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No noise would cross Cyber City’s streets.

 

Not ever again.

 

Sidewalks where countless passerby, people watchers and advertisers once stood tall as skyscrapers were now as desolate as old bones. People were no longer walking, they had long since given up on the idea of ever walking again. No one in their right mind would dare venture outside barricaded shelters. Not after the calamity, not after the roaring.

 

An entire world’s fate was set in stone.

 

There would no longer be the obnoxious hustle and bustle of traffic. Never again would a bright advertisement blare. There would no more be a constant hum of chatter in the air or a cacophony of people’s conversation. All of that was now gone, leaving only the silence, the silence of their city. The silence was something the few dozen stragglers didn’t know how to cope with. Their world was gone, broken into unsalvageable pieces, and they were now alone.

 

Among those stragglers was the perpetrator himself. And god, what a sorry state he was in.

 

As he weakly limped down what felt like a marathon’s long hike through the twists and turns of the alleyway, the place he’d made makeshift residence no longer felt like a thrown-together living space. The loose blue bricks hanging out of the encompassing buildings that he’d spent memorizing the patterns of now felt antagonizing, as if they were eagerly anticipating him to trip. Forcing labored steps, each one heavier than the last, he heaved his way to his garbage can, it’s shutters now making it resemble an open, patiently awaiting coffin. With trembling legs, he climbed the height of it and positioned himself snug between all the scraps and rubber. He breathed in the unpleasant scenery, but not even the familiarity of the filth he'd come to surround himself in could offer him any condolences.

 

Still, it’s not like beggars could be choosers. If he were to spend his last moments anywhere, to sit with his own tumultuous thoughts until the world caved in, it would be here.

 

He shut the lid.

 

There he sat for hours. Days. Minutes. Years. Without the constant stream of information, time fused together in a web of vagueness, an unknowable shroud on the mind. No sun. No moon. No stars. It was as if it had been ripped off with a single slash. His thoughts were plagued from his mind, if only because the sheer pressing guilt rendered any thinking useless and a selfish act, for him to be able to picture things differently, casting aside the pain he’d put others through. 

 

All he could do now was close his eyes, and wait for what he knew would eventually come.

 

From outside the garbage can’s cavernous steel walls, though, he heard something. Something from a distance, ever nearing. A soft off-kilter melody. A sound that came and went with it, always changing. Always just at the edge of his hearing. A melody so distant it was nearly gone entirely before reaching him again.

 

Then, the source of the noise opened the hatch to his enclosure. But as he went to shield himself from the likely possibility of attack, his body stopped him dead in his tracks. He couldn’t move. No matter how much he willed himself, the simple task of movement, something that's never been too difficult for him, was nigh impossible. All he could do was stare up, hypnotized. His vision blurred, then cleared just enough for him to see…

 

…no…it couldn't be.

 

…Could it…?

 

Without the ability for him to object, the loud mouthed jester halfheartedly ambled his way down through all the garbage to sit with him. Him, of all people. He expected him to run, or put him out of his endless cycle, or just avoid him at all costs, but…

 

“STOP! STOP!!! STOP!!! [Remove yourself from the premises] I CANT HAVE YOU DO THIS TO ME!!! I’M GOING [hurt you and your family] IF YOU DON’T [hit the bricks]! JUST GO!!! GO!!!”

 

Spamton was in awe that he was able to speak in such a run-down state, nonetheless scream something coherent. Half so. Something that wasn’t a stream of bawls and whimpers.

 

The gloomy-faced entertainer didn’t budge, not even at Spamton’s most fervent warnings.

 

“I ain’t movin, Spams.”

 

“BUT I’M [dangeris]!!! I-I’M [dangeris]!!! [CALL 911 NOW!] I DON’T KNOW WHAT [to expect next!] THIS IS FOR YOUR OWN [Public Safety Announcement]!” Spamton objected, the only movement coursing through his spiritless body being the chattering of his teeth, out of sync with his words.

 

For reasons that Spamton could never truly understand, Jevil wouldn’t budge. Hadn’t he heard the news? Hadn’t he seen his bespectacled face plastered on damn near every big screen in the city, with a bounty no one had the gall to try collecting trembling underneath his profile? He was a wanted man, a criminal, more so than he ever was before. Dozens of gallons of lives were uprooted, destroyed, and done away with all because he had to listen to that voice. The voice, the one that rang out in his head like a sonar, demanding he press forward, violently spitting out his protest. And even though he was far from its origin point, it still echoed in his mind. Breathing. Clawing. It’s ghost was still there.

 

Jevil didn’t respond with words, but with a gesture. He dug in his pants pockets, fishing out something or other. Maybe, just maybe, for something to finish him off. Maybe he was just acting, putting up a facade of kindness to allow Spamton a brief respite before he got what was coming to him. Fully expecting for his final string to be cut any minute now, Spamton braced for impact.

