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Cold and pale, the man's body sat rather peacefully in his chair. Even in death, it felt familiar to him, he'd spent many a night here. He'd been there so long, he was more an ornament than a man, another depressing piece of the living room scenery. The room itself was dark, illuminated only by the flickering charity-shop chandelier that proudly took center stage. However, its light was clouded, coated with the same fifteen years worth of dust that covered everything in sight. He woke up...

Rubbing his eyes open, the man took a look around him; how familiar the room was, yet so distant. He tore himself from his favorite chair and got to his feet. Now, he was no stranger to hangovers; this man knew what it was like for one's brain to rattle and creek in their skull, and rattle and creek it did. Every second was like nails on a chalkboard, a kick in the head, the loudest baby ever brought into existence screaming point-blank into his ear. He didn't know what shell-shock was like, but it was probably better.

His gaze was immediately drawn to a small, flashing red light to his left. With a sigh of tiredness and pain he stumbled over to it. The light was emanating from a small black box, only a couple of inches in size. It rested on a wooden table, with a telephone next to it. There was a button in the middle, with little hesitation; he pressed it. The box sounded a *BEEP* and out came a rasping voice: "I'm sorry man," it said endearingly. "It's been two months and we've found nothing. I've talked to Warner... She's calling off the search."

Suddenly it was obvious to him, this was his living room. His answering machine, his message... his home. He used to pass out in his chair, after nights of solitary drinking, drowning his sorrows, bevvying to forget... Well, it seems he'd forgotten. He turned and wandered to the front door, he opened it, but nothing was outside. Blackness, emptiness and rain - nothing more. He turned again, this time facing a small wooden stairway, littered with dirt and flaking chips of white paint. He begun his ascension. He placed his hand on the banister, but instantly found it wet with redness.

The same redness tapped against his hand once, and once again. Dripping without end; drip, drip, drip. He looked upward, and above the stairway hung a mangled and twisted body. Strung up by the arms, it dangled to and fro. Legless and twisted, subjected to the worst tortures possible. Without warning, the body let out a screeching cry of pain and fell to the floor below. The man screamed and fell back.

The ground was his defense, his shield. The only protection he had against the legless corpse, but it didn't move. Why, it didn't advance, didn't shake, didn't scream. It did all a cadaver could do - very little. He got back up and inspected the body, it had turned onto its front during the fall. With a tap on the shoulder, he flipped the corpse onto its back - but it wasn't the same. Gone was the dark-haired, blue-eyed young man, now laid a woman - a woman he knew - a woman he knew to be dead.

He let out a cry of disbelief and fell backward, how was she here? he wondered. She's gone!. The body begun to twitch and shake, spastically jerking itself onto its feet. The man tried to crawl away, but soon enough he hit the wall. She was blonde and beautiful once - he remembered her, he remembered her wedding, her daughter their bodies... Their disfigured broken bodies. She started to change again.

"HOW COULD YOU LET THIS HAPPEN?" She screeched with a stolen voice. Yes she spoke, but her mouth never moved - not once. Her blonde hair darkened, and her emerald eyes became the most perfect blue. "WHY DID YOU LEAVE HER WITH HIM?"

"I - I'm sorry," he whimpered, curling up into a pathetic, cowardly little ball. He could do little else but apologize, he knew what he did. He knew why she hated him, why his wife maimed him, why his daughter despised him. He deserved it. He needed it. He even hated himself, how could he expect them to love him? "Kill me!" he begged. "DO IT!" and he thought she would... Yes - a knife slipped from her sleeves into her hand, glistening in the flickering light.

"Ah, who's this pretty little thing? Look at that sweet little face..." she whispered... that voice, that fucking voice! She started to change, she started to smile. "She doesn't look much like daddy, does she?" The man's blood begun to boil, he could see nothing but red. The woman he loved - the man he loathed - they were one in the same! One was gone and one was dead, they'd both ruined him in so many ways. And now he stood. Half blind in defense. "Oh god that sweet little thing was tight..."

