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Survive Until Daylight: Lost Trials

Chapter Text

Jake shuddered as the familiar roar of their resident Infected echoed over the mounds of crushed cars that made up Autohaven Wreckers. He could still feel his body and head being pulverized by its meaty fists; although their wounds would heal, that phantom pain would still persist, especially when reminded of such traumas.

He could hear Nea’s screams shortly after, following by a loud THUD that rocked the very ground itself. He stayed crouched behind a pile of metal, the heartbeat thundering in his head. He sat still, deathly still, his chest aching as his breath was held in his lungs. The Tank roared again, pounding the ground with its knuckles as it bounded away, looking for fresh blood.

With a sigh of relief, Jake fell limp against the pile of metal, trying to push the memories of his particularly gruesome death out of his mind. He got to his feet, peered out from behind his hiding spot, and bolted along the wall, keeping an eye out for -- the lever! Quentin had pulled it down, and the second light had just sparked awake.

As the alarm began to blare, indicating that freedom was near, the heartbeat began to invade their minds once more, and before either of them could react, The Tank came smashing through the side of the nearby shack. It lunged forth, grabbing Quentin around his midsection and hoisting him into the air.

Jake dashed forth, pulling down the lever; if he could get it open quick, maybe, just maybe…!

It wouldn’t be so.

With a sickening crunch! , Quentin’s body snapped in half like a twig, his screams turning to gurgles before dying completely. The Tank threw him to the ground as though he were a ragdoll, and turned to Jake, its tongue lolling about as it bellowed again. It bounded towards him, and Jake heard the doors squealing open…

He stood completely still.

His legs shook.

He couldn’t move.

All he could do was watch as death loomed closer.

His body fell to pieces beneath The Tank’s fists.

Closer.

His head popped clean off of his shoulders, as though he was nothing more than a cheap plastic toy.

Closer.

That gaping maw, open wide to swallow him whole.

He had regained control of something; his voice.

Jake screamed in agony as The Tank’s knuckles connected with his chest, crushing him between it and the powerbox. He slid to the ground, his spine broken, forced to watch as the fists came again.

Yet another phantom pain that would persist.

Chapter Text

The air groaned as The Entity’s claws descended from above Lampkin Lane, snatching David King right off of the hook at the end of the road. The Doctor tittered giddily as his victim was sacrificed, his coat flaring out as he spun, ready to resume the hunt; still one unruly patient left out there, and escape was a non-issue at this point, as only one generator had been done.

Luck had been on his side tonight; no pesky Technician ala Feng Min, none of Dwight Fairfield’s precious Leader or Prove Thyself abilities, and no Decisive Strike sent with love from Laurie Strode. Merely an injured David King, an obnoxiously loud Megan Thomas, a stubborn-yet-easily-outwitted William Overbeck, and…

His skin tingled as he felt that spark of his light anew.

Ginny Field.

Oh, how he wished he would find her. The two of them had so much to discuss. So much to bond over.

Her quick wit, her ability to stun killers and almost hypnotise them, even just the mere fact that she was well-versed in psychology -- it didn’t get under his skin the way the local Obsession did, but he found her to be a decent enough substitute. He wanted to know what made her tick. How her power of persuasion was so strong that she could induce hallucinations. He wanted to kill her, to turn her quickly, so that the two forces could combine into a well-oiled machine of utter depravity that could rip information from even the most steadfast of minds.

A crash alerted him to the opposite end of the map, and he felt the corners of his lips twitch against the confines of the clamps keeping his teeth bared. He straightened up, his knuckles flexing as electricity crackled in his palm.

He waited, one moment, then two, watching the fog.

There.

He walked briskly down the street towards the shadow in the mist, his voice escaping his throat in sparse, tittering giggles. That tingle in his brain told him to continue on, to pursue his desires. With a wave of his hand, a burst of static shot forth, dust and debris and mist flying up from the ground.

Ginny shrieked in agony as sparks danced across her vision, the stain burning against her back and front as The Doctor lunged towards her. She just barely managed to dodge the bat, scrambling around the side of a nearby news van and throwing down a pallet to buy her just a moment more of safety.

The Doctor raised his foot, stamping the pallet to bits as Ginny bolted down the sidewalk, looking left and right for the hatch. The whooshing hit her ears, and she finally spotted sweet freedom--right next to a hook. With as much strength as she could muster, her feet pounded the pavement, the edges of her vision turning dark, the only thing in her mind being escape.

She cried out in shock as a spike pierced through her scapula, sending her stumbling right into the base of the hook.

She desperately tried to jump for the hatch, but a hand grabbed her by the shoulder; The Doctor had her in his clutches at last.

“Herman!”

The Doctor froze, staring in shock at the man before him.

“Herman, you would dare to raise your hand to me? The man who gave you everything and more?”

A stark white lab coat and a black suit. Salt-and-pepper colored hair and spectacles and liver spots and freckles. It was uncanny.

“Mr. Stamper, sir.” He muttered, his grip on the bat loosening slightly.

“Carter, I will warn you just this once.” Mr. Stamper scowled. “Another stunt like this, and I may just be tempted to have your funding cut. And neither of us would want that, would we?” A smirk tugged on the corner of his lips. “After all, you are our most effective doctor.”

“Yes…”

CRUNCH.

Ginny fell to the ground, her eyes wide as blood poured from the hole in her forehead the size of the spikes on The Doctor’s bat.

“Indeed I am.”

He knelt down, grabbing Ginny by her shirt, and yanking her up onto his shoulder, and from his shoulder to the hook. As The Entity’s legs swung down and pierced her body, The Doctor pressed his fingertips to the underside of her chin, lifting her head so that she could look him in the eye.

“Next time, dear, perhaps take on the image of someone I haven’t yet killed, hm?”

Chapter Text

The roars that rang out over the port pierced Bill’s ears as he leapt down from the bridge, sprinting forth and firing into the infected horde, his M16 throbbing in his hands to the beat of his own heart and his heart beating in sync with the gunfire. His lungs burned; damn his smoking habit. He slammed an infected man in the face with the butt of his rifle, sending it sprawling backwards into another pair of zombies.