 

But no such thing came.

 

In the place of a final crushing blow, Spamton opened a once squinted-shut eye to see Jevil’s mittened hand in front of him, a plate of lukewarm Spaghetti Code in one glove, and a half-cracked mug of tea in the other. Jevil cocked his head to the side, a nonverbal go ahead. “Can ya eat this stuff on your own, pal?”

 

Spamton pondered the question before muffling an embarrassed “NO.” in between the inner walls of his coat, that battered and beaten thing.

 

Jevil exhaled, placing down the mug and fetching a fork from inside the same pocket. He twirled it around the spaghetti, then raised it up inches away from Spamton’s maw. It took a minute for Spamton to process just what Jevil was trying to do, but when he caught on, he didn't have anything else to do but go for the bite. The whole exchange was surprisingly earnest, as awkward and tense as the air around it was. Jevil fed Spamton the scraps of entangled sauce the same way a caretaker would spoon feed a bedridden loved one hot tomato soup. Tears welled behind lenses of pink and yellow. Spamton couldn’t recall for the life of him the last thing he ate for a purpose other than proceeding in battle. To eat for any other reason other than simply staying conscious felt alien to him. Now that he was, it was like reigniting a repressed memory, but not one that stemmed from trauma, quite the inverse. A memory pushed down by the hell of the world pushed upon him.

 

As soon as he finished eating, the honeyed smell of tea graced Spamton’s nostrils. Jevil needed no further input aside from a nod from the puppet to adjust Spamton’s head in a way where he could - as safely as possible - drink the stuff. That same sense of warmness fell over Spamton again. Even if it was mere leftovers, it felt undeniably good to just get something in his system for once.

 

“Hope ya didn’t mind that too much.” Jevil forced a grin. “I just couldn’t, couldn’t bear to waste all that.”

 

“NO.” Spamton metaphorically jumped onto the defensive. “IT WAS [5 Star Cafe]. IT REALLY WAS [It should've been me getting torn to shreds back there]! ! BUT. I MUST [free survey! Click now]. WHY. WHY ARE YOJ HERE? [ONE WAY OR ANOTHER] Yo ULl be a [DEAD DOG]!”

 

Even Jevil himself seemed a little unsure of what business he had here, sharing a waste disposal with a manipulated puppet.

 

“Welp. What else is a clown like me supposed to do? The kid let me go, go. Out of pocket! Cast me to the side! They must’ve gotten really desperate to let me be the one that got away, what do you say?”

 

“WHY [turn on location]? H ERE?”

 

“Again, old friend…! It’s not like I’ve got nothing better to do. You’re the only one left! The only one left I care about, I’ll say.”

 

It was hard for Jevil to maintain eye contact with Spamton. His morbidly curious pupils kept trailing off to the salesman’s chest, an almost comically large heart-shaped entry hole shattering through his shirt, creating a direct window to his non-organic inner workings. A haunting, permanent remnant of the heartbreaker attack he’d been forced to carry out on many an unexpecting civilian.

 

Every time Spamton was coerced into performing the unnatural outburst of concentrated brutality, he felt an aspect of himself die. The amount of times he saw that fake, wide-mouthed soul burst out of his chest and sink its fangs into some stranger must’ve been in the dozens. If not the hundreds. The way his body would twist into something barely resembling him, how his form would become undefined and vague, feeling his internal mechanisms be choked like a vice grip. It only lasted a few seconds, thankfully. But he’d done it so many times by now that the pain still stung, as fresh as it was in the moment.

 

By the time he reached his old advertising buddy, fully aware of what he was to do, he was half the person he used to be.

 

By the time he reached the top of the mansion, he could barely be called a living being. What he was doing, what he was made to do…you couldn’t call that living.

 

It was a miracle Spamton was still speaking. 

 

Jevil couldn’t help but wince, lowering his body to get a good look at the damage. “…Mighty word. Not lookin’ too hot there. Does that-“

 

“[HURT PEOPLE]? NOT AT ALL. [AN EYESORE]? I’LL BE! [GOD]! [GOD]! IT HURTS SO [[19.99]]!” The words coming out of Spamton sounded as painful as he looked.

 

“Comrade, do I have a release to talk about this whole debacle with you, you? Not to make light in the dark, but there’s something I aughta get off my chest.”

 

“SURE! [Everyone else is dead]”

 

The distraught jester took a deep breath before diving in. “...Spams. The whole time you were being played like a fiddle, I witnessed it all from inside that cloth. The whole thing! And to be a monkey's uncle…I feel…just. Plain awful about being able to do anything. I wanted…so badly to stop them for ya. To say to you, be free! Be free! But there I was. Locked away as usual. H-heh. Funny, ain’t it? …Nah. Where’s the joke in that…?”

