The line between personal and actual demons was blurred before Jude was old enough to develop his own. His mother had grown up in a midwest cult, convinced of a world behind the one most saw, and she carried that belief with her even after escaping the cult's private compound. Fiona Delmont married the biker who picked her up off the side of the road, and they had one child before separating over her instability. Charlie Sullivan came home when Jude was eight to find his wife holding him down in the tub, raving about angels and rituals as he dragged her away. To this day, diagnosed with schizophrenia and ordered by the courts to stay away from her son, she maintains that she has only Jude's safety at heart.
Sometimes Jude feels like the only person who believes her.
After the trial and separation, Charlie moved them to Hollow Creek, Pennsylvania. The old mining and quarry town offered Charlie something solid and familiar to lay roots into, and was small enough to let the pair disappear from the sensationalist coverage of the case and subsequent attention of other cultists. Jude went from being isolated and abused to outsider, trailer-park trash with a single dad and crazy mom. He had to fight and adapt to the gritty, bedrock town, lifting a chip of granite with one shoulder and holding the weight of his mother's illness on the other. He had to walk the line of being Crazy Sullivan
, the kid who took every dare, showed no fear, and lashed out just enough to make people think twice about jumping him--and letting on what he fears most: that he really is crazy.
A few months after his near-drowning, trying to adapt to a new school in a new part of the country, Jude started to slip from reality. Halos would appear around people and objects, blinked away in moments. Time would disappear from him, people would speak to him and he couldn't recall what they'd just said. Sometimes there would be flashes--faces behind faces, sounds no one else heard, smells of rot or sickly sweetness that came and went. In his teens, these symptoms came more frequently, but he also learned to recover from them quickly, laugh off what a space-case he was being, or fight enough naysayers that people stopped commenting. He wasn't going to get put away like his mother, be denied any kind of life because of some bad moments and fatigue. The world could take him as it found him, or it could fuck off.
Most people fucked off. Parker Capello proved the exception, another transplant to the mining town with a single dad and family history they just didn't talk about. Parker was a kindred spirit, someone Jude found to either be just as crazy as he was, or proof that neither of them were. Parker laid claim to the same kind of sight Jude's mother had, describing a world behind the world, creatures living in the shadows that it frightened him to mention. From an early age, Jude used his artistic gifts to bring Parker's visions--and while he wouldn't admit it to anyone but Parker, his own--to life. They grew up having each other's backs, and Jude came to be both physical and social protector of his best friend--scaring off bullies and swearing that their fantasies and projects were just a couple of kids trying to make a comic book, something hip and gritty to get them both out of this shit town.
Jude loves his father, and he did everything he could to convince him that they were on the same page, that he wasn't crazy, that he wasn't going to fuck up his life over some beliefs his mother had beat into her over most of her life--but Jude understands
Parker and Fiona. Deep down, Jude believes
them. Something is wrong with the world--something is wrong with Hollow Creek--and he and Parker have to escape or confront it.
Escape being harder than it sounds.
Jude's art and grades are enough to land him a scholarship for The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, but for all his begging, Parker won't leave town with him. He gives Jude an old pickup they'd fixed up over the years, and pushes him to pursue the future one of them should have. Intending to finish school, sell their comic, and come back for his friend, Jude moves across the state to the big city, but he can't escape what he knows, or who knows him. With the stress of classes and deadlines, his blackouts and hallucinations get worse, until he's losing entire days. He starts corresponding with his mother now that he's old enough to override the court order, but he can never remember the content of his letters after mailing them. He loses the time between classes and appointments, receives texts and letters from people he has no memory of meeting. Deteriorating further in his third year, he takes a leave of absence after losing an entire three days: coming back to himself outside his dorm on the arm of a stranger, being dropped off and told to give their regards to his mother. Stumbling into his unkempt room, he examines a burning pain on his shoulder, finding a tattoo
he has no memory of getting.
Still desperate not to believe his issues are the product of his own mind, Jude sets out for home. He can't trust himself in the city, and with the problems he's had corresponding with his mother, he hopes to talk to Parker or his father in person. Driving back in the same pickup he left with, Jude sees a deer-like beast on the last road into town, and drives into the trees, eventually crashing into one and passing out. Horrors beyond what he's even dreamed await him in his home town, the line between worlds erased by a herald of the apocalypse.
Sometimes being right is worse than being crazy. CONDITION
The cause of Jude's memory loss and blackouts is an undiagnosed case of temporal lobe epilepsy
. His seizures have yet to be noticeably convulsive, and due to his mother's arrest and confinement in a hospital, he's hidden the symptoms and eschewed medical help for fear of his issues being linked to schizophrenia. Neither he nor his loved ones know the underlying cause: he still suspects he might have inherited his mother's illness, up until the point that events in Hollow Creek beg the question of whether his mother was sick at all.
He most often suffers atonic, absent, or simple partial seizures. Rather than convulse, Jude will occasionally lose muscle control and fall or be forced to sit (atonic); he will sometimes outright lose consciousness and be left standing and staring, his speech slowed, his ability to continue what he was doing or remember it impaired (absent). Simple partial seizures are the most common, causing abrupt memory loss, deja vu, anxiety, nausea, indescribable and overpowering emotional states, and in some cases outright hallucinations.
Jude's seizures are not constant--frequent enough for him to know something is wrong, but infrequent enough that he has been able to stop anyone from pushing him into help or diagnosis in his small mining town. He's been teased and called slow or crazy by peers, especially when his condition has affected schoolwork or social interactions, but copes well enough day to day to avoid hospitalization. It helps that his father is as afraid as he is of Jude inheriting his mother's illness: neither of them really want to deal
with it, and his father truthfully can't afford it. Stress and exhaustion are the main triggers for his seizures, and the root of his condition is likely brain trauma sustained when his mother tried to drown him.
Jude's foremost skills are painting, drawing, and graphic design. He uses these skills to express the world described to him by his mother and best friend, things he dreams about but has always claimed not to see in the waking world. In his teens and especially after leaving Hollow Creek, he uses his sketchbook as a record of things he's seen or dreamed, compensating for gaps in memory or time lost. His artistic talents are enough that he was granted several scholarships and attended The Art Institute of Pittsburgh after high school.
Surprising only to those who did not grow up with him, Jude is scrappy and resourceful. Being crazy trailer park trash in an old granite and mining town meant proving himself the old-fashioned way: jumping off sheer drops into quarry lakes, braving old sinkholes and closed shafts, and knocking the teeth out of the bigger kids who liked to mess with him, his friend, or talk sideways about their families. Jude's fears are in and of his own mind, not the world around him--he doesn't back down from hikes, climbs, or picking up chains and rocks to fight with.
Jude has completed high school and at least two years of college. He's not the most esoteric person, but through personal interest and circumstance, he has basic to studied knowledge of mining and geology, northeastern wildlife, abnormal psychology, western theology, cults, graphic art and design, traditional art techniques and history, comics, and automobiles.