When I tell people my profession, their jaws drop. Maybe it’s because of my skin color. I’m an aspiring rapper named Vincent Osborn, and if you couldn’t tell from my name, yes I’m white. Most people know me as “V-Sense”. In all my years under that moniker, however, I’ve never seen anything like I did over the past few months. It was… let me just tell you the story.

June 15th, 2012Edit

On June 15th, 2012, one of my best friends, Felix van Ness, otherwise known as “Lock Ness”, was trying to convince me to go to a club simply known as “Majestic’s Hangout”. Felix was surfing the Internet, trying to look for battles and cyphers we could go to. You know, to possibly expand our audience. It’s not easy to get your name known in the rap game when there are so many bad ones out there, overflowing the market.

I also do have a day job, before you accuse me of collecting unemployment checks and sitting on a couch all day. I assemble machinery at a factory close by my town; I’d prefer to keep my location disclosed right now, if you don’t mind. The experience I had was… unsettling, to say the least.

I had just returned from this factory: tired, dirty, sweaty, you name it. Manual labor isn’t fun, but it’s what I was good at, besides forming rhymes into a lyrical masterpiece. I never was an A+ student, nor a C student; I barely passed my classes, usually just above the failing mark.

Felix was sitting on my front porch. We had met at the factory, doing the same job. We both had aspirations to become rappers; we just didn’t have the money for recording equipment. Between the two of us, we had plenty of material for a mixtape. We were wondering what to call our group the day before I heard of Majestic’s Hangout. Felix called out to me:

“Born Again Monsters. B.A.M. What do you think?”

“Could be worse. Did you have to include my name in there Nessie?”

“Chill out Osborn. I found out about a club where we can battle. The name’s ‘Majestic’s Hangout’,”

“Is it nearby? I just came home from work. Trying to enjoy the weekend, you know?”

“Relax V, the battles are tomorrow. They’re random too, so it’s not like you can do research on your opponents in advance. It’s a Freestyle Friday deal,”

“You registered both of us?”

“Of course. I’ll drive you there tomorrow night, it starts at 8 P.M. Are you willing?”

“What do you think, Nessie?”

Felix stuck his tongue out. He was a bit childish still, considering he was the youngest child of his parents. He was babied the most, and it showed. As for me, I was the oldest sibling. We both cut off contact from our parents once we found cheap housing to live in.

I don’t know why Felix did so, but I did it so my siblings wouldn’t follow down my path. I wasn’t the best role model while I was around, so the least I could do for them would be to block them from going down my lane. Some of them weren’t cut out for manual labor, mostly my younger sisters. I wonder how they’re doing right now? Must be better than my condition.

June 16th, 2012Edit

I spent most of the following day sleeping, entertaining the fact that I might win a cash prize at Majestic’s Hangout. It would help with our recording problem; any cheap mic would do, as long as it recorded audio properly. I had cleared my basement in hopes of turning it into a makeshift studio, so space wasn’t an issue. While I was sleeping, I started to dream. In my dream, I pictured taking my notebook out and reading it over one last time. However, I couldn’t read the notebook; the words were blurry, and in my dream state, I couldn’t remember what was supposed to be there. I was scrutinizing the notebook carefully, hoping I could see some form of English, when I felt a hand grab me. I instinctively dropped my notebook and turned around. A middle-aged man with his eyes in a squint was the owner of the hand.

His hair was the color of dead leaves; his skin was the color of human bones. His eyes were blue, but I thought I could see a tint of red in them: colored contacts? I felt sick being in his presence, but I didn’t know why. I thought I saw a black aura around him, but I cleared my eyes and the aura was gone. The middle-aged man stared at my notebook, and then stared at me. Putrid breath leaked out of his mouth when he said: “I can offer you anything.” His other hand darted at my shoulder, grabbing it tightly. “Anything at all,” He said with an even voice, but his face was contorted in a strenuous way. My heart was beating faster and faster as he brought his face closer and closer. A split second before I woke up, I stared directly into his eyes. The red tint had now taken over his entire pupil, and I could swear I saw literal fire burning in his eyes.

I woke up in a cold sweat, panting heavily. I rubbed my eyes and looked at my alarm clock, just to make sure I was away from that man. It said 2 P.M. I decided to forgo a shower and put on my clothes right away. Hopefully the Hangout wouldn’t turn me down because I smelled. My heart was still pounding, but I had errands to run, and I couldn’t let a dream keep me from living. I just hoped the man wouldn’t show up again.

I don’t like to be wrong, but I can’t see the future either…

Five hours later, my Saturday errands were completed. Felix drove up to my house in his big pickup truck. “You all ready?” I nodded in response and hopped in the truck. “You look so gangster,” Felix said sarcastically.

I was in a plain white T-shirt and jeans. Felix was in the same getup. “You too,” I said, rolling my eyes. “Now can you drive to the place?”

Felix put the truck into drive. The engine sputtered but the truck managed to move forward. The truck was a hand-me-down; who knows how old it was? Felix was taught how to fix it by his old man, and a drive that takes normal people 10 minutes could take us half an hour. The truck broke down two times before we got to the Hangout, nothing unusual. Felix was fast in fixing it; he didn’t want to miss these battles. We arrived at the Hangout at 7:30. There was a burly, black bouncer in front of the average-looking club. He eyed the truck carefully as we stepped out.

“What are you doing here?”

“The battles?” Felix asked.

“You guys must be new. Follow me,” The bouncer said.

We entered the club. The bouncer took us past where everyone was dancing. He pointed to a small room.

“Give Majestic 16 bars and you’re in,” The bouncer said.

“What do you mean? I signed up already,” Felix said.

“We do the official battles through a video game that Majestic coded,”

“What? A video game? Like Sega Genesis?” I asked.

“No, on a personal computer. If you don’t have one there’s some computers in the room over there,” The bouncer cocked his head to another door in the hallway. “But you won’t be able to challenge Majestic and get prizes if you don’t have a computer,” The bouncer continued.

“Prizes?” Felix’s eyes lit up.

“I’ll hand you a manual explaining how the game works if you prove yourself to Majestic. You’d better hurry, there’s only half an hour before the battles start,” The bouncer said urgently.

I went inside the room without a second glance. The bouncer prevented Felix from following me, saying “Only one at a time.” The room was very dark, and I couldn’t see anything, not even a silhouette. I heard a sharp voice cut through the darkness: “Spit.” I gulped and dispelled the feeling of anxiousness I had about the whole situation. I needed to get into these battles. So I started to rap to the unknown Majestic:

“V-Sense in the Hangout to give you my two cents/You in my house to hate, I call you a nuisance/I got low money but my bars are never spent/When you see the light tell God I’m comin next/Low pay for what I do, call that menial labor/Rich kids like Drake just cashed in a couple favors/And when you see V livin with his neighbors/You’d never think he would be a one to chase paper/Velocity is high, my bombs are makin craters/Victory is nigh, only dissidents be the haters/You may be pc, but V-Sense never caters/I spit common sense cause I’m nobody’s waiter/Don’t speak my language? Here let me translate/Egos look at me, all they do is deflate/Enemies, all I do to them is eliminate/Cause V-Sense came with the gift, now appreciate!”