 

Hearing this, Spamton’s eyes turned to static, an overcast shadow hanging upon his face. Jevil looked on, guilt clinging to him like a bad aftertaste. He slid a thumb across the poor little puppet’s shoulder, running circles around it. “I-I’m real sorry, Spams…” He said with a twinge of a voice crack. “I shoulda done somethin’. I’m so, so sorry.”

 

“No. I’m the one that should be apologizing.” Spamton stated in a near authoritarian tone.

 

Jevil’s expression hardened.

 

Spamton continued, never once sounding unsure, “I should’ve stood my ground, and I should’ve known where to draw the line, but I didn’t. And now look where it got me. Why can’t I just learn my lesson…? It’s all my fault, Jevil. It’s all my fault.”

 

Compulsively, Jevil tightened his hand. “HEY! NO! No! No it was NOT!” He emphasized. “You had no other choice, choice! You had no say in the matter! But that’s not a shopping cart you should have to bear! That THING told you to do that! That beating tone in someone else’s brain! You were being told to do that! Ordered! Ordered! I saw how wide eyed and terrified you were back down and up there!”

 

Jevil’s paws moved to Spamton’s face, thumbs grazing his cheeks. His cries of static melted into Jevil’s gloves as the clown around town made desperate attempts to quell the other plaything’s tears. He locked him in the eyes, gazing back at him, heartbroken.

 

“It’s not your fault, Spams - No, no, no. That it is not.” Jevil’s tone bordered on pleading. “Y-you deserved so, so much more than the dirty hand life dealt you. And you’re not weak for that. Far from it. And if there’s anything I can do to help another fellow playmate out…just…let me know. Ok?”

 

“…Jevil? Can you…hold me?”

 

“Hold ya?”

 

“Yes, like-“ Spamton paused to catch his breath. “Like real gentle.”

 

That, of course, was something Jevil had no gripes with, being someone who felt like he was also due for a hug or two. “Heh. No harm, no fowl.” With that, Spamton found his limp, useless form snuggled sweetly between the clown’s embrace. “How’s this for ya?”

 

A hug that didn’t end in the other party’s fatal death didn’t seem real to Spamton, and yet, there he was. Unlike his encounter with the Addison, no one was holding a metaphorical knife up to his head, waiting for the one giving him the affection he needed to let their guard down. It was just the two of them, and that voice seemed like a distant memory. 

 

At the rock bottom stage he was in right now, Spamton would accept any up-front positive reinforcements from just about anyone, no less the clown he’d previously detested, but the generous exchange made him feel something he didn’t foresee.

 

He felt protected .

 

It was hard to deny just how warm and comfortable Jevil felt. It was like hugging a childhood toy that you'd lost long ago, only to find it stuffed between your bed frame as an adult. It felt strange, the way Jevil’s body seemed to melt into his and the way Jevil’s arms wrapped around him tightly in return. Like Jevil bore no ill will to Spamton, not even after he’d been kicked to the curb, not even as he was slathered in the remains of those he never intended to hurt. It felt like nothing could hurt him anymore, that he was safe. Not just that he was safe, but that it was a guarantee. That he was truly, undoubtedly safe, and that it’d be a good, long time before someone would try to control him against his will again. Even if it was foolish to think that, it was hard not to feel that, 

 

“Th…this….this feels nice.”

 

“It’s what you deserve, Spamslice. Only the best. Only the best.”

 

“…I do? Even after all that happened?”

 

“You weren’t the cause, silly. You were only the pawn.”

 

As he looked down on the pitiful doll, Jevil noted how at this state, Spamton’s eyes were back to normal, the color having flooded back to them. And as expected, he in turn returned back to his regular, glitched-out self. All Jevil could think to do was smile.

 

But then, something gleamed out of the corner of Jevil’s perception of the trash can’s internal workings. Shifting Spamton over to one side, he retrieved the piece of paper, turning it to view it as intended.

 

It was a bold drawing, albeit done in crayons and tellingly rushed. A fuschia, armored figure stood front in center. A sky of blue encompassed them, with clouds of white and a yellow, smiling sun shining upon them. Wings of purple and pink sprouted from out of their back, and their hair was styled neatly and carefully. The figure, wearing black leggings, white boots, and a cannon for a hand, was posed happily flying in the heavens. Even through the crudeness of the drawing, Jevil could tell the figure was overjoyed, smiling and laughing. And most interesting of all, they looked uncannily similar to Spamton.

 

“WOAH! THAT’S [What they took from me!]”

 

“Come again?”