He tossed a molotov cocktail high into the air, ducking under their swinging arms and rounding the fence as the bottle burst in a cloud of flame behind him.

The generator was right there, he was so close. He ran forward and it grew further away. He reached out for it, trying desperately to jam the button that would restart it and raise his family to safety.

Screams rang out, and he looked up at the bridge, his heart sinking.

Francis had been pounced by a hunched-over hooded figure, its claws shredding open his gut, his innards spilling out and flying every which way as it eviscerated him, devouring anything and everything it could get into its maw. Francis’ arms swung wildly, trying to push it off of him, to no avail.

Louis had been plucked off of the minigun by an enormous beast of what was once a man, one of its arms dangling limply at its side, the other arm engorged and swollen and hard as stone like a battering ram, and it had lifted Louis up, slamming him repeatedly into the ground, his bones breaking and his head splitting open from the force.

Zoey was shrieking in agony as a small, jittery zombie with long, gangly arms wrapped her in a chokehold, cackling and snarling as it tore at her flesh, her cheeks splitting open as its claws ripped away. She tried in vain to pull its arms off of her, but it was no use, and it pulled her towards the edge of the bridge, sending her plummeting into the horde of infected.

Bill cried out in fury and despair, took aim and

He was out of ammo.

His screams died on his lips as a fist struck the top of his head, pummeling him into the ground. His body broke, his bones shattered and he felt his insides being pulverized, his head splitting open and his brain matter exploding across the asphalt.

Pain.

Pain.

Pain.

 

Bill gasped, sucking in a breath as he startled awake. He lay still for a moment, his heart pounding as everything came flooding back to him. He took in the campfire. The logs surrounding it. His fellow survivors sitting upon them, conversing amongst one another. The tree he had chosen as his resting place between trials.

He sighed, wiping his forehead, rubbing his eyes to clear them of sleep. He grunted, reaching over to his jacket and pulling out a cigarette. He pulled out his lighter, igniting his bad habit and allowing himself a moment of peace and clarity as the familiar burn entered his lungs.

“Hey.” He looked up, surprised to see David Tapp approaching. “You okay, man? Looked like you were havin’ a pretty bad nightmare. One of th’ Kruegers buggin’ ya?”

“Nah.” Bill shook his head, sighing. “I think it was just a regular ol’ nightmare.” He reached for his jacket again, pulling out his cigarette case and offering one to Tapp. He accepted, taking a seat next to the veteran and allowing Bill to light his smoke. He took a long drag, coughing a bit and clearing his throat, rubbing the scar across the front of his neck.

“Never could smoke th’ same after.” He chuckled wryly. Bill grunted in acknowledgement. “So, you were in ‘Nam?”

“Yep.” Bill nodded, glancing at his bad leg. “Two tours. Honorable discharge after takin’ a bunch’a shrapnel t’ my right leg. Y’ever serve?”

“Almost. Got drafted right before th’ war ended.” Tapp explained. “Decided t’ join th’ force, probably felt like makin’ up for not joining sooner at th’ time.” The two sat in silence, just taking a moment to share in the clouds of smoke. “Became an obsession of mine. Cost me my marriage, my relationship with my wife an’ son, cost my partner his life. We...went to investigate a location that we thought would lead us to a serial killer at large; we called him ‘Jigsaw’. Didn’t have a warrant. Th’ two of us went in. Only I walked out. Got discharged within th’ week.”

“Y’thought you were doin’ th’ right thing. Wanted t’ stop a threat an’ made a mistake.” Bill let out a puff of smoke. “Happens t’ th’ best of us. Can’t tell ya how many times I’ve thought back t’ my tours in ‘Nam, wondered how many a’ my brothers-in-arms I could’a saved if I’d done somethin’ different. How many of us would’a lived if th’ war never happened. What I would’a done with myself if I didn’t have anyone t’ fight.”

Tapp nodded. “Sometimes, I think I should’a been a better husband. A better father. Been there for ‘em. But even after everything, there’s a part a’ me that says my place is here, helpin’ people. Doin’ what I couldn’t before.” He paused. “Y’ever have a family? A wife, couple’a kids?”

Bill was quiet for a moment. “Had a girl once. Went t’ serve in ‘Nam, came back t’ find her with a different man. Never settled down after that.” He paused, a small smile tugging on his lips. “Had a family. Only knew ‘em two weeks before I got here, but they were family nonetheless.

Francis was like my dumb younger brother. Wasn’t th’ brightest sunuvvabitch, but he was good in a fight. Had yer back. Saved his ass just as many times as he saved mine.

Louis, he was almost like a son t’ me. Naive, but optimistic. He brought out th’ best in all of us. Kept us goin’. Good with tech, too, got us out of a lotta sticky situations.

An’ Zoey…” He sighed, ashes falling from his cigarette as he stared at the smoke drifting up. “She was like th’ daughter I never had. Always wanted t’ do th’ right thing. Saw th’ good in people. Determined. Never wanted t’ give up.”

They sat in silence for a minute or more, the ashes fluttering to the ground. Bill glanced at his cigarette, sighing and flicking it to the ground when he noticed it was close to burnt out and stamping it out. “God, I miss ‘em.” Tapp patted his shoulder.

“I know, man. I know.”

Chapter Text

Laurie sighed, resting her head in her hand as she sat at the bar, a glass of milk in her free hand, still full. The atmosphere of Weeks had been refreshing at first, but being around so many people was quickly bringing out Laurie’s old introverted personality, and the charm had largely worn off.

“You alright?”

She snapped to attention, just now realizing that she had been staring off into space -- directly at one of the waitresses; a young Japanese woman that she recalled Dwight mentioning being named Yamaoka.

“Y-Yeah, I’m… I’m fine.”

She cocked her brow. “You sure? It seems like every day you come in and just order a glass of milk and sit there and sigh. I get that trials can take a lot out of a person -- literally -- but even th’ people who don’t have a whole lotta hope left don’t act this moody.”

