The sounds of people screaming filled my ears and a dull pain was throbbing in my head. I realised I was lying on a cold, hard surface and I had a faint metallic taste in my mouth. I gave a splutter and opened my eyes; they felt like they were full of needles. I waited for my pain filled eyes to focus as the swirls of colours around me began to form shapes which gradually became more and more detailed. The world lay on its side and I saw broken, half demolished buildings weep fire and smoke. The sky was a dark shade of crimson. The sounds of screaming just wouldn’t stop, but…I couldn’t see anyone that could be making the noises. The surface I was laying on turned out to be the remains of a road, the cracked tarmac beneath me was freezing.
I peeled my face off the frigid ground and sat up, every bone in my body ached and I found it very difficult to move around without a sharp pain jolting through me. I rubbed my throbbing head and groaned. A woman began wailing shrilly above the other screaming voices, but she stopped suddenly and her cries were replaced with a gurgling sound which also cut out and the other screams filled the void. I looked at the raging inferno that used to be Des Moines, the capital of Iowa and stood mesmerised.
How could this carnage have taken place in the few hours I had been asleep? I looked around me. I shuffled around three hundred and sixty degrees on my ass. The entire city was completely destroyed. The buildings were in ruin, the mainframe of the high rise apartment blocks and the office buildings were all crumbling. The windows were broken and fire spewed from them, licking at the air that had been tinted a foul grey. I remember the night before, everything was how it should have been; I recall giving my friend Rebecca a call in the evening to organise something at the weekend, we were going to go bowling…after that I went on my computer for a few hours and watched a horror movie before going to bed, a fact which I’m beginning to regret. With the thoughts of demons and killers racing through my head, I called it a night and fell asleep in an instant (The fear of a murderer residing under my bed had long since vanished). If something was wrong, or if something happened I would have known right away. The apartment I live in overlooks the whole city and the walls in my room are paper thin so the slightest little noise, every scratch, every bump, everything. There is no way this could have happened in such a short space of time without me knowing about it.
Unless…unless I had been asleep for much longer than I thought. Yes, perhaps I was drugged or maybe I had been hit over the head. That would explain me being slumped down on the tarmac. That fucking tarmac was so damn cold. That couldn’t have been the case though, unless I was kept under constant sedative for a very long period of time – which seemed rather pointless to me if I was going to be dumped into the street anyway – there is still no way in hell that the entire city could have been destroyed in the time it would have taken for me to wake up. So what the fuck could have done all this? The screaming never stopped.
With a great strain I crawled on my hands and knees and awkwardly pulled myself onto my feet and that’s when I noticed it; the tarmac around was covered with dirt, I mean plastered, buried, there was just dirt everywhere as far as the eye could see. All except the one little area I had been lying in. I froze in place, for some reason I did not like the look of it at all. There was something, I don’t know how else to say, wrong with it…
The dirt was heaped very evenly as though someone had carefully applied set amounts to set areas of land and then levelled them out with utmost perfection. It must have taken god knows how long to do. How would someone even go about doing something like this anyway? What would they need to put dirt on the ground in a city for? It’s not like any crops could grow in the middle of the road. And, the question that made me shudder the most: Why?
I had a niggling feeling in my head, an instinct if you will, to stay away from the dirt, not to touch it no matter what. I didn’t know why I felt that way, but I usually follow my gut with these sorts of things. I had no idea what I was going to do when I became hungry, felt the urge to sleep, required shelter in the event of a downpour or storm, or when I felt the need to urinate (I felt like not even my piss should be allowed to touch this cursed soil), but for the time being I decided to just stay in my little bald patch of tarmac and sit tight in the hope that someone might come staggering from the ruin looking for help. In my heart however, I knew this just wasn’t going to happen.
I tried stretching my arms and legs in an attempt to relieve myself of the aching in my body, thinking that perhaps I was just hurting from the cold.
Another high pitched scream, what the hell could be making those sounds? There isn’t a damn thing there!
After about half an hour of pacing up and down my few feet of clean land, I began to feel a little better, but a new feeling which was just as bad as the aches and pains had replaced the old. It was an inescapable feeling of total dread, like something was about to come crashing ferociously from behind one of the ruined structures at any minute and tear me apart.
