|Written||October 17, 2014|
|No. of Chapters||21|
|Completed||March 8, 2017|
Oculus is a fan fiction written and published initially on Fanfiction.net by Eerily and then cross-posted to Archive of Our Own. The story is told in a series of flashbacks at the beginning of each chapter before switching to the current events transpiring in the plot. The perspective shifts between the three central characters: Tweek, Kyle, and Craig.
During the time it was being written, the fanfic grew in great popularity and was the subject of a plethora of fanart and animations dedicated to the story. When the story was completed, the author sold physical copies of it for a limited period of time. The story was eventually deleted around 2018 when the author decided to start working on her own original comic based on a similar premise to Oculus, known as Lake Penake. In late 2021, Eerily began reuploading the chapters of Oculus again on Fanfiction.net. No updates have been made since Chapter 6 was uploaded on December 12.
Tweek has been haunted by the grotesque form of his missing best friend since childhood. Perplexed by his vivid visions and growing bond with the mangled little ghost boy, he has searched for years to find the answer to one question: Who murdered Craig Tucker?
The story starts off with a prologue set before the subsequent events of the story. Tweek had invited Craig over to his new house because he was afraid there was a ghost in his attic, however Craig dismisses his fears and assures him there’s no such thing as ghosts. Tweek falls into a false sense of security as the conversation switches to more casual topics such as school or middle school crushes. Their brief sense of comfort is cut short, however, when the TV across from them turns to static. Although it frightens the boys, Craig remains positive there’s a logical explanation for it, and decides to unplug it from the wall. Despite doing this, the TV turns on again, and the boys are overcome with fear as they hear noises above them coming from the attic. Tweek senses a spirit in the room with them, and is so overwhelmed with visions of its life and demise that he essentially becomes catatonic. Eventually, the screaming and fear of the boys prompts Mrs.Tweak, known as Cindy, to burst through the door filled with concern over what could have transpired there. Tweek tells her about his visions, saying the man “showed [him] in [his] eyes.”
A week after Craig’s disappearance, Mrs. Tweak laments to her son that they might not find him, but Tweek refuses to believe this as an answer. Noticing her son’s distress, she decides to sleep in his bed with him that night, however Tweek’s slumber is disturbed by tapping and scratching against his window. Although initially terrified, Tweek eventually realizes it’s Craig’s mangled form that’s come back as a ghost.
“5 years, two months, and 7 days” after Craig disappeared, Tweek has become isolated from the rest of his peers, everyone believing him to be “cursed” despite no one truly believing his tales about the ghosts he sees. The only group he hangs around are the goths, who refer to him affectionately as “Spooks.”
The perspective changes to Kyle, who’s in the lunchroom with Cartman, Butters, and Kenny. Butters is waving around a newspaper article over the recent sightings of the “Shadowman,” a dark and mysterious figure that’s become a sort of myth due to the holes it’s believed he digs up around Stark's Pond. Noticing the prize money featured in the article for anyone who manages to catch more sightings and information of the figure, Cartman conjures up a plan to either film the Shadowman in action or, if his plot fails, use Butters dressed up as the Shadowman to secure the money regardless.
It's revealed in a flashback of the week after Craig returned as a ghost that Tweek has been plagued by nightmares of being drowned. Having also not been able to see or find Craig since he came back, Tweek is overcome with sorrow because of how much he misses his friend. He’s soon comforted when he hears a weak voice sing him his favorite lullaby, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. The voice is described as not sounding “like it was coming from one person,but rather a plethora of young children who’d been trying to sing him to sleep.” This introduces the idea that Craig is not the only soul that inhabits his body.
Meanwhile, in the present, the scene returns to Kyle and the gang who are now putting the previously mentioned plan into action. They manage to catch sight of the Shadowman, but he ends up running into the woods. As they try chasing after him, Kyle and Kenny stumble across a field of trees with dolls and stuffed animals nailed and strung up to the branches. Kyle feels an urge to touch them but Kenny convinces him it's better to come back during the day and instead try to regroup with the others at that moment. As they walk back, Kyle fiddles with a bracelet on his wrist before noticing a sudden shift in the temperature and atmosphere. It’s at that moment he also realizes Kenny is no longer beside him, and that he has stumbled across a field where there's a circle of children interlocking hands as they try and comfort the figure in between them. Kyle describes the creature as a monster:
“Two gaping holes were gouged out of its face where eyes should have been. Black, tar-like grime oozed from the deformities. Its true horror was revealed until the children ran away to hide. With pale, mud-streaked legs, it wobbled towards him. Jagged, long teeth protruded from its wide jaws so wildly it could close its own mouth. Its teeth left the ground, but its many, many spider-like arms did not.”
