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The Batter is one sexy motherfucker.

You’re not even sure why. His existence is provisional and his sole purpose is to purify the world and every being that resides in it, no matter how strong or weak the soul. Despite this, he’s the most stunning man you’ve ever laid eyes on.

You think this is highly unfair.

Not only this, he’s got these… quirks, let’s say, that make him all the more intriguing to you. These little things that you know no person outside of this pit of smoke and despair could ever possess. Like his eyes. And the fact they’re always closed. Always.

Except for one time. When you asked, of course.

It’s obvious he isn’t blind (you think). He can read just as easily as you can but that’s really the only argument you have. You control where his dainty feet take him and you won’t lie and say the thought of The Batter aimlessly bumping into walls doesn’t make you concerned as much as it makes you giggle.

Being the ever curious cat you are, you test this out. His reading knowledge is strict to the script of the game but you think since you were teleported into this off-colour hell dimension, you can dick around all you want. Next to the little note on the front desk at the entrance of Zone Three is a pen. You take the pen and pluck the poster full of stamp marks from The Batter’s back pocket and jot down a random sentence and proceed to hold the paper in front of him. You ask him what it says.

There’s a moment of silence before “...It has numbers on it.”

Well, yes… But what else?

There’s a very slight twitch between his eyebrows. He looks a smidge more irritated than before but you could be imagining things. You wouldn’t be surprised if you were higher than a fucking kite with all the burning chemicals. That would explain more than the plot would.

“There is nothing else on the paper.”

Open your eyes.

“... Are they closed?”

Oh. How odd. You tuck the paper in the hem of your pants and hover your thumbs over his eyelids. You’re already unnerved because there’s no spherical bump under them. You lift your thumbs up and yeah, his eye sockets are definitely empty. Your thumb drifts slightly and your nail hooks into the dark pit and the sensation of baby spiders crawls up your spine to your nape. You pull away and rest back on the balls of your feet.

You don’t have eyes.

The conversation seems to end there because he doesn’t reply. Being honest, you don’t think there is much to add.

A few steps later, you’re handing over lightly coloured pieces of thin rubber to Zacharie, who slides over a wad of shiny tickets and meat in return. You’re still unable to fully comprehend where they fuck they go when your hand touches the items.

“You have taken those from me.” The Batter interrupts the air of comfortable silence. Two heads swivel to The Batter’s direction, where he is staring at a jar filled with eyeballs.

“You are mistaken, friend. Not once have I stooped to thieving my customers, much less loyal ones such as you and Player.”

There’s an air of irritation that emits from The Batter and you flash a weird smile at Zacharie before saying your thanks and marionetting your handsome sporty doll right out of there.  

It’s not until you are on the train to Area 2 that you realise The Batter had made a joke.


Your next realisation happens on a train, coincidentally enough. Zacharie is with you, facing the opposite side as The Batter paces between. You’re trying hard not to stare at Zacharie but it’s hard not to when this is the first time you’ve seen him sitting. Or just... Doing something other than taking your money a little too fast.

He’s chubby but not the out of fit chubby. There’s a term for that, right? Maybe it’s just his two shirts covering up some of his tubbiness. His hair is awry and you really want to pat it down. The more you stare at the mop of dark hair the more you wonder, out of all the incredibly insane objects there are in this world, if a comb is really out of the question. Then you starting wondering about their collective knowledge of this world and everything out of it. What exactly is this world? You know it was created as a game but you let yourself try to build backstory for this paradise of woe.

You’re aware you’re staring intensely at the cowlicks of Zacharie’s hair when your attention is forced otherwhere. It’s Zacharie’s arm, his hand, itching at his belly, up and down up and down. You almost chortle at how dementedly habitual the action is until you see a sliver of dark skin and oh yes, that is definitely a happy trail. Word of God said Zacharie, along with two others, is human and, well… If that doesn’t prove he’s adequately anthropomorphic, you don’t know what will.

Which leads you to your next train of thought (haha because you’re on a train). The Batter isn’t human. You know this and you’re sure Mr Kitty Face Happy Trail across from you knows, possibly the towering pious man himself knows. The Batter doesn’t have human parts, right? Does he even have organs? You’ve never heard anything from his stomach and nothing has ever exited when given large chunks of raw meat (that should’ve been your first clue right there). He should have no reason to reproduce, either. You frown as you find yourself wanting to get in his pants and not in the fun way.

Batter.

To say your ego inflates like a balloon is nothing short of the truth when The Batter ceases his pacing and presents himself.

Come here.

He does so and with your esteem still guiding you, you grab a fist of The Batter’s shirt and yank up from where it’s tucked into his pants. From the back of your mind, you think you hear a soft inhale that belongs to neither of you.

It’s an expanse of smooth porcelain ‘skin’ with, you guessed right, no belly button to be seen. Your curiosity goes further, like your hand with his shirt. No nipples, either. His lips are pursed as your eyes scale down. Happy trail negative though he does have an outstanding V.

