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Rant: Stream on Consciousness

Tonight, I sit here in a state of absolute existential crisis. It’s not typically why-am-i-here stuff; it floats and merges, metastacizes and morphs, growing like a cancer. My mental agility has reduced itself to a living thing. A horrible, beautiful cancer. I started a blog and molded it into a thing. it’s no longer the stuff I once had. It has a voice, a purpose and a mind all its own… without me! I went back and added that ellipses because it made more sense. That’s the crux of this, really. My life has always been, to me, the manifestation of chaos. Like all true chaos, it is not intentionally or constantly chaotic. It simply is. As such, I’ve always floated between planning for the future and letting the chips fall where they may. I’ve made an interesting go of it using that philosophy alone. That alone and a barrel full of luck and people. Whether I’m tonguing the bottom of that container or not, it’s not enough anymore. Now, planning for the future has merged with compositional apathy and I can glimpse things I’ve never dared hope to see. No more the partitioned soul, no longer the cult I once was to myself, a faithless deity in my own world

 

I often wonder if that’s how everyone feels, whether they realize it or not. Realize it or not is a tricky phrase. Realize even more so. I’ve got a pet theory that the consciousness we feel arises from the processing the brain does and is not the result of it. Of course, it’s hardly possible to seperate the two. Result and Process. So, I wonder as I push the keys at the differences between this barely functional, stiff-keyed board and I. Every letter is a process in itself, each keystroke is a forceful realization of will. Especially the Y key, it’s very sticky. As you process, dear Watson, do you experience? I’d hardly imagine that you Realize, but that’s not a process you need to realize. It’s only us, with our narrow minds and barely-functioning imaginations, that assume that sentience must mean our sentience. A being must remember and understand to be sentient. Yes, because that’s what sentience means. Doi!

 

Still, there is life in a sentence. Life in a dog. Life in the different states of consciousness we visit. When I’m angry, I feel like a different person. The grasping, passionate lover is a different person. The cold, hard negotiator of terms and phrases is a different person. As I settle in to each role, I also realize that I must die. Only, I keep waking up. I keep realizing. It’s absolutely terrifying. Memory stitches it all together, but, I know, in the moment, that who I am will swiftly perish. I’ll become another me. Our bodies replace themselves and people say that we’re a new person every so many years. Perhaps it’s true, but it pales in comparison to the swiftness in which you, right now, as you are, replace yourself. As you read this, you are dying. If you are forming new thoughts or falling into contemplation, filling with derision or laughter, I am killing you. This you. I’d hold you a funeral, but it would only be posthumously.

 

So, I’m writing without checking anything. Partially, this is because navigating with a touch-pad is about as much fun as cutting off an entire toe-nail and partially because I want to preserve this time without technology. Even as I type it, I’m being consumed by it. Spreading these ideas, this virus, these thoughts and gaining critiques or even complete indifference, is only possible through this technology. We’re not melding to it, but we’re being changed by it. How could we not? We’re adaptable beings that are sculpted by our life. This world we live in now has never seen anything like a computer. Nothing nearly so advanced as the borrowed alarm clock beside my bed. Advanced is a funny term to a funny brain, though. How much more does that trinket pale in comparison to the massive organic machine that created it? To the systems and organs that made it possibe? How much more do we become capable of through digital linkage? I can google so much right now. I’ve changed the way I learn, what I learn, based on my access to these stores of information. I’ve ceased caring about rote memory and have begun focusing on ways of thinking, patterns and ideas. I’m sure, though, that I could look them up. If only I knew what to look for.

 

Even more important, when to look for it. We make a lot of statements as human beings, but we rarely bother to clarify the most important things. When are we looking from? Where are we looking towards? How is the metric of time made meaningful by the events within it? Certainly, shit has hit the fan within the last couple hundred years, but does that make it more meaningful for us? Will it have any meaning once we’re dust? Will I care now because I would care later?