When I finished, I heard Majestic clapping. “Well done. Ask the bouncer ‘2Pac or Biggie?’ and he’ll give you a copy of the game and the manual. I look forward to hearing you in the battles V-Sense,” Majestic stated. His voice was unusually deep, almost like it was being altered by a voice program.

Back then, I guessed Majestic wanted to keep himself secret. I suppose I was right in the end.

I exited the room and Felix entered after me. “2Pac or Biggie?” I asked the bouncer. He smiled and handed me a CD case with the title Majestic Battles 2012 and a piece of paper. “Everything you need is here. Good luck. The battles start in 25 minutes. Since it’s online, there’s lots of rappers waiting to scrap, so we limit it to 32 bars each. Any other questions you have should be in the manual,” The bouncer explained. I nodded and entered the computer room.

I was shocked at the amount of people in the room. There must have been at least 50 rappers there, of all different colors, sizes, and shapes. “And these are only the ones who came to the Hangout… how many are online and at home?” I thought. I found an empty computer in-between two black rappers. They eyed me weirdly, as if I didn’t belong there. Any gaze they gave me wasn’t worse than my dream, though. The middle-aged man was so realistic, but I had never seen anything like him before. Maybe from a horror movie I saw once?

There was a mic already connected to the computer. I popped in the disc and skimmed the manual. It seemed that after I pressed the ‘Start’ button on the game, there’d be rap lobbies I’d have to join. Official ones hosted by Majestic would be on top, and other ones would descend depending on the rapper’s ranking in-game. I also read that the more battles you won, the more prizes you’d be eligible for. 5000 battle wins for a recording mic. The only catch was you only had the current year to get the prizes. After that, there’d be a new version of the game for the new year, and the old year’s server data would be wiped clean in terms of prizes. Records in terms of wins and losses were transferred to the new game, however, so there was no chance for a reboot. If you were bad, everyone would know it.

“The manual doesn’t say what happens if you get 10,000 wins,” One of the rappers next to me said. “Every 1000 wins you get, you get a piece of Majestic’s first demo tape. He’s been in the game for decades, and everyone wants to see what his first songs were like, as his first mixtape has been lost with time. If you get 10,000 wins, not only do you get the complete piece he managed to salvage, but there’s an old music video with Majestic performing one of the songs on the demo tape. There’s a message in the video that you have to tell Majestic, and you can get an opportunity to battle him. Nobody has ever got 10,000 wins in a year, not even the teenagers who have plenty of time. It seems they get lazy around 8000. Everyone else has jobs, so we can get to about 4000 per year, especially since we try to perform at other gigs besides the game,” The rapper explained.

“Why are you telling me?” I asked.

“There’s a crack in the wall. I heard your bars. I’m not gonna say they’re the best, but you definitely have a quick-thinking mind. You need that in this game. I think you’ll be able to get 10,000 wins if you can mop people up with 16,” The rapper said.

“Thanks for the word of confi-“

“He joined halfway through the year, he ain’t gonna get no 10,000 wins! Lucky if he gets 1000,” The other rapper who was next to me exclaimed.

“Look man, this kid can get it if he does 16’s. I swear,”

“If all he does is 16’s, he’s gonna be a joke! I challenge him to a 64 in the Hangout after the battle!”

“Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

I ignored their squabbling and turned the computer on. The rapper who was on my side got something right; I had no time for a 64 bar battle tonight. I had to work overtime in the factory tomorrow. Something had apparently gone wrong with one of the machine parts, and they wanted me, Felix, and the rest of the factory crew to fix it.

The game quickly loaded up. I immediately pressed the Start button, ignoring any Options or graphics. It asked for my name and to input my password, which would have been sent to my email when I registered. I checked my mail, and there was nothing unusual except an email sent from “Majestic”. It had my name, V-Sense, and my password, which I’ll keep confidential. I typed the information into the game. As soon as I was let in, my screen was transported into a world of rap lobbies.

Just as the manual said, the official battle tournament was on top of all the other lobbies. I clicked on it and saw a chatroom. Some people were talking into their mics, others were typing. After looking at the manual again, I realized that all of the rappers would go into private parts of the chatroom where they could battle. A mic was required to go into these rooms. A minute before any battle started, you’d get the rapper’s profile as they registered it before getting the game, along with their record. It was very organized, and I was surprised Majestic could code so well.

At some point, Felix entered the room because I saw Lock Ness sending me a private message:

[7:50] Lock Ness: Yo V, you read the manual? 5000 wins and a recording mic! 
[7:50] V-Sense: yea i saw its gonna be tuff tryin to get there tho 
[7:50] V-Sense: we got overtime tomorrow too remember 
[7:50] V-Sense: so were gonna have to find time to do this if were in it 4 real
[7:51] Lock Ness: Dude, do you have to type like that?
[7:51] V-Sense: y does it matter how i type u understand dont u 
[7:52] Lock Ness: Yeah, I guess… I read somewhere else in the manual that you
 can also register a group, but no more than 5. The bouncer told me that only
 groups of 2 are eligible for something though… if both members get a combined
 total  of 10,000 wins, then one member can transfer their wins to the other    and the member that gets transferred has a chance to face Majestic and get the demo tape and everything!
[7:53] V-Sense: a rapper told me that nobody has ever got to 10000 tho 
[7:53] Lock Ness: That’s because if you do the transfer method, the wins aren’t
 added onto your record. Nor are they detracted from the person transferring.   But the person transferring’s account gets frozen until the next iteration of  the game. The bouncer told me many people have challenged Majestic, but only   though this method. And they’re not proud of it either. 
[7:54] V-Sense: so nobodys ever gotten to 10000 on their own 
[7:54] Lock Ness: Right. But if we both get 5000, then we’ll have two recording
 mics and a chance to face Majestic. 
[7:54] V-Sense: alright im in but whos gonna face off and get to c the vid and
 demo tape 
[7:54] Lock Ness: I think it should be 
[7:55] <Admin> Majestic: Alright guys, everyone to the public chatroom!
 Announcements are about to begin!

The admin message cut mid-sentence into Felix’s message. It seemed that all private messages were sent right away once Majestic had to make an announcement. Again, I was surprised at Majestic’s coding ability. He must’ve had some sort of help, a moderator on the chatroom perhaps. Regardless, it seemed all private messages were locked out. I moved to the public chat.

[7:55] Chatroom: Permissions have been set to Admin and above. 
[7:55] <Admin> Majestic: Welcome to the June rap battle tournament! We have 100
 rappers competing tonight! 
[7:55] <Admin> Majestic: In 4 minutes, you will get your assignment on who you  are battling first. 
[7:55] <Admin> Majestic: The battles will work in an elimination style          tournament; one-and-done! One round for each rapper, 32 bars each for the sake of time. Good luck to everyone!

All of a sudden I heard a private message sound. I thought the private message permissions may have been reset, but the message was not from Felix.

[7:56] <Admin> The Autumn-Haired Man: I can offer you anything. 
[7:56] <Admin> The Autumn-Haired Man: Anything at all.

