And before we know it, it’s over again.
Lullaby’s fingers interlocked with mine as we ran through the woods blindly. I watched her with confusion, it was just after we had got a room in a hotel and we were already running. I couldn’t understand why she had dropped the shirt from after my shower, and the way Lullaby scrambled to gather her phone as we ran. Why she was rushing to get far away from the town but it didn’t seem like I had the time to ask either way. The way we dodged the tress, the way the ground crumpled beneath our feet, everything felt right.
Still I had to ask, “Lullaby, what’s wrong?” my own voice was shaking and it probably was broken as well, but through my pants I couldn’t tell anymore. These woods seemed familiar, not as if I had been here; it just felt as if I had been.
Lullaby turned back, bent over so that her arms rested on her knees, her tiny figure heaving heavily, gasping for air. “It’s Shady, I just checked her blog, and she’s coming.”
I felt my heart skip; the simple idea of Lullaby being taken from me before our adventure was completed scared me. How is it when something bad is about to happen we remember every detail that never seemed so important at the time.
“I won’t let her… no, we started something we have to finish it”
Lullaby smirked. “It’s not that easy, we need rest and we cannot fool ourselves any longer by thinking otherwise.” I knew she was right; the lack of food and sleep was not mixing well with their bodies.
Lullaby pointed out a small clearing to the left; she was able to weakly lift her hands. Without spoken words I lifted her up slowly, her hands found their way around my neck softly and held on as we found our way through the thick branches.
She dropped to the ground; hardly able to hold herself up anymore she kneeled there looking at the forest floor.
“We need water, and it’s obvious you don’t have the energy to find it Lullaby.” I said, exhausted myself but I always found the strength to keep moving.
I walked past her slowly, my hand rested on her head for a moment before I spoke again. “I’ll be right back.” I watched her as she lifted her tiny fingers to grip onto me, as she did so she fell onto her back unable to move anymore.
“Don’t leave me…” she said weakly and I felt horrible for walking off anyways.
In all truth I had no idea where to find water; my feet took me into places where I had never seen before. Here without Lullaby it seemed darker, colder, like everything was ready to grab you and rip you apart. I broke branches on my way in, to find my way out if Lullaby called for me.
The air seemed so much colder in one area; it caused curiosity to spike in me.
“Hello?” I asked softly bending a tree over to revile two piercing eyes that glared at me.
“Hello, Con.” the child jumped out at me, her tiny hands reaching for my neck. I stumbled to the side avoiding her, Agony.
“Fuck… it’s you!” I growled, my energy was already drained from out last encounter. Lullaby had been fast asleep when Agony appeared next to her, dangling a knife over her head giggling like a madwoman. I reached over to grab the knife by the blade and when I did Agony grabbed my wrist, somehow burning it badly before leaving.
“Oh good you haven’t forgotten me. I missed you.” Agony said in her mocking tone, her eyes glared at me, they held so much hate it scared me.
“I’m sure you did.” I muttered, rubbing my arm, her eyes followed the up and down pattern.
We circled each other for what seemed like forever before she opened her tiny mouth.
“Want to play a game of tag?” she said sickly twisted, it must have been the way she said it with the cat like grin and squinted eyes because I cringed.
“What are the rules?” I had learned to almost not question the games anymore, just follow along and try to win.
“Whoever reaches Lullaby first gets to choose her fate.”
I exhaled sharply as my eyes widened. “Leave Lullaby out of this!”
“Agony you little bitch!”
I let my feet hit off the ground quickly, even before ‘go’, even before she started. My only goal was to reach Lullaby, to reach her and keep her safe.
The trees loomed above me, mocking me, watching me, the never-ending path that just seemed to run on and on and on.
“CON!” I heard lullaby’s voice echo throughout the trees, it caused me to run faster, my feet hitting the ground harder, even my breath became more broken but I refused to stop. Not now, not ever, not until I knew things were going to be ok.