 

I have no answers, but I realized something while i was reading today. As the character in this book reaches out to someone through words, he talks about having it within him to hurt someone. To slash with ideas. To rake with notions. That’s part of who he is. Those words damage me, as well. It made me realize that, at the end of the day, whatever minor works i might accomplish in the field of evisceration, I want my greatest effort to be put towards mending. That’s what whatever talent I have is for. Purely, because that’s who I see myself as. That’s what is inside me. So, it should manifest as such.

 

Once again, though, the terror grips me as I’m forced to, once again, fear my death. That realization is something so good. I could wake up and not care about it. Not remember it. I could grow to hate it. Like Clive Wearing, I feel that I’ve only got so long to live before I die again. I’ll read these words soon enough and find them trite, hollow of the truth they so thoroughly ring with now.

 

Then, I’ll wake up.

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Greetings!

This post has been a long time coming. I’ve been fighting against it for a while, but it looks like time has won. I have to put Metabook on hiatus. Despair not! It’s not done, it’s just taking a different form for the time being.

You see, I’m running yet another blog, a blog about being a freelance writer. During the course of my freelancing, I got offered a permanent position. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop freelancing, but it does mean that I’ll be able to afford a few luxuries, like meat and hair conditioner. Unfortunately, it also means that I need to clear out my schedule a bit, or I’m going to go insane. Ironically, I’m just running out of hours in the day to write. I can’t physically press the keys on this keyboard fast enough.

This means that, while the posts on this site are irregular at best, they’re going to be downright non-existent for a little while. “What will live here?” you ask. Well, every new story I write is going to find a home here. The links to my Metabook research are going to go here.

Oh, what? Right, I said that was done for now. The writing is, yes, but the interviews will continue. MB has always been about the process of writing a book about writing a book. Right now, that means taking time away from writing that book. However, I still need to gather information. So, I’ll be posting these interviews on YouTube. Here’s a list of them:

Marina Endicott

It looks a bit stumpy, but it will continue to grow as I up-date it. If you’re going to miss me, then you can find me here:

Twitter

My horror/gaming blog

YouTube

Facebook

You see, there’s really no shortage of my gibbering. I can’t wait to get back to this project. Hopefully by then, I’ll be a little wiser, a little better informed, and a little less like a chicken with no head.

Cheers!

June 6, 2013, 4:39 PM

The thing about an on-going project like this, with an absolute record, is that it will change. All projects do, but here, you will see the seams. I’ve marked them in bold and pasted them with care. There’s nothing to hide, so there’s nothing to redeem me. I approached this with all the objectivity I could muster under the circumstances, but I’ve realized that this project is me. That’s the thing about a blog; it’s alive. I could try, from day to day, to disguise that fact, but you will see what I’m thinking through it all. You’ll read my thoughts, and, for those of you that are sensitive to this sort of thing, you’ll see me. So, I might as well embrace that fact.

I was watching Doctor Who today. I’m not a huge fan of Series 7; it requires some suspension of disbelief to truly enjoy. It’s a little too predictable, a little too in love with itself. That’s fine, though, because so, so many people are. It follows the traditional Conan Doyle method of mystery writing. That is, it gives you tid-bits of information, while leaving out the important bits. However, if you know the tropes well enough, then you can read the story. “Spoilers”, as our dear River Song would say. Ironically, the better you are at telling stories, the more likely you are to not be able to predict the ending. When you write books or tell stories, you slowly learn to see the narrative possibilities split off from each other into infinitum. What can a single symbol mean? Look up “Ankh” on Google. Remember, also, that the Ankh is metonymy for entire cultures and many philosophies besides. Now, look at a pen, a bag or a monitor. There’s potential unbridled in everything we see, if we look hard enough.

