Tuesday, 28 February 2012
It’s good to be on the road again. My mind doesn’t have the chance to wander to anything beyond surface deep.
I find I’m most at peace when I’m working. Strange how that got so screwed up. I’m most at peace when I’m taking what are often dangerous and/or illegal items across state boundaries, and of course they never do go flawlessly, do they?
It’s also strange that I can say that and not worry about leaving such a very obvious trail to what is at times essentially a casual arms trafficking organization: the feds are really the least of our worries. He’s always there, watching us mill about, pushing his pawns towards us with reckless abandon…But it’s not reckless, it’s almost as if it were calculated. Like He’s watching to see how we respond to pressure. And when he gets bored of that, he watches to see how we respond to pain. Like ants under a magnifying glass held by a sociopathic infant.
Strange things happen.
I’ve been thinking about my family today. Back home, back in the days before I had to grow up. Mum, Dad, my baby brother, my cousins, my aunts and uncles, my grandparents…my big sister…
I never went to her grave. It’s always been on my list of things to do before I die. Head back to Perth, see her again. Just let her know I’m still kicking around, I guess.
Sorry this is so disjointed. I’m really not trying tonight. I’m just thinking, and I guess you guys’ve been following for long enough that I don’t really mind letting you in on my thoughts. It’s apparently healthy, or so Dr. Rivers told me last time we spoke. Letting people know what I’m thinking. (I then believe I might’ve said he wasn’t a real doctor and that he should sod off, but he didn’t seem to take it to heart.)
I guess I’ve been thinking about family so much today because of the lunch we had. It wasn’t anything particularly momentous. August, Lori and I stopped at a diner on the road down to Louisiana…We sat down, ordered our meals, that sort of thing. Dealt with the terrible watery coffee, typical diner stuff. I was heaping my mug full of sugar when a little boy walked up to us. He was young…Probably around 10, I’d say, with sunny blonde hair and a serious scowl on his face. That lovely, pensive scowl that only a child can pull off. Like they’re SO close to solving some great mystery of life, like the answer is right there, close enough to grasp, but still so far away…and then they’re old, like me, and the answer is gone.
Strange that a 22 year old can call himself ‘old’ without a trace of irony. But I digress.
He stood there, totally quiet for a fairly long time until I noticed him; he was standing next to Lori, who was sitting next to August. “Hey little buddy, you lost?” I ask, attempting to sound kind. He didn’t move, but a blonde haired woman, maybe Lori’s age, with piercing green eyes walked up behind him and put a hand on his shoulder. “Gem, don’t disturb the nice people, love.” She looked up at us and smiled apologetically. “Sorry, he’s been very sheltered by my uncle; we’re just coming back from a trip to see the grandparents.” She had a familiar look about her, just really down to earth and matter of fact, but I suppose I just got a bit confused by someone our age talking about…family.
I guess I’ve always known that there were these big, idyllic families that people keep in contact with, but it always just seemed like a fantasy in my mind, a simple idea. I haven’t thought about my extended family in so long, my grandparents, my cousins. When I started running, that life ended, any possibility of that life faded away into the realms of hopes and dreams. My family’s still out there, presumably doing the same as normal. There would’ve been a funeral when Melissa died. Presumably closed-casket. (I wonder if Dad even told them that she was killed, or if they played it off as an act of God.) After the funeral, sure, everyone would be sad, but life would go on.
I wonder if my grandparents are still alive? It’s still very much a possibility, they were fairly young when they started a family. My aunts and uncles would definitely still be around. My cousins would be working, studying at uni, falling in love, getting married, having kids. This entire life that I know I’ll never be able to have.
A different life. One that’s a little less strange.
Thursday, 23 February 2012
We're headed down to Louisiana, some shady place about a half hour out from New Orleans, to deliver a package to a shaman. He's apparently a fortuneteller, but can do much more than just that. I've always been a bit wary of those types - I am a woman of science, after all. At the same time, ever since all this hit me all those years ago, I've become more open to it. But of course, tolerance and openness doesn't mean comfort. Nonetheless, I look forward to meeting him, even if he asked for...ah, I can't say. But it's definitely not a Bag of Infinite Holding or anything exciting like that.