My body couldn’t keep up, everything looked the same, even thought I could hear it, the voices. I looked around; I broke branches to find my way out right? Where the fuck were they? Those branches didn’t seem to exist.
“Shit…” I muttered.
I tumbled through the trees and examined the situation in front of us, Agony was fast, but even now I refused to let her have Lullaby.
A girl with pale skin and brown and violet hair stood, she was holding Lullaby, she wore a tee-shirt and pair of jeans, her eyes were a vibrant green. I assumed this was Shady just by the way she held Lullaby.
My confusion got the best of me as I curled my hand into a fist and swung it at Shady; she managed to avoid it swiftly. In the corner of my eye I saw Lullaby looking up with amazement, I have yet to figure out why.
Shady looked at me, narrowing her eyes, examining what seemed to be my condition. Her eyes glanced at Agony and she sighed before speaking, “Great. This is what I was hoping to avoid.”
I looked back at her, softer, it was true the whole situation seemed unreal, yet here we were.
“Con.” Shady said sternly, before pushing Lullaby into me, I laced my fingers around the child’s body. “Take her and go. Protect each other and don’t stop running. Please just protect her… and get the fuck out of here!” her eyes lingered on Lullaby’s person for the longest time; it was a sad and regretful look.
I picked her up softly, holding her tight to me. “Will do…” I said, my voice ever so much softer than before, I placed my own hand on Shady’s before running, maybe as an encouragement.
Lullaby had passed out in my arms, I looked at her sleeping face, it was so relaxed and soft, like a doll itself.
Even if it killed me, I promised myself when we first met I would protect Lullaby. Even if I’m running like this, can I still?
I heard gunshots and looked back for a moment. The forest seemed dead, this shouldn’t be happening, this shouldn’t have happened. But the reality is it did, and we can’t just turn back because we didn’t want something to turn out the way it did, no the world does not work like that.
I had been running for what seemed like forever on energy I knew I didn’t have, the open field we reached was a comfort. I stopped to regain my breath, perfect timing as Lullaby’s eyes slowly opened.
“Hello dear, are you ok?” I asked and she nodded softly, her lips curled into a half smile.
I attempted to smile as well, moments before I was hit over the head with a broken branch. The force sent me tumbling to the ground and I was unable to stop Slender Man from tossing Lullaby away from my person.
“Shit!” I cursed holding my head; I jumped to my feet in time to see Agony in front of me with that smirk plastered to her face.
“Con, remember our game? I won.”
“You can fuck off!” I growled, jumping in for an attack bare handed. I slipped my fingers around the fabric of the red dress that she wore and threw her against a tree. Even as she hit the trunk she giggled, I knew I could only hold her off from Lullaby; I wouldn’t do any real damage, not like this.
I looked over towards the moving trees; Shady was running, towards us, no, to Lullaby and past us. I forced myself on Agony, my knee crushing her air way.
Agony forced her nails into my leg, I pulled back in pain as she got to her feet and jumped at me again and again, not even giving me time to counter attack, and this couldn’t end well. I knew one thing alone, I had to get Lullaby and we all had to get out of here.
But how could we, as of now we were cornered and unable to fight back or attack. Just defending ourselves and running wouldn’t help right now. Even if one of us did attack we were too weak and tried to do much good, despite the adrenalin we were all still… useless.
I felt the branch slam into my back, I crashed onto the ground.
‘Jesus H Christ’ I growled, struggling to stand back up I felt Agony press her foot onto my neck. I gripped onto her ankle flipping her over onto her back.
I looked over, my messy blond hair fell over my blue eyes, and Lullaby panicking as Shady was lifted into the air by her neck.
I myself lost all hold on reality; this felt like the set of a horror movie, this couldn’t be real.
My entire body froze at the next sight, how the limb of Slender Man tore through the fabric of her dress so easily. How Lullaby was struggling to talk, how could she be so foolish? I realized quickly she only wanted to protect Shady.
I choked on my words, everything felt unreal, even time seemed to stop. The cold woods behind me, the sky above me seemed darker; the forest floor seemed harder as Slender Man tossed her off his limb and she rolled along the floor like a doll.