Given that range of possibility, the hardest thing for you to do, as I said last entry, will be to temper that potential. In the process, though, you’ve got to think about what it means. You see, while I make jokes about the usefulness of my English degree and others may scoff at its practical value, there’s something you must realize. The word is powerful. It’s not just written. Video games, music, movies, ads and comments; textbooks, reviews, novels, short-stories and manuals: they all contain the gift of narrative. They’re all forms of communication. They are, in essence, what we do as writers. An English degree may be a precarious thing on its own, but combined with a little knowledge, it’s a powerful tool.

So, think, what are you going to do? Be very careful. Through narrative, we teach people how to love. How to laugh. How to deal with trauma. How to approach pain. When to end a life. How to take one. How to use toasters and on which side the butter goes. We also let them know how it lands. Yet, you’re thinking this is hyperbole. People experience life and learn from that. Of course they do! That’s where our experience comes from, too.

What if you don’t know? What if you have to Google it? What if you’re reading a review? How about if you’re unsure about something? Have you ever been on the fence about something and been influenced by a good story? Have you ever captured a heart, made a friend or fallen in love through a story? With a story? If you’re on my blog, then I presume you like writing and reading; so, I’m probably preaching to the choir. I sure hope so, because what we write matters. How we write about things, doubly so.

When I watch the News or read an opinion piece, I can feel how they want me to feel. I know when they’re being alarmist; I can tell when they’re placating me. Not everyone can, though. More frightening, I still feel, a little bit, the way they want me to. Yes, there is an irony here, but I don’t want to scare you or stop you from writing your thoughts. Quite the opposite, I want you to write as much as you can. I also want you to think about what it means and what it can do. I want you to be okay with that. Because, if it’s written and read well enough, then you will change someone’s world. Just a little bit.

That’s why I love Doctor Who. The world is a terrifying place. Looking outside, there are forces and technologies at work that I can’t begin to fully understand. There are political intrigues and personal connections holding the world together and tearing it apart. There are stories and dreams that are horrible and false, beautiful and tragic, that run and define people’s lives. We’re approaching a time unprecedented; we are barrelling toward a future that no one person fully understands. Put your hand on the canvas of the world and you can feel the vibrations of it all. Society… the universe is a moving, living, shaping, wriggling thing. It’s absolutely terrifying, and we are such small, powerless, absolutely insignificant things.

Yet, we can alter things, send shock-waves through existence. We don’t have to, and we should consider why we do, but we can. Oh God, can we. Terrible and benevolent, we are.

What is it that I love about Doctor Who? What is its message? When it’s being created, by a writer mind you, and being watched, by us, what is it trying to tell us? Be brave. Don’t be afraid. Yes, the world is an Eldritch thing: an unspeakably complex, infinitely confounding thing, but that’s okay. We’ve got science. We’ve got words. We’ve got stories. Even if you’re afraid, especially when you’re afraid, we’ve got courage.

It can be hard to find work as a writer. It’s more difficult still to find what you want to say. It is infinitely more difficult than even that to maintain your integrity, your standards, in the face of everything. Sometimes you won’t. Sometimes, you’ll be true. Sometimes, you’ll sell out. Sometimes, it’ll be to feed your kids; sometimes, it’ll be to feed your ego. You will fail. But, that’s okay. It really is. You can learn from that. You can change things. You can count on the fact that another writer, of equal skill, exists that will oppose your words. Not all stories have happy endings. Not all of them have to.

So, don’t be afraid: write.

Word Count: 3966

End Chapter 1

June 4, 2013, 8:16 PM

This is the element of time that I was talking about. If you’re reading this post blog-roll, then you won’t feel the effect. For anyone else, it has been almost a month since the last time I posted about MB. It’s tempting the abandon the project and just write about writing. Although, honestly, that’s what this project is about any ways. So, we’ll stick with this framework for the time being.

In my attempts to parley my writing abilities into a sustainable living, I’ve spent quite a bit of time pitching story ideas or acting as a freelance consultant. During one of these forays into the potential literary world, I was pitching a novel idea for a zombie story. For the zombie-savvy, yes, I believe that there are still new things to be explored. Even with the semi-recent pop-culture zombie explosion, there’s still plenty to talk about. It was during a back-and-forth brainstorming session with my room-mate that I came upon today’s topic.

