Chapter 14:

Chapter 14: “(The Man Behind The Mask)”

Madman's Forgiveness

Chapter 14: “(The Man Behind The Mask)”

Michael always was the type to go out of his way to look out for the well-being of others. Even though this would often get him into situations where he would get hurt. Michael chose to shoulder said pain. Though Michael was always a fairly popular kid, never being alone in the literal sense. He knew what it was like not to truly have anybody there for you.

Though their first encounter had them misunderstanding each other. Michael couldn’t help but see a little bit of himself in the girl.

“Hey wait up!”

Michael called out. Moving from behind the counter, he rushed to the novel the moment he saw it hit the ground. By the time he was able to scoop it up, he just barely was able to make out her form disappearing amongst the trees.

“Shit this isn’t good..”

“After all that yelling she really went and dropped it on her way out..”

He thought to himself as he began to run in her direction.

“Can you stop running for just one-second lady!”

He cried out. Michael was too focused on catching up to her, that he didn’t seem to notice that he had caused a scene. His yelling attracted the attention of a group of delinquents who were having a smoking session on the outskirts of the eastern path.


The sound of something cracking stopped Michael in his tracks. It was as if the world had stopped turning at that moment. Everything was starting to slow as the rush of adrenaline flowed throughout his being.

“W...what’s happening..?”

He asked himself as he attempted to process what had happened to him.

There was a sharp pain in his right shoulder blade. Something had hit him, but for the life of him he couldn’t muster up the strength to turn around.


His eyes widened as the novel was blasted out of his hands.

The pages flowed freely through the wind, showering the grassy land with seventy-three years of now wasted knowledge.

The object responsible for these attacks was now visible to him.

Coming to a rolling stop were two twenty-millimeter steel balls.

Michael fell speechless. He knew this weapon's origin. These were pellets for a slingshot. Michael had brought it to camp hoping to do some hunting in his spare time. Knowing that it could be dangerous if a camper were to find it, he had hidden it in a place that he believed to be secure.

He had only told one other person about its location. Said person was someone he believed he could trust. Only choosing to let them know the slingshot's whereabouts in case they wanted to go hunting themselves. He just never was able to comprehend the possibility that he’d be their prey.

Finally mustering up enough strength, Michael turned. He had hoped that he was wrong, but seeing his cousin Troy and his entourage confirmed what he feared.

“Ah looks like I finally got your attention!”

Troy exclaimed as he began to saunter over to Michael.

For someone who had just attacked his own cousin, Troy seemed relatively calm. Troy had that type of personality where he never would take full responsibility or feel remorse for his actions. To him, Troy felt as if the world had something to owe him. If anyone were to stand in his way, he’d be sure to make their life a living hell.


“W-why would you shoot me?!”

Michael asked him not out of malice, but concern. Throughout their bond, Michael was always the exception for Troy’s sociopathic tendencies.

Always turning a blind eye to his behavior. Michael blindly believed that his younger cousin could do no wrong.

That even when he did, Troy could be redeemed. Michael felt that his actions didn’t truly represent who he was as a person. That deep down, Troy was a good person at heart.

For the most part, this mentality felt justified.

All their life, Troy would treat Michael with respect. Why wouldn’t he? Michael was his role model after all.

It was Michael’s blind trust and belief however that led Troy to believe that everyone else was below him.

“Why wouldn’t I?”

Troy asks, a hint of genuine confusion in his voice as he places his hand on Michael’s injured back.

“I’m just hunting man.”

“Didn’t you tell me to try to have as much fun as I can while we’re here?”

He teased sarcastically, pressing his fingers into his cousin's shoulder blade.

The bruising process had already started, and Troy believed applying pressure would be a better way to assert dominance before getting his point across.

The look on his face as Michael screamed out in pain was a clear sign that this tactic was successful.

The scream could be heard throughout the campsite. Many campers and counselors alike turned their attention to the direction of the noise. Though they talked amongst each other, it seemed as though none of them had enough interest to abandon their activities and investigate.

One counselor however stopped in her tracks.


Yua turned slowly, just vaguely seeing the outline of a group huddled in front of the library. She couldn’t tell for sure, but it seemed as though they were surrounding something.