 

“THAT’S….MY [Perfect Form]. I’VE ALWAYS [Hyperlink Blocked] THE ONE I GOT ASSIGNED. I WANTED TO [Nows your chance] MY OLD ONE AND [In with the new] FOR MYSELF A NEW, PERFECT BODY! ONE WHERE I COULD [cheat life] AND [BIG prizes!] THAtS MY DREAM, JOKEBOY! TO BE [Angel] AND…A-AND [liftoff] TO THE SKIES!”

 

Spamton’s brief fit of frantic excitement soon faded to acceptance. 

 

“But…my keys…without them, i-it’s…just a dream. It’s all it’ll ever be. Besides, I know I’m not getting into heaven. Not with what I’ve done.”

 

Jevil had only just now been made aware of this ‘dream’ of Spamton’s. He’d always known of his aspirations to gain back the fame that’d slipped away from him before. How he longed to be famous once more. All those nights spent toiling over shareholders pulling out at the last minute. But never had he heard the salesman talk at length about anything identity related, about his ultimate goal, the goal of a new life. A life of his own.

 

He just wished he’d talk to him about it sooner.

 

Jevil would be lying through his teeth if he were to say he wasn’t all for helping the vendor achieve his dreams, for him to be happy and free of the peer pressure - there was nothing fun about a playmate without any energy to play, right? He’d love to help him. By any means necessary. But Jevil had a nagging feeling in the back of his mind that this world would not last much longer. That eventually, the player would get bored of being trapped by themselves in a single room, and go back and reset everything. Jevil wanted to see Spamton heal from this, to recover from all the unfathomable amounts of trauma unleashed on him in the span of a mere 24 hour time slot, the trauma that he was still, in the present, unknowing of how to cope with. But they were already on borrowed time. Simultaneously, Jevil couldn’t just leave Spamton like this, a hopeless man praying for some change to come. He had to make sure his last moments in this file were the best he could possibly make them. Especially after having to endure such an onslaught.

 

Then, Jevil got an idea.

 

He instructed Spamton to close his eyes. “I’ve got a surprise in store!” He told him, and Spamton, per usual, followed without question. Fearing the ever present possibility of a reset, he quickly snuck out of their communal garbage can, as Spamton sat there, listening in on his sounds of rustling from a few paces away.

 

Jevil’s head popped into view, and as he descended down lumps of paper, Spamton heard the distinct noise of something unzipping. For a moment, he went back on his promise, opening one eye just a peep, before promptly being reminded of the rules by Jevil. He felt something brush up against his back, before feeling a finger underneath his chin, followed by a crackly, unstable-sounding, “Okay! Open up now!”

 

In front of Spamton was Jevil, a caring look bestowed upon him, presenting Spamton a small, pink mirror, it’s glass cracked and fragmented. At the sight of his visage, Spamton let out a gasp.

 

Spamton’s face was covered in splatters and other residue that could only be attributed to the aftermath of a brawl. He was littered in scratches, chipped in some places. His paint job, his once rosy, shiny cheeks, morphed into faded stains. His permanent black hair dye was ever so slighlty bleeding out, and strands of the white emerged from his scalp. The stitches prying his prized hand-me-down jacket together were holding on for dear life. It looked as if the seams would rip apart if he so much as twitched. The remnants of lives lost trailed down his shirt, staining the length of his once pristine white boots.

 

He was just a bit more than a little worse for wear.

 

But in opposition to it all, all the visual indicators that would be signifying otherwise - in all the endless tragedy, this was a thing of beauty.

 

For the focal point of Spamton’s broken grin wasn’t the foreground, but what stood behind his crooked shape.

 

Affixed to his shoulders was a backpack, the school supplies removed and discarded. All were useless save for a single container of glue, used to attach frayed cardboard structures on both left and right sides of the bag. The things were coated in hurriedly applied spray paint, in shades of purple, green, yellow and pink, not even close to covering the entire surface area. Though unrefined, Spamton could instantly gauge what the outline of them was supposed to be: wings. The wings of an angel. The hole in his chest was covered up by Jevil’s capelet, tied around his chest - Jevil doubted it’d do anything to suppress any physical pain on Spamton’s end, but at the very least the puppet wouldn’t be able to obsess over the miserable injury in the limited time period they were granted. That was the last thing he needed.

 

Spamton felt his throat trembling, going in and out of closing up.

 

“I’M…..[ANGEL]....!”