My heart started to pound again. My hands were sweating. “His hair was the color of… dead leaves. His hair… autumn… this is the man from my dream!” I thought to myself. But that was impossible, wasn’t it? Didn’t I just create that man in my head? Unless… it was a premonition. I cleared my eyes to make sure I wasn’t seeing things, and sure enough, the two messages were still there. I was about to turn to the rapper next to me when more messages came up.

[7:57] <Admin> The Autumn-Haired Man: 10,000. 
[7:57] <Admin> The Autumn-Haired Man: 10,000 and you learn the truth. 
[7:57] <Admin> The Autumn-Haired Man: 10,000 and you can take my offer. 
[7:57] <Admin> The Autumn-Haired Man: But it will not be easy. And it will come at a price. 
[7:57] <Admin> The Autumn-Haired Man: And I will have to test your worthiness   of my offer. 
[7:57] Chatroom: <Admin> The Autumn-Haired Man is now offline.

“Are there any other admins?” I asked the rapper who was previously on my side. “No, just Majestic. There are a couple mods though,” The friendly rapper said. I nodded and gulped. I was breaking out in a cold sweat again, but this was no time to be scared. I had to win as many battles as possible tonight. I had to learn about The Autumn-Haired Man of my dreams and his precious offer. There was time to panic later. I took a deep breath, and when I opened my eyes, the first rapper’s profile came up.

For the sake of your time, I’m not going to bore you with details about the battles. What I can tell you is that I defeated 5 rappers that night. Felix only defeated two; freestyles aren’t his strong suit. I didn’t bother to see the winner of the tournament, although I read in the chatroom that the winner’s prize would be $1000. I was too busy worrying about The Autumn-Haired Man. The bone-colored skin… hair the color of dead leaves… and those awful red eyes. Every time I shut my eyes, his image was there, the fire in his eyes staring me in the face. Was he a demon? Only time would tell.

The bouncer nodded at me approvingly when we left. We had our discs, cases, and manuals in hand. “You did a good job for your first time. Next month is another tournament, I’m sure you’ll be able to win,” He stated.

I nodded gratefully and left the Hangout; Felix’s steps were right behind me. We went into the pickup truck, Felix in the driver’s seat.

“Man, if I hadn’t choked up…” Felix muttered. He put the car into drive and we left the Hangout. Thankfully the truck didn’t break down at all on the way home; I may have had a heart attack at this point.

“Night V, let’s get to 10,000!”

“Who did you want to get there? Your message was cut off by Majestic.”

“You V. You’re better at quick-thinking than me. Maybe it was all the siblings.”

“Maybe. Night Nessie.”

Felix waved goodbye as his truck sputtered away. I fumbled when I reached for my keys to open the door. It was like I had smoked narcotics and was afraid the cops were going to bust down my doors at any second. I was really looking out for dead leaves in the days before summer started. I exhaled and slowly unlocked my door. When I turned on the lights, nothing was there. I thanked my lucky stars and locked the door behind me. My basement steps creaked when my feet stepped on them. There was no way I was going to sleep normally. Why was I given overtime that day? There were no windows in my basement, and I locked the basement door behind me. I wish I owned the Clapper, but I had to flick a light switch to illuminate the bottom floor of my house. I hoped The Autumn-Haired Man didn’t know where my house was, but I dismissed the fear as foolish. My basement was still as clear as the day when I spruced it up. There was only one way to get rid of my nervous energy: my notebook.

“This better read English or I’m screwed…” I said to myself. A second later, the notebook was in my hands. I scrutinized it carefully, and sure enough, the words were solid and in my handwriting. My heart started to slow; it looked like I wouldn’t be tested tonight after all. I calmed myself down by spitting my bars underneath that concrete floor. Almost like I was rapping in prison… guess I can add that on my street cred résumé now. I eventually fell asleep; my lungs were the things tired though.

June 17th, 2012Edit

I surprised myself when I woke up the next day. There had been no dreams; I guess my notebook had calmed me down after all. Thankfully, overtime started at 2 P.M. instead of my usual 9 to 5. Looks like my boss finally helped me by making me work in the afternoon. Through blurry vision, I managed to pick up my notebook; I had plenty of material to write a new song. I traversed through my house and looked for the alarm clock. Sure enough, it read an A.M. time: 11 A.M. to be exact. At this point, The Autumn-Haired Man had all but left my mind.

I flipped through the notebook, searching for a clean page. There still were a few left, so I scribbled some lines in the notebook. I looked at it, feeling accomplished of my newly created work. The clock read 11:30; I could start my morning routines at noon. First, I wanted to rack up a few more wins in MB2012 (my acronym for Majestic Battles 2012). I had an old dinosaur computer in my bedroom; MB2012 wasn’t very graphically advanced, so I hoped it could run on the computer. Thankfully, it did.

I realized that I didn’t have a mic to battle anybody with. Another point for my bosses on choosing overtime on that day. I’d be paid for my extra work, and I could buy a cheap $10 mic with whatever paycheck I got. Same with Felix, most likely. I was about to exit out of the game when I got one private message:

[11:31] <Admin> The Autumn-Haired Man: Tonight.

I exited the game. Getting nervous over The Autumn-Haired Man’s message wouldn’t solve anything. I’d just have to go through the motions of my life as usual. I coached myself into thinking I could pass any test he had for me. I lived in enough fear last night; I wasn’t about to go back into my concrete prison.

I went through my morning routines: shower, new clothes, breakfast. Felix was supposed to pick me up at 1 P.M., and at that time, I heard a honk outside my door. I opened it but nobody was there. “Weird… guess it was someone else,” I thought. In the corner of my eye I thought I saw a hooded figure walking towards me. I jumped a bit, but realized it couldn’t be The Autumn-Haired Man. It wasn’t night yet. I don’t know why I thought that night would be the only reason why The Autumn-Haired Man would stalk me, but the hooded figure ran away as soon as I looked at it. I never did find out who or what it was. Maybe it was a teenager, or maybe it was him. Regardless, Felix pulled up a couple minutes after the sighting.

“Yo man, you alright?”

“Yeah, let’s just get to work before we get fired or something.”

I hopped into Felix’s truck and off we went. The truck broke down once on the way to the factory, but Felix fixed it up in a few minutes. Pretty routine. The factory’s walls were dull grey, and there were a few abandoned cars from the 50s and 60s in the parking lot. It looked like it had been shut down years ago, but the boss simply didn’t have enough money for a makeover. He was pretty conservative with his cash, and through several legal battles, the factory was here to stay. I thanked him for that on numerous occasions; Felix did it inwardly. He was always afraid the boss would lay him off if he talked too long to him.

We saw the boss twice in the next eight hours; as soon as we got there, and to collect the paycheck at night. The whole crew was supposed to be there, but only Felix and I showed up to work, which doubled the length of time of the reparations. The boss told me everyone else has more important obligations and couldn’t show up to work that day after all, but I still wonder to this day if that was really true. The boss usually smiled when he handed us his paychecks, but today, his expression was somber. I asked why, and he responded with “My father’s ill… I may be leaving soon and getting a new boss to take over. I can’t deal with keeping the factory open and my father. You understand, right Vincent?” I nodded even though I hadn’t talked to my father in years.