“The library was just empty..?”

She thought, attempting to make sense of the sight.

Fear began to take over as she was finally able to make out two faces among the crowd. She watched in horror as Troy began to kick Michael in the gut over and over.

“See Michael…”

“There’s just one thing that I really don’t understand..”

Troy asked as he began to crouch down. Michael was too pained to look him in the eyes. It wasn’t from the damage he sustained to the lower half of his body though. This pain came internally. Never had he expected that a member of his own bloodline would turn on him like this. Michael wasn’t angry at Troy, just saddened by this fact. After all, they had been through over the years. Troy doing this seemingly without rhyme or reason was too much for Michael to bear.

Scooping his fingers through Michael’s hair, Troy raised Michael’s now battered face so that he could properly have a man-to-man conversation with him.

“What do you have that I don’t..?”

Troy questions.

“I want you to explain to me why you were running after my girl..?”

These words confuse Michael. He hadn’t known of Troy's relationship history. It was far too early for him to have actually met someone.

They had only been at Camp Gehenna for a week after all.


“Who are you even talking abo-”

Taking Michael's reply as denial, Troy delivered a series of smacks to Michael’s face.

“Don’t you act stupid you bastard!”

Troy yells, tossing Michael into one of the library's totems.

“The hell were you doing with Yua, Mikey?!”

Despite his actions, Troy still looks relatively calm as he begins to move closer to the now immobilized Michael. Though Michael tries to use the totem as support. His attempts to stand up are thwarted the moment Troy delivers a roundhouse kick to its base. Michael and even some of Troy’s friends look on in horror as the totem is sent barreling into a bush.

This is a surprising feat considering both totems had been finely crafted from the remnants of the leftover wood of a reinforced oak tree.

Even at 16, Troy was a force to be reckoned with. While he wasn’t nearly the same muscle-bound athlete he’d grow into, Troy would train daily. Prioritizing growing stronger over things he actually needed. Believing that strength was what was needed to gain respect in this world. In reality, this only gave Troy the ability to do whatever due to the fear he quite literally struck into people. The members of his crew being nothing more than yes men who agreed to be his “friends” out of fear of what he may do to them if they declined his initial offer.


Thoughts began to race across Michaels mind as he attempted to think of a face to match the name. Yet, no matter how hard he tried he was unsuccessful. During their interaction, Yua had left right after he had finished his introduction. This inadvertently left him clueless as to who his cousin was referring to. The sound of a familiar voice calling out however, starts to help him put two and two together.

“That’s enough Troy!”

Yua yells, standing at the entrance of the northern path.

Michael just couldn’t believe it. It had appeared as though the girl returned after all.

“Is she here to save me..?”

He questions, nothing that she wasn’t alone.

To her side are two counselors that he didn’t recognize. Though they didn’t look strong, the two came armed. One with a cricket bat and the other was armed with a shovel.

These weren’t ideal weapons, but Yua couldn’t be picky. Time was clearly an important element, so she grabbed two unsuspecting counselors away from their daily chores.

“Well, I'd be damned..”

Troy smirked, temporarily turning his attention away from his cousin so that he could size up their group.

“Lookie here Mikey!”

“It looks like we finally got an audience!”

Michael finally getting the strength to speak manages to mutter out two words amidst his struggling.

“Eat.. shit.”

He states, spitting blood onto Troy’s shirt.

This was the worst move that Michael could have made. It only made Troy’s smile widen even further. Finally breaking him free of the calm and collected act he carried. Whenever someone would try to stand up to him, Troy would become overwhelmed with a feeling that he didn’t quite know how to explain.

“Now that’s the type of spirit I live for Michael!”

“Where has this version of you been all your whole life?!”

Troy states mockingly, forcing Michael back on his feet.

Making sure that his cousin was stable enough to stand up on his own, Troy began to lightly pat Michael's shoulders.

“What the hell is this..?”

Michael thought to himself, wondering what this sudden mood shift could lead to.

Troy was attempting to re-work his assault into a lesson. A sick part of him felt proud of Michael. Proud of the fact that he didn’t just let him go through his attacks without doing anything in response. Troy’s mentality believed this as a form of growth. Troy was priding over the fact that he helped his cousin develop further. This was an early sign of Troy’s attempts at emasculating emotionally susceptible people into believing that they are inferior to him.

