Tuesday Aug 16, 2022
Tuesday Aug 16, 2022
Tuesday Aug 16, 2022
N: So then I got back in the car and I kept on moving.
N: I think you can get a lot of mileage out of a fuel like spite. I mean, spite can take over when hope can’t get it done anymore. I haven’t hoped for anything in a while, but I am so, so pissed off.
N: The mountains collapsed. The world flattened out. The sky grew, horizon to horizon. A hundred thousand tiny pulses of awful, dead light. I look up and it’s like I’m being watched by a universe of blank eyes.
N: I fall into one world and out again. Nothing but silence in the spaces in between. I stopped screaming into it. No one is answering. I just keep on moving. West. Always west. Sooner or later I guess I’ll hit ocean and then I’ll have to decide whether or not to find a boat.
N: Maybe the world is flat now and I can run right off the edge.
N: I know I’m not making any sense.
N: Every reset, it feels like everything is just a little more twisted. Things don’t fall straight down anymore. Everything is on a slant. All the lines are curving. Fire doesn’t burn. I eat and I’m never full, but I never get hungry. My skin is sliding across my body like an old sheet. I don’t need anything anymore except motion.
N: The world is breaking. Or I am.
N: I’m not scared of whatever comes next. Because at least something is happening.
N: Radio tower.
N: No one told me where it was. I saw it in the distance and I went for it. Not an unproblematic history, me and radio towers, but it also seemed like… Probably a good thing to stop by.
N: The moments before the reset are always so quiet.
N: I forgot that. It’s easy to forget that. Because you sit and you wait for it, and you’re listening… through the moments, listening for the thing to start, but you don’t listen to the quiet itself.
N: I mean, I don’t. I have no idea what someone else would do in my position.
N: But now I actually am. Listening, I mean. Yeah, talking, but also… sitting here at the base of the tower and listening.
N: I think… one of the reasons why I don’t usually listen to the quiet is that there’s so much quiet now that it could drive me insane.
N: Even more insane than I already am. Which might be plenty.
N: (sigh) Even if I still had my meds with me, what’s the fucking point?
N: I think I would be a whole lot better off if I could find a way to love this quiet. To love this world. But I don’t know how I’m supposed to do that. I was never very good at loving the world the way it was to begin with, that’s why I spent so much time trying to make new worlds to play in. Wishing I could really be in them, sometimes.
N: And the final finger on the monkey’s paw curled, et cetera.
N: I guess the question is… Could I like that other world any better. All full of dead people for no apparent reason.
N: At least there are animals. No people, not so far, but animals. That’s a pretty huge mark in its favor if I’m being honest.
N: I don’t know what I like. I don’t know what I want. I’m tired.
(Sound of reset cycling up, flipping into sounds of birds and wind in the trees)
N: (sound of getting up, walking through the grass) Okay. Just for the hell of it, I guess.
(Car door opens, seat squeaks, radio cuts on)
N: Anyone out there? Anyone feel like chatting? (Pause) ASL? (Laugh) Christ, that dates me.
(Radio crackle, nothing but static.)
N: (another sigh) Hello? Anybody?
W: —does date you.
N: …Well. Hi. Long time no speak.
W: I know, I’m sorry. I’ve been trying.
N: What’s been stopping you?
W: I don’t know. There are some things I understand about what’s happened, but there’s much more that I don’t, and something’s… been getting in the way.
N: What’s been getting in the way? Are you saying something is trying to keep you from talking to me?
W: Maybe. I’m not sure. It might just be mindless interference, it might be something else.
N: You know something is in here with me. It talks to me sometimes. (Pause) Not human. You know anything about that? Do you know about them?
W: I… yes. A little.
N: Do you know what it is? What they are?
W: That would take a lot of time to explain. Time we don’t have.
N: Yeah, we never do. (Another brief pause) Tell me what you need to tell me, then. C’mon.
W: You’re still going?
W: Okay. I’m going to give you coordinates, it’s better than an address. When you get there, you’ll have a very important job to do.
N: Is this the same place he’s sending me to?
W: …Yes. Listen, you can’t trust him. It’s very, very important that you believe me. Whatever he tells you to do, whatever he tells you is going on, you cannot trust him.
N: Why not?—Before you say there’s too much to explain, no, you have to explain this to me. You have to give me something to go on here. Anything. Because right now, I pretty much have fuck-all except the voices in my ears, and let me tell you, those aren’t too compelling these days. …I’m not even totally sure any of you are there.
W: We’re here. I’m here. I’m… Look, look, I’m so sorry about this. I’m so sorry about what’s happened to you. I’m trying to fix it. But I need your help.