It was 10 P.M., and Felix was in the driver’s seat, ready to go. We were supposed to be done at 7, but we were also expecting more members of the force to show up. We couldn’t cash in the checks tonight, and I didn’t have any cash. I asked him about getting some mics, and he slapped himself in the forehead. “I almost forgot myself… I was gonna grab a couple burgers for us but we can save that for next week,” Felix said. I nodded in agreement and rode shotgun. “You have enough cash for some cheap mics? The banks are closed by now,” I said regretfully. “Yeah, I have twenty bucks,” Felix replied. He drove out of the factory. I rarely saw the factory at night, but its grayness camouflaged in the night air. Once we started driving away from the factory, I could barely see it. It was just Felix and I, alone in the dark.

We had to take a road surrounded by trees to get to the nearest electronics store. I suggested RadioShack, but Felix knew a local place that sold things for cheap. His old man had told him about it. As I watched the woods, The Autumn-Haired Man’s single message of “Tonight,” lingered in the back of my mind. I hoped the truck wouldn’t stop, I hoped the truck wouldn’t stop, I hoped- crap.

“Should take a few minutes,” Felix said, and he jumped out of the car. I smacked myself.

“Are you really getting scared over some chatroom warning? You’re better than this Vincent…” I muttered to myself. I jumped out as well to help Felix.

He had lifted the hood the of the truck and was working furiously on it. I had no idea what he was doing, so he just said “Watch the road, and see if anyone can give me a hand. This damage is pretty bad,” Felix said nonchalantly. “How long will the repairs take this time around?” I asked. “Longer than usual… 15 minutes?” I sighed. Stuck in-between some woods with a chatroom message in my mind.

I paced on the side of the road, looking for anyone who could help. A couple of times, I thought I saw some dark shapes approaching me. A blink would get rid of the shapes though. At least, I thought it would, until I saw a distinct shape not disappearing. I blinked several times, but the shape slowly approached me. I looked back at Felix; his eyes were focused on the hood.

I called out “Hello?” to the shape, but there was no answer. It stopped moving. I cocked my head, squinting into the darkness. The shape was standing still. I turned to Felix again. “Felix, do you see anyone over there?” I quickly snapped my head back to the road, and the shape was gone. “Where?” He called. “Um, never mind… thought I saw someone,” I responded. Felix grunted in reply and went back to work on the truck.

Had I imagined the shape the entire time? My imagination was really getting overactive. I continued to pace, squinting at the darkness, straining my head for the hope of a headlight coming down the road. I was so focused on the road that I didn’t realize where I was walking. I heard a crunch underneath my feet. I was startled, but I didn’t make any other sound. Just a pinecone or twig on the ground. I had wandered a bit into the woods, but I could still see the road, thankfully. I relaxed myself. “See, there was nothing to be scared of after all!” I thought triumphantly. Moments after I had that thought, I heard another crunch.

I scanned the woods, but saw nothing. I guessed I had taken another step and hit another twig. “Stop worrying…” I said to myself. Then, a third crunch. I had not taken another step. Now the fear that was lingering at the back of my mind of The Autumn-Haired Man brought itself to the front. I could feel sweat drip from my armpits. I just stood there, not knowing what I could do. Finally, I made a decision to step back onto the road. I coached myself one more time that I was hearing things, and made a step. Something grabbed my shoulder a second later. I tried to turn around, but the grip on my shoulder tightened. I was going to yelp in pain, but the thing’s other hand covered my mouth. I screamed silently. I wanted to do something, but I just stood there, not knowing what I could do…

In all the confusion, I hadn’t notice the color of the thing’s hand. The color of human bones. “I told you ‘tonight’, didn’t I?” The thing asked. The putrid breath hit my nostrils. It was The Autumn-Haired Man. My heart pounded heavily, but I tried to manage a stoic expression in the face of danger. “Such a shame you failed the test…” The Autumn-Haired Man said. The hand around my mouth now curled around my throat. “I like when people look frightened,” The Autumn-Haired Man said with a twisted tone to his voice. He took the hand that was grabbing my shoulder and turned me around with it. Slowly.

The first thing I saw was that The Autumn-Haired Man had a hood on. He looked a lot like the figure I saw earlier that day, but there was something off about his hood. It was torn at the right side; the earlier person’s hood was in perfect condition.

At least I thought that. I wanted to deny he knew where I lived, but who knows? Maybe I was right, maybe I was wrong.

I could see the dead leaves through the tear in his hood. My face remained neutral, but I couldn’t control my sweating. He stopped turning me around and stroked my sweaty hair. I could hear him take a lick from his finger. “Disgusting…” I gagged. He tightened his grip around my throat. “Quiet you, I love the taste of fear!” He exclaimed. Maniacal laughter ensued.

That was his mistake. I heard Felix call “V? V what’s wrong?” The Autumn-Haired Man spun me quickly. I stared directly into his red eyes. The fire from my dreams wasn’t there, but those eyes were fiery. They pierced into the darkness. “Hmph… I thought you’d be alone. No matter,” He said. He pushed me to the ground with force. My body hit the floor with a thump.

“I’m going to leave you alive… just remember this sound,” The Autumn-Haired Man said. He flicked a switchblade and pointed it at my throat. I could see the silver glint. “Get to 10,000 by the end of the year or your throat gets cut… slowly…” The Autumn-Haired Man said. He smiled with a toothy grin, the teeth being the same bone color as his skin. Just a mouthful of teeth and a pair of red eyes staring in the darkness. “I look forward to your battle… one more thing. Don’t tell anybody about the encounter,” He cackled. He took the silver blade away from me, flicked it, and pocketed it. The Autumn-Haired Man ran off, disappearing into the darkness like the factory did only minutes earlier.

I panted heavily when he left. Felix ran to me and picked me up. “V, you okay? You look like you’ve seen a ghost!” He exclaimed. “Can… we just… get the mics?” I panted. Felix gave me a puzzling look. “Dude, what the hell happened back there?!?” Felix asked. I sighed. I had to give him a lie.

“I was looking for help and wandered in the woods. There was a big trunk on the ground that I couldn’t see. Tripped over…” I trailed off from there. The less information the better. I gave Felix the best even voice I could. He still stared at me puzzlingly. “What was that laughter?” He asked.

I closed my eyes and remembered those fiery red eyes. Were they watching me at this point? I opened them again. “Some teenagers were cackling into the darkness. They cut down the tree, probably as a prank. I hate those pricks, don’t you?” I asked with the most steady voice I could muster. I added a hint of anger at the end, and that did it. Felix nodded. “Yeah man, my older siblings always picked on me… when I was 5 they put some of my toys on the ground and watched me trip,” He said woefully. He looked at the ground and clenched his fists. “Let’s get those mics…” He whispered. I nodded in agreement.

The rest of the night was pretty uneventful. We got to the store and bought the mics pretty easily. The girl at the register was very nice, and Felix winked at me. “Your kind of girl, eh?” He asked.

I was still trying to shake the laughter of The Autumn-Haired Man out of my ears. “For sure,” I said absentmindedly.

Felix took it as an actual affirmation and winked at the clerk. She giggled. I rolled my eyes. Even after such a situation, Felix could always joke around. We went out, mics and change in hand.

