I saw something... seriously concerning today.
I was searching around for Red. That endeavor seems to be a lost cause. If no one's found her by now, she's either dead, left town, or being kept hidden. She can't possibly be operating in town with people looking for her without her being discovered after all this time...
... Right. So I was searching around the park.
There was this big old tree house on one of the trees in the park. Not sure how the owners of it got away with that. I don't think most places will tolerate you building little houses in their trees. Particularly in a park on private property.
Right, right, right. So I was looking around when suddenly a fire truck came storming into the park blaring it's sirens and being escorted by a handful of police cars being equally as noisy. They stopped right in front of the tree house. The firemen got out and got a hose ready. The policemen got out and the three masked men among them pulled out flame throwers and started raining fire down on the tree house.
The first sound that followed were screams. Children stuck their heads out the window screaming in terror and begging for their lives, an act that give the masked men pause.
Then a second figure emerged. He was an adult in a big hooded sweater and had a big shit eating grin on his face. He pulled one of the kids to his chest and visibly held a knife to their throat trying to be intimidating.
That's when the second noise hit. Suddenly... all you could hear was the squawking of a thousand birds as they poured out of the tree house and started flocking around it and making dives for everyone and anyone in the immediate vicinity.
The masked men turn their flames on the birds to very little effect. The birds dove through the fire and brought then two officers, a fireman, and a passerby who was unfortunate enough to have taken refuge behind a police car when the swarm broke out.
I remember looking around as I hid behind a tree, and seeing people walking for their houses. Just casually walking. Many with an irritated sigh. No one was freaking out at the spectacle. No one ran over to try to help. No one ran away in terror or confusion. When the birds started squawking and people took note of what was going on, they walked away like this was a school fire drill or something.
Most of them at least. I watched them in disbelief at their response to the situation before their very eyes. Watched as the made for their doors to hide away and ignore what was happening. Watched as a women looked over her shoulder one last time before she would have disappeared into her house and stopped dead in her tracks. Her eyes widened and her mouth dripped open. I saw her mouth the words a few times before they seemed to get loud enough for the the neighbors around her to stop their slow evacuation and take note of her. I watched her break into a dash for the park as her voice got loud enough for me to hear.
A handful of her neighbors chased after her and literally tackled her to the ground. "G-Get off me! She needs her mom! Get off-!"
One's of the people holding her down, much to the bewilderment of the rest of those holding her, punched her hard in the gut. "You can't help her," he said in a cold tone as they hauled her off into the nearest house. "If they can be saved... the masks will save them."
To my amazement, the scene the Mother had made had attacked more attention then what was happening before them in the part... almost like that was less common than this...
... so the masked policemen kept their fire turned on the birds at first. As people started to go down around them, one of them yelled and pointed to the tree house and turned his flame back on it, the children inside of it, and the man holding them hostage.
The other two masked men where hesitant to join him, but when the flock suddenly turned all its attention to and began swarming him they followed suit.
They were fortunate that one of the unmasked officers had the presence of mind to commandeer the fire hose. He turned it on the swarm to literally blast them away from the masked ones. While he may have put out one of the flame throwers by accident in the process, the cover gave the other two masked men the time they needed to engulf the tree in flame.
The screaming stopped... the hooded figure dove out of the tree house to escape the flames and landed hard on his back. He winced in pain. He was covered in burns. The birds tried diving for him but where rather scattered from being sprayed crossed the park with the hose. One of the masked figures rushed over and put a heavy boot on his chest as what few birds had managed to regroup pecked at him and picked at what flesh they could manage.
Scrrrish, as the masked man buried his boot into the hooded ones chest cavity.
He started screaming bloody murder riling up the birds into a greater fervor... and was suddenly silenced as the masked man bared down fire on his face.
When the birds scattered... torrent of fire from he flame thrower stopped. The hooded one's face was charred... he was clearly dead.
They pulled the fire truck up and used the latter to pull the kids out before they brought the tree house crumpling down to earth... none of children made it... all of them were charred and covered in burns.
Everyone looked to the masked man who had made the call to do this to them but he wasn't looking their way. He was facing away. His stance implied heavy stressed breathing. Guilt. He couldn't bring himself to face them... his comrades or the kids.
The officer who commandeered the fire hose approached him from behind... put a light hand on his shoulder.
"We do what we have to," he said trying to sounds strong... trying to be reassuring.
The masked man sighed. Pulled off his masked and turned it to stared at its face. His old face.
"We do until we don't," he said handing the mask off to the officer. "We do... until we don't. Its your burden now," he said turning back around and walking off.
"I... Wh-What?! No! Y-" started the officer as he started to chased after now retired proxy.
The other two proxy stopped him, each with a hand lightly grabbing him. He turned to face him.
"H-He can't... we have to...!" he stammered off in a mild fuss before letting his sentence hang. He looked up at them. He was scared. He watched quietly desperate for some guidance or insight on what to do.
They both shook their heads. One of them took the mask from him and put it up to his face.
He pulled back at first, but stopped himself.
"I-I ca-" he started again but was shushed with a finger to his mask's lips.
He started to panic a bit in place obviously still overwhelmed at this development.
One of them signed a familiar motion to him. They put hand to their chest and raised it... dropped their hand back down with a deep sigh.
'Breath in... breath out.'
"Thuuuuuuuuuuh....... thuuuuuuu," went the new proxy taking several breaths to calm himself.
When he was good and relaxed... they gave him a pat on head.
While this scene played out, the other officers and firemen watched with quiet reverence and awe. When they were done, they all got back in their vehicles... off they went.
I noticed on my patrol the night after that happened... all the tree houses were gone across town, or at least as far across town as I was willing to check. One or two of them also looked like they had been burned down...
I think... the convocation might have attacked the town today... I think what I saw happened in several places across Black Lake...
The people... they just casually walked to their houses... what the fuck is wrong with this town?