N: I’ve been wondering what I’d do if I ever saw her again.
N: Never bothered wondering what I’d do if I didn’t see her. But I… heard her. And she could hear me.
N: It’s different when you aren’t face-to-face. Especially when you really know someone. Should be…I can listen to her voice and I can imagine her expression, her body language. I can imagine what her hands are doing.
N: She always did talk a lot with her hands.
N: I close my eyes and I can see her like she’s right in front of me. Or that’s how it should be. That’s what I should be saying.
N: Truth is… I listened to her voice, and there was nothing. No expression. No body language. No hands. I listened to her, I closed my eyes, and I couldn’t see anything at all.
N: It’s like I don’t know who she is anymore. Except… I mean, a while ago I came to the conclusion that I never really did know.
N: The difference is… I don’t think she knows who I am either.
N: There are lights in the sky.
N: The world snapped back in, I passed out for a couple hours, then I wandered outside and looked up and… here we are. With lights in the sky.
N: They look like stars. If I was just glancing at them I might even say they were stars. But they’re not. I’m positive of that. Of course… might be that I just don’t remember how stars even look anymore. I guess that might be possible.
N: But I’m still sure. Those are not stars.
N: They’re pulsing, for one thing. Or… pulsing isn’t the word. It’s more like they’re sort of… fading in and out, only they never go out completely.
N: I don’t know if you’ve ever seen an iridium satellite.
N: That’s something else she showed me once. Pulled me outside, told me to look up. I didn’t know what she was trying to get me to see, at first. Then I did see it. This… tiny speck of light, sliding across the sky. As it approached zenith it got brighter and brighter until it was the brightest thing in the black. I couldn’t actually believe it. And I couldn’t believe I’d never seen it before then, because apparently they’ve been around for decades.
N: It was beautiful. I can’t even explain how. It just was.
N: Then I found out that sooner or later—not that long, maybe another decade or so, I can’t remember exactly—there wouldn’t be any more. Their orbits were decaying and no more of them were being sent into orbit. Other satellites don’t shine that way.
N: Now it’s like they’re back. They’re here. But they’re fixed in the sky. They’re not moving anymore.
N: No stars in the sky. Just ghost satellites.
N: I know this isn’t making any sense. Nothing is.
N: I love that the lights are there. It’s scary as shit, I don’t know what it means, I have this awful feeling that it’s not good, but… It’s been dark for so long and now there’s light again. Even a little. I love it. (Crying a bit)
N: And I hate them. I hate them for being there.
N: I hate them because they remind me of what I’ve lost.
N: They remind me of what’s been taken from me.
N: I’m going to stop killing myself.
N: I know I mentioned it before. It’s an idea I’ve been playing with for a while. But the lights in the sky, the other shift I’ve heard…
N: I was drunk before. I don’t know if you could tell. Hadn’t gotten really drunk in a while. Some… (laugh) Some hard boiled fucking cop had a bottle of Jim Beam in his desk drawer and I polished it off for ‘em. Whatever, right, it’s not like he’s likely to care.
N: Feel like shit now. Still kind of drunk. At least I sobered up before the reset.
N: Anyway, I had a gun in my hand—I found a gun, did I mention that? Pistol. I don’t know exactly what kind, I don’t know anything about guns. And I put it against my temple and I just… held it there. For I don’t know how long. Thought about the first time I used it. That way. Back when I didn’t know it wouldn’t matter. How desperate I felt, how ready I was for it to be over. Or like… the sort of dream where you have to die to wake up, so maybe I’d be freeing myself, I’d wake up in my own bed or whatever and everything would be fine.
N: This was like the mirror image of that first time. Like the shadow version. Where I was going to blow my head off for the fuck of it, and it wouldn’t make any difference in the end, only… I can’t be sure of that anymore.
N: I can’t be sure of anything anymore.
N: Like there was a lot of that to begin with.
N: I didn’t pull the trigger. Obviously. Then I passed out for a few hours and here we are.
N: I guess I really do want to live. So we’ve got that cleared up. For now.
N: I want to talk to her again. Right now that’s what I’m sticking around for. I need to talk to her again. I need to tell her… I don’t know. How pissed the fuck off I am, maybe.
N: I need to talk to her because I need some answers about what happened. What’s going on. And I want to hear them from her.
N: And also? Maybe I just want a fucking apology.
N: For everything.
N: I don’t even know what to say to you.
W: You don’t have to say anything, sweetheart, just listen to me.
N: No, you listen. For once in your fucking life, you listen to me. You knew this was going to happen, didn’t you? You knew the whole time and you didn’t warn me. You didn’t say shit. Did you even try to stop it? Or did you just angst about it?
W: By the time I knew how big the problem was, there wasn’t anything I could have done. It was a lot bigger than me. I know you’re angry, you have every right to be—
N: Oh, thanks. Thanks for that, because what I’ve been really needing this whole time was for you to validate my goddamn feelings. God, just fuck you.
