Friday, April 29, 2011

No Reply

I swore to myself that I wouldn’t fucking post here again. On this stupid blog. But I can’t just leave it and there’s no-one left to help me record things.

Ray is dead. I can’t process it. I can’t believe it. It’s so open ended... We were in the Magna, one of us keeping an eye on the entrance at all times, when we heard voices. Ray knew who they were straight off the bat, shoved me out of the way and stood infront of me. I scrabbled around a little before getting to my feet and seeing the two. Eulogy and Hammer. I knew their names from Ray's introduction I guess you could say it was. It was more of a mock casual greeting, I guess.

Of course then we turned tail and ran like hell, because I'm pregnant and Ray's human. It didn't work. Like, at all. When Ray'd shoved me out of the way, the two of us lost sight of the entrance. So it wasn't there. Like a fucking Weeping Angel. It buggered off the second it could. And of course the other two were like fucking Olympic sprinters and that bloody moron had to go and be chivalrous and tell me to "Run as he held them off." I really wanted to hit him then. But I realised something. I'm thinking for two. I can't be so reckless anymore. I can't...stand up for myself.

So I let him. I let him "Fend them off" while I fled like fucking Brave Sir Robin.

I had an enjoyable half hour/hour/month/decade trying to find the entrance again, because my senses were skewing themselves left right and center. I could smell and taste things that weren't there, feel things, see things. But I found it. I think it's more a case of wanting it and knowing that this is how the place works. I didn't exit though. I just sort of...hung about in the gap. I think I heard gunshots at a point, but it was so echoey and merely dropping a pencil could get that loud after a while...

Ray came stumbling out from a corner a way away about an hour later, something like that. His arm was bleeding heavily and he was clutching it, when he saw me he smiled a little and

And then there was this thick fog behind him and it made the air smell so strongly you could taste it. It tasted like novocaine.

The fog solidified into tentacles and thrashed around the narrow corridor we were in, I only realised that they'd pulled Ray back into the fog, where I couldn't see him after a minute. I think the fog did more than just TASTE like novocaine. I think they really did numb your own brain screaming at you to flee.

He was screaming, Tony. He was fucking screaming his lungs out. And I felt rain on my face. I ran. I turned and fucking ran for my life, for my baby's life, for my sanity...

He can't be dead. It's too open-ended.

Even though I know he is, because I have Ray’s blood on my face.

I can’t wash it off. In some strange way it’s all I have left of him, so instead I’m left staring at myself in the mirror over the sink, hands bracing themselves for when I throw up. I never do. I’m too numb still. I don’t know if this has something to do with my coma, Redlight's fucking about in my head and it’s repercussions on my emotions, or if believing Ray dead once before was all my mind and body could take. Now it’s happened a second time and I can’t even think anything other than white noise. There’s nothing in my head. Usually there’s something in my mind, something going about, something that needs testing or doing or going to. I just can’t think like that right now, but there’s no grief either. I honestly don’t think I can mourn Ray again.

It fucked me up too much the first time round.

So I’ll stand at my mirror and stare at the blood on my face, and sometime soon , I’ll wash it off. I’ll say a final goodbye.

And then I'll be damned if I don't reassess my priorities. Because I’m staying in Egypt now.

My Anorexic Associate didn't just rip out Ray's heart.

...I found this when I went to post this on Ray's blog. He seems to have written it a few weeks ago. Stupid soppy cunt. (His fucking password was "spesproreliquo", for fuck's sake.)


Ava, I know things have been difficult between us in the past few weeks and I'm sorry that I haven't been able to help you as much as I wish I could. I wrote this for you in case I died before I could help you get through all this. I know it's not much, but it's from my heart, and, in the end, that's all I can leave you. I love you, Ava. I always will.

No Reply

by Raymond Shaughnessy

If you can read this, you lost me somewhere,
But I'll always be with you, so do not despair,
I left you this poem, I knew you would find it,
I hoped you would read it and would be reminded

Of all that we shared, the laughter and tears,
Of all we confronted, the pain and the fears,
Of all we defeated, the chances and odds,
As we danced on the thunder and taunted the gods.

I'm guessing you're crying; it's good for your health
But don't turn the dark feelings in on your self.
I am at peace and you should be too,
And maybe, who knows, I can watch over you.

I cannot promise that I felt no pain,
That my death was as easy as watching the rain.
It may have been gruesome, it probably hurt,
But as long as you're living, my death has some worth.

I know that you miss me and I miss you too
But the life that I gave gave some more life to you.
So, please, do not weep for my final goodbye,
The silence that came when there was no reply.

Reach out.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Thing We Said Today/When I Get Home

Ava and I are in a hotel in Cairo. It's only for two nights, we're not going to waste time dilly-dallying. It's the Magna tomorrow. We've made a decision about what we're doing after the Magna.

Me: -I knock on her door- Ava?

Ava: What?

Me: You didn't pay however many hundred pounds for my plane ticket and accomodation to avoid me like the plague. Let's talk.

Ava: About WHAT, Ray? What is there you could POSSIBLY want to talk to me about?

Me: Don't be like that, Ava. You're smarter than that. Let's talk about our child.

Ava: -she opens the door and goes back to unpacking, avoiding my eye-

Me: How far along are you? Did you get pregnant before the coma or that one night after you woke up?

Ava: After. Of course after.

Me: So you're due in... -I add up the dates in his head- December?

Ava: Thereabouts.

Me: Roughly New Year then. That saves money on birthday and Christmas presents.

Ava: -she whips around and slaps me across the face- HOW can you joke!?

Me: I wasn't joking. I was making an observation. Calm down. -I rub my face-

Ava: -she glares at me-

Me: I think we should drop out of the Run after we explore the Magna. We can't raise a child in hotel rooms, or alleyways when we're low on cash.

Ava: Drop out of the Run? And do what, sit around, waiting for that anorexic shitehawk to kill us?

Me: There are ways out. Chester and Vieve got one. We can't raise a child on the Run, Ava.

Ava: And just what was their big thing? Laser-guided amnesia?

Me: Can you think of another idea? We can't raise a child on the Run and neither of us wants to get rid of it.

Ava: No. No I can't. I don't know why I even wat to keep it sometimes. I just...I don't want HIM near it. But forgetting everything? Everyone? And everything that could be of help? What if someone comes across something about my Egyptian research and has questions? What then? What if that's the KEY and I've fucking LOST it?

Me: We can put the information on the Internet, either in public or in a file we entrust to a few people. Do we have much of a choice?

Ava: I don't know, Ray. -she sighs- I don't even know why I bother, anyway.

Me: Bother what?

Ava: Bother fighting.

Me: -I sit down beside her on the bed- I know what you mean.

Ava: Well..

Me: What?

Ava: Well. Should we?

Me: Should we what?

Ava: Bother fighting, Ray? Should we bother fighting?

Me: If it puts our child at risk...then no, probably not.

Ava: ...

Me: -I hold out my hand to her- You don't have to love me, but will you let me raise our child with you?

Ava: ...Sure.

Me: -I hold my hand out for a few more seconds then curl it up awkwardly and put it away- I do love you, Ava.

Ava: Hmn. -she looks out of the window-

Me: So...the Magna tomorrow then?

Ava: I guess.

Me: "Into the jaws of Death, into the mouth of Hell, rode the six hundred." Minus five hundred and ninety eight.

Ava: Ninety seven.

Me: -I smile- Do you think you could ever bring yourself to not hate me?

Ava: I don't hate you. I just can't stand to look at you, be around you, think about's like someone's jamming a red-hot poker down my throat everytime.

Me: Well, hopefully I can help change that. I do want a life with you, Ava. I know we've only known each other for a few months and they haven't been easy months but...I do love you. I want to give our child a good life.

Ava: I don't know...

Me: What?

Ava: I'm not going to bother fighting anymore.

Me: The only thing I want to fight for is you.

Ava: Oh dear god. -she makes a noise somewhere between exasperation and disgust-

Me: -I look down at the ground- Sorry, I'll just go back to my room. -I get up to leave but stop at the door, hoping for a response, then look over my shoulder when I don't get one-

Ava: -she is still looking out of the window-

Me: -I tap my fingers on the doorframe, then give up and walk back to my room-

So yes, it's official. This is the last mission for Ava and I. Once we've explored the Magna, we're getting out of all this to raise our child. I know it's going to be difficult, but I swear to whatever deity you'd care to name, when I get home, I am going to get a job and support my family. Who knows, maybe I'll even get a happy ending. Tomorrow is the last day.

Reach out.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ain't She Sweet

I'm in Dublin Airport, and very much alive, clearly. I'm waiting for my plane to Cairo. Ava bought me the ticket since I had to leave all my belongings back at the hospital. Luckily, nothing that will tell them who I am, since I was admitted under a false name, so I won't have any Gardaí on my tail, or, at least, anymore than are already on my tail since I went missing last November.

The face in my room was a doctor, a proxy, though, at this stage, I'm not even sure whether he was one for Slender Man, the Hanging Man or...those things I saw in the wasteland. I don't even know why I'm afraid that they're here already's like...I can feel their presence everywhere I go. It's probably just that lingering fear and paranoia but...I don't know. At any rate, the doctor proxy was sent with a needle, though to kill or capture, I'm not sure, but he apparently wasn't expecting me to be awake. When he got close, I rolled out of the bed, crashed into his legs and knocked him over, then quite literally gave him a taste of his own medicine and bundled him into my bed after stealing his clothes, sans medical gear, obviously. I still don't know if I assaulted or murdered him, but I can't exactly go back to check.

I'll be in Cairo in a few hours but I'm maintaining radio silence for now. I need to sort things out with Ava. A lot of things.

My plane is here. I'll see you all when I see you.

Reach out.

Monday, April 25, 2011

I Feel Fine/I've Just Seen A Face

Bah. I tried to reason with my doctor. Still no luck on a discharge, despite the fact that I feel fine. Pffft. This isn't even worth posting. I'll wait until something interesting happens. No point posting this.

