Lo and hold, the mighty world which we dwell and suffer. There’s nothing but sufferers in least in this tale, a fact unfair and cruel, but sadly true. Of course, it is yet to occur, yet I am rest well assured in my reasoning it shall not end well. I ask not for reassurance in this time, but simply an audience. Perhaps then I shall keep my sanity in these wild times in the Moro. It is sunrise now, or sunset. I don’t really know where my mind has been all week, and sleep deprecation only adds to that. Sorry, deprivation. I guess the time of day isn’t all I’ve been getting mixed up. Really, I should pay more attention to what I’m doing or saying. But my attention is dragged elsewhere most of the time. Dragged towards the Moro. I’ve reached the Moro countless times, but it still feels so foreign. Eyes bulging and stomach shuddering, I feel my fist break down the walls of created by the universe one by one. Power flows through my nervous system, but it is not electricity that rips through. Physical being is then torn apart, all except for the mind. I become nothing but wires and a processor for a machine much more complex than any of us dare dream or dread. And it gives you so much. Links are established between every atom in existence, as soon as existence came to be. The Moro breaks you up into these links, giving the ability to severe or sanctify. You become the editor of existence, crafting the world as you see fit. This is what I’ve been doing, trying to get back to Cinda. But I always run out of time before I can bring her back, and I lose my work for a foreign world. An empty world. So here I sit, on my couch unsure what the time is, or what the world contains. I don’t remember the last time I entered, let alone what I changed. All I know is that she isn’t here now with me, so I must have failed. Maybe I need some fresh air. Maybe I need a drink.
Sighing, I grappled at the bottle that sat next to the couch. I had everything I needed next to the couch; whiskey, glasses, pamphlets they brotherhood gave me, and sleeping pills in case the plague of nightmares reached my head a little too early. I trusted myself into an upright position as not to choke on the booze I desired. Just because I was depressed, it didn’t mean I wanted to be dead, especially as I had this desire in hand. I bypassed any cup and simply swigged the bottle. A burst of stale air after 10 seconds signaled to me that it was empty. I let it drop out of my hands to the floor. Time to get up.
I hoisted myself out of the seat, legs stiff and arms aching. That last round succeeded in being nothing but a waste of my flesh and mind. I couldn’t tell if the bitter taste in my mouth was the whiskey or the taste of defeat. Struggling, I forced myself to walk towards the kitchen, towards more of what I could medicate through. It’d hit me soon enough, but I still wanted to speed the process up. Without her, I didn’t want to be awake.
Ever since these trips to the Moro I’d started to lose control of my legs, but that was to be expected. They stiffened, and I hit the floor before I made it to what I desire, my sweet medicating nectar. Instead, I lay on the ground, aching, possibly bleeding, I didn’t know and didn’t care. It was here on the floor that I heard an unfamiliar sound, that of knocking at my door. Each slam of their fist shook the unstable house frame I apparently now possessed, and I cursed softly to myself. To answer the door would ground me here, but I didn’t want that. Then again, it’s not like it mattered, I could run away if I felt it was the best course. Christ, I can barely tell what I’m thinking anymore.
“Face me, you bastard!” I squealed, rolling myself into a position to see the front doorway. What entered through it was a man both stout and short with what appeared to be a small explosion atop his scalp, screeching at me as he passed through.
“You’re smashed again, aren’t you? Christ, I’m putting all your booze on the top shelf, so only grown-ups can get to it.”
The mystery man thudded towards the point where I lay, and crouched down to confront me. The brief instance before this gave me an adequate view and stench of his grimy, bare feet, which ended abruptly in the form of his cankles. I had to defend myself from him. I swiped at his legs, and felt his skin find new home under my fingernails. To my surprise, all this produced was a laugh from this stranger.
“My god, I worked in a zoo once with parrots that had forgotten how to fly, and I still think this is the most pathetic thing I’ve seen.”
“Shut up.” I mumbled at his feet. ”There was no way he could beat a comeback that good” I thought aloud, smiling as I said it.
“You know, watching you make a total arse of yourself is fun and all, but I’ve got things to do.” Crouching as he spoke.
“Yeah? Like what?”
“Like making sure you haven’t killed yourself with this stupid mission.” So with a grunt and a heave, I found myself limp in the stranger’s arms. Strangely enough, I found this feeling far from foreign and rather comforting at that. His stubby arms acted as pillows, and I found myself being lulled towards the gateway of slumber. I fell into sleep.
Mouth dry and stomach churning, I awoke from a dreamless sleep. My mystery guest sat perched by my side, clutching with him a jug of water. He turned his focus unto me.
“So, little Main is awake. Do you need a little glass of water after all that?”
