Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tape #2

Another tape from the box.  This one's also of Nee-chan.  Again, within the year.  I'm starting to suspect that this will be a trend.  And let me answer a few questions now: no, I haven't asked her about it.  What exactly do I say?  "Hey, Nee-chan, someone sent me a few tapes of you.  Any idea who?"  I'm still not sure if this is something that I want to confront her about soon, or never confront her about.  Ever.  Especially after this one.

Anyway, here's the transcript.

Tape #2

Inside an apartment.  Nee-chan is speaking into the camera--probably her webcam.  She starts by ranting about some anime series like she's doing a review.  The anime isn't important, and neither is what she says, so I'm going to cut that.  Hair, incidentally, is still purple at this point in time.  Ulysses walks in the door behind her, causing her to turn.

Nee-chan: Lissy!  You ruined my review!

Ulysses: Maybe I'd care if you stopped calling my Lissy.

N: But now I'm going to have to do the whole thing again!

U: Yeah, well, I'm sorry that I messed up the time you spent talking about one of those cartoons you're constantly watching.  Seriously, you're what, eighteen?  Grow up a bit, would you?

N: Don't call them cartoons.

U: Well that's what they are.

N: Shut up!

In one swift motion, she pulls out a knife and throws it at him.  He looks down at his chest for a moment before staggering and falling to the ground.  Nee-chan pauses for a moment, a look of shock passing over her face before she rushes into the background, dropping out of the frame about where Ulysses is.

N: Lissy!  I'm...I'm sorry, I...it was an accident!  I didn't mean...c'mon, Lissy!  Y-you're fine!  Lissy!

She stands up, darts back over to the camera, and reaches up, pulling the camera down (closing her laptop, it looks like).  The video cuts off.

End Tape #2

So.  Um...yeah.  I think I'm just going to have to let that one speak for itself, since I don't really want to talk about it.  I just hope that the rest of the tapes aren't as bad as this one.

Although I guess that's one mystery solved: Ulysses probably isn't the one sending me the tapes.

-Don't Shoot The Messenger-

Monday, August 29, 2011

Tape #1

So, I finally found a VCR.  I watched the first tape.  And guess what?  The tape looks like it was taken within the year.  You know, in 2011.  Where everything's recorded on digital cards.  Let me give this it's own paragraph for some extra emphasis:

Whoever it was who gave me the box went out of their way to convert the video to tapes.

I have no clue why the fucker would do that.  It makes no sense.  But that's not even the part that pisses me off most.  You know what's on the tape?  Of course you don't, because I haven't told you.  And I'm sure you want to know.  Which is what I'm going to do.  Right now.

The tape was of Nee-chan.

Now, Nee-chan specifically said that she didn't know who left the box.  Poe can confirm that she didn't leave it herself.  I don't know who did.  But whoever it is has tapes of Nee-chan.  I guess there's no other way to explain the tape than to just give you a transcript.

Tape #1

It's night in a back alley.  A shaky hand trains a camera on a serious-looking man.  The person behind the camera speaks.

???: C'mon, Lissy, take the camera!  Onegai Shimasu?

The Japanese quite clearly informs us that this is Nee-chan, a fact confirmed a second or two later as the man takes the camera and we get a glimpse of her.  Her hair is purple at this point.

???: Ulysses.  Not Lissy.  And really, Nee-chan, I don't see why I have to film you.  It's pointless.

Nee-chan: Come ooooon, pleeeease?  [she gives him puppy dog eyes and sticks a quivering lip out.]  I need to know how I look.

Ulysses: See, that's the part I don't get.  Why?  Why on earth do you need to know what it looks like?

N: Because I need to know if it looks cool!  It has to look right!

U: So, what, I just sit out behind a dumpster, waiting for him to come out?

N: Yes!

U: ...This is the dumbest thing I've ever done.

Nee-chan disappears from sight, and Ulysses hunkers down in a corner, training the camera on a door.  After two minutes, the door opens, and a panicked-looking young man steps out, thanking someone inside for "everything."  The door shuts, the man looks back and forth a few times, and starts to take a step.  At this point, Nee-chan appears again, uncurling from some hiding place (some sort of light fixture, perhaps?) and dangling from the top of the screen.  She grabs the man under the chin with one hand and yanks it up, pulling a blade across his neck with the other.  She lets the corpse fall to the ground, tries to curl back up, but finds herself unable to do so.  Ulysses steps forward, letting the camera dangle, and grabs the corpse, dragging it back behind the dumpster.  He trains the camera back on Nee-chan as she awkwardly crawls down.