Okay, it's about eight hours later. I see something lurking in the corner of my room. I...don't know what it is. I think I can see a face but...I don't know. It could be Slender Man, it could be Eulogy, it could be the fucking Hanging Man for all I know. It's just standing there. I'm typing this under my blanket. Once I've posted this, I'm gonna try and make a break for it. Fuck, it's coming towards me. I have to go.

Reach out.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Cry for a Shadow

First thing's first; I'm fine. You can stop worrying about me.

I'm in a hospital and, contrary to what that may imply, it doesn't contradict with what I said about being fine. The bloody doctor won't let me discharge myself. He says that I have to be kept in for a few nights of "observation". Even though there is nothing wrong with me. They couldn't find a single thing wrong with me, yet that is apparently cause for concern.

Right, I guess I should probably explain how I wound up in hospital. Apparently, after I got on the bus on Wednesday, I did fall asleep, but I didn't wake up to a bus full of corpses. In fact, I wouldn't wake up at all, at first. I just sat absolutely still. They took me off the bus and to a doctor, where I just sat still, doing nothing, until someone walked into my room with an iPod, at which point I apparently tackled them to the ground, pulled it out of their hands and posted Something.

The doctors then tried to pry it out of my hands, but they had as little success taking the iPod from me as they had getting me to move again. So they did the only thing they could do, which was stick an IV in me. There was no activity from me until the next day, when I started frantically typing again and posted Nowhere Man. Once again, they tried to yank the iPod off me and once again they failed. More hours of silent sitting. Staring into space. No movement.

Then, I started typing like a madman and posted Helter Skelter. Apparently, on that occasion, my doctor was the only one who roused himself to half-heartedly try and get the iPod off me. Apparently, on that occasion, I also pushed him to the ground and did a running jump through a window. Luckily, my room is on the ground floor. I came to about an hour later, but they took the iPod off me and put me in bed before I could post about it. Which brings me to how I got my iPod back.

Eulogy decided to visit me today.

Me: -I'm lying in bed, bored out of my head-

Eulogy: -he walks in with a smug look on his face and throws my iPod down on my table- Turn on your recorder, Reach, you may want to post this on your blog.

Me: -I glare at him but turn on my recorder anyway- What do you want, Eulogy? And how did you get my iPod?

Eulogy: -he smiles- I have them convinced I'm the new hospital chaplain. The last one unfortunate end.

Me: The end of the barrel of Hammer's revolver? Oh, no wait, that can't be it, because the last time he tried to shoot me, I smacked him like a bitch and took his gun. Where is the little wimp anyway?

Eulogy: -he chuckles- Guarding the door and well within ear-shot, as I'm sure you were aware. Hammer is of no consequence to this discussion though. I am here to diagnose you.

Me: Oh? This ought to be a laugh. Go on, then.

Eulogy: -he leans on the end of my bed and the old metal creaks- You think you're the only one who's seen the wasteland, Reach?

Me: -my chest goes cold and my stomach sinks- W-what?

Eulogy: -he chuckles again, obviously enjoying the effect- I too have seen the baked earth, the too-big sun, the acres of dust as far as the I can see. I too have been visited with these visions in my dreams. They stopped a couple of months ago, but only because they moved on to you, it would seem.

Me: You're lying. You got that information from my posts and now you're just trying to freak me out and get inside my head. Nice try, Eulogy, but you're wasting your time.

Eulogy: Oh, really? -he produces a penknife from his pocket, unfolds it and holds the blade to his wrist- Funnily enough, Reach, I don't think I need tricks quite that elaborate to get inside your head. -he holds the blade there silently for a few more moments before putting it back in his pocket- Fine. If you want proof that I too have seen the wasteland, then I must remind you of the things you saw roaming outside the window.

Me: -for a moment, I feel like my whole body has frozen and the crystals of blood are ripping through my veins, then I thaw- Things? What things?

Eulogy: -he leans forward again and eyes me carefully- Don't play coy with me, boy. We both know what things I'm talking about. The shapes that moved across the wasteland when the sun set at night. The nameless things that surrounded the bus once darkness had descended. The entities that clawed and howled in tones so wolf-like and yet so...un. The shadows of what could have been animals that terrorised you every night on that bus, more than the corpses, more than your mother, more even than the Tall One. Those things.

Me: did see it then. You did see the wasteland. You did see what I saw.

Eulogy: Yes, I did. I saw it in all its glorious beauty.

Me: Beauty!? What kind of sick, twisted mind would call that beauty? Heh, why did I even need to ask? A sick mind that's been twisted by Slender Man, that's what kind of mind. I really pity you, Eulogy. You have no idea.

Eulogy: Oh, Reach, loved as that makes me feel, you don't have to cry for a shadow like me. It's not going to make a difference in the end. We will all be but footnotes in the glory of the Tall One's creation.

Me: Creation!? I saw no creation in that wasteland, only destruction.'re beyond redemption, aren't you? You can't be cured. I...I have to kill you, don't I?

Eulogy: -he shrugs- Or I kill you. One or the other. It doesn't really matter. Our little spat is as inconsequential as anything else we will do. That will all be swept away soon enough.

Me: Leave me, Eulogy. I need time to think.

Eulogy: -he frowns at me- What makes you think you get to give the orders around here?

Me: I never said I thought that, did I? I just assumed that you'd want to take the dramatic exit and kill me at a later date. After all, public slaughter isn't your style, though it may be Hammer's. Just go.

Eulogy: -he breathes heavily, visibly angered but ultimately decides to storm out-

So yeah. I left something out of my posts. They just...I don't know what those things were but just thinking about them is horrifying on such a deep level that even when I was surrounded by singing corpses, I wanted nothing more than to push that thought out of my head. Which reminds me. I should probably tell you guys what happened in the dream after my last post.

Well, as you can guess, I gave myself a good running start and propelled myself through the front window. I hit the ground and tumbled a few times but thankfully I didn't get run over by the bus. When I got up, it was off to one side, on its side, burning. Some corpses were hanging out the windows, still singing, and I could faintly hear my mother's voice. But it was when I turned back to the road that something even more horrifying happened.

The Hanging Man walked towards me, flanked by two of those...things. Even now, I can't remember a clear shape or size. Just...fear. And yellow eyes. He stood a few feet away from me, shouted at me and then sicced the two creatures on me. It was only when they started ripping through my flesh that I woke up but as horrible as that was, something else has been stuck in my head ever since. The words he shouted at me. More Latin.

"Omnes vidisse abeo venient."

Unfortunately, it was too complex for me to work out, limited as my Latin is, but I was able to get Jean to translate it.

"All you have seen will come to pass."

Reach out.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Helter Skelter

It's not beautiful anymore. It's unbeautiful. It's un, un, un, un, un.

She keeps telling me it's my fault. She's dead and it's all my fault. Shantih, shantih, shantih. No. There is no peace. There is no peace.

The corpses are singing. It's all wrong. Like a choir of crows.

"Behold the ruined beauty
As ashes fall like snow.
Praise be to the end
And He Who Made It So."

No. I don't want to praise him. He is wrong, he is wrong, he is wrong, he is un. He's on the monitor again. Looking at me. Looking at my soul. My sins. The shards of my mother. She's still calling out to me. Telling me it's my fault and it is. It's my fault she's dead. But I can't go to him. Anything but him. Shantih, shantih, shantih. The corpses won't stop singing and he won't stop whispering and my mother won't SHUT THE FUCK UP. Shantih, shantih, shantih. I can't take it anymore. It's too much, too loud. There's one window they can't stop my breaking through.

The front.

Reach out.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Nowhere Man

Oh fuck me. Fuck this fuck fuck fuck FUCK FUCK.

Oh fuck, I'm trying to stay calm but fuck it fuck it fuck it fuck it.

Okay. Fuck. Okay.

This piece of shit won't let me see the last post I made, or anything else, for that matter, but I'll try and pick up where I left off. Right after I made the last post (or at least, I hope I did, I don't even know if it got through), my iPod died again. To be honest, I wasn't unduly surprised, I mean, what else could fucking go wrong? At any rate, I decided to try and see if I was trapped on the bus. I went to the front of the bus to see if I could stop it. Nothing worked. I couldn't steer, the brakes did nothing, fuck, I couldn't even accelerate. I did find the bus driver though, lying on the steps with his ribcage ripped open and the remains of his organs congealing into a solid mass. I don't know is it that I've just become so used to this shit or what but I didn't even feel all that nauseous.

I went back into the main part of the bus and got my hands on a glass-breaking hammer but when I tried to smash the window, one of the fucking corpses grabbed me by the fucking wrist. I shit you not. It started digging its nails into my skin, crushing my wrist, tighter and tighter until I screamed out in pain, at which point it decided to let go. That's when I heard it. His voice. But not in my head. Out loud. I could hear the Slender Man's voice over the fucking intercom. The whispering. It was so...wrong, so...out of tune. It just seemed that no matter what noise it was contrasting with, the hum of the bus's engine, the sound of my footsteps as I backed away, the squelch of the blood pooled under my feet, no matter what noise, it was all discord, never harmony. It was all so un. That's the only way I can describe it. Unnatural, unreal, unhealthy, just un, un, un.

And then, his face appeared on the monitor at the front of the bus. Unmoving, unfeeling, just staring sightlessly at me, standing in the middle of the aisle. He was staring at me for five minutes before it got too much. I couldn't take it anymore. I rushed towards the monitor with the glass-breaking hammer. I only got about four feet before I slipped in a pool of blood and landed flat on my back with an unpleasant crunch. I tried to get up but my back was too

Fuck. No, fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck. No, fuck. My mother's voice. My mother's voice is playing over the intercom. She's reciting her favourite poem. And it sounds so beautiful. It's harmonising so beautifully with his voice. It's so...relaxing. I feel peaceful. You can feel peaceful too, guys, say it with me. Shantih, shantih, shantih.

Peace, peace, peace.

Reach out.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Guys, I

I don't even

I don't even know what how

Okay, I'm trying to stay as calm as possible as I write this. "Trying" being the operative word. Okay.

I got up this morning at about eleven, grabbed what little stuff I had with me, checked out and headed downtown to catch the bus. I didn't sleep all that well last night, so I fell asleep as the bus was leaving town and...