N: Tell me why I can’t trust him.
W: (sigh) You’re going to hate me for saying this, but that would take too—
N: —too long to explain. (Bitter laugh) Believe me, I have plenty of reasons to hate you.
W: …You don’t mean that.
N: I don’t know if I mean it or not.
W: What I can tell you about him is that he’s part of why I started having doubts about the project. He’s part of what made me suspect something wasn’t right. I could never prove it, but… he had another agenda. He has one now. He wants something, and I don’t think that something is good. For you, for me, for anyone.
N: Is there anyone? Besides us? Besides me?
N: Is everyone else gone?
W: No. No one is actually gone, sweetheart. That’s another thing that’s so hard to explain. No one is gone. No one except you.
N: Went back and listened over to what I recorded, found out it cut there. Before I lost her.
N: Not that it matters, I lost her almost right away after that. Before she could explain what the fuck she meant.
N: No one is gone. No one except me.
N: So let’s think through that. Let’s work through the exact implications of that. Let’s assume for the moment, just for shits and giggles, that I totally believe it. So… Everyone really is okay somewhere. With her. Wherever she is. In one place everyone is dead, except some random guy, for no reason that anyone has given me any insight into, and in another place everyone is…
N: Fine. They’re all fine. They’re all… what? Living their lives? Going about their fucking business? Like nothing happened?
N: Do they even know anything happened?
N: It’s… it’s bizarre. Thinking about how somewhere the world just went on without me. Weirder honestly than a world full of dead people where I’m one of maybe only two people left alive. I know it shouldn’t be, it shouldn’t be like that. I shouldn’t be finding it so difficult to imagine that a world I never really felt like I belonged to in the first place would carry on just fine without me. But I do.
N: We’re all sort of like that, aren’t we? Or a lot of us. We’re the main character. The story doesn’t keep going if we aren’t there. We die and the universe would never have the audacity to continue.
N: Does anyone even know I’m gone? Or is it just her?
N: I had friends. I had people I called friends. Professional contacts. Colleagues. I had people I hung out with, on… very rare occasion. I had a couple people I kept in touch with from college. But I’m being vague about them now because…
N: Well, just to start with, I honestly can’t even remember all of their names. Their faces. They’re fading. Just like everything else.
N: But it’s also that… We were never close. Not any of them. I never let any of them get close. I never got attached. I don’t even know why. I can’t pin it on some… singular moment of trauma or anything. It’s just that… other people were never quite real to me.
N: Sounds so shitty to say it that way but it’s true.
N: Did anyone else ever have any reason to notice I was gone? To miss me?
N: Was I a bad person?
N: Was I a real person?
N: I broke into a house. Been a while. I broke in, smashed a window and climbed into the dining room and I just… I wandered around. Didn’t move anything. Didn’t touch anything. Looked at pictures on the fridge. Happy family. Two guys, three little kids. Dog. (Laugh) Of course there’s a dog.
N: Was a dog.
N: Pictures on the fridge. Walls. At the playground. At the beach. Christmas. School play. Something with a castle and a princess. Crayon pictures. Dinosaurs. Two smiling men holding a baby.
N: Big living room. Big TV. Toys and books and video games all put away. Everything in its place.
N: I went through all the rooms and I ended up in theirs. The… partners. Husbands. Dads. I can tell it was a bright room, back when there was still light. It was probably a nice room to wake up in.
N: Wake up with someone you love. In your perfect house with your perfect family and your perfect life.
N: Only that’s not true, is it? It was never true. No one’s life is perfect. They probably had days where they were fighting. Days where maybe they hated each other a little. Days where the kids were shitty. Days where no one got along and the bills maybe piled up, or someone got some iffy test results, or a grandparent died.
N: Days where it seemed like everything was going to fall apart.
N: People have days like that. Real people.
N: Somewhere these guys and their kids and their dog are… fine. Let’s say. If we believe her. And I’m here in their empty house sitting on their empty bed. And maybe…
N: If all of that is true, I want to believe that somewhere, sometime, one of them is waking up in the middle of the night, and he’s sure that he can feel someone else in the room. Sitting on the end of the bed, maybe. Someone is there.
N: Then he shakes it off and he tells himself it was just a dream. Snuggles in, goes back to sleep.
N: Only part of him knows better.
N: I really want to believe that.
N: I want to believe all of it.
N: I don’t know what I’m saying anymore.
N: Maybe... Maybe I feel like that presence he senses in his room...
N: Maybe I feel like I can never be more than that now. Whatever else happens.