Words felt hot in the back of my throat, and so the words came as a jumbled mess. “Whatd oesMai nshvae to dowit hme?”
He sighed, and poured the glass of water into my mouth. I repeated again, this time fluently. “What do Mains have to do with it?”
“That’s your name? Don’t tell me you drunk yourself stupid again?”
“No it’s not, my name is Brian.”
He let out a sigh. “You’ve been messing with the Moro again, haven’t you? You’ve gotta give it a rest.”
“Not yet, I just have to do one thing.”
“I’ve been there too, and I know you could do it in one rewire. But hell, you can’t even move your legs. How many times did you do it?”
I failed to answer. I just wanted this to end.
“What’s with that grin, you drunk spaz?” my visitor watched as I slammed my eyes shut in what I hoped appeared to be rebellion. I began to focus my thoughts. For the first in a long time, I was glad that I had abused this privilege. The mystery guest made no effort to stop me, already accepting my escape. Or maybe he never had a chance to stop me, I’m not so sure. What I was sure of was the feeling of what felt like fingers beneath my flesh.
Skin snapped from their bonds of growing brittleness, and flesh fibers unwound themselves from the form that brought forth muscles for movement almost too primitive for the realm I was traveling from. Saliva forced its way through my mouth only to combust the moment it hit the air outside. Still, there was nothing new to me, and I was ready for most of the process.
I felt my eyes shrivel to nothing inside my skull as the skin peeled off. My bones disintegrated into the form of dust, and were spread across a plane I could only feel the image of. But seeing wasn’t the point, no, not at all. You had to feel it, feel what you were searching for in this place, so absent and yet full at the same time. I felt a nerve, all that remained of my physicality, pluck itself from my leg. I was running out of where my legs were.
Images flashed inside my head the moment the nerve came off. People dashed by, unfamiliar to myself and each other, until at last I settled on a face, her face. I don’t think in this timeline I knew her name, but to me she was Rochelle. Moments flashed past after that, images of cars, buses, nooses, pools; all the things that would claim her from me. I saw her birth and her death in that instant, and I felt I should do something. I plastered what once was my leg into her time stream. Preservation takes sacrifice after all.
I was beginning to lose hope that there was any way to save Rochelle. I had used near every fibre of my legs to try to save her, just for death to spit upon my work and steal her back again? For this I could hold only so much tolerance towards. So, in this moment of lingering weakness, I found myself clouded with a strange thought. I slid the nerve ending into the great machine with a force unknown to how I controlled, but yet was still controlled. Her face melted from the sharp 19 year old’s avatar to the mask of baby fat she held at the young age of 5 years old. Her home morphed to that of my childhood neighbors. At least now until I figure out a better plan, I can have some more photos to cry over. My job well done, I blew out like a bulb.
When I awoke, I was promptly put back to sleep by a heavy fist that more so resembled a slab of ham than a mound of human meat. When I awoke again, eyes fluttering gently, I was greeted again with a slugging. Surely, this pattern would have continued until I at last regained consciousness strapped with a blindfold. Now I had enough time to gain some understanding of my surroundings, I understood that I had no surroundings. However, with the blindfold on, I still felt the smooth concrete under my boots, the wind tearing through the north, and the sun blazing off to the east. What could I have possibly done to get into this?
Suddenly, light tore through my tender retinas as my blindfold was thrown off. Revealed to me was a figure of shadows in the way of the sunburst, his slender frame towering up as if to edge the sun from its place. He stepped forwards and caused an eclipse localized solely to myself. Wafts of his black hair threw themselves through the air along with his coat, sewn with stripes of a Sargent. Next to his heel, like a dog, sat a shivering black bag.
“It’s taken a while, Main…” I winced, still wondering how I could possibly have changed my name to Main of all things. “…but finally you’re here! Now we can get things going!” His voice disrupted the
grand presence with its pitch, which was more like a clawing chicken than a king.
“What am I…” I was stopped before I finish.
“Shshsh, we don’t do questions like that here.” He begun to march in place. “How about this? You get one, I get one, alright?” The man in the militants’ jacket nodded with appreciation of his grand idea. And of course it was a grand idea! After all, he had thought of it, so it must be grand. I nodded in agreement, already confused, tired, possibly concussed, and afraid more so of the several men with weapons seen out of the corners of my eyes than the raving loon before me. I was in no shape for negotiations.
“Very good! Now, because I’m such a good person, I’ll let you go first.
What do you want to know?”
I thought briefly on the subject before answering.
“I suppose I’d like to know who I am.” I stated, becoming more aware of how bizarre a statement like that just was with every word I spoke. My captor let off a howling laugh, raising his head rapidly as he did so. Such an action coated me in a fine layer of dandruff from his wiry, brown locks.