I woke up about an hour ago. Everyone on the bus was dead. Most of them looked like they were burned to death, their skin was covered in blisters and it was starting to flake off all over the place. One or two seemed to have had their organs removed and haphazardly replaced. The stench was unbearable. It was only when I got up that something struck me.

The bus was still going. Even though there was no one driving it. That's when I looked outside.

Everything outside the window is wasteland. Scorched, rocky earth as far as the eye can see. The sun looks twice as big as normal, as if it pulled the earth closer just to bake the whole planet into a world of dust. I can see the air shimmering as the hot air rises but here on the's cold. Ice cold.

When I saw the wasteland, I fell backwards on to my chair and my iPod bounced out of my pocket, suddenly charged and working, even though it's been dead since I woke up on Monday. It was already open on this and I couldn't get anything else to work. Fuck, I don't know what's going on but hopefully if I'm about to bite the dust, I can at least try and leave a record of what happened. Maybe then someone else can figure this out, 'cause I haven't a fucking clue. Fuck this shit.

Reach out.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

There's a Place

I know I said I was going to head straight to Dublin and get to Cairo, but on the spur of the moment, I decided to take a little detour.

It was a nice day today. A really nice day. The sun was out, the sky was clear and the shovel I bought on the way was primed and ready

There's a place in Ireland, where archaeologists discovered the site of the most horrific mass child sacrifice in Ireland's long history. The archaeologists who discovered it were so disturbed by what they found that they referred to it only as "a dark place". There's a place in Ireland, or, rather, there was.

I've destroyed the Dark Place. I turned the ground and I smashed the bones, or as many as I could. The deal is broken. No more children are getting sacrificed to Slender Man. If he wants to operate in Ireland, he can either get himself a new deal or he can deal with all the troubles and complications he finds elsewhere. I haven't figured out what his special interest in Ireland is yet, but whatever it is, if destroying the Dark Place makes it more difficult for him to work here, I'm walking away from here a happy man. In fact, you know what? I'm taking a break. Tonight, I'm going to go to a nice hotel and just relax. I can catch a bus back to Dublin tomorrow and get to Egypt then.

Reach out.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tell Me What You See

Okay, I'm sure you guys have been wondering where I've been the past week. Well, the answer is that...I have no idea. I woke up in Thurles, a town north of Cahir, last night with no memory of the past week. I tried to post on my iPod but its battery died before I could, which leads me to believe it's been used quite a bit while I was out. Have any of you seen any posts from me in the last week?

I'm in the shopping centre right now and the time on this computer is about to run out. I need the rest of my money to get to Dublin for my flight to Egypt, so I'll post again once I'm in Cairo. Hopefully you can give me some answers about where I've been.

Reach out. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Don't Let Me Down

I can't linger any longer. I've outstayed my welcome already. Thank you for your assistance this past week. It has been conducive to the success of my long term plans.

The winner of Part Three was Cathy. Just like Jean and Haku, she has earned a piece of information, which she will be given in private for safe-keeping.

Things have been set in motion and now, I must ask you to complete the most difficult task of Nocturne's Game. Part Four.

Raymond will wake up in a few hours. Unless they are pointed out to him, he won't see any posts that evidence my existence. The final part of the game is to never tell Raymond that it happened. If you tell him, you lose the game. Everyone loses the game. I've set things up very meticulously here and if certain things happen at the wrong time, the whole house of cards will come tumbling down. So be good little children for Uncle Nocturne and keep your mouths shut. Thanks again for your help.

- Nocturne

Saturday, April 16, 2011

With a Little Help from My Friends

I'm afraid I must be brief with tonight's game, friends. Extraneous circumstances have changed my schedule dramatically and I can no longer work within the constraints I had hoped to.

Part Three of Nocturne's Game is both simpler and far more difficult than Part One or Two. Tonight, my friends, you must publicly give a piece of information about yourself that no one else knows. The winner is whoever I feel has been the most open and trusting. I'm afraid I can't view tonight's game personally, but I will announce the winner at the opening of Part Four, tomorrow. Until then, feel free to open up.

- Nocturne

Friday, April 15, 2011

What Goes On

Welcome back to the fold, friends. I hope that Part Two of Nocturne's Game is as much a success story as Part One. For those of you who missed Part One, the winner was Jean of Vivere disce, who won herself a potentially fascinating bit of information that she must keep secret until the time is right. As a result of her victory in the first round, Jean will not be allowed to compete in Part Two and anyone caught receiving aid from her will be summarily disqualified.

This round will be general knowledge but don't expect the questions to be at all straight forward. Once again, I will be leading you on a merry dance across the blogosphere. The site of the next question will be revealed after each is answered. Which brings us to our first question;

Along which road were vast quantities of worm excretion transported?

Hop to it, kids.

- Nocturne

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

From Me to You

If a man with a book in his hand is enlightened,
When is that same man dim?
I must recommend that you solve all my riddles
If you want to see Raymond again.

Once you have solved it, I'll write up another
All the answers are hidden in you.
But on with the game; if you get the first right,
The Jester will get number two.
- Nocturne

Tell Me Why

I don't like Mondays. I never have and I never will.

I didn't sleep too well after my post last night and ended up staying in bed until about six o'clock today. When I woke up, dad and Em were waiting for me. They wanted to know. They needed to know. But I made them wait. I wanted to make sure that when the time came to do what needed to be done, that the cover of night would work to my advantage.

When I was ready, I warned them straight away that they weren't going to believe me but I also told them that I wasn't leaving the house until I'd convinced them.

I'm in an Internet café right now. You can guess how the story ends.

­­Me: Okay, are you ready to hear what I have to say?

Em: I guess so. It's about time we got an explanation out of you, Ray.

Me: In my defense, I've been on a different continent. Right...I all starts with Ariana.

Dad: What all starts with Ariana?

Me: My disappearance, mam's break. The point at which the most horrifying story ever told crosses over with the story of our family.

Dad: I'm going to assume this isn't about the last family reunion.

Me: 'Fraid not, dad.

Em: Do I even want to hear this, Ray?

Me: Whether you want to or not, you need to, Em. -I clear my throat- You already know what happened to Ariana. She developed her nightmares and over the course of approximately a year, they broke her down until...she ended her life. Well, the nightmares didn't come out of nowhere. Em, do you remember that story that you used to like from that book of Irish folklore, about the foreign invader called An Fear Dubh, who brought a great plague to Ireland but was ultimately repulsed by some of Míl Espáine's descendants?

Em: Of course. How could I ever forget?

Me: An Fear Dubh was real and he was and is much more than a man.

Dad: What!?

Em: ...I'm going to have to second that, Ray.

Me: I warned you right from the start that this was going to be hard to believe.

Dad: There's a line between 'hard to believe', and buyin' into a fairy tale we tell to scare a bad kid straight.

Em: It's folklore. A bloody fairy tale.

Me: "In every story written, in every lie told, in everything we hear that is supposedly false there is an echo of truth."

Em: Next thing you'll be telling me Persephone's comings and goings really do control the seasons.

Me: Hear me out. It's a complicated issue. It doesn't help that we don't even know what he really is.

Dad: Who's we?

Me: Ariana, Mam and I aren't the only people who've had to deal with An Fear Dubh, or the Slender Man, as he's more commonly known.

Dad: "The Slender Man."

Me: Let me try and explain what he is before you go for my throat. You know when you're a kid and in the darkness of your room, you think you see something but you're not quite sure and your mind starts trying to put together a picture of what's lurking in that shadow but it can never do it, it's always a big black hole in your perception?

Em: Yeah, but how is that relevant to this Skinny Man?

Me: The Slender Man is what your mind doesn't want to see.

Dad: So you're saying this Slim Man is a boogeyman.

Em: ...A boogeyman? Seriously?

Me: No, that's what dad said, not me.

Em: -she opens her mouth to respond-

Me: Hold that thought and let me speak. Imagine a man with sickly pale skin dressed in a undertaker's suit. Imagine he's as thin as a Emma but twice as tall as me. Imagine his arms hang down below his waste and don't end in hands but in tentacles. Imagine him standing outside your bedroom window and when he turns to look at you, he has no face, just sickly pale skin stretched across a featureless skull. And imagine him raising his arms up from his sides like Christ on the cross and imagine that no matter how non-threatening this gesture is coming from a human, that simple movement is enough to stop your heart with fear. That's the Slender Man.

Dad: ... Ray, are you on cocaine?

Me: Dad, you know I'd never touch drugs.

Em: It sure sounds like you've been smoking something, though.

Dad: I-.... Y-.... yes, I do. I don't have any idea what's gotten into you.

Em: Ray, you've normally got your head on straight, but this is bloody hard to take seriously.

Me: My head's not on as straight as it used to be but that was caused by Slender Man rather than the head problems causing my belief in him. We don't have much time, so let me tell you a condensed version of the story.

Dad: Alright.

(At this point, I gave them a condensed version of the section of "I Am Raymond Shaughnessy" detailing my kidnapping and brainwashing by Slender Man. There's no point in me typing it all out, you've all heard it before.)

Me: Over in America, a lot happened, I broke into a mental asylum, walked and hitchhiked the width of the country and spent some time living with a very remarkable woman called Thage who has unfortunately apparently gone missing. A lot of big and little things happened but the really, really important ones boil down to two. One, I fell in love with Ava and started going out with her. Two, the illusion broke and I remember who I really was. That's why I called you when I did, Em. That's why I never tried to get in contact with you. Because I didn't know you existed. -I start crying-

Em: ...Holy...

Dad: -he walks over to me and gives my shoulder a light squeeze-

Me: -I smile up at my him- Look, I'm skipping details here to try and get to what I need to say. I never wanted you two to get involved.

Em: -she leans over and gives me a hug-

Dad: Meaning we are.