“I gotta admit man.”

“Never would I have painted you as someone with the spirit to actually try to defend themselves.”

“Gotta say, though..”

“I don’t know if I like this new you..”

Leaning his face closer so that it brushes against Michael’s ear, Troy whispers.

“Or if a piece of shit like you disgusts me.”

In a sudden movement, Troy uses his grasp on Michael to yank him closer. Focusing all of his weight and strength on his knee, Troy knees him in the groin. The sudden onset of pain starts phasing Michael in and out of consciousness as he tries desperately to stay awake.

Troy smiles at Yua before throwing Michael's body at the feet of the other three counselors. They’re petrified, unsure if their weapons would be capable of even damaging someone like this. Yet, they owed it to Yua to stick around.

“He’s done Troy!”

“You don’t have to continue this!”

Yua yells as Troy’s group once again surrounds Michael, prepared to repeat the cycle.


“And why not?”

Troy questions, turning to face her.

“Scared your little boyfriend here’s gonna lose his cute face?”

“You know..”

“A lot of people say we look alike, so it won’t be that big a loss if he dies here.”

This suggestion strikes fear into the counselor's eyes. Yua couldn’t believe what she had just heard.


There was absolutely no way to make sense of it. The very concept of someone being murdered at the campsite was preposterous. Especially if the victim was undeserving.

Troy turned his attention back to Michael, who had finally started the process of guarding his face and stomach. The two counselors that Yua had brought to help proved to be utterly a waste as they both just stood there, too afraid to actually step in. Why wouldn’t they be? Troy’s group not only outnumbered them, but they saw what Troy himself was capable of. They were scared of how he could possibly be if he were to take the fight seriously.

Before her mind could even process what she was doing, Yua snatched the cricket bat away from one of the counselors and ran toward the circle. She was prepared to take all six of them on by herself if it meant freeing Michael.

Michael through his now fading vision focused directly on her.

“No… don’t..”

He tried to muster out a warning, knowing that it’d be too dangerous for her to interfere. It was far too late, however.


Using the full extent of her strength, Yua slammed the cricket bat into Troy’s spine with enough force to break it.

Upon impact, she was shocked to see that it hadn’t affected him.

Troy just continued kicking Michael as if nothing happened.

Finally weakening his arms enough for him to get a clean shot at Michael’s stomach. Though he didn’t show it, Yua’s attack pissed him off. To help relieve him of said negative feelings, he channeled them into that one last blow. The sheer force of the kick was enough to finally knock Michael out.

His own crew members had brought their own kicks to a screeching halt the moment they witnessed Yua’s attack. They looked at her with faces of genuine concern.

They had never seen someone full-on attack Troy and were scared of what would possibly come next.

Yua began to tug at Troy’s arm in an attempt to pull him away.

“Listen here, you bastard!”

“He’s your family!”

“You can’t just kill him

Hearing this proved to be enough for Troy to finally shift his attention to her. For once, that smile of his faded.

“Oh, I can’t?”

“Then how about I kill you instead!”

He suggested, smacking Yua into the arms of one of the counselors. Just one hit alone was enough to knock her out.


“How long was I out..?”

Michael questions himself as he begins to regain consciousness.

As his eyes began to re-adjust to the world, he realized he was in a room he didn’t recognize. Only the light from the moon shining through the curtains illuminated it. The room appeared to be some sort of infirmary.

Not having the funds for a proper one, the camp head had to renovate one of the older cabins. The only distinguishable features to separate them from the other cabins, and let someone know it was an infirmary were the beds.

Attempting to sit up, Michael is forced back into a lying position by a sharp pain in his stomach.

As he groans in pain clutching at his chest, a familiar voice calls out to him.

“I wouldn’t try to get up if I were you”

There she was. Standing at the entrance of the infirmary with a tray of food and a can of soda was Yua. She seemed pretty worse for wear herself. She was sporting a white eyepatch to cover up her now bruised eye.