You tuck his shirt back in carelessly and watch from the corner of your eye as he stuffs it back correctly. You think it’s funny how -

Attention. Attention.

Obstacle detected.

Vehicle is unable to move forward.

Strings are pulled faster than Zacharie can fully get his dialogue out. Both of you know each step to this game better than you know yourselves, which is why there’s no guilt to be found when your fingers twitch over the attack button to end Critic Burnt’s misery.

When you aboard the monorail again you think Zacharie looks sweatier than usual. 


 

Gross.

An Elsen’s head explodes, black goop violently spurting from its neck and splashing the walls, ceiling, and you and your puppet. You look at your hand in disgust as the other mindlessly dances over Batter’s controls. The Elsen slumps to the floor within a seconds and you frown at The Batter’s outfit. It’s a shame Zacharie doesn’t sell pants.

Against your better judgement, you raise a hand caked in blood and black goop and lick it. It’s… not what you were expecting. It’s all very very sweet. Smokey. Like you hovered a gumdrop over a flame. It has the texture of avocado, maybe thicker. It’s weird. You sort of want to keep licking it, despite the underlying taste of metal and the fact it just came from a dead body. It wouldn’t be the weirdest thing that happened here… Now you understand why the Elsen are so hyped on it. Can’t blame them.


Secretaries are horrifying. You can’t deny this.

The Batter is tall. Far above average for any human. The Secretaries are like slow walking skyscrapers. Their screams are horrible and make your bones jitter beneath your skin, the hair on your body to crawl.

You’ve had the unfortunate pleasure of touching one.

It was by pure accident. You were walking alongside The Batter, footsteps pat pat-ing quietly along the tracks to Alma. There were a few chests you missed back, knowing you were in this run to collect the Grand items and not wanting to skip over anything. You pivoted on your heel to run smack into the stubby leg of a diabolical spirit.

You nearly broke your neck craning your head to look at them and almost succeeded breaking your ankles stumbling away. It screamed and you cringed. It was useless, you know nothing can harm you in this game because you’re not an official part of it, but that won’t stop your eardrums from bleeding.

The Batter’s health drops and you make haste to defeat the giant demon baby. Its body crumbles to the ground like an avalanche, chipping on monorail tracks and plunking into the ocean of plastic.

As your unsteady legs carry you forwards, you wonder, thinking back to the firm but dusty texture of its body, if you had killed every Elsen here, would Secretaries exist? Over time, are the residents of OFF never truly free from their growing sins?

You guess not.


The Queen is the epitome of strange beauty, you think. Her face is skeletal but flat, like a mannequin. All of her features look drawn on with delicate marker and you wonder how her voice works without a working mouth. Her voice surrounds your ears as much as it echoes inside your head. You can’t escape her voice but you’re not sure if you’d want to. This is how you imagine sirens sound. Hauntingly beautiful.

(Her tentacle hands worry you a little, though.)

When The Batter wails on her midsection, her delicate white dress shreds and you can’t help but stare at what’s been exposed. They look like teeth, large monstrous teeth that gently move like they’re breathing.

Faint whispers crawl along the ceiling and pour from her torso, reminding you how you’re constantly within the Nothingness. Everything is the Nothingness. The same whispers are heard from the inside of The Batter’s eyes if you listen with intent. You wonder if this is why Zacharie is always shaking, even if he’s fine. Or why the dead Elsen clump together and form menacingly lost spirits.

You think you would go mad if you were surrounded by them, too.


Hugo is sick and nothing can cure that.

 

You do not feel bad.


The Batter has an important mission.

Be sure that it’s accomplished.

We will let you off in zone 0.

Good luck.

 

Who is we?


The ending is trivial at this point in time. It doesn’t matter if you betray him or kill the animal. Either way, you have a steady grip on the Ashley bat you tote on your shoulder. It’s heavy and creates a kink in your neck.

You wonder if you can make your own ending.

You wonder if-

Whack!

Two beings look in your direction.

“What are you-”

Whack!

“Stop th-”

Whack!

“Please don’t-”

Whack!

A chill runs up your arm. His hand tries to stop you.

Whack!

You can touch him but The Batter cannot touch you.

Whack!

You’re not sure who’s the least tangible; puppet or puppeteer.

Whack!

Does it matter? You are in control. The thrill that claws at your spine is exhilarating.

Whack!

This. This is the ending you’ve made. This is what you’ve strived for, even if you didn’t know your goal until now.

The wall is cracked where you busted in the switch. You turn and see a lone feline gazing at you objectively. You place the indestructible bat on the floor and walk forward, taking Pablo in your arms. You set out to find a man with a toad mask and wings that will take you past the grey rainbow.

“Your faith guided you

to the wrong

god."