Me: Yes. It was enough that he had driven Ariana, mam and I to the brink, I wanted to try and stop the spread there. That's why I told you not to look at things that mam had drawn or written. Those documents would have been like a gateway drug, but they would have led you into a world a whole lot more hellish than the world of narcotics abuse. But then you told me that you saw what she wrote on the walls in her blood. I knew it was too late then. I knew I had to tell you. He's going to come after you two next. There's no two ways about it. He's going to come after you and there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop him. If you stay here, then he will destroy our entire family. You have to run like the rest of us.

Dad: Ray, you're sure about this. -his eyes widen suddenly- Wait. You mentioned a Father Knight among your "Revenants". Surely you don't mean...?

Me: I know what you're thinking and you're right. It was Matthew Knight.

Dad: -he falls back into his chair- Bloody hell, Ray.

Me: He calls himself Eulogy in the circles I run in. He hasn't shaken the illusion like I have; he doesn't want to. I've almost had to kill him once before but I couldn't bring myself to do it. That oration he gave on seperating reality from fantasy was nothing to do with mam, it was all directed at me because he knows that my head is still fucked up trying to stick to one set of memories and rejecting the false ones. He knows that I'm afraid to hurt him because if his wounds heal instantly then I'll know that the memories that I'm working off now, the memories where you're real, I'll know that they're fake and he knows that I'm afraid to hurt him because I can't stand to lose you all again, I just can't do that. -I break down crying again-

Dad: -he gets up and hugs me tight- I'll get my and Em's stuff packed, you can help me make more sense of all this on the road.

Me: I can't go with you, dad.

Dad: What?! Why?

Me: I have to get back to Ava. She's pregnant with my child. Not to mention how much more danger you'll be in if you travel with me.

Dad: ...that's news we could've heard before the folktale come to life.

Me: I thought that the stuff relevant to your continued survival might have been more important.

Dad: Hell, Ray, you're gonna be a father!

Me: -I smile weakly- Yeah, I am.

Dad: -he claps me on the back-

Me: Thanks, dad. Somehow I don't think mam would have been quite as impressed. -I turn to my stunned sister- Em, you go get the stuff ready. You're going to need to pack a lot. Enough to last you until you can get to the mainland. Then you'll have plenty of continents to work with.

Em: -she nods silently and walks off to start packing-

Me: I'm sorry that I'm putting you through all of this, dad.

Dad: Ray, if you said that for everything you put me through, we'd be here 'til the hills around us turned to dust while you wrote up the list. -he gives me a small smile-

Me: Point taken. -I hand him a note- That's the URL of a blog called The Tutorial. It's basically a Slender Man Survival Guide. The author's rules aren't absolute but they are good guidelines, especially for someone on the periphery of the whole thing, like you and Em. Look it up on Em's iPhone when you get the chance.

Dad: -he looks at the note- ...alright. I'd better go get ready then.

Me: Yeah. I'll stay down here until you guys have left. I'll lock up once you're gone.

Not much more was said after that. Not much more needed to be said. We said our last goodbyes. I grabbed some things from the house and left it for the last time. Luckily for me, among the things I took were several bottles of alcohol. Time to drown my sorrows.

Reach out.

Monday, April 11, 2011

You Can't Do That

So, I was called away from my intended sleep in order to watch Doc Cairo's little video thing (I'm not familiar with UStream or whatever it is). As it turned out, so was Ava. Suffice to say, we had a pretty big argument in the chat and...Ava told me what she was so upset about.

She's pregnant. With my child.

And she decided to tell me this in a public chatroom while there was an ocean between us.

I'm sorry, Ava, but you can't do that. You just fucking can't. I don't know who the fuck Redlight sent back but you're not the same Ava I fell in love with. You've gone beyond your empathy snapback, it's more than just you not caring about most people. You clearly just don't give a fuck about anyone anymore, including me. You wouldn't tell me in person because apparently I'm too immature to deal with having a child, but it's perfectly mature for you to tell me in a fucking chatroom?

Well, for your fucking information, that is not an okay thing to do. It is an absolutely disgusting, hurtful thing to do. You didn't go over the line, darling, you did a running jump to try and get as much air time as you could.

You showed me and our relationship absolutely no respect and now I'm going to give you back exactly what you gave. I love you, Ava, I really do and I will do everything I possibly can to help raise our child. But until you stop acting like an arrogant cunt and remember who the fuck you're supposed to be, there is no "us". It's over.

Reach fucking out.

I'm So Tired

I'm in my room. It hasn't changed since the night that he took me. The same can of Lynx Dark Temptation deoderant on my bedside locker, the same stack of factual books on my window. The same teddy that I got Ariana for her seventeenth birthday.

Emma and my dad are in bed. Ordinarily, a Shaughnessy family funeral would last for several days of semi-drunken celebration and commiseration but my mam's death was different. My grandmother died of a brain haemorrhage, my grandfather died due to breathing problems, my uncle collapsed and smacked his head off a table. All were old and died normal, if untimely, deaths. My mam's death was different. Too different. No one wants to be in the same house where it happened. I don't blame them.

It was a mid-day funeral. It was fairly well-attended, so I was able to hide in the crowd at the back, the people who wanted to see my mother off but didn't think their relationship warrented a seat in the pews. The fact that I hadn't shaved in some time up until a couple of hours ago meant I was even less recognisable.

The coffin came in with a red pall draped across it. The pallbearers were a well-oiled machine; we've had too many funerals in the past few years. First, my cousins Derek and Jesse, then my dad and my cousin Jake, then my uncles Dean and Andrew. The whole congregation rose like a flock of walls as they moved down the central aisle. As the six of them became lost from my sight, it was if the coffin was floating towards the altar. Floating on a sea of corpses.

They played a hymn of some description as it floated down. I've always hated hymns, even before I became an atheist. They just all sound exactly the same to me. Give me Christian prog metal any day, but hymns? Hymns are shit.

The whole thing was very Irish Catholicism and...I don't know. I wondered if this is what my mother would have wanted, towards the end. Did she still believe? Did she have the faith I'd lost long ago? Did she even care? Or was it that, as Slender Man encroached ever more on her life, the only thing she wanted, needed, was release? These were the thoughts that filled my head like flies.

Right until the people dropped, like a collective "Curtain up!" as the show began and revealed the headline act.


Fucking Eulogy.


Oh god, he must have felt like such a smug bastard. He knew I was there, he looked straight at me and I swear to fuck, he may not have grinned with his mouth, but he was fucking laughing with his eyes. Just the pun would have been enough for him, but...fuck, that sick bastard, that absolute cunt.

He stood up and (what else?) delivered her eulogy. It wasn't for the mourners though and it sure as hell wasn't for my mother. It was all for me. He went on about safeguarding our mental health and making sure to always remember to distinguish reality from fiction because the Bible condemned living in fantasy worlds. So basically, as well as taunting me, he implied that my mother was a sinner who deserved to go to hell because Slender Man gave her delusions. I left in disgust. I couldn't bear to hear any more.

I lounged around the graveyard for a while before I heard the procession coming out of the church to take her to her final resting place. I went off to one side to watch the burial without drawing attention to myself. I don't want anyone to know I've come back. I don't intend on staying long. It's better for everyone involved if Em and Dad are the only ones who know.

They lowered her into the grave to the tune of "Into My Arms" by Nick Cave. My dad is an atheist and he sung it to my mother on their first date. Apparently she laughed her head off and then gave my dad a kiss. My parents loved each other. They really did. They loved each other in such a comfortable, natural way and that has always been the ideal that I've wanted to achieve one day and that's the relationship I want with Ava. It doesn't have to be ostentatiously romantic or dazzling and glamorous, all I need, all I'll ever need is a mutual love that is comfortable and natural and right now that seems as far away from reality as I was away from my mother's grave as they put her in the ground.

I lurked off to one side until everyone was gone and then stepped out to see my mother's grave.

In Loving Memory Of
Catherine Marie Jacqueline Shaughnessy
Who Died 7th April 2011
Aged 40 Years
"Missed more than words can say"

I felt him there while I stared at her grave. He could have taken me there. I wanted him to. I could see him out of the corner of my eye and I kept thinking to myself; "Come on, you bastard, take me now. Hit me. Hit me like a fucking train." Maybe that's why he didn't. Maybe he knew it would hurt me more to live with myself.

I walked around Cahir for a few hours before Emma called me to ask where I was. I came back here and...we didn't talk. None of us wanted to. We just wanted to be together again and to savour it for as long as we could. Which, unfortunately, won't be long enough.

I'm so tired of running. I'm so tired of being away from home. I just want to stay here forever right now. I just want to stay with my family. I'm so tired of all this. I'm so fucking tired that I'm going to bed right now and I'm going to enjoy this one night of sleep in my own bed before everything goes to shit again.

Reach out.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Hold Me Tight/Thank You Girl (Alekhine's Gun, Part 8)

So, I'm waiting at the airport now. My flight is in about...thirty minutes, figured I'd kill some time talking to my favourite people in the world. And the rest of you, I guess. I was just flicking through all the recordings on my iPod, kinda hoping I didn't get to the latest one, even though I knew I would eventually. It's sort of...heavy;

Me: -I'm lying on my bed with my face buried in my hands and my backpack on the floor beside me-

Ava: -she knocks on the door- Ray?

Me: -pull my hands down my face- Yuhuh?

Ava: -she folds her arms and leans against the doorframe, purses her lips and frowns- You still beating yourself up?

Me: I find it hard not to at this stage. It's just habit now.

Ava: Well, habits can be broken.

Me: I know, dear.

Ava: So break it. -she frowns at me-

Me: I would, if I could, but I can't, so I won't.

Ava: Huh, I had a cat poster that said that once.

Me: Ava, two days after my mother died is probably not the best time to be considering how to self-improve.

Ava: Well it's better than self-destructing or mental self-flagellation.

Me: Ava, right now, I don't need a lecture, I need you to lie down beside me and hold me tight.

Ava: -she walks into the room and starts eyeing the mirror on the opposite wall- No you don't. You need to get your head on straight.

Me: Ava, the sensible thing isn't always the right thing. Give me time to grieve.

Ava: -she grabs one of the folded sheets from the bottom of my bed and throws it over the mirror, before turning to me, arms folded and frowning again- I wasn't attacking your grieving, I was attacking your fallacy that you could have done something to prevent it. I've sat Shiva before, I know you need to grieve. I'm not an idiot.