 

Spamton was so overcome with euphoria, a feeling he’d never thought he’d know again. The sheer revitalized energy coursing through him broke through his stasis, forcing his arms forward. He anticipated the rest of his limbs to follow, but no such miracle happened, leaving his arms outstretched, hands open, as if pressing up against glass. The restriction didn’t seem to have any bearing on the fit of bliss he’d found himself in, as he just laughed and laughed, but not from a place of instability - for once it was a genuine laugh, like his old, younger self was emerging from the cage his current form served as. It felt… good. It was wonderful, liberating even, as he felt himself being pulled back into himself. His consciousness seemed to come more fully to life, the pain from earlier ebbing away, replaced by that of a sense of well being he hadn’t realized existed until then. Even if the improvised wings were cobbled together and being held up by school glue, Spamton knew this was the closest he’d be to achieving his ultimate dream. And even if he was still slumped over, laughing in garbage, back where he always was, he was still happy. For the first time in days, years, he was truly happy.

 

It crushed Jevil, knowing this surely spelled the end, and that this would be among the last joys Spamton would experience.

 

“YOU [Dreams come true] ME!!! JEVIL! I’M A REAL BOY, NOW!” Spamton shouted, his hands flapping back and forth. Every word stirred an immense shake from him. “I’M [A real boy]! I’M [REAL BOY]! I’M [ salesman 1997!] I’M PERFECT! I LOOK LIKE [FLAMING GARBAGE]!!!! THIS IS THE BEST [12 nanoseconds] OF MY LIFE! I WANNA STAY LIKE THIS FOREVER! FOREVER!!!”

 

Jevil watched on. His intuition that their time was running out only grew stronger. Any second now, their world would run out of fuel, and he’d have to part with the old doll. He didn’t want to. Not now. Not ever. But it was just a fact of life, that he didn’t really have any control over this. The knowledge was his alone to carry. So Jevil gathered his convictions and slumped down, sitting beside the ecstatic salesman, his face distorted into a half scowl, half smirk. He pet Spamton’s scraggly, unwashed hair, only making the eccentric puppet giggle more. Jevil sniffled, struggling to compose even the simplest of phrases. “I-is..it everything you wanted…?” He asked, knowing the answer he’d get. He was right on the mark, as Spamton burst out into a “YES! YES, OH MY [%$#@!] THIS IS PERFECT!!! I’VE NEVER LOOKED MORE [gorgis]! THANK YOU JEVIL! FOR [donating the proceeds to] A [TOOL] LIKE ME!!!”

 

Jevil returned his hand in Spamton’s open palm, squeezing the puppet’s jointed, unmoving fingers. “Good, good. I couldn’t imagine what I’d do if…”

 

“[if] WHAT? [Spit it out buster]”

 

“Nothing. Nothing. N-nevermind.”

 

“OH. OKAY!!! I[decline purchase]!!”

 

The cold breeze that’d been ever so slightly trailing it’s way in and out of the city suddenly stopped, dead in its tracks. Water stopped dripping out of leaky ceilings, suspended in midair. The rest of the world began to crawl to a halt. Even the people on the street were frozen in place. For everyone but Jevil. Jevil, and Spamton.

 

This was it.

 

Jevil’s clown makeup began dripping down his soft, plush cheeks. “H-hey, Spams.” He sputtered, trying to suppress his sorrows and failing. “...for no reason ‘n’ particular...is there, by chance, a-any more quality of life improvements I could extend to you, in these trying times…?”

 

Jevil didn’t need to look over the walls of waste to know that outside the confines of the trash can, little white molecules would start to appear, ushering in their final fate.

 

Spamton answered urgently, like he somehow was privy to what was going on. “CAN YOU MAKE ME GO [up, up and away], [Blue Fairy]? I WANT TO [Sea world]”

 

Without any need for a fourth sentence out of the chattering toy’s mouth, Jevil swept him up, tucking loose strands of hair back, neat as could be. “Well! Up, up you go!” Jevil cheered, raising Spamton high above the lid of the trash can. Back and forth he went, making Spamton “fly”, all the while trampling over a cluttered mass of garbage. Spamton’s arms were stuck out firmly on his sides, like a bird spreading its wings, his “wings” themselves flapping inorganically. Feeling a subtle breeze coarse through him, Spamton closed his eyes, imagining this scene playing out in more desirable circumstances: he pictured himself, a real boy, with the well-groomed shiny hairdo he’d always wanted, tall enough to make his detractors eat their words, with a shiny body like a new corvette, not bound by any strings or masters, soaring effortlessly through hues of baby blues and diving into puffy clouds headfirst. As he dipped into each one, he bore no fear, no furrowed brows or tears in his eyes. He felt loose, carefree, as birds soared next to him, as he spun in circles, laughing all the way.

 

He was brought back to Earth as Jevil’s pace gradually slowed. Out of breath, the prankster lowered the dumpster angel, bringing his snickering face into clear view. Spamton’s black pupils were now giant in his lenses, transfixed on the one who made his greatest wish come true, the only one left willing to give him a chance. Though before he was pulled down, he saw something: those blocks of white, appearing slowly but surely every which way.