U: Come on, we need to get this body further away before we dispose of it.

N: Did I look cool?

U: Who cares?  Come on, what if the guy he was staying with decides to come out for some reason?

N: Did you get it on tape, Lissy?

U: Ulysses.  And yes, I did, you looked great.  Is that what you want to hear?  Now come on.  Now.

N: I'll take that!

Nee-chan grabs the camera, then the screen goes black.

So if Nee-chan didn't leave the tapes, who did?  Was it that Ulysses guy?  Screwtape?  Those are the only two that would come to mind at the moment.  More importantly, why?  Seriously, why?  I don't get the point of it.  None of this makes any sense.  At all.

I guess that I might have a better idea once I go through the other tapes.

-Don't Shoot The Messenger-

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Mysterous Package

Well, now that I've gotten over the initial shock about someone having known Poe back when she was a runner, I've had chance to mull it over.  And I've come to the conclusion that it doesn't fucking matter.  So he knew her back before she was Poe.  Big deal.  What's he going to do, come hunt us down?  None of you have been able to find me yet (I guess if you really wanted to, you maybe could have tracked Nee-chan back that one night she crashed the wedding, but apparently you all thought that dancing would be more important (not that I'm complaining)).  Why would Donovan be the first?

Basically, life goes on as normal.

Speaking of normal, Nee-chan's gotten in the habit of coming over on Saturdays.  She came over today as well, and she and Poe watched more of that anime stuff.  I've gotten to the point where I'm able to tune them out some.  The moonspeak eventually just becomes entertaining background noise.  Although when Nee-chan left, Poe did say that it would be nice if I at least gave it a try once.  She says that she has something she thinks I'd be interested in, and that she'll even convince Nee-chan to let me watch it in English.

But anyway, that's not what I'm posting about.  I'm posting because I went to pick up some soda.  Just a quick, simple trip down to the nearest gas station.  When I came back, though there was a small cardboard box for me at the door.  It wasn't taped shut, just folded up, with the word "Messenger" scrawled across the side.

I picked it up, took it in, and asked Poe and Nee-chan if they knew anything about it.  Neither of them had put it there, and no one had knocked on the door.  Someone had just dropped it off.

I opened it up.  Inside were five video tapes (labeled #1-#5).  And nothing else.  No note, no indication on the box as to who the tapes had come from, nothing.  Five tapes in a box labelled "Messenger."  Obviously a "gift" of some sort.  What type of gift it was, I don't know.  Maybe someone died or something.  But either way, the mystery's gonna have to wait until I find the equipment I need to actually play what my mysterious donor left me.  Because whoever it was didn't bother to leave anything I'd need to actually watch these.

Seriously, who the hell even owns a VCR anymore?

-Don't Shoot The Messenger-

Friday, August 26, 2011

Annabel and Donovan?

So, for those of you who don't bother reading comments (like me on any blog other than my own), something has...well, something has happened.  Apparently there's this runner named Donovan (who writes a blog called Neverending Marathon) who knew Poe back when she was a runner.  He wrote about a runner named Annabel that he spent time with (and appears to have some sort of crush on--and yes, Donovan, before you say anything, I do in fact realize that you're probably reading this and I just don't care), and a few days later, I happened to do Poe's interview.

Let me be clear about on thing: the timing here is almost certainly complete coincidence.  I did not know Poe's name before I interviewed her.  I did not read Donovan's post until after he had commented.  I am not, as he claims, "sabotaging him" or "dragging her name through the dirt to mess with him" or whatever the hell he claimed that I don't care enough about to look up to see for sure.

In fact, if anyone set this up, it's Poe herself.  This may come as a bit of a shock to some of you (you in particular, Donovan), but this isn't the first time I've heard of your blog.  I'm almost certain that none of you remember it, but this isn't the first time I've mentioned Donovan's blog.  It's here, near the end.  I asked Poe about it afterwards, and you know the "idiot runner" Caper's talking about?  That's Donovan.  So yeah, she reads your blog.  And she's been using it to track down your friends.  Of course, if she's setting you up, which is possible, it's an impressive move on her part, considering that her very first post was, you know, related to her name.  I suppose she set up the entire blog as a plan to mess with your head.  And just relied on me doing an interview at some point so that she could use the name you had just given her but that she somehow knew against you.  Which doesn't even fit with her personality at all.