“Really, I’m fine, just… Dealing with some stuff.”

Yamaoka nodded, leaning against the bar. “Preaching to th’ choir.” There was a pause, and then, “Wanna talk about it? Might help.”

“I'd… Rather not.” Laurie shook her head. “It's kind of personal.”

Yamaoka shrugged. “If you say so.” She paused again, glancing to the other side of the room. “I can tell you my deal, if you want.”

“You don't have to.”

“Might as well, ‘specially if we're gonna be fighting to actually survive at any moment.” Yamaoka grinned. “‘Sides, knowin’ about one of th’ killers’ll probably come in handy.”

Laurie felt her brow cock up a bit. “One of the killers?” She followed Yamaoka’s gaze; sitting at one of the tables was -- she thought he was a statue at first -- a man dressed in cracked and dusty plate armor, wearing a mask that resembled a horned, grinning demon of some sort. At his hip was a katana, sheathed.

“The Samurai.” Yamaoka explained. “At least, that’s what everyone else calls him.”

Laurie kept her gaze trained on him. “Everyone else? What do you call him?”

Yamaoka sighed, running a hand through the side of her hair. “I used to call him ‘father’, but now I just call him a dick.”

“Father?!” Laurie snapped her attention back to her. “He -- The Samurai’s your -- ?!”

“Yep. Long story short, he got fired, came home, and butchered my mom. Nearly butchered me, too.” She was silent a moment, leaning against the counter. “Then, next thing I knew, I woke up here in The Entity’s realm.”

“And… you’re okay with just having that be known?”

Yamaoka cocked her brow at Laurie’s question. “Yeah? Not like him snapping was my fault at all. His actions are squarely on him. Not me, not my mom, not even his douchebag of a boss. His choices were his own. No skin off my nose if everyone knows how horrible he is.”

“Yamaoka! Less chit-chat!” The Chef barked.

“Alright, alright! Keep your stupid puffy hat on!” Yamaoka shot back. She turned to Laurie again. “I’ll see you around.”

“H-Hey.” Laurie said, stopping her. “Maybe we could… No, forget it, I’m just being stupid.”

Yamaoka smirked, crossing her arms. “I get off in an hour. Think you’ll still be around?”

“Y-Yeah, I think so!”

“Good.” Yamaoka nodded. “I know a couple shops around town you might like. Maybe we can check ‘em out!”

As Yamaoka turned back towards the bar’s kitchen, Laurie felt the corners of her lips pull up. “I’d like that.”

Chapter Text

Nancy sat deathly still inside of the locker, the heartbeat thundering in her head as The Sandman came marching down the basement stairs, an injured Quentin slung over his shoulder. She shut her eyes tight, Quentin’s screams of agony piercing her ears much like how the hook pierced his shoulder.

The Sandman chuckled, pleased with his work, and turned back up the stairs, the heartbeat receding. A generator popped somewhere in the Shelter Woods; only one more to go. Once Nancy was certain the coast was clear, she stepped out of the locker, hurrying to Quentin’s aid and pulling him off of the hook.

“Th-Thanks…” Quentin mumbled, holding his shoulder with one hand while the other rubbed at the corner of one of his eyes; they both had dark circles under them.

“Don’t mention it.” Nancy nodded, grabbing his wrist and pulling him with her up the stairs. They exited the shack, back into the distorted replica of what was already a perversion of the woods, The Sandman’s powers warping the world around them; the trees seemed more twisted and gnarled than usual, the branches reaching out for them as though they were the claws of The Sandman himself.

The heartbeat began thumping in the backs of their minds, and Nancy could see the red stain out of the corner of her eye. She looked about, dread beginning to set in.

Where was it?

Where was the pallet?

She ducked under one of The Sandman’s swings, scrambling back to her feet. There! The pallet situated between two boulders, she’d found it!

Thinking quickly, she pushed Quentin towards the pallet, spinning around and raising her arms up to block The Sandman’s claws as he swung. The blades bit into her flesh, and she grit her teeth in pain as she stumbled backwards with the force, Quentin lunging away as well.

Nancy spun, throwing down the pallet and putting on an expression of panic, making sure The Sandman saw it. He raised his foot, kicking down the pallet, only be met with a blinding flash of light; Nancy couldn’t suppress the grin from her face any longer, snickering to herself as she and Quentin continued running.

The two ducked behind a nearby shrub, Quentin’s eyes wide and his mouth set into a tight line to hide his breathing, Nancy's face drawn into a cheeky grin.

As the heartbeat faded away, Quentin finally allowed himself to relax, letting out a soft sigh of relief. "Gotta admit, I'm jealous you got such a cool perk, Nancy."

Nancy pulled out the perk in question from her pocket, looking it over.

 

Booby Trap

Your resourcefulness allows you to mould the scrap around you to suit your needs. Start the trial with 2/3/4 tokens. Consume one token to set a flash-bang trap. Setting a trap takes a slight/moderate/considerable amount of time. When a killer activates a trap, they are stunned and blinded for 2 seconds.

 

“Play your cards right and maybe I’ll lend it t’ ya for your next trial.” She chuckled, returning the talisman to her pocket.

“In that case, may I?” He held up a medkit, and Nancy couldn’t help but snicker again. He began to disinfect and wrap up the wounds on her arms, though Nancy could tell that he had something on his mind.

“What’s wrong?” She asked, and Quentin seemed to hesitate.

“It’s nothing, just…” He stared down at her arms, at the bloodied gauze that he was wrapping around her limbs. “You...remind me of someone I used t’ know. Th’ face and last name are different, but your wit, your cleverness, your strength of will, it’s all th’ same. You’re a bit more lively than th’ Nancy I know, but everything else...It’s almost uncanny.”

The two sat in silence for a few moments more as Quentin continued to wrap her wounds. Nancy sighed, “You must really miss her, huh?”

“More than anything.” He nodded. “She… Fuck, she probably doesn’t even know what happened to me. She and I were trying to find a way t’ stop our Freddy for good, and I figured we could whittle him down over time; tire him out like he was trying to do t’ us, y’know? But...when I tried t’ put th’ plan into motion, I got pulled in here.”