The screams began to get to me, at every cry of anguish I whipped round in a fear filled frenzy to try and identify where each one was coming from each time to no avail. The dread within me grew and grew at every yell, every dull moan, and every screeching voice. I lost track of time, although it felt like an eternity and I was sadly aware that I had developed a paranoid routine from which I could not break:
Look around wildly.
Tense up nervously.
I felt like screaming myself, I was beginning to cramp up from being tensed for so long. My fear spewed out of me in the form of frightened yelps, cold sweats and neck hairs that stood to attention profusely. It was at that point I made the mistake of glancing at my feet. I was ankle deep in the satanic dirt that surrounded the dead city. In my blind fear of the unknown, I must have stepped out of my holy ground without even realising. It was cold and seethed beneath me. It crawled up my legs and squelched in my shoes, molesting my feet and corrupting them. Denaturing my toes and seeping into the cracks in my skin. I felt a warm release slip down my leg and I vomited. The vomit rested on the surface of the dirt and swam there for a moment before bubbling angrily, turning black and becoming part of the shadowy mass below. I just stared at where it had been and gave a feeble yelp before the world defocused and I lost all consciousness.
I awoke with my head once again throbbing madly and to my dismay I was greeted by the sound of blood curdling screams, now louder than ever. It had become very dark and somewhat humid.
Where the fuck was I anyway? There was a faint orange glow coming from somewhere in the distance. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to faintly see by, after a few hours of optical adjustment that is. The glow illuminated what appeared to be some sort of vast underground bunker. The walls were shimmering with what I assumed to be water and the floor was covered with moss and fungal growths. There was a rank smell in the air and it reminded me of the basement below my mother’s house. It smelled of damp.
Where is it coming from…?
I tried lifting my head up to look around and felt a sharp tug on my hair which sent a sharp pain through my head. Once again I tried looking up only to be greeted with the same tugging. I went to reach for my head to see if my hair had been caught in some of the dirt when I hit the ground or if some gruesome entity was holding it, but I quickly found my arms were also incapable of movement.
I panicked and thrashed madly at whatever had me and found that my legs and upper torso were also held tight. The black haze before my eyes began to lift and I saw with hazy vision that I had been pinned down to some sort of rack on the wall with great leather straps. I flailed in another attempt to break my restraints, but the straps proved to be too thick, I may as well have been trying to break through a wall. Nevertheless the little spark of hope in my mind told me that if I continued struggling after a while the restraints may begin to loosen, or maybe someone would hear me and find me.
Do they ever fucking stop screaming?!
After what must have been the best part of two hours of non-stop wiggling in place I finally gave up. My limbs and torso were red and bloody from where the leather had dug into my skin and I felt a wave of despair hit me like a train and cried tears of terror and anger.
The screams had become louder still and were more fearful. I heard the sound of someone crying hysterically and another voice was shouting out incoherent words and sentences. The only words I could make out were “never leave”.
I felt a dripping coming from above me and a faint sound had begun to ring over the sound of the screaming. It was unlike any sound I have ever heard before, the only way I could describe it was like the clang a hammer makes when striking an anvil, but it was…alive. It sounded as if this “hammer” had a voice to it, its clangs changing pitch rapidly as if something was communicating with something else in some ancient language.
I prefer the screams, the screams have structure.
The dripping above me persisted and I tried to crane my neck up to see what it was. I couldn’t do it obviously, but after a while the steady dripping on my head began to infuriate, madden me. I had to see what was falling on my head; it was my goal for the next hour.
When I finally stopped trying to look up at the ceiling all the muscles in my neck were pulled and aching horribly. I looked at the orange light again and noticed it had gotten slightly brighter, like it was moving towards me. I dismissed it and decided to try and get some sleep. That sounded like a wonderful idea, so I shut my eyes and eventually fell into a very uneasy sleep.
In my dreams I heard screaming.
Screaming and clanging.
I was awoken by an ear-splitting wail, much louder than the other screams and close, very close. My eyes shot open and the light hit me like a fucking train. The orange light had become blindingly bright and I re-shut my eyes for a moment to allow them to once again adjust, this time to the light. I slowly opened them again and saw that it was emanating from the ground. The underground chamber had been illuminated except for the ceiling. I looked down the corridor and I gasped in horror. The whole bunker contained millions of mutilated people who were, like me, stuck fast to the walls. Their insides dangled before them swinging like pendulums in time to their writhing. Many of their ribcages had been forced open exposing their vital organs, the broken pieces of bone digging into their lungs and parts of their livers. A pool of blood had gathered at the feet of every one of them and I saw that the water on the walls was not water at all, but rather blood, blood and various entrails scattering the walls and floor.
