“Slave, this is no way to act for its master!”
“You are not and never will be my master! I will never be your slave!”
“Oh, it seems Slave needs some reminders. Its going to need some real help.”
“Fuck. You. Whumper.”
“Slave, this is no way to act for its master!”
“You are not and never will be my master! I will never be your slave!”
“Oh, it seems Slave needs some reminders. Its going to need some real help.”
“Fuck. You. Whumper.”
Whumpee whimpered as they drug themselves by their arms through the leaves, their legs bloody and screaming in pain as they ran over the open ground.
The bear had appeared so suddenly while they were walking the trail and they couldn’t get away before the bear got a good hit in on their legs, rendering them painfully useless.
Under the thick canopy of trees, they had no idea how long they had been dragging themselves. Their phone had gone dead before they even encountered the bear because Whumpee had forgotten to charge it properly.
At this point, Whumpee’s arms were beginning to absolutely burn as they pulled themselves forward.
They cursed themselves with every drag forward for choosing one of the least traveled and subsequently the most dangerous of the trails despite the relatively level terrain of the trail.
It had taken them an hour to get to the spot they had been jumped by the bear on foot. Dragging themselves, it would take… far longer than that.
By the time Whumpee was barely able to move forward, the light in the trees was beginning to dim as it turned the familiar orange of near sunset.
It was just as Whumpee’s energy began to rapidly fail, their eyes drifting shut without their consent as the blood loss from their injures caught up with them that there was finally a rustling up the trail.
With Whumpee’s last dregs of consciousness, their vision tunneled. They watched as a set of shoes appeared up the path, still casually keeping the same pace before they faltered and stopped.
A few moments passed before the shoes doubled or even tripled their speed. As the shoes finally neared Whumpee, their eyes couldn’t stay open for any longer and Whumpee let themselves topple into unconscious oblivion.
“Wait… what’s all this, a blindfold and headphones? That asshole’s got you in sensory deprivation Oh you…. Whoa! Whumpee don’t fight me… Shh… that’s right… Only Caretaker touches you gently like that in that place…”
“Oh Whumpee… It’s alright… let me get that…” Whispering “Hey Whumpee, long time no see. That.. I didn’t mean to make that, that wasn’t intentiona- Oof!”
“Yes it’s me, I’m sorry if you’re sensitive right now and I’ve spoken to loud I don’t want-”
“Shut the fuck up and hold me Caretaker.”
Caretaker sipped at their evening tea until a light knock came at their door.
They frowned, returning their cup to the table nearby. They never had guests this late, so who could be at the door?
Getting up as quiet as they could, Caretaker slunk over to the door and peeked through the peephole.
Almost immediately, they threw the door open just to have Whumpee fall nearly straight into them.
Whumpee’s eyes fluttered, their eyes wandering aimlessly before focusing as much as they could on Caretaker. Their eyes were dangerously glassy enough that Caretaker had a pang of fear run through their chest.
It was only then that Caretaker finally recognized the suit Whumpee was wearing, and the mask hung loosely in their grip. Whumpee was… the superhero they had heard so much about.
“Whumpee, what happened? Are you hurt?”
Whumpee’s grasp was light, but Caretaker allowed themselves to be pulled closer.
Squeezing Whumpee’s hand, Caretaker moved Whumpee as gently and as quick as they could to the couch. They scoured Whumpee’s body for any dark spots that would reveal any wounds. Thankfully, none appeared.
“Whumpee, no, stay awake sweetie, you’ve gotta tell me what happened!”
Caretaker lightly patted Whumpee’s cheek as their eyes began to shut. Each pat proved less and less effective as Whumpee’s eyes could barely stay open now.
If it wasn’t physical, then what has Whumpee like this-
Caretaker’s hands stuttered on Whumpee’s face.
Their powers, they must have overexerted themselves, or worse, lost them all together. Caretaker shook their head. They would assume the former for now, which meant Whumpee needed this sleep badly.
“Okay Whumpee… you can sleep now… save your strength…
Whumpee’s eyes, which had been fighting to stay open only a crack now, fluttered open one more time before they finally slipped closed.
“Sweet dreams, everything will be better in the morning”
Caretaker cradled Whumpee’s limp body as soon as they were sure Whumpee was unconscious and cried.
“Caretaker please- more- I’m c-cold- Please!”
