<< THE TRUTH REVEALED AT LAST >>
My name is Raymond Shaughnessy. I was born on the 20th January 1994 in St. Joseph's Hospital in Clonmel, Ireland. I grew up in a town about the same distance from Clonmel as Kilsheelan, but in the other direction. It's called Cahir. And I can say it all I like because there's no curse on the name.
(By the way, my tagline was the hint I left as to the location of the quarry, it's an anagram of "The quarry lies in Cahir, Ireland.")
I lived the first year of my life with my parents, John and Catherine Shaughnessy, in an apartment over the shop of an undertaker, a family friend called Wally Costigan.
When my sister, Emma, was born, we moved to a nearby housing estate called Sommerville. In Sommerville, I made some friends, but I also made some enemies. From as young as two, I was bullied on a daily basis by another kid who lived there called Tony Allen. I was bullied a lot in school too, mainly because I was one of the few kids in the school who gave more of a shit about actually learning things than kicking a ball in between two school jumpers. Luckily, Tony moved away when I was about ten, and, even more luckily, I moved away from Sommerville when I was eleven, to a nice terraced house just down the road from my school. Speaking of which, the bullying situation came to an abrupt end about half-way through 6th Class, when I flipped out and knocked out one of the bullies, a kid called Eoin Murphy.
I went on from my bully-ridden primary education to a much nicer secondary education in the local secondary school, Coláiste Dún Iascaigh. It was in CDI that I first started considering writing as a serious profession and first started learning Spanish (my grammar is excellent, my vocabulary is awful). Between the ages of 14 and 16, I made a lot of friends and lost a lot too. In the end, I ended up with four true friends;
Orla McCarthy, my classmate and emotional sister.
Matthew Hewitt, her cousin and my emotional brother.
Damien Keating, my verbal sparring partner.
Ariana Fenty, my girlfriend.
I met Ariana on March 13th, 2009 at a disco in the little village of Monroe. At the time I was with my then-girlfriend Saoirse O'Dwyer, but she was good friends with Ariana and we'd only been going out a week or so, so she dumped me so Ariana could have me. Well, unfortunately for Ariana, I'm a socially awkward dork, so it took my until September 27th of that year to get up the courage to ask her out (I was in the dark about Saoirse's reasons for dumping me and didn't realise I actually had a chance with her).
Ariana and I fell in love fast and hard, even with the cost of public transport meaning that we only got to see each other, at most, two days a week (she lived in Kilsheelan, though she was originally from Waterford). I really did love her, even though there are the cynics who say teenage love is an illusion. Our relationship was, well, idyllic, really. One of the nicest of the memories I've reclaimed is a memory of us at a 30 Seconds to Mars concert in Dublin on the 26th of February. We were standing, even though we were in the seated area of the O2, and I had my armies around her and she was holding my forearms and she was wearing this corset-esque vest top that I really liked and we were singing along to This Is War and it was just a nice moment. Unfortunately, it didn't last.
On May 17th, 2010, Ariana had the first of her nightmares.
I'm not going to go into detail on what happened in Ariana's nightmares, but, suffice to say, she relived her worst memories and was taunted by her regrets. The nightmares got progressively worse as the months passed, Ariana got very sick due to exhaustion, she became paranoid and depressed and suicidal. I cared for her as best I could while only seeing her one or two days a week but I always felt like she was holding something back. I eventually got her to tell me what it was, in late August.
The Slender Man. Or "The Suit", as she called him. She said that he had appeared first in her nightmares but then she began seeing him in real life. I wanted to have her committed but she had a phobia of hospitals and she especially feared mental health clinics, as a result of spending some time in one and being forced to undergo electroconvulsive therapy (which is legally just dandy, thanks to Section 59b of the Mental Health Act). I decided to wait and see if I could help her alone. I couldn't.
On October 29th, Ariana hung herself.
I collapsed into a spiral of depression and self-loathing. I blamed myself for not getting her the help she needed. Looking back now, I wonder if there was ever any help for her, considering that her nightmares were caused by Slender Man.
Slender Man. He was on the sidelines, waiting for me. Lurking on the fringes of the spiral of hatred to which I'd consigned myself. I was one of a number that he took to the quarry, some of whom became "Revenants" and some of whom became "Conduits" (who were promptly killed). Slate, Eulogy, Aria, Gethsemane? Try Robert Ward, Father Matthew Knight, Jennifer Collins and Even Deveraux. He got into our heads, the way he gets into everyone's heads; one way or another. He didn't come up with new lives for us, he just remade our old ones. Take me, for example. He took all the self-loathing and self-blaming and he took the love and the memories, everything that was already there, even the names, and remade them. He wove together a new life; the life of Reach.