Me: My mother would be alive if I hadn't gotten involved with all this.

Ava: And who got her involved?

Me: Redlight, because I tried to get the Heel.

Ava: Redlight because WE tried to get the Heel and because he was a mental, vindictive, petty shitehawk.

Me: Yeah, but we knew there would be a reprisal for trying to get the Heel. We were just too stupid to remember that our families could have been the targets of the retaliation rather than us.

Ava: cannot be serious, Ray.

Me: The Heel wasn't essential or necessary, we chose to go after it and we didn't consider our families would get hurt in retaliation.

Ava: "Not necessary"!? Of course it was "necessary"! It could have helped us!

Me: "Could" implies doubt. There was no guarantee that it would help us. It was advantageous but not necessary.

Ava: We are living day-to-day with the thought that any single one of us, or even us ourselves, could be brutally murdered by a bloody Eldritch Abomination and you're suggesting that we should have wussed out and NOT grasped for the advantage?

Me: I don't know, Ava, I never claimed to be rational. I'm not going to see you for like a week after I leave, don't you want to spend just a few minutes cuddling together like a normal couple or something?

Ava: Normal couple? NORMAL couple? Hookay hun, considering that you thought you were a forty-year-old superman for god knows how long, I wanted to kill you not only a few weeks ago and I'm still having to deal with this feeling of wanting to hit you when you angst-out on me like this I think we're not exactly normal. Ray, when Redlight burnt down my house, I didn't blame myself. When your mother killed herself, you shouldn't either.

Me: Ava, please, please, just shut up. I know I'm being a fucking eejit, okay? Is it too much to ask for you to just hold me and tell me everything will be okay? 'Cause that's what I need right now, not you giving out to me.

Ava: Actually, yes. Yes it is. I don't think I want you touching me.

Me: Right, wouldn't want to infect you with human emotion or anything.

Ava: -she walks over to the bed and punches me in the stomach- You've infected me with QUITE enough, thank you. -she turns to walk out-

Me: -I jump up in bed- What the hell!?

Ava: -she stops at the door- Just...nothing. Just. Stop being an idot, go home, talk with your family, don't fling yourself into the grave in despair.

Me: Why wait until I get to the graveside? I already feel like throwing myself out the window right here with the way you're acting.

Ava: Oh my god, Ray, get a fucking spine already.

Me: Right, yeah, I was actually gonna try and cut the flight close so I could spend more time with you but you clearly don't want to deal with me right now, for whatever reason, so I'm just going to leave. -I get up and start putting the last of my stuff in my backpack-

Ava: FINE. And take your FUCKING iPod with you too. -she slams the door shut-

Me: -I finish packing and punch a hole in the wall for good measure, then I cross the room, open the door and am about to go down the stairs but I stop and walk over to Ava's room and knock-

Ava: Fuck off, please.

Me: Ava...please open the door.

Ava: No thank you. Now please leave, be careful and give my condolences to your family.

Me: Ava, I'm not leaving until you open the door.

Ava: Then you're going to miss your flight. Go AWAY, Ray.

Me: I can live with a missed flight, Ava. Please open the door.

Ava: No.

Me: Why not?

Ava: Because I don't think I can take being around you at the moment.

Me: What's wrong? What did I do?

Ava: Something. I am not opening the door and you are not missing your flight. I'll talk to you later, but not now. Not today.

Me: Ava, I was almost constantly at your side for over two weeks, day and night, watching over you, hoping that you'd wake up. Then, when you woke up, you told me that you hated everyone else in the world except me and a few others. Now, you won't talk to me and you won't tell me why. What did I do to deserve this?

Ava: Something changed. Now could you PLEASE stop with the fucking Inquisition and get going?

Me: I have time to burn and you have no patience. I can wait.

Ava: Not if I go and have a shower before going to sleep.

Me: Ava, Thage isn't going to be living here very long, so I'm not above smashing the door down. I did it in the last house, I can do it here.

Ava: Please, PLEASE, fuck off, Ray.

Me: Ava, give me one good reason or the door is coming down. I dont fucking deserve this, Ava, I really fucking don't.

Ava: You're right, you don't. But I really need alone time and you being in this room, with me, would only exacerbate the problem. Please, I still love you, but please, GOD, please, fuck off.

Me: Fine. You've made your point. I'll leave. -I turn to walk down the stairs-

Ava: GOOD!

Me: -I sigh and start walking down the stairs, my third step punctuated by the sound of Ava smashing her mirror against the door and possibly sobbing-

Thage: -she walks in from fencing practice, wiping her forehead with a towel, just as I reach the bottom of the stairs- So, you're going?"

Me: Yeah, the funeral's tomorrow. I'm gonna sleep on the plane and the train.

Thage: Do you have a few minutes?

Me: Sure, I gave myself plenty of time to lounge around the airport and get a milkshake. What's up?

Thage: -she leads me into the sitting room and sits down, laying her epeé across her lap- We've butted heads a few times, and I wanted to say that despite the moral disagreements we've had, you and Ava are my best friends. I really, really enjoyed having you two here with me.

Me: Even with the collateral damage? And Slender Man's ever-growing presence?

Thage: Those were bound to happen eventually anyway.

Me: If you say so. I punched a hole in your wall by the way.

Thage: -she blinks in surprise- ...okay...

Me: I had an argument with Ava.

Thage: Oh my.

Me: She walked in on me lying on my bed and started bitching and lecturing me and then we started arguing about something only she won't tell me what it is. I don't even fucking know.

Thage: -she just blinks more-

Me: Luckily for your wallet, she managed to stop me smashing her bedroom door down again. I think she resmashed the mirror though. Sorry.

Thage: Eh, I have a few extras in other rooms.

Me: You are a true pragmatist, Thage.

Thage: Just prepared, considering present company. -she winks and flashes a grin-

Me: -I laugh- You're a great woman, Thage. -I smile- Meeting you was an amazing experience.

Thage: -she grins- Not so much on the great part, but I'll make it work. And it's been the most fun I've had in, well, years. Is Ava going with you?

Me: Yesterday, she wanted to come but I decided she still needed to regain her strength after being unconscious in bed for so long, so I made her stay put. And now, today, she doesn't even want to be in the same room with me. -I sigh- Hopefully she still intends on meeting me in Egypt next week.

Thage: Don't worry, I'll make sure she stays the course.

Me: Thanks, Thage. When are know, leaving?

Thage: Not sure. I suppose when it's no longer feasible to stay here.

Me: What's your prediction on that front? I know you've worked out all the maths of it somewhere. Hang on, the recorder on my iPod is spazzing. Gimme a sec.

Thage: Alright.

Me: Okay, I think I've got it now. What's your prediction?

Thage: -she looks vigilantly out the window- Well... if things progress as normal, I should be able to hold off until the summer. Around then, I plan on selling the house here and in Maryland, and using the money to go on the run long-term.

Me: Sounds like a good idea. Do you want me to redact that if I post the conversation?

Thage: No, because where I'm going is staying up here. -she taps her head and grins-

Me: -I laugh- Fair enough...this is probably the last time we'll ever see each other, isn't it?

Thage: -she looks down at the floor, looking rather glum- Yeah.

Me: Thank you, Thage. For everything. For taking me in after Ava was kidnapped, for protecting my sanity when you realised my memories were false and...for being you. For being such a great and true friend. And the spaghetti, of course.

Thage: -she laughs- Can't forget the food. ...thank you too, for being here when I needed someone to tell me I was out of line.

Me: Any time. We may never meet like this again, but you can bet your Catholic ass I'll be more than happy to give you a good talking-to over the Internet if I have to.

Thage: I'll hold you to it. -she produces a survival knife and holds it out to me-

Me: What's this for? -I take the knife-

Thage: Something to protect yourself with. There's also a compass in the pommel.

Me: -I look at the pommel- Huh, so there is. -I look Thage in the eye- Thank you. I'll use it well.

Thage: If nothing else, it will help your sense of direction.

Me: I'm sure it will. Thank you.

Thage: -she looks out the window again- What's your plan for Eulogy?

Me: I'm going to try my best to help him but if I'm ultimately unsuccessful, then I think this knife is going to be the only help I can give. I have to admit, your methods are extreme but they're not without justification. Eulogy is too dangerous to leave both crazy and alive, so I figure if I can't fix the former, I'll just have to resolve the latter.

Thage: -she nods- Better safe than sorry, right?

Me: As much as I hate to admit it, yes.

Thage: I'm also concerned with the fact that even if Eulogy dies, someone else will try to rise to the top of that hierarchy.

Me: The top contender is Legacy, the guy who handles Arpeggio and Cadence, the two assassins who were hunting Cheska. Legacy's ascension may be advantageous though. He doesn't have any of Eulogy's ingenuity or strategy. He's rash and bold and he might just play into our hands.

Thage: There's that, yes, and if we play them right, we could ignite a civil war amongst the proxies.

Me: That'd be handy. Get them to do our work for us and keep Slender Man isolated.

Thage: Indeed.

Me: I'd better go. I want to make a post before I get on the plane.

Thage: Alright. -she gets up and hugs me-

Me: -I hug her back- You're a great person, Thage. Keep it up. And remember; survive.

Thage: That's the idea.

Me: I will if you will. -I pull away and look her in the eye- Goodbye, Thage.

Thage: -she holds out her fist- Take care of yourself. It's a jungle out there.

Me: -I fistbump her- But sometimes, you just have to roll the dice.

Thage: Roll and never regret it.

Me: I won't if you won't.

Thage: Never do.

Me: Good. It was great meeting you, Thage. -I hug her quickly and give her a peck on the cheek- Take care of Ava until I can, okay?

Thage: Of course.

Me: Okay, the taxi just pulled up outside, I definitely have to go. Goodbye. -I run out the door, waving over my shoulder as I go-

I had to go through customs about halfway through typing this out. They didn't even notice the fucking survival knife inside my laptop case. So much for tight American airport security. Hmmm, my flight just got called. I'd better get on board. I'm gonna rest the shit out of myself for as long as I can, so I'll probably post after the funeral.

