When I woke up this morning, I checked all the things I normally check online, including the blogs I follow.
This was waiting for me.
I went to check on Annabel and she was just sitting on her bed, completely unresponsive. She didn't respond to her name. I tried using Poe's name and she didn't respond to that either. So I called Zombie. I brought him in and had him look at her to try to fix whatever was wrong. And he took a few minutes and then looked at me. He looked defeated.
Z: I'm sorry, Messenger. She's gone.
M: What do you mean, "she's gone?" She's fine. She's going to recover. She recovered before, when Screwtape sent us Donovan's head. This isn't anywhere near as bad as that.
Z: It's not the same thing. It was a completely different reaction that time. She showed a lot of signs of an acute stress reaction. Shock. This is something different. I'm not sure what's going on exactly, but I don't think she's coming back from this one.
M: You're a doctor! You're supposed to know what's happening!
Z: I was studying to be a doctor, yes. But not a psychiatrist. I know how to mend bodies, not minds.
M: So you're just going to give up? Help her! Help her, dammit!
M: Do something! Fucking help her!
[I kind of lost my head for a moment. I grabbed his shirt and jerked him around before he broke free of my grip.]
Z: Messenger! Listen to me! I can't do anything! I've seen what they're like when they're like this. It's too late for her. I'm really sorry. Believe me, I am. But you're just going to have to accept that she's gone. [He sighed and shook his head, and in that moment I noticed just how hard this was hitting him as well.] I'm calling Eddie. I'm sorry, Messenger. There's nothing we can do now.
[He gave Eddie a call then. Sat at the table afterwards, eyes closed, not doing anything. Thinking, probably. I sat with Annabel and held her. She didn't even seem to notice I was there. She was shaking slightly. Skin was a little clammy. All I could think of was how I couldn't lose her. I still don't think I'll lose her, but I have enough clarity now to admit that I might be in denial. Anyway, after a while, Eddie showed up. Zombie let him in and showed him to her room.]
E: I'll take it from here, Messenger. Go.
M: Eddie...look, I'm sorry....
E: I said go! This is in my hands now, and I want you out of here.
M: Let me help somehow!
E: You want to help? Then leave! This happened because you tried helping! I told you there would be consequences, Messenger. And now we're all feeling them. And Poe? She's feeling them the hardest.
E: She's not Annabel anymore! She's not even Poe anymore! Don't you get it, Messenger? You tampered in places you shouldn't have, and now, the closest thing she'll have to an identity is a designation number.
M: I'll...I'll come by to visit her. Every day. Anything to help.
E: No, Messenger, you won't, because you're not welcome anymore.
And he took her. He took Annabel. He took Poe.
And now I'm never allowed to see her again.
-Don't Shoot The Messenger-