rating: +19+x
— - —

Jack Gooday knew a lot of things, guilt and anguish were not one of them. Yet, he felt it, like wormwood had taken root in his heart.

The wind tore the leaves off the trees, pushing against them to a breaking point, against him as well. There was a sickly feeling clinging to the air. There were no birds in the sky; the sky looked too hostile, as though it was a churning sea of magma, ready to crash down at any given moment, to be habitable. The house towered above him, the windows its eyes watching him, sneering at him as he rapped his knuckles on the door. He caught his reflection in the glass, he felt startled at how pale and timid he looked.

He heard shifting noises from behind the door. Jack inhaled deeply, adjusting his glasses. This will go well.

'Go away,' spoke a muffled and strained voice.


'I'll call the police and tell them you've been harassing us,' retorted the hissing voice.

'Fine. I'm not leaving until you let me in.'

There was a long, painful moment of silence, before he heard a clicking sound. A breath of relief began in his throat when the door opened, but caught when he saw her. Dahlia stood, limping at the door, dressed in rags. Her hands were cut, there was a bruise on her face, but her silvery eyes still glistened with anger and tears.

'What do you want?' Her voice sounded dead. No joking about his glasses making him look like an owl, no hidden laughter underneath, just dead. Absolutely dead.

'I came to see James,' he said in as stiff a tone as he could manage, 'I heard he's in bad shape. I'm a doctor, I can help.'

She continued to stare at him angrily, before nodding, and letting him in.

The house smelled like despair itself was hiding in its walls, watching anyone who entered, clawing at their hearts with a hook. Toys were scattered on the floor, many broken, left as though no one could bother to clean it up. Paintings and photos hung on the walls, all looking like black smears to him as each minute send dread crawling up his spine.

Dahlia led him to a room with an open door, which she entered. He cautiously followed. The hooks of despair shredded his heart when he caught sight of his brother.

James Gooday was lying on a bed, his eyes closed, skeletal almost in appearance. A filthy beard covered his face. James looked like a corpse.

Jack wanted to fall to his knees, to scream, to die right there. He felt as though the walls were closing in on him, ready to fall and smash him into pieces. He opened his mouth, expecting to release a scream, but instead, moving closer to the figure of his limp body, he asked, 'How long has he been like this?'

He was relieved to find that James was breathing.

'Ever since-' Dahlia started choking, 'Ever s-since Callie died, he's been on and off. He's been sleeping a lot.'

Quickly, he began searching in his bag. He would not cry. He would not cry. Tears never solved anything. Tears were for the emotional, the weaklings. He was not a weakling. He was an honourable member of the SCP Foundation. He was an honourable member of the SCP Foundation. He was an honourable member of the SCP Foundation. He was completely fine. There was nothing wrong with, he was not weak. He was not weak.

He forced down the image of Callie, butterflies pouring out of her, her screams ringing in his ears. Dahlia and James did not know about that. They did not need to. I am not a weakling. I am not a weakling.

'She was so young,' Dahlia's voice took on a whimpering quality as she sat hard on a chair near the bedside. Tears began flowing down her cheeks, but she did not acknowledge them. He finally found it; the bottle of antidepressants.

Jack placed them on the bed, next to the corpse of James. As though sensing him, James inhaled in a drawling breath. 'Two pills a day,' he stated, 'no more unless it gets worse. And even if it does, consult with me before doing anything.' She placed her face into her palms, and nodded.

They both sat there, in deathly silence, for a while, watching as James began drawing breathes increasing in their pitches.

Dahlia broke the silence.

'She used to wake us both up,' Dahlia laughed, without mirth, 'not the other way around. She would come here, r-right here, and drag Jamie out of it. He grumbled and muttered, but he al-always got up to play with her, or talk to her.'

More tears slid down her face as she stroked hair out of his brother's face. He knew not whether she was talking to him, or herself, yet he listened on.

'She used t-to be full of questions. Wanted a-an explanation for everything. So young.' Her voice descended into despair once more. 'The only reason she ran away was because we were fighting, James and I. I-I don't even remember why.' Tear began to flow, once more. 'I know I began the argument. She ran off because of me. She would still be alive if I hadn't—'

Guilt and anguish had him in its clutches again. It's my fault, he wanted to tell her, I got her killed. If anyone is to blame, its me. 'It wasn't your fault,' were the words that left his mouth.

Her eyes found him, as if remembering he was there, and he flinched as rage and grief contorted her face.

'Get out.'



She threw a toy lying on the floor at him. He got up as it struck him across the forehead. She threw a book at him next; then another toy, then a cushion. She was screaming at him. He got out of the room, out of the house, shutting the door behind, her wails filling his ears. He thought he would cry as well.

I am not a weakling, he told himself.

