Earlier this morning I met with Andromeda, writer of Stark Raving Sane. In case you haven't read her blog and are unfamiliar with her, she's an...intense woman.
We agreed to meet in a public place (the Starbucks where I met with Jacob and where Poe and Screwtape meet to work), because I frankly wasn't about to spend time alone in a secluded room with her. A public place gave me more peace of mind. Also, I convinced Poe to come along to keep an eye on everything. Just in case.
She had arrived before me, even though I had tried to get their early. A few people were in the Starbucks already, but Andromeda was identifiable enough. After all, she was the only one who matched the description she had given me.
She wore a three-piece suit, glasses, and wore her hair in a bun. Easy enough to identify. Fit her well enough. She looked more or less how I had pictured her, with a bit of a difference: she didn't look cool and calculating or tweaked out on crazy like I had expected. She almost looked...I don't know, shocked? Panicked? Weary? I'm not the best at reading emotions.
I sat down facing her. Not in the same booth, though. The one over. Irrational, maybe, but I felt a bit safer having two tables between us instead of just one. That way she wasn't within arm's length of me.
Messenger: Andromeda, I'm assuming?
Andromeda: [quiet, tired chuckle] That's correct, dear. You must be Messenger.
M: Yeah. That's me. Um...you...wanted me to interview you, I guess?
A: It seemed like an interesting thing to do, yes. How are you, dear? You seem...stressed. [I was a surprised, as it sounded like genuine concern. Wasn't really expecting that.]
M: Oh, yeah, stressed. Funny thing, that. I wonder why. Couldn't have anything to do with Big Brother sending me tapes. Or writing up a report in which a girl killer turned out to be a cannibal. Or, speaking of which, sitting across from a woman who fucking eats people.
A: [She sighed and massaged her forehead] I'm not going to attack you, dear. And I'm sorry about the other things, but you aren't the only one having a stressful week.
M: Either way, I prefer having a little extra space between us. I hope you don't mind. Just a precaution.
A: Not at all, dear. It's fine.
M: So, um...I guess I'll start by asking your name and what exactly you do.
A: (small chuckle) The name everyone knows me by is "Andromeda", so we may as well use that. I'm an...independent agent. I receive direction directly from Father.
M: ...Andromeda. Okay, that's how you pronounce it. Sorry. [Note: I had pronounced it "An-dro-ME-duh" when exchanged (un?)pleasantries. She pronounced it more like "An-DRAW-meh-duh."] Um...how long have you been working for...uh, The Boss? Father. Whatever you call him.
A: Father, dear. For approximately 14 years.
M: ...Fourteen...? Uh, okay, and how exactly did you start? I saw that you explained on your blog, but could you sort of restate it here anyway?
A: [Small sigh] I was...forced into it. I don't remember exactly how, a fact for which I am very grateful.
M: Forced into it, huh? Seems like you've enjoyed it enough to stay for fourteen years, though. [Pause] Sorry, I...guess I'm just making biased assumptions there, aren't I?
A: [Surprisingly, not angry] Yes, dear...you are. The persona you would be familiar with as "Andromeda" isn't truly ME, nor is it the only persona I've been forced to adopt over the years. She enjoyed it. I do not.
M: ...I thought I /was/ interviewing Andromeda.
K: [She sighed and sort of covered her face a bit, like she was facepalming but trying to be polite/delicate about it] It's...complicated, dear. The Andromeda persona is fracturing, falling apart. The person you're speaking to now is approximately 65% Andromeda and 35% the person I used to be. I am simply using "Andromeda" as my name because it is what everyone is used to.
M: Huh. So, um...what do you forsee happening in the future, then?
A: [Chuckle] I am not psychic, dear. I can't tell the future. My plans are...well, for the first time in quite a while I have no plan. I have seen things that I can't unsee, things that make me want to gouge my eyes out. Perhaps I should take a vacation.
M: Okay, uh...lemme see here. This interview kind of isn't what I expected it to be, and most of my questions here sound kind of loaded....
A: Oh, ask away, dear.
M: ...If...you insist. Um...no offense, in advance.
A: None taken. I'm quite enjoying our talk.