Kyle attempts to sneak away, but the noises he makes breaks the healing circle and causes the spirit to chase after him. In his panic, Kyle calls out to Stan, which causes the ghost to let him go. As Kyle makes his escape, the ghost still chasing after him, he finds a house in the middle of the woods and seeks refuge inside. It's then he realizes he isn't alone, and that the Shadowman they had been trying to capture is not only inside, but lets the spirit that had been after him inside as well. The Shadowman sings Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to the creature in order to calm the panic attack it is experiencing, all while Kyle observes from the shadows and attempts to discern why the voice appears familiar to him. Ultimately, after the Shadowman refers to the ghostly figure as Craig, Kyle realizes that the man who’s been digging up holes around their town has been Tweek all along. After regrouping with the others, Kyle asks Kenny what he remembers about Craig Tucker.
The next chapter takes place in a flashback, when Laura came over to the Tweaks to pick up Craig’s leftover belongings. Unbeknownst to anyone, not even Tweek, there's a bunny-like figure staring at them from a corner, although at this point it isn't revealed who or what this creature’s purpose is and why it's there. While the Tweaks comfort Laura as she mourns over Craig’s items, Ruby [Tricia] and Tweek decide to play dolls upstairs in his room. Craig tries joining in with them after Ruby expresses how she misses him, and he leads Ruby into the closet to play. It is shown in these scenes how much Craig misses his family as much as they do.
In the present, Tweek is preparing a bath for himself. Craig is rummaging through the laundry to find one of the many sweaters that Tweek knits him, as he finds comfort in the warmth due to constantly feeling cold. Richard appears at the door, emitting panic and anger from Craig, but Tweek chalks it up to his fear for older men- regardless of who it is- due what happened to him.
After what he experienced in the woods, Kyle resolves to find out more about Tweek and what happened to Craig. While visiting the coffee shop with the gang, Kyle gets a vision of someone drowning when his fingers brush Tweek’s hands when ordering his drink, the same vision that’s been haunting Tweek for years since Craig came back. It is revealed at this point Kyle has always known about his gift, or what he refers to as a “curse”, but he reserved the knowledge to himself and Stan for fears of being treated differently, of being treated the way that Tweek was. It's also revealed at this point, through a memory of Kyles, that the bracelet he rubs during times of stress was a friendship bracelet Stan had gifted him in the 8th grade.
While settling down with his friends after the vision he had, Kyle asks them what they can recall about Craig and when he went missing, to which they reveal that a lot of the town simply believed he ran away. Not much else was ever known about the case and it had remained cold to that day.
In Kyle and Tweek’s English class, the only class they share, Kyle's new interest towards Tweek means he also notices more about him. This includes the sketchbook he has out and is scribbling in during their lecture. When class ends, Kyle realizes he accidently left it behind, so he picks it up and decides to look through it in his next class. Expecting to be met with grotesque figures and drawings of the dead, Kyle is shocked to find the majority of the pages are filled with knitting patterns or sketches of a cartoon-y ghost boy wearing sweaters. Realizing the book unfortunately doesn't give him any more clues or answers to the questions he has surrounding the odd pair, Kyle decides to use the sketchbook as a leeway to get Tweek to talk with him.
Tweek is in the woods looking at a map filled with the locations he has and hasn't dug up, while Craig is outside playing hide and seek with the other ghost children. Because of his blindness, Craig uses sound to find the location of the other boys, but he miscalculates and lands “painfully against the exposed roots of [a] tree.” The vibrations of the feet scurrying around him remind him of the “vibrations he used to feel through the headboard.” Craig finds himself on the edge of a mental breakdown, the incident triggering memories of his trauma as he feels “powerless” to stop himself from reliving his torture. The other boys notice his distress and attempt to form a healing circle around him, but it does little to help. Craig slams his head against a tree in his attempt to “escape an attacker that simply wasn't there” until Tweek eventually realizes what is going on and goes outside to soothe Craig. Although he can barely speak, Craig cries out in pain , claiming he can't breathe. Tweek sings to him a familiar tune, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, eventually getting him to calm down. It is revealed that during times of distress, Craig bleeds from the places he is most afraid of being touched.
Kyle, wanting to talk with Tweek and return his sketchbook, looks all over town for him until finding him at a bench near Stark’s Pond. Although initially startled by his presence, Tweek soon grows cold and suspicious when he realizes Kyle isn't just there to return his book back to him. Discouraged by Tweek’s attitude, Kyle starts walking in the direction of his house when he realizes Tweek is trailing behind him. Tweek explains himself, telling Kyle he doesn't let people walk home alone anymore because that's what Craig was supposedly doing before he disappeared. Tweek notes his chest has been hurting him, as it usually does when he can’t see Craig.
While walking home, Kyle brings up the subject of the Shadowman. Contrary to the rumors that surrounded this shadowy figure and how it was claimed he dug up holes to bury bodies, Kyle realizes that what he’s been trying to do is find a body-Craig’s. Hearing Kyle’s conclusion strikes paranoia in Tweek, as he remembers he was one of the people who chased after him and he thinks they’re still after the prize money. Eventually Kyle confesses his other motive for wanting to talk with Tweek: he also sees dead people, and he sees Craig. He offers his company and help to Tweek, but is rejected when Tweek tells him he doesn't need friends.