Come on.  Like you're worth that effort.

But anyway, I was convinced it was coincidence.  And then I told Poe about it, kind of laughing.  And she told me that Donovan was telling the truth.  That his story was mostly true (he maybe got some small details wrong).

Huh.  Small world.

And here's the thing: she reads his blog.  I know that much.  So she knew he was talking about her (which, thanks Don, must have been a bit awkward), and she still gives me her name.  I don't get it.  I really don't get it.  Why the hell would she do something like that?  Does she want him to find out about her or something?  I'm confused here, Poe.  Talk to me.

So yes, congratulations, Donovan.  You've found Annabel.  Not what you remember, is she?  Tough.  People change.  Get over it.  That's really all I can say.  She's Poe now, so just forget about her and move on.  You can moon over her memory all you want, but I'm pretty sure that she's not gonna be particularly fond of someone as anti-proxy as you are.

I'm looking back over this now and I can't believe I wrote up an entire post just because a runner evidently knows Poe.

-Don't Shoot The Messenger-

Monday, August 22, 2011

Interview with Poe

Convinced Poe to do an interview a few days ago, did that today.  You all know Poe, you all know how I do these things, so let's just jump right in.

Messenger: So, um...you sure you're up for this interview, Poe?  I mean...if you're not ready, that's fine.

Poe: I...It's fine. I'll be ok. So...um, should we start?

M: Yeah, I...sorry, it's just that...this is a bit weird.  I haven't interviewed anyone I'm this close to before.  Well...not anyone that I expect actual answers from, at least.

[She gave a sad smile at this point.  She knew who I was talking about.]

M: Um...I guess that the place to start is with how you got involved in all of this.  What was the trigger?  [She looked down at the floor and fell silent.]  Look, um...if this is too much....

P: [quietly] Concrete Giraffes.

M:  ...You're kidding me.  You...you've gotta be fucking kidding me.  [I started laughing uncontrollably at this point.]  I...I can't believe...that son of a bitch was telling the truth!  [For those of you who don't remember, Caper mentioned this a long time ago, and I was assuming he was kidding]

P: [nodding, giving another wistful smile] He does that sometimes.  Usually when he knows he won't be believed.

M: I'm sorry, I...I shouldn't be laughing.  This isn't funny.  But it's just...five different types of irony.

P: I know what you mean.  I understand.  I'd probably be laughing too if I were you.

M: So, um...obviously, that wasn't all, was it?  I mean, there were other triggers before he showed up, right?

P:  Well... I mean, after Concrete Giraffes I got interested in other things about, well you know who. Looked up the videos, read the blogs, usual stuff. But then I started seeing him.

[She stopped talking after this and just hugged her knees to her chest.]

M: Um...do you want to stop?  We can stop.

P: [shakes head] No, I...I'm fine.

M: Okay.  Uh...next question, then.  When and why exactly did you join The Boss?

P:  Well, um... when I was running, I found another runner named Arnold.  He was, well... he helped me out for a while. He was the type who did...well, he did anything to survive. He said that we had to do whatever it takes, you know? And um... we were being chased. There was a wall and...I helped him up first.  And...and he left me.

M: Um...huh.  Wow.  Uh...what an asshole.  That's...I'm so sorry.  [She nodded]  So, um...how'd you get from that to...here?

P:  There was... there was a tracker. He had been after us for a while. And... well, he said I had made it very difficult to find us. At that wall, I thought I was going to... they were going to... but then he offered me a job and.... [She started crying a bit at this point].  I'm sorry. I didn't want to die. I don't want to die. I'm sorry.

[At this point I kind of...put my arm around her shoulders.  It felt incredibly awkward and unnatural, considering that I don't often do things like this.  I don't know if you've noticed, but I was never the person walking around in a "free hugs" t-shirt.  But apparently it worked, because she sort of turned into my shoulder.  I was literally a shoulder to cry on.  That's never happened before.]

M: Um...well, hey.  I kind of joined for the same reasons.  Sort of.