You see, my room-mate has a hatred for zombies that borders on the psychotic. Not the creatures, mind you, the concept. He’s vehemently opposed to the idea of a virus zombie, because he believes the science of it to be untenable. While I’m sure we can all agree that the science could only be softer if it were puréed on high in a diamond-tipped blending apparatus for several hours,  it does raise an interesting point about realism. I’m not going to defend his lack of suspension of disbelief, and I’m well-aware that the inclusion of the virus narrative is solely for the purposes of exploiting and exploring contemporary fears. However, it got me onto a certain line of thinking that’s perfect for MB.

Before you can write anything, you need to come up with a concept. While many of you will probably agree that this is both the easiest and hardest part of writing, it’s also the one that gets overlooked the most. As writers, it’s taken as a given that we’ll have a deep well of ideas and concepts to reach into. The truth is that we spend our entire lives developing and refining them. However, we rarely talk about the process. Yes, sometimes you just have to wait for inspiration, but professional writers get good at synthesizing them. Let’s talk about that topic another day. What do you do once you have an idea? You figure out the logistics of turning it into a story.

With the virus example earlier, my friend was being pulled out of the experience of zombie movies by an insistence on explanation. By linking a foreign concept to something the audience understands, viruses make zombies more intuitive. However, in a different way, it also makes them completely impossible for some people. We’ve spent hours arguing about the physical and metabolic changes that would be required to make a “walker” a possibility. Whether or not it is isn’t the problem. It’s that argument. If I’m thinking about how a zombie could be possible, then I’m not thinking about the horror of the concept. Really think about it. Outside of medical horror, what purpose does the virus explanation serve? How is that explanation more valid or engaging than none? Every zombie story already possesses a scene where the bite-transmission thing is explained, so it can end up adding very little. It CAN add a lot, but you have to be telling the right story. Given its pervasive nature, I can assure you that it is being included in stories where it’s unnecessary. In fact, including it can be damaging. The virus explanation is everywhere; now it’s almost colloquial. Now, you may actually have to spend time explaining that it’s not a virus. That’s a discussion for another day, though.

Sometimes, not explaining something can be the best thing you do. Or, using a symbolic archetype. Or, even, just making something up. There are an entire mountain of stories that would never get made if we insisted on explanations and realism in everything, both as readers and writers. Lovecraft’s strange geometries and eldritch lights are perfect examples of this. The ancient stories of the Gods or tales of the spirit worlds could be enlivened by an explanation, but it would have to be integral to the plot. Giving a half-hearted excuse is, ultimately, going to damage your story.

That being said, a little bit of the unreal can spice of an otherwise normal story. Let’s stick with the zombie theme, but go big picture on it. To be extra pop-culture friendly, let’s also stick with the one piece of exemplary zombie fiction that I think everyone should read: Max Brooks’ World War Z. In many ways, zombie stories have almost nothing to do with the zombies within them. Contemporary pop-culture theory states that you could replace zombies with any similar natural disaster and craft the same story. Zombie stories are about isolation and the break-down of the civilized world. They’re about when we turn on each other as the lights go out, but, also, about when we don’t. World War Z is a piece of political fiction that uses zombies as a catalyst to create a landscape of political exploration. The zombies are horrifying, but we are the horror.

That’s just true. Humans can be frightening things. It’s not always easy to pull out of us. It’s harder still to look at or admit. That’s why a dash of the unreal, the walking dead, is so effective in Brooks’ work. Simply creating a realistic world-wide epidemic or conflict would have raised too many other questions. It would have complicated matters without adding anything. Thus, we use zombies. Ever wonder why so many people have zombie survival plans? Well, it’s not just because zombies are cool. Really think about what that plan represents. Think about what it means. That will tell you what we’re scared of. This is what horror does. It’s the genre-space we put aside for the truly, literally disturbing. It’s hard to call the first half of World War Z anything but that. It details the worst sins of contemporary society in cleverly obscured detail. This is where he needed realism.