In the time after Craig went missing, Tweek had confessed to Token and Clyde the visions he had been getting, detailing the return of Craig and how they needed to find him. Although they didn't believe him, as most people didn't, Tweek was still grateful they cared enough about him to listen to him and not bully him like others had begun to. That is, until the 7th grade. Tweek had approached Clyde’s locker, as he usually did, stopping at a distance when he noticed his friend talking to someone else about a party. The other boy tells Clyde not to tell Tweek about it. Clyde agrees, calling Tweek a freak who just hung around them until he realizes that Tweek had overheard him. This leads to an altercation between the two where Clyde expresses his frustrations over Tweek using his best friend as the subject for his ghost stories, while Tweek fires back by saying that everything he’s been talking about is the truth. The fight escalates when Clyde pushes Tweek into the lockers behind him. Craig, who’s been hanging on the ceiling this whole time, shatters the lights above them and slams the lockers around them shut in his attempt to protect Tweek. Considering no one but Tweek could see the ghost boy, this also becomes “the day their fear [towards Tweek] began.”
Walking back home from Kyle's house, Tweek once again notes that his chest aches when he can’t see Craig. When he makes it home, his father is awake, much to Tweek’s surprise seeing as his parents had stopped staying up waiting for him to return home from his nightly ventures years ago. His father beckons him over to have a chat with him about his isolation and how Tweek seems to care more for his dead friend than those in his life who are still alive. Although he isn't visible, Tweek hears Craig’s angry breath against his ear and mentally tells him to “chill out”, because although he understands his fear around older men, this is simply Tweeks father. As they continue conversing, Tweek confesses to his father that he feels at fault for what happened to Craig and this is one of the reasons he feels responsible to find out what happened to him. Richard responds to him, saying “What happened to Craig is not your fault… There wasn't anything you could have done.”
After their conversation, Tweek makes it to his room, finally spotting Craig in the hallway as they go inside. Tweek falls asleep, while Craig mulls over the warmth he feels from Tweek, describing how despite his blindness he’s memorized the “bumps and hills” of his face. He wonders what colors his eyes are, thinking they’re blue, but having been so long without seeing, he remains unsure. He uses Tweek’s organs and chest as his own makeshift bed :
“Tweek didn't feel it as his chest cavity popped and expanded. There wasn't a pinch when an invisible skull forced itself against the insides of his lungs. There wasn't pain when a tiny body made a bed of his soft organs, and there wasn't a scrape when the tips of Craig's sharp fingers caressed his thumping heart. All there was was pressure. A dull, tight pressure.
When Tweek couldn't see Craig, his chest ached.”
The day after their encounter, Kyle makes it his mission to reach out to Tweek once again. He ventures into the woods, reaching the vast amount of trees with dolls and stuffed animals strung from them. Visions flood his eyes of Tweek hanging them up to appease the spirits in the woods, which makes him glad he brought a peace offering of his own-a Red Racer stuffed car- in case he encounters any ghosts. An angry Craig approaches Kyle, using one of his many limbs to snatch the toy from him. He finds himself pacified by the noise the toy makes and leads Kyle back to where Tweek is currently digging more holes. Although initially reluctant to accept his help like last time, Tweek eventually relents when Kyle produces his own shovel as proof he really is there to be of aid.
As they reach the end of their digging, there's a dog in a suit watching them from a distance, unnoticed by all parties. The dog’s purpose and reason for being there isn’t revealed at this point. Kyle strikes up conversation with Tweek as they go inside the house in the woods, admitting that the reason he really wants to hang around him is because he must know more about their gifts considering he’s spent the past 5 years with a spirit while Kyle’s been trying to avoid them. Tweek warns him getting deeper into this might mean he doesn’t come out unscathed by the end of it, to which Kyle responds by bringing up his first encounter with Craig where he was hurt by the tiny spirit. Tweek apologizes to him for what happened, explaining that Craig gets into fits like that sometimes when his healing circle is interrupted or doesn’t work. Kyle mulls over this, bringing up the possibility that Craig might be suffering from a sort of PTSD if he had been drowned in the pond. Kyle knowing this much about Craig shocks Tweek, but further proves to him that Kyle really is like him.
While making their way back to his house, Kyle asks whether Craig is always in pain. Tweek explains that pretty ghosts don't exist, that you end up suffering in the afterlife with the same wounds and pain acquired when you died. This upsets Kyle for reasons unknown to Tweek. The next scene takes place between Kyle and Kenny as Kyle laments over what Tweek told him, wondering what “he” would look like if he saw him again. It isn't revealed at this point who he’s talking about.