“Shh, Whumpee. I know you feel cold, but you’re already under enough blanket layers to survive in Antartica. You’re sick and have a fever, so you’re body’s warmer than room temperature, so everything feels cold. I’m not punishing you, I just cannot physically help you get warmer. We’ll just have to wait til your fever goes down.
“Mmmm! I- Okay… I- Cold- Care-care-caretaker?”
“Can I- I- I want- you’re warm- I”
“Oh, Whumpee I will cuddle if it’ll make you feel warmer. I can’t guarantee I’ll stay.”
Whumpee had always known Caretaker was too good to be true. They were to nice and too lenient with them. It had been fun without punishment since they had been taken away from Whumper, but it was all over now.
It happened after one of Whumpee had impulsively run away from Caretaker in the crowd because they thought they had seen Whumper.
They should’ve stayed with Caretaker. They should’ve…
After the moment passed and someone that definitely wasn’t Whumper now that Whumpee thought about it passed, Whumpee had turned all the way around, immediately searching for Caretaker again.
But they were nowhere to be found.
Whumpee had always refused a phone for themselves even when Caretaker had gently pestered them to get one. The prospect of Whumper finding out their number or a way to track them.
They had found the nearest place that felt safe, a small alcove that was partially hidden from the crowd but gave Whumpee full view of everyone, and curled up into a ball.
They managed to keep most of their tears from clouding their eyes, but just as a wave they couldn’t beat back clouded their eyes, Caretaker’s voice called out their name.
Their voice was trembling yet had an edge that had Whumpee’s limbs locking up.
Blinking, their vision cleared to reveal Caretaker much closer than they sounded before, nearly right in front of Whumpee.
Looking up, Whumpee flinched as Caretaker’s face was contorted into a frown Whumpee had never seen before.
They’re mad! No, pet has been bad if Master is mad. Pet must be punished. Must be punished.
“Whumpee, why did you do that! Just running off like that! I told you to always hold my hand! I-”
Right then, Whumpee couldn’t take the waiting anymore.
“Pet is s-sorry Mast-master! Please punish P-pet for-for fail-failing you!”
Whumpee sobbed, their ball turning into a bow before Caretaker’s hand stopped them.
Whumpee’s eyes were downcast, but Caretaker rose Whumpee’s face until Whumpee couldn’t help but look into Caretkaer’s eyes.
There, Whumpee found Caretaker’s eyes filled tears…
Master… is crying? Master shouldn’t cry! Pet had been horrible to make Master cry!
Poorly stifling a sob, Caretaker ran their thumb across Whumpee’s chin.
“I’m so sorry Whumpee… So sorry… I…”
And then Caretaker swept them in for a hug.
“No! You can’t! I-”
“And yet I have. Don’t worry. In a moment everything will feel juuuuust fine.”
“No! I don’t want to tell you anything! I don’t- I- I don’t… um….”
“Ah here it goes, you’re feeling better and better by now.”
“Good. Now let’s talk about your dear team.”
“Oh yeah, my team. I love them they love me.”
“Yeah, yeah. Can you tell me about where their base is and their greatest weakness are? Wouldn’t want them to get hurt, would we?
“No, they shouldn’t hurt… that’s why I’m here instead… My- their base is…”
Whumpee sat there, patiently looking up at Caretaker.
“Whumpee, please! Snap out of it!”
At Caretaker’s upset tone, Whumpee simply looked down, no change in their expression.
“Master can punish pet for being bad. Pet doesn’t want to be bad.”
Caretaker immediately surged forward, embracing Whumpee in a tight hug.
“No… I would never. What kind of curse would make you say that?!”
Pulling back, Caretaker gazed deeply into Whumpee’s eyes. Whumpee’s eyes initially were blank to Caretaker, but as they looked longer, they saw the slight sparkling in Whumpee’s eyes that told them that Whumpee was trapped in themselves somewhere.
“Whumpee… you… do you obey every command I give you like a proper master?”
Caretaker bit their lip, glancing down at the floor a few times before they squared their shoulders.
“Whumpee, you shall gain back as much of your free will as you can under this curse and will be able to deceive Whumper shall they ever gain you back. Your truth will leave out anything to do with this manipulation of the rules of the curse, if Whumper tells you to inform them of what happened, you shall lie in any convincing way you can so that Whumper thinks they have won. Any normal request from me other than getting you to listen to me will be a request that you have my permission to deny, in this way, you are obeying my command to be able to refuse me if that is what you truly desire. In addition, any other programming told you by Whumper is now bunk. My commands trump Whumper’s commands.”
