Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
find and fix generators. those are the only instructions you're given. fix generators to power the doors so that they might lead to your escape. you are the first to arrive within the macmillan estate, broken down as it is. it is a world of perpetual night, of thickened fog, and it feels, to you, a little bit like the stringency of death just hangs in the air. something bitter and foul, a taste like blood in your mouth. when you first arrive, you wonder what you must have done to be brought here. you think it a trick your boss has played on you to get even for some shortcoming or weakness you've displayed at your dead-end job. its usually your worst fear, that you've done something wrong, that everyone hates you the same way you've hated yourself for so many years now.
but there was no reason, no justification, for why you woke up in the woods alone. why you could feel your heart literally leaping from your chest. you've never really been good out in nature and you wondered if maybe this was some kind of test. some kind of hazing or initiation into their friendship. sitting alone around a campfire already set up and smoking--you found it in the woods, in a nice little clearing, you hoped maybe someone was camping and would find you and take you home--you wonder just where your life has lead you thus far. you are a loser. there's no denying that you are heading nowhere. you have no prospects, nothing to look forward to, just a dead-end job as a manager at a pizza place downtown. twenty-eight years old and your whole life has virtually amounted to nothing. you never went to college and as you sit there warming your hands you think that it'd be better off if maybe you just disappeared. your parents are supportive people, but you know that one day that support will likely run out as they get older and older and you're still unable to find a better job and support yourself. maybe you have a dependency issue? maybe you're afraid to be really and truly alone? whatever the reason, you were never really geared up for success anyway.
you are alone the first time you enter a trial and the scars from that moment have never really left. they've been covered over anew, and the physical ones, well they heal--mostly. the mental trauma will never truly leave you, it'll become something that greets you like an old friend. like that little voice that lingers in the back of your head that tells you just what kind of worthless survivor you are. but you are a survivor. not always, but you've heard it said in the darkness and whispers of the forest, death is not an escape. you don't know what it means and you just have an intrinsic desire to seek out something. seek out what? what is it you're meant to find? the forest seems to have shifted around you, in the distance is a broken down set of buildings, crows as far as the eye can see, and fog. so much fog. it sticks heavy to your glasses sometimes during this first trial and all the others after it. you don't know how to do anything mechanic, but when you come across your first generator, you start at it without even thinking. and your heart is pounding inside your chest. fix it a voice says, and so you do. but right after you do, lord help you. you've never been a religious man, but facing the seven foot terror that stands over you in a porcelain mask, covered in scars and leather, holding a gigantic knife and a bear trap...
you think you might need to start praying.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
people say that 'growing up' doesn't come close to having to 'survive in the wild'; you beg to differ. being a teenager in the world is like being prey out in the wilderness of the savannah. if you make one wrong move, draw too much attention to yourself, you're going to be eaten alive. you were never anyone's first choice growing up, and when you were in elementary school you were merely picked last in gym class. you have very few friends as a young boy and when it comes time for middle school, those friends desert you. you wouldn't have considered yourself an abnormal child, you were just never any good at truly socializing. you've had anxiety from the day you were born, skittish and usually afraid of everything, including your own shadow. you are not a strong personality and that's why you wonder just how you came into the role of leader of this ragtag group of misfits. you've been preened to survive your entire teenage life, it seems. not through fighting, through standing up and defending yourself, but through hiding--making yourself virtually invisible. being shoved into lockers and pushed in the hall, having your glasses broken so many times, you've learned what to do to avoid being seen and, more importantly, being caught.
it makes you a very good survivor in the long run.
you have some innate ability to bring people together. you don't know what it is, and these people, these other survivors...they don't seem to hate you. they come from all walks of life. jake, claudette, and meg show up first, and you feel overshadowed by them. all three so much stronger and braver than you; constantly, they're getting you out of tough situations...but its nice to have more people around you. you wonder if you've ever been a burden to them. being alone has never been a problem for you, and sometimes its better, since there's no one else to look out for; not to mention, alone there's no one else to draw attention to you. and they do, god do they draw you into the open. you feel some kind of need to keep them safe and its something you've literally never felt before in your life. you need them to survive so that you can survive. you all need to work as a team. tensions are high with all of you and sometimes the others clash, but the first time you're all pulled into a trial together, brought from the campfire by the being you call the 'entity' you teach them the ropes. jake is a little gung-ho about it and his scream when he's first hooked, christ, it curdles your blood. claudette is good with plants, so she's made healing salves during trials, and meg was on a sports team back home and she knows how to run and stay quiet. jake is just a powerhouse, full of courage, like he's always been running from something his whole life.
you've only ever had to save yourself before, and you've failed, every single time. your bravery works differently from the rest; you are not reckless about it. you go in slow and steady, you hide when you need to. lockers, as it turns out, are man's best friend. until they're not. the trapper is the killer you know the best, but the others that start appearing, you die many times trying to figure them out. but that's what you do, for the good of your team, even if you are crying with fear, even if every time a hook slices through sinew and bone and your lungs heave ragged breaths, you try and figure out how they work. if you work together, you all survive. that's the goal, at least. if you turn on five generators, you power the escape gates. its never a true escape, as you wind up right back at the campfire, but it feels a little bit like victory. you, dwight fairfield, are the least accomplished of them all. you don't stack up to the rest, but you hope they care as much as you do. you hope they take your leadership, the role you're trying to put yourself in, and know you're doing just the very best you can do.