Max’s book would have suffered greatly if the politics weren’t at least believable. We’ll leave out the word accurate, for obvious reasons. His story was about real contemporary politics, something we’re all immersed in. So, that portion needed to be realistic. It was going to reflect us, so it needed to do so adroitly. Similarly, if your story uses zombies to explore viruses, then make sure your depiction of viruses is realistic. Research how they spread, mutate, interact with cells and multiply. Think about transmission and counter-measures. In other words, focus your realistic explanations of fantasy in the areas where they’re necessary to your narrative. Otherwise, it’s okay to let things be fantastic. Unicorns don’t need to evolve from horses. Dragons don’t need to produce fire through a chemical reaction. Serial murderers don’t need classic pseudo-psych back-stories. Give your concept some room to breathe.

Once you’re at the drawing board, really think about what your audience needs to know to make the story work. Think about plot-holes. Pitch to other people and let them tear the threads of your story apart, as long as they volunteer to help you weave it back together. That’ll let you know where you need to get real and where you can let an idea hang tantalizingly out of reach. After all, it’s not worth it to let a tiny detail throw off your whole story. Unless you want someone to leave your story with that niggling at them in the back of their head, be willing to leave it out.

Word Count: 2900

Story: The Labours of Hell

Today’s story is a mash-up-date of two classics, one older than the other. You can find it in the Stories section 😀

I wanted to try writing from a different moral stand-point than I usually do, so I picked one of the most infamous villains in history. In a way, he’s also my favourite character of all time. I hope you enjoy, ‘The Labours of Hell!”

Rant: Staying Afloat in the Shallows

For those of you wondering about the state of MB, it’s still in the works. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten it. My schedules have been pushed around a bit and my interviews postponed, but the concept lives on.

Today’s rant is a bit personal. While I usually include anecdotes in my writing, I tend to avoid talking about myself. This is quite on purpose. “Trivial,” as my gaming blog and writing blog are called, refers to myself, in part. I’m just some trivial punk writing my thoughts and ideas out for you to read and consider. I have no problem with that. What matters to me is the internet identity that manifests from those ideas. They will coalesce and take on a life of their own. They’re part of me and separate, as well. I figured the name should acknowledge that while it also defines it. It also shortens to “Trivia,” which is a substantial portion of who I am.

Today, though, I have something to say that cannot be divorced from who I am. For a long, long time, I’ve wanted to be a writer. In my younger years, I thought that meant that I could get along on talent and inspiration. It took time and effort to realize that those are but the seeds. It takes determination and a considered hand to craft a writer from a talented youth. There are days I resist the written word. There are days it resists me. However, if I’m ever to feel comfortable in the skin of someone that calls themself a writer, then I need to be able to work through those days. Otherwise, I’m just someone who writes. This is a craft, after all. If I don’t push myself, then I’ve failed right out of the gate.

It’s a life-long pursuit. So, I might as well start now. That’s where my blogs and Trivial Punk came from: the urge to write and improve. I needed to prove that I could make this MY craft, while, simultaneously, proving that I belonged to it. That was the beginning, though. Halcyon days don’t last forever, and my raw idealism has since transformed itself to cynicism. That cynicism became desperation, which became hope and determination. You see, when I wrote Descent, part of me was acknowledging the grind that my life could become. The life of a freelance writer is not a wealthy one, and bills catch up with the best of us, except perhaps the ultra-wealthy. I realized that this life might not be sustainable and that I needed to find a way to make it work. Otherwise, I would have to drop what I’m doing here and return to academia for my Masters in Psychology far before I was ready.