“Had that come from anyone else, that would sound ridiculous. Coming from someone like you, however,” He bent in to my face close enough for me to smell his breath, which was about as present as looking at the state of your house after a large party, “it is still just as ridiculous.”
He spun around flamboyantly. “Still, I shall honor our agreement. You are Main Erinson.” I winced at that line. Damn, I’m still stuck with that stupid name. What could change one of the most common names on Earth? Suddenly, I realized that through my whining the unclean superego had not stopped talking. I’m really terrible at this hostage thing that they’ve got going on. I tuned in to catch the end of his rant.
“…Since learning this technique you have flittered in and out of the timeline, altering it with the hopes of bringing back the love of your life and living in a perfect world in the laziest way possible. However, due to constant failure, you’ve almost lost total use of your legs.”
Well. I wasn’t aware of that part.
“Ok, my turn.” The ego grinning still as he spoke. “Where did you pick up such a technique?”
Again, my hostage nativity took hold. This guy had the air of a cheesy spy movie villain, and the secret to editing time in the hands of a guy like him really wouldn’t be the best thing for the planet. On the other hand, I really don’t want to get shot right now, so much so that my drunken noir-mooding had disappeared. The bag next him was shuffling really quite strangely, actually. I wonder what’s going on there. Suddenly, I realized I could simply go back after this and change it back to normal so that I wasn’t being stalked by captain dandruff.
“There’s a group that meets up every month to talk about it and ventures out there as meditation. That’s where I learnt it from.”
He groaned, and I let out a little internal victory cheer for breaking his stupid grin.
“Where do they meet?” He asked impatiently, annoyed this experience wasn’t already over with.
“That, friend, will cost another question.” I think I’m getting the hang of this hostage thing now.
Ok, time for my second question. I’m shaking a little and my head feels heavy, but I’ve got a good flow going on. I trust that whatever comes out of my mouth next will be the right question to ask.
“Are you really going to shoot me after all this?” My captor failed to answer at first, instead electing to use a dumbfounded stare to answer my question.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have trusted my mouth and flow to choose for me, and instead thought for a second on the topic. Too late now, and my anxieties at my choice were confirmed by the howling laughter of the unwashed man before me. Still, I didn’t expect his answer, which was wheezed out of his body after being left winded from my lack of consideration.
“No, we aren’t going to shoot you. You see, that really isn’t my style.” He reached forwards and grabbed at the wriggling bag, speaking while he unzipped it. “What I have instead is this.”
With a mighty pull of his arm, he spilt its contents out onto the concrete as if he had cut the belly of a great shark. Into view sailed a small CD player and a small redheaded girl who appeared very familiar, covered in a thick layer of lint guts and cotton veins. I gasped when I realised just who this girl was, and in my excitement forgot my hands were tied to a chair. So, in my attempt to reach out and grab her, I instead too sent myself sailing the great cement sea, and with the waves cutting my teeth I gargled a screaming yelp.
And the glare she shot me could have parted the sea, and I wish bullets would be the end of me, because I realized just what had come to be. The change hadn’t simply changed where we had met, it changed the fact that we HAD met, and I realized that the first time I had seen her in a lifetime is because I had not been involved. But now I was involved, and she was bound and gagged. The unwashed man laughed.
“We need this world to stay exactly as it is right now until I say, and for that I need to make sure you don’t change anything. So, if you try anything, we’ll shoot her. After all, you could just transport out while dying.”
Hmmm. I hadn’t thought of that. I pulled my head out of the ground, jaw aching, and told him that.
“I hadn’t thought of that.”
“It’s really quite simple, even an ape has survival instincts like that would tell it that.”
“Well, I didn’t.”
“You mean you don’t understand just how great this power is?” I grinned, showcasing my new broken left canine.
“Not a clue. Now, it’s time for my next question.”
The unwashed man swore, and it was the loudest sound I had heard. And I have heard the universe.
This stress is really draining my mind, along with the fact that I managed to actually find Rochelle this time. Of course, I felt there was a rather large chance that I would just end up losing her again after this encounter, but nevertheless it was an achievement. To tell the truth, this was the first time I had actually seen her since I began altering reality. Every other time leads to her being taken away one way or the other. Ok, I have my next question ready. My voice crackled as I asked, though I’m not sure if that came down to physical stress or anxiety. My question is that of complete simplicity.
“Is there any way we can make it out alive?”