The drive's been uneventful so far, almost a bit too peaceful. That always makes me nervous, something usually goes wrong by now. We stop too fast at a stoplight and my glasses fly off and crack against the dashboard, or we get into an argument, or something. But no, nothing this time. I'm getting a bit hungry, though, so I might see if we want to go to one of those 24-hour diners and grab something.
I can't wait to get this delivery over with so we can get a little free time. I've never been to New Orleans, but Steele tells me it's a good time. We'll see.
Tuesday, 21 February 2012
I don't see what you're all freaking out about, because she can't be dead. She promised she'd come back, and friends keep promises no matter what.
Rachael was not a liar
RACHAEL WAS NOT A LIAR.
So stop this. Stop with the calling and the messages and the fucking asking if I'm okay. I'm fine, because Rachael is fine. Everything is fine. Everything is going to be fine. She'll be back, I know it. Now if only my head would stop pounding...
Wednesday, 15 February 2012
Travelling has been good. Good for me, and good for everyone in general. Because let's all be honest about this; aside from when I'm fixing things, there's really no reason for me to be around. Probably better for me to be away as it stands. Probably.
So far, I've seen a few people. Elaine was kind enough to have me in her company a while ago, and Rachael and I just met up, though that was more by chance than anything. It's... nice, in a way. Trying to be honest with everyone else and myself. It hurts, but it's kind of just a dull ache in your chest sometimes, reminding you that there's nothing there no matter how much you try-
(I'm sorry, Elaine. I'm not around enough to be any sort of help. I want to help. I want to help people like Rachael more and support my team more and be in control more. Maybe I just have to try harder.)
Aside from that, I've just been... wandering, you know? Making my way down street after street, sometimes falling asleep and waking up
(And when it's nobody but me, I remember what started all this; Christmas Eve, Writer at my shoulder, and... the window, it had a circle of frost. It was... snowing, showers of glass shards under the street lamps, shining. It was quiet, silent, aside from the kids playing on the street while their parents whispered harshly to get back inside. (Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.) Writer's breath on my ear. He was cold, he was always so cold, like he's already dead; but there, out there, it looked so warm...)
Tonight it's a little bar; the jazz helps me think sometimes. Reminds me of my first days by myself, discovering music. She's sad, the singer. You can see it, hear it. But her voice carries into forever. You close your eyes to lose yourself and before you know it, you're not even anything anymore. It's just the music. You're nothing, you've never been anything. You're allowed to forget for a while.
Sometimes when you come back, you feel just a little lighter. Sometimes,though, it's lonely when you're among people, too.
(I keep on showing up at the wrong place at the right time, or the right place at the wrong time. Sometimes I turn up places that I don't want to be at all. Don't want to remember. Is this... supposed to be some kind of test? Am I supposed to realize something, accomplish something? I don't know. My own footsteps don't give me any sort of answers. I'm tired of tests. I'm... so, so tired of tests, people peering at me like I'm some sort of thing to be studied. Red eyes, green eyes. I'm me. Is that enough? Some nights I wake up and feel someone else leaving me and the stars laugh at me. Some nights, I just look up and wonder where Matt is. Where the dead are now. On those nights, the stars cry.)
I still feel like I'm missing something, though. Something, and I don't know what it is, keeps slipping through my hands, flowing like water then shattering like glass when it hits the ground. I... sometimes, it feels like I'm so close, and then something interrupts it and it's gone again. Nightingales, flying away just before brushing your fingertips. Playing, toying with you. Dealing in secrets and lies. But that's more like me, right? Or the way I used to be. I want to do better, I think.
I'm not sure if I'm coming home right away. I still... want to see some people, see and do some things. Keep thinking. Trying to decide things for myself. Decide who I want to be. Maybe there's a lot more to this than I realize. But I'm feeling better, really, I swear. I'll still keep checking in, August. Be safe.
(The singer and Rachael and Elaine and everyone else I meet have something in common. Maybe we're all more alike than we think. Maybe we just have to stop looking to find what we're looking for.)
Tuesday, 14 February 2012
It’s my sister’s tenth birthday today. It’s also been ten years since the first time I saw him.
