Waylon Park was running for his life. He could hear the groom close behind, shouting filthy insults. Without hesitation, Waylon skidded into a room and slammed the door closed. He only had a few seconds until Gluskin arrived. He looked around for an escape route. There was a vent over on the opposite wall. Waylon ran and heaved himself up, legs scrabbling as he tried to get a foothold. He cried out as he felt hands latch onto his ankles.
"You're mine, darling!" Gluskin snarled. There came an odd thumping from further down the vent and then, to Waylon's surprise, a face appeared. A man was crawling down the vent towards him! They stopped when they saw him.
"Help me!" Waylon begged. The man hesitated before grabbing Waylon's hands and pulling him forcefully away from Gluskin's clutches. Feeling the groom's hands loosen, Waylon kicked out in desperation and felt his heel connect with Gluskin's face. The groom stumbled back, allowing the man to drag Waylon to safety. As they crouched high up in safety, Gluskin regained his footing. He eyed Waylon and the man.
"Whores, all of you - you aren't worthy to bear my children!" he roared. Waylon wasn't listening; he was busy scurrying after the man, getting as far away as possible from Gluskin. They stopped to catch their breath in a bend in the vent.
"Who are you?" Waylon gasped. The man's eyes were dark and enigmatic, giving away nothing, as if his basic human instinct to trust had left long ago. He looked as if he was having second thoughts about saving Waylon. He didn't reply.
"Please, let me know your name. We're both survivors here and we can't afford to not trust each other."
"Miles," the man muttered reluctantly. Waylon held out his hand and Miles shook it. His right hand was rough and clammy, streaked with blood. Waylon noticed that he was missing a finger.
"We need to move on," Miles murmured. Without a second glance at Waylon, he crept on down the vent as if he was alone. Waylon followed as quietly as possible. They reached the end of the vent and Miles held out his left hand. It was also missing a finger.
"Wait," Miles whispered. Waylon felt hairs rise on the back of his neck as he heard faint footsteps coming up the hall. A man in a straitjacket ambled by beneath them. Miles exhaled and, to Waylon's shock, vaulted down towards the variant.
"Come on!" Miles hissed. He motioned at the variant. "He's harmless, so hurry up before a dangerous one comes alone!"
Waylon climbed down and regarded the variant suspiciously. It was mumbling about silky things in a muffled voice. He felt a hand tug at his shoulder. Waylon turned to see Miles, glaring at him.
"Why are you wearing this?" he demanded. Waylon quickly explained everything about Murkoff's dirty work, Blaire committing him to the asylum, and everything else after. Miles' eyebrows raised slightly at the mention of the groom. When Waylon was done, he whistled.
"So it's your fault," he said suddenly. Waylon blinked. Miles continued. "Your fault that I'm here, running for my life, getting my goddamn fingers cut off. You're the whistleblower."
Waylon winced. Every angry word cut him like a knife. He hadn't realised that Miles was one of the reporters he had emailed. God, he hadn't expected anyone to respond! Without another sound, Miles turned and walked down the corridor, leaving a bewildered Waylon behind. He was supposed to follow or not? Deciding on the former, Waylon hurried after him. He entered a room and saw Miles taking a battery from his pocket and slotting it into his camera. Close by was an open door, through which was complete darkness. Miles' head snapped up as he heard Waylon enter. He visibly relaxed when he saw it wasn't Chris Walker or another hostile variant.
"Fine, you can come along," he sighed. "Just don't blame me if you get your head ripped off or something."
Waylon raised his own camcorder and clicked on the night-vision. Everything lit up a bright green-blue, including Miles, whose eyes were glinting. He nodded at Waylon before going into the doorway. With his night-vision now on, Waylon could see that it was a small operating room. They made it to the door exiting the room. Miles went first, standing slowly and turning his night-vision off. He rounded a corner and found himself face to face with Chris Walker.
"Shit!" he yelled, tripping over things in his haste to get away. The big variant grasped onto his throat and lifted him into the air. Miles was batting at Walker's hands which were steadily tightening, his legs pedaling but catching nothing.
Waylon looked around for something to help. His eyes fixed onto a small but heavy-looking trashcan. With a cry of exertion, Waylon heaved it up and slammed it into Walker's face hard. The variant reeled and let go of Miles, who fell to the floor, coughing. Waylon didn't hesitate. He grabbed onto Miles' hand and ran. He was half-helping and half-dragging the coughing reporter. They finally reached a room which Waylon quickly closed the door of, pushing a large cabinet to block the entrance. He sat back and allowed himself a brief rest. Miles was massaging his throat, eyes watering. He offered Waylon a weak smile.
"Thanks," he gasped. "You're not half bad."
Ten minutes later and they were on their feet again. They smashed a window, clambering out onto the rooftop. It was raining. Miles pointed to another window, not too far away.