Of course, I realize that he could simply lie and this whole thing is based on the honor system. I feel that since he is so willing to play by the rules of his make believe game rather than beat the information out of me, perhaps he will also feel the compulsion for honesty. After all, I just cheated him out of a question and my only consequence was that of a stern look and snarl. Rochelle was still taking in the brilliance of fresh air after being stuffed in that bag for so long, so I think we have some time before she starts questioning to. Then again, she was always very passive before and…
The man knelt down to my face, stinking breath blasting. Through barred teeth, he muttered.
“As long as you do exactly what I say.”
Well, that was most certainly vague. Still, as intimidating as it was, there was a slight hint that I might get out of this thing alive with Rochelle. All of this hope came crashing down the very next moment when he reminded me just of what he wished to know.
“Now…just where do you find the people that taught you this technique?”
It’s at this time I wish I were more selfish, because I have no idea what to do.
After mere moments of deliberation, I decide that the best possible option at this stage is to lie my heart out. After all, I may be self-involved, but not enough to murder everyone if it would help me. Plus, I have a terribly stupid plan to get Rochelle and myself out of this mess.
“Ok, but you aren’t going to like the answer.”
The crusted man cocked an eyebrow.
“Really? I dare say that’s a bit of a farfetched assumption.”
“Ok, well, this is the thing. The group meets in Merill, Wisconsin every second Monday. It’s a hell of a trek from here. When you get there you should be able to dig out a flyer or something. I mean, if you can find me you can find that.” I ended my statement with a sigh to further drive the point home.
To the reaction the Crusted man gave, I would assume someone had instead spat into his ear and insisted it was of his command. His eyes bulged ever so slightly while his fingers gripped themselves to confirm this wasn’t a dream.
“But why would you travel all that way for something you knew absolutely nothing about?”
“So we aren’t playing the question game anymore?”
“NO WE ARE NOT PLAYING THE QUESTION GAME ANYMORE!”
“But I liked that game.”
“Too bad. Now answer: why would you travel all that way for something that sounds frankly ridiculous?”
I gestured towards my limp legs. “I was desperate and obsessed. I’ve done worse things for those reasons.”
Apparently insanity fit me to a t, because he accepted that answer without question. He turned to the guard.
“Until I phone back, do not let them out of your sight.”
The guard looked shocked. “Sir, this journey will take days. What of food and shelter for here?”
“There’s camping supplies in the van, I’ll take them out before I leave.”
And so the crusted man unloaded the trunk and strapped himself in.
As the van left for the long trip to a land know to me only as the US bunker of cheese, I shot a grin at Rochelle. After all, my bluff had worked. Rochelle mouthed profanity at me and I had no idea why. After all, I was trying to save us. Speaking of which, we still have one guard to tackle…
Obviously I’m not particularly good at this, so I decide to pass the choice of what to do about the guard onto Rochelle. We’ve been rounded up now, so the guard never has to divert his gaze. I still have no idea as to how to talk to her without him noticing though. I figured I’d try my luck with a hushed whisper.
“Any idea on how to get out of this?”
“I’m working on it.”
She launched her shoe forth with a swift kick of her leg at the guards face. I’m pretty sure the only thing that ensured that she didn’t get shot by the guard is the sheer audacity of the attack. By luck it landed not upon his face but instead in his stomach, stealing the breath from his chest. Rochelle leapt to her feet. She had to act quickly.
She grappled the guard from behind, cutting off movement in his arms. Wrestling the rifle from his hands, she sent on hasty yet precise blow to his throat. Once he was down, she made sure to target this area’s until movement stopped. She was out of breath by the end of her ordeal. I let out a stupid cheer.
“Is he out?”
“Yeah, he’s out cold.” She started towards where the van had left.
“So, where are we off to now?”
“I’m going home.”
“Do you need some help?”
She spun around to face me. “Leave me alone, ok?”
I was hurt, devastated perhaps. “But I’ve done so much for you.”
“So much I didn’t ask for. Now I’m asking for one thing and you won’t let me have it.”
“But I’ve tried so hard to bring you back.” Tears formed as I ignored each word she had said previous. ”I tore apart my body and my brain for you, and I rewrote the entirety of reality just to see you again.” I paused briefly to look her dead in the eyes for my final statement.
“I thought you’d be happy.”
She sighed, long and heavy drawn out of her breath.. “Dying isn’t something I wanted to do, but I never asked for saving from you. I never asked for you to mutilate yourself in an effort to resuscitate me!”
She stopped in an effort to hold herself back. When she returned to speaking, it was perfectly paced. “And even if I adored you at some point in another place, I never would adore what an obsessed person you’ve become.”
She stepped over the guard’s body, casting her disdainful gaze back at me for one last sentiment.
“I don’t care where you go or what you do, just stay away and stop chasing me. Goodbye.”
I didn’t rise from my place until she is long out of sight.
So, what will you do now . . . ?
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