Once midnight hits on Christmas Eve and it has turned into Christmas, he sees he's surrounded by friends, he's confused. He just continues to drink and he passes out in his apartment after everyone leaves, and he is alone at last.

Only, he doesn't sleep. He has weird dreams, as if he's trying to remember the week he's had, but he can't. The more he thinks about it, the worse it gets, and he realizes that he feels as though he has blood on his hands. He sits up in bed and stares at his hands to see that they're clean, but he doesn't feel clean. He feels broken, he feels as though something terrible has happened and he is the reason for it happening, and yet he can't remember. He can't remember anything he's done in the past few days, or even the last few hours, and for a moment Joe thinks it's because he's drinking too much again.

Only, he's never really been that much of a drinker and yet somehow the last thing he clearly remembers is running into Bennett at the bar...on the 18th. Which was a week ago, and the idea that he's lost a full week is terrifying. Every time he tries his hardest to remember, his mind seems to be blocking it and the worst headache hits him full on. It frustrates him to no end, and deciding that sleep isn't going to happen, he turns on the light next to his bed, and opens the drawer there to get the Advil he usually has there.

What he finds instead is a pistol and a letter. He flinches as he touches the pistol, before he realizes it is actually his and not someones he doesn't know, the gun is just not in the right spot. He looks at it confused, an eyebrow raised, before he picks up the letter. It looks like it's his hand writing, but also looks different. It's written in dark green ink, and there are smudges of red at the bottom of the paper, that looks oddly like blood -- until Joe sniffs it and realizes it's pizza sauce from the night before. He doesn't really relax much though, as he moves to sit on the edge of the bed, his legs hanging off the side, as he finally reads the letter instead of skimming.

Joe! Joey! Joseph!

Listen here, kid. You and I? We unfortunately need each other, and for me to keep coming back, you gotta keep kicking. As much as I would have loved to get rid of you, doing that gets rid of me, and we just can't have that, can we? I read some stupid pamphlet some woman with black hair was handing out, that we gotta 'work together' to defeat evil or whatever the fuck this is, but honestly all of that is just boring! Do you hate being bored? I know I do. When I am bored, I go out and do very questionable things, just to get a good laugh. Of course, most of the things I do are questionable, but at least no one died because of me this time. That one actually just tripped and fell. But hey, don't worry, I took a photo for you to jog your memory, so you should check your phone. Enjoy the keepsake! (New phone, by the way, I broke the old one, it was annoying me. But don't check that one, check the one by the kitchen knives. My own phone, and don't you dare fucking destroy it, or I will make your life hell, Joey boy.)

Plus, you're such a boring guy! Look at you! You still got your looks, granted I wish your hair was a slightly different color, but I can work with this. Some of your students seemed to agree with that too. You know, you've got some pretty attractive and extremely busty redheads in your classes. They really enjoyed getting to know me! Even got them calling out "Oh god, yes" a few times, and trust me, you've got some new flings in your pocket now! Twins, Joe! Tell me, why haven't you ever dipped into the student pool below? Since your sad attempt at dating has gone so well, I think it's time you really enjoy the supply in front of you, hmm? Don't worry, old friend, I got you a video of that. Not every day something like that happens -- though with you, it seems like nothing ever happens. Get a fucking life, really.

Of course, I could tell you didn't want to admit that you liked that three-way tryst, taking advantage of young impressionable female students, but they came onto us! Or, that's the story you'll have to stick to when they come asking for more. You've got to lighten up, Joe, have some fun, or I'm just going to have to destroy your life a little more when I come back. Because I will come back. I'm always going to come back. You're stuck with me, isn't that just the best news you've heard all day?

But do not give me any more surprises, or something worse might happen next time.

Enjoy the photos, and I left you some reading materials. See you soon, Joey!

- J.

Joe swallows hard as he sets the letter down on the bed next to him, and out of instinct, he grabs the pistol and turns off the light, immediately starting to hunt around his apartment to see if anyone is there. He checks every corner, every inch of his place, but he finds nothing. Once he's put the pistol back in it's safe box, and makes sure it isn't loaded, he locks it away and heads for the kitchen. Because part of him wants to see if the letter was telling the truth, that there was proof of what happened last week that he just can't remember.

