You always feel naked afterward. You know?
I guess you wouldn't.
It makes a lot more sense in hindsight why maskless would seer pieces of mask to their faces. I mean, in a lot of circles that meant you were a traitor. That at one point you were a proxy and you did something and are no longer to be trusted... or you were a runner that got caught playing pretend. Always assholes blurring those lines.
Having mask pieces stuck to your face like that would, in theory at least, make runners hesitant to help you. In general, it just made you stand out in a crowd. Couldn't even unmask to blend if you had to. So it was supposed to be an all around bad thing.
But those assholes did it anyways... and they did it proudly. And I always took that as a middle finger to the Mask cult. And why wouldn't it be? They were our counter movement after all. Masks that had broken or abandoned their own, retired, or been swayed by the fire cult to chase cheap thrill and petty short lived passion.
But having been unmasked myself recently I don't think it was a middle finger at all. I'm sure they knew the Masks would take it like that. I'm sure it was a perk. But now I think it had more to do with them feeling like I do now. Naked.
I'd do just about anything now to have my mask back so that I could just feel comfortable enough to go outside... fortunately my pride keeps getting the best of me.
Rest assured, my face is still intact.
I wonder how the defectors are fairing without their masks? I wonder if they're still wearing them? I wonder if they readopted the old maskless rite and are burning the pieces into the faces. Or maybe they just stopped wearing them. Hard to say. I mean, I would assume fire bitch would have made them break their own masks as a condition of their joining. Would be pretty typical of the Fire cult.
If she was smart she'd just let keep their masks. They'll function better with them on.
(And that's when it started. One moment I'm musing in my room, sitting in front of a computer and writing out my thoughts and feelings... next I'm sitting on a ledge of a roof top looking out at the cityscape as the sun slowly sets in the distance... everything is so orange.)
"They'll get use to it either way though," said a gruff voice as a figure came up on my left and sat down beside me on the ledge. "Just takes some time. I mean look at us. We both did it," they continued as they dangled their feet over the ledge playfully with a short chuckle. "I mean, if I can do it anyone can. God knows I never use to take that thing off. Not even to wash."
They were in their late teens and were slim with ruff long raggedy hair... maybe lean is the better word. They were toned. What little exposed flesh I could see showed patterns of scarring... with the exception of their face. Their face only had the one scar just above and just under the eye. I'm assuming it was one big scar. The middle of the scar was covered by the eye patch they wore over that eye. Whatever made that scar seemed to have take the eye with it.
I just stared at them and groaned. More crazy shit. This time an entire new location. My hallucinating seems to be getting worse and worse. Father only know what could be happening around me right now in reality and I would never know.
"I felt that too," they laughed slugging me in the arm. "Talking still feels awkward for me sometimes. It's so.... impersonal you know? Like before people had to get to know me and my mannerism to understand what I wanted and how to interact with me. Now I just fucking say it and it's done... never feel like I'm really connecting with anyone anymore. Its all so superficial."
I nodded. I'd be lying if I tried to express anything but agreement to those notions... such a Mask way of thinking, believing hat lack of proper communication brings us closer.
"Never felt more true than now though..." they said pulling out a picture of girl. "Can't be helped though... they always leave you... just like you did to me... just like I'll probably do to someone else."
I gave them a funny look. Just who was this person supposed to be?
"Don't recognize me huh? Figures. That was a pretty long time ago. I was so mad at you then... think I still am," they said letting the picture they were holding catch wind and fly off. "Got a lot to be mad about these days though. One thing tends to over shadow the other. And like I said... that was long time ago."
I sat there and watched them stretch a moment. Took in their posture. The way they leaned and breathed. The way they favored putting weight on their right over their left and incessantly tapped the tips of their fingers to their thumbs when they were thinking, one at a time and back and forth.
I knew who it was. My god they had gotten older. "Maggot?"
They laughed. "You got it stud. Good to see a decade hasn't made you any slower."
I shrugged. Even if this wasn't just a hallucination, no time had passed for me. It certainly hasn't been a decade since I last saw Maggot.
"I wish we had had more time you know?"
I nodded. I do still often find I miss my little side kick.
"You uh... turned out well."
They laughed. "Yeah, I'd want to fuck me too."
"Wh-No, that's not what-"
"Yes it is."
I just slumped and sat in silence for a moment grumbling. "Last priority."
"But still on the priority list?"
I groaned louder and shoved them.
"Real mature," they laughed. "You know I probably could have taken all the time we lost if it had been for something."
"Its for something really important," I said reassuringly.
"It was supposed to be," they said pointing out at the sunset as it finally disappeared behind the earth... just as soon as it did fires lit up across the city and screaming started echoing up from the streets. "But it made so little fucking difference."
"What... whats happening?"
"We didn't even realized the ritual had failed at first. Fracture had been so preoccupied with Cordelia's little Cabal he didn't notice you slip and get over taken."
"He didn't see the darkness overcome you and rip away at the core of your being leaving behind nothing but a husk. He ignored your pain, screams, and suffering to play in his little pissing contest with the wicked bitch of the west. And when he could finally be bothered to offer you up to the Fire so that you could aid in the eternal battle against the darkness you weren't truly there anymore. The Darkness used you as a conduit to force itself into our world and then the Fire poured in after it. They never stopped fighting. Now both of them race to consume more of our world than the other."
"That can't be."
"Even the fears are gone now. Father is either dead or has abandoned us. At the end of the day... I guess even the fears are just fuel to be consumed by even bigger and hungrier monsters. Really puts in perspective how insignificant we really are... how little our sacrifices really mean."
"They aren't little, they mean everything even if they don't amount to anything."
Maggot got really angry at me with that. "If it all was going to amount to so little, wouldn't you have rather given all that you threw away into something you could have at least enjoyed. Wouldn't it have been better if you hadn't wasted your life destroying yourself and instead spent that time with the people who needed you?"
"Its not about the end result. It's about the intent behind the action. You of all people should be able to understand that."
Maggot just sighed and looked over me with an exhausted frown. "I just wish we had had more time."
"Just have to savor the memories."
"Can't anymore... just petty little reminders of what I've lost and can't have back."
"That's how you choose to see it."
"That's just how it is."
I sighed. It was hard to see them this way. Thankfully I didn't have to see them for much longer.
That's when the right half of Maggot's head blew off... it slowly slumped over and fell off the roof... splattering below. Gruesome...
I pulled out binoculars and looked around, trying to figure out where that came from, keeping low and moving as not to be next. I eventually spotted two familiar faces a few roofs over.
Fracture and snips waving at me. Fracture had a hand written sign he was holding over his head.
"Get back to work!"
And as soon as I put my binoculars down, I was at my desk sitting in front of my computer again.
It only really now occurs to me in hindsight just how ridiculous that whole... thing, was.
... These delusions are really starting to get to me... a little.
Gonna go shower it off.