Reach out.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Me: -I pick up the phone- Hello?

Emma: Ray? -she sobs-

Me: Em, what's wrong?

Emma: -she struggles to get her breathing back to normal- Ray, I know you told me not to call you but...Mam...I...she...I found her this morning. D-d-....dead.

Me: -I go silent for a minute or so while Emma sobs on the other end- How did she...?

Emma: She blocked up the kitchen doors with wet towels, cut her wrists with the edge of a piece of broken glass, wrote a bunch of shit over the walls and then turned on the gas oven and stuck her head inside.

Me: I thought she was in St. Luke's?

Emma: No, they released her early. You know yourself how shit the mental health services here are.

Me: What...what did she write? What do the words say?

Emma: Um...hang on, let me get it exactly. "The Hanging Man and the Man in Black dance in the night with my darling son. The night dances back at them."

Me: Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit.

Emma: Ray, what's wrong?

Me: Look, Em, you and Dad, you stay at home, don't leave for anything except the funeral, okay? If you don't have enough food, get people to bring you food, just say you're not up to leaving. You have to stay inside, Em, promise me!

Emma: Ray, you disappear for all these months, then you call once and talk a load of cryptic bullshit and now Mam killed herself and YOU HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH IT, RAY! You can't just tell me nothing, you can't do that!

Me: I...I have to, Em. It's for your safety.

Emma: You'd better explain yourself when you get here, Ray. You had better fucking explain yourself.

Me: I will, Em. I promise.

Emma: Mam left something for you, Ray. It's a small box with a tag that has "A Birthday Present for Raymond" written on it, tied with the chain of the medallion you gave her for her fortieth birthday.

Me: Did you open the box?

Emma: No, it's for you, not me.

Me: Point taken. When's the funeral?

Emma: Sunday. Will you make it?

Me: Yeah, I...I will. I'll see you there, Em. Please stay at home.

Emma: I will. I love you, Ray.

Me: I love you too, Em.

I think I heard her start crying again as she hung up.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Running Forever

I slept horribly last night. I'm exhausted. Excuse any spelling mistakes, I'm constantly on the verge of falling asleep as I type this. Last night I had a nightmare.

At the start of my nightmare, I'm asleep in my room back in my house in Ireland. I'm not in my bed, but on the spare mattress on the floor where my cousin Derek usually sleeps when he's staying, for some reason. All of a sudden, I hear him whispering in my ear and it's right in my ear, not in my head like it normally is. When I heard him, I jumped as fast as I can off the mattress and ran out to the landing and started trying to get downstairs but for some reason, my eyes weren't seeing properly, they were seeing as if I was running out of my parents' room into the hall. So, panicked and functionally blind, I tried to flee from Slender Man and ended up falling down the stairs.

Downstairs, I kept trying to flee as my vision worsened; now I was seeing multiple rooms blending together, creating impossible shapes and angles. Eventually, I fell just outside what I was somehow aware was the door to my kitchen and got wrapped/trapped in what felt like a blanket but, rather than being comforting, it felt really constricting. Then I heard the sound of chainsaws and started screaming "Help! I can't see! I can't see anything!"

After a few seconds, the chainsaws stopped and I heard my mother's voice asking me what was wrong but I just kept screaming that I couldn't see. I vaguely remember her telling me that the chainsaw noise was actually the shower not working and then her grabbing me by the hand.

When her hand closed around mine, I could see again, but I couldn't see her anywhere. The whole expanse around me was scorched red earth; nothing but wasteland for miles and miles. No life. No civilisation.

Until I turned around.

Like a scab on the red flesh of the wasteland, the burnt husk of my house stood, rotting in place. The pebbledash facade was crumbling to nothing and the roof had come away completely. I just stared at it for a few minutes, when suddenly a movement in the shell of the first floor caught my eye.

My mother.

She turned and waved, "Ray, I found you! Oh Ray, I finally found you!", she called out to me. She stepped forward as if she thought she could just walk off the roof and down through the air to me, but a plank snapped and she barely caught herself before she plummeted to the ground. When she had regained her balance, she looked up at me and smiled. "It's okay, Ray, I know how to escape. Watch!" She snapped her fingers. There was a spark.

Fire consumed the house again and it didn't take long for the flames to lick their way up through the building and wrap my mother in their blistering embrace. Even as she melted and burned before my eyes, she reached out to me, calling my name, telling me to escape with her, to be free. I watched in paralysed horror as the fire consumed my home and my mother, until only ash was left. The wind picked it up unceremoniously and wove it into a thick carbon cloud. The paralysis didn't end, even as the remains of the ruins began to coat my lips. It didn't end until I saw a figure approaching in the distance.

At first, I thought it was Slender Man, but as the figure got closer, I could see the approacher was too short and too wide to be any sort of slender man. As he got closer and the dust obscured him less, I began to make out some small details but only when he had pierced the ash cloud, did I behold the figure of the Hanging Man.

He was about, I would guess, 30 and dressed in a trenchcoat and jeans. But the odd dress wasn't what caught my eye. No, that would have to be one of the following;

  • His head, which had been scalped and was still bleeding.
  • His neck, which bore a hangman's noose, taut around his neck and sticking up vertically, as if he was still hanging.
  • His bleeding wrists, which had clearly been slashed with a knife.
  • His completely black eyes, which were oozing thick, red blood.
  • His chest, which had what appeared to be a bullet wound and was bleeding quite profusely.
  • The empty, rotting space where his nose should have been.

The Hanging Man held out a dirty, blood-caked hand for me to shake. I didn't take it. After a few seconds, he let it drop and just stared at me. Then he opened his mouth, which was pitch-black due to all the coagulated blood inside, and spoke.

"Disce aut discede."

I just stared back. I had no idea what he was saying.

"Disce aut discede."

I was starting to get nervous. He didn't look like someone you ever wanted to get on the wrong side of.

"Disce aut discede."

Finally, some neurons managed to get a spark and vague recollections of some Latin came rushing back.

"Nunc discere volo."

He seemed happy with my answer but did not smile.

"Fuerint saeclum."

I don't know how I understood him or how I knew what to say in response but...well, I did.

"Quis respondebit?"

The Hanging Man looked at me grimly, then raised a bleeding arm and pointed over my shoulder.

"Ipse est."

Of course, I turned to see what all the fuss was about. Slender Man was walking towards me from beyond the horizon. I turned to ask the Hanging Man more questions but he had disappeared in the few brief seconds had turned to see Slender Man. Slender Man. I looked over my shoulder and saw how much closer he had gotten. Out of instinct, I started running. It was just like what happened at the racing track; I was pushing myself so hard to run that the whole world was blurring around me and I was digging so deep for energy that I was pulling up every bit of life that was left in me, and yet, no matter how many times I looked over my shoulder after running what felt like a mile, he was only getting closer and closer. But I kept running. I was never going to stop running in that dream. Running forever was better than sitting around doing sweet fuck all.

Finally, one time, I turned around to see where he was and his face was pressed right against mine.

That's when I was awoken by the sound of my phone ringing. I think it was Zero but I didn't have my iPod to record the conversation with. I remember something to do with faith and purity, but that's about it.

The dream worries me. Allow me a moment to go ask Thage if she has a book on dream interpretation...

...okay. I went to Thage's room and found her jumping up and down on her bed, playing air guitar to an Iron Maiden song using a competition foil. Suffice to say, I backed out of the room slowly. I'll ask her at a more convenient time for her.

Reach out.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Candlelit Dinner/Running Again

I figured Ava has been really stressed since she woke up and never more than in the light of what happened to Zeke in the Red Building and the ridiculous amount of research she's been doing into the Egypt-Slender connection and all that. So, I decided to make us a nice candlelit dinner. I told Thage I was taking the kitchen for the night and set about my work. I diced some rashers and scallions, beat a few eggs with milk, salt and pepper, boiled up two bags of rice, chopped two chicken breasts and fried the whole lot up into my signature dish - Irish rice with fried chicken. I set the table all nice, lit up a few lavender-scented candles, put on some mood music ("Into My Arms" by Nick Cave, the greatest love song ever written) and called her down;

Me: -I walk to the bottom of the stairs- Ava! Dinner's ready!

Ava: -she opens her door and leans out- Just leave it. I'm doing FAR too much right now.

Me: Ava, PLEASE come down and take the food I made for you!

Ava: No, look, if I have to deal with these FUCKING morons, I'll do it on MY terms and with really REALLY fucking good research.

Me: Ava, PLEASE!

Ava: Ray, NO.

Me: Ava, you have to eat!

Ava: And I SHALL, love, LATER.

Me: Ava, PLEASE! For me!

Ava: This is SO much bigger than just you or I, Ray. No.

Me: Fine, whatever, I'll give the other plate to Thage or something.

Ava: You go do that, hun. -she slams the door closed-

So I went back to the kitchen, put out the candles, turned off Nick Cave, took Ava's plate into the sitting room, set it down on Thage's lap, said "Bon appetit", walked out, wolfed down my plate, left a note on the table and went for a jog (yeah, I know I shouldn't have jogged right after eating but it wasn't exactly an excercise jog).

I jogged randomly through the streets, figuring I'd eventually burn myself out and call Thage to pick me up. I figured wrong. I ended up back at the running track. I felt vaguely uneasy but I decided to do a few laps of the track anyway. I started at a jog but the faster I ran, the more I had to dig deep for energy and the more energy I pulled up, the more anger I pulled up and with the anger came everything else and before long I was running so fast that the whole world was blurring around me, blurring into the colour of anger and-

My legs gave out and I crashed to the ground. I tumbled over myself, my knees ripped up by the rough surface of the track, and landed lying on my back. My breathing came in deep, wet, throaty gasps and I looked up at the sky. Some people say that when they look up at the stars, they feel tiny but I never feel bigger. There is only a finite amount of matter in the universe and a tiny fraction of that matter is inside my body right now. When I die, bacteria will break my body down into its raw materials, which will be processed by other organism to make new life. And those lives will also pass, in their time, and become new life and the cycle will continue until entropy at last brings the eternal movement of mass and energy to an end. It never fails to amaze me that people can feel so small when we are all part of such a great cosmic existence.