Why indeed, my unfortunate friend. Why indeed.
I was in shock and awe that every single one of these poor souls was still alive and all the while screaming. Their digestive tracts continued to work as normal, but they had turned black from a lack of oxygen and were spilling out of their bodies in a twisted knot as they shat themselves uncontrollably, their faeces spilling out of their defiled anuses lathering their legs and feet. Their excrement was unusually viscous. These wasted bodies must have all been fed through some sort of drip, but I couldn’t see any tubes or syringes. Maybe they were being force fed, either way it was disgusting. I gagged at how stretched their chewed up limbs looked and how…incomplete they were. And that’s what I decided to call them: The Incomplete.
This slaughter chamber stretched for miles and I wondered to myself exactly how many people were here and how in the name of God they were all still alive. I figured they must have been administered regular shots of adrenaline and god knows how many other chemicals, but the fact that not a one had died was simply too much.
I looked to my left and amongst all The Incomplete, I saw someone who looked totally whole strapped to the wall like me. It became apparent that this was the person who woke me because she was giving choked screams in between great long sobs of panic filled crying, way more audible than the others. I tried to call out to her to try and calm her down. I thought that the sight of a fellow being would give her a sense of some relief, but she was so scared and distraught that she didn’t hear me.
The orange light burned behind my eyes and imprinted itself onto my retinas. It began to shimmer and distort before me and I noticed a large black mass gathering before the poor girl. It was as if all the shadows that were being cast in the bunker were being manipulated by some unseen force and being made to group in front of this terrified young woman. The dark figure that was materialising seemed to slowly suck all of the light out of the chamber the more it grew. As this malevolent black spectre rose to about ten feet, broken looking, distorted limbs started sprouting from it. They were long and seemed sharp even though this shadow had no details as of then, just perfect blackness.
Finally this shadow man stopped growing and began to shimmer, not with light but with some kind of supernatural energy. It’s hard to describe but it was as if something inside of this, whatever this dark creature was, started to pulse and throb as if trying to force its way out. The Incomplete had become eerily quiet and a look of primal terror had come over each and every one of their faces.
They knew what this thing was and they were afraid of it…
The glow that had once completely lit the entire place had now been completely absorbed by the shadow being and I was once again plunged into darkness. The silence rung in my ears with a static buzz and I tensed in apprehension as to what would happen next. Then after some time, my vision once again returned to me as light refilled this palace of torture. This time however, the light was radiating from this thing that had finally come into complete existence. It was as if every form of light and shadow around us had been focused into this being and had somehow been fused into one enormous…dark light. I know that sounds impossible, but that’s just what it was: dark light.
It continued to pulse with its demonic power and I cringed at its outward appearance. Behind the dark light that it cast was a hideous body. Its bones, if that’s what they even were, had been forced out of its skin at the spine, shoulders and elbows and jutted out at uneven angles. Dark blood dripped off the tips and landed with a little splash on the ground. It hunched over as if in pain and I noticed that it didn’t have any hands. That sharp quality to its upper limbs I mentioned earlier, the reason for that was because it didn’t have any real upper limbs. Where they should have been were large cracked pieces of bone that extended out and formed sharp points at the end. They were also throbbing, but not in time with the rest of this things body. It was as if they were in control of themselves. What I mean is, they looked almost sentient. Its face was contorted into a sick and twisted grin that stretched all the way across to its jaw revealing a set of very wicked, very sharp looking teeth that had been chipped and broken in places. There was blood staining every one. A pair of jagged horns stuck out from its head at weird angles and there were giant splits all over them. Some of them ran from the base all the way to the very tip.
It slowly dragged itself closer to where the girl was anchored. Walking isn’t the right word, its deformed legs were sliding spastically across the ground and it practically had to fight with them to stay upright. Once it became within touching distance of the girl it gave an enormous bellow and the girl screamed with fear and began throwing her weight around again, trying to break free. The creature before her then began moving with extreme speed and soon it became only a blur before me. The girl’s screams became spluttered gagging sounds, similar to the one I heard on the surface and her eyes rolled back into her head exposing the whites of her eyes. I watched in awe and disgust as blood began frothing from her mouth and as her abdomen was ripped open, her organs receiving the same treatment as The Incomplete’s. She gargled and hacked for ages as this being went to its demented work moving with increasing speed.
