes for Troy's coughing fit to come to an end. When he was finally able to get back to his feet, the Lupe raced out of the hallway and into his kitchen.
The scrapbook he had gotten was on the counter, as well as a brown package.
Troy's breathing had steadied itself as he slowly made his way towards the kitchen counter where the scrapbook and the package were sitting. It didn't seem like anything had changed on the front of the scrapbook, but someone had written a note on the package.
"MAKE YOUR FINAL CHOICE."
The Lupe looked at the box for a few minutes before he opened it...
When I checked the scrapbook, I noticed a few things had changed.
The Draik in black was no longer in the background of the pictures, and several more had been added into the book. All of them were pictures of Jack.
Like the photographs in the hallway, these new pictures were dated. All of them were from after Jack had vanished. I looked over all of them, but it was the last picture that gave me my next solid clue.
It was dated two days ago. Jack was walking past a canal with a clock tower in the distance.
He might have moved, but as of two days ago, Jack was in Neovia.
The return address on the box was also from Neovia. Someone had marked out the street address, but the fact that it came from Neovia means that's where they want me to go next.
Inside the box, however, was something much less pleasant.
It was the white mask. It was the very same white mask from my nightmare.
Make my final choice was written on the box. I didn't know what it meant at first, but I think I know now.
Continue going after Jack and have these masked figures continue to mess with my life like they have been doing.
Or join them.
There was no choice to make.
I've already packed for the trip and burned the white mask.
I don't know what might happen.
I just want to see Jack again.
Once Troy was done writing, he placed his journal in his suitcase and locked it. He took one last check through his house to make sure that he had everything. Once he was satisfied, Troy headed out the door and began his trip to Neovia.
In the back of his mind, he honestly didn't know if he was going to ever return...
To be continued...