When I got up, he was there.

I tried to jump to my feet but my legs wouldn't move fast enough. I shuddered into a sort of half-stand and stumbled away, looking back occasionally. I swear he was following me but he never moved from that one position. I can't explain it. It was almost like the farther I ran away from him, the closer he was.

I managed to shamble out on to the road and hail a taxi. Thage paid my bill when I got back. I swear, the second I get the chance, I am paying that woman back all the money I've cost her. Ick, all the sweat and dirt is making me feel disgusting. I'm going for a shower.

Reach out.

Monday, April 4, 2011


The experiment went either better or worse than expected depending on who you ask. I think it was a rousing success. Ava is pissed at me for talking her into letting me to do it. In my defense, neither of us were expecting me to start walloping my head off things until I fell unconscious and, in fairness, Thage did a good job of the stitches where I smashed the bottle over my head.

Anyway, the results are more important. We looked around and it seems that I made nineteen posts last night, but I'm going to set aside the eleven that appear to be ordinary drunken rambling and focus on the ones with hidden messages.

1. My first comment on Vivere disce contains a fairly obvious one; one simply has to remove the capital letters.
"man will burn like a rag doll"
2. My only comment on Let Us Keep Living was a lot more difficult but Thage eventually figured it out; just remove all the misspelled words.
"the dust will settle on the bones of the hopeful"
3. My first comment on The London Librarian was simple; capitalised words.
4. My only comment on A Really Bad Joke was a repeat of number one; remove all the capital letters.
"your fighting is a joke you can only prepare"
5. My third comment on my own blog was another repeat of number one; remove all the capital letters.
"the sun is burning in the sky"
6. My first comment on Hand in Hand was yet another repeat of number one; remove all the capital letters.
"those who have forgotten will not be spared"
7. My only comment on Observe and Terminate was the opposite of number three; lower-case words.
"bullets won't save you nothing will"
8. My third comment on Para-Not-So-Normal was a repeat of number seven; lower-case words.
"this pain will consume the world"
 They aren't the only things I wrote though. If you were following Ava's Twitter, you'd have seen that I was quite a busy drunk. Most of the stuff I did was fairly benign but three things stood out.

First the love letter I wrote to Ava;
my daerest Avelesca,
i liove yrou os muc i loive yer haire adn yer skin andeyer vioce nad yoeur eye. yer loeve has breought wholee nwew meaneing tto miy lief. iit hass been turned arund ceompleteyand ihave nooooone to thaenk foer thcat butt youe. mye lovee forforforforforfor ist burning liked anne eteranl flaem. i wodner iff eteranal flameys leavea ash?
This one is a repeat of the second comment; remove the incorrectly spelled words and you are left with the following;
"my skin has been turned to ash"
Then there's the music I wrote. One of the songs has every "o" in the song crossed out with an "x". The title of the song is "As Liek the Leeeeeeeeering Munster in teh Undergrowth, Steping out from The Forst and Eatin Aleiv teh Ratz (He Irks Me)". This one was fairly obvious; capital letters.
Finally, there was an instrumental piece called "Isabel's Fall (Swan Dive Swan Song)", which I'd started writing before the experiment but I drunkenly changed the chord progression to D-->E-->A-->D last night, so the song basically consists, repeatedly, of the following message;
I'm still trying to get my head around it all. Eleven hidden messages, in six hours? Well, we can safely say that the experiment was a success, for both the entity altering my posts and me. But the implications? Too much to think about with the massive fucking hangover I have right now.

Reach out.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Hidden Messages

Okay, so I'm sure some have you noticed that someone or some...thing has been leaving hidden messages in my posts. All the posts in question were made when, for one reason or another, my mental defenses were lowered.

1. In Confessions of a London Librarian/A Dialogue Between Self and Same, I was exhausted from helping Thage get ready to move to North Dakota.
"I'm falling apart"
2. In The Facade Cracks, I was still reeling from discovering that my memories had been fakes.
"listen to Reach or the Fallout will be far worse than You can possibly imagine."
3. In Crux, I was recovering from the cold I'd stressed myself into while caring for Ava.
"I'm in a nightmare. help me."
4. In WHISKEY, I was mauldy with the drink.
"be EVER vigilant reach watch the signs"
5. In Oh, Christ, I had a horrible hangover that Ava had only made worse with her little paper bag trick.
"the worst of all will be hung from the trees"
So, yeah, these messages aren't exactly inspiring confidence but they're not being made for no reason and they're only made when I'm not in full control of my mind. So, Ava and I have conceived an experiment. She and I are going to lock ourselves inside her room with lots of writing/drawing materials, paper, the laptop she nicked from Thage and copious amounts of alcohol. I'm gonna get pissed off my head and she's gonna keep an eye on me while I hopefully write and draw shit, maybe even post here again. Ava's not just there to observe, however, it's also her job to bring the experiment to a close when I pass out. Okay, there's a can of cider with my name on it. Also "Magners", because it's only known by its TRUE NAME back in Ireland. Let the experiment begin.

Reach out.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Oh, Christ

That bitch, Ava, is after leaving me with the worst bitch of a headache I have experienced in all my days. Oh, I love her, I do, and that will always be true, but it takes a special kind of bitch to pop a paper bag right next to a hungover person's ear. From what dark depths of malice did she drag that idea!? Oh fuck, I am not in the mood to talk to you people, I don't even know why I started writing this. I'm going to bed. I don't care how early it is. I just hope those damn trees stop rattling my window.

Reach out.


oh mmm thisis really quite njice i do like my shiwkey whksiey whiskeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee woah fell aslepp on the keybaord there haha oh man i havne't been this dunrk  sicne scine since EVER OH COOL I TURNED ON CAPS LCOJK HAHA TPYING IN BEIG LETTLERS BIGLETLERS HAHAHAHAhahaha awww i leikd tjhe big lett ers. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm oh no feldl aslepp a gain got to keep awaake butt maybe i shodulnt' i lsot alot og sleep when i was keepign vigilant now i am reachly reahll really tired but its too eurly hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm oh whshit did it agaihn maybe i should go watch elevision for a wheil its proabyle betert then falling asleppd here oh hm lets see if i can signs offf okey

reaachhhhhhhh outt.

Avalesca Conquest and the Mysterious Information/Alekhine's Gun, Part 7

So, I finally told Ava about my memory...well, read it for yourself;

Me: -I enter the bedroom and sit down on Ava's bed- Ava?

Ava: -she looks up from the laptop she procured from Thage- Yes?

Me: You know the way I told you not to read my blog and a few others, because I wanted to personally update you?

Ava: -she looks dryly at me over the laptop screen- You mean the way I'm only getting half the picture as to what the sweet, merciful fuckery happened while I wasn't conscious? Yes. Yes I do.

Me: I'm sorry, but it's important that I tell you and not the blogs and I am honestly kinda scared about how you'll react, though I'm not sure yet whether the fear is irrational or not.

Ava: -she purses her lips and raises an eyebrow- Mmm.

Me: While you were unconscious, Jean posted an extract of an old psychology book on her blog, that explained a phenomenon known as the Masquerade Effect. You can read about it yourself for the particulars but the basic sum-up is that...there's no such thing as Revenants and I never was one. I'm not fifty-seven, I'm seventeen. And what I thought was my life story isn't.

Ava: ...that's terribly sudden isn't it? Are you sure?

Me: I called my sister and she seemed to corroborate what happened. Of course, that could have just been someone on the Slender Side trying to fuck with my head but the version of reality that matches up with these memories makes more sense than the version of reality from my fake memories, so I'm supporting the sense-making ones.

Ava: And?

Me: And what?

Ava: And what was the insecurity thing?

Me: Insecurity?

Ava: You were scared of something? How I'd react to something? Has someone threatened us about it?

Me: Well, I was somewhat worried about how you'd react to finding out that next-to-nothing that you knew about me save my appearance and personality were accurate.

Ava: But your personality and appearance are all that matter.

Me: I suppose. It seems I can safely categorise that fear as being "irrational" then. I love you.

Ava: I love you too. -she frowns- Even if you are an idiot. So... -she closes the laptop-...miss me?

Me: You know I did. I spent most of the two weeks up here, watching over you, hoping you'd wake up. Lo and behold, you woke up while I was on break.

Ava: Mmmm. My psyche's just got amazing timing.

Me: Apparently, yeah. Is it safe to assume you're only going to take the minimum two weeks' recovery that Thage prescribed instead of the recommended month and a half?

Ava: Well....I may...cut it down a tad. -looks around sheepishly-

Me: I'll take that as a yes then. Where do you want to go first? England, Egypt or Ireland?

Ava: I don't...Ray. I have to tell you something.

Me: ...Okay.

Ava: It's...look. When I thought you'd... -she looks around nervously- ...died last time, I went to Egypt and...Aaron...I can't. He made me swear not to uncover what he did, or what his Father did or what HIS father did. But...I have to tell you. And you have to keep it a secret until..until whatever I hope doesn't happen, happens.

Me: Well, I was sort of intending on posting this on my blog, but sure, I can redact the information.

Ava: -she shoves me in the arm playfully- Well duh, derpbrain. But...seriously, I...I think Zeke's in trouble with this. Where he's going...what he's doing. I'd been scouring over Dr McKenna's notes when you weren't...there and [REDACTED] is terribly relevant.

Me: There's a connection between [REDACTED]...and Egypt. I'm pretty sure that Egyptian architecture was all about the extremely bright white. Are you sure?

Ava: -she turns around the laptop to show me what she's been working on- Oh hell yes. I don't...think Damien was a least....about a few things.

Me: I always had my suspicions about "Rick", personally. -I read through a page- This research is...pretty extensive.

Ava: Well -she coughs and looks away from me- I didn't exactly have any other purpose...

Me: Well, you do now. Staying alive. Because if you die before I get to marry you, then I'm going to fucking kill you.