Holding in a breath, Caretaker’s eyes fell shut as Caretaker didn’t want to see Whumpee’s still blank eyes when the command didn’t work. But…
Caretaker whipped their head up to meet a clear set of eyes, their mouth flying open in surprise.
“Please don’t hurt me…”
“Whoa, Whumpee, I’m not. I promise. Please don’t cry.”
“Shh… Whumpee. Whoever hurt you before isn’t here now. It’s Caretaker.”
“Yes, Caretaker, sweetie.”
“Whumper, I don’t like this game. Please just punish me and end this false hope.”
“Oh honey… this is real. I promise you, Whumpee, this is real.”
“Please don’t leave me here!”
“This is its punishment, pet. There’s no getting out of this.”
“No, I’m not like you! I can’t warm myself like you do! I’m a poikilotherm like a reptile or something that can’t survive such cold temperatures!”
“Tough luck. I don’t believe that for a second, Pet is just trying to avoid its punishment with silly little words.”
“No please you have to believe me I’m gonna die her- mphh- MPHHH!!”
“There now that Pet is nice and quiet, it is going to have its punishment.”
“See you in the morning, pet.”
Whumpee had been acting… strangely every since they were found by Caretaker on the side of the road, shivering and covered in bruises and cuts at the edge of a forest.
They had long since recovered at the hospital and come to Caretaker’s home since then.
But still… Whumpee never let Caretaker properly touch or hold them.
Caretaker wasn’t particularly a physical type of person either, but Whumpee’s reaction to the very rare touch was still the same. Yet it was subtle enough Caretaker hadn’t noticed until now.
Of course, it came at a cost.
“Please, please, please, please. Don’t- I- No, please-”
To have Whumpee curled up in the fetal position in front of them while any attempt at touching them to comfort them in any way that would reach them only sent them deeper into their spiral, it was tearing Caretaker apart.
Something was very wrong, and Caretaker wouldn’t stop until they found out who had done this to someone.
Whumpee couldn’t breathe.
Of course, the reason why was obvious, Whumper’s hand secure and tight around their neck.
But that didn’t mean they could stop it, stop that unrelenting pressure on their windpipe that made their head spin. Not even the good kind of head spin. It was the head spin that gave Whumpee’s stomach a throttling.
All they could do was flail as Whumper’s grip somehow grew tighter around their throat, what little air that had managed to make it though before completely gone.
Eyes bugging out in surprise, Whumpee’s mouth gaped open as their chest heaved in the ghosts of a breath in where there was none.
As Whumpee’s vision began to fade quick, they just hoped that their previous breath wouldn’t be their last.
And just like that, Whumpee’s consciousness was slammed into oblivion
“Smile for the camera, pet. Wouldn’t want to worry your poor friend Caretaker, would you? It is going to be streamed straight to them after all. If they even care about anymore, that is.”
“Oh ho ho. Those are fighting words. Now Caretaker’s going to be just that more concerned when they see what I’m doing to you, if they do care.”
“What? Nothing to say? Okay then. It’s showtime. And to make sure you can say anything, here’s your trusty gag. Now, be good Pet and scream for me.”
“I SAID- Scream!”
Whumpee stumbled for the third time that day as Caretaker accompanied them in the park.
“Are you sure you’re okay, Whumpee? You’re tripping quite a lot and you seem… distracted.”
Placing a gentle hand on Whumpee’s arm, Caretaker attempted to comfort Whumpee. But even that simple touch had Whumpee jumping before their brain caught up and they relaxed a bit.
“Yeah… Sorry, Caretaker. I just… don’t feel safe. I haven’t felt safe since we left the house. I think someone is following us or staring at us. I know it doesn’t make sense. Even I haven’t seen someone that would give me a reason to be this… on guard, but promise me you’ll stay close as much as you can.”
Heart clenching, Caretaker wordlessly stopped walking, cupping Whumpee’s face to stop them as well. For a long few moments, they stared into each others eyes before Caretaker embraces Whumpee with all the care they could muster.
Lips barely moving, they whispered into Whumpee’s ear.