Pieces of flesh flew all over the place from her tattered body and her stomach was somehow being filled before my eyes making gurgling sounds that rose in pitch the more that was poured in. I threw up all over my chest, it was just too much. I looked away until the gargling stopped, but a part of me wanted to turn back around and I had to focus with all my might to stop myself. When the girl finally stopped making sounds, I looked back and almost threw up again. Her stomach was filled with her own flesh and bones, I could see parts of kidney, liver, pancreas and gall bladder all floating around from the semi translucent exterior of the stomach as it churned and rumbled. I saw her insides being mixed with her stomach acid and she moaned in pain and exhaustion from the loss of blood. Her stomach looked like it was going to burst.
The rest of her digestive system had already turned black. I had no idea why though. Perhaps it was some strange side effect of the demon coming into contact with them, who knows. The twisted creature had gone now and the light had returned to the chamber. The Incomplete were screaming again, but the girl remained silent, just lolling her head from side to side. She had a look of disbelief on her face as she stared at her own organs hanging down just barely touching the floor.
OOOooohhhHHHhhh, IT HURRRRRRRRRRTTSSSS!!!!!!!
I can only imagine.
I suddenly felt extremely worried, in fact I was going fucking crazy. I began breathing faster and faster and I kept asking myself what was going to happen to me.
Would I suffer the same fate as the girl?
How painful would it be?
How long would I stay alive, would it be…forever?
I tried to calm myself down and control my breathing but I couldn’t, I just couldn’t. I drew in a deep breath, focused my vocal chords and began mimicking The Incomplete.
I screamed and shouted at the top of my goddamn lungs. I got out all my frustration, confusion and pure terror out of my system by shouting the house down. I screamed until my throat was sore and my voice was hoarse. When I finally decided I had vented all that was to be vented I became quite once more and decided that with nothing else to do I should just go back to sleep. There was no real way of telling how much time had passed here anyway, the lighting never changed much and the screaming never ever stopped. I thought I had been here for a few hours, but in actual fact I could have been here for a few days, or maybe even a week. It was hard to sleep with The Incomplete yelling all the time, but not impossible. So I closed my eyes and drifted into another uneasy sleep.
I dreamt again, this time of the mutated, pulsating aberration that had disembowelled that poor young girl. It was just standing there a few feet away, snarling. Great globs of drool and blood hung from the sides of its wide grinning mouth. And that steady dripping sound filled my head, reverbing all around me, never ceasing. It dragged itself slowly towards me making long scraping sounds as it moved that made my teeth chatter and grind. I wanted to run, but I found myself rooted to the spot and I understood why: I wasn’t out of fear, like when someone gets so frightened that they physically cannot move, nothing like that. It was that even in my dreams, even in my fucking subconscious; I was still strapped to the wall. I moved towards me making those horrific scraping noises until it was face to face with me. I felt it’s stank breath on my face and it sprayed some of its bloody spit all over me as it breathed. I reached out to touch me with those long, disfigured appendages.
I awoke in a cold sweat, tears streaming down my face. I shook myself back into reality and told myself that things would all get better in time. I may yet be able to find a way out of this insane place. In my heart I felt that there was no true way of escaping my loathsome fate, not even in my dreams.
After my senses tuned themselves back into the real world – what was left of it anyway – I felt a wave of powerful confusion wash over me; the lights illuminating the chamber had once again gone out and I was plunged into pitch blackness. There was no noise in the slightest. I held my breath. The demonic shadow creature was returning. It was almost exactly like last time, except the lights had already been extinguished. Perhaps this one was different; one of the shadow man’s many esteemed colleagues perhaps. I waited in suspense. My mouth was dry. I could taste the air around me and it was most foul. I wondered who was receiving the monsters “treatment” this time. Poor bastard whoever they were.
Then it happened, the faint ominous glow appeared in the middle of the room. The glow began to throb and swirl as great strings of colours danced in front of my eyes in great ring – black and white, blue and green, yellow and violet – they all contorted into one another forming shades that I didn’t even know existed. It was beautiful. I found it hard to believe that such wonderful art could originate from such an evil being.