[She nodded into my shoulder and stopped crying as heavily.]

M:Uh...someone had asked if you think you made the right choice.  Now would probably be the best time to ask that, but...look, we...we don't have to do this if you don't want to.

P: [She looked up at me and shook her head.]  No, I'm...I'm fine.  I can keep going.  And I really wish I could answer that question.  But to be honest, I don't even know.

M: Understandable, I guess...  As for other questions...um, I don't know, I guess I've got some questions about what you've done here for the most part.  The big one is how exactly you met Caper.

P: We...we were paired together shortly after I joined. Sort of like Screwtape and me now. He was...he helped me a lot.

M: How so, exactly?  Like...helped you figure out how to do the job, or...?

P: No, he helped... me. I was sort of lost. I couldn't figure out how to deal with...what I was doing. Who I was now. It was all very confusing and horrible and... he helped me through it. Told me to pick a new name, to find a new identity. And it helped a bit, actually. He helped. I.... [She fell silent for a while again]

M: So, um...new identity, huh?  Um...if you don't mind, um...what was your old one?

[She looked down, and I could swear she blushed a bit.]

P:  It's, uh...Annabel.  Annabel Lee.

M:  ...That sounds familiar.  Why does that sound familiar?  Have you already told me, because I think I would have remembered that.

P: [quietly] It was many and many a year ago by a kingdom by the sea....

M:  I'm...I'm sorry, I don't follow...?

P: That a maiden there lived whom you may know By the name of Annabel Lee--

M:  Oh...oh my god, that's...that's right, that's...!  [I kind of burst out laughing here.  Horrible, but I couldn't help myself.  Oh, yeah, again, for those who have forgotten, Poe's first post is a poem by...well, the other Poe.]

P: Yeah...it's stupid, I know.  My parents were big literature buffs, and...like I said, it's stupid.

M: No, no, it's not that, it's...you'd think I maybe would have put at least some of that together by now.  It's...it's a really pretty name, if that helps.

P: ...Thank you.

M: Uh, there was another question someone had asked, but I guess that kind of answers that.... I'm...look, I'm really sorry.  I...I had no clue what sort of shit you went through.  And I'm only finding out now, so...I guess I'm a pretty terrible friend, aren't I?

P: No.  No, you're...you're very nice.

M: Um...I should probably keep calling you Poe, shouldn't I?

P: Yes.  Yes, please.

M: Right, yeah.  Um...well, uh...thank you, Poe.

P: You're, um, you're welcome.

-Don't Shoot The Messenger-

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Interview with Atalanta/His Half

I'm assuming you've read the previous post, and if not, what the hell are you doing reading this one?  But for the sake of those of you who've lost time or something, Atalanta's been staying with Poe and me.  I interviewed her, and then we followed her to find out what happens during "His Half," as she calls it.

First the interview.

Messenger:So, Atalanta...um...how was today?  Okay?  Better than most?  Sleep well?

Atalanta: Considering I had a bed, yes. Thank you so much for letting me come here. Not much I can do for you in return. Need a magic briefcase?

M: Thanks for the offer, but I'd, um...I'd rather not.  No offense.  So, do you mind if I ask you a few questions?

A: Go ahead. Don't know what else there is to say, though. I put my story on my blog.

M: Well, yes, but I'd like a few more details.  You've kind of got an interesting case.  Now, I know I've already asked you, but could you tell me again, for the sake of this interview, what exactly you do during "your half?"

A: Stay alive, mostly. First I find a place to sleep. Then I do that. It's hard, but I try to rest until after noon. After that, ask for directions to McDonalds. Eat something. Hang around using the laptop. Sometimes I go shopping. For clothes, if mine are too gross. Other things when I need them. If I have time, I do touristy things. Free ones, I mean. Then back to eat more crap before my time's up. I try to be outside at the end.

M: And you have no clue what happens during "his half," do you?

M: Some clues, once in a while. That dead boy... I have an idea what happened that night. Typically not enough clues to know.

M: Now, how exactly did you get involved in all of this in the first place?

A: My friend. He showed me EverymanHYBRID. I said this on the blog. He's dead. One of my golden apples.

M: And you've mentioned something about a sort of deal you cut with The Boss...would you elaborate on that a bit?  He gets half of your life, and what exactly do you all get in return?

