The night is now a distant ocean through which his eyes and mind swim, floating and weightless, above a forest drenched in dark wonder and secret sin. It is a place long since cursed by a flood from heaven, and forsaken by true light.

His abode in the mysterious Crystal Lake has seldom seen any more visitors since he disappeared. The cabin itself has been plagued by dust both inside and out. It was cleaned on a daily basis but for nearly a month that has not happened. Even though he’s been at this house more frequently, he preferred not to touch anything there. He simply took in the dwelling for what it was and allowed his mind to lose itself in it.

He felt a sort of clarity he had been denied for a long time now. He stands on the roof, a dark angel on spread wings. He watches in the distance as the cold blue waters call for him. He years to dive in, all the way to the bottom; the only one willing to descend deeper in order to have all his pain and stiffness washed away by the sea. He wishes to be lost in a part of his mind he no longer knows, as he seeks…

He goes back to Mainframe, where he fought a stalemate with Jay Smash till the contest was interrupted. He knew things were far from settled and that was the same thought in Jay Smash’s mind as he was approached backstage. He felt the presence of the ‘Disease’ near him as he hid in the darkness, preferring not to be disturbed. However, ‘disturbing’ was only the least that could be said about Jay Smash.

“That was SPECTACULAR! You truly are full of surprises aren’t you! I mean, after I faced you that one time, you were something else. And tonight, you were something else, ENTIRELY! The way you made your move on Big G tonight was crazy man. And I should know crazy. After all, I’m crazy about, umm, well hey, I’m just crazy! Every now and then I have the feeling I’ve totally lost my mind. And you know what, it’s a great feeling.”

“To tell ya the truth, sometimes it’s only madness that makes us what we are. People think it’s an obsession, a compulsion; like an irresistible impulse to act. But for me, it’s never been like that. I chose my life. I know what I’m doing. Being The Disease, being with W.A.R., it’s whatever my mind can conjure up. And I can see in your eyes or from the looks of that mask that you’re no different from me at all. You and I could be the next Casablanca.”

“In fact, you wanna know a secret? I think you’re crazy, and so does everybody else! Oh wait; in that case… it’s hardly a secret anymore, right?”

He feels the thoughts fading away as he remembered turning back at Smash, looking him in the eye, as he had listened intently; processed what the Disease had infected him with. And then for the first time, he remembers what he said…

“I’ll tell you something I never admit, even to myself: I AM confused. I don’t know exactly who I am, or what my place in this world is. But I am sure of one thing… I am nothing like you.”

The ocean recedes now, replaced by bracing wind. It clears his mind of the dreamlike trance. His eyes open, alert, out of the ocean; breaking out of his shell a new creature drying in the biting air. His overcoat grabs the wind, stretching apart and fluttering in the cold breeze. It’s almost ready to let him ascend into the unforgiving sky.

He hears it as he stretches his arms apart, simulating the feeling of gliding; It’s soft at first, still distant and echoing; almost haunting in fact. Then it rises: a sound not unlike a damsel’s scream, reaching higher and louder and closer till it fills his heart with its unearthly thrill. It is the wild night, screaming for his soul.

He is still marveled on the creation, feeling the new second skin as he stretches out to fill this new outfit he tailored without thinking; somehow knowing it was right. It is something born only when nothing else matters, filling him now, even as his mind soars higher, the wind beats on his perfect cast forged in a fire he never felt. He only feels stronger, better, tougher.

He knows it waits for him out there, the brute force, which broke the old and created the new. It holds an end, promising a beginning… one for each of them.

He yearns to meet Lynch Garrison. “The Hazard”. Find him, remove him, and he will have finally taken his place. And become a darker heart, feeding the rest, the new center holding it all.

And then finally, it pours as he looks up in the sky. Rain. Perfect. The flood from heaven finally pours. He removes his mask to welcome the drops on his face, a silhouette in the dark.

The roar of thunder. And his dark heart pounds, as the wild night shrieks louder.


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