Not long now.
The ball of glowing light majestically began to grow and pulse faster. Just like last time.
Oh shit, why am I sweating…?
It’s presence began to engulf the chamber and I heard frightened gasps echoing around me, but no screams. Just like last time.
Please go away…
Contorted limbs, bent ligaments and exposed bone began to form from the swirls making cracking sounds with every twist and jolt. Just like last time.
I don’t want you to live. I don’t want you to live!
The light emanating off it suddenly gave way to every gruesome detail of this things mangled body. Just. Like. Last. Time…
It existed once more.
It straightened up and raised its head towards the ceiling taking great sharp inhales while cocking its head back and forth. It was trying to catch the scent of something. After a little more sniffing around it apparently found what it wanted and stopped, it relaxed and exhaled deeply. And then it turned to face me exposing its long, sharp teeth. They were still parted in that permanent grin. I understood perfectly.
“Oh no. Oh no! Oh Christ Almighty, NO!”
It took a few lunges towards me, hobbling in that pathetic little dragging way like the previous creature. Not all too dissimilar from its cousin. It continued towards me making scratching sounds with its hooves as it moved. It made my teeth grind and sent cold shivers through my whole body. It made a growling noise in short bursts, it sounded like it was a form of demented chuckling.
“Please, just go away! Pick someone else!”
It chuckled to itself sadistically some more and came closer towards me; I could feel its damp breath on me now. It smelled of rotten flesh.
“Oh God! For the love of God, someone help me!”
Then the creature stopped and stared at me, with a look of malice in its blood filled eyes. It opened its mouth and spoke – I didn’t even think it was capable of speech, human speech that is –it had a voice that sounded like grinding metal. It pulled itself right up to my left ear and I recoiled in disgust, trying to pull away.
“God can’t help you now.” It growled. A blob of warm saliva from the things mouth landed on my shoulder. “What do you m-m-mean?” I asked, trying to stall for time so that I could postpone my bloody fate. It seems useless and almost childish now, but this was when that fucking thing was practically touching my nose and salivating all over me.
The creature took a single step (shuffle) backwards and let out a low pitched sigh. “You should know by now that God hates you,”
“Fuck you…fuck you! I’m not a bad person.” I screamed in its face and spat in its eye. I was trying to make it stop giving that loathsome grin, but it merely grinned wider, wiped the spit out of its eyes and proceeded to ingest it.
A flicker of twisted pleasure shined in the creatures dark, cold eyes and it breathed out with a shudder. This monstrosity seemed to actually enjoy having me spit on it, it was as though my act of hostility seemed to drive the soulless creature to – oh Christ I don’t even want to say it – orgasm. I was revolted. I tried to give a little gag of disgust, but no sound came. It was like a foreign object had gotten stuck in the back of my throat that prevented me from making any sound. It weighed me down. It sucked all the energy from my body.
The demonic entity stood for a while unmoving and then it jolted towards me again, its blood spattered face touching mine.
“Ah, what fun you will be.” it gave a heaving chuckle.
It took one of its great blades that extended from its body and lightly punctured my skin below my ribs. I gasped as a sharp pain bolted through me.
“I’m going to take my time.”
I began sobbing loudly and the creature laughed in my face as it twisted its bone shards around my abdomen. I felt flesh tear and could feel one of my ribs beginning to protest under the pressure. I tensed up my whole body, trying to block out the pain by focusing on keeping my muscles as constricted as possible, but it was no use. I heard a sudden crack and screamed, the pain was drowning me, there was a little shimmering halo around my field of vision. I could feel my head pounding, I could feel my heart drumming mercilessly in my ears, but most of all I could feel the splinters of broken bone digging themselves into my flesh. The creatures grin was so wide now that it looked like a long curved scar that stretched across its entire face.
Still grinning, it fondled my lungs which caused me to gasp and choke. At this point I was beginning to seriously wonder why I had not yet died. No man on the face of this Earth could endure such brutal torture. With each sharp inhale of air I made, the creature gave a moan of delight. It was sickening. Then without warning, it brought its deformed appendages down on either side of my exposed rib cage and broke them all at once. It was just like how a karate master chopped through layers of concrete, and let me tell you, I knew how it felt to be those slabs of concrete then. I felt the upper half of my body give way and elongate as my heart and lungs fell out of my body and hung loosely before me, I could see my heart beating rapidly in front of my eyes.