A: I keep half myself. And He won't kill anyone else I care about. That's what He would have done. Killed them one by one to get me. I don't know why. But they're safe from Him now. So am I.

M: Heh...well, I guess that's one thing we kind of have in common, isn't it?

A: Yeah. Yours is the closest I've found. Not the same, but close.

M: No, not the same.  Your case is pretty unique.  I...now I feel bad, having a better deal than you.  I'm...I really wish you could stay here.  I know that neither of us have any control over that, but...goddammit, you're just a fucking kid.  This isn't right.  ...Sorry about that.  That's not a question.  You...you don't have to say anything.

A: It's... not that bad. I don't need to be pitied. It's... Others have it worse. Joel. Do you read that one? And there are younger people too.

M: Joel?  Um...sorry.  I...try not to commit many names to memory.  Defense mechanism, I guess.  [Poe informs me that she's talking about this blog.]  But anyway, you've said how you got involved, what your deal was...I guess the only thing to ask now is 'why?'  Why exactly did you make the deal?  Just to save the people close to you, or was there something else?

A: Why? I- They wouldn't have died except for Him wanting me. It was my fault. I was being selfish. Not wanting to lose. But I had to. I had to. He wouldn't have stopped.

M: I don't think it was selfish.  It was making a sensible move to keep the people you care about safe.  You're not a bad person, Atalanta.  You're as much a victim as anyone else.

A: No, I mean I was selfish not going to Him after the second dream. And I know we're victims. No matter what Hakurei said. Self-righteous bi- No, don't say I said that. [Note: I guess she didn't say that or something.  But if she didn't, I did, because anyone who's not going to treat us like victims is probably a self-righteous bi-.]

M: Of course not.  Um...do you still want to find out what happens during his half?

A: I should. If it's terrible, though... You want to know. So you follow me, if he lets you. Then it's your call. Look at me, passing the buck. No, tell me. I should know.

M: [I nodded] Poe and I will follow you.  We'll post it and let you know.  Um...sorry about waking you up before.  I'm sure you'll want to sleep a bit longer.  But, um...before you go...out of curiosity, what's your name?

A: Right now, just Atalanta. And whatever I make up if people ask. But I was --- Ritter [First name withheld for reasons at the end of this paragraph]. I know. Ritter's supposed to be one of His names. It just means knight. Knight isn't too uncommon for a last name. My father's side was German. --- Ritter is dead, though. I don't want anyone who knew me to know what really happened. Don't want this to show up on a Google search.

M: Um, well...thank you, for sharing, I guess. I don't imagine it was easy.

A: I probably said too much. It's because I don't get to talk to people much. Not honestly."

M: Thank you.

And now we get to this part.  Let's not mince words and just dive right in.

She walked out of Poe's bedroom at around nine.  I asked her if she was okay, kind of called her names (all three: her handle, the fake one she uses for her e-mail, and her real name), and didn't really get any response.  She just looked around the room, then headed for the door.  She looked...I don't know, not fully there?  Like she was sleepwalking?

Anyway, Poe and I followed her around.  She headed to a hardware store, and bought a can of black spray paint and a roll of Scotch tape.  We then followed her to a library, where she sat down at a computer, started typing up a document that simply contained the URL for Marble Hornets, with the subtitle "Prepare for a Scare!"  She also logged into a few forums (most seemed fairly random, but I think that at least a few were related to The Boss) and typed up a few things about him.  Seems like she was basically spreading the word.  Also, holy shit, was she a quick typist.  Maybe that was the possession (not sure if that's the right word), but damn!

Anyway, she printed off a few copies of the document, used the tape she had bought to hang them on random poles and shit next to all the "Lost Dog" signs, spray painted a few operator symbols onto the walls of back alleys (you know, the circle with the X through it from Marble Hornets) and even over some actual graffiti.

Seemed pretty tame at that point.  Quite a surprise after she talked about obtaining magical briefcases or waking up over dead bodies.  Looked like, well...like basic advertising.  We followed her as she did things like that for about an hour.  And then

Come on, let's just write this down.

I don't even really know how to describe what happened.  She made her way to a deserted back alley.  And then she set the briefcase down and started stretching.  Just stretched for about ten minutes.  Then she paced back and forth a few times, turned back to the alley, picked up the briefcase, and took off at a sprint.

