finale
Material D
a little bit of "POISON" never did anyone wrong
that's the secret ingredient you'll love, ™ ® and they don't have to know, it's really not a big deal, in fact your very own congressmen is already backing a bill to open up new factories, bring back jobs, small poisonous treats your children will have to ask for by name! ® ¾ð™
Now, it is time for Olivia's plan to come to fruition, as she prepares to release a massive quantity of Material D into the city's water supply. The timers and devices have been placed in their respective locations within the water treatment and other municipal facilities, as set up by Virgo.
She's not one for dramatics; her fingertips are slightly dry from hand sanitizer as she presses the button on her laptop's keyboard, and then adjusts the temperature for the room's air conditioner.
now listing: posts bookmarked by
yo what's up with the water? trippy tho
@ ▞▛▙▝/▛▜/▚▝ 06:10AM
is anyone else feeling sorta OFF???????
@ ▞▘▟▘/▞▝/▟▘ 06:19AM
It's finally time. We will reap our rewards.
@ ▘▘▛▙/▞▗/▜▘ 06:20AM
There's NO way this is normal, you guys
@ ▞▙▝▘/▗▗/▚▛ 06:31AM
I think I'm feeling kind of DIFFERENT today
@ ▙▚▞▜/▙▗/▛▝ 06:35AM
FREAKING THE FUCK OUT
@ ▛▛▜▜/▜▙/▚▝ 07:02AM
You should have listened.
@ ▟▜▙▞/▚▖/▙▜ 07:04AM
The substance has a significant effect upon the various sensitives and non-sensitives alike.
The Reunion
Valeks tracks down Default, and restores his online access, allowing him to reconnect with Bracey. In the chaos of the Blotchman's event and the Material D, the psychic travels to the bomb shelter, where the two are reunited at last.
By evening, they enter the chamber that holds the messianic crown. Bracey removes the device from Wet Velvet, and places it onto𐐔 Default's head. He secures him into the Blue Hell generator, and turns it on. The psychic's thoughtform is inundated with the hell waves, and his thoughtform cascades into Blue Hell.
Module | The Red Module
It's really happening - the thirteenth crown has been placed upon his head, sending Default's thoughtform careening into Blue Hell. He falls deeper and deeper, and as the bottom keeps dropping, his head hits hard edges... memories made out of blood. Now, he's terrified to ask - just how far down does this go?
But, Blue Hell is not the endless void that he expects.
He is not alone in that space after all, and it is not a blank canvas to be remade.
the countdown begins
now listing: posts containing "Jaundice Press"
POLICE BARRICADING THE STREETS??? HELP!!!!!
@ ▝▙▞▟/▟▙/▙▝ 05:56AM
JUST GET INSIDE! (apartment is OPEN as shelter space)
@ ▞▛▙▝/▛▜/▚▝ 06:31AM
Stuck in Skytop, business meeting cancelled, let's get trashed
@ ▟▛▟▟/▜▛/▗▙ 06:34AM
Blockades have North Central totally blocking off
@ ▛▛▜▜/▜▙/▚▝ 06:41AM
LAST CHANCE FOR GOODBYES!!!! I'M GOING IN
@ ▙▘▝▙/▞▖/▚▟ 06:55AM
The release of the Material D has been an advantageous distraction. Fifi assembles the bomb in the basement of Jaundice Press.
what about Pussytown?
The messianic crown, if imperfect in its operation, places Default within Blue Hell for a span of fifty-three minutes – the first of many such trials to come. But for now, the power turns off; Default's thoughtform is back in North Mural, and the test is over.
Default stands up; the steel walls of the tank look so cold, and the cement has stains he'd never noticed𐐇 before. He's disoriented, but makes his way through the bomb shelter's twisted tangle all the same, to find Bracey half-asleep on a sofa.
𐐇 Wait, does that mean he's figured out where he is? because if he knows that he's trapped in a maze, an illusion that he can't escape from... he'll finally give in, right?
Wet Velvet barely moves; weightless, trapped, and it's drippingⱿ pure psycholy from its gums. He places his hand on the ganeshinorma's head, and the psychic interference destroys the stranger's image.
Ɀ You never knew you could lick those blue points, did you?
Now, he enters the Terrorzone's main living area. Everything inside is so familiar, but rearranged. All of his things have been taken care of.
above: in Gutters, issue #09, Default weighs his decisions, callyphanx in his hand.
Bracey is watching television; whether stoned or asleep, he doesn't turn around. Default picks up the callyphanx from the shelf; though he knows the damage it can do, he decides against using it, and places it back down.
The dissembler wakes up, and it doesn't take long before they're on the floor togeher. Bracey's got him pinned down; hands over his cheeks, and it's like the old days all over again. Bracey's needed to psych himself up. It's scary for him, too... the look in his eyes is unhinged, while Default's expression is one of total detachment.
But, the psychic's eyes are suddenly clear as he asks,
what's going to happen to Pussytown?
Bracey's jarred by this. He hadn't thought of them, he realizes... and he looks down at the paper fortunes spread across the floor. His face softens, and he's now overwhelmed, just as Default is. They hold each other as they cry into each others' arms.
When they dry their eyes again, they both know there is no going through with their plan. Though there's a long, long climb back up, the spell is broken. The descent having stopped just above the edge, the two can now begin to turn their focus outward, and leave behind the trance of Blue Hell's mesmeric pull.
Chuck fights his way into Jaundice Press
I knew enough then to help her set up the bomb. I know enough know to disarm it, too.
I'm just glad we got it in time. You really pulled through.
thanks, thats how it had to be!
lets rock
Together, Virgo and Chuck fight their way into Jaundice Press, which is guarded by a circle of codo and other obstacles.