As he finished wrapping up her arms, Nancy placed a hand to his shoulder, giving him a confident grin. “Don’t worry, we’ll find a way out. I’m sure of it!”

Quentin chuckled, rubbing his eyes again. “Yeah. Yeah, we will.”

The final generator popped, and the alarms at the gates blared across the woods. Right at that moment, a scream echoed out in harmony with the alarms, and a red shimmer appeared in the distance.

“Shit…” Nancy muttered. “He’s got that perk that makes us all one-hit after th’ gennies are done.”

Dwight’s aura was propped up onto the hook, and the sky opened up in a brilliant flash of orange light as the sacrifice was completed, and the remnants of his soul were scooped skyward into The Entity’s maw.

“Exit gate’s over this way.” Quentin nodded, pointing to their right. They picked themselves up, hurrying through the fog. Nancy could see the red lights blinking on, Kate Denson with her fist tight around the lever. "Kate!" Quentin called, and the girl in question snapped to attention.

"Glad t' see you guys are alright!" She nodded, glancing about nervously.

"Here, I've got a perk that'll let me open it faster." Quentin said, pulling out one of his perks for Kate to see. She nodded again, stepping aside and allowing Quentin to pull down the switch.

In seconds, the door was squealing open, and the three hurried past the gate, right into The Sandman’s wide-open arms. His fingertips brushed either side of the exit gate, and with surprising speed, he brought his arms in, catching Quentin in a bear hug as Nancy and Kate managed to just barely duck under his grasp.

“Aww, leaving so soon?” The Sandman cackled, spinning around wildly as though they were in the middle of a ballroom dance. “But th’ party’s just begun!” His arms stretched longer, crushing Quentin’s midsection in a python grip and raising him up off of the ground.

Quentin choked and coughed, wheezing as he tried to draw in a breath. The Sandman’s arms squeezed tighter, and he could feel his ribs creaking and snapping under the pressure. His legs swung wildly in desperation, the toes of his sneakers missing the killer’s face by mere inches.

Thinking quickly, Nancy and Kate lunged forward, the former ducking under Quentin’s swinging legs and tackling The Sandman’s body, the latter crouching behind his legs, tripping him up and forcing him to drop Quentin, his fedora falling to the dirt.

Nancy grabbed Quentin’s wrist, pulling him along as The Sandman’s arms retracted. Kate landed a swift kick to his dome, blowing a raspberry and following Nancy and Quentin past the exit

Was blocked off by a set of black spikes.

The three stood in horror, the air thick as they finally remembered the effects of one of The Sandman’s perks.

“Captive Audience.” The Sandman tittered, and the three spun around to face him, their backs against the spikes blocking their path. He grinned smugly at them, flashing his razor-sharp teeth. “Welcome to Primetime, bitches!”

He lunged for the three of them, his knives slicing through the air as they ducked out of the way. Spinning faster than they expected, he drove his claws into Kate’s abdomen, and she shrieked in agony as the steel pierced her gut.

Nancy dove for him again, only for his free fist to connect with her nose, sending her sprawling backwards. He hoisted Kate up onto his shoulder, carrying her back into the trial as she wriggled madly in a desperate bid to escape.

“Up, up!” Quentin urged, pulling Nancy to her feet. The spikes retracted behind them, and the two shared a moment of looking between escape and their friend as her shimmer was hoisted onto a hook.

“Shid…” Nancy muttered, rubbing her nose; her hand came away wet and red, and she pinched a nostril and blew out the other, clearing her nasal cavity of blood.

Quentin pushed his medkit into her hands. “Here, heal up. I’m gonna run back in and go for th’ save.”

“Are you nuts? His perk--”

“I know.” Quentin nodded, rubbing sleep from his eyes. “Listen, you’ve seen those weird effigies around the maps, right?”

“Effigies?” Nancy cocked her brow.

“Yeah, the -- those little monuments made of bones and skulls, th’ ones that seem like they’re just sprinkled around th’ map for no reason?” He explained. “Come on, I’ll explain on th’ way t’ Kate.”

As they headed back in, she thought for a moment; she’d never paid them any mind before, assuming that they were just The Entity’s idea of decoration, and the fact that the other survivors hadn’t mentioned them to her only helped to reinforce said assumption. “What about ‘em?”

“In my last trial against The Hag, I noticed that a couple of them had candles lit at the bottom, and she kept placing her Phantasm Traps around them, like they were important. I managed to break one down, and it seemed like our repairs went by faster than they’d been going up until that point.” He held up a hand for her to stop; the heartbeat thundered in their heads for a moment, and they could see The Sandman walking past the giant tree that marked the center of the map, heading towards the door they’d just been at.

“So?” Nancy asked once the heartbeat faded. “What’s that got to do with Freddy and his perk?”

“A few trials ago, when I was up against The Trapper, I noticed that one of the totems lit up right as the last generator was powered. He was able to down us in one hit, too. I’ve been thinking,” he explained, “these sorts of effects; slowing down our repair speed, being able to one-shot us, they must be linked to those totems or something. I need you to find one with the candles at the bottom lit up, while I go in and get Kate. If you can break th’ totem before he hits one of us, we should be in th’ clear.”

“Why don’t you break it while I go in for th’ save?” She asked.

“Because--! Because--...” He sputtered, choking on his words.

Nancy scowled. “I’m not your Nancy, Quentin. You don’t need to worry about me. I can take care of myself.”

Quentin sighed, and muttered under his breath, “The irony that that’s exactly what she’d have said isn’t lost on me.” Seeing the imminent argument as a waste of valuable time, he conceded, nodding. “Alright. I’ll go look for th’ totem. I’ll… try and find it before he hits you.”

Nancy grinned, patting his shoulder. “You will.”

With that, she pulled out a roll of gauze and some cotton balls, wrapped up and plugged her nose, and ran towards the hook as Quentin hurried off to find the totem.

