Monday, April 11, 2011
The Last Few Days
Sorry for going out of the loop for a few days. I should have at least posted something to let everyone know I was alive. The truth is, I had to do something tricky in the last few days. Something difficult, dangerous and damn near impossible.
I had to try and hunt down someone who could see the future.
Look, I am most likely insane. We've been over this, I don't need to get into it again. If there is one person alive that I know can genuinely, no bones about it, see what's going to happen next, it's Time Lord. There's an old saying about Chess Players: Good chess players see thirty moves ahead, MASTER chess players only see three moves ahead, but they're always the right moves. This is the kind of person I was trying to sneak up on.
All of that said, the future is not a predetermined quantity. There are a million decisions we make every day that can affect the outcome that we think is on the way. Something as small as waiting an extra five seconds before making a phone call could decide whether or not someone gets in a car accident. A butterfly flapping its wings can cause tornadoes in Kansas. I could throw out a few more pithy remarks about the nature of the universe, but at the end of the day what it comes down to is: The less indicators you give a target with precognition, the better. The trouble is, I had no idea which kinds of indicators would allow Time Lord to see me coming. He's a bastard like that. Maybe he'd see me buying tickets for New York. Maybe he'd get an image of my blog as I wrote something. Maybe he'd see my phone as I made motel arrangements.
So I didn't update my blog, I didn't tell anyone where I was going, I got in my car and gunned it toward New York. No messing around. No games. Just trying to get from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Buffalo, New York without leaving any indications of my presence whatsoever. Time Lord put the perception filter on my head. He violated my trust, going deep into my mind and warping it. He's the only person still alive who can get that deep in. I used to have him do it all the time back when SHE was tap-dancing on my brain. He knows it inside and out, having had to run repairs on me when I was barely standing. Most important of all, I've been trying to get in touch with him since I found out the filter was in place. He hasn't been on Skype, he hasn't returned any phone calls, and as near as I can tell he's fallen off the face of the earth.
I drove hard, but I'd started out with a half a tank of gas. I could drive twenty-four hours straight, but I was going to have to risk stopping for gas, one way or the other. It was a beat up old station somewhere on the border between New Jersey and New York. Sorry Ryuu, Sorry Tao (if you're even still alive), but there was no stopping on this one. I needed answers. One of my oldest friends had broken my trust, and I would have the truth at any cost. Fuck Slender Man. Fuck the fight for my life. I needed to know why he would hit the one thing that I worry about more than anything else in the world: My mind.
Besides which, He'd kept New York intact during the fighting. It's one of the only places that still has a decent Astral Garrison. Even Slendy would think twice before attacking with them close by. It was a gamble. I stopped at the gas station, and being as this was New Jersey, I waited for the attendant to arrive and pump my damn gas. He walked out of his little road-side gas station, and I noticed something odd. He was holding a sheet of paper, and looked pretty nervous.
He said to me, "Hey. These are for you."
He slapped a small pile of yellow sticky notes on my dashboard before I knew what was going on.
"What the hell?"
He said, "The guy said you'd know when to remove the notes. He said to say he knew you were coming, and that you should turn back now."
This is why I hate trying to sneak up on someone who could see the future with any accuracy.
Then he said to me, "He paid for your gas by the way."
At this point, I was giving him my best murderous look. I wanted him to know, deep in my heart of hearts, that if I could kill him with an expression, this would be the one. And then it broke and I smiled at him. Even at cheap New Jersey gas prices, it said something that Time Lord would still cover my bill.
I asked, "So did he tell you what to say if I said I was going to find him anyway?
He said, "He just said to say 'You'll know when to pull up the sticky notes.' I didn't get it either."
I nodded, and handed the guy a few dollars in tip. I took a closer look at the sticky notes. Pull one up, and there'd be the one underneath, so on and so forth.
The top note said, "Hello (Amalgamation Sage)."
I started the car, gunning it onto the highway. If you're going to drive the highway between New York and New Jersey, you don't take it easy. You take the highway, you gun the goddamn engine from zero to sixty as hard as you can, and you pray nobody is drunk or stupid enough to get in your way. Anything less, and they'll tear you apart for being drunk or stupid enough to get in their way.
I glared at the sticky note for a brief moment, and said, "Hi (Time Lord)."
I turned up the radio, and they were playing Rise Against's "Help Is On The Way." That's when I started getting nervous. I could feel something in the air around my car. Something wasn't happy, and I could feel it's displeasure pulsing around me. Nothing is as bad as fighting when you're driving.
I pulled off the top sticky, revealing, "Go home."
I jammed my foot on the accelerator. My sixth sense was blaring "DANGER" and I could feel the world shaking around me. I wasn't time to panic though. I've been attacked while driving before, and I'd put all kinds of wards and spiritual "weights" around the car. Nothing was getting in.