The creature took a moment to take in my suffering and cocked its head, studying my reactions. I was now mimicking the incomplete perfectly, screaming my fucking head off. When it was done appreciating its handy work, it shoved its sharp bones into my body again, slightly below my ribcage. I could feel my organs churning and flopping around, now doubt being shredded to bits by its massive arms. It paused for a moment and made a twisting motion, like it was cranking a lever and I felt a rush of warm liquid travel up my throat and spew out of my mouth. At this point I had grown accustomed to throwing up, until I glanced at what was my chest and saw it covered in fresh blood coupled with big blobs of saliva.
I gasped a lungful of air and felt a sharp pain as my exposed lungs jabbed into a shard of bone from my former ribcage. I saw my intestines tumble out of my abdomen and heard the warm squelching slap they made as they hit the ground. Parts of them were still dangling out of me, words cannot describe the feeling. The creature took another pause, breathing heavily, no doubt having another euphoric experience over my mutilation and then it just sighed and walked away.
Was it over? The last part of me that was still sane held on to the possibility that it was. I relaxed and felt the warm liquids drip down my chest. I was becoming very aware of the fact that my organs were becoming very dry and produced a great deal of friction every time I drew breath. Every time it happened I wanted to vomit. The stuff on the ceiling was still plopping onto my head, I didn’t care. Although what followed next makes me wish I did, it might have prepared me a little for my fate.
I think I slept some more because I remember being hit hard across the face and glancing blurrily around to see the ungodly thing sneering at me, a fingers length away from my face. Beside it was an enormous mound of that hideous dirt. There was a steady trickle coming from the ceiling, adding little amounts to the already gargantuan pile. All of a sudden I realised that the ceiling wasn’t the ceiling at all, but rather the ground. I was underneath the fucking city and the blasphemous stuff was leaking down into my prison. I had a chilling feeling that the stuff may even have been sentient.
Before I could ponder on this for a second longer the creature stuffed its bony claws into the dirt. It hissed and fizzed as great heaps of it were picked up, it seemed to cause discomfort to the demon-being because I could see that its leer had been replaced with a look of endurance. The reason for the creatures’ pain became clear when I looked again at the dirt in its great arms. The little remaining flesh was being stripped off of its bones, steaming as it fell away. The creature held its dirt filled bones out towards me, forcing me to breathe the dirt in. The smell was vaguely like a cross between fermented onions and a dying animal. I gagged, and that brought the smile back on the creatures face.
I tried to plead with the thing to stop what it was doing, whimpering and snivelling as it reached into the hole in my stomach and deposited the dirt within me. As soon as the deathly shit was placed, I felt the vastest feeling of depression, anger, fear, loathing and hatred I have ever felt in my entire life. My eyes rolled in their sockets as chemicals in my body shot around in every direction. Memories of my deepest, darkest secrets came flooding back to me. Events that left me feeling empty, cold and bitter all suddenly were relived. Every cuss, mean spirited and spiteful thing, every dirty thought, every injury, and every ill hearted thing directed towards me was reawakened and amplified. They saturated my head, I felt like I was about to explode with negativity. Between all the flashes of images and sounds of suffering I could hear the creature laughing and could feel more great handfuls being thrust into my body, the memories intensifying with every heap. Throughout the entire thing, I was screaming.
Once all the dirt had been stuffed into me, replacing my organs, the memories of every sick feeling in my life were pounding in my head so hard and so fast that I couldn’t feel anything else. It was all that remained; I had no choice but to watch as I was shown every bleak, disgusting aspect of everything I ever experienced. And I screamed.
Watch and scream. Watch and scream. Watch and scream.
To whoever finds this, take it as a word of warning, because I now realise what all this is. This is my eternity, this is everyone’s eternity. It has been every single person’s fate, every person’s reason and indeed every person’s very purpose since the day they were born to face this torment. I understand that I was dead from the start – how I died I still don’t know, but I know it was before all this – and I also understand what the dirt is now: it is sin, it is our sin. And our destiny is to face it, to face every sin we ever committed until the end of time, over and over and over again. My only advice to you is this: Be good to your fellow man and try to avoid confrontation whenever possible.
Who knows, it might just soften the blow.