During his time in captivity, Craig is visited by the spirits of the other children as they talk amongst each other over how Craig’s time is running out. This freaks him out, causing him to sob in fear over his own death and his desire to see his family again. The spirits attempt to soothe him with a lullaby, until they hear the sound of someone coming.
In the present, Richard Tweak is trying to sleep, but he senses someone watching him as the temperature around him drops. He hears something outside of his door, preparing a baseball bat in case it's an intruder. Deciding to look through the keyhole in his door first, he finds himself shocked to see the small frame of a child. When he catches sight of its blood-caked shirt and eyeless face, however, his panic sets him. Craig runs towards Tweek’s room, and Richard, afraid for his son and of what he saw, goes after him. However, once confronted with the sight of his son who’s getting ready to leave the house, he decides to keep the sight to himself as he tries to convince himself that ghosts aren’t real.
Upon leaving his house, Tweek goes towards the Tucker's because Ruby is afraid she saw a ghost in her room. Once assuring her she’s safe, they talk about Craig. This scene revisits the motif of protection, and how multiple characters act as protectors for one another, whether to the detriment or benefit of their own safety.
The next few days Kyle researches articles and news clippings over Craig’s disappearance as he tries to piece together the puzzle of what could have happened to him. He notices Tweek sitting alone in the lunchroom and decides to sit with him despite the rumors and reputation surrounding.
In the weeks after Craig went missing, Tweek was still being dropped off at the Tucker’s household like their usual routine hadn't been interrupted by Craig’s absense. While sitting down to eat with the Tuckers, Tweek tells them about Craig and how he looks, and how he was hurting because of the man who took him. This causes more tension between him and the family, and as get ready to leave when his parents pick him up, Thomas warns him not to bring up his son around them again.
Tweek and Kyle meet up in the coffee shop to talk more, and Tweek decides to share a composition notebook of his filled with the notes and observations he’s made over the years of the different spirits he’s seen and encountered. The kinds listed :
- Shadow people
- The ones who live under the stairs
- The animal people
- Crying babies and why they're evil
In a later scene, as he’s reading the content of the book from the comfort of his own home, Kyle finds the explanation of those who are known as Oculus resonates with him because it describes his kind:
“A rarity. They’re flesh and blood people born with connections to the other side. Clairvoyants is what the living call them. The dead call them the Oculus…Oculus see the world differently because of their eyes.”
As he finishes reading this entry, Tweek starts frantically knocking on his door, having made a discovery while out digging. Once inside, he reveals a bag filled with different items including a tiny, blood stained shirt. He urges Kyle to try and get a vision from the contents within the bag, and when he does, the images upset him so much that he ends up throwing up. Tweek asks if he saw anything about Craig, but Kyle answers no, and instead asks Tweek a question of his own: what he knows about the boys who hang around Craig. Later on, Kyle reveals in his vision he saw a blonde child with blue eyes being murdered and defiled, which prompts Craig to speak up and say it was a boy named Thomas. When asked who Thomas is, he replies “one of us.”
Kyle realizes that there is more than one spirit inhabiting Craig’s body-6 to be exact, and that this explains the extra limbs that sprout from his back and why his voice sounds like a choir of children instead of his own.
Knowing this, Tweek seeks answers from the man in his attack, David. The man reveals that Craig and the spirits he hosts inside his body are known as clusters, but that Tweek’s attempts to save the tiny creature are futile. Tweek angrily disagrees, which prompts the following interaction between them:
David: “You’re so concerned with rewriting his death, just like he’s so concerned with rewriting yours…If there was a way to help a spirit move on from the tragedy of death, do you think I’d still be here.”
Tweek, not wanting to believe this, replies : “Maybe giving up hope is the reason you’re still hanging there.”
This introduces the motif of hope, and hopelessness.
In another flashback, this time detailing David’s backstory and his suicide, the rabbit is once again mentioned, this time revealing that it make deals with the dead to either pass on “unburdoned” or remain if they have unfinished business.
After time has passed from his encounter with David, Tweek and Craig are frightened to hear what sounds like a struggle taking place above them in the attic. Upon entering Tweek makes the gruesome discovery that the rabbit had come to take David. It makes an ominous promise towards Tweek:
“His time is up, Mr. Shadowman…Don't worry. Soon, yours will be too. We’ll be back for you..both of you.”
In another flashback, the mystery surrounding Stan and what happened to him is also revealed. A year prior to the current events, Kyle and Stan had had a fight over his alcoholic tendencies. After being awoken by the sensation of someone in his room and the distant sound of sirens, Kyle rushes towards a large crowd gathered around a smashed car laying on train tracks. The car belonged to Stan and he was killed by the impact. In the present, Kyle and Kenny get into an argument over Kyle’s recent behavior and his unwillingness to confide in them over what’s been going on. When Kenny storms off from the lunchroom, Eric accuses Kyle of not caring for his friends despite all that they did for him after Stan passed away.