“I promise I’ll stay by your side whenever I can. I might not feel what you’re feeling, but I’ll do what I can to help you and help you stop feeling so tense.”
Pulling back, Caretaker lightly grips both sides of Whumpee’s cheeks before placing the most delicate of kisses on Whumpee’s forehead.
A ghost of a smile on Whumpee’s lips, Whumpee leans in just enough into the contact before pulling back as well.
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
As both of them walk on, neither of them notice the virtually inconspicuous figure watching them. Their movements both sneaky and perfectly causal to not arose suspicion.
Maybe Whumpee’s fears weren’t baseless after all.
“Oh look at that! Your arms looking a bit broken there. Why don’t you let me set it?”
“No! No please no!”
“But if I don’t set it, you’ll just hurt more and you wouldn’t want that will you?
“I- Please don’t hurt me…”
“I would never hurt you. Not when you’re already so close to breaking already. I see it. It is inevitable”
“No! I’m strong! An- And you’re wrong!”
“I’ll be the judge of that, now let me-”
“Stop moving Whumpee!”
They couldn’t stop. Their skin was alive with unimaginable pain and they wanted it. To. Stop.
As they began to thrash, they quickly had their limbs pinned to their sides by something. A guttural cry that barely sounded human erupted from them as the waves of pain wracked them.
Tears springing from their eyes, Whumpee started to whip their head around towards the glimpses of movement around them. A strange impulse to bite and latch onto anyone swooped through them as the rest of their body only became more and more trapped.
It was this thrashed that alerted Whumpee to someone preparing a syringe above them, the glinting of the thin strip of metal catching enough light for Whumpee.
Their thrashing increased tenfold, the one holding the syringe’s mouth moved, though over the pain, Whumpee was really beyond the point of listening or caring what they had to say.
The pain was their fault. If Whumpee wasn’t strapped down, Whumpee could fix it. It didn’t matter Whumpee had no clue how to actually stop the pain right then, but they had trapped Whumpee. They were wrong. Wrong. WRONG.
A sudden pinch in Whumpee’s neck had them jolting as much as they could in their restraints. They had become too distracted.
Now they couldn’t stop the pain. They were going to trapped and in pain forever.
They barely noticed the gentle hands and the ebbing pain from where they had been exacerbating their injuries before they had been strapped down.
All they could think about was they were going to die lonely and in pain with no one was was willing to help as they unwillingly relaxed in their restraints.
Right as Whumpee’s eyes slipped closed, their hearing opened up for one simple sentence from above them.
“This is for your own good, Whumpee. I promise. Just sleep, dear.”
“Don’t speak unless I tell you to. I can plant this bullet in your brain faster than you can open your mouth to scream. Do you understand?”
“Points off for lack of confidence. If you value your life, you’ll drive now.”
“Where are you taking m-AGH!”
“I said not speak unless spoken to. Now. Drive.”
“Oh, you’re going to be so much fun! Say bye-bye to your old life. It’s time for me.”
Whumpee was losing hope Whumper was ever coming back.
It had been so obvious at first that Whumper was coming beck. They always did every other time, why would this be any different?
But as the hours and days slipped by with no sign of them, Whumpee’s hope had started to slowly dwindle until now.
Slumped against the corner wall, Whumpee had only enough energy to raise the meager bit of water to their lips as their stomach screamed for food. Other than that, Whumpee could only barely open their eyes to be ready when Whumper finally came back.
Whumper was coming back, Whumpee was sure of it.
They couldn’t just… die. Whumper had to be coming back soon. Surely with every slowly longer blink, Whumper would be pushing the cell door and gloating about their power over Whumpee. Whumpee would welcome it just for the assurance that they weren’t going to die.
But for now, there was just silence.
Pathetic, lonely silence.
“No…no…nononono! Please! I’m being good! Please!”
“Whoa, hey… Whumpee it’s me! Caretaker? You’re not back there okay? You’re here with me, not with them.”
“Stop, please! I was doing good for you, please don’t hurt me Whumper! PLEASE!”
“Whumpee, I’m sorry I have grabbed your arms, but you were on the verge of hurting yourself and maybe me. Look into my eyes, Whumpee. Tey aren’t Whumper’s eyes.”
“Don’t be scared Whumpee. You don’t need to shake in fear… Just breathe. In and out. In. and out…. In…. and out….”
