I know what I’m a shadow of now.
I’m safe for now. I found an apartment building whose door was unlocked and snuck inside. I’m in an apartment on the top floor. There’s no power or heat, but it’s out of the wind and I don’t think the Beast will find me up here. I miss Sage’s house. Too bad the place burnt down. I should’ve checked the oven over before using it…stupid move on my part. Oh, well. At least the car was still running, though I’ve now lost that as well. I’ve been here so long…at some points, I think I can feel the atmosphere seeping into my skin, turning it grey. It’s cold and still, like a missile solo in the split-second of absolute calm before the engines ignite and thermonuclear doom is catapulted into the stratosphere atop raw plasmic fury.
It’s like death. This entire world is dead. Living things are the anomaly here, including me.
(quiet, tired sigh)
I’m getting off-topic. My shoulder’s healed from the bruising it had just a few days earlier. My ribs and leg are still sore, but I can walk alright now. It’s slow, but enough for me to get around. I’m planning to stay here for a little while. I can see the Tower from this apartment’s windows, its weathered rock exterior jutting from the destroyed city center. It just…erupted there, a few days after I found the city. At first I thought it was an earthquake, until I heard the rock beneath me literally tearing apart. I never knew a thing like that was possible. It sounded like the earth itself was screaming in pain as this…this EDIFICE rose slowly out of the ground, the city blocks around it buckling, buildings collapsing. I was frozen in place, even after it stopped growing and the noise died down.
I think it took me around three hours to recover enough to continue. I didn’t head for the Tower right away, of course. I explored the city first. Judging from newspapers still sitting in the newsstands, this is a city called New York. The newspapers are dated "January 14, 2019”, and most of their front page stories detail rising tension between two countries, the United States of North America and the apparently Communist superstate of the Southeast Asian Economic Cooperation Zone. None of this meant anything to me, though the name New York seems familiar. I may have visited it at some point in my past. In any case, the newspapers didn’t tell me how the city had arrived here, so I moved on. After almost two weeks of exploring I was forced to conclude that there was nothing here. There were no bodies, no new information, nothing useful aside from a few new weapons I found in an abandoned police station. I’m still using the gun I arrived with as a sidearm, but it never hurts to have backups.
I eventually found my way to the site of the Tower’s emergence. It appeared to be sitting in the center of what was once a massive, level dirt field. The dirt itself was a greyish-brown, a powdery lifeless mass that had probably never held a plant. The Tower itself was surrounded by jagged, broken shards of earth, making it look like some sort of naturally-formed fortress. It was easily taller than any of the skyscrapers in the city. It seemed to absorb what little light there was in the air around it, and I could feel something inside myself drawn to it. For a moment I was reminded of Sage, the sick insanity shining behind his eyes as he stared at my naked body. I couldn’t help it, though. I…I started walking toward it.
(sound of quiet crying and breath hitching)
What I found inside was…was something I’m not ready to talk about right now. Maybe later. For now, I…I need to do something. Something that doesn’t make me think about what was in there…
(sound of tape recorder being dropped, gun cocking. Quiet) Something’s outside.
(sound of quiet, slow steps. A door slides open. A scream, several gunshots in rapid succession. A bestial roar. Recording ends)
I shouldn't have gone to the tower.
It was a stupid thing to do. My DI would've had my ass for such a basic mistake, walking right into an unknown situation without even basic recon.
...what's a DI?
(sounds of labored, pained breathing for approximately 3 minutes)
My leg is broken. I think a few of my ribs are too. Hurts like hell. I took some morphine I found at the military base, but it's not helping. I just feel...foggy, like my mind's no longer quite in sync with reality. I wonder if this is what it feels like to die. Dunno. I'll tell you what, though. It's pretty awkward.
(pained gasp, sound of water sloshing in a container)
My shoulder's hurt too. Must've been from when the shadow threw me through that wall. What WAS that thing, anyway? It looked...
No. Not gonna talk about that.
I'm gonna die here. I know that now. This is...this place, it's what's left behind after time passes through. Places like this are the tracks the universe leaves behind. I thought the tower might provide a way home. I was wrong. There is no way home. Time left me behind, and there's no way to catch up.
It's cold here now. After months of gloom, the sun is starting to set. I wouldn't be surprised if it begins to snow soon. The long dark winter of the soul is beginning to set in. If I could move I'd go look for shelter. Something tells me that the Beast likes the dark. It's his time now. He'll be looking for me. I think I'm the only prey he has left.
I need to get out of this wind. I'm losing feeling in my heart. Goodnight, stars. Goodnight, clouds. Goodnight, trees. Goodnight, stones. Goodnight, Beast.
I'm so lonely...
(sounds of quiet crying. Recording ends)