W: (patiently) We don’t have a lot of time. I know who you’ve been talking to.
N: Oh, do you.
W: Yes. You can’t trust him.
N: (sarcastically) You feel like letting me in on why? For once?
W: (sigh) It’s a long story.
N: Seems like that’s the only kind of story anyone has anymore.
W: His interests don’t align with yours. They never aligned with mine, either.
N: How do you know what my interests are?
W: I know you want to get out of the dark. I know you want to stop being alone.
N: Where are you, anyway?
W: That’s very hard to explain. I’m… I guess you could say I’m next door.
N: Like he is?
W: Something like that.
N: But not the same door.
W: No. See, maybe you understand more than you think you do. (Pause) What we were doing… it caused a kind of… collapse. Which ended up fucking with a lot of rules, rules we thought were immutable. (Wry laugh) Turns out nothing is so solid it can’t crumble when you hit it hard enough.
N: Do you even completely understand all of what you did?
W: Honestly? No. But I may have an idea of how to fix it. How to get you out of… where you are, how to put everything back the way it’s supposed to be.
N: Okay. Tell me.
W: (increasing static) I need you to—travel—far—west—(cuts out)
[world snaps back in]
N: West. (Laugh) Of course.
N: So I’m going west.
N: I wasn’t sure for a while. First it was because… Well. I’ll go into that later. Maybe. But then it was because I didn’t know what to do about the radio. I mean, I can’t exactly yank the plug out of the wall and take it with me, can I? But then I remembered. Police cruisers have radios. Running cars have power. Of course, right? That’s been my main source of electricity this entire time.
N: Feel like an idiot. Again.
N: So I took one. (Laughs) And the gun. I’m a fucking rogue cop now. It’s all very Mad Max. Anyway, I stopped to get some sleep. I don’t know if this is the right direction but I’ll find out in a few hours.
N: I’m forgetting how to think. Can’t help feeling like that. Like what I said earlier, how every time a reset rolls through now I… I feel like it’s taking something out of me.
N: I remember the days before I had meds. I mean, the right meds. Took a really fucking long time to find the right ones. Lot of trial and error. I guess that’s how it goes a lot of the time, it wasn’t like it was weird, but for forever I felt like this… problem that we couldn’t solve. I was this puzzle box and we couldn’t find the right configuration to unlock me. And some days it felt okay, but then some days it was like… you’ve been kidding yourself this entire time. You’re not okay. You’re never gonna be okay. Every day, even the ones you manage to fool yourself about, a little more is slipping out of your control. A little more is slipping away from you.
N: Then I did find the right meds, mostly, and it was better.
N: Then all this shit happened and I didn’t have them anymore at all.
N: And I actually… I felt okay. Like, really okay. Everything else was fucked up, but I felt… I guess I felt stable. If it’s stable to kill yourself now and then just because you’re bored.
N: I found equilibrium. It sucked, I didn’t know what I was functioning for after a while, but I was functioning.
N: Now it’s like the bad old days. Only it’s going faster.
N: I’ve started wondering if this is all in my head again. Like it’s some kind of gigantic floridly psychotic allegory I’m delivering to myself to make sense of what’s happening to me.
N: If that’s true… I mean, I guess I’m trying to get out of it.
N: I guess I’m trying to get better.
N: So at some point I’ll find out if this is all a hallucination, and/or I’m actually finding a way out of whatever it turns out to be…
N: Or if all I’m doing is going deeper.
N: I don’t understand what this is supposed to be. I’m talking, I’m asking questions, but I’m not getting any answers. I don’t know what difference the answers would make even if I got them.
N: But something is coming for me. Even if it’s just myself.
N: And I’m running out of time.
E: You imagine you know what time is.
N: …You gonna let me in on it? Or just be fucking cryptic some more? (Pause, exasperated sigh) If all you’re going to do is taunt me, please don’t. (Shifting in seat) I’m tired.
E: You imagine. You know. What time is.
N: (softly) What is time?
E: We know that you think of it as a line. It is not a line.
N: What is it?
E: It is. An explosion. It is destructive. It is an eternal maelstrom of entropy, a singularity of chaos. You have fallen beyond the event horizon. Now you are in the eye of the storm. (Pause) You see things more as we do. But you do not understand.
N: How can I understand?
E: Maybe you cannot.
N: So what the fuck is the point of telling me?
E: You continue to be interesting.
E: You are also doing. A very unwise thing.
N: …You do realize that if you don’t like what I’m doing, that’s an automatic point in its favor.
E: We have never been your enemy.
N: Oh how’s that, then?
E: We have never been your enemy.
N: You’ve been fucking with me this whole time, how the shit are you not my enemy?
E: You do not want to be here.
N: What are you… No! I do not want to fucking be here! I have NEVER wanted to fucking be here! You’ve been watching me since the beginning, you know that, we both know that, why the ever-living FUCK is that relevant now?
E: Has it occurred to you that we do not want to be here either?
E: Has it occurred to you… that we are as trapped as you?