My true purpose in the blogosphere was simple. Introduce a new variable. The most contagious entity in existence is an idea and I was Patient Zero. The idea? Revenants and Conduits. Superpowers. Haven't you guys ever noticed that they only started appearing after I showed up? I introduced this foreign idea to the blogosphere and it spread like a virus. Some managed to resist the infection. But it managed to take hold nonetheless.
How many of us got distracted fighting Revenants, combating this "new threat" (this new threat that had somehow been around for over 40 years without anyone noticing)? Too many, that's how many.
Oh, but it doesn't end there. I thought all that time I was "on the run", that I was resisting his attempts to compel me to serve him. How wrong I was. That's simply what he compelled me to think, while all the while I was following his orders and then being told to forget them (unfortunately, Slender Man's grasp of human psychology clearly doesn't cover the theory that information is never forgotten, simply stored in difficult-to-access parts of the brain).
When Thage re-entered the game, he gave me the memories necessary to pose as the one who made her deal and ingratiate myself with her. He used me to lure Ava to Ireland, then to the dark place and the quarry. The only reason that his attempts to kill her failed is because it was at that point that I actually started resisting his compulsions.
Because I was falling in love with Ava and that love was healing the hurt that gave him his power over me. So, the "Revenant on the run" persona he had constructed as a cover for my use as a tool of his will became my actual persona, because he had been making me forget about serving him. His own plan turned against him.
He took me back again at the quarry and tried to recondition me but failed. So, instead, he used my delusion against me by making me think I was suddenly human again and then handed me off to Redlight, who put me in his little game with my mother, the unsuccessful writer. Redlight knew. Just look at what he said in "Rules, Robert". He didn't say "father and daughter". He said "parent and child". You all assumed because of the false life I'd told you about that I was the parent and
Unfortunately for Redlight, Robert used the Path of Black Leaves to grab me. "How could Robert use the Path of Black Leaves if there's no such thing as Revenants?", you may ask. Well, in fairness, before I came along, Revenants were never necessary for freaky teleportation to happen. My guess is that Robert used the same way of getting around that Slender Man himself does because he thought he could because he thought he had a Revenant. Again, Slender Man's delusion turning against him when one of his greatest enemies believes in the delusion enough to exploit reality (I think this is also how the "Conduit" Tom gets around; this is an avenue of research that needs to be followed).
And, well, everything that happened after that needs no explaining because nothing after that requires the existence of the Revenants. The only point in the story after my return from Redlight's trap that involves Revenants is when we rescued Robert from Fairfax and it's not like they even displayed their "superpowers"; we just gunned them down.
That's my story. That's the truth. I'm sorry if it disappoints you. I know that, compared to the Reach that you knew, my battles don't seem nearly as mighty and inspiring, but which is better, an inspiring lie or an uninspiring truth? To be honest, I don't know which is better, but I do know that all that I have told you (except for the bits where I theorise, obviously) is the truth. I also know that some of you aren't going to accept this, that you're going to say that what I told you before is the truth and what I'm telling you now is the delusion and you are perfectly entitled to believe that but if you believe that, you are believing a lie. I know the truth now, I know who I am. I have told you the truth, I have told you who I am. If you don't believe me, I'm not going to try and justify myself to you, because you're probably not gonna change your mind anyway.
Some of you, I know, are wondering whether the man you've gotten to know over the past few months was really me. The answer is, well, sort of, yes. Reach and I have the same personality, regretful, self-blaming, angry. We just have different regrets and blame ourselves and get angry for different things. I dunno whether or not that's good enough for you and perhaps some of the friends I've made won't be able to think of me as a friend anymore. Maybe when Ava wakes up, she'll be in love with Reach but not me. I don't know. I can't see the future. But I still care about you all and I still love Ava, so I'm hoping that our relationships don't change.
Also, the question of my name still stands. Well, honestly, I like Ray, but I'm not gonna make you all stop calling me Reach if you want to. Hell, plenty of people on blogosphere don't post using their actual names even if their names are known. Reach isn't my name but that doesn't mean it can't be my handle. And, if nothing else, it gives me a really great sign-off.