Felix drove me home. I waved goodbye and he drove off, a bit slower than usual. I guess he wanted to keep an eye on me. He didn’t drive completely away from the block until I opened the door and went inside. I couldn’t do the same thing as last night; tomorrow was Monday, and a work day. I locked the door behind me, double-checking it couldn’t be opened. I went into my bedroom, plugged in my brand-new cheap mic, and fell into the bed. Every time I closed my eyes, The Autumn-Haired Man’s red eyes were staring right back at me. Something was keeping me from sleeping.

I stood up and stared at my computer monitor. I sat at the old dinosaur and pressed the power button. It whirred up slowly, slowly, very slowly. The more it started up, the less I could make out of The Autumn-Haired Man in my mind. It seemed my mental projection was appeased by me giving his warning attention. I opened up MB2012 and did the only thing I could.

I started rapping.

Events from June 18th 2012 to the Present (December 20th, 2012)Edit

Lots of stuff happened in the past 6 months. I’ll tell you a bit more about my story. Before I set out to finish this once and for all. There are still a couple of loose ends, and I hope I can explain them to the best of my ability.

June 18th, 2012Edit

It was no coincidence that the boss told me about his father being ill. The next day, he called the whole factory crew for a meeting. After today, he’d be taking a break from being the owner of the factory.

“One of my old colleagues from business school will be taking over while I’m back. He wants to be even more conservative than me so… he told me there’s going to be budget cuts. No layoffs, just cuts to salaries,” The boss said painfully. No matter the circumstances, he would never, and I mean NEVER, cut our pay. He cared too much to ever do that. It looks like his former colleague graduated from the cold business school of thought. Only profit, screw the workers.

“My father has been diagnosed with lung cancer… I never told you guys, but he was a heavy smoker throughout his life. He only stopped last year, and… it was too late. I’ll be back to managing the factory once they cure him or…” The boss choked up. He couldn’t say any more. He tried to hold back tears, but couldn’t, so he turned from us. The last time I saw him was with his back turned to us. Even today, he still hasn’t come back. It made me wonder what he did for cash, but I guessed the new boss sent a cut of the profits to him.

The new boss wore a cold suit, had cold expressions, and was overall just… cold. He was beyond the point of stoic; I thought he lacked emotions completely. The first thing he wanted to do was not to assemble machinery, but to clean the abandoned cars in the front yard. When one of the crew members asked if we could do that for overtime, he went up to him and asked very bluntly: “Do you want to keep your job?” We did what he said that day. Felix couldn’t stand it; I could see his anger at this new guy visibly. He would cuss him out in a diss track if he had the chance, but right now he was the supplier of income. Felix’s mouth stayed zipped.

At 5 P.M., we collected our meager paychecks. When we hopped into the pickup, Felix told me something: “My brother operates a gun range nearby. I didn’t want to tell you until we needed a second job, but he can give us jobs at managing the range.” My eyes opened widely. “You serious right now Felix?” I asked.

“Yeah. I told him I wanted to be independent, but we have no choice now… we can’t even afford our current housing under these new budget cuts. And hey, I always wanted to learn how to use a gun,” He said, smiling.

I nodded in agreement. I’d need protection after what happened with The Autumn-Haired Man anyways. “Let’s do it!” I said vigorously.

We pulled up to the gun range pretty quickly. Felix’s brother was a stocky guy; he looked like your stereotypical gun nut. He messed with his younger brother’s hair, and shook my hand. Felix explained the situation, and immediately his brother offered us jobs. “Anything to help family and friends,” He said. He reminded me of the old boss.

I learned how to shoot all sorts of guns that day. Rifles, shotguns, but my personal favorite was the revolver. Maybe it’s all the crime shows on TV, maybe it was Clint Eastwood’s favorite sidearm giving me an impression. Whatever the reason, I learned to shoot revolvers the best that day. Felix’s brother would give us enough money to pay off the rest until the old boss came back and we could be self-sufficient again.

It seemed like a perfect setup. And it was, in more ways than one.

November 22nd, 2012Edit

I could go into detail about all the rap tournaments at the Hangout I participated in, but that’d just waste your time. Here’s something important for you.

Today was the day I gained my 5000th win. By now, I had become a regular at the Hangout. I was second place in the November Tournament a few days before, but only people who get first place get a prize. Only one person’s a winner at the Hangout. The win wasn’t very important. I followed the friendly rapper’s advice; I challenged people to mostly 16’s, although I added some 32’s, 64’s, and a few more longer than that just to prove I could be versatile. Felix was on his 4500th win; he desperately wanted to catch up with me. I never had to tell him about The Autumn-Haired Man’s deal.

The Autumn-Haired Man hadn’t contacted me for months. He must’ve been impressed with my progress. I did get five pieces of the demo tape, but there was nothing out of the ordinary on them. The first rap was about Majestic’s family, and it was overall upbeat. The second was about his friends, and how one of them stabbed him in the back. The raps became more and more depressing as I got more pieces of the demo tape. There were 5 songs altogether; the first rap was on the first two parts, the second rap was on the second two parts, and half of a rap was on the fifth piece I acquired today.

The rap was about a drug addiction Majestic used to have. The first 16 bar verse and the hook were on it. I’ll transcribe them for you:

“Guess you could say that I got a bunch of issues/But where I’m from the only comfort we got was tissues/Tissues were given for more reasons than blessin you/Men cryin was unheard of, so the neighbors were stressin you/I needed a way to unwind so I found a joint/Where joints were plentiful and helped everyone to point/In the right direction with our lives, mine to rappin/But that was the only good thing from drugs that to me ever happened/I’m in high school with low grades getting so high/Gotta keep on the low down but I liked a high ride/Dilation I felt happen to my pupils and eyes/The truth of bad life popular in current times/I was superhuman, only weakness was kryptonite/But I didn’t know a puff could bring you into that white light/And that a puff could drag you straight to the next fight/And that a puff could make you think anything was right/”

“Starts with weed, only grows worse/Blowin out of reeds, end in a hearse/The irony is that it grows out of the earth/The same origin as all of our births/Tellin you I didn’t think things could get worse/Tellin you I’d never end up in a hearse/Never thought that I’d be six feet under the earth/But I was almost brought to a place opposite of birth/”

Majestic’s voice was not altered at all in his demo tape. His voice still sounded very deep though, almost as deep as Johnny Cash. He managed to still evoke feelings, and he could write a good hook. It made me wonder what held him back from being one of the greatest MCs up on the charts, up with Eazy-E, Biggie, and 2Pac. Instead he stayed in the underground, and was living middle-aged in a low-condition Hangout instead of where he actually belonged. Listening to his demo tape reassured me that I would not end up like him. V-Sense would be up there, and succeed where Majestic failed.

It was time to finally get that recording mic. The reason why we initially set out to get to 5000 wins each. Felix would’ve taken a slower pace, but he wanted to prove that he was better than me at rapping. I beat him at all the tournaments, but I have to admit he had an ear for music, and Lock Ness could always find the best flow for any beat he was presented. I called him about my accomplishment, and he soon drove up to my home. Before I turned off the monitor, I had been sent a new private message:

[6:12] <Admin> Majestic:  Congratulations on your 5000th win! Not many players  of Majestic’s Battles get to this feat! Please come to the Hangout to claim 
 your prize of a recording microphone. I hope it increases the audio quality of any projects you have planned for the future!