you wonder if the others mourn every time you die pinned to a hook or by the killer's hand, or if its just your own gentle heart that tears itself apart when you can't save everyone.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
you wish you couldn't remember what its like to see anyone else dangling from a rusted hook, driven through shoulders like a knife through butter on a warm summer day. you wish you didn't know exactly what that felt like, either. you've never been able to save yourself but god fucking damnit you'll try to save everyone you can in this world. it feels like its been years since you've been here and new survivors are appearing every day. the last is david king and he is all bare-knuckle brawling and unflattering, boisterous words spoken in an otherwise flustering accent. you remember the first time he literally tried to punch the huntress in the face when she reached for his bleeding body on the ground. he is intense and he challenges your leadership. you wonder, sometimes, if you shouldn't let him lead. so, one trial...you do. you stand back for the man from england so he can show his stuff.
and it is a disaster.
nea goes first, stuck to the hook like a pig on a spit. you try and get her off, pull her down, and receive an earth-shattering bout of electrocution that leaves your teeth rattling in your skull. david is never anywhere to be seen. you find out, then, that he is and never was a team player. you know nothing about him but you clash. even you and ace get along better and he's a prolific gambler full of sleazy words and exaggerated mannerisms. but when push comes to shove, ace will be there for you. and min, she is agile and small, she is one of the bravest of you all and she faces the doctor and his hideous stretched smile with hardened determination. you have also learned how every one of your friends tries to survive. meg and min are nimble and are oftentimes distractions. nea and jake are bold, they'll stick around long after everyone has been frightened off and face off. ace and bill are older and they are seasoned survivors--bill from a zombie invasion and ace from escaping loan sharks. they're two very different things, but ace and bill know how to take hits and they'll stay standing even when they're gushing blood and biting down on sticks to keep from groaning.
after nea and min go silent it leaves you and david; you haven't seen him the whole time.
you search chests and you hide, your brains are buzzing like a thousand bees in a jar. you scream into your own arm to muffle the pain as it ricochets you into madness. your vision swims and static crackles in your very marrow. the ground is made of live electrical wires and you hear that laugh in your nightmares. when the last generator goes on you're near a door and you stare halfway across the forest. you open the door first, hearing nothing but the eerie silence of rattling trees and whistling wind. a crow somewhere in the distance as the alarm on the door squeals. it opens loudly and you almost take off into it on your own. across the way is a scream and you know that you have to do it. being brave has never been your forte, but you hope that maybe it'll be a peace offering. when you find david king he is on a hook, his teeth grinding, snarling like a savage beast. he's already struggling to free himself, tearing into his shoulder like it doesn't hurt though you know it does. the static is gone, you're feeling sane; a distraction, the door was a distraction. and you don't even think twice about grabbing david from the hook. he seems shocked. in the end, you bonded with david that day as you grabbed his shirt and dragged him to a darkened, quiet corner to tend to his wounds.
he hasn't questioned your leadership again and, asshole he may be, he's stuck to your side like the guardian you've always needed.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
you're not a bold person and you never have been. the entity, that's what you all start calling it, seems to like to judge you on your boldness and you, dwight fairfield, are not bold. bold means brave, daring, confident, able to take risks. you take risks, you do stupid things sometimes when adrenaline becomes too much to bear and you just have to do something about it. however, you're more italic than you are bold. you stick to the shadows and the outskirts of every arena. you hide in lockers, in the grass, around objects when you know the killer's field of vision is too narrow. everything you are is quiet and stealthy. you've literally spent your whole childhood learning how to not be seen that it works perfectly for situations like this. though, did you really expect to be in this situation to begin with? who would? bill, it seems, is best suited for this life. you hear him talking about how he survived a zombie apocalypse, all with that cigarette dangling from his lips and his torn up jacket. you'd like to be more like bill sometimes, you think. bill is a man that will put everyone before himself, will distract a killer and take a bleeding wound just to save someone else.
could you ever be that altruistic?
you always feel like you're failing them. you're really not cut out to be a leader, you're not strong enough. meg, jake, and claudette, they know what you're capable of, but proving yourself to ace, to bill, to nea, to min, to david is paramount. you're not sure if they trust you like you want them to, but they follow you, there is no doubt. they've all come around more or less, and you know that you're the only one that can lead this team. all your terrible experiences in your teen years have provided you with a means to end this. if you only knew how. it seems there's never any end to the trials and you get to rest only through the night, curled in someone else's arms for warmth. sleep is dark and heavy when it takes you as it always does. there's no need for modesty anymore, it seems, as you've seen nea sleeping against a tree with meg's head in her lap and claudette nestled close. you've seen ace and bill back to back, bracing one another despite the fact they always seem to bicker about stupid things. jake lays with min almost sprawled on top of him, covered in one of his many jackets. david sticks close enough to you to be of some comfort on those nights you're tired and aching and you use his shoulder for reprieve. some days you're all huddled together and you've got someone's arm around your waist or someone's face in your neck. it comforting, being together.
you have to save these people. there is no maybe, it is a must. death may not be an escape, but there has to fucking be one. there has to be and damn it, you're not going to stop fighting until you find it. with people now relying on you and an internal strength you've never had, you can't let them know that you're two steps from breakdown on any given day. you can't let them know that those times where you wander from them at the campfire are when you're losing your fucking mind. you're losing your mind, you're losing your hope, but if they saw that, they'd start to give up too. if they saw that, everything you've done so far would be for nothing. you don't know how you do it, you don't know how you can muster the strength, but you stand as tall as you can while nerves turn your stomach to rot every single day.
so, some days you stand bearing down the trapper face-to-face with only a feet between you; some days you listen to the rev of the hillbilly's chainsaw while he lifts it above his disfigured head; some days you stand peering at the vision of the wraith blinking back into his hellish existence; some days you watch the nurse and the doctor raise their glowing hands to fists; some days you watch the hag's menacing shivering claws and gnashing, gnarling teeth; some days you watch the huntress tilt her rabbit masked head with hatchet in hand and drawn to the sky...
and you are bold.