When Tweek was 12 years old, he described himself as someone with high hopes who would go out looking for Craig’s body even after the search parties had given up on him. While wandering the woods, Tweek falls through a hole in the earth, and unable to climb back out, follows Craig’s lead through the underground tunnels until they reach a door. Inside this room, Tweek catches sight of a metal gurney with a figure sleeping on top of it. They try sneaking past it, but the figure is awoken when Tweek steps on a scalpel. The creature resembles Craig’s form, with long limbs extending from its spine. It was a cluster. It attacks Tweek, although he comes to the realization it's acting out of fear of being hurt and not anger. Craig cries out as Tweek is being hurt, which in turn distracts the figure who starts breaking down as well. This gives them enough time to escape.
Currently, however, Tweek’s hopes are dwindling as he fears time is running out for him to find Craig due to the approaching winter and because of the interaction he had with David and the rabbit-man. Kyle finds him in the woods and expresses his concern over his lack of attending school, but also brings up the research he’s been doing. He thinks if they figure out why Craig is the outlier from the other victims that this could lead them closer to him and the truth. Before diving into the research, though, Kyle asks him when was the last time either of them truly laughed. Tweek explains he hasn't genuinely laughed since Craig went missing, and that the last thing he remembers is laughing with him over a pillow fight they had had back then. Hearing this, Craig gives a pillow to Kyle, who uses it to attack Tweek when he’s not expecting it. This leads to a brief moment of happiness and laughter between the trio as they engage in a pillow fight with one another.
Hours later, as they return to their research, they list out the difference and similarities between Craig and the 6 other victims. While Craig clearly differed in terms of appearance, they all disappeared the same way-walking alone. Tweek comes to the devastating realization that, given all the evidence and the fact that Craig had been walking back home from his house, Tweek was the one who was supposed to have been kidnapped. Essentially, Craig had died in his place. This thought causes Tweek to storm off from the house, telling a trailing Kyle that it's better if he doesn't get himself more involved or else he might get hurt in the process as well.
In a brief flashback, its shown that Tweek’s relationship with the goths came to be after Tweek had defended Firkle from a group of jocks, which included Clyde, who had been harassing him. After the younger child makes an escape, a fight between Tweek, Bill, and Fosse breaks out. Though he was initially outnumbered, the goths return to protect him, claiming that what he had done for Firkle made him one of them.
After their solemn realization, Kyle and Tweek sneak into the Tuckers household to try and see if Kyle gets any more visions that might give them more definitive answers. While in Craig’s room, Kyle realizes the majority of memories in there are attached to Tweek. He reaches a shoe box that fills him with memories of the time Craig’s guinea pig died, and how the event had prompted Craig to confess to Tweek that he was grateful to have him in his life:
“...I just want to tell you that someday when we-when we’re old and if-if i go like Stripe, I want you to know that what time i had was great because-cause. Because you were there..”
Eventually, Kyle finds the camera Craig had used to take pictures while alive. He’s flooded with vague visions of a terrified Craig being confronted by an unidentifiable man. Apparently, while trying to find his camera in an unknown closet, Craig had stumbled across a photobook filled with pictures of the other ghost children and their demise/defilement. The man, which Kyle suspects is Thomas, tells the frightened child that it’ll be their secret as the vision comes to an end. Ruby, who had been on the lookout in order to warm them when her parents were around, calls Tweek as a warning that they’re approaching. Kyle hides under Craig’s bed while Tweek faces the wrath of Thomas, who threatens to call the cops on him if he repeats this behavior and continues bothering his family over their dead son. Once they leave, Kyle sneaks out through the window.
The next scene takes place back when Craig was held in captivity. The spirits of the other children once again call out to him, trying to lead him out of the basement despite the man who had hurt him being in that very room, albeit asleep. Craig follows their voices until he reaches the outside, but at this point his captor had realized he’d escaped and barged outside to get him back. The ghosts urge him to try and run, but due to his weakness and blindness he stumbles into a tree (mirroring the panic attacks he had experienced as a ghost in previous scenes). He tries hiding but is eventually found and dragged back before making a last-ditch effort to escape by biting his captors' fingers. This only enrages the man further, who slams him into a tree once again as punishment. Once inside again, Craig pleads not to be hurt again but his wishes fall on deaf ears as his captor chokes him , telling him he’s become more trouble than he’s worth. He kisses Craig’s bottom lip, saying “You poor pretty thing,” before letting him go. Craig asks how he could do this to him, and gets the response:
“You aren't like they were, you know…I can't hurt you, not really”
This confuses Craig, since the man has been hurting him ever since he found the photo album in Kyle’s vision.
