Why despair? Because hope leads to disappointment.
A week later. I spent that week not worrying; I simply kept training, eating a small amount each day, then sleeping. I researched also, but training, eating and sleeping where the important parts.
And then D walked in. He didn't shout for me. He didn't even seem to know I was there. He walked through the door and into the living room, and sat down. I walked down the stairs, and looked at him. He simply stared dead ahead, as if there was anything interesting there, and not simply a patch of wallpaper. I walked past him, and his eyes did not follow. I knelt in front of him, and stared. He simply looked past me.
"... Dan? Daniel? Are you okay?" I said to him; he kept staring. I sat with him, occasionally speaking to him. Hours past. I went to bed, tired from the fatigue of talking. I heard nothing from D that night; until seven in the morning, where I heard a thump. D had stood up during the night, it seems, and was now sprawled on the floor. His lips were moving, and he was whispering something.
"Okay, okay, you. Dan. Eeeee ell. Are, are, okay, Dan, Daniel, Daniel." Something like that. Nonsense repetitions of what I said yesterday. I helped him back into the armchair, and then paused. I pulled a table in front of his armchair, and a chair to go on the side opposing him. On it, I set a chessboard. I set it up, noting that his eyes were now dull, not staring. They drifted to and 'fro across the board, following the pieces as I laid them out.
When I had finished, I laughed. "You never were great at this, were you, Daniel?" I said.
"Never great..." the figure said. I laughed again (as I felt my heartstrings strain), and lifted each piece up in turn, explaining them all to him, as one would to a child. Those dull eyes flicked at the things I was holding -- when I stopped moving, they became glazed. This was later my basis for the name I gave to those under the thrall of the being I believe Dan fell under.
After explaining the pieces, I explained the basic rules of chess. D seemed to understand; and with that, I moved my first piece. c4. The purpose of this thing was an experiment; if D seemed brain-dead, was he...? c4 meaning that I moved a pawn two spaces forward. I gestured towards him. "Your turn."
"Turn." He finally moved; a pale, veiny hand stretched out. It stretched across the space between his immobile body and the board, before resting on a pawn. He dragged it forward roughly, before his hand fell limp in his lap. c5. A mirror of my move. "Your."
"Ahaha, not bad, Daniel," I said. Even still, I prayed that he'd do something. Reveal that he was joking. Anything but what was happening in front of me. So, move the Queen; it's a tactical blunder in chess, but this wasn't chess. Not really. This was a test. Qa4.
D moved again. Sluggishly, he dragged his Queen sideways. Qa5.
I considered taking it; it would be an easy move with no loss of advantage to me. But I still had to test. I took my Queen in hand once more. Qc6. "Tactical blunder" does not begin to describe the stupidity of this move, for those who dislike chess. It involves placing the Queen in the firing line of two pawns and a Knight. Every chess player knows how to dodge that one. Even if it's your first time.
Nevertheless. D reached that disgusting hand forward, and grabbed his Queen. Qc3. Another mirror-move. I sighed, and laughed. "Not bad," I said, moving my Queen forward, taking his Bishop. Qxc8#. Victory for me in the game, but not in the reality. I laughed, and said that I had to do some things. I put the pieces back into their bag, which went under the board. I took it away; D simply sat there, once again fascinated by the wall. But he muttered. "Bad not your Dan ahahaha. Hahaha. Turn, turn, turn. Not your turn bad turn, your turn bad. Your turn bad." Random streams of words I'd said to him.
I didn't wait. He didn't ever get up, so I packed. I took a suitcase from his room and put my clothes in there. My belongings. I took a backpack and filled it with things. I found his wallet, and took his money out of there. There was... quite a bit. Enough to keep me going for a few months. He had... shall we call it an 'illegal weapon'? A handgun, in other words -- I took it, too. Everything small and of practical value, I took. And then, I ran away again. Should I have stayed there in that house, with my former friend? No. And even if I should have, I didn't. That's all that matters. Dan died; D replaced him. That's all. His eventual fate is a mystery to me; or, rather, what happened to him between then and that day in Cardiff. Truth be told? I don't really care now. Then? I may have.
And so, I went onto the streets once more and, on the whole, began life as I live it now. There are a few more minor points that have happened between then and now (such as a direct confrontation with the Whisperer), but I have told all I care to tell at present. However, the experience of creating a friend and losing that friend... and everything between then and now? It's taught me some lessons, some of which I may want to relay to you all. If I care enough to in the near future, then.
I am tired. I must sleep again...