This is where I could angst about how I never got a normal childhood, but that’s not gonna happen. I don’t even remember most of it. After the first time that blank white face appeared in the window of the maternity ward, everything turned into a horrible blur of nightmares and sickness and seeing things that weren’t there, or maybe they were, I don’t want to think about it. Sis got the worst of it. He was there for her entire short life, and…
god, she was so sick. My parents didn’t even notice and I spent three years trying to take care of a sick baby and myself and those were the best years of my life. Because at least I wasn’t alone.
It was her third birthday when I came home from school and no, no I can’t talk about it I don’t want to talk about it. I came home and they were all gone.
(He always shows up on her birthday. Every time.)
I couldn’t even recognize them as my parents anymore. Just a bloody mess on our bedroom floor. They died trying to protect her but they couldn’t. He always wins in the end. And my sister, my little baby Allie, was just gone.
Nobody ever found her body. The police came, the police left, the police convicted some innocent man of my parents’ murder. The newspaper had an article about a couple killed in their home. There was never any mention of a baby. Nobody believed me.
Did you hear that? Nobody ever believed I had a sister.
of course then they sent me to doctors and stuff. They tried to tell me I’d invented the Man because I couldn’t cope with my parents’ death. I…started to believe them, I think, in the end. He stayed away. There were a couple years where I didn’t see him at all, where I lived with my grandma who was nice enough but not really the mothering type, where I was almost happy. I was starting to get better, just a little bit. That should have been my warning sign right there. Maybe if I’d stayed on my toes, expected the worst, I wouldn’t have woken up at four in the morning last year on Valentine’s Day to the smoke alarms and flames.
It’s been a whole year. How has it been a year? It’s like a movie in my head, jumping out the window with nothing but my coat and shoes and glasses. Leaving everything behind. There was one moment where I turned around, I could have saved my grandma, but I just. I just didn’t. He wanted me to run, so I ran. I couldn’t stop.
I can never stop
Sunday, 12 February 2012
I haven't been allowed to leave on delivery in awhile (or leave the House alone for extended amounts of time period), but my mental prognosis has been looking better. Not writing on any walls, certainly not in my own blood. (Okay, the unicorn fighting a t-rex I drew on my office wall in dry erase pen doesn't count, I was just bored that time.) Not cutting off any limbs, not hearing voices I shouldn't be, not gibbering to the walls like a lunatic. Just having nightmares of wicked things crawling through my head and waking up standing in the middle of the kitchen, or trying to open the back door. I usually go outside to get some air, it helps. Honestly, I think it's just leftover stress from the House going crazy and taking me with it; the dreams and sleepwalking have been tapering off since then. Haven't been seeing Him lately, so I must have snapped back into my old way of things, slipped into that induced complacency that kept me somewhat sane for so long.
I've missed sanity. I've slipped out of it far too many times before, and it's never easy to crawl back in. I like to compare it to falling out of a helicopter and having to grab on to one of its legs, then pull yourself back in before you fall off for good. Of course, if you can't grab on, there may be someone there to catch you, but it may not be who you want it to be. That someone might whisk you away with loving intent, and due to...circumstances, that intent becomes purely cruel and sadistic. Needles carrying an endless supply of drowsy thoughtlessness. Yelling. Abuse. You may call me a biased loon, but I can assure you that it truly was that bad. The Moon-Headed Shadow, as we patients came to call Him, began to...express himself through the hospital personnel. From the doctors and psychiatrists all the way down to the nursing assistants. Not all the hospital staff succumbed to His influence and became worse than the patients they were in charge of, however: one of the younger nurses discovered my love of Kurt Vonnegut. On slow days, she'd read to me for hours while I sat grinning and drooling. My favorite novel used to be Slaughterhouse-Five before she read it to me so much that I'd feel my mind start to frost over the moment she uttered the opening words. Can't really say I can bear to read it anymore, or even look at the cover: in retrospect, perhaps she HAD fallen to His influence, and that was her way of cementing me in my madness.
And all that can end it is being carried away in flames by a pair of compassionate hands, while the rest of it, all the others like you and your torturers, burn to ash. Then it's down to three: you, your savior, and the Moon-Headed Shadow looking on with an eyeless, judging stare. And so you're whisked away again with equally loving intent, but this time, to find a true sanctuary waiting in a dingy, smoke-filled apartment.