In the end, Craig passes away but his death is not detailed up to this point. He is met with the dog in the afterlife. The dog is there to take him ‘home’, but Craig pleads with it to let him warn Tweek about his own impending demise. The dog cautions that in order to grant such a power, he’d have to make Craig into something terrible, to which Craig replies saying he already is. This reflects Craig’s own vision of himself given the torment he endured, he’s essentially internalized his abuse and believes he is the terrible things that happened to him.
In the following scene, Kyle still hasn't made up with Kenny since their fight but is confronted by the goths over Tweek’s whereabouts. Confused by what they mean, they explain that he was supposed to show up at Pete’s house that morning but never did. Worried over this news, he goes to the house in the woods after school to see if Tweek is there, but is met with a gruesome sight. The house had been witness to a struggle, blood was everywhere as their research and maps were torn all over the place. Kyle tries getting visions from the house and the nature surrounding it in order to gather clues over what could have happened to him, Instead, Kyle gets another vision of Craig and the torment he endured. Overcome by what he saw and felt, he finds himself screaming in the woods until someone finds him and takes him to safety before he passes out from how overwhelmed he was. When he came to, he realized it had been the goths who found him. They tell him they thought they saw a body on the side of the road and investigated the woods when they couldn’t find it. After hearing this, Kyle realizes he’s been squeezing something between his hands and is shocked to see it's the matching friendship bracelet Stan had worn before he passed, and yet it somehow came into his possession during the events that had just transpired. Sheila eventually picks up Kyle, asking him what happened to him. Kyle confesses he was looking for Tweek, to which Sheila shuts him down by telling him he shouldn't hang around such a disturbed boy who is known to run away anyways.
Kyle stays home from school, sporting mysterious bruises all over his body that match the ones Craig had when he died. He’s visited by his friends, who he hasn't properly spoken to since the altercation with Kenny. He and Kenny make up, and in a last ditch effort to seek help from someone, confesses everything about his investigations with Tweek to him. He tells Kenny he feels responsible for what happened to Tweek the same way he feels responsible for what happened to Stan, and that because of this he doesn't understand why Stan is looking out for him. He explains that upon seeing his bracelet, he came to the realization that Stan had been the force that had protected him when Craig had attacked him during their first encounter, and that he had been the one to lead the goths to him in the woods.
Ultimately, he feels hopeless to help Tweek.
As Tweek is being held in captivity, it’s made known that he recognizes his captor but he can't bring himself to accept that they're the one responsible for what happened to Craig and for what's happening to him right now. Craig is at the top of the staircase, too afraid of the man to go down and be with Tweek. The man explains to him how Craig died, that in order to get him to stop screaming and crying, he had hit him with a broken bottle. Craig choked on the glass of the bottle, bleeding more than the man had intended, and in order to stop his suffering he buried Craig alive in the ground beneath where Tweek was currently lying. The man threatens Tweek to reveal who has been helping him with his investigations, but Tweek refuses to give up Kyle’s identity.
At school, Kyle and his friends are busy putting missing posters up of Tweek when Clyde suddenly confronts Kyle over what he’s doing. This leads to an argument between the two of them as Kyle brings up the way Tweek was treated by the people who were supposed to be his friends, which causes Clyde to become defensive. While Eric and Kenny lead Kyle away towards a bathroom, Butters tells Clyde about the severity of Tweek’s disappearance. After some time, Clyde enters the bathroom accompanied by Token. He asks to talk with Kyle alone, producing a missing poster from his pocket-Craig’s missing poster, which he had kept over the years. He confesses that he had tried calling the number on it but found that he couldn't do it, so he kept the poster until he felt brave enough to do so. He reveals that a week prior to Craig’s disappearance, Craig had disclosed to him that someone was hurting him and so when he went missing, Clyde knew who it must’ve been. Kyle asks if it was Thomas, but Clyde corrects him and says that it was actually Richard who had been molesting Craig. Craig didn't want anyone knowing because he thought Tweek would get hurt too. Because of this, Clyde grew to resent and blame Tweek over what happened to Craig.
Knowing all of this now, Kyle visits the coffee shop to try and get a vision from touching Richard so it might lead him to where he has Tweek held captive. In his vision, he sees Tweek and Richard. Richard was showing his son the photobook that Craig had found when he was still alive. He confesses that his urges began when Tweek was 3, but he didn't want to hurt his own son so he found a replacement victim. He repeated this 5 more times until the last victim, Thomas. He had succeeded in stopping his spree, that is until Craig found the photobook and gave him the opportunity to indulge old ‘habits’ once more. As he describes this, he turns the page and Tweek finds himself looking at pictures of Craig during his time in captivity. Richard reveals that he took Craig’s eyes out because his sad stare would follow him everywhere and they’d cry whenever he tried touching him. It made him feel “odd.”
Richard continues, telling Tweek that “Craig chose to die for [him]”. Craig followed him willingly to his car, into the woods, despite knowing what was to come. He did it because “he knew if he didnt, it would be [Tweek].”