 

Kate grit her teeth as she struggled to keep The Entity’s claws from piercing her body, her breathing labored as her palms slipped along the tendril, damp with sweat and blood. Just as she was certain her grip was failing, Nancy came darting in from around the side of a set of trees, slipping her hands under her arms and lifting her off of the hook.

“Don’t worry, I’ve gotcha!” Nancy declared, digging through the kit for gauze and bandages.

“N-No good.” Kate shook her head. “He can--”

“Down us in one hit, I know.” Nancy nodded. “Don’t worry, Quentin’s got an idea on how to counter it.”

The heartbeat began to drum away in their heads, and just as Nancy finished bandaging Kate up, the two were forced to duck as The Sandman appeared as if from nowhere, swiping at them and slicing a set of claw marks into the frame of the hook.

The two took off running, the heartbeat pounding away as The Sandman advanced after them, the blades on his fingers snickering and snackering away, hungrily tittering for flesh.

Nancy glanced back; his eyes were trained on her. She nodded towards Kate, and the latter reluctantly pitched left, vaulting through a window as Nancy ducked right, The Sandman hot on her trail. Coming up to a set of crates, Nancy slowed just a little bit, making sure The Sandman was behind her.

She rounded a corner, reaching for the pallet that she remembered setting up a flash-bang on and throwing it down.

To her horror, the pallet vanished, splashing into nothing more than a puddle of blood. The Sandman lunged for her, a guttural roar of satisfaction filling her ears.

Suddenly, there was the sound of thunder striking the ground, and Nancy stumbled back, a set of fresh slash marks across her chest but otherwise still on her feet. The Sandman’s face fell, his lips curling into a snarl as his head snapped towards the sound of the thunder clap for a brief moment, just long enough for Nancy to run around the other side of the crates, making a beeline for the gate.

She could see Quentin sprinting for it as well, and Kate stood just beyond the doorway, urging for them both to hurry. With the last of her strength, Nancy lunged for the threshold, the three of them passing through at just the last second as The Sandman swung, his claws striking the invisible wall of spikes.

With that, the fog came in to collect them, curling around their bodies and whisking them away back to the campfire.

 

Chapter Text

The bar was alive with chatter, killers and survivors who had long since become accustomed to their shared living conditions conversing away as though they were merely friends at a summer cookout; a more apt description perhaps that they were coworkers in a break room.

Amongst them, Nea hopped up onto one of the barstools, her curiosity and daring piqued as the young blonde woman they had seen when they’d first arrived in Weeks -- Karen, as The Chef had called her -- stopped by, her notepad open.

“Need anything to drink?” She asked.

Nea nodded, putting on an exaggerated tone, “A mug of your finest ale, my good ma’am.”

Karen rolled her eyes. “Let me guess; no ID?”

“Nope.” Nea shrugged. “Must have let it in my other pants.”

“And I’m guessing you’re not 21 even if you had it.” Karen sighed. “My principles say to kick you out, but Th’ Chef gets cranky if we turn customers away, and I really don’t feel like takin’ a cleaver to my skull in th’ next trial. One mug of ale, comin’ right up.”

As she headed over to one of the nearby kegs, Nea couldn’t stop the squeak of joy that escaped her throat, spinning around on the stool. “I’m startin’a dig this place!”

As Nea licked her lips in anticipation of her drink, she failed to realize that five pairs of eyes were drawn towards her, watching her from the crowd.

Just as she was about to take a sip from her mug, she saw someone hop up -- no, appear, it seemed like -- onto the stool next to her from the corner of her eye. She turned to the newcomer, gulping down a swig of her drink; it was that girl that Evan had warned them about, The Angel.

Nea wiped her lips with her wrist, followed by waving a greeting. “‘Sup?”

The Angel didn’t respond, instead continuing to stare.

Nea glanced around; maybe she was looking at someone else? After a moment or two, she concluded that the girl was indeed looking at her. She placed her mug on the counter, extending her hand. “Nea Karlsson.”

The girl didn’t respond.

The awkward tension between them was enough to make a cold sweat appear on Nea’s brow, and she glanced around as though hoping for someone to step in and help. “Er, it’s a handshake. Y’know, y’take your hand, and shake someone else’s?” When the girl still refused to move, Nea reached over, taking her hand and giving it a firm shake. “Like that! See?”

Still nothing.

Nea pulled her hand back, instead deciding to go back to her drink. After a couple gulps, she paused, looking down at her mug, then to The Angel. “Oh! Y’want a sip?”

That seemed to elicit a response -- and what a response it was; The Angel’s brow contorted, her face twisting into a scowl.

“O-Or… not?” The two sat in silence for a moment or two, before Nea took yet another swig. “You’re kinda weird.” She mumbled. Suddenly, her face lit up. “I like it!”

The Angel’s face changed to one of confusion, completely caught off-guard. “H-Huh?”

“Ah!” Nea chuckled, “There it is! C’mon, no need t’ gimme th’ silent treatment! We’re stuck here, might as well make nice, y’know?”

The Angel seemed stunned, at a loss for words as Nea just continued to down her mug. As her mug was nearly half-gone, The Angel muttered, “You really shouldn’t drink.”

Nea paused as she was about to take another gulp. “Huh?”

“It’s bad for you and it’s against th’ law to drink while you’re underage. You shouldn’t do it. It’s immoral.”

Nea was quiet for a moment, before letting out a laugh. “Cute, kid, real cute.” She punctuated this with another sip. “‘Morality’, ‘immorality’, ‘against th’ law’, ‘bad for ya’. Bunch’a bull that Th’ Man came up with.”

The Angel seemed to be stuck between wanting to respond, and wondering which killer ‘The Man’ was. “That’s not true.” The Angel muttered after a moment, “Without morals and laws, we’d literally be lawless; no better than wild animals.”