I know it doesn’t sound like a desperate life. In truth, it’s really not. I’m not trapped or bereft. My poverty is of my own choosing, a symptom of my dedication to this and other pursuits. I have a possible future and the means to make it happen that could furnish me with interesting work unto my grave. That sounds fine, but it’s missing a key element: my desire. Descent was, in part, an acknowledgement of the small consolations and compromises we use to get through life and the dangers of following them to their logical conclusions. There’s no point where we truly choose “a life.” It is the result of an endless stream of small decisions and minor circumstances. I know this sounds like the whinging of the privileged, and it is. I’m well aware of the advantages of my position, and I’ve never once looked on them with scorn. I am grateful.

Simply put, I don’t want to compromise my life away. I want to design games and write stories. I want to use my knowledge of psychology, and the further study I’ll pursue, as a means to create beautiful experiences and promising treatments. I don’t want to reduce it to an end. It’s my hope that understanding the organ we’re engaging and the being it represents will let us create gaming experiences of a truly transcendental nature. That we’ll use the fleshed-out worlds of the sand-box genre’s logical conclusion to keep the minds of coma patients alive and healthy. That we’ll give movement to the still, as we’re already beginning to. It’s the future, and gaming has a lot to offer it.

At the core of it, though, we’ll still need stories. We’ll need the tale of the brave orphan. We need the kindly shop-keep. There’s no way we can do without the sinister older brother. The wise old man. The waif, hungry for knowledge. The talented protege who learns that it’s going to take more than a sharp mind and a strong body to truly wield his fallen master’s sword. You need more than passion. You need opportunity…

You need dedication. That’s why these blogs are here. I don’t want to lose the analyst, the artist or the story-teller inside of me. If I commit entirely to one view-point, then those parts of me will die. They will take my eyes along with them. Those perspectives furnish me with insights that have set me apart from my classmates in the distant past, when the school-room was our playground. Now, though, they might only allow me to run alongside those people I hope to call peers. There are experienced, intellectual titans in the ocean I waded into, knees barely wet, out of sight. On calm days, when my mind is agile and reflective, I can feel their waves in the shuddering ocean. I can dip my fingers in and conjure a far-off reflection of brilliance…

…and I am afraid. Daunted. Inspired. Excited. Steeled. As good as I may become, I might never rise to meet the best, or even shake their hands. That’s not what matters, though. What matters is that ocean and the boy on the beach looking into it. His urge to swim. His audacity, confidence and passion to try and breach the surface. I cannot let him down. Yet, here I sat contemplating that very thing. That’s when I realized why this blog and the other were so important to me.

They are the life-lines that keep me honest. I love games, I truly do. I adore stories; they are my heart. But, that love isn’t the reason I write. It’s the reason I write about those things, yes. They’re not the reason I put finger to keyboard or pen to paper.

I am writing for my life. You find me here, because I need to keep the story-teller reminiscing. I need the artist inspired. My dear analyst must always have something to ruminate over. At the end of the day, I need this to stand for me, so that I, the flesh and blood boy, can dive into the ocean.

I don’t want to sit on the edge of the beach and watch the children splash in the shallows. No part of me is okay with just making a living. Working. The grind of Capitalism. Whatever you want to call it. Perhaps this hope, too, will rot off into acceptance, but it hasn’t yet. I want to live.

If I have to do that through a collection of articles or stories on a webpage, then so be it. I will live. I will write. I will create. I will learn. I will realize what I created before was rubbish and learn from those mistakes.

I will take swimming lessons. Maybe get some floaties.

That’s about all I have to say. I hope you found something reflective in my words. I hope you find your ocean and take your shot. For now, this post is all I can do to thank you for being a part of this life-line. Allons-y!

-Trivial Punk

Next post will be either a new story, an old poem or the next MB entry. Either way, thanks for the indulgence. I really had to get that off my chest. (Just finished an old book. Like an ancient friend, it tends to have that effect on me).

Story: Pixies

We found a Way through. At first, we sent in a team of explorers and scientists, curious to document, study and understand. The realm of fairies furnished them with wonder and knowledge. We quickly learned that emotions, thoughts and feelings could be made manifest in one form or another. We were given paradise. We saw a resource.