He said the same thing when I got to 1000 wins about how “not many get to this feat”. There were other prizes but I never cared to claim them. The only thing I wanted was the recording mic. I felt glad that Majestic would be expecting me, but again, right before I was going to shut off the monitor, I was sent another message. This time a string of messages.

[6:13] <Admin> The Autumn-Haired Man: Well done.                        
[6:13] <Admin> The Autumn-Haired Man: Your group page B.A.M. is at 9500 wins.   I’m impressed.
[6:13] <Admin> The Autumn-Haired Man: Because of your great progress, I’m       moving the deadline to December 21st, 2012. The day the world’s supposed to    end. 
[6:14] <Admin> The Autumn-Haired Man: And it may just end for you that day.
[6:14] <Admin> The Autumn-Haired Man: 10,000 wins and you get the truth.
[6:14] <Admin> The Autumn-Haired Man: About Majestic and the nature of my       offer.
[6:14] <Admin> The Autumn-Haired Man: Good luck.
[6:14] Chatroom: <Admin> The Autumn-Haired Man is now offline.

Felix started honking his horn, so I quickly shot off the game and bolted downstairs. I took the necessary precautions to keep my house safe from burglars and hopped in my permanent place in the pickup as the passenger. As we drove to the Hangout, I got into a conversation with Felix:

“Would your brother let me borrow a revolver?” At this point I had become proficient with guns. I knew exactly how to operate them, especially those silver six-shooters.

“Yeah, he probably would. You got your license, right?”

“He made me apply the day I started working for him. What do you think?”

Felix smiled. “I’m getting used to the new boss. Just shut up and do your work,”

I laughed. “I prefer the gun range job, but hey, I wouldn’t give up the factory for the world. Too bad he had to clean it up… the abandoned cars gave the place some atmosphere, am I right?”

“Yup! I sort of want to spit about it right now!” Felix exclaimed.

“Alright, let’s go… oh wait. We’re pulling up to the Hangout,”

“Shucks… wait. The engine’s making a muffling sound,”

Just as the Hangout was in sight, the truck’s engine was starting to break down. Felix pulled to the side. “Looks like you’ll be going in alone… I’ll be done by the time you get the mic,” Felix said reassuringly. I nodded in reply. “See you then,” I said. I sprinted to the Hangout before Felix could respond.

The bouncer was standing outside the door. He was in a black muscle shirt, but the frigid November air made him shiver. “F-f-five thousand, r-r-right?” He asked me. I nodded. “M-M-Majestic’s expect-t-t-ting you,” He said. He opened the door, choosing to say as little as possible. I whispered “Thanks,” as I went into the Hangout.

I peeked into the club part of Majestic’s Hangout. During the July tournament, the room was almost overfilled. All sorts of dancing moves were going on, and I dread to think what happened in the bathrooms that night. I walked to the same room Majestic was in before, and knocked on the door.

“Come in,” I heard a voice-modified Majestic utter.

I opened the door. It was still pitch-black in there. “Forgive me for the circumstances. The mic’s in the back of the room, you’ve done a very good job V-Sense,” Majestic said. I thought I could hear a hint of sadness in his voice. There was so much about Majestic I wanted to learn, especially after listening to his demo tape. What happened? Why did he spend all of his time holed up in his Hangout? I just kept The Autumn-Haired Man’s offer in mind. Another idea was creeping in my mind, though.

And I’m sure you’re all thinking the same thing. What if Majestic is the Autumn-Haired Man? The thought pierced through my mind. He had the perfect alibi, he was also an Admin, and there was no way of knowing what he looked or sounded like in the present. To be honest, I’m still not sure on this theory. The video left some questions to be answered. Which I’ll find out the answers to tomorrow night.

I heard Majestic’s footsteps echo on the floor. “Shield your eyes,” He stated. I did, and I felt a light shine on me. “Look now!” Majestic called out in the sharp voice he had said “Spit!” in all those months ago. My eyes opened just as I heard a door in the back slam. I got to take a good look at the room Majestic stayed in. It was small, and the walls were blindingly white. The floor squeaked as I walked over it. I couldn’t see the door Majestic exited from; it must’ve been camouflaged with the rest of the room. I did see a rather long package in the back of the room. It was the only object in the room, other than a table, chair, and microphone Majestic must’ve spoken into to get his voice changed. I didn’t snoop around; I just took my package and left with a “Thanks!”

I saluted the shivering bouncer and made my way to the pickup truck. Felix was a man of his word; he was in the running truck, ready to drive out of the area. I carefully placed the microphone in the back of the truck, took my usual seat, and we drove off. The bouncer tried to wave goodbye, but his hands just stuttered around in the air instead.

December 16th, 2012Edit

I still haven’t unpacked the microphone. I want to wait until this whole business is over before focusing on my rap career. According to Felix, it works. He sent me a message the day he got his 5000th battle win.

[4:07] Lock Ness: I did it! I managed to hook up the beast to my computer, and the audio records smoothly. Can’t wait to start working on the mixtape V!
[4:07] V-Sense: yea man thats pretty cool but what about the win transfer
[4:08] Lock Ness: Oh yeah, that. I thought you’d be more interested in          recording though.                  
[4:08] V-Sense: i got some stuff i need to handle first and ill be busy over    the next few days                       
[4:08] V-Sense: it involves getting to 10000 wins
[4:09] Lock Ness: Alright man, it’ll take a few moments to get the wins         transferred. I won’t be able to contact you using the game any more after      this, so good luck with your stuff!                       
[4:09] V-Sense: thx bro u 2
[4:10] Chatroom: _B.A.M._ wins of user _Lock Ness_ being transferred to user    _V-Sense_.
[4:11] Chatroom: _Lock Ness_ account being frozen.
[4:12] Chatroom: Wins successfully transferred!

All at once, I gained five more pieces of the demo tape, and a locked music video. I’d have to listen to the rest of the tape before it became unlocked. The rest of the third rap was pretty good; it was about how Majestic was taking harder and harder drugs, and having a near-death experience, as the hook alluded to. The fourth rap was about Majestic falling on hard times: no money, no more friends, no job, his family almost abandoning him. I thought the material couldn’t get more depressing than that.

I was dead wrong.

The fifth rap was about… it’s 64 straight bars. Or it should be. The first part is pretty normal, but… there’s some static at the end. I’ll transcribe it for you:

“Before all these events, my life was pretty tame/Sure I was poor, but I learned my facts all the same/How to make the streets remember your name/How to avoid havin a shadow castin shame/But now Majestic is a synonym of invisible/My will is no longer indivisible/I used to make cheese, now all have taken nibbles/And my raps to them are now just meaningless scribbles/They don’t understand how hard I worked to make it work/Even after all those hard times I never would have shirked/But these labels have stabbed me in the middle with a dirk/Left me for dead with poor rappers in rural road’s dirt/Used to like clean things, now I have a dirty shirt/Used to like scraps, now my whole face is black and murked/These experiences I have rated some of my ever worst/I now wish in the rap game I had ever-lurked/Black is my spit, so I must have black lung/Coal in my breath, so I must have not sung/Since my trachea can barely keep up with my brain/I’m starting to think my vocals are become estranged/And I’m starting to think my life is very strange/I’m ending up someone’s target on a shooting range/My nervous system wants me to think I’m insane/My nervous energy wants me to take a gun and go *bang*/After being rejected my whole life has been a-stealed/By the very people who used to offer me meals/Now my only dairy will come from a big deal/They say time is the cure, but I’m not ready to heal/I don’t want to ever forgive or forget/I’ll flash in their face my quick-rich checks/Their pipes will be closed just like my neck/Every insult they ever made they will regret/”

That was the first part of the song. Halfway through the second part, the rap cuts off through static and… a familiar phrase appears.