“An’ who came up with laws? Who decided what was ‘moral’?” Nea smirked, leaning against her arm on the counter. “Listen, kiddo, no such thing as ‘morals’ or ‘laws’. They’re just imaginary crap th’ macho douchebags on top made up once they had th’ greenest grasses.” Nea explained, much to The Angel’s growing chagrin. “We’re all stuck on this bitch of an Earth -- er, were, I guess -- together, might as well have some fun with it. ‘Sides, it’s not like a little drinkin’ll kill me in this place.” She punctuated this with another sip from her mug.

The Angel’s scowl grew with each passing word, and with a scoff, she got down from her seat. Nea felt a cold chill wash over her under The Angel’s glare; it was the sort of disdainful look that she had seen so many times before, from her parents, her teachers, every authority figure that she had ever come into contact with back home, you kind that said, “You’ll be sorry” .

Nea simply shrugged, and tipped her head back to finish off the last of her ale.

Chapter Text

Evan shook his head as he watched Feng Min and David King from across the bar, engaged in yet another drinking match. They had each already downed six bottles by now, and although King was starting to look rather green, Feng Min was already snapping her fingers, demanding the next pair of beers to be brought out. He sighed through his nose, reclining against the wall of his booth, and glancing around the pub.

Most of his survivors -- ‘his’, he wondered when he had gotten so possessive; likely just for lack of a better identifier he figured -- had either stayed at the campfire, or were in trials at the moment. Along with King and Feng Min, Nea, David Tapp, and Bill had come to the pub, followed not too long after by Laurie and Dwight; the latter of whom had simply stepped in for a moment, said something to Laurie, and then left, heading back out into town.

Laurie was sitting at the bar now, staring down at her glass of milk as though searching it for answers to some riddle that only she was privy to. He noticed a young woman working at the bar, probably not much older than Laurie herself, staring at the blonde with a look that seemed to be a mix of concern and confusion; Yamaoka Rin, the daughter of The Samurai.

He glanced next to Bill and Tapp, who were currently sitting amongst a group of older survivors; for the first time in a while, the group seemed to be genuinely happy; perhaps the other survivors were some fellow veterans, and they were reminiscing over their service.

His eyes drifted next to Nea, and his heart dropped into the pit of his gut; The Angel, somehow, had taken a seat next to her, and from what little of her face he could see, she was not at all amused with Nea’s choice of drink. His hand instinctively gripped his cleaver under the table; The Angel wasn’t particularly known for snapping outside of trials, but, better safe than sorry, he figured.

As The Angel, clearly disgruntled, hopped down from the bar and walked away, Evan allowed himself to relax.

He was snapped out of his focus on the girl by a nudge at his elbow; Phil had taken a seat across the table. “Heya, Phil. Somethin’ th’ matter?”

“Not really, I suppose.” Phil bowed his head, his mouth sealed under the mud; it had taken a while, but Evan had eventually gotten used to the telepathic link The Entity had gifted them with in order to communicate. “You… haven’t happened to see Sally -- The Nurse -- lately, have you?”

“Not since this mornin’ at camp.” Evan muttered, returning his gaze to The Angel; she had taken a seat next to the pub door, looking out the window as though waiting for someone. “Why?”

“No reason.”

The two sat in silence, and Evan glanced at his friend -- odd, he thought, that he would consider Phil to be a friend whilst everyone else remained simply coworkers -- who seemed to have deflated at not knowing where the woman in question was. He looked Phil up and down, as though for an answer, before it struck him like a glass shard in the back.

“No reason, eh?” He chuckled. “Y’ain’t very subtle, Phil.”

Phil let out a soft, guttural sigh through his nose. “Is it that obvious?”

“I can see right through ya.”

“...That’s not funny, Evan.”

“Hey, c’mon now, nothin’ wrong with dreamin’ about th’ ol’ wedding bells ringin’.”

“Evan.”

“Can’t quite blame ya either; she sure knows how t’ take a fella’s breath away.”

“Evan please.”

“Alright, alright, I’ll give ya a breather.” Phil groaned. “Seriously though, that’s th’ last one, scout’s honor.” Evan chuckled, bumping his knuckles against Phil’s shoulder. “So, you like her, huh?”

“Well,” Phil thought, almost indignantly, “I… wouldn’t mind getting to know her better.”

“I see.” Evan nodded. “Listen, normally, I’m not one t’ suggest settin’ up dates between coworkers; y’gotta work together, and if somethin’ goes sour in th’ relationship, y’can’t go an’ bring that into work, y’know?” Phil nodded. “But… you’re a pal, Phil. So I’ll tell ya what I’m gonna do. Come on up t’ my cabin after your next trial. I’ll have Anna and Bubba cater a nice dinner, I’ll tell Sal that it’s just an employee get-together, an’ then tell everyone else t’ shoo like they’ve been suddenly called away t’ trials. Give th’ two’ve ya a nice night alone. Sound good?”

Phil glanced at his friend, the corners of his lips pulling upwards under the mud, the dirt cracking slightly at the unusual movement of muscle and skin. “Thank you, Evan.”

“No worries.” Evan grinned. “Jus’ remember, I’m only doin’ this once; make sure ya don’t wind up chokin’.”

“EVAN YOU PROMISED.”

“Hahaaahh, I was never a scout.”

Chapter Text

"Here you go, Bubba!" Claudette grinned, presenting to the cannibal in question a small bouquet of roses; her 'space' that The Entity had gifted her had allowed her to begin a small garden -- only a few small plots of soil that could grow something, an artificial something at that, but it was better than nothing, she supposed. "What's the occasion?"

Bubba simply took the flowers, giving her a grateful nod and -- Claudette could see through the mouth of his mask -- a smile.

"I see." She chuckled. "Do you have a special someone that you want to surprise?"

Bubba nodded, though, it wasn't quite true in the same way that Claudette had meant. As he turned to head through the woods and into town, he spared her a wave which she cheerily returned.

He sighed through his nose as he felt the familiar tingle that occurred upon crossing between subrealms, the town quickly coming into view through the trees. He could see Laurie and another girl heading down the road towards the market district of the town, and for a split second, a familiar pale face watching her from the treeline, just barely within his peripherals before it vanished. He pushed the uneasy sight from his mind; he could never get a read on that guy, and he certainly wasn’t going to start trying again now.