Ava: -she chokes on thin air-

Me: Don't worry, I'm not proposing. I'm just stating my intent. -I clap her on the back-

Ava: THAT... -she coughs- ...that's quite the intent. And...rather sounds like a proposal.

Me: Ava, we could be dead in a month's time, there's no point beating around the bush. And hey, if you want me to propose, I can do that.

Ava: Uhm. Uhh. Uhm. -she coughs and waves me away a little- I--I really think you need to..uhm, go talk to Thage? I think I hear her calling you.

Me: Actually, I haven't really been talking to Thage since our argument but I know how to take a hint. I'll leave you to your own devices, for now. -I get up to leave-

Ava: I--I love you. But..I'm eighteen. And..regardless of your....mindscrew whatever...I think that's a little...uhm uh..hasty?

Me: I understand. I didn't mean to upset or put pressure on you. I'm perfectly happy with how things are now, well, how things are with us. I'm just letting you know that in an ideal world, I'd like to marry you one day.

Ava: Uhh... -she massages her temples-, uhm, I need you too look over these. If...if you don't mind. See if you recognise anything. You were around when Dreams In Darkness was, right? And...I can..I can't deal with anything longer term that...a week from now...Ray, I just, I love you but.. -she gestures to the window-

Me: I understand. And no, actually, Dreams in Darkness ended about two months before I got involved in the game. I'm sorry if I upset you. -I look out the window- Is he there?

Ava: You didn't you just...shocked me. -she turns her head slightly but doesn't look out the window- I..I don't know. I haven't looked out of the window since I woke up. I think he's there sometimes...why aren't you talking to Thage?

Me: We got into an ethical argument after she lobotomised a "Revenant" and expressed an interest in doing the same to you if your condition didn't improve. -peers outside the window- I don't see him at the moment. No sign of Eulogy or Redlight either. Which is either very good or the most awful thing possible.

Ava: ...she what? But--but she was just up here! She offered me spaghetti for Christ's sake!

Me: Good thing your condition improved then. She got back into the game and she's not particularly interested in observing or even learning the rules. I fear I have aided the rebirth of a wonderful and terrible monster.

Ava: Wait. Wait, she's.. -she presses the heels of her hands to her eyes and shakes her head- Everything that could possibly go wrong is going wong. Ray, I love you, but I think you need to take these notes and leave me alone for the night. Try to talk to Thage. She could know what these stupid marks on Dr McKenna's bone mean. -sighs at the drawing before handing it to you- God knows they aren't hieroglyphs.

Me: Fair enough. I'll do my best. Why don't you go back to sleep for a while, you look tired.

Ava: ...I can't yet. I'm too worried.

Me: About not waking up? I can watch you if you want, if that'd help.

Ava: About everyone. About me thinking about everyone. Ray-- I don't...I don't CARE anymore. I see people and I don't care. They can all die. Just not you, not Tony, not Thage, not Mum, not Celie and not Zeke. And since Mum and Delta have dropped off the fucking earth...

Me: How long have you felt like this? Is it just since you've woken or before that?

Ava: Before, but after waking up and SEEING these people's posts on my blog and yours and Tonys etc...

Me: Which people? What posts?

Ava: All of them

Me: What about the posts bothered you?

Ava: Everyone. Their existence. The new people, the old people. It's always the same. There's no moving forward.

Me: I know it seems like that now, but something will happen. It's a long road that has no turning.

Ava: No, Ray. It's a long road with sheer idiots getting mowed down every damn day because they don't look both ways before crossing.

Me: "It's a long road that has no turning." is a proverb, not a description of the situation.

Ava: I don't care anymore.

Me: You care about some of us.

Ava: Some. Oh god, some. So few of us in fraction terms. I cared about every single one of them who read my blog, once. You can see in earlier posts how I tried to help simply everyone. Now I don’t care. -she waves her hands about her- Maybe it marks me as one of the grizzled Slenderman Survivors, or maybe it just makes me a bitch. Either way, I’ve stopped caring.

Me: It's neither of those things. You stretched yourself too thin, dear. You broke yourself trying to help everyone's problems. You just need time to put yourself back together and learn to prioritise. I keep an eye on a few people and, to my own discredit, ignore the rest. It may sound harsh, but there's only so much caring any one person can do. You went over capacity, now you're reverting to factory settings. But you'll start to care more again, over time.

Ava: But I don't just, "not care." Ray, I resent these people. For bothering me.

Me: I get that, Ava, but I know you and it's not permanent. You stretched yourself so much going to such great lengths to care about the people that it was inevitable for you to eventually snap back the other way.

Ava: -she makes a noncommital noise- Whatever you say, hun. Just, take the papers, talk to Thage, go see if there's anything correlating in Damien's blog that I've missed. Please. I think this is very important.

Me: Yes, dear. Is there anything else I can do for you?

Ava: -she kisses me quickly- Don't be too angry at Thage. I think she works on a different morality level as us sometimes.

Me: So do all people who commit evil acts, but I still get angry at them. -I sigh- I suppose I'll try to co-operate with her, for your sake.

Ava: Evil? I think she's more....Blue and Orange...

Me: I didn't say she was evil. Thage is undoubtedly a good person. That doesn't make taking shortcuts through people's lives a good act.

Ava: Hnrgh. -she shrugs- Anyway, papers, info GET. -she shoos me with her hands-

Me: I love you.

Ava: I love you too, now, get out. -she kisses me and shoves me off the bed-

Me: Yes, dear. -I walk down the stairs and find Thage in the sitting room-

Thage: -she looks up from a book- Evening. What would you and Ava like for dinner?

Me: I'm Irish, so I'll just take whatever you put on the table, really, and I think Ava is too focused on whatever it is she's focused on to care.

Thage: Alright, I'll probably throw some grilled cheese sandwiches together, warm up some tomato soup, and call it a meal.

Me: I lived off sandwhiches and soup for the last months of Ariana's illness, so that's gourmet for me.

Thage: How is Ava? Any improvement?

Me: She's back to full cognition and coherence but she's become somewhat selective in her empathy towards other bloggers.

Thage: I've noticed. -she sips a can of 7UP- And yourself? How are you holding up?

Me: As well as can be expected, I guess. At least she doesn't want to gut me with a mirror shard anymore. She didn't seem terribly bothered by my memories being fake.

Thage: It puts you two closer together, age-wise, so that might be a relief to her.

Me: True, true. She gave me something for you to look at.

Thage: -she looks up- Hm?

Me: They're symbols taken from an Egpytian artifact, similar to hieroglyphics but not. There seems to be some correlation between the artifact in question and both the Heel and the Bone from Dreams In Darkness. She asked me to ask you if you'd come across the symbols before. -I hand her the sheets-

Thage: -she reads them over with a stern gaze- I'm not at all familiar with these, unfortunately.

Me: No, not unfortunately. This is brilliant.

Thage: Hm?

Me: If you're not familiar with them, then that means we have a new lead. If it's not something any of us have come across before, then it's a discovery and discoveries must necessarily lead to progress of some kind.

Thage: This is true. Even a dead end often has an arrow pointing you true.

Me: Right, well, that's good. I was hoping this would take longer though. Ava wanted to be left alone for a while, so now I've nothing to do for the night.

Thage: I just bought a Go board, if you're up for a few rounds.

Me: Eh, I'm not much of a board game person, bar chess, of course, but chess isn't so much a board game as a grand merging of sport, art and science.

Thage: Pity. You can learn a lot about someone by the way they play games of strategy.

Me: What does it say about me that I usually have my queen deployed within the first three moves?

Thage: You're ambitious, a risk-taker, but you rely too heavily on a powerful piece too soon in the game.

Me: And what about the fact that I deploy my queen as a ruse while I move my pawns into a defensive wall?

Thage: You offer a sacrifice with one hand, only to cover it with the shield you hold in the other.

Me: And what about the fact that I establish a defensive wall of pawns so that my opponent will dash his own pieces against the rocks of my castle, thus giving myself greater mobility on the board in order to flank him?

Thage: Depends on the size of the board. If it's a regulation board, you'd place your queen at the knights' and rooks' mercy.

Me: And what if I told you that I won ninety percent of the games I played in school competitions with my queen and both rooks?

Thage: -she shrugs- I'd challenge you to a game of Go to see how you can adapt that strategy to a game of taking territory rather than defeating pieces.

Me: I imagine I would lose rather harshly since I have no idea what "Go" is.

Thage: -she hands me a book of Go rules-

Me: -I try to read it but can't focus- Sorry, it's just not getting through today.

Thage: Fair enough.

Me: I'm having trouble concentrating lately. Whenever I try to absorb new information, my brain starts arguing over whether to view it as Reach or me.

Thage: Why not consolidate both views into one? Look at it as an old soldier, then look at it as a young man.

Me: That's a shaky route that I don't want to go down. It's safer just to stick to one reality.

Thage: -she looks up from the book again- Fair enough.

Me: I have absolutely no idea what to do for the evening.

Thage: We could talk about the goings-on in the blogs.

Me: Sure, update me. I've been catching up on lost sleep and haven't read much.

Thage: Well, Fizzbomb is back, and she seems rather unimpressed with the people who seem to think that this is some action movie.

Me: I will not comment on the irony of that position. Do go on.

Thage: As you might've gathered, Zero's back.

Me: Yeah, I noticed that. Poor bugger.

Thage: You might want to sympathize when he's not declaring war on people who've been tainted by the Black King.

Me: It's in my nature to pity a tragic monster. At any rate, what else is happening?

Thage: Nothing of note, sadly.

Me: I guess no news is good news.

Thage: Or the calm before another storm, perish the thought.

Me: True, I guess. -I sigh- I'm gonna go try and write a poem or something.  I'll be in the spare study if you need me.

Thage: Alright. If you need anything, I'll be learning this new game.

Me: Talk to you later.

Now I have to figure out what I want to do for the next few hours. I'm not particularly inspired toward verse at the moment. Hmmm, I spy with my little eye, something with a name that comes from the Irish phrase "water of life". I probably shouldn't...fuck it, I've nothing better to do.

Reach out.