Yua watched innocently as she watched Michael scarf down the food. It was fascinating to her how someone was able to actually enjoy the food that they served at camp. Especially considering the fact that as part of their training, one of the counselors that came to her aid had started cooking the same meal every time he had food duty. That meal was steamed eels over rice.

On the surface, it was a meal that most people would beg to have. However, said counselor didn’t know how to properly cook. So his “specialty” would quickly grow to be something avoided by the populace.

“I figured I should stop by and properly apologize..”

She states, finally breaking the silence.

“Huh?” He thinks.

Michael is confused by this statement. Setting down his spoon, he begins to question her.

“Why are you still apologizing?”

“The book situation was just a misunderstanding.”

“Shit happens you know?”

He laughs, attempting to cheer her up. Yet Michael becomes wise to the fact that she was growing more anxious.

“Yeah, I get that but..”

“I can't help but feel as though it’s my fault..”

“Like my actions lead to everything that happened afterwards..”

Yua replies sadly, holding her hand to her heart.

Knowing that she had more to say, Michael chose not to interrupt. Opting to let her continue so that he can better approach communicating. Michael moves his tray back to the bedside desk.

“Your cousin Troy..”

“I’ve been tutoring him ever since the exchange program started..”

“I didn’t mean to lash out at you in the library that day..”

“I just believed that you were him and that taking the book was part of a plan to harass me further..”

“It’s why I ran once I learned I was wrong..”

A tinge of shame flowed throughout her voice as she turned her gaze away from Michael.

Her face begins to glow a bright red when he begins to wrap his arms around her.

“Wait..what are you do-”

She questioned, as he gently placed a hand on the back of her head. Despite his pain, Michael sat up and pulled her in for a hug. It was sudden, but she accepted it. Feeling a strange warmth from him. It was as if just from this hug alone, the two were able to bond.

Though she didn’t tell him the specifics of whatever type of relationship Yua and his cousin had. Michael didn’t need to know. Just from seeing how uncomfortable she had gotten from mentioning his name alone was enough for him to make this promise.


“I don’t know what he’s done to you..”

“But I promise you that as long as I’m around, that I will not let him nor anyone ever harm you again”

Yua remembered it vividly. The next day she had visited the infirmary to see it destroyed. Something had broken the door down and smashed out every window. This was the day that Michael was declared missing.

“So the trope of the killer always returning to the scene of the crime bodes true it seems.”

Yua speaks sarcastically as she makes her appearance known to Troy who was standing at the building's entrance, observing the inside.

“Ah, I was waiting for you to get here!”

He laughs, turning his attention to her.

“You should hurry over, there’s uh..”

He chokes a bit, doing a standard hand signal to call her over to him.

“There’s something you may wanna see..”

The night was drawing close and Yua never liked walking around the campsite by herself at night, so she had no choice but to go along with whatever he had planned.

“I came here to do some investigating myself..”

Troy spoke to her as they sat down together on one of the beds. Though the place was renovated after Michael’s supposed “death.” Noone including the counselors would so much as set foot inside of the building. They feared that if they did, they may just disappear in the same way Michael did.

“I know you’re only with me because you believe that I killed him Yua..”

“You don’t gotta keep up the act anymore..”

“That you believe that getting a confession will finally give you the closure you need..”

“But I did not kill my cousin Yua!”

He turns to her, beginning to plead his innocence with tear-filled eyes. For once in all the time that she’d known him, Troy had finally shown a sign of weakness. A sign that he was still human and capable of caring for others.

Yua didn’t know what scared her more. The fact that he had known her true intentions, or that he seemed genuine in his approach.

“You’ve got to believe me!”

“I have nothing to gain by lying to you!”

“He was one of the few people who genuinely cared about me..”

“One of the few that actually saw good in a piece of shit like me..”

Turning his gaze away from her, Yua could tell he was serious.

“I decided to come to the infirmary to look for clues..”

“To look for something that can absolve my name..”

“Clues that would finally lead me to be reunited with him..”

“But I’ve found nothing..”

Yua begins to reach out to him, hoping to comfort her now fiance in the same way she had learned from an old friend all those years ago.


“It’s okay..”

“We just need to let go

“We need to live-”

She attempts to place a hand on his cheek, but her attempts are halted as the room begins to shake.