As he approached the local shanty, he could see another dead-eyed face staring out through the window, before it brightened upon seeing him, vanishing from the window. Mere seconds later, and The Angel came rushing out through the door, running towards him and throwing herself at his midsection and hugging him.

The girl had initially made him uneasy, but over time he had found himself growing fond of her; he had always wanted a daughter of his own, a younger family member whom he could raise and take care of, and now that he was trapped in a new realm with such low probability of escape, that desire seemed to have multiplied tenfold. He handed her the bouquet, before lifting her up onto his shoulders, not unlike how he remembered his grandfather doing when he was a boy, before… He momentarily soured at the memory, the day his grandfather had thrown out his back attempting to kill a trespasser on their land; after that, the duty of defending the home had passed down to Bubba and his brothers.

He shook the memory away; focus on the present, just as he had heard others say in his time here in The Entity’s realm. The present, entailing carrying Angela upon his shoulders and walking through the town, exploring what there was to be explored. The present, entailing doing what he was unable to before. The present, entailing his self-appointed responsibility of raising a daughter.

The present, entailing the happiest he had felt in a long time.

Chapter Text

“So, let me get this straight.”

The generator that Laurie and Feng Min had been working on rumbled to life, bathing the end of Lampkin Lane in brightness. Feng Min glanced down the street; The Wraith had just kicked down either a pallet or generator, and was making his way towards them. She waved for Laurie to follow her, and they hurried around the side of one of the nearby suburban homes.

“In the future, people are able to play Oregon Trail, with other people who are on the complete opposite side of the world?”

Feng Min turned to stare at Laurie, Oregon Trail being the furthest thing from her own mind. “...Y’know, I always forget that you’re from the late 70’s. Trust me, there’s way more interesting stuff than Oregon Trail in th’ future.”

“Like what?”

Feng Min sputtered at her question. “Oh, for -- How can I even explain this in a way you’ll understand?” She sighed, thinking for a moment. “Okay, let’s start with the basics. Let’s use… I don’t freakin’ know, let’s use Pong as an example. Literally th’ simplest game there is.”

 

“Okay, explain it again?” Laurie asked, scratching her head at one of many diagrams that Feng min had drawn in the dirt. “This ‘VR’ thing is just a pair of goggles--”

“With a pair of screens set up side-by-side in front of the lenses, yeah.” Feng Min nodded, pointing to part of her diagram. “The internal software projects curved panoramas onto each screen, and when viewed side-by-side, the screens create the illusion that you’re viewing a 3-dimensional space.”

“But it’s all fake right? How do you avoid running into walls?”

“You don’t actually have to move your body, most headsets come with controllers that you use to move around.”

“And ‘up’ means ‘forward’, right?”

“In the case of most 3D games, yeah, though with a keyboard and mouse it’s normally bound to the ‘W’ key.”

“Why?”

“Y’know, I don’t think anyone really knows for sure. It’s kind of asinine when you really think about it--”

“Hey, listen, girls,” the two looked up at a hooked Nea, The Wraith, and Bill, who was draped over The Wraith’s shoulder, “not for nothin’, I can appreciate you nerdin’ out an’ tryin’a explain th’ future t’ Strode over here, but uh, before y’do that, could you please -- SAVE BILL AN’ GET ME DOWN FROM THIS FRIGGIN’ HOOK?!”

Chapter Text

Laurie couldn't help but fidget with her hair as Yamaoka led her down the road through the middle of town, anxious about what she had suggested.

"I… don't know about this." Laurie mumbled. "What if it looks weird?"

"Of course it'll look weird; that's th' point!" Yamaoka replied, grinning. "Th' whole point of getting a haircut is t' wash away the old you, hangups, problems, an' all! Trust me, a change in your style is sure to help you move on at least a little bit from whatever happened to you before you came here."

Laurie still couldn't help but feel apprehensive of the idea. She had grown out her hair to try and mimic Annie and Lynda -- boys were attracted to long hair, weren't they? -- but she couldn't deny that she had considered on more than one occasion just lopping it all off to save herself time and effort.

"What if the others--?"

"Who cares what other people think?" Yamaoka asked, slowing her walk as they neared the barbershop. “If you live your life worried about how other people see you, how are you ever gonna be happy?”

Laurie simply crossed her arms, unable to come up with an answer.

Yamaoka pushed open the door to the barbershop, the bells above the door jingling dully; Laurie felt her stomach churn as she realized the ‘bells’ were in reality made from skulls, a stone or something similar rattling around inside.

“Don’t mind those, ma’am.” She returned her attention to the rest of the room; Yamaoka had sat herself in a nearby chair, reading a magazine, and in the middle of the room stood a man dressed in Victorian-era clothing, a white streak in his hair, and the pale skin of his neck marred by a long, thin scar stretching across the width of his throat. “The Entity and myself sometimes forget that not everyone shares in our taste for the macabre. Sit, ma’am, sit.”

Laurie glanced nervously at Yamaoka, who merely nodded towards one of the barber chairs lining the room. She followed The Barber’s instructions, her stomach churning as her shoes stuck to the tiled flooring with each step. With a flourish, a white apron found itself covering her from the neck down. In the mirror, she could see The Barber looking down on her, his eyes red and puffy and watching her as though remembering something.

“So, what shall it be, ma’am? Would you care to see my catalog?”

“N-No, I uh…” Her hands tightened into fists, her nerves screaming at her. “Just...something short, I guess?”

The Barber seemed to take pause, but conceded nonetheless. “Short it shall be then, my dear. To the scalp?”

“No.” Laurie replied, quickly. “Just… no further than my jaw.”

“I see. It shall be done.”

The Barber went to the counter, picking out a spray bottle and wide-tooth comb from his array of tools; Laurie’s eyes settled on a set of silver straight razors, her face going pale when she realized one was missing. With an odd lilt in his voice, The Barber said,

 

“You are young.

Has life been kind to you?”

 

Laurie felt her brow twitch as he spritzed water onto her hair. “...Wait, is he--?”