That's not the weird part.

As she ran, the air around her started warping.  The walls of the alley blurred, the air got colder (exactly like it does when The Boss is around), and all of a sudden, the pavement about ten feet in front of us became a dirt path, the urban city became an open field, and the buildings sort of just trailed off, like they were a painting someone had stopped working on halfway through.  Lining the path were contorted, barren trees.  Well, almost barren.  The trees were dead, but leaves were still somehow falling from them.  Black leaves were growing on and falling from the trees, all within five seconds.  And Atalanta was running through the heart of it.

Now, I'm not particularly well-read.  But I've heard of the Path of Black Leaves.  I thought it was bullshit.  No one I've met has talked about it or even claimed to see it.  And yet, there it was.  I knew what it was, but I had no fucking clue what it was.  It's...it was the second most fucked-up thing I've ever seen.

So we had two options: go through the Very Potentially Harmful Path of Unstable Space-Time And General What-The-Fuckery, or give up on our promise to find out what exactly happens during the time that Atalanta has no control over.

I turned to Poe, who just shook her head and said "I'm not going in there."

So we chickened out.  We stared into the void until it started to blur again, like a fading dream (or in this case, nightmare), then was suddenly just the back alley again.  Then we just turned around and headed home.  Sorry, Atalanta.  I wish we could do more.  And we're sorry that you have to unknowingly go where we refused to follow.

-Don't Shoot The Messenger-

EDIT: for those of you who are wondering, Atalanta's still all right.  At least, as much as it's possible for her to be.  So I guess you should be worrying about her, but not any more than you would otherwise worry about her.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Meeting Atalanta

For those of you who do not know who Atalanta is, a quick explanation: Atalanta writes My Half of Life.  Basically, she has twelve hours of every day to herself.  The other twelve belong to The Boss.  As you can imagine, this makes things a bit difficult for her.  I've e-mailed her some, and I let her know that if she's ever near NYC, I could give her a place to stay.  Well, as (I certainly hope) you've already guessed, she did.  And we took her in for the day.

I got a call from an unknown number.  She doesn't exactly have a cell phone, so she had to borrow one from somewhere.  Anyway, she gave me her location and I drove down there to pick her up.  That's when I got my first actual look at her.

I still really, really wish my first words to her hadn't been "Wow, you look like shit."

It was a reflexive response.  She knew what I meant and agreed.  Doesn't make me feel any better, though.  She was dirty, disheveled, dead on her feet, and just looked like she was wasting away in general.  Her hair was cropped short (she explained that it was more convenient that way), but it was obvious that she had cut it herself.  Probably without the help of a mirror at that.  She didn't have much on her, either.  Just a tank top, running shorts, running shoes, and that one weird briefcase of hers.  Asked her some questions in the car on the way back, but I went back to the questions for the interview, so I'll post them then.

She got back, took a shower (I think she spent about an hour in there), and immediately went to sleep.  Poe and I picked her up a change or two of clothes (she insisted that we couldn't get her much, as she isn't allowed to keep much) and a few other things while she slept.  I've also been checking out that one computer she got.  The one that magically appeared in the briefcase.  And here's the thing: it's a completely normal laptop.  Nothing particularly unusual about it at all.  A standard, factory-produced Dell Inspiron 14R.  Only thing unusual about it is that it runs Vista, but I guess that's what you expect from a laptop given to you by something like The Boss.

Anyway, I woke her up for an interview a while ago, after which she went back to sleep.  It pisses me off that she has to sleep during her half, but at least she's got an actual place to sleep today.  Tonight, Poe and I plan on following her around during what she calls "His Half" so that she can find out what exactly happens during that time.  She said that it should be his half in about 45 minutes.  We'll be posting the interview for your sake and what happens for her sake tomorrow.

Wish us luck.  All three of us.  Chances are, it's not going to be pretty.

-Don't Shoot The Messenger-

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Interview with Nee-chan

Things have been more normal here lately.  Less awkward.  Poe and I are coexisting without any real problems.  We don't talk much.  Then again, we never talked much in the first place.  She's a quiet person, I've never been one for small talk, and I guess we're just leaving each other to our own devices.  She goes out to work with Screwtape about every other day, and if he's pulling anything like that raven stunt, she doesn't show it.  Her demeanor's about the same before and after they meet.  Then again, it'd be hard to tell.  She's still so quiet and gloomy all the time.  I really wish she'd smile again.