The hardwood flooring beneath began to crack as the Yua fell into Troy’s arms. The two desperately held onto each other to keep themselves balanced, not sure what to make of this occurrence.

“Is it an earthquake?!”

She excitedly suggests as they both begin to observe wispy ash-like substances seep from the cracks.

“I don’t know, just stay still.”

“I’m sure it will pass soon.”

They were so focused on keeping safe, that they initially weren’t able to notice the ash forming a strange vortex in the middle of the floor.

After what felt like minutes, the tremors came to a stop.

“Yua, are you okay?!”

Troy asked, trying to get her attention. Yua was more focused on something else than to entertain him with a response.

Her eyes stared forward at something.

“And what the hell is that smell?”

Troy asked her, beginning to gag.

Turning to face the origin of the smell, he was met with something that his mind couldn’t truly comprehend.

There in the middle of the infirmary was a vortex. The smell of death seemed to be bellowing out of it. The vortex itself looked otherworldly. The closest thing they were able to approximate it to was that of television static. Yua seemed to be caught in a trance, she remained speechless for the moment. Even going as far as moving closer to the vortex.

Something Troy tried desperately to prevent.

“What the hell are you doing!”

“Snap out of Yua we have to get out of here!”

He pleaded. Grabbing hold of her by the arm.

“You have no idea what that thing's capable of!”

Though he continued to plead, Yua seemed determined to move closer. Troy was left with no choice. Yanking her toward him, Troy delivered the meanest smack to the side of her face. With this amount of force, it was enough to immobilize her but not do serious damage.

“I’m sorry..”

He spoke sadly, as her body fell limp in his hands.

Troy had one thing in mind, escaping with the woman he loved. Though the moment he turned his back on the vortex, he was stopped in his tracks by the sound of movement coming from behind him. It sounded as if had crawled out of the hole. From the shadow alone that loomed over him, Troy could tell who it was. Gently propping Yua against the entrance, Troy began to slowly turn around.

For the first time in his life. Troy had felt fear. There before him was the visage of his late cousin. Rather, the version he’d heard about in the rumors. He didn’t want to believe them to be true. He didn’t want to believe that Michael had truly become some sort of monster, but the facts were quite literally staring him down.


“Buddy that can’t be you..”

He attempted to analyze the man standing before him. This man wore a burlap mask that had somehow become part of his face. Despite this, his eyes were hollow and he had almost a cartoonish smile ripped across it. The only thing keeping it together being loose strands of burlap that held tightly onto each other.

Troy desperately tried to see beyond the mask, but all he saw was a pitch black coloring. There were no absolutely no discernible features to otherwise prove that this man was once human.

Aside from that, the killer still wore the same clothes that Michael had on the night before his disappearance.

Troy wanted to feel happy, he wanted to smile. He had finally gotten what he wanted. He was finally able to reunite with his long-lost family member, but he couldn’t. A strange feeling was telling him to get as far as possible from this thing. Escape wasn’t an option though.

Despite his strength, he wouldn’t get far having to carry Yua the whole way. Leaving her behind to have to face the killer on her own wasn’t an option either.

So, he was left with only one option that he felt would lead to success.

“I don’t just know what the hell you are..”

“Or why you look like my cousin..”

“But I know evil when I see it.”


He demands, readying himself to fight the masked killer.

The masked man however just stands still, watching Troy slowly shuffle toward him. In his more adult years, Troy had taken it upon himself to learn mixed martial arts. Savate and krav maga were among the forms that he studied the most. While these were more skills that he felt would better allow him to walk all over people. At this very moment, Troy hoped that it could now help him out of a life or death situation.

Tightening his core muscles, Troy begins to throw a series of straight punches into the man's face. These punches however don’t seem to be that effective against his opponent. At most, they make the killer’s head move slightly. His body still remains standing in the same spot though.

“What the hell have you been eating man!?”

“Why won’t you go down?!”

He had to switch it up and fast if he wanted even so much as a chance at winning this battle.

“Heh, you think you’re hot shit cause you can take my account’s head on?”

“Just wait until you get a load of this one!”

Swiftly turning, Troy attempts to swing the heel of his foot into the masked man's neck. This was a traditional hook kick, a move that had actually won him a couple savate tournaments in the past.