 

“Have you learned?”

 

“Don’t worry, it’s just his thing.” Yamaoka waved away her concern. As The Barber began to comb through and straighten Laurie’s hair, she felt a sudden tug, her heart dropping as the man began a strange mantra;

 

“There's a hole in the world like a great black pit

And the vermin of the world inhabit it

And its morals aren't worth what a pig can spit

And it goes by the name of--!”

 

He suddenly stopped, seemingly only now aware that he was holding Laurie’s hair in a death grip, the girl in question tense, her eyes wide. His grip loosened. “I beg your indulgence, ma’am,” he said, “I am afraid I very nearly got carried away.” He returned to the task at hand, and Laurie could feel her hair beginning to go limp, ready to be cut. The barber continued, his grip remaining slack;

 

“At the top of the hole sit a privileged few

Making mock of the vermin in the lower zoo

turning beauty to filth and greed…

You see, I’ve sailed the world and seen its wonders,

For the cruelty of men is as wondrous as Peru,

But there’s no place like London…”

 

"Why not join him?"

"What."

Laurie turned to stare at Yamaoka, worrying that her hearing had begun to go alongside her sanity in this godforsaken place.

"Join him. Sing a song or something. It might help."

Lauren shook her head, only to receive a firm tug from The Barber. "I-I can't. Singing isn't my thing."

"With all due respect, ma'am," The Barber said, "neither she nor I are in any position to judge. Song is an art from the heart, and is beautiful so long as the words sung are true."

Laurie sighed through her nose; “Damn me for being a pushover,” she thought.

 

“I am young…

Life had been kind to me.

But I've learned…"

 

Alright, a song, might as well try and keep in key with The Barber’s own diddy, she supposed, trying to put words to tune.

 

“There's a soul in this world like a great black pit

And the Evil of the world inhabits it

And its morals aren't worth what a pig can spit

And it goes by the name of…"

 

Her chest ached, and she was unable to finish the verse. The Barber had taken ahold of a lock of hair, measuring it to just along Laurie’s jawline. She hesitated, knowing that once a cut was made, it would stay that way, likely for as long as she remained here, considering how nobody around her had seemed to age, before nodding, allowing The Barber to make the first cut.

 

“My friends and I, our lives,

They’d been so beautiful…

A foolish trio and our lives,

Free of misery and strife,

And one was beautiful,

And one was confident,

And one was…

Naive…”

 

Lock after lock fell from her head as The Barber snipped and sheared, floating to the floor beneath her in a blonde semi-circle.

 

“There was a cunning man who saw

That they were beautiful…

A plotting vulture, free from law,

Who, with a gesture of his claw,

Removed two of them from his plate,

Then there was nothing but to wait!”

 

She paused, her breathing hitching as she realized her voice had risen in volume; The Barber, however, seemed unphased, continuing to trim her hair despite the upset.

 

“The last would fall…”

 

The Barber said,

 

“So soft,

So young,

So lost,

And oh, so beautiful…”

 

At last, it was done.

The Barber had picked up a towel, draping it over her head and fluffing out what remained of her hair. As he pulled it away, he asked, “To your liking, ma’am?”

Laurie stared into the mirror, stared at what remained of her old self as it were; her hair, once long enough to brush her shoulders, was now cropped to just above her chin, the bottom ends curling upwards in the back.

And yet, that numbness from before still persisted.

 

“They were my friends…

So bright, they’d glisten…

Saw how they’d shine,

How she’d smile in the light…”

 

Her chest and jaw ached, her shoulders trembling as memory after memory assaulted her mind, memories of Lynda, of Annie, of that night.

 

“My friends,

My poor, poor friends…”

 

She felt a hand on her shoulder now, and she glanced back, her vision blurred with tears, to see Yamaoka standing behind her, a look of understanding across her face. She helped Laurie out of the chair, and said,

 

“Speak to me, friend,

Whisper, I’ll listen,

I know, I know,

You’ve been locked in your plight,

For so long, like me, my friend…”

 

“I can’t go home,

To find them waiting…”

 

“No, but we’re together,”

 

Laurie sniffled, clenching her jaw as the tears flowed freely onto the fabric of Yamaoka’s shirt, the latter holding her tight.

 

“And we’ll do wonders,

Won’t we?”

 

The two stood there in silence for a moment or two, Laurie’s voice too shaky and broken to sing much of anything else at this point.

Outside the window, unseen by the three within the barbershop, stood Nea and The Shape, the latter’s head cocked to the side; he could feel Michael’s face twist into one of confusion and curiosity.

As though to put words to his conundrum, Nea loudly exclaimed, “...Hey, what the fuck just happened?”

 

“He’s my brother.”

Laurie and Yamaoka had long since left the barbershop, simply walking about the town, Yamaoka showing Laurie the sights that she had yet to see in her short time knowing of this place.

Yamaoka glanced at Laurie, confused. “Who?”

“The Shape. Michael Myers.” Laurie explained. “He’s my brother. He… He broke out of an asylum and hunted me down… They’re dead…” Her chest heaved as she sobbed, rubbing futilely at her eyes. “They’re dead because of me… Annie, Lynda, it’s my fault they’re… They’re..!”

“That’s wrong.” Yamaoka shook her head, placing a hand to Laurie’s shoulder. “His actions aren’t yours. Whatever he decided to do, there was no way you could have controlled him.”

“If… If I just hadn’t been around--”

“If you hadn’t been around, you would have been somewhere else, and he would have just killed whoever else you were friends with.” Yamaoka reasoned.

“But if I hadn’t been around --”

Laurie paused as Yamaoka pulled her into a tight embrace. “Don’t.” She said. “Don’t pull on that thread. You were there. You’re here. You don’t need any reason to be other than you are . The only one responsible for his decisions is him.”

They stood there for a while, neither sure of how long, but Laurie could feel her chest shaking, this time devoid of sobs, even as tears began to roll down her cheeks.

“Thanks, Yamaoka.” Her voice came out soft and quiet. “Thanks.”