Nee-chan came over for a visit yesterday.  I thought it'd be good for her to spend time with Poe so that they could bond over anime or something.  I think that she needs someone she can talk to if she can get over this creepy obsession of hers (and after the interview I had with her later, my thoughts were only reinforced).  It's either anime or knives that's a good starting point with Nee, and I don't know many people obsessed with knives.  Plus, you know, the anime addiction is probably just a little bit healthier.  The two of them watched some show that was called...okay, to be honest, I have no fucking clue what it was called.  The title was all Japanesey, and if you tell me that a show's called "Dorichushi Mari Mari Hai" or something like that, I'm going to forget it within a minute.  Something about this girl with purple hair (why the fuck do anime characters have to have pink or blue or purple or green hair?) who keeps killing a guy with some sort of giant mace and then brings him back to life for some reason?  It don't know, they watched it in Japanese (because Nee refuses to watch it any other way, of course).  Also, I'm never going to be able to get that fucking theme song out of my head.  I don't understand a word of it, which somehow makes it worse.  But they watched it pretty much all day, and actually finished it.  Didn't take too long; it was apparently a pretty short show.  But that left plenty of time for me to do what I never got the chance to do earlier: interview Nee-chan.

Messenger: So, um, Nee-chan.  Is it okay if I interview you a bit?  Ask you about...well, I guess how you got involved in all of this?  A few other things?

Nee-chan:  [grinning]  Sure, Messenger-san!

M:  Okay, but just to warn you, this might get...uncomfortable at times.  If I ask you something you don't want to know, you...don't have to answer, I guess.  You okay?  [She nodded.]  Okay.  So.  Um...how long have you been...you know, working for The Boss?

N:  Who, Slendy-kun?  [laughter]  I don't work for him.  Slendy-kun's my friend.  I just help him out.  It's what friends do for each other.  [She held up crossed fingers.]  Nakama.

M: Okay...don't know what that means, but...right, anyway how long have you two...been friends, I guess?

N: Hmm...probably about a year.

M: And how did that start?

N: [shrug] I started reading about him, he showed up, and I couldn't see what the big fuss was about.  He just showed up and he was really nice.  And look!  [She held up her plushie and shoved it in my face.]  You can't tell me that he doesn't look totally kawaii! [Note: Thanks to Poe for explaining some of the things she says and for helping me with the spelling.]

M: Um...and...it doesn't bother you that he...you know, kills people?

N: You say that like they don't deserve to die.

M:  ...they...well, um....don't...they're still people, you know.  I mean, just to play devil's advocate, I'm sure that a lot of runners think that you deserve to die, too.

N: Then they're just like everyone else, desu.

[I decided that it'd maybe be a good time to try a different approach.  She'd said something earlier implying that The Boss was her only friend, she's got some sort of resentment towards people in general, and she feels some sort of resentment from people in general.]

M: Hey, uh, listen Nee-chan.  I was wondering about something.  What was your life like as a kid?

N: I don't remember too much.  We moved around a lot.  Mom was a teacher, and she taught at a lot of different places.

M: That must have been tough, moving around all the time.

N: [nod] Like I said, I don't remember much.  Just the moving.  We never stayed long enough for me to make any friends.

M: Did you ever find any?

N: [shakes head] By the time we finally settled on a place, everyone started telling me that I was a weirdo or a freak.  They didn't want to be friends with the new girl.  They bullied me, said that I was a baby for still watching cartoons [she got really mad when she said that--I remember one point when I called the shows she watched "cartoons" as well and she went on a huge rant about how I couldn't appreciate fine art and culture or some shit like that]...I never really made any friends.

M: Weren't your parents concerned about it?

N: [She suddenly got really sad and looked down.]  They weren't concerned about anything but their jobs.  Mom was always busy grading papers or preparing lessons and Dad wasn't even home half the time.

M: I'm...I'm sorry.  So...all that anime you watch. You started watching that when you were moving around constantly, right?  What about the knives?  When did you start getting...interested in knives? [Let it be known that I don't know how to phrase half of these questions.  I never really conversed with people this psychotic on a regular basis.]