...you know, sitting around thinking about all of this probably isn't good for me. I need something to do: I'm think I'll talk to Steele about getting the hell out of here for awhile, I'm sure he'd be down for that. Spence will probably demand I be...more adequately supervised, just as a precaution, but we can find something that'll work. Maybe August's delivery? I don't know yet.
Saturday, 11 February 2012
Though I suppose that's not entirely true. We've been posting, but we're falling back into our old habits of speaking (well, typing) without actually saying much. It reminds me of when we first started, the boss forcing arbitrary posting quotas on us; one post a week, or you're getting your pay cut/meds taken away/whatever suited us at the time, except now it's more introspective and that we want to, (well, I want to) not that we have to. It's nice to get it all out, and even better for collecting our thoughts, even if half of the posts we end up writing up don't actually get posted.
( And I kind of wonder what'll happen to the mountain of drafts once this blog is finished. Do we put them up? Are they worth reading? There are certain posts we've all agreed to put up after... well, as goodbyes, but what about the rest? The three-line posts that never became more than the shell of a story? The five lines of thought that hit a wall and never got a chance to continue? We clear them out every once and a while, sure, but you have to wonder... )
We're all fairly content right now, and I guess that's the reason for any real lack of posting. The House has gone all but silent, we're rebuilding, Spence is travelling, and slowly we're getting our deliveries back on schedule. The boss has already mentioned the small deliveries we've run; one- or two-day trips that were really never worth mentioning, and aside from a couple scuffles with some locals who didn't take kindly to us down in Louisiana, everything's been quiet. Peaceful. Even on that last trip I managed to pick myself up a nice souvenir or two (my collection of cookbooks is nearly complete, and I've managed to find the books I lost in the last House fiasco) and, really, there isn't much to report on.
The House is back in order (well, as in order as it can be) and we're managed to get the furniture back together. And while the new sofas aren't the same shade of green as when I unpacked them (Spencer says it's because the House doesn't like green. I blame IKEA.) everything's back in order. Kitchen's restocked, walls are repainting, and my bedroom is back in its place in the west wing.
And while Spence is out travelling I'm still getting word from him every night. The boss has always been... distant, but he cares about all of us. Even everybody at home seems closer, though we've always been kind of awkward about it. It's a strange thing to describe, really. In the year or so I've been here it's never felt more like... well, like family. Like a home, and not just a House. Somewhere safe.
I suppose then this post's my own two cents into what's going on here. I've got a delivery starting next week. A major one, should probably take more than a few days. A old friend of the boss' is requesting some delicate materials to be transported. Normally we don't do this kind of stuff, but the two of them apparently go way back, plus she pays well. I'm not really complaining.
Stay safe, everybody.
Wednesday, 8 February 2012
Ever take a moment after an event in your life to just sit and comprehend? That single heartbeat, where your mind works to catch up to where you are at now.
I’ve been sitting in that moment for this entire year. 2012, a year trapped in its first heartbeat. Do you ever realise how strange your world has become any keener then at the changeover of the year? That moment where you turn back and you see your path laid out behind you, you see how far you’ve come, the distance that separates you from the events which make you who you are, the people who you have been along the way. This year, I’ve sat in my room and looked down the Path, pausing only to resupply. No deliveries, I’ve had enough saved up to just spend on what I consume, sitting, watching…trying to understand.
Two months later, and I still feel like I’m in a Loop. I guess I’ve felt that way for a long time though…enough time in this House and I bore, and my mind wanders back. And the last thing my mind needs is a chance to wander, otherwise it might walk on over to something important. Or maybe back to one who I once was, one of the masks I’ve worn along the way, one of the people I had to become.
How does one fund themselves when on the run from a force not even they themselves truly understand? I don’t think anyone ever stops to think logistics, they just go with what works, what’s been done. Vagrancy and isolation seems to be a way of life with us, we so Afflicted by this looming cloud. Not me, I need the bustle of the streets, and the company of that which isn’t my own mind. And to sustain a lifestyle that allowed me that, I needed cash for accommodation, hedonism and maybe even a tad of vanity. And as my little 17 year old self found out, business ideas that fit me were few and far between. Though there was one that always seemed to work; in every society, there’s a certain denomination of people with specific tastes that went beyond the realms of the socially-acceptable. In the current profession, that can be something simple like a picture of a loved one, a notebook of a fellow Stalked…Or perhaps even a bottle of mysterious Pills.