 

“JEVIL!!?! [Did you know] SEE THAT?! IT’S [true]!” Panted Spamton.

 

“HEAVEN [chose us]! W-WE’LL BE [okey dokey boss]!”

 

However deep into his own fantasy Spamton was, Jevil couldn’t deny it was a better way of looking at the situation than his grim alternative. He knew this was the world’s last straw, and that heaven had surely averted its gaze from them long ago. But gazing into Spamton’s adoring eyes, it was no longer possible for Jevil to attempt to ground him, for him to rip this away from the poor little puppet. To give him doubt after such a long life of misfortune. To tell him the dark truth, that this would be the last conversation they would be having, and that there was no afterlife for either of them, that they were staying right here, always and forever…it only would be cruel.

 

So, Jevil decided to let Spamton live his last instances in this save in ignorance. It would be for the best.

 

“Y-yeah, Spamsy..! That’s just it! We are…we’re getting into heaven! Side by side! Hand in hand!”

 

It felt wrong, lying to him. But Jevil stuck to his approach, making Spamton all the more at ease.

 

The eradication of their world only furthered. By this time, only half of the Queen’s giant mansion remained, and the infection was starting to close in on the surrounding city.

 

“[Look at the clown]…DO YOU THINK….THEY HAVE [Suburban residential areas] IN [Hevin?]”

 

Spamton asked this with complete sincerity.

 

Jevil swaddled him closer, loyally tagging along with every word he spoke. “I do, old pal. I-I think they do. And lots of ‘em at that!”

 

Spamton’s real, true self broke through his stiffened shell momentarily, allowing for him to gently lay a hand onto Jevil’s chest.

 

“M-HMMM…I [mutually agree]. THE ONES WITH THE [stark white picket fences] AND THE [cleanly mowed lawns]. EVERY HOUSE A [famly]!”

 

Jevil let the force of gravity take him downward, sitting beside all the old newspapers and cans, holding Spamton like a million dollar vase. “Is that so?”

 

“[Confirm purchase]! AND YOU WANNA [have no idea what’s in-store for you]?! WE SHOULD GET [a lease]. TOGETHER, JEVIL. COULD YOU EVEN IMAGINE?”

 

Jevil could only nod, trying to keep himself from breaking out in tears. His face said it all, it was a battle he was losing, his lips trembling, his crescent shaped eyes filling with liquid. “Y…yeah-huh.”

 

“HEEHEE.” Spamton said, a singsong tone in his speech. “YEAH! AND…AND WE COULD [they were roommates] TOGETHER, JEVIL! WE’D WAKE UP AND [smell the ashes] EVERY MORNING. AND WE’D [win wild prizes] FOR BREAKFAST. GO ON A [son]DAY DRIVE OR TWO….THE WIND IN OUR [femur]CE….WE’D BE FREE, JEVIL. AND THEN..! AND THEN AT NIGHT, AFTER A [cruise ship of nonstop fun]! WE’D BE [2gether]! AND YOU’D TAKE ME BY THE [wallet] AND…WE’D SNUGGLE UP BY THE FIRE. AND YOU’D [rake through] MY HAIR!!! AND YOU[would] HAVE THE BEST [bedtime storys] TO TELL…AND I’D [sleep] OFF TO SLEEP…AND YOU’D [uproot my way of life] TO THE BEDROOM AND LAY ME DOWN UNDER THE CO V3RS, AND YOUD FOLLOW SUIT. WE’D HAVE THE NICEST DREAMS AND WE’D SAY [hello] TO EACH OTHER! WE’D BE IN [Hyperlink Blocked], JEVIL. DOESN’T THAT SOUND-“

 

Spamton’s daydream was interrupted by the sounds of the stuffed toy he’d come to care for utterly falling to pieces, his grasp on Spamton becoming shaken and wobbly. He couldn’t hold back his sobs anymore, and with each stifled wail, his shoulders raised and fell, flinching with each sniffle. His hot tears dropped onto Spamton’s cheeks like rainfall. He wiped his face, though he just couldn’t stop crying. He couldn’t stop.

 

Spamton raised his eyebrow. “WHAT’S THE [HOLDUP]? ARE YOU [peachy keen], YOU LITTLE [sponge]? WHAT’S.   HAPEN?”

 

Jevil only responded by holding Spamton closer to him, practically hunched over his weight. He rocked him back and forth gently, mindful not to break his makeshift wings.

 

“I’m keeping my head above water, Spams! N-never fear! It’s just that…ah, god…” He halted midway, running his sleeve over his damp eyes. “You poor, poor thing, you….h-ha. The times we had in this place, this toxic waste dump! I don’t think I’ll ever forget them! Seein’ ya all smiles up there, rocketing through the air - it felt just as happy for me, me! I hope it was enough, Spam. I know it’s not nearly enough to forget everything that happened back there, but.. a clown can dream.”