N: Oh, when all those kids were being mean to me, I started to get into fights.  But they were all stronger than me.  And once I started fighting them, it didn't matter if I stopped or not.  They started fighting back.  I had to carry a knife for protection, and learn to use it to keep from getting beat up.  It was something to do.  [she gave a grin that really, really put me on edge.]  And guess what, Messenger-san!  No one beats me up anymore!

M: Um...right.  I...think that's about enough.  Thanks for talking with me.

N: Dou itashimathite, Messenger-san!  And domo arigatou! 

One more quick note: before she left, out of curiosity, I asked her what her name was.  Because it's obviously not Nee-chan.

"Erika Lyons," she told me after a while.  "But if you ever call me anything other than Nee-chan or Eri...."  And then she gave me an evil little grin and twirled the knife she was holding before leaving.

So...that's Nee-chan, I guess.

-Don't Shoot The Messenger-

Monday, August 1, 2011

Meeting Maurice: A Story to Tell

As you probably know, Poe and I have been looking for Maurice.  He issued a challenge to me to find the bar he's at, and Poe managed to find it.  On Sunday, we went out to visit, and...we found Maurice.  I'm kind of wishing we hadn't at this point.

I expected that there'd be a few customers, but no one who'd get in the way of the interview.  But when we went inside, it was dark and deserted, save for the noise of a jukebox (they seriously still have those around?) and a girl--the girl described in this post--at the bar, polishing a glass.

Messenger:  Um...is Doc around?  I was expecting to ask...screw it.  Um, look, I'm...here to see Maurice.

[The girl puts the glass she's polishing down and gives us this really wide, kinda creepy grin.]

Girl: Maurice, huh?  Let me go get him.

[She went into the back, and after a bit, she came back around the front and bowed.  And then she said...look, just...just read it for yourself.]

Girl: Maurice, at your service.

[I was caught completely off guard by that.]

M:  ...No, seriously, where's Maurice?

[She doesn't answer the question.  She just starts laughing.  Really...energetically.  Near hysterically.  And then she moves her hands in front of her face.]

?: Hey, Messi, you don't wear a mask.  What do you take off when you sleep at night? How do you sleep without the mask to remove? I am Maurice. Maurice is who I am. 

[And then she moved her hands like some twisterd sort of peekaboo and made some sort of sound that I can only describe as "hochachachacha."  And then she starts shaking.  Also, something then occurs to me, but I don't make the right leap.]

M: ...but...Maurice isn't a...wait, unless you're not really...oh, God, please tell me I'm not embarrasing myself here.  [Note: I'll admit that I don't have a very good eye for things like this.]

?: [Raising an eyebrow] What are you saying?

M: Are you...I...I thought Maurice was a man.

?: Maurice is a man. The young Maurice was so handsome, he had a chiseled face, you know. A bit of stubble. He looked like a greek god, with his tan skin and dark hair... [She giggled and moved her hands in front of her face again.  When she moved them, her expression was blank.]  What do you want?

M: I...look, Maurice told me to find him here and...look, ma'am, there has to be some sort of mistake here.

?: And I'm telling you ya found me, Messenger, in all my glory. Here stands Maurice. Here I am. Now sit down and ask for a drink.

[She chuckles and leans forward, shaking, and starts whispering under her breath.  I've read Maurice's blog.  I recognize what she's saying.  It's barely audible, but I can make out "playthepartbethepartplaythepartbethepart," over and over again.  At this point my mind is starting to accept what she's telling me, and starting to figure out what she's not telling me, and I'm...a bit unnerved.  I sit down, mostly out of shock.]

M: I'll...um...I'll just have some water....

[And then she stares right into my eyes.  Right into my fucking eyes.
?: my name is Rachael and I'm also Maurice and Brian now they were the actor's not me but I have to play their parts now I have to....

The interview went further than that.  It didn't stop there.  But Maurice...Rachel...whoever exactly I was talking to, she told me not to reveal any of the interview past there.  Thank god I don't have to type it all up.  I think that I'd maybe have to be just a little bit drunk just to get it all down.  It wasn't easy to hear.  I actually tried to leave at one point, just because I couldn't take anymore.  Poe stopped me.  She stood in front of the door, just looked at me, and said "You're staying.  We're listening to the whole thing."

And we did.

Oh, god, we did.

-Don't Shoot The Messenger-