Well, that last part was more my forte back in the day. Societally unacceptable medications. I was young, and had absolutely nothing to lose except for the clothes on my back, and my borrowed life. A hardass kid with a glint in his eye. The clients who thought they were smart described my eyes as Steely. The dumber ones suggested I describe my prices as a Steele, and the really smart ones realized that I was using a fake name and didn’t inquire further. For why would they need to inquire? They got what they wanted, I got the cash to sustain myself. Hell, and keep me occupied; god knows I could use the direction, instead of just waiting for Death.
And if there were problems? Well, they’d taste my Steele. Some young bloke tried to hold me up for the substances he was supposed to pay me for, one time. Some happy go lucky fucker with an eyeless smile, like the bloody Cheshire Cat. Grinning with the glint of the moonlight playing off his glasses as he pointed the knife to the back of my head, tip digging into my tingling nape, thinking he had it all, the cat with the fucking cream. Telling me to reach into my pocket and hand him his money back.
I reach into my pocket, slow as anything, bending slightly, then further pulling forward as the man kept pushing the knife deeper…I pulled the rightly rolled wad of bills from my pocket, and dropped it on the ground, rolling it back with the heel of my left foot, to land neatly between his legs. He withdrew the hand with the knife for just a split second too long, so I place one supportive hand on the ground and snap backwards with all my might, into the back of his elbow on the arm reaching down to the ground, hearing a satisfying snap as he lost his balance and fell backwards, knife falling from his other hand. The arm I hit looked disfigured as I stood up and pulled the knife up from the ground, placing a foot on it and hearing him squeal. “Shh, not so fast.” I knelt on his chest, pinning his legs neatly. The invasion of personal space always freaks out the druggies, nobody knows what to do when a kid sits on your chest and holds a knife to your eyes. “You know, love…Let me tell you a story. You’re not going anywhere, are you?” I asked, casually dragging the blade across his cheek, as crimson welled up parallel to his tears. “Didn’t think so.” The blubbering was almost soothing as I continued.
”Ever since I was a kid, I knew a very strange Man. He never said anything, He’d just stand in the bushland behind my house and watch me play on my swingset. Ever since I was 6 years old, He was there. I saw my daddy talking to him one day, then every day after that, there He was, pale as the moon.” I said with as cutesy a voice as I could muster, seeing the sinking terror in the man’s face as he finally knew I was insane. If only you knew. “And he was as pale as the moon, no hair on his head. Only pale white, a dome of ivory with sunken, sightless indentations where his eyes should’ve been, and no nose to speak of. No mouth, either. A Man in a black suit, just watching. I asked my sister, who was 8, who he was once, when she was pushing me on the swingset. ‘Daddy’s friend is looking after us.’ My sister, the sage that she was. ‘He’s here for us in case bad people don’t like us. He looks after children.’” I pause with grim satisfaction as I feel a creeping watching sensation, slicing into the other side of the asshole’s face. “And He did look after us when we were children…But we’re not anymore, are we?”
I licked the blade, and the kid whimpered. “No, we’re not. Ten years later, on my sister’s 18th birthday, I woke up to find her hanging from a tree, her eyes seemingly crossed out with a knife…” With my finger I drew an X on my audience’s left eye which flickered closed, just so he knew what I meant, “…her face twisted into an open-mouthed smile, her tongue slit at the end, as if forked…her abdomen hanging wide open, and her entrails hung up in the tree around her, blood dripping from black garbage bags. And there He was, watching as I cried, from the treelines. He protected us when we were children. But we grew past that.” I leaned down, so my breath formed warm condensation on his forehead. “Do you want to meet him? You’re no child, though, but he loves to meet new people. He’s watching us right now, can’t you feel it?”
I paused with an emphatic coughing fit, to punctuate my story. “He’s already got me…But maybe he’d like you too.”
”Are you going to kill me?” He spluttered out. “I’ve got cash, I—“
”…I don’t kill people.” I outright said, getting off his chest and walking away. “He does, though. Have a look around, you might see Him.”
To this day, I don’t know what happened to that man. I never bothered following it up. I’ve moved past that stage of my life, past the violence, past the fear, past the face I had to put on to survive. But I do still wonder about him. I wonder if his life changed that night, two scarred cheeks and a newfound curse. I wonder, I worry. I think.
