Another riddle. This one was written on the back of Annie’s right hand:
“Now all is right, the flatline once again crawls. (10)
When she left me for a period of time, (15)
She flew away, only to be imprisoned by wooden walls. (7)
Now she’s finally pushed through the dirt of time. (14)”
Putting them together, both riddles told a story of death, rebirth, and freedom. It was very fitting, then, that the story was written on the wings of a butterfly—the dead butterfly formed by Annie’s conjoined hands. A dead, but beautiful, butterfly. My beautiful butterfly.
“I knew I was right about the rules,” Ed said, as I deciphered the next set of directions I had to follow to find the third gravesite and corresponding piece of Annie’s body. “At least you’re listening to me.”
I had to move right ten spaces, left fifteen spaces, up (for “flew away”) seven spaces, and up (for the act of having “pushed through” the dirt of a grave, rising up out of it) fourteen spaces.
Before continuing the Caretaker’s game, I slipped Annie’s disembodied hands in my pockets, picked up Ed, and walked to the nearby garbage can just a few feet away. I pulled out the empty bag that had been suffocating its gaping black mouth. I would need it to… carry all the pieces of Annie’s body. I’ll also need it to carry all the pieces of the Caretaker’s body after this game is over, after he meets Ed.
Returning to the second gravesite, ready to start following the directions to the third, I found… another hand. It protruded from the grass between the open grave and unmarked headstone, frozen in place like a one-winged, decaying butterfly that had died trying to escape this garden of death. Refusing to let it grab my attention, I started to walk around it. I kept my distance until another hand locked its ice-cold fingers around my ankle, pulling me out of the Caretaker’s game.