The body snapped and fell. Laying lifeless on the ground, blood oozing from its newly missing eye. He remembered this, he remembered that monster with a knife stuck in his skull. He remembered the blood, watching him die. He loved it. Thank God he was dead, he could never come back, he could never kill again.

Tick went the body. Tick, tick, tick - not unlike a clock. It kept going: Tick, tick, tick. He'd heard that sound before - he knew it. It was... on that night, that terrible night. The night they died, that's when he heard it. In the girls room, when he saw the body - it ticked, just like now. And then came the music. That song... the song he feared. Calm and rhythmic with those familiar drums, this was the song that kept him up at night, the song that turned his dreams into nightmares. The song that played when he lost... when he lost everything.

He couldn't take it, he couldn't listen. He had to flee, he had to run, he had to get away. But he could never forget... maybe that was the point. Yes, that's why that monster sung the song, so he could never forget. He dashed up the stairs, and the music begun to fade. Finally he was safe, now nothing could hurt him. The man found himself in a tight corridor, two white doors on each side and a fifth at the end. His daughters room.

He knew she wouldn't be there, he'll never see her again. His sweet... troubled little girl, she made his life whole. From the day they first met - that rainy Valentine's of eighty-nine, 'till... until the music played. He ran for the door, but no matter how far his legs carried him, he never got any closer. The corridor shook and darkened and the man felt a most sensational pain. It was unrelenting, burning. The pain of his eye, crushing, melting, splitting apart in the left socket. And then the pain went to his arm - old scars he remembered well, the same went for his cheek, for that pained him the most. This was her punishment to him, for failing as a father. A permanent sign of who he was.

The world shook around him, the man was engulfed in darkness. The ticking returned, louder than ever before, louder than he could believe; TICK, TICK, TICK. The music distorted his view as it melodied in the darkness, but was different now - worse. Gone was Simple Minds, now there was little but Greensleeves. The music chimed and sung songs of murder and sadness, with each note throbbing the scars on his body until they cracked and bled. And yet; the man persevered. He continued to stride further ahead into the nothingness, until the corridor faded back into sight.

His steps turned to a sprint, he ran to her room as fast as a could. Trying to ignore the music, trying to ignore the blood leaking from under every door. He ran until he fell and he fell when he no longer needed to run - he fell to the carpeted floor of his daughters room. The door shut behind him, finally he was safe...

The music was silenced, the ticking had left, the darkness had brightened, yes, the room was as illuminated as it had always been. A sea of pink and childish cutesiness, just as he remembered. Thank God, he was safe. His dear little girl, his beautiful daughter, he remembered her sobbing on the bed. Only seven years old, carrying the worst atrocities on her shoulders.

She wasn't there. He'd known it from the start, he'd known he was all alone in this hell, but there was still some part of him that hoped she'd be there. All he wanted was to hold her, hold his beloved daughter, just like he did that one night when everything changed. That night when she changed. He didn't know what kind of man that made him, weak or strong or something else; but he knew what kind of father it made him. After all, no decent father would hope to see his child in a place like this. In a hell like this.

He had to pull himself up, had to be ready in case that thing came through. Was it a man? A woman? A devil or a ghost or something worse? He didn't know, but that didn't matter. It couldn't come in here. This was her place, it had no right to be here; neither of them did. With a grunt he planted his arm on the bed, slowly pushing himself back onto his feet, and that was when he felt it. It was right where he placed his hand, and as soon as he touched it, he knew.

With a thud, he fell back to the ground, the treasure now clutched tightly in his hand. He pressed it tightly to his chest, to his heart, and sighed with relief. There was a part of her here, she was with him, and that was all he needed. He pulled at its cover, but it wouldn't open. That was his little girl down to a tee, she'd sealed her diary with a lock.


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