It started with Seán. Because, of course it had to start with him.
One moment, he's looking at Mark with his signature half grin, and the next...
How about we make a deal, Mark?
Jack is on the news a lot these days. Not on every channel; after all, even an extremely popular Youtuber can only hold the media's attention for so long. It wasn't even anything interesting, the silky voice reverberated around him as his eyes stayed locked in horror on the television. People disappear all the time, after all, and he was hidden rather well, don't you agree?
You have something that I need... and I hold something that you oh-so desperately desire....
Tyler was the next to go. Not as quickly, however. Mark still has time to hear his screams before his friend's eyes turn glassy, his chest stops heaving for breath, and he stops spasming on the floor....
This is how deals are made, are they not? You have managed to stay in control all these years... nothing more have I ever wanted than to be in the driver's seat that you were just handed...
Now that... that was a show, wasn't it? The voice sounds more amused now, and even though Mark's retching should, by all means, be blocking out any other sound around him, he can't stop hearing the words. His knuckles are white as he grips the edge of the toilet seat, and he bites down another wave of nausea, even though he's been here for the past hour, and he knows it will be another couple until his body will run out of things to throw up.
And you... well... Your life is in my hands now... and you are quite fond of that little thing, aren't you? 'Life.'
Excellent work if I do say so myself. The camera didn't quite catch the glory of it all, don't you think? But at least everyone got to see the beautiful aftermath. The bloody stains worried me at first, but this body was hidden just as well as the last. And... after all, why not have a bit of fun with it while we can, agreed? The scene is burned into his mind, and at those words, Mark's body heaves again as the splattering of vomit hits the back of the toilet bowl. Well, I can certainly see that you remember it well enough.
And so, I'll cut you a deal. Really, it's quite generous of me, so I'd pay attention.
It was Ethan next, and for some reason, that hit Mark the hardest out of the three. The confusion in the younger man's eyes, the stammered attempts of trying to convince himself it was all a prank, the noise his friend had made before his very last breath-
Such a young one, too. My my, Markimoo, I wasn't sure you had it in you...
Every life you help me to take...
Wade's eyes seemed to burn into Mark's soul, even after the damp soil had covered the man's twisted and broken body.
I'll give you another week to enjoy your own.
"I'm just... I'm j-just.. I'm so afraid-" Mark was stammering out, even as the knife twisted deeper into his friend's neck. Bob's only response was a weak cough, a splatter of blood spilling from his mouth, and then silence. "I... I don't want to d-d-die, nobody d-does, I just... I don't w-want to do this I s-swear, it's a-all him-"
He couldn't stop the tears from pouring down his face as he buried that one. Huh, he thought he would've gotten over it by now.
Reasonable, isn't it?
Mark didn't know what to do.
A life for a life.
He just knew it needed to stop. Grave after grave after grave after grave-
It's simple enough, I'm sure even you can grasp the concept.
...after grave after grave after grave aftergraveaftergraveaftergraveaftergraveafter g r a v e-
He regretted the words now, but what could he do?
Mark was tired of burying his friends, but he wasn't sure he was strong enough to stop.