It's my oldest possession. A treasure passed down to me by a man I both respected and despised. Everything from its plain white color, to how it fits my face, to the crack that runs from the corner of the mask to it's eye is a mark of who I was, of who I am, and who I am becoming. The day I shed this mask will be the day I die.
That said, it's been the source of quite a few... issues on our journey.
In a big enough city, people don't tend to regard the mask with to much concern. People are weird after all and they've usually seen weirder. Sure they tend to keep a closer eye on me and look at me funny as I seem somewhat more likely to rob or mug them or something, but in a big town it kind of feels like everyone is about to rob you. You kind of watch everyone with a suspicious regard. In a weird sense, it makes me blend in as just another oddball. Although my refusal to talk at all seems to really freak people out. I blame horror movies.
There's a constant risk when we travel on the road, since I usually drive, that someone will pull us over. I've actually had a few nightmares to that effect. I think the mask thing would put any cop unlucky enough to pull us over on high alert and one of us screaming at them while the driver stares at them quietly would probably cause the poor cop to get uppity... and then we'd have an incident on our hands. As much as I do not trust LeCroix, it was nice to have someone 'normal' with us to act as our face. I don't know that I'd feel comfortable leaving without her, if only to prevent such a incident.
And then there is everywhere else. Outside the the larger towns or cities, the mask seems to be a serious cause for alarm. Whenever I stop in at a gas station or a motel or something remote and in between proper towns, I can see the shop keeper eyeing me and nursing a hidden firearm with a nervous unconvincing grin.
Worse, if they seem actually aware of what a proxy is, they'll just pull the gun on me and demand I leave claiming things along the lines as 'I already payed up' or 'your kind knows where to put the bodies around the back, now stay the fuck out of my store.'
Small towns are the worst of all. The mask draws the attention of pitiful little neighborhood watches. Old folks following me around all day because I look suspicious. Hell, cops will do that too. Small enough town, they got nothing better to do. God forbid the police force be aware of what a proxy is. We've been walked out of town at gun point before. I suppose we're lucky they didn't just shoot us. Honestly our best bet is if the town is owned by proxies. Even then that tends to earn a 'And just when will you be leaving?'. Unless of course they are aware of the free market and recognize Picasso by the pieces of mask glued directly to her face. We've been ambushed over that before. We scalped them and left them screaming and bleeding to send a little message so they wouldn't try that again. Poor bastards.
But regardless of how much concern it may or may not raise, I always wear the mask. Its a part of me... I have to. So I took a little stroll through Black Lake's streets on my own to try to gauge what we could expect from the people here. These people are weird.
The town is primarily separated into two parts, housing and businesses. I was strolling through housing expecting to to draw the attention of the neighborhood watch. What I attracted was instead someone I tend to scare of, a girl of about 16.
She ran up to me and grabbed my hands and started thanking me. She buried her forehead in my chest and declared how grateful she was. That she wouldn't be here without 'us'. That she doesn't care what people say, she knows we're the good guys and she plans to try to enlist today. I just stared at her until she was done. Put a hand on top of her head, I think that's supposed to be comforting. She smiles and nodded looking up at me. 'I kind of hope I don't earn a mask... I don't know that I could stand to give up talking ever again,' she mused to herself as she wandered off.
I let her create some distance between us and I followed her to the area between the housing and business section where the police station is, being careful not to be seen. I saw her go in. I was cautiously approaching the station to take a look around when a group of officers came out with a masked figured. A part of his mask had broken away above his right eye. I stopped at the door and listened for a moment.
'God damn it. We got another /wolf/ attack.' - Officer 1
'Fuck man, I hate those. We lost 4 guys on the last one. At this point, it'd make more sense to just let those fuckers keep the woods.' - Officer 2
The masked figure gave officer 2 a shove again the wall and glared daggers at him.
'I-I was kidding. I was kidding!' - Officer 2
'I would hope so. You have a daughter. You'd be a damn fool to think she isn't slipping off to the woods to play like the rest of the kids her age.' -Officer 1
'Can we not talk about my daughter sneaking off to the woods to /play/. I really don't need that on top of the rest of this bullshit.' - Officer 2
'Quit stressing so much Tony. We got that secret weapon this time. Danny says we ain't gonna lose no one ta'night.' - Officer 3
'You trust that half /wolf/ freak show not to turn around and gut us once the hunt starts?' - Officer 2
'I think he hates those /animals/ more than anyone else here. We can trust him, for this at least' - Officer 3
'Hey buddy, can we help you' - Officer 1 to Me.
I turned and realized they had all noticed me. I walked off, fast. I was happy to turn when I got back to the motel to find they hadn't followed me.
Something is wrong with this town right down to its people and police. They have masked figures working along side officers. I wonder if they're proxies... we need to hit the woods tonight. See exactly what they're up to.
Maybe try to abduct the masked one. See just how dedicated to not talking he really is.