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I’m so sorry.

I was hoping I wouldn’t have to dump all of this garbage onto you. I was hoping that I could take care of it on my own - that I could end this all myself, but at this point, I’m too far gone. I’m losing my mind - my soul... to that… thing… and there’s nothing I can do about it now. That’s why I’m writing this all down, before I lose everything, so you can pick up where I left off. It won’t go down easy, though. It’ll know that you’re coming; It’ll know I’m the one who sent you. You’ll need to be careful. Keep a calm and clear head. You HAVE to stay calm. The more you panic, the more you’re afraid, the more power it has over you. You’re going to see things that aren’t real. You’ll hear them; you’ll even feel them, but THEY ARE NOT REAL. Anything that seems out of the ordinary is a trap. Anyone who’s acting strange is already under its control. It took them because they didn’t know it was coming like you do. They couldn’t defend themselves, but don’t worry; they’ll be fine. It doesn’t want them. It wants to get to you. So don’t try to save them. Don’t try to rescue them. Save yourself. You need to stay alive or there may be no one left to kill this monster, if it can even be killed. I don’t have much time left. I can feel it crushing my mind - changing me into one of its creatures. I’ll leave you whatever tips I can before I’m gone.

First, and most importantly, DO NOT go into the forest. Every clue you find, every dream you dream, and every thought you have will tell you to go into the forest. IT LIVES IN THE FOREST. The treeline is safe while you’re still in sight, but if no one’s around to see you, stay as far away from those woods as you can. Next, the creatures. Those are what’s left of its victims. At least - the ones chosen to serve it. They may only be human, but they look far from it. It takes everything from them but their drive for survival and their need to serve it. Older ones are malnourished, nearly to the point of death, they walk with a terrible hunch, and they’re incredibly pale from their time spent in hiding.

They are designed to look like they aren’t a threat - like they’re too weak to fight - but they’re stronger as creatures than they were before it took them. The real danger is their connection to it. It keeps a little piece of itself inside them and uses that as some kind of signal booster. A creature being right next to you is like their master hiding fifty feet away. It doesn’t take much, though. If the creature can get a hold of you it has enough power to keep you calm and happy while they leave their mark. That piece of it that they keep, it will break. It digs itself into you and grows. After a few days the difference between reality and hallucination won’t even matter any more. No matter where you run or hide, no matter what you do, you’re only moving closer to the forest. Closer to him. And in your insanity you’ll realize that you don’t even care. You’ll think that whether you’re killed and fed to the creatures or become one yourself, submission has to be better than this torture. AND THE MOMENT THAT THOUGHT CROSSES YOUR MIND YOU ARE GONE.

That’s why you have to run. If one is chasing you, get to a populated area. It won’t let them reveal themselves, so drawing it out into the public will force it to hide. Once it’s out of sight, disappear into the crowd - Just go where all the people are going and maybe you can slip out of sight as well. Be warned though, RULE ONE IS OVER ALL OTHER RULES. If the crowd starts moving toward the forest, they are under its control as well. Now, I can’t stress this part enough, so read carefully. Large crowds of people all under its control make its power stronger. Think of it as a kind of peer pressure, but with higher stakes. You’ll feel safe in the crowd. You’ll want to move with them, even if they’re moving straight toward the forest, but remember: you can run. It doesn’t control the crowd, it simply influences them. It can’t make them hurt you. Be mindful, though, of where the creature was hiding and where it could have gone. You don’t want to run into a trap.

I should mention that occasionally it will send creatures that haven’t finished their transformation quite yet. These younger ones still look, sound, and act human. In the earliest days of their transformation, it could be nearly impossible to tell that they’ve changed at all. There are some warning signs though. You’ll notice that they’re eating and sleeping less. They’ll claim that they're going on a diet. They’re just having nightmares. From their perspectives, maybe they think that’s true; I sure did. Whether they know it or not, they are already hopeless. Before they ever realize what’s happening they’ll be fully submissive to that thing. They’ll depend on it for food. They’ll follow its commands without question. I think I’ve even caught a few of them praying to it. You would think these are scarier, but they’ll never attack you. I promise. He uses them as spies that he can send into crowds without drawing suspicion. They’re still no stronger than you are, and his connection to them is not yet complete. It wouldn’t risk that connection severing. Sure, they could still use a knife or a gun if it told them to, but it won’t risk damaging you. You’re far more valuable to it unharmed. It wants you healthy and your meat clean so it can change you or feed you to its creatures if they haven’t had a meal in a while.

If you’re as insane as me by this point, hearing that might make you think that harming yourself could be a way to drive it off. Don't. That is exactly what got me where I am now. The occasional sprained ankle or stomach virus every other week kept it away for a little over a month, but the injuries needed to be more severe over time. Eventually I was breaking bones just to buy one more day. I got myself hospitalized, and when I was released there were creatures waiting for me. I couldn’t run away on my crutches, and the pain medicine was messing with my head too much for me to resist. Its influence took over, and I calmly walked right into an alleyway out of sight where the older ones could surround me.

I was scared at first of those hollow eyes and that creeping black death seeping into my flesh, but their eyes, their hold… they were… comforting. They numbed the burning pain of its seed breaking through my veins into my head, and once it was done I felt so peaceful. I’d spent so long scared of him that to long for him was ecstasy. I knew it was wrong. I had fought for too many years to be so gullible, but I don’t care. I’m tired of fighting; I can’t anymore. I’m writing this letter because I want you to know how to protect yourself. But if I’m being honest, I don’t think the fight is worth living through. As soon as I send this, I’m going to the forest. I’ll beg to be his creature if he’ll take me, and then I’ll finally be able to stop looking over my shoulder, scared of everyone I hold dear. I’ll finally be done. You can still fight if you want, but it doesn’t matter. Fear it, fight it, serve it - it all ends the same.

I’ll see you in the forest.