“My name is Majestic so my flow must be sick/Got a poor mind that has an idea fixed/Instead of shootin balls and playin for the Knicks/I’ll be provin that not all of my kind are hicks/We’ll prove to the world we’re ready for redemption/We did a lot of things wrong, but we learned a lot of lessons/My father grew up in a time of segregation/And when he saw my raps, he saw some integration/Historically most empires have been white nations/But the American Empire’s a boiling sensation/I want in, and I’ll do it through a record deal/I’ll sell my soul to the Devil and the dollar bill/Make my hair dead and my skin even paler/Make into a zombie, change my eyes for a favor/Instead of the crisp, ocean-blue they’ve been/I want them to turn into a Hellfire red/”

The rest of the rap is static. Except at the very end, there are four lines coming from a familiar voice.

“I can offer you anything/Anything in the world/Just let me take over/And see how it all unfurls…furls…furls…furls…furls/”

Unfurls echoes for a while. I was afraid to see what the video will store, but I didn’t come that far for nothing. The video was now unlocked, and an arrow signifying “Play” needed to be pressed.

So I pressed it.

The music video itself isn’t a stroke of genius. Majestic is just sitting on a stool, rapping the lines in synchronization. I finally get to see some semblance of what he looks like. His hair is beach blond, his skin is pretty white, and his eyes… they’re the same blue that was in my dream, only without the red tint. The weird part is when the static beings. The video starts to flicker itself, and when it finally stops, I see none other than The Autumn-Haired Man staring at me. All he does with the static in the background is just… stare. And stare. And stare. The red eyes are being ingrained into my mind, and this time, most likely through an editing trick, I can see fire burning in his red eyes.

At some point in the static, The Autumn-Haired Man steps on the stool. The camera pans up to reveal a noose. It’s very reminiscent of Tyler, the Creator’s “Yonkers” music video, as The Autumn-Haired Man wraps the noose around him and is about to leap off the stool. More static until the last four lines are played. A body, or something that looks like a body, is swinging around the stool. It slows in momentum during the “unfurls” echo, and stops directly above the stool just as the song stops. The video then ends.

December 20th, 2012 (Present Day)Edit

The Autumn-Haired Man hasn’t messaged me since four days ago, but I know he’s waiting for me. Tomorrow I embark for Majestic’s Hangout. I have borrowed a revolver from Felix’s brother. It’s currently 6 P.M.; I’ll be walking to the Hangout in a few minutes. There’s no car for me to drive there, and I want to make sure I get there at midnight.

I just have to say thank you for listening to my story. Now it’s time to end it. Whether it’s me or The Autumn-Haired Man.

I’ll see you sooner or later, friend. Preferably sooner. And don’t let the end of the world scare you.

For me, it’s just going to be a new beginning. A new cycle. And as for you? I hope you have a new roadmap planned out too.

So long.

December 21st, 2012 (Judgment Day)Edit

If there was a clock around, it would have read 11:45 P.M. Vincent Osborn was staring at the doors of Majestic’s Hangout. 15 minutes until Judgment Day. Vincent tried pushing the front door of the Hangout open, and sure enough, they gave way. The Autumn-Haired Man was expecting this, after all.

The clock would have read 11:50 P.M. if Vincent could have seen it when he stared at the door that lead to Majestic’s solitary room. Before he pushed this final door open, he checked his revolver. Six bullets in the chamber. Vincent wasn’t a very religious man, but he said a silent prayer to himself to protect him against this Satan he was facing against. After all, he had given Majestic what he wanted… in a twisted sort of way.

There was no turning back. In the door would lie the truth behind the whole saga of events Vincent had uncovered in the past six months. Was he ready? Could he take another man’s life if it came to that? He had no idea. V-Sense would have to use some common sense in this encounter. And a bit of luck added to the mixture never hurt.

Enough procrastination. Vincent had no time to slowly open the door. He opened it with much more force than he did with the Hangout’s front doors. The room was completely empty this time, except for a hooded man turned around from Vincent. The hood was damaged on one of its sides: the same side as The Autumn-Haired Man’s hood. Vincent cocked his revolver and aimed.

But he didn’t fire, because he didn’t see hair the color of dead leaves. No, Vincent witnessed hair as white as snow. The hooded man turned around, and removed his hood. Ocean-blue eyes with a red tint stared at Vincent. This was no serial killer who took pleasure in sadism.

This was the current incarnation of Majestic.

He had many wrinkles, old before his time. Vincent couldn’t bring himself to shoot Majestic in his current state. He holstered the gun. Majestic smiled at this action. He then spoke:

“There’s not much time left. He’s going to come out in 5 minutes, and he won’t explain to you the rules,” Majestic stated stoically.

His voice was not as deep as Vincent remembered from the demo tape. Majestic’s voice had softened with premature age.

“The rap battle is going to be one literally to the death. You have 16 bars to say how you’re going to kill Autumn, and vice versa. But you have to say every minute detail, or when you try to squeeze a trigger or stab or whatever, you’ll be electrically shocked. It’s going to occur in the other room. Quickly, put this patch on, before he comes out,” Majestic explained. He handed Vincent a small patch.

Vincent wondered why he should go along with this sort of battle, but he shrugged it off and put the patch on his shoulder anyways. If this would prevent The Autumn-Haired Man from killing him right away, then so be it. Before embarking to the room, Vincent asked Majestic one question: “Am I going to kill you if I kill Autumn?”

Majestic gave a knowing smile. “Yes,” He replied.

That one ‘Yes’ startled Vincent. There was so much more he wanted to learn about Majestic! How The Autumn-Haired Man possessed him or got into him, why he stopped making music, what the offer was about! And now he wouldn’t know any of this. Vincent felt enraged at this turn of events. Would he be considered a murderer? Actually, that’d be another important question to ask.

“Am I going to be considered a murderer if I kill you?”

Majestic shook his head. “I wrote a suicide note in case this happened. I never specified the cause of death, just leave a few goodbyes. You’ll be fine. Now we have to get into the other room. There’s only a minute or so before he comes out!” Majestic said urgently.

Majestic ran to the room he had disappeared into a month earlier. He opened the door and ushered Vincent inside. Majestic flicked the light switch, and the room illuminated was just another blindingly-white room. This one was also completely empty.