M: Okay, um...how...how do you live with yourself? How do you sleep at night?
A: I don't.
M: ...Don't live with yourself, or don't sleep at night?
A: I don't sleep at night, dear. I can't. I can't even turn out the lights. I'm certain that Andromeda at her full strength didn't care about the carnage she'd wreaked, but I DO, and it horrifies me.
M: ...That's...um, no offense, but that's not physically possible. Is it?
A: It certainly is. I'm a doctor, dear. I would know. It's not pleasant by any means, but a human being can go up to 11 days without sleep. I'm on day eight.
M: Oh. So you...do sleep. I mean, I was going to say, fourteen years....
A: I think you may have misunderstood my statement in more ways than that, dear.
M: But right. That's not what I was trying to ask. I mean...how do you acchieve any sort of peace of mind?
A: Again, I don't. Why would I want it? Why would I deserve it?
M: But...wouldn't it drive you crazy? Drive you to suicide or something?
A: I'm afraid not, dear. You see, even if I were to try, Father wouldn't allow me to die. [She rolled up her sleeves with a wry smile and showed me her arms, which were covered in scars]. I've tried before. Why would I waste energy on something futile?
M: [I cursed, then let out a chuckle] And I guess that all of us are already pretty crazy, aren't we?
A: [Chuckling with me] I suppose we are. Look at what we do for a living.
M: Not just us. The ones on the other side, too. Every last one of us.
A: True. I suppose you could argue that all humanity is quite insane in some way or another...but then we'd be delving into Nietzche territory, and I was never a terribly large fan of his writings.
M: Can't say that I am either. So...I don't know. Most of the rest of my questions are entirely loaded and largely rhetorical, so...I dunno. Is there anything else you want to share? Anything you want to be asked?
A: Hmm.... [She thinks for a while] Well, I would like to know what the rest of your questions were. As for anything else I might want to say...all I can think of is that perhaps people on both sides of our little conflict have been looking at everything the wrong way. Everyone is so obsessed with "hunt the Runners" or "kill the Proxies". What if there's a third option? If Father is going to consume us all in the end, why are we wasting our efforts fighting each other? It accomplishes nothing.
M: Truth be told, I sometimes wonder the same thing myself. Things aren't as black and white as people pretend it is. That's why I work for The Boss in the first place. Buys me more time. Buys my brother more time. And yet, people somehow think that makes me a bad guy. As for the rest of the questions...um...most of them are along the lines of "what's your favorite way to prepare human flesh" or "what do you think a psychiatrist would diagnose you with?" Things like that. Things I don't actually want the answer to. ...Seriously, please don't answer that first one.
A: Ah. [she chuckled quietly] Don't worry, dear. My answers would be very unsatisfactory, I'm sure.
M: Um...anything else you want to say? Anything at all?
A: Not at the moment, dear, though if you don't mind I'd like to stay in touch.
M: Um...I suppose? No offense, but I'd like it to be a method that doesn't require us to meet in person. I still feel incredibly uneasy around you.
A: I do have a cellular phone. Would that suffice?
M: That would work. E-mail also works. Skype even, I suppose. It all comes down to what you prefer.
A: I believe we should stick to telephones. After all, they're harder to track down.
M: I suppose that's true, yes. Um...well, it certainly has been...something, meeting you. I hope you don't mind if I don't shake your hand.
A: Not at all, dear. I understand. [She stands and straightens her suit jacket] I believe I'll be on my way now, if you don't mind.
M: I...suppose I'll talk to you later, then.
[She then exits the coffee shop, and disappears before the crowd briefly before I manage to catch her climbing into a yellow Mazda Miata and driving off.]
Um...I...really don't know what to make of this one way or the other. On one hand, I wouldn't exactly call her a victim. Even if she claims she's not really in full control of her actions, there's something about her that just...puts me on edge. Every time she chuckles, every move she makes...it just makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable.
At the same time, she claims that she's remorseful and that she's not fully in control of her actions. And typing this up, I'm surprised at how much of an ass I was to her. Defense mechanism, I guess?
Whatever. I'm going to just leave this here and put her out of my mind until she decides to call.
-Don't Shoot The Messenger-