Whumpee clung onto Caretaker as Caretaker flicked the reins of the wagon, encouraging their horses forward. Smiling down warmly at Whumpee, Caretaker let go of one hand to gently caress their face.
“It’s alright, Whumpee. You’re safe with me, I promise.”
A rumbling in Whumpee’s chest had Caretaker’s smile widened as Whumpee leaned into Caretaker’s touch.
When Caretaker had to once again focus on where they were going, Caretaker had to pul their hand away, leading to Whumpee leaning further and further to try to reclaim that touch before they nearly toppled out of the wagon.
Caretaker quickly grabbed Whumpee’s arm and heaved them back upright. They whispered sweet and gentle words almost immediately as Whumpee hunched their shoulders and averted their eyes, their stomach sinking lower and lower as a ball of I fucked up, I’m useless, I’ll never be good enough rolled around in it.
That was until Caretaker’s words trailed off into silence, their hands became still, instantly freezing Whumpee to the spot as well.
Just as much as they had been avoiding eye contact, Whumpee desperately sought for eye contact with Caretaker. When Whumpee found it, Caretaker’s eyes weren’t directed at Whumpee, but at the surrounding tree line.
Something was wrong. And for the first time, it wasn’t directly Whumpee’s fault.
It only took a moment, but just as Caretaker opened their mouth to speak and Whumpee found Caretaker’s hand in their’s, Suddenly everything was happening all at once.
Whumpee could only catch snatches, a gust of wind, a hand starting to grasp their foot, Caretaker’s voice yelling something Whumpee couldn’t quite make out, before something big and hard hit the back of their head and their world went black.
“Stop whining Whumpee. You need to get some food in you!”
“Nooooo! I just want to get it myself.”
“No can do, Whumpee. You’re still too weak to do that. Lay back down, please.”
“….I don’t wanna!”
“Well, you’re gonna.”
Whumpee’s eyelids drooped as the ever increasing weight of time they had awake pressed down on them more and more with every moment. They couldn’t sleep though, they didn’t want to return to Whumper’s never-ending torture.
So they trudged through the kitchen in only the early morning light. Eyes flitting over the counters, Whumpee had the sudden compulsion to cook for themselves, to prove Whumper wrong all those times they said Whumpee was useless.
They went through the motions, getting everything they needed on autopilot as they willfully fought to stay awake.
Stay awake. Stay awake. Stay awake.
It took a few moments for Whumpee to bolt up as their body had begun to slump forward as they nearly fell asleep while trying not to.
“Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.” Whumpee mumbled as they leaned back from the counter, forcing their body to continue their automatic journey.
Unfortunately, the movement once again became a bit too mindless as Whumpee jumped at a voice, suddenly halfway across the kitchen at the stove.
“Whumpee? It’s 3am, what are you doing?”
3am? No, it was morning! Where else would the light in the kitchen be coming from?
Whumpee turned to see Caretaker with some real bedhead, eyes vaguely bleary, but overall wide and searching Whumpee’s face. Stepping back, Whumpee’s back hit the stove.
At that moment, Caretaker’s eyes flicked down behind Whumpee. Their eyes widened even more and their mouth quickly opened.
Frowning, Whumpee grumbled.
Whumpee’s frown deepened. They pushed themselves up from the stove, lazily pulling them up for Caretaker.
“What about them? I was just-”
Hands hovering half a foot from their face, the palms of Whumpee’s hands were nearly a murky lobster red with blisters quickly raising on both their hands. They had been resting their hands on both the burner they had just turned on….
That was all that left their mouth before they collapsed, unconscious before they even hit the ground.
“Get off me! LET GO!”
“Not a chance! You’re coming with me my dear pe- AAGGHHH!”
“Bleh, your fingers taste horrible. Serves you right, though. I’m calling the police to report you for an attempted kidnapping.”
“You just bit one of my fingers off!”
“I don’t need to explain to you why I defended myself, have fun with the police. Asshole.”
“Tough, I’m not listening to you.”
Whumpee gagged, hunching over as the convulsions of disgust swept through them.
“What’s wrong Whumpee? Can’t handle watching pets getting adjusted?”
Whumper smirked, watching Whumpee’s convulsions with a smirk. Whumpee quickly recovered, wiping their mouth of the saliva that had escaped their lips from the convulsions.
