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Only thirty minutes had passed since Elijah had seen Cadell.

Only five minutes had passed since Elijah's video feed disconnected.

So why the hell was his best friend a different person?

Elijah's hands trembled in excitement as he clung on to Cadell's words. The vigilante methodically detailed his plan while all Elijah could do was nod occasionally and mentally take notes. Cadell spoke quickly yet eloquently, outlining experiments, drawbacks, strategies and even statistics.

And Cadell's new knowledge wasn't the only thing bizarre. The vigilante had been in this world for eighteen years but, somehow, his demeanour said more.

"I don't understand," Elijah said. "Just... How?"

"We don't have time for you to nerd out about it. I need a new mask." There was a gleam in Cadell's eyes. "Monster will be coming soon."

Sara was reading a book when she heard some asshole who didn't know how to press a doorbell once

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Sara was reading a book when she heard some asshole who didn't know how to press a doorbell once. She stumbled downstairs, swearing. If it was one of those scamming door salesmen again, she was going to lose her shit.

OK, fine. She wouldn't. But she would lose her shit inside her mind.

"Alright, alright, jeez," Sara muttered as she opened the door.

A boy who looked around the same age as her and dressed in a filthy suit, beamed at her.

"Hey, buddy," Sara said flatly. "We're not interested. Bye!"

She tried closing the door but a foot quickly stood in the way.

"Is this... Sara?"

Sara frowned. "Yeah, what's it to you."

The boy smiled, and for some reason, it creeped her out. "A nice lady a few doors down told me you were close friends with Cadell Walker. Is this true?"

"Who is this?" Sara said, squinting her eyes. "Is this some dumb prank?"

"No, no! Of course not! I'm the sibling of a certain vigilante you're fond of." The boy winked in a way Sara thought was stupid.

"Cadell has a brother? Woah, come to think of it, you do look like him." She sighed heavily. "If you, um, see him around, can you tell him I'm sorry?"

The boy stood up straight and performed a salute in a way Sara thought was stupid. "You can count on me, missy."

The boy stayed by her door in silence.

"Um, so what do you want?" Sara asked.

The boy massaged his neck as if nervous.

"Do you want to play a game?"

"Do you want to play a game?"

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"Breathe in the fear, boy," The voice said. "What a wonderful night."

Cadell stood outside the stage of his nightmares.

Seven months ago, a terrified boy lost his innocence here. A boy who just wanted to binge-watch anime and sleep away his time at school lost his identity here.

And now the vigilante was back where it all started. This was the house... This was the house where Cadell murdered his parents, Kalice and Miles Walker.

Cadell had followed an ominous crimson vapour from Sara's house to his old home. He feared the worst.

"Psycho, you can do this!" Elijah said heatedly as Cadell walked down the driveway.

The night's sky bled as usual. A soft wind whistled. The house rapidly flashed a blue hallucination; spirals of red erupted.

Cadell entered a portal and his fears came true.

In a red-tinted living room, Sara lay on a sofa, her clothes stained in blood.

Monster sat next to her. "Relax. She's alive for now. I healed anything fatal."

Sara's eyes opened, and the vigilante's heart swelled. "Cad... Is that you?"

"Yup. It's me. Don't worry, Sara. You're going to be fine."

Monster raised an eyebrow. A delirium knife went through Sara's shoulder. She screamed.

"What the fuck do you want from me!" Cadell shouted. "Let her go!"

Monster cackled. "First of all, keep up with that energy! Amazing reaction! I seriously thought you were going to go all calm and composed on me. And secondly, I just want to help you. All you need to do, brother, is be yourself. It's not hard! Don't be ashamed to express yourself properly. Whatever thoughts come into your mind, whatever the voice commands, I want you to follow it. I want you to accept yourself for what you are.

"I am." Cadell said.

Monster wrenched Sara by the hair as they both stood up. "I really don't want to kill her because she clearly means a lot to you. But you leave me no choice."

"Cadell," Sara said. Her eyes were unfocused. "I'm sorry for what I said. There was no way I could have understood your pain. You don't need to forgive yourself, but I hope you can forgive me. It seems like you were right after all. This is the shitty damsel in distress trope, isn't it? Fuck, I was just reading a really good book too. I can't die now!"

Tears streamed down her swollen face. "But if I'm going to die, please can I hear your cute laugh again? Do you remember those biology lessons? You used to—"

Sara's mouth froze open. A 4-inch delirium knife plunged through her chest; blood erupted. Her body swayed forwards into a portal.

Tears filled Cadell's eyes. 



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