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Its almost easy to pretend that Eerie was an extended and weird bad dream, once Marshall finds himself back in the real world. Except that it wasn't all that bad, and seriously, if that was all a dream, Marshall must have spent most of his early teens heavily sedated.

Still, it's easy to brush it off as misinterpretations, skewed memories and overactive imagination. When you're at college and there's cheerleaders and student unions and the college newspaper, which he's got himself a position writing columns for, all that other stuff starts to feel petty and childish. Not even the nerds walking around in pieces of LARP gear and having D and D sessions in the back of the canteen need to hear about that. Because college life for Marshall is pretty great, after having to make do with a kid six years younger than him as his best friend for a few years, he's finding himself to be something of a golden boy now, popular without having to be part of any of the clicks. Sasquatch hunting on the other hand just isn't cool.

So he doesn't talk about it, and he forgets about it, and when he calls home, it's almost like before he moved to Eerie. He thinks about Simon, sends him a few emails, but he's busy, okay? He hooks up with a couple of cheerleaders, and still manages to hang with the nerds, he writes thoughtful articles about feminism and less thoughtful ones about why the canteen is obsessed with macaroni cheese, and he steers clear of the assignments that look like they might stray into superstition or supernatural territory. So what if his roommate plays the tuba? If that's what counts as weird around here, well, great!

When the first thing happens, he doesn't even notice it until it's in hindsight. Just an email, spam from an address that doesn't make any sense. There's an attachment, labelled as "evidence", but the subject line is "THIS WILL BLOW YOU'RE MIND". The capslock, the bad grammar and the fact that there's nothing in the body of the email except a "-X" gives Marshall a pretty good clue this is probably porn, the kind that will infect his computer with a virus. So he hits delete with a vague sense of smugness that he beat the spambots.

Next, weeks later, comes a text message from an unknown number:

W̞̝͝hͫ̐̈̓̄̎҉̹͈̣e͔̟̪ͤͨṙ̵̘͎̫̝̤̲ͯͯ̓ȇ̸̲̗ͮͤ̅ͬͭ͑ ̩̭̪ͮ̔a͔̻͉͖̣̦̥ͦ͗ͭ̾ͭͤ̓r̟͕̮̮͉̞̩͑ͪe͓̮ͮ͒ͦ ͥ̑̋͊̌ͧ̔y̓ͣ̊̃͒o͊҉̮̻u̥͎͋ͮ?̵ ̻͎̙͉̀̋̊B̹ͤe̪̳̳̙̙̺̻ͦ̅i̪̖̼͂ͩ̓ͧ̽ͮͯ͜n̮̮̠̼̝̞͙ͨͯ̊͋ͩ̊ġ̫ ̿͑̆͐̑̊̑͏cȟ̖̝ä̯̞̫̹̗́͛ͤͥ̓ͪ͑s̰͈͑͘ͅẹ̩̹̰̯̿͐d̖̝̽͛̋ ̜̫̀̓ͭͥ̑̓͆b̖̻̫͍̏ͭ̋̿̿̔͐y͚̟̥ͮ̆̍̐̈́́̅ ͎͍̻͐̓̆͐ͤͣaͧ͂ ̧͓̣̘̠̺͈̌̿̈́p̨͔̩̲̟̳̳̂͛ͩe̤̞͚͕ṛ̷̣̥̮̳̥̭ͥ̄̐̾́̐̌s͎̦͗̎̿̈́̈ͥ̿i͚̠̝͚̰̞̲̎ͩͭs͚̼̤͊̓ͨ̽͂́̚t̙̤̮͜ẻ͎͚n͢t̫͙͙,̦̳͖̩̖̦̠̿ͨ ̭̟̫͓̪͉͆̿u͍̻̥̹̙ͤ̍̆ģ̲̬ľ͇͚̭͇̳̊̋ͬ͊͢y̅̉͑̈́ͮ̓̽͠ ̿̅M͎͔̟̻̮̪ͤͪ̍̒͑ͩ͡u̧̩̻͓̞̤l̨̠̻͓̝̉d̫ę͇̥̰̤̮͆̍͗ͨͬr̯̖̮̪ͨͣͮ͛.̲͕̱͉̰̮̟ͨͣ̿́͋ ̜̙̩͐ͫͭ͠H̢̩͖̣̀ͬͬ͗̓͑e̽ ͓̋̓͐͆̑̎ͨw̶̬̌ͥa̐̌ͩ͆͂͊͏͈n͑̆̾̾҉̭͍̗̘̣t̪̮̟̰ͣ̄ͪ̏̅̚s͚̜̯̙͓͛̒̈́̄̑̀̈ ͕̖̩̯̮͎̺̐̀m̨̠͎͆y̪̟̬̲̣̠̳̋̄ ̰ͧ͂̃̈ͅb̸̻͓̜r̝͋͌à͕͓͊̄i̻̞̻̩̟̩̠͗̑̂͝n̟̖͖̏̒͂̅ͦ̋.̺̬͂ ̙͔̩̗͙̲̹͆̅̽̌
̢̱̐̎̿ͯͨ̾
͎͉̲͐͐ͥ̔̑ͩ̔
Its a bit creepy. Marshall had no idea that phone text fonts could do that. Maybe its a glich. But he doesn't respond because that's the fast way to dickpics from some wrinckly old guy you don't know.

Even though he deletes it off his phone, the text haunts him for a few days. Who wants who's brain? But then a rival college football team steal Marvin the Meerkat, his college's mascot and that's a big story that lasts several weeks and even stretches Marshall to undercover work, and he soon forgets about it.

Months later, and he's studying for exams when it all becomes clear. Well, not clear, increasingly muddled and foggy really, but some pieces fall together at least.

His computer pings with an email. Marshall, who's looking for any reason not to have to read his textbook for five minutes, gets up and plonks himself down in the desk chair, and taps his keyboard. The subject line is blank and the email message has the vaguely familiar "-X" sign off, but before that there's a body of text this time.

"TELLER. I FOund yoU. there in2daYs."

Marshall's heart rate quickens at the use of his name, the vaguely threatening promise. There's an attachment. Against all better judgement, he opens it.

The guy in the picture appears to be standing on top of a toilet seat in a bathroom stall. It kind of looks like an airplane toilet. He's dressed a bit funky and has his phone out in front of him, clearly taking the picture in the bathroom mirror. Marshall would dismiss it as a random crazy person that somehow got his details, but he doesn't even need to spot the mark on the guy's hand to know that, yes it might be a crazy person, but it's not random. The short but grey hair on the otherwise young man tells him everything.

Eerie is coming to find him.

***