“Adjustments? You’re torturing and experimenting on these poor defenseless animals. Can’t you hear their screams?!”
Crossing their arms, Whumper’s smirk still held.
“You mean their cries for more?”
“No! I mean their-”
An arm suddenly wrapped around Whumpee’s neck as a pinch bloomed on their neck. The pinch quickly disappeared, but the arm around them remained as Whumpee squirmed to try to get out of it.
Glaring at Whumper, Whumpee held Whumper’s impassive gaze. Their smirk only grew as that pinch registered as….
Every second they resisted, the heavier their limbs got and the harder it was to focus.
Whumpee opened their mouth to speak
They couldn’t let Whumper do this… they couldn’t let Whumper….Whumper….
What was Whumper doing again?
Whumpee’s vision slowly faded to black as the arms around them let go, their body slumping forwards. Their mind fell into oblivion with it.
“Get away, Caretaker!”
“Why, Whumpee? I’m not going to hurt you!”
“I’m going to hurt you… They…. they put a bomb on me. Please, save yourself.”
“No, I’ll find a way to disarm it or get someone to help-”
“Caretaker, there’s only a minute left now. Please-”
“NO! I’m not leaving you to die! We’ll figure something out….”
“I’m sorry Whumpee, but I have to try.”
Whumpee pressed their face to the ground desperately.
“Please, Whumper, haven’t I been good? I want to be good for you.”
Shaking slightly, Whumpee prayed Whumper would think so too as the footsteps coming towards them grew louder and louder.
Suddenly, a sharp tug on Whumpee’s hair had a cry of pain coming to their lips, but instead, their eyes widened and Whumpee swallowed the cry as best they could.
Supported by nly their hair, Whumpee subtly supported themself with their knees as Whumper brought Whumpee’s face closer to their own. Like so many times before, Whumper’s breath became harder and harder to ignore.
The ironic thing about Whumper’s breath is that it wasn’t all that unpleasant, a hint of mint always caressing Whumpee’s nose. Now every time a hint of mint hit their nose, they were automatically ready for Whumper’s arrival.
Whumper stayed breathing their minty breath in Whumpee’s face with an impassive expression before they brought their other hand out with a gun. Whumpee had only seen that gun when they had done a very bad thing and needed to be punished more than usual.
Whumpee didn’t know what they were asking for, but Whumper made their own assumption anyway.
“Is Pet talking back? I think Pet needs a very hard lesson on respect. Starting with kneeling properly.”
Whumper’s expression immediately grew angry as they spoke, angling the gun to something outside of what Whumpee could look at.
But Whumpee got the message as a loud Bang! filled the space and their knee simultaneously blossomed into excruciating pain.
They were barely aware of Whumper letting go of their hair and saying something else. But the pain in their knee was overwhelming and their vision slowly faded as the pain grew.
Unconsciousness couldn’t come fast enough.
“I see a little silhouetto of a man.
“Scaramouch, scaramouch will you do the fandango”
”Thunderbolt and lightning - very very frightening. Me.”
“Gal- What… what is it? Is-?”
“I…see Whumper in the semi that just pulled up behind us.”
“WHAT? Wait… maybe they don’t know it’s us…”
“No, they definitely do…”
“Drive faster, the semi can only go so fast.”
“I can’t get away.! Brace yourself!”
“I love you.”
“I love y-”
“Whumpee?” Caretaker’s gentle voice bounced softly against the door as they slowly cracked it open.
“You’ve holed yourself in your room for a while. Are you okay?” Hands slowly creaking the door open, Caretaker quickly scanned Whumpee’s dark bedroom for any sign of Whumpee.
A muffled sound from the lump of covers that could’ve been mistaken for a bunch of pillows was what focused Caretaker on the bed as they stepped closer to it.
“Whumpee? Did you hear me? Are you okay?” Caretaker’s voice rose a few pitches as the lump on the bed still didn’t respond.
It was then Caretaker’s hands began to shake, gulping down the worst case scenarios their mind was constantly conjuring up. But despite that, Caretaker was still as careful and kind as they could be as they peeled back the first layer of cover.
In the dim light, something about the bottom sheet irked Caretaker, but Caretaker proceeded.
Only then did Caretaker freeze.