Richard plans on drowning them in the pond, but before he can do that he needs the name of whoever was helping Tweek, since he can’t leave any traces behind. As he explains this, Tweek spots the rabbit from before looking at him and Craig from its corner, and he warns Craig to run away. Not believing he can truly see ghosts, Richard attempts to assault Tweek as proof that no one is there to help him. He mimics the same thing he did to Craig before he died, choking him and kissing his bottom lip, telling him “Oh, you poor pretty thing.”
Craig approaches the scene unfolding before him and attacks Richard, mauling his eye as he does so. Richard recalls the time he saw Craig through the keyhole in his house as he escapes in shock and pain. Once he’s gone, Tweek turns to Craig and apologizes to him for the recent turn of events and for always scolding him whenever Richard was around, having not known that it was because Craig wanted him away from Tweek. Tweek contemplates his own demise, but Craig, not wanting to accept such a fate for his best friend, tries to break him free from his restraints but to no avail. This furthers the running theme of control and hopelessness:
“Tweek could see it in Craig in that moment-the loss of control that destroyed the spirit in the tunnel and turned it into a monster. Fear. he saw the boy's fear”
Tweek recalls the moment they had when Craig’s guinea pig died, telling him how no matter what happens, what matters the most to him is that they’re together. Craig musters up the strength, despite his pain, to say “I love you” to Tweek. Tweke returns the sentiment.
After having his vision, Kyle demands to know where Tweek is, but the Tweaks stare at him in a mix of concern and confusion. He leaves the shop, searching for Tweek on his own. He calls out to Stan for comfort, not knowing if he’s there until he feels a hand interlock and squeeze his own. They reach the house in the woods, when Kyle hears banging under the stairs, and upon investigating finds a secret entrance to a basement he hadn't been aware the house possessed. He spots Craig at the bottom of the staircase, so he follows him down. Once at the bottom, he sees a limp figure surrounded by 6 spirits, as if they were trying to protect him. Realizing the figure is Tweek, Kyle tries approaching him until Craig-not aware that it's him because of his blindness-attempts to attack Kyle out of fear that it's Richard there to hurt Tweek again.
Tweek, seeing what's happening, tells Craig it's Kyle. Realizing the mistake he had made, Craig retreats. Finally able to reach Tweek, Kyle realizes he’s retrained and reaches for the bolt cutters on a nearby table when he notices 4 fingers on that very table-they belong to Tweek. Once Tweek is free’d, Kyle tells him they need to escape and get to a hospital immediately, but Tweek refuses, telling him they need to dig up Craig’s body first. Kyle gives in, but tends to his wounds first before starting to dig. As they get closer to his body, however, Craig grows angry and tosses the shovel out of Kyle's hands. He goes towards a weak Tweek, pleading with him to stand up, leading Kyle to believe that he wants them to get out, even if that means leaving his body behind.
Growing frustrated that he can't explain himself to the two of them, he runs upstairs. Since Tweek isn’t strong enough to follow, Kyle goes after him and finds him hiding in the corner of a closet because he’s angry with himself. Once settled in beside him, Kyle gives him Tweek’s coat because it’ll help him feel warm and calm him down. Kyle asks why he got angry when they were so close to finding his body, because he thought that's what Craig had been trying to lead them to all along. Craig shakes his head no and force feeds the drowning vision to Kyle again, this time with the assailant's face revealed. Kyle realizes Craig always had the ability to show them the whole vision, including Richard’s identity, but he had chosen not to. Craig feels ashamed for this, and Kyle wonders for a second if he was trying to protect Richard , but he realizes that can't be right. He realizes Craig didn't want to show his best friend what his father was capable of, and what he had done to him.
Craig, struggling to speak, confesses that he feels at fault for what happened to him and how it affected Tweek. Kyle reassures him that none of it was his fault, it was Richards :
“Craig, I swear that you were always more than what Richard did. You aren't worth any less right now than you were before he touched you.
“ It's okay to be sad and angry sometimes…You have to feel them, but they don't have to control you or dominate who you are. Now, he can only have as much control over you as you give him. No one can hurt you without your consent.”
Kyle eventually comes to realize that Craig had come back to protect Tweek and warn him of his own demise. He never cared if they found his body.
Meanwhile, back in the basement, Tweek finishes digging up Craig’s body. Kyle returns to see him holding his corpse, but he convinces Tweek to leave it behind in order for them to escape. As they make their way out, however, they realize someone else is in the house with them. It's Richard.
Craig prepares to defend Tweek again, but this time Richard takes advantage of his blindness by throwing bricks across the room to distract him. He gets ahold of Kyle, holding him with a knife trained on his neck while Tweek pleads for his life. Richard leads Kyle upstairs, waiting for Craig to follow them. Once he does, Craig approaches Kyle to make sure he’s okay before attempting to attack Richard again. However, he is too late as the man speeds past him and back into the basement, closing the door in his face.