I blinked, and my windows were down.
The previous sticky was torn off the stack by the wind as I closed my windows, revealing the message:
"You should really get off at the next exit."
I ignored it, continuing forward. Rain started to come down on me in sheets, and I had to slow down to a crawl. I couldn't see six feet in front of the car.
I drove past the next available exit, and took a wild guess. I tore off the next sticky note. The message was:
"You should listen to me."
I said, "What is it you don't want me to see?"
I tore off the top sticky, revealing: "I want you to see it, but you aren't ready."
I said, "Meaning?"
I tore off the next sticky, revealing: "I've seen how this story ends. You need to be stupid for now."
The rain kept on pouring, and I could feel a migraine coming on. At the rate I was moving, I could actually take the time to sound out what was going on around me. Something was trying to come through the veil, and was aimed right at my car. Whatever was bearing down on me, it had power to spare. It looked as though it was going to come at me head on. I weaved the flow of energy on the astral plane around me, and prepared a nasty looking pulse. When he came in for the attack, he was going to get one hell of a surprise.
I tore off the next sticky: "If you know what's going on, you'll fuck up."
I said, "Oh. Thanks buddy. Love the confidence. What now?"
I tore off the next sticky: "Shoot up."
What happened next was pure reflex. I kept the steering wheel steady with my thighs, leaned back in my chair, and warped the pulse upward. It turned out the creature bearing down on me was a demon, and that it had put together a really nice decoy that hit my front windshield and disappeared as though it had never been there. The creature though? I could feel it shatter against the sudden influx of energy. It had been coming down hard and fast, a traditional blitz. If I hadn't flared the shields and caused a big damn disruption on the astral plane, it might have stood a chance at breaking through, and I would have had to improvise another shot with no time and no real way to maneuver while I was in a car seat.
In short, Time Lord's sticky might have just saved my life.
I pulled up next sticky, which said, "Good shot."
I said, "Fuck you."
I pulled up the next sticky, which was the last one, "Trust me. Go home."
I said, "No."
And then I tore off the last sticky. My plan was to toss it out the window into the rain and let loose with a good old-fashioned one-liner. Something along the lines of "Sorry, I didn't get the memo." Something punchy and needlessly dramatic. The thing was though, I was too busy looking at something written on my dashboard. I think it said something like, "Suit yourself."
And then my migraine went from bad to "a-thousand-exploding-suns" and then...
I woke up in my room 36 hours later. My watch said that I had managed a good night's sleep. I didn't remember driving at all. I never took a sudden marathon drive to Buffalo, New York. I remember being home the last few days. I check online and see that I've responded to several things that have happened on the blogs, and those are certainly things that I would and have said. The trick is though that I also remember Driving like a madman through New Jersey, and my memories of being at home during this time period are far too fuzzy to be real. They're like dreams. Maybe you remember the big details when you remember them at all. Most of the time though, you just have this feeling like there was something you really should remember.
I remember going to the Sakura festival in Fairmount Park with the guys from the Dojo and Green Man today. It was beautiful out, the Taiko drummers weren't bad a all, I had a chance to try wonderful food, and learn a thing or two from the Martial Arts demonstrations. I wasn't really thinking about that though.
Forgemaster has been staying at the apartment since his house burned down. I went over that with Green Man the other day. At first, they remembered me being here. Everything was somewhat back to normal. And then they both blinked, and looked at me again after I asked that question. As one, they both said, "Wait. you weren't here. What the hell?" Or something along those lines. Whatever.
The only proof I have that I WAS driving to Buffalo at one point during the last few days is a full tank of gas. This should be physically impossible, as I "haven't driven the car in the last 36 hours, and have been at home for the past 48" (my math might be a little off. Work with me.) The point being, that I had a half a tank of gas a few days ago, and I did not stop to fill it up at any point during my supposedly real memories of the last few days. You see, if I HAD driven back from Near-Buffalo New York to Pennsylvania, that gas tank shouldn't be full. And the drive from Philadelphia to Buffalo is around 7 hours. That means that I have a minimum of 29 hours unaccounted for. 29 very long, worrisome hours.
Whatever happened, I was given a very, very crummy memory wipe. I'm already starting to remember small details from my "time away."
The issue being, of course, that nobody could have wiped Green Man's memories. Getting into that head is a fool's errand at best, a suicide mission at worst. Which means...?
I don't know what it means, but I'm going to try to find out. I really, really wish I knew what was going on. Lord knows Time Lord didn't have the power to do THIS to someone last time we talked. I'd by lying if I said I was fine right now. But this is comforting. This is the kind of head game I understand. The fact that I'm in it with a long time ally who's suddenly gone batshit crazy notwithstanding.