Whumpee was curled up in a half sort of fetal position. A cough wracked their body as Caretaker pulled the sheet off, and Caretaker watched another bit of dark bubble at Whumpee’s lips to join the dark stains already staining the bed.
Whumpee was coughing up blood, and Caretaker didn’t need a medical degree for that to alarm them. Blood anywhere outside the body or even in places it’s not supposed to be is no bueno.
“Whumpee- Are- you- I-…”
Eyes fluttering open, Whumpee met Caretaker’s gaze with eyes wide and pleading.
“Care-tak-take-taker… help- me… Care-taker.”
And that just about broke Caretaker’s heart.
“Can- Can we take the stairs instead?”
“Whumpee, we’re going to the 72nd floor, we have to take the elevator. I know you get claustrophobic, and I’ll be with you at all times. Okay?”
“O-Okay. There isn’t anyone else, so that’s… good.”
“Don’t worry, Whumpee. It’ll be fine.”
“Can this elevator go any faster-?”
“Oh crap, the doors won’t open… Whoa, deep breaths Whumpee, we just have to push the emergency button. Then someone can come that knows exactly how to get us out. For now, just breath for me.”
“I-I-I can’t… not… enough…”
“It just feels like that. Would you feel better if I held you? I don’t want to make you feel worse.”
“Please… Please Caretaker….”
“Alright come here…shhh… Someone’s coming to fix this, don’t worry.”
Caretaker wheezed as the enemy was finally defeated once for all, crumpling to the ground with no pulse to speak of. They would never hurt Caretaker’s friends again.
Limping slightly, Caretaker called out for their teammates, breathing a sigh of relief as each of them appeared from various covers. Each one of them embraced Caretaker, thanking and congratulating Caretaker on finally finishing Whumper off.
But even as the compliments warmed their heart, something didn’t seem right, and it took until Caretaker looked everyone over individually for it to strike Caretaker.
Their stomach hit the ground in the blink of an eye
“Whumpee? Where’s-where’s Whumpee? Where the fuck are they?!”
Their teammates all fell silent, the same expression of horror crossing their faces at the same time. Caretaker was the one closest to Whumpee, training them like they were Caretaker’s own child.
Of course, It was Caretaker who acted first, running blindly everywhere searching for them. Their teammates began branching out behind them, remembering how to search an area from Caretaker’s own teachings as well.
After an agonizing minute of searching the debris of the area, Caretaker caught the ghost of a cough in the distance, immediately making a beeline for the sound.
A sob escaped Caretaker as they spotted an arm sticking out from under a piece of debris. They instantly were straining to lift it, their main to focused on freeing Whumpee to call out for their teammates. Even still, through sheer force of will, Caretaker slowly heaved the piece off of Whumpee.
Whumpee gasped in desperate gulps of air the moment the debris was off of them. But Caretakers only froze once more as they saw a dark stain of blood on Whumpee’s side and a piece of rebar sticking out of their stomach that Whumpee couldn’t seem to feel.
Instead, Whumpee smiled at Caretaker with glassy eyes.
“Care-Caretaker…. you’re alive! Did- Did you finally get them?” Whumpee shuddered, groaning in pain as the movement disturbed their injuries.
A tear leaked out of Caretaker’s eyes when they spoke. “Yeah… I got them. They won’t hurt anyone anymore.”
Whumpee’s smile widened, but their eyes were only growing more and more fuzzy. They didn’t have long now.
“That’s good….” Whumpee trailed off, their eyes fluttering closed for a moment. “I’m tired Caretaker… Can I go to sleep?”
Caretaker ran their hand over Whumpee’s cheek.
“Yes, you can…. I should have done better.”
Whumpee’s eyes focused in on Caretaker for a suprising moment.
“Caretaker, I know I’m dying… and… that’s okay. You did everything right. Sometimes accidents just… happen…. “ Whumpee’s eyes fluttered closed for longer this time. “Don’t… blame…yourself…please….I….love…you…all…..”
Whumpee’s lips twitched one more time in the ghost of a word as Whumpee’s eyes slipped shut. Caretaker’s hand against Whumpee’s chest bounced once, twice…. and then Whumpee’s chest stilled.
Clutching Whumpee’s body as delicately as they could, Caretaker let out a heartbreaking wail that told their teamates it was too late.
Whumpee was dead- And it was all Caretaker’s fault.