Though he seemed pleased that his hit connected, the feeling of fear worsened as the man grabbed hold of him by the ankle.

Though he tried to pull himself free, Troy was unable to.

With as little as a light squish, Troy’s left leg had dispersed into nothing more than flurries of television static. Having severely lost his balance, Troy falls.

He wanted to cry out in pain, but he just couldn’t.

“Where the hell is my leg!”

“What did you do to me?!”

He pleaded for an answer as he frantically pulled up his pant’s leg to analyze the damage. To his surprise though, there wasn’t any. No wound, no blood. There was just a smooth patch of skin where his left leg should have been. It was almost as if he never had one to begin with.

“Shit this can’t be right..”

“What type of devil magic are you on man?!”

Turning to Yua. Troy begins to try to crawl to her as a means of waking her up. At this point, he was positive that he was going to die.

“There’s no point in letting you die too! So wake the hell up already!”

He pleaded, but his cries fell upon deaf ears.

The masked man slowly walked toward the now amputee, cornering him against the wall.

“Michael, this isn’t you man!”

“If you think I killed you then you’re wrong!”

“I had nothing to do with it!”

“I’ve been trying to find the one responsible.

“I’ve even been taking care of Yua!”

“You have to let us go.”

“I’m attempting to live up to your name.”

“I wanna do better for myself.”

“I wanna be a better person!”

They say that in their final moments, people will attempt to atone for their past sins. Whether this is to help them get into the specific afterlife they believe in or to prolong the inevitable is different from person to person however. Though Troy meant some of what he was saying, he was no different. The masked man kneels down as if to show sympathy. An action that seems to calm Troy down.

“You’re actually letting me go..?”

“I don’t even know what to say man..”

“I promise you once we get out of here, I’m going to help you get the life you lost.”

“I’m gonna get you right my boy!”

“We just gotta get that Hiro kid to take us b-”

Before he can finish that final statement, the masked man coils his hands around his cousin's throat. That same static-like aura from the vortex begins to encompass Troy’s being as he attempts to choke out his words. The killer stands, lifting his younger cousin up by his neck. With each second that passes of Troy trying to shake himself free, the static begins to grow more and more vibrant. It had got to the point where Troy himself was barely distinguishable through it. Reaching out to the killer's mask, Troy is able to lift it slightly to see underneath it.

“What the he-”

He thinks.

Before he can truly process what he had seen underneath, the killer slams him into the wall. The impact instantly disintegrates Troy, leaving nothing behind other than his clothes.

What felt like hours have passed, and the sound of breathing begins to wake Yua up from her deep sleep.


“Is that you?”

She asked, as she could faintly see the outline of a man standing in front of her just outside the entrance.

“I had the weirdest dream.”

“I dreamt that we were back at Camp Gehenna.”

“How stupid of me right?”

“I must just be hungover again-”

As her eyes finally re-adjusted, she fell speechless. There standing in front of her was a masked figure. He was unlike anything she had seen before. Though he had the guise of a serial killer, he had somewhat of a human glow to him. The mask he wore didn’t seem to have any blemishes whatsoever. No rips, no tears. Just two eye holes and two slits for his nose.


“Troy!” She called out attempting to garner her fiance’s attention, but when she went without a response. She turns to her right to see his clothes covered with what was left of the white noise. She didn’t quite know how, or when it happened; but Yua knew that the man she had planned to marry was dead.

Michael attempts to move closer to her but Yua’s not having it whatsoever.

“You stay the hell away from me you creep!”

Yet, his hand slowly inches closer and closer to her despite this.


She screams at the top of her lungs. Said scream would prove to be loud enough to echo throughout the majority of Camp Gehenna. It alerted the others that something was definitely wrong.

By this time, everybody had separated into groups of two. Hiro’s group consisted of him and Suzume who sat alone together watching the night sky. While Kentaro’s group consisted of him and Kazuma playing a match of table tennis. Both activities came to a screeching halt the moment they heard the scream.

Noone seems more terrified at the implications than Kentaro, who is visibly shaken the moment he hears her screams. Turning to face the direction of the noise, he asks under his breath.


As he drops his tennis paddle.

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