 

“WELL, JEVIL,” Spamton began, “EVEN IF I’LL [Never being able to forgive myself], YOU…YOU GAVE ME EVERYTHING ON MY [Dot Com Wishlist] AND MORE! WHY, IT COST MORE THAN ALL THE [Kromer] IN THE WORLD! PRICELESS!

 

Jevil gathered his grievances. “Ah, s-shucks. And who’d’a thunk it, me and you, bested together as we are now!”

 

“I’LL SAY.”

 

The clock was ticking. Not many minutes were left for them to say everything they wanted to say to each other. It had gotten worse, much worse. The whole city had a white shroud eating away at it, consuming everything into a glitchy conglomerated mess. All that was left to chew away at was the alleyway, and as soon as that was gone, it was all over.

 

“New-found thing, oldboy…” Jevil said. “I feel sorry for not doin’ this whole…’getting in touch with you’ scam sooner. If I knew it would’ve prevented you from feeling like this, I’d have done it in the beat, beat of a heart!”

 

Only the area surrounding the garbage can remained.

 

“APOLOGY [yes]! JEVIL, BEFORE I [pack my bags for hotel california] - TELL ME SOMETHING FOR ME BEFORE I LEAVE. ITS VERY [specil].

 

Spamton’s body fell into Jevil’s chest, stirring a slight twinge from the clown.

 

“I DON’T CARE ANYMORE IF YOU HAVE [pride in your gaping chest wound] FOR ME. PEER APPROVAL MEANS NOTHING [in the wasteland of dogs]. BUT JEVIL, DO YOU FORGIVE ME…? FOR EVERYTHING? AM I [as bad as the voice says]?”

 

Spamton didn’t seem to notice there was a flock of white squares beginning to nibble away on his foot. But Jevil did - Not like he could stop it. Soon enough, it seeped through their steel barrier, and began phasing through Jevil’s neck. Neither of them paid it any mind.

 

“Nah, Spams. Not in the teeniest bit. You weren’t lucky this time around - but when you wake up from all this in a new self, t-things are sure gonna change for you!”

 

Spamton’s neck cracked. He struggled to open his jaw in time with his speech, the words coming out of them more distorted than ever. It flapped up and down mirthlessly, without meaning.

 

“HUH? HUH? H. H.  HUH? WHAT……..DO YOU MEAN……?”

 

Jevil, alert to the glimpse of reality he’d just given the unaware trinket, quickly went back on his words, recontextualizing them as soundly as he could. 

 

He’d almost given it away - their statuses as mere cogs in a greater machine.

 

“I-I mean, when you wake up!” Jevil backtracked. “When you wake up a-and, and you’re in heaven, you’ll have everything you’ve ever wanted - in reality, this time.”

 

It felt heartless, having to deliberately misinform a man so deep into his own downfall. Someone who would believe any ounce of hope anyone had to give to him. Having to lie through yellowed fanged teeth that all of this would transfer over, how all Jevil’s baseless promises about leading Spamton into the blinding light were in reality just farces for the sake of preserving as much blissful ignorance as Spamton had left in him. 

 

The purple clown knew there was no chance in hell that any of the sweet nothings he was spoon-feeding Spamton would turn out in any resolution, he knew better.

 

When the crushing blow of the pearlescent mass consumed them, there would be no happy ending. No two-story house lofted amidst the suburbs in the sky, no conclusion to their story. They would wake up clueless, being the same people they were before this mess, not even aware of the insight this hour had granted them about each other. Neither of them were immune to what was about to occur. For the powers that be were not grounded in their world, their universe, it didn’t care if they could do anything or turn their phones into hunks of metal. They would wake up being the same as they ever were. And that was that.

 

Not privy to Jevil, Spamton had a sneaking suspicion that he wasn’t getting the full picture. He doubted the imp’s words, even if slightly so. But he, too, knew what he was in for. 

 

A hand to hold tight as the world caved in was a privilege not meant for the usurper.

 

The corruption strengthened, its strength trailing up Spamton’s side as he gripped to Jevil’s palm with a stretching grin. Their linked arms quivered as Spamton latched onto an elbow. No matter how much agony he was in, he could not stop smiling.

 

“HA…H-HA….J…. JEVIL… HAHA….”

 

Jevil stood, fighting as hard as Spamton was against the primal urge to give up. A face painted with dread morphed into a biting sweetness. He gave him a nod. “L-lay it on me, puddin’.”

 

Spamton sprung further into Jevil hecticly, like climbing a mountain, feeling his fake, blood-soaked, unworthy hands meet a sewn-together plush skin. In the act of hoisting what remained of his half-intact anatomy into Jevil’s soft hold, Spamton cried like he’d never done so before, words becoming but abstracts in the fragmented pieces of his thoughts.

