|Barclay "The Man in the Mask" Starkley|
|Date of birth:||2254|
|Date of death:||2287|
|Status:||Dead, hung to death.|
Barclay Starkley is one of the many lost causes of the wasteland. Originally born into a family of well-off fishermen on the Gold Coast, Barclay Starkley was kidnapped by a strange cult which led him to become the man he was.
Barclay was born to Anna Leigh-Starkley and John Starkley; two owners of a small fleet of fishing villages on the Gold Coast of what was once Florida. Barclay had two older brothers, Sebastian Starkley and Leon Starkley whom were two and one years older than him respectively and would later have a younger sister Bonnie Starkley. Barclay had a fairly easy life compared to most other children of the wasteland. His parents were successful business owners, which guaranteed that there was always food on the table in addition to living in the town of Sweetwaters which was located in a relatively bandit-free area.
Barclay spent most of his childhood either playing with his siblings or the other neighborhood children, most of which were the children of his parent's employees. Barclay's parents had used some of the extra money they had made from operating the fleet of fishing boats to finance a teacher; which Barclay as well as all of the other village children attended to her classes. Barclay was an exceptional student, even from a young age. He quickly grasped a variety of topics and the teacher even suggested that the young boy may grow up to be a scientist one day. However Barclay himself took a fascination with poetry, which he was chided by his boyhood peers for as being "sissy".
Barclay began helping his parents in operating and managing their fishing fleet at the young age of ten. Barclay primarily ran messages out to the docks or assisted in filing paperwork back at his house which doubled as the main offices for the fleet but it still exposed Barclay to the inner workings of the management of the company that his parents one day hoped that he would help run with his brothers and sister.
But, all in all, Barclay lived a quiet and uneventful early life. He lived in a safe area with a loving, supportive family that was able to support his every need and even provide a few luxuries such as a decent education. However that all quickly, suddenly and violently changed when Barclay was fifteen years old. As Barclay and the rest of his family were peacefully sleeping, as was most of the town, a small group of masked people snuck into Barclay's house. Murdering his older brothers, young sister and parents with knives to conceal any noise; they stole Barclay away and used drugs to knock him out until they reached their destination.
It was there everything changed.
Imprisonment and "Conditioning"
- "You just don't understand the things they made me do, what they made us sit there and watch and take. We were kids, man, we were kids who were scared out of our minds and didn't know what was going to happen to us. It...changed us. It changed me."
- ―Barclay later recounting his experience on The Farm via a recording
Barclay awoke several days later in a small room, chained to a bed. The walls were bare aside from various writings from what appeared to be passages from some sort of religious book. After a brief struggle with his restraints a group of four hooded men with strange symbols on their chest entered the room and beat Barclay with sticks for several minutes before leaving. It was the first day of what would become a multi-year ordeal for Barclay. Later on Barclay was led out of his room by the same group of hooded men into a large courtyard where there were fifteen other teenage boys; all roughly the same age as Barclay.A man addressed the assembled group of boys, introducing himself as Father Tobias and that these boys were now "guests" at The Farm. Father Tobias was the leader of a cult that believed that the Great War was the result of mankind's sins and that the world is still full of sin; therefore in order to save the world from a second and final apocalypse the sinful will need to be killed. They believed that if they raised these young boys up to act as sleeper agents to act in the cults will then they will be able to cleanse the sin from the earth.
For the next eight years, Barclay and the fourteen other boys at The Farm were refereed to only as numbers one through fifteen with Barclay being number fourteen. Each boy was subjected to an intense and rigorous physical exercise program which was coupled with combat training with both firearms and hand to hand combat, survival training, brainwashing and physical and sexual abuse at the hands of their captors. Those who attempted to resist the process at any point were dragged off to "The Chamber" which was a padded room that they were locked in for days and occasionally weeks without food or water. The room was specially designed to trap in heat resulting in the occupants literally cooking themselves coupled with torture. Barclay was a frequent visitor to The Chamber as a result of his rebellious behavior.
Barclay attempted to keep his sanity by keeping up with his old hobby, poetry. He managed to keep in secret from his captors, hiding the stolen pieces of paper and pencil within his mattress and taking it out only at night when the cult believed he was asleep. These poems and other short stories that Barclay wrote helped him keep his sanity as well as reinforcing his ever-growing resolve to escape the compound that he was kept a prisoner at.
During Barclay's sixth year of captivity, the "Harrowing Night" occurred. Other kidnapped wastelanders were brought into the compound by the cult members, and the "Select Fifteen" as they were now known, were ordered to torture them. Most followed the order with no remorse or hesitation, except for Barclay. Barclay's captive was a girl, the same age as him. Unwilling to torture her, Barclay was instead forced to watch as senior members of the cult raped the girl and then brutally mutilated her. Barclay was told that, if he had simply gone through with the cults orders, than she would had been spared the extra suffering.
It was his seventh year of captivity that Barclay finally lost hope. During a particularity brutal beating, one of the senior members hit Barclay across the back of the neck with the back of a hatchet. Nearly breaking his neck, Barclay's life was saved and thankfully left unparalyzed. However it left him in immense pain, to the point a special mask was constructed for him. The mask had a mechanism which released a vaporized, experimental cocktail of painkillers, combat drugs, and mild hallucinogens, specially fabricated by chemists in a distant town that allowed him to function despite his neck injury. Realizing that his life had been saved by the very people who attempted to kill him; Barclay came to the conclusion that his entire existence was now in the hands of the cult.