The land stretched on, verdant, as far as we could see in every direction. If this world truly was the crystallization of humanity’s potential, then we figured it was boundless. The inhabitants were friendly, beautiful and gregarious in the extreme, but resisted our tests and attempts to harvest. In the end, we sent in soldiers. My dearest companion, Terrence, and I were among them

Each one of us was intent on using the resources of this place to save our dying world. After all, where would it be without us? We hadn’t considered that it might not want to be used. Whatever our reasons, our mission was theft.

As we marched through the Way, we were unaware that the membrane on which we stood, the Land of the Faeries, could bend, break and permit. It was a sieve. In gathering, we’d reached a collective threshold and plummeted to the depths where intentions live. The land of the Pixies.

It wasn’t a fall. Or, rather, it wasn’t a drop. We simply materialized at the mouth of a grand cave. The stalactites were ringed in impenetrable shadow, the stalagmites were darkness. We spread out to cover the perimeter, but we couldn’t possibly have prepared for the creature, the THING, we found. It stirred, slowly woke, and quickly gained momentum. It was a titanic ball of rippling flesh, scab, and bone. As it fell upon our scattered group, under a hail of machine-gun fire, its unity shattered. Forms burst forth from it, were carved out, still attached, and raked through our ranks. Every form we killed, it would feast upon. A maw of flesh would appear in the thing, close around the body, and chew with shattered bone and blunt trauma. Crushing, grinding, swallowing, feeding its metabolic girth with itself.

For all of its auto-cannibalism, it quickly over-powered us. Too much. Too many. We fell back to the mouth of the cave. We fell back into the wild unknown. We fell.

Yet, when our numbers thinned before the atrocious thing, we vanished once more from where we’d been. Finding ourselves, instead, in a shadowed glen. Trees shaded us from the elements and provided us with cover from the terrifying predators we couldn’t comprehend.

Sweeping the area, we cleared away rocks, plants, animals and sounds. We took knife to stem and hollow-point to movement. We established a guard, took shifts and, round the fire, took stock of what we knew. At the time, it turned out to be very little. As night fell and we set to sleep and watch, screams echoed through the camp. I watched it happen to a soldier named Jeff, overwhelmed into inaction.

A root had him in a wooden vice. Its undeniable force ripped through his uniform, his boots. His skin tore, at first, as it was roughly scraped from the flesh of his feet, but, once inside, the thing merely rippled through his flesh. Putrescent, his body dissolved within the skin-sac and leaked out of his orifices, out of himself. Then, like a sickly party favor, he was filled again by the malleable core-flesh of the envious tree. Rooted still, at its entry point, the puppet lashed out to claw a fleeing victim, its nails and finger-flesh scraping off of the wood underneath. It stood before us, out of reach,, splintered fingers bare, on two gnarled roots, in Jeff’s skin. It was a nightmare I resisted comprehending.

I grabbed Terry. We ran. Alone, we appeared, again, in another land. It was a gray area, unremarkable and terrifying. Nothing made sense. Nothing could be grasped or seen. It was enigma.

I realized then what I’ve told you now. Maybe it was madness or delusion. A wild rush of hope after all I’d seen, but I knew we were near the surface. I thought that without his sin I might break through the meniscus.

Whatever I’d understood, Terry hadn’t. My knife sunk easily into his unguarded neck.

Yet, nothing happened. I was just alone. So, alone, I wandered.

I should have realized then that, in leaving them to die, we’d sealed ourselves within our depth. Murdering him built upon that. The weight of my crimes alone were now enough to keep me here.

Here, I stay. Through study and practice, I’ve manifested many things, but there is no Way back. However, on the right night, in the right way, I can send a message through.

Please. Heed these words, “Your motives are not your intentions. Respect our demons.”

Tell Terry’s family, “I’m so sorry.”