And I have achieved total apathy. I’m supposed to keep living, Stephen told me that. But what for? For a ghost.
I’m keeping my body breathing.
Saturday, 4 February 2012
Being in the House is bringing up bad memories. Well, not... there's some good ones too. But staying in one place for too long, it just gives you time to think, you know? And I never think of good things once I start thinking.
I'm not sure exactly what stance to take on everything that's been going on. All of us couriers have been far away from all that lately, and it doesn't seem like that's going to change. Hopefully. There's been a few minor deliveries, but that's exactly what they've been, minor, so I guess nobody really felt the need to report them. We're back to the way things used to be, before... well. Before we started blogging, really. Not that I think anyone is going to complain about that. Even Writer's gone quiet, caught up in the mess his Squad has made, not that I’m complaining.
I guess it just feels… strange. Strange to have the House acting like a regular House again. Strange to have everyone sticking to their own business. Strange to not see
I dream sometimes. Don’t usually, really, haven’t dreamed since I was in the desert all those years ago. But now, I dream of skirting over rooftops like nothing in the world matters. Sliding down drainpipes and skidding down grimy brick, feet landing easily on the asphalt of alleyways. It all feels so real; I don’t hurt, and my heart pounds in my chest and the air rushes through my fingers like I’m catching handfuls of smoke. I don’t have to worry about my staples popping or my fingers breaking or anything else. I’m free.
Free. Ha, that’s something that a lot of us dream of being, I’d bet. I’ve never dreamt of it before. Not having to worry. I always figured the fog was a bad thing, like drowning, like giving up, but now I’m not sure if it’s that at all.
… In a Loop, a few hours can be days. Years. I guess you could almost call it dreaming; entire lives flashing before you in seconds. I’ve only been in a Loop like that once; three years ago, when I wanted to leave Writer, he stuck me in one in a last ditch effort to get me to stay.
I woke up.
Slender wasn’t real.
Writer wasn’t real.
The cult wasn’t real.
None of this was real.
The only thing that was real was the hospital and my parents and the coma.
That’s what they said it all was; a dream. A dream made up of action movies and T.V. shows and some stupid little picture on a forum. And you know what? I believed them. I figured that the dream I had in the coma had just been my brain’s way to cope, that it didn’t really matter that I couldn’t remember anything from before I had been injured. This whole thing was too fantastic to believe anyways. I had a family. The world was simple and normal. I had friends. I had a life.
My name was Jonas Switchman, and I was twenty-two years old. My best friend was named Matthew Saxby. My “abusive ex girlfriend” had been a children’s storybook writer. And I had been her editor, writing a few stories of my own. At least until the incident. She had pushed me in front of a truck. So it goes.
By the time I woke up, she was locked away for a long, long time. And I… I guess I sort of moved on. Matt was there for me every step of the way. My parents were too. I got back to writing, back to forums, back to “my old life”. Found a girl. Married her young. Had a kid. A daughter.
her name was Sam
And we had a dog and a
And then one day HE showed up with his Cheshire grin and wrong, wrong, wrong green eyes and then
and then the sky started falling.
It was all a lie. It had been a lie the entire time, and Writer had just been watching, observing, waiting for the right time to wrench it all away, forming the world around me so that it all went right, so that I would think that I was…
I think I’ll make a few stops along my travels. Some of you haven’t had your dose of asshole courier for a long, long while, and I’m just going to have to fix that. If you need any supplies, just drop me a comment; I hardly mind bringing with stuff to drop off along the way.
But I just have this feeling that things are changing, and maybe we’re not quite aware of them, but something big is going on. Something is going to happen that’s going to change everything. We’re going to stop dreaming, and everything is going to go to hell when we wake up. I hope that’s… not the case. Let’s all hope that’s not the case, because a lot of you can’t afford for this all to get any worse.
… Us. I mean us. We. Us. You get the point.
See you lot soon.
(And right before I had to go back, right before my entire life fell from the sky, I could feel my back pressing to a tree, and my eyes closed, like a poet in the Parthenon. My attention began to swing grandly through the full arc of my life, passing into death, which was violet light. There wasn't anybody else there, or anything. There was just violet light – and a hum.
That was the first time I died.)