- "I hate to say it, but, at the time I really did enjoy it. I was finally released from imprisonment, I was given people to exact my rage upon and I took that opportunity to the fullest. And unfortunately it meant a lot of innocent people died."
- ―Barclay on the spree of cult-ordered killings he went on following his release from The Farm on a recording.
During his eighth and final year of captivity at The Farm, Barclay and the other fourteen boys were prepared to be released out into the wasteland. They memorized their targets, each boy given a list of a dozen names and their complete dossiers. Then one day Barclay woke up in small room in the back of a tavern in Texas. A hooded man sat at the foot of his bed, explaining that they brought Barclay here last night and gave him the key to a chest in the room with the orders to "complete your mission" before disappearing.
The chest had a pistol, several knives and grenades as well as a well-made suit. In the closet of the room was an assault rifle with several extra drum magazines and a bulletproof vest. What followed next was one of the most infamous spree-killings in Texas. Barclay traveled throughout what was once Texas assassinating his targets in the most brutal manner possible. Even from within the cult, Barclay was recognized for her sheer brutality of his hits; whereas others may have done it quietly and stealthily to avoid attracting attention Barclay kicked in the front door and went in guns blazing. Barclay later claimed it was due to a desire to hopefully kill himself, that maybe his victims might have had a chance if he announced his presence early on into his rampages.
Entire families were wiped out during Barclay's rampages, which were fueled by years of bottled rage against the cult that imprisoned him for eight years in addition to the cocktail of drugs inside of his mask. "The Man in the Mask" as became known as rumors and stories spread of him across Texas had completely replaced the personality and mannerisms that was once Barclay Starkley. He was now a cold, unfeeling killing object. He existed only to kill for the cult and that was it; just as Father Tobias and the others had hoped for.
A partial list of Barclay's victims is provided below:
- Jerrold Barret, age 32.
- Tara Weekes, age 24.
- The Bagley Family, ranging from ages 6 to 40.
- Ellis Bonner, age 20.
Barclay almost met his end during his twelfth and final hit. Charging in guns blazing, Barclay killed his target Thomas Pratt as well as his young wife. Barclay would had left the house easily enough as well if it wasn't for a local townsguardmen who happened to be patrolling nearby. Stepping out of the house, Barclay was met with a shotgun blast. The pellets hit the side of the vest where he was unprotected, shredding his right lung. He quickly collapsed onto the ground, firing at and killing the guard. He managed to haul himself up and limp away before any reinforcements came, but, he didn't manage to get far before he was chased down and hauled away to the local jail.
- "And all of that has led me to here. Now, please. Take me out back and hang me so I can be done with this wretched existence of mine."
- ―Barclay's final recording during his taped interview.
Jim Jones grew up in Annaville, one of the centers of conflict in the Corpse Coast. Routinely exposed to violence and bloodshed, especially in the Reds territory, no one would had been surprised if he had grown up to be a gun for hire like many of his childhood peers did. Instead Jim Jones left Annaville as early as he could, self teaching himself the medical trade from various apprenticeships and books he picked up along the ways. In addition to being a wandering doctor, Jim Jones provided moral support and advice to many as he traveled; changing the lives of many by sitting down and working with them. Before the war he would had perhaps been a famous therapist or psychologist. But, now, he is a no-name man who attempts to change as many lives as possible.
Barclay at first refused, simply looking away from Jim and ignoring his requests. The few times Barclay spoke to Jim were grunted threats. But, Jim was persistent in his search for a story. What finally got Barclay to accept Jim's request for an interview was when Jim brought up the subject of writing, which Barclay asked about poetry. This initial spark in a conversation eventually led to a friendship between the two. In addition to the many hours of taped conversations between the two regarding Barclay's personal life, they spent many a hours on their hour discussing great literately works as well as poets and writers from before the war. Both men were drawn together with their love of Ernest Hemmingway, and Jim Jones helped Barclay write several of his last poems before his execution date.
It was in these final days that Barclay had rediscovered his humanity. Some speculate, including his friend Jim Jones, that he was truly able to think clearly without his mask and without being surrounded by the cult that had raised him. The month prior to his execution that he spent with Jim Jones was where, for the first time in nearly fifteen years, he was at peace. His day was spent talking with Jim and reading, discussing and writing poetry. Barclay confided in Jim that he truly wanted to die, as he felt that he really had become a monster. Despite Jim explaining to Barclay that he had been shaped and conditioned by the cult to do it's bidding, Barclay continued to wait eagerly for his day of execution.
Then, one day, he was led from his cell out in front of a jeering crowd and was executed via public hanging with his body left to rot outside of town for the scavengers. Jim Jones eventually paid for a small crew of men to find his body and give him a proper burial, with the tombstone reading "Here lies a gentle soul, a lover of words, who was changed forever by a few bad men."
Shortly afterwards, the entire cult and Father Tobias fell ill and never recovered; dying en-masse. They had just kidnapped a second group of fifteen boys with plans of training and raising them similar to what they did Barclay and the others. The other fourteen boys that were in Barclay's class met similar fates to Barclay.
Barclay was, at his core, a poet. He loved poetry and often wrote it in his spare time, in addition to being an excellent student. He showed promise in being able to manage a business, but, unfortunately he was changed and shaped in a brutal and remorseless killer who was known for his loud and almost suicidal style.