“Goodbye, V-Sense. I really have to say, I like your rapping. Do me a favor and get famous if you live through this,” Majestic said. Vincent only nodded in reply. An enigma of a man stood in front of him, and he’d remain that way. Midnight. The end of the world approached. “I can’t keep him inside any longer… this it it. Goodbye…” Majestic said, knowing those words could be his last. Majestic took a deep sigh and allowed the red tint in his eye to take over. His winter hair turned into autumn, his skin turned into bones, and those red eyes: still in Vincent’s nightmares.

The Autumn-Haired Man cackled when he came out. “So, he told you how this was going to go down eh… I see you even put the patch on. Very well, I’ll entertain this idea before giving you my offer. The same offer I gave Majestic-”

“During that last rap,” Vincent interrupted.

The Autumn-Haired Man’s lips curled into a smile. “Very perceptive. Too bad that all has to end tonight!” He bellowed. His voice echoed throughout the white room. “So, are we going to leave this battle up to luck?”

“Yes,” The Autumn-Haired Man replied, drawing a coin. “Heads or tails?” “Heads,” Vincent said certainly.

The Autumn-Haired Man launched the coin into air. Every flip could mean life or death for either of them. Heads, tails, heads, tails. Vincent couldn’t bear to watch the flipping, so he shut his eyes. Life or death left up to Lady Luck. Time seemed to slow down in that room. Finally, Vincent heard the coin smack against The Autumn-Haired Man’s palm. The coin was then overturned to The Autumn-Haired Man’s forearm.

“Tails!” He rejoiced. Vincent opened his eyes, and sure enough, Lady Luck was playing against him tonight. “I’ll be going first!” The Autumn-Haired Man said giddily. Much like a challenger does in a rap battle, Vincent stared at his opponent with no expression. He wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of killing a frightened boy. He was going to kill a man tonight.

“Looking at my prey, don’t know where to start/Decide I’ll plunge it straight in his heart/Reach in the pocket, grab the knife/Switch it open to show him the ender of life/”

Sure enough, The Autumn-Haired Man reached into his pocket and grabbed his switchblade. When he opened it, Vincent was reminded of the same glint that was pointed to his throat six months ago. The Autumn-Haired Man had 12 bars left to kill. What would he say?

“Pace forwards, enough for him to be in arm’s reach/Grab his shoulder, make sure no escape while I preach/”

Vincent felt sharp pain when The Autumn-Haired Man grabbed his shoulder. It was familiar by now, but he couldn’t help but utter out a yelp of pain. The Autumn-Haired Man’s mouth formed into a wicked smile. He continued:

“Lift the switchblade with my arm high/Make my arm vertical, aimed at the sky/The blade will be aimed in my prey’s direction/Then I bring it down, at his body’s torso section/”

The knife was going down, but it hadn’t penetrated yet. Vincent saw his life flash before his eyes. He wasn’t aware how skillful The Autumn-Haired Man was at rap. He had 6 bars left to finish him. This time he wouldn’t close his eyes. Those red eyes would go with him to the grave, or at least, go with him until he was given the Autumn-Haired Man’s offer.

“The silver part penetrates his skin/My prey realizes he can no longer win/The whole knife goes in, no outward part/Its destination is V-Sense’s heart/Plunge it in, feel the blood leak out/Take it out, waiting for V-Sense to shout/”

Vincent did shout. He screamed when the knife went into him. When the knife came out, blood started to leak out of his chest. His vision started to get blurry. His knees buckled fell to the floor. The Autumn-Haired Man cackled at the turn of events. “So helpless… but I can save you if you take my offer. You don’t have much of a choice, now do you?”

“I can offer you anything, even to save your life… but you’ll end up just like Majestic. The choice is yours… but you only have a few minutes to think about it.” The Autumn-Haired Man stated.

Vincent became enraged. He was not going to end up like Majestic, and he was certainly not going to let this… man, demon, whatever The Autumn-Haired Man was, continue to stalk the Earth. A few minutes was all he needed. He gasped for some air, then managed to exhale some lines:

“Blood’s leakin, I’m feelin very sore/But no offer for me, I’ll just tie the score/My revolver’s hidden in my holster/Take it out so my threats will be bolstered/”

Vincent slowly took out his revolver. His vision was getting more blurry by the second. The Autumn-Haired Man just stood over him. If he could actually manage to rap sixteen bars under these conditions, he deserved a chance to shoot.

“Check the chamber, in it six bullets are loaded/Close it, plan how his life will be eroded/I’m gonna aim straight for his brain/Cause I wanna be sure to kill this man insane/Aiming at his brain, got my thumb on the hammer/Cock it back, gonna send him straight to life’s slammer/Index finger on the trigger, time to shoot/No time to waste so I straight execute/”

The bullet went through the air, but it wasn’t enough for Vincent. He still had 4 bars left. He spat some blood. There were no defined shapes anymore in his eyes, yet he still found a way to keep talking. Willpower was a great thing.

“Bullet’s flying through the air, makin Autumn scared/Goes through his forehead, he’s unable to repair/Cracks straight through the skull, next stop is the brain/Goes through gray matter and death on my hands I gain/”

The last sight Vincent saw was The Autumn-Haired Man’s inert body falling to the floor. He smiled. He had done it. When he closed his eyes for the final time, red eyes weren’t staring back at him. He stayed on the floor, waiting for Death’s call.

In the morning of December 21st, 2012, the police received a call from the bouncer of Majestic’s Hangout. The bouncer reported two dead bodies in the club. The police drove down to the club right away. One of the dead bodies had white hair, and was identified as the club owner. The other was identified as one Vincent Osborn. A suicide note was found at the scene as well, but the two killing themselves were dismissed when a bloodied switchblade knife was found near the older man’s corpse.

When Felix van Ness heard the news, he was devastated. He didn’t go to work that day, and grieved for his best friend. During his grieving, he received a phone call. The message given to him on the phone was:

“I can offer you anything. Anything in the world. Even to bring your dead friend back…”

Author's NoteEdit

Italics from the dates of June 15th, 2012 to December 20th, 2012 are used for thoughts, rapping, onomatopoeia, and Vincent’s interactions with the reader of the pasta. This is why certain italicized parts are in the present tense, or have Vincent’s thoughts in the “present time” of December 20th, 2012.

When rapping, each different line is denoted with a “/”. That’s why the rapping parts of the story are structured as they are.

A box is used for the chatroom parts of the story to simulate an actual chatroom transcript. They are also used to differentiate the conversations online from the real world parts of the story.

On December 21st, 2012, the point of view switches from 1st person to 3rd person because Vincent has left the reader of the pasta to face The Autumn-Haired Man on his own. He is no longer telling the story at this point. Italics are used on December 21st, 2012, to show the aftermath of the confrontation between Vincent and The Autumn-Haired Man, as well as to differentiate rapping parts of the story from the regular parts.

If there’s any typos I may have overlooked, please tell me in the comments below so I can fix them. I usually write with sentence fragments, so please don’t tell me to correct any of those, unless they seem like an actual grammatical error and not just a creative stylization.

Thank you for reading! I hope it was an enjoyable experience for you guys. Written by: Sater (Sater14523)

Special thanks: SSMFM, MoistTowelette27, and the rest of SLAC (you know who you are) for reading the pasta and helping me to upload it to the SOG Wiki.

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