In that moment, he was not as sure anymore.

— - —

It was raining when the funeral began.

Everyone brought an umbrella, except him.

The rain drenched him, his hair fell to his eyes, and he was in the midst of a large group of people, some of them even elbowed him. Amidst this, he caught glimpses of faces he recognized: Matt Chen and Nomal Writer, both seemed to be watching him with cold, calculating eyes. He felt a momentary anger spark within him, which he quickly snuffed out. Do they not trust me to be silent? He caught a glimpse of James, and Dahlia. Dahlia was crying, James looked ahead at the trees, pale, a tear shining in his eye.

They're going through this because of you. The poison that was pain had spread from his heart, pumped into his veins, with each breath it hurt more. No, I am not a weakling.

All attempts to be calm broke apart when he saw the coffin. That was when his knees began shaking like a weakling, his heart began beating faster and faster into his throat; his fingernails dug into his palms, images of Callie tearing apart filled his head.

I am not a weakling. I am an honoured member of the SCP Foundation; being emotional does no one any good. I am not a fucking weakling. I am not a weakling. I am an honoured member of the SCP Foundation, I am completely fine. I am completely fine. Callie's death was not my fault, I am completely fine, I am completely fine. I am completely fine. I am completely fine. I am completely fine. Stopping thinking about this so much! Just another fucking death, another collateral damage that happened.

We must do what we must do. We must do what we must do. I am completely fine. I am completely fine. I am completely fine. I am completely fine. I am completely fine. We must do what we must do. I am completely fine. There is nothing wrong with me. There is nothing wrong with me. There is nothing wrong with me.

She was so young. She had a future ahead of her. Such a bright future. She used to call you Jackie the Daygood, remember. Maybe, in the future, she could've been a member of the Foundation. A wonderful addition she would've made.

A sob caught in his throat. He swallowed it.

So young.

The words spoken by the man at the front eluded him, his ears felt as though they were blocking off all sound. The rain drummed against him. His suit was getting more damp, not that he cared. The sounds were whistling, slightly clearer, he paid them no mind.

You killed her.

You killed her.

You killed her.

She's dead because of you, Jack.

If only you had seen the light.

Janik and Callie dying would not leave his mind, no matter how hard he tried. Janik was to blame for this. Janik killed Callie. Janik killed Callie. Janik was still out there, somewhere.

You killed her.

No. You are an honourable member of the Foundation. Due to the importance of our mission, collateral damage will occur. Callie is just another collateral damage. It is nothing to be emotional about. You are not a weakling. You are completely fine.

She was a slip of a young girl.

No, don't think about it so much. You are being a weakling.

How much more collateral damage? How much more? I don’t think I can take it anymore.

The infection that was pain spread faster. I deserve pain.

He heard snippets of conversation, watched as the coffin was lowered, as the people began leaving. He watched them go, standing there, soaked in the rain, etching of them waltzing away like a ghost of a leaf. Each of them caught in the wind, flying away on its stream.

She died because of you.

Another sob, quickly swallowed. Something inside him clenched.

Dahlia was still crying. Matt and Nomal were still there, shadows in the distance, watching him with their cold, cold eyes. He needed to explain everything to them, James and Dahlia. He needed to. He felt as though he would die if he didn't. The mud squelched beneath his feet, making sounds as though it were a miserable, dying thing. The rain fell onto him, a shower of arrows made of water. Yet the rain was not the dagger in his heart.

He would tell them everything. Everything. He didn't care if the sneering, snarling spiders who wove the webs at the Foundation killed him; he deserved death. He deserved to die for killing Callie. They deserved more than this.

When James saw, his face didn't change. His voice was that of a corpse. 'No.'

And then they were gone as well.

Nomal and Matt were gone as well.

The downpour on him strengthened, the leaves and flowers were torn off from the branches, the trees bent under its force. Some of them might've even cracked off. Jack was completely wet now. He did not care. Jack shivered as he sat down on a bench nearby, his glasses falling off. He watched as they fell, cracking into a million pieces on the ground. He did not care. The rain was not the dagger in his heart.

She got infected because of you.

If you had been at home, if you hadn't been staring at and studying something the Foundation dropped in a cage, she would be alive! She listened to you, no? You could've stopped her from running away. You could've stopped them both from fighting. You could've stopped her from running away. You could've stopped her from dying.

A shudder went through him.

Janik is not the monster. I am. I killed Callie. I should've been the one who got infected.

There was something stinging his eyes.

I should've died instead of her. She was so young.

Jack Gooday knew a lot of things, tears and loneliness were not one of them. Yet, here he was, tears spilling out, pouring down his cheeks, mingling with the rain which dripped down his face. He sat there, sobbing.

All alone.

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