"We can get out those doors. Can you see them?" he asked. Waylon nodded and they began to make their way over the slippery rooftop. Waylon's foot landed onto a particularly rained-on patch of metal and he fell, automatically grabbing onto Miles as he fell. They fell with a crash and a tangle of limbs. Groaning from hitting his head, Waylon looked up. Miles was sprawled on him, wincing. The reporter pushed himself to his knees and rubbed his head.
"Did you really have to grab me?" he said, sounding pained. Waylon shrugged apologetically and accepted the hand proffered to help him up. Treading more carefully, they made it to their goal. The rain had stopped and the sun seemed to be starting to come out. Miles told Waylon to stand back and, after two kicks, smashed the window in. He climbed through, not bothering to wait for Waylon. Freedom was in sight and he was eager to reach it. Waylon was half through the window, taking care to not touch the broken glass, and happened to glass up to see Miles. The reporter was almost at the doors, glancing back.
Then something hit him. It was invisible to Waylon's naked eye but, looking through his night-vision, he could see it had a form like a muscular yet skeletal person. It dragged Miles along the floor and high into the air. Waylon shouted his name but it wasn't letting go. Waylon watched with mixed awe and horror as it seemed to fuse itself with Miles, disappearing into him like a dissipating cloud of smoke. The reporter dropped back to the ground and rolled onto his back, moaning with pain. Waylon tried to go to him but his jumpsuit was snagged on a protruding shard of glass. As Waylon was unhooking himself, Miles pushed himself to his feet and limped to the doors.
Both men could only watch as the doors swung open by themselves. A SWAT team was facing Miles, along with a elderly, sick-looking man in a wheelchair who Waylon didn't recognise. One soldier raised his gun.
Waylon's voice was lost in his throat. A single bullet hit Miles, who stumbled, his eyes wide. Neither could believe what was happening. Two seconds later and another soldier was firing, shooting his clip into Miles' chest. The reporter collapsed to the floor, a pool of blood spreading around him. Waylon screamed his name and the soldier who had killed Miles spun to look at him. Waylon wasn't going to waste any time; he ran back out onto the roof, tearing a small hole into the side of his jumpsuit. Making his way down to another window, Waylon found himself half blinded by the sun. How cruel to have such a beautiful view seconds after his only ally had been brutally murdered. He felt rain on his face - no, it wasn't raining anymore. Where was the moisture coming from?
The word denial flashed through Waylon's mind as he squeezed through a hole in the wall. He briefly stopped, his breathing ragged, unable to understand why the events had turned themselves upside down. He wearily dragged himself to his feet and found that he was in the lobby. Bodies, fresh and old, were strewn around like broken dolls, most missing their heads.
Then there came a voice, one that made Waylon's blood run cold and hatred rush to his head. It was the voice of the man who had made him to through all of this.
"Mr. Park …" Blaire said hoarsely. He laughed weakly. "How the fuck are you still alive?"
As he got nearer, Waylon saw him, sat right in the doorway to freedom.
"Ah … let's- make a deal?" Blaire continued, sounding like he was in pain. There was a bloodstain on his shirt. "You help me, I- I'll help you."
When Waylon said and did nothing, Blaire said more.
"Help me up, please? God … I'm stuck like a pig!"
Waylon was never going to help this man, not in a million years. He tried to walk past but Blaire suddenly lunged, catching him off-guard. Waylon felt the white-hot agony of a blade slipping into his stomach and stumbled away, landing on his back. Blaire was stood over him, brandishing a bloody shard of glass.
"Fucking die already! No-one can know! No-one-"
His words were cut off as the same entity from before, the one that had attacked Miles, snatched Blaire from the floor. He was loosely thrown about like a ragdoll, screaming.
"Ah! What the fu- agh! Oh God, oh Christ in heaven, how'd it get out? No, no! No, please! No! Agh!"
He gave one final scream which abruptly cut off as his body exploded. His remains fell down onto Waylon like red rain, who quickly climbed to his feet. He limped through the doors to freedom, unable to believe that he was getting out. He could see the gate and … was that a car? Disbelieving of his own sight, Waylon approached the car and discovered that it was unlocked. Somehow, Waylon had a feeling that it had belonged to Miles. His throat tightened as he climbed in and closed the door. He tested the keys. The engine simply turned over. Trying again, something caught Waylon's eye. He looked up and saw an ominous cloud around the front doors to Mount Massive Asylum. He squinted before picking up his camera and zooming in. Was that a figure or were his eyes deceiving him?
His heart thumped with fear as he focused on it. It was a person, stood in the center of the cloud. But the clothes …
Waylon didn't have a second thought. He leapt from the vehicle, leaving the door open, and ran to Miles, exclaiming his name. He reached the man, the dark cloud vanishing as he entered it. He threw his arms around his friend, tears of relief running down his face. Miles looked down, and Waylon could have sworn there was a hint of a smile. Waylon didn't care how Miles was still alive. He didn't care if he was only sustained by the Walrider. Miles was here now and that was all that counted. Although he was still hurting, Waylon felt all his previous fears melting away. He sobbed out a 'thank you'.
Although he was still hurting, Waylon knew everything was going to be okay.