“It was a trick. Richard used Kyle as bait to lure Craig away from Tweek.”
They see Richard dragging Tweek towards the pond through a window. Craig goes after them as Kyle attempts to climb out of said window behind him, but he slips on a patch of ice and falls to the ground below, breaking one of his legs as a result.
Kyle lays defeated in the snow, almost accepting his own death. That is, until he smells familiar scents around him and he spots something from the corner of his eye-someone laying next to him. It's Stan. He reaches out to him, squeezing his hand. Kyle, feeling hopeless, confesses to his best friend that he wants to be “where Craig is, where Tweek is going, he doesn't want to be left behind”.
Up to this point, he had only seen glimpses of Stan, but after his confession he sees him completely for the first time and is shocked to see that he looks completely fine, despite being crushed from the impact of the train.
“Stan [had] accomplished something they had only dreamt of. Something they feared had been impossible. He moved on”
Out in the distance, towards the direction that Richard had dragged Tweek away, Stan and Kyle catch a glimpse of the rabbit that Kyle had seen in his vision. He asks Stan who or what that creature is.
“Hopelessness, if you belong to it, it takes you. It holds you under till nothing’s left”
“Why is it here?”
“To take them. Both of them. You were the only thing left in its way”
As Richard drags Tweek towards the pond and Tweek teeters on the edge of life and death, he realizes, much to his own self hatred, that he feels remorse for his father despite everything. He still loved the father he once knew.
Craig approaches the pair, feeling that Tweek’s warmth is fading as he’s being drowned. He tries to attack Richard, but struggles against the strength and determination of the larger man.
At this point, however, Kyle had managed to reach the pond and stabs Richard in the neck with the same knife he had used to threaten him earlier. While Kyle stares in shock at what he's done, Craig searches for Tweek in the waters and pulls him out with the help of his extra limbs. Craig starts tearing up, realizing that Tweek isn't responding and appears dead. He can't even wipe Craigs eyes as he usually does, and Craig can't reach into his ribcage to feel his beating heart and rising chest. He and the children inside him become enraged, wanting to drag Richard to his demise for what he’d done.
However, Craig struggles to retain control over the others, telling them he still wants to be a ‘good thing’ for Tweek despite what Richard did to all of them.Craigs limbs take Richard and force his head underwater. The angry souls, attached to Craigs spine, unwillingly drag him towards the pond with Richard, attempting to fulfill their desire to reach the bottom and kill Richard. Kyle notices his struggle, but has to choose between helping a Craig who is being dragged away or an unconscious Tweek. He decides to stay and revive Tweek.
As the spirits of the children inside Craig are trying to kill Richard, they mimic the line he would tell them before their own unfortunate demise: “oh you poor , pretty thing.”
Richard reaches his hands out and catches Craig’s side, dragging him down with him. No one can help him now for the first time in years since he was kidnapped. The spirits of the other children manage to drag Richard to the bottom, killing him as his body floats to the surface.
In the end, the motives of the spirits are revealed compared to Craigs: They want Richard to experience what they did, while Craig only wants to be free of him.
Craig, with the help of one of the limbs who hadn’t betrayed him, uses the same knife Kyle had used to cut the angry limbs and their spirits away from him because “if he was attached to them. He’d be attached to Richard too”
Before he can make it to the surface, however, a hand belonging to Richard’s spirit reaches out from the bottom of the pond and grabs a hold of Craig's legs, transporting him back to his abuse in the basement. Craigs first instinct is to do as he did in life, beg for forgiveness, as he's grabbed at and thrown to the pond's rocky bottom. This time though, Craig realizes he doesn't need to ask for forgiveness. Richard doesn't hold power over him anymore.
He uses the knife once more and plunges it into Richard's head, using the moment to also sever his ties to the other vengeful spirits that are still attached to him. Craig reaches for the surface, Richard high on his tail. The limbs of the vengeful spirits, now free from Craig, drag him back down with them.
“They would never leave the nightmare he created for them. Now, neither could he”
Once he breaks through the surface, he paddles towards the sound of someone calling his name. Reaching the edge of the pond, Kyle picks him up, as sirens blare in the background. Kyle lets him know he thinks Tweek is okay, meanwhile laying Craig down on the ground to help him pick away at his eyelids which had been sealed shut in the midst of the whole ordeal.
Once he does, Craigs eyes open and he realizes he can see for the first time in years, he isn't drowned in a sea of blackness like before. He realizes, now that he can see, that the one who had been picking at his eyes was in fact not Kyle, since Kyle was waving at the sirens in the distance. Craig doesn't recognize the stranger at first, but as the stranger caresses his face, he finds himself returning the gesture. He uses his sense of touch to familiarize himself with the face of a man who he realizes is no stranger at all. In his final thoughts as he tears up-with real tears and not black ooze- he realizes that “Tweeks' eyes are blue.”