There is this feeling that he can't shake, that he's not going to like what he sees, or he's not going to like what he hears (in case of the video that supposedly was recorded) and he can't help but think that he's going to be right. As he heads into the kitchen, he sees a new iPhone 7 sitting on the table, untouched with a note "Broke the old one. Here's a new one. -J." Well. Apparently this "J" person could be good, if they wanted to be. Right? But given the letter and how unwell that person seemed writing it, Joe was erring on the side of "this is a really bad idea."

As he went to the drawer in the kitchen that had the knives, he inhaled deeply, almost holding his breath, afraid of what he was going to find.

When he opens the drawer, confetti and silly string spits out at him, and he backs up as some of it gets in his eyes. He goes over to the sink and washes it out of his eyes and looks back at the drawer, which was rigged to shoot things into the eyes of whomever opened it. There's a note that reads Don't always trust me, Joey. It could prove deadly! with an arrow pointing to the left, to the other drawer next to it. Joe opens the drawer to the right instead, and is greeted with a phone (a burner phone, if he's correct), a few comic books, and another note that just reads Smart kid. Maybe I can use you after all.

How comforting.

He takes the items out of the drawer and sets them on the counter in front of him; four or five Batman comic books that seem to mostly feature The Joker, as well as the graphic novel The Killing Joke and the DVD of it. Then he pulls out the phone. It's off, so he turns it back on and it lights up, as Joe goes to the video first. He only watches a few minutes to realize that it's a sex tape of him having sex with the two redheaded women mentioned in the note, both of them current students that are thankfully officially done with school and graduating with the Fall semester graduates. Joe quickly turns off that video and thanks god for small favors, and that he's not going to need to report his 'relations' with his currently students to anyone. He just hopes the girls can stay quiet. Which, if the video was any indication, quiet wasn't something they liked to be.

Why he was making jokes about his right now, he didn't know, and it made him sick to his stomach.

He went to the photos next, and found a few photos of people he knew, like Bennett and Roxy, though it was mostly of obscured angle shots where they weren't really the focus at all. One had a focus of rocks, the other, some metal bars like a prison, and a chair with restrains like from a hospital. Joe kept clicking through all the photos until he found one that caused his eyes to go wide.

There was blood over a blond wig, and a woman's nicely manicured hand in the blood. More photos showed the woman's lifeless body the blood, and then there was a photo of a hand -- his hand -- holding a note card that read, in the same writing of the letter from earlier in the night (his but not quite his). The note read If you try to get rid of me, the next time it will be someone you care about, and it won't be an actual accident..

Joe immediately shut the phone off and opened the back of the phone and ripped out the sim card, snapping it in half and then throwing it down the trash compactor in the sink and running it so that it crushes the card into little pieces that can never be put back together. He then grabbed a knife from the drawer where the confetti threw up at him, and started to stab and destroy the phone, actually screaming as he did so, before he finally destroyed the phone and put the knife down. Picking up the notes in the open drawers and closing the drawers, Joe set the notes on fire in the sink, watching them burn until the flame went out completely.

He returned to the bedroom, quickly, getting the note that he found earlier and brought it back into the kitchen, and set that note on fire too. Once the fire went out, Joe washed it all down the drain and just stood at the kitchen sink, realizing that his heart was beating way too fast and suddenly finding he was short of breath. The onset of a panic attack of the worst kind, and if he went down because of it, no one would be around to see it. Perhaps that was what this "J" wanted. Right? It'd be one big cosmic joke, wouldn't it?

He stood at the kitchen sink for what felt like ages before he seemed to get a hold of himself, and walked over to the fridge and grabbed a glass of water -- alcohol wouldn't cut it, not right now, not when he wasn't sure if he missed most of the week because of drinking and if he wasn't sure if he was playing a trick on himself with these notes. But the photos, the videos, it seems to put some memories back into his head of what happened, and he doesn't like it. There is a sense of hopelessness that overcomes him, as he chugs the water and sets the glass down, his eyes falling on the books that are on the counter.

There is no way he's stuck with some comic character that isn't even real. It doesn't make sense.

Joe takes a step forward and picks up the graphic novel and in the inside of the cover is a note: Oh, it's real.

He drops the book and takes a step back.

Maybe alcohol would be needed after all.