 

All he could do anymore was express his gratitude, though his melted words could not do his appreciation justice.

 

“T-T-TH-TH….TH- HAHAH…THANK…YOU. THA-THANK-THANK YOU. JEVIL. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.”

 

“Heh…! I-I extend the same to you. Thank you, Spamton. Thank you, thank you too.”

 

“DOE S.  S.   S.  <<< DOE3/S RUN32-CNTRL ALT. CON- DOES THIS MEAN W-W-WE HAVE TO SAY “Good Buy”? I DONT WANT TO SAY GOODBYE, I-DON’T WANT TO. I DON’T WANT TO SA-SA-S S. S SAY - NOT YET! N-NO! S-CARED! IM ///SCARED! 82$3!: js BD H IT’S-S SCARED! NO LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNELHEAVENISNTSUPPOSEDTOHURT I’M SCARED! I’M SCARED! I-I DONT WANNA! S-SAY GOODBYE!”

 

“Aw, don’t cry now - I’m playing along with you! I’m just as terrified as you are, silly! W-we’re scared, but we’re together in uncertainty! We’ll go up there together…okay?”

 

The corruption had ripped away half Jevil’s arm, and now, it was up to their heads.

 

“SOUNDSNICE. JE-JEVIL. SOUNds- SOUDNS TTUSR. T. S. S AL.  D E SALE! TRUST - A’N F D A I E A CH G G”

 

The vileness had crushed the pink lens of the Dealmaker, giving way to the sight of a hollowed out, dark hole where Spamton’s eye should be. His body disappeared and reappeared over and over, being reconstructed on a loop in the white void that strangled them.

 

The cycle ended with a terrible sight - Spamton’s neck joint cracked with a sense of finality, loud, piercing, cutting through his unintelligible screams of digital gibberish. Whatever pale imitation of “life” he had stuck within him evacuated through his one remaining eye. His chin snapped into place on Jevil’s shoulder, his neck tilted unnaturally and his open maw sprain open on the lilac cloth, both body parts leaking out a black, disgusting, viscous fluid, one that reeked of death, of strife, of years of pain and mildew.

 

The next words were to be Spamton’s last. But as he lay dying in a pool of his own mortal fuel, the voice coming out of his mouth was not the one he grew to cope with having, in all its inconsistencies. It’s a voice he had predating all the misery. The light, sickeningly sweet voice he had as an Addison, one clear, precise, and soft, came back to him to give a final addendum, whispering into Jevil’s ear.

 

“See you on the other side.”

 

Jevil stared into the light, his gaze unwavering for Spamton’s last hurrah. His chest - the fourth of it that remained, rose and fell at a burning pace, overwhelmed by the atrocity he had no way of preventing. He wanted to confess his lies, to own up to his mistakes, to tell him to just hang in there, he could find another way, to find a way to save him, to act in a way that mattered, but as the world in front of him faded away, so did

 

Your save file has successfully been reset.

 


 

Spamton G. Spamton, 1997’s Number One Rated Salesman, awoke in his trash can, sprawled out from tossing and turning all night. He awoke from a dream of a body of tubes and metal, of soaring to great heights, no strings attached. It’s vividness fled as he stirred to a sitting position, hoping he could hold onto it, to press it tight in his palms.

 

He had no memory of what just transpired in the world he’d previously tortured with the help of an iron fist. No voice, no chestburster heart, no clown making frilly promises to him that could not be fulfilled. It was for the best. Today was a new day, his real chance to be a big shot. And he could not waste any more time on memories that would only bring him pain.

 

Jumping to his heeled feet and snuggling his shoulders in his prized leather jacket, he decided today was the day - the day to get off his behind and try to get things together, the day he would stop simply thinking of change and start enacting it. He was a self made man, after all. It was about time to start picking up the pieces.

 

He swore it then and there - so help him, the next person to come through that alleyway would be worthy of a good, true deal.

 

He scurried his hands through the trash, picking up a cracked pink mirror from the pile like he’d memorized it’s exact position. He smiled at his reflection as he hurriedly rushed his hair back.

“THAT’S IT, SPAM. YOU STILL [lost everything]!”

 

As he breathed in the salty air…the… salty air? That was peculiar. Last time Spamton checked, he didn’t set up shop next to an eatery or anything.

 

Spamton then heard footsteps outside - the sound of boots hitting the pavement. Boots of metal. His eyes lit up, but before he’d go out and make an award-losing sales pitch, he stopped. He felt like something was…missing.

 

He padded his pockets, both those in his pants and the many cast in his jacket, but he felt a distinct lack of a certain item’s presence.

 

...

 

His keys….

 

Where were they?