“LULLABY!” I screamed, running so quickly I tripped over myself and fell onto my chest inches in front of her, close enough to hear her crying out.
“D-daddy…Daddy, I-I’m sorry…I need you, Daddy it hurts, Daddy take it away, please bring me home, I miss you…please help me…I l-love you!”
I crawled up to her my fingers curled around her small figure as I brought her close.
“C-con is…a-are you here?” she asked weakly reaching for something, anything to grab hold of.
I placed my hand on hers, she was cold. “It’s ok, I’m here. It’s going to be alright, ok?”
How could I have lied to myself, her blood stained dress and gushing wound proved me to be a liar.
She weakly clutched onto my fingers, trying to steady her breathing, forcing herself to talk.
“I-I know what’s going t-to happen, I-I’m not s…scared.” She whispered, her tear glazed eyes scanned the sky; I could tell she couldn’t see anything despite her rapid eye movements. Also Lullaby was terrified to leave this world, she refused to show it but she was so scared.
“C-can you do some-thing for me…” she was stuttering, trying not to cry harder than me.
I nodded rapidly, sending the tears from my eyes onto Lullaby’s face.
“A-anything dear… anything…”
She smiled weakly as she parted her lips to speak, her voice so soft, I was losing her. “S-shady, take care of shady… she’s one of the only fa-mily I have left…” Lullaby stuttered, her hands were losing their grip.
“I want to…can I be cr-emated? Ashes onto m-my mother’s grave… back with her.” The tears fell freely now, her hands so cold, her breathing so slow. I was losing her truly, but not just yet.
“C-con…” Lullaby breathed in deeply, gripping tightly onto my hand as she clenched in pain.
“Take me to heaven.” she said quickly, in one exhaled breath.
I looked at Lullaby, my eyes widened and before I could even say anything Lullaby pressed her finger to her own lip and made a ‘shh’ motion.
“Angels can do an-anything Con… When it’s time you'll... you'll take me there and we can wa-watch over Shady together, we..we'll watch over the w-world...together, forever.."
I could feel Lullaby’s finger fall from her lip as her head dropped slowly.
"We'll be in heaven to..gether Con, forever..."
A final breath before there was nothing.
“L-lullaby?” I stuttered, softly shaking her body I looked at her. “No Lullaby, don’t die on us, stay, stay for a little longer, Lullaby…LULLABY!”
I screamed out her name over and over, fingers clutching her body, she was gone, what could I do? My tears fell freely down my face and onto her face.
What seemed like hours passed, even if it was only seconds or minutes and I finally looked up to where Shady was. She had managed to walk towards us looking beaten.
I got up slowly, holding Lullaby close now as I looked at Shady, my breath shaky. “I…” I muttered unsure of what to say. “Fuck… we couldn’t save her, I couldn’t protect her… I’m sorry”.
Shady looked at me before down at Lullaby, she bit her lip hard. Standing in front of me she placed a hand on my shoulder, "You tried, hon. We both did. This is not your fault, you did everything you could."
She paused and looked down at Lullaby. Slipping her arms under the girl she took her into her arms and cradled her close. In doing this she took the weight off of my own person, she knew very well right now seeing the corpse would not help, let alone carrying it.
"Come on, I have a nice blanket in the car ." She said, holding Lullaby in one arm as the other extended, taking my hand. Already she was taking me in. "Just let it out as we walk, there is no shame in crying." Shady said as she began leading us back towards where the car was parked.
The only thing was I couldn’t cry. I was out of tears, there was nothing right now. Nothing but Shady’s breathing because right now I could not even hear my own.
I couldn’t remember the car ride home; I was passed out most of it. I remember offering to drive a few times, all of which were passed off.
We arrived at the Haven; it looked as Lullaby once described it, that’s how I knew it was the haven. I met Lullaby’s father, I couldn’t find the right words to say at the time, all I could do was tell who I was.
I have decided to stay, on behalf of Lullaby.