Alright, once we've pulled this whole thing off. You want to go out for a hike out of town?
you know man, i really do.
Outnumbered, the strangers surround Chuck, as Virgo dashes through the break.
The Red Mist
By the time we reach the finale, the various narrative threads are now coming together. The scope and connection is now clear; we know where the zebras are going, and we know what is being constructed in the Jaundice Press basement.
It's always that same smell, when they transport endangered animals. It's a wild musk covered up with bleach, but it's still sweat and dirt tracked around on hooves. Space Madness, The Red Mist, excerpt.
And we all know Meaty Mouse won't let Virgo make it to the bomb without a fight. In fact, she'd rather he die inside the slaughterhouse she's been building in secret.
So what is she building, and what is Virgo about to step into?
I guess I kinda thought about these strangers, right? Anything they eat just kind of disappears forever... So then I thought, who do you think is really gonna miss a zebra?
There are no people manning the gold-plated machines and the red spray coming up from the mecha-saw grind doesn't stick to the gears that glint.
And let's just say I got some really, really good funding, too... cha-ching!!
It's time for the showdown between Meaty Mouse and Virgo. Behind them, the doors of the chutes open, and the zebras are brought in. She attacks him as he tries to make his way through the hell of the blinged-out slaugherhouse machines, gold hooks and saws, the stripes of the zebras, the claustrophobia of the space, the conveyor belts, the red spray.
But he's victorious - he dodges her every attack, and leaps to safety. Meaty falls into the pit below; the same pit that the skinned and chopped-up zebra parts are being dropped down into, where she's been keeping her most ravenous strangers. The ones she knows are going to eat every single bite.
Virgo does not look behind him; he can hear her as she's stretched apart and grated down.
In the basement's deepest room, he finds the bomb, and he knows what it has all been for.
The Final Bomb
There's no turning back.
it's over. it's over.
it's here. it's here. it's here.
In the mountains above the city, Fifi looks down. A holodrone flickers behind her. The stony ground has been cleared of trash, and the stranger's toes do not reach its surface.
above: Fifi monitors the bomb from afar in Gutters, issue #12.
Fifi adjusts the machines and calibrates the final details, double-checking the safety measures for the third time, as a nearby camera points at the red strain. Her attention is pulled by the jangly bursts of her phone alert – Childhood Heroes, by Jethro Tull. There is no shake in her hands as she dismisses the alert. It's finally time, and she turns on the camera, palm of the other hand squeezed tight around the detonator. She takes a deep, calm breath, exhales, and presses down on detonator's button.
For a moment, the air is silent. The birds sing and the truck-drones rattles, and then, are silenced by the boom – like speakers blowing out, like the rush of an avalanche, a violent dampening. The explosion's glow drowns the city in hues of scarlet, rose, and tangerine, and Fifi looks up at the result of her handiwork.
The mushroom cloud spreads out high above the city – flat, holographic, and searing through the sky. With the camera recording, the words that Fifi had been looking for fade into view above the holodrone.
The Poem
Before the bomb, Virgo places the thirteen lines of the Hearth and Hollow poem into the code; the intersection of the Fade and the Hells creates an explosion that ripples back through time. As the bomb explodes, Virgo's body and thoughtform are both sent into the distant future-past, as are the thirteen animal bloods, which coalesce as the gosdragon.
As the explosion moves through the Fade, the foundation that Fifi and Default had built remains strong – Default's attachments to this world are allowed to dissipate, leaving only the monuments behind. The explosion moves through the Fade entirely, yanking the gosdragon FM's thoughtform into the world of North Mural, where it settles in an earlier point in the story, within the body of the blank, Adrian Zhan.
Virgo remains a wanderer in the wilderness of Dead Cities, the future beyond VHZ. He carries the poem with him, and his presence maintains the balance.
Trapped in Red Hell
Though the former 'psycholy boys' are no longer veering towards self-annihilation, their journal is not over, as Argona uses her own ganshimandy-powered Red Hell engine to trap Default and Bracey within Red Hell.
Looks like they were right about you all along, huh ...
How does it feel, being naked and dirty in front of all their eyes? you don't know if it will ever end
What if it never ends?
Have you been the victim of a terrible event? Are you screaming in pain right now, feeling like there's no escape, and that you'll be trapped forever? Are you forever searching for a way to stop the terror that you feel inside? What if there's no escape???
What if it's like this forever?
give into it ...
give into it! give in, give into it! give into it! give in... give in and give up, no maze, THERE'S NO MAZE!!!!
Are they going to try and HURT you?
Are they going to try and take something AWAY from you? are you really so afraid?
What gives you the right to say 'no'?
Default and Bracey embrace, terrified, as they looking out into the void that surrounds and traps them within this space, left to be consumed by the worst things others believe of them. Now, it's only a matter of time until they'll succumb to the Red Hell waves, and Olivia can harvest Default's brain from his still-living body, before Argona uses the pair's bodies for... whatever.
It's all over... they're finally giving in!
And the light begins to fade from their eyes...
Or does it?
a megameom to the rescue
I knew you could do it! I was waiting for you.
But, all is not lost – Valeks has returned, and with the pair's own inner fortitude, is able to travel inside Red Hell in order to pull them out. The megameom's portal face appears, and out comes the feathers of the wings, their glow lighting up the sudden hope on the faces of the psycholy boys.
Their inner fortitude has persevered, and they are freed from the confines of the story crafted to document their descent. The left and right hands pull away from the page, and Bracey, Default, and Valeks depart from the narratives of both Space Madness and Behind the Curtain, returning to the author's psyche as various parts, and closing the story.
the end
Space Madness: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4
return to Goodbye Strangers