So, I finally told Ava about my memory...well, read it for yourself;
Me: -I enter the bedroom and sit down on Ava's bed- Ava?
Ava: -she looks up from the laptop she procured from Thage- Yes?
Me: You know the way I told you not to read my blog and a few others, because I wanted to personally update you?
Ava: -she looks dryly at me over the laptop screen- You mean the way I'm only getting half the picture as to what the sweet, merciful fuckery happened while I wasn't conscious? Yes. Yes I do.
Me: I'm sorry, but it's important that I tell you and not the blogs and I am honestly kinda scared about how you'll react, though I'm not sure yet whether the fear is irrational or not.
Ava: -she purses her lips and raises an eyebrow- Mmm.
Me: While you were unconscious, Jean posted an extract of an old psychology book on her blog, that explained a phenomenon known as the Masquerade Effect. You can read about it yourself for the particulars but the basic sum-up is that...there's no such thing as Revenants and I never was one. I'm not fifty-seven, I'm seventeen. And what I thought was my life story isn't.
Ava: ...that's terribly sudden isn't it? Are you sure?
Me: I called my sister and she seemed to corroborate what happened. Of course, that could have just been someone on the Slender Side trying to fuck with my head but the version of reality that matches up with these memories makes more sense than the version of reality from my fake memories, so I'm supporting the sense-making ones.
Me: And what?
Ava: And what was the insecurity thing?
Ava: You were scared of something? How I'd react to something? Has someone threatened us about it?
Me: Well, I was somewhat worried about how you'd react to finding out that next-to-nothing that you knew about me save my appearance and personality were accurate.
Ava: But your personality and appearance are all that matter.
Me: I suppose. It seems I can safely categorise that fear as being "irrational" then. I love you.
Ava: I love you too. -she frowns- Even if you are an idiot. So... -she closes the laptop-...miss me?
Me: You know I did. I spent most of the two weeks up here, watching over you, hoping you'd wake up. Lo and behold, you woke up while I was on break.
Ava: Mmmm. My psyche's just got amazing timing.
Me: Apparently, yeah. Is it safe to assume you're only going to take the minimum two weeks' recovery that Thage prescribed instead of the recommended month and a half?
Ava: Well....I may...cut it down a tad. -looks around sheepishly-
Me: I'll take that as a yes then. Where do you want to go first? England, Egypt or Ireland?
Ava: I don't...Ray. I have to tell you something.
Ava: It's...look. When I thought you'd... -she looks around nervously- ...died last time, I went to Egypt and...Aaron...I can't. He made me swear not to uncover what he did, or what his Father did or what HIS father did. But...I have to tell you. And you have to keep it a secret until..until whatever I hope doesn't happen, happens.
Me: Well, I was sort of intending on posting this on my blog, but sure, I can redact the information.
Ava: -she shoves me in the arm playfully- Well duh, derpbrain. But...seriously, I...I think Zeke's in trouble with this. Where he's going...what he's doing. I'd been scouring over Dr McKenna's notes when you weren't...there and [REDACTED] is terribly relevant.
Me: There's a connection between [REDACTED]...and Egypt. I'm pretty sure that Egyptian architecture was all about the extremely bright white. Are you sure?
Ava: -she turns around the laptop to show me what she's been working on- Oh hell yes. I don't...think Damien was a fake...at least....about a few things.
Me: I always had my suspicions about "Rick", personally. -I read through a page- This research is...pretty extensive.
Ava: Well -she coughs and looks away from me- I didn't exactly have any other purpose...
Me: Well, you do now. Staying alive. Because if you die before I get to marry you, then I'm going to fucking kill you.
Ava: -she chokes on thin air-
Me: Don't worry, I'm not proposing. I'm just stating my intent. -I clap her on the back-
Ava: THAT... -she coughs- ...that's quite the intent. And...rather sounds like a proposal.
Me: Ava, we could be dead in a month's time, there's no point beating around the bush. And hey, if you want me to propose, I can do that.
Ava: Uhm. Uhh. Uhm. -she coughs and waves me away a little- I--I really think you need to..uhm, go talk to Thage? I think I hear her calling you.
Me: Actually, I haven't really been talking to Thage since our argument but I know how to take a hint. I'll leave you to your own devices, for now. -I get up to leave-
Ava: I--I love you. But..I'm eighteen. And..regardless of your....mindscrew whatever...I think that's a little...uhm uh..hasty?
Me: I understand. I didn't mean to upset or put pressure on you. I'm perfectly happy with how things are now, well, how things are with us. I'm just letting you know that in an ideal world, I'd like to marry you one day.
Ava: Uhh... -she massages her temples- ...here, uhm, I need you too look over these. If...if you don't mind. See if you recognise anything. You were around when Dreams In Darkness was, right? And...I can..I can't deal with anything longer term that...a week from now...Ray, I just, I love you but.. -she gestures to the window-
Me: I understand. And no, actually, Dreams in Darkness ended about two months before I got involved in the game. I'm sorry if I upset you. -I look out the window- Is he there?
Ava: You didn't you just...shocked me. -she turns her head slightly but doesn't look out the window- I..I don't know. I haven't looked out of the window since I woke up. I think he's there sometimes...why aren't you talking to Thage?
Me: We got into an ethical argument after she lobotomised a "Revenant" and expressed an interest in doing the same to you if your condition didn't improve. -peers outside the window- I don't see him at the moment. No sign of Eulogy or Redlight either. Which is either very good or the most awful thing possible.
Ava: ...she what? But--but she was just up here! She offered me spaghetti for Christ's sake!
Me: Good thing your condition improved then. She got back into the game and she's not particularly interested in observing or even learning the rules. I fear I have aided the rebirth of a wonderful and terrible monster.
Ava: Wait. Wait, she's.. -she presses the heels of her hands to her eyes and shakes her head- Everything that could possibly go wrong is going wong. Ray, I love you, but I think you need to take these notes and leave me alone for the night. Try to talk to Thage. She could know what these stupid marks on Dr McKenna's bone mean. -sighs at the drawing before handing it to you- God knows they aren't hieroglyphs.
Me: Fair enough. I'll do my best. Why don't you go back to sleep for a while, you look tired.
Ava: ...I can't yet. I'm too worried.
Me: About not waking up? I can watch you if you want, if that'd help.
Ava: About everyone. About me thinking about everyone. Ray-- I don't...I don't CARE anymore. I see people and I don't care. They can all die. Just not you, not Tony, not Thage, not Mum, not Celie and not Zeke. And since Mum and Delta have dropped off the fucking earth...
Me: How long have you felt like this? Is it just since you've woken or before that?
Ava: Before, but after waking up and SEEING these people's posts on my blog and yours and Tonys etc...
Me: Which people? What posts?
Ava: All of them
Me: What about the posts bothered you?
Ava: Everyone. Their existence. The new people, the old people. It's always the same. There's no moving forward.
Me: I know it seems like that now, but something will happen. It's a long road that has no turning.
Ava: No, Ray. It's a long road with sheer idiots getting mowed down every damn day because they don't look both ways before crossing.
Me: "It's a long road that has no turning." is a proverb, not a description of the situation.
Ava: I don't care anymore.
Me: You care about some of us.
Ava: Some. Oh god, some. So few of us in fraction terms. I cared about every single one of them who read my blog, once. You can see in earlier posts how I tried to help simply everyone. Now I don’t care. -she waves her hands about her- Maybe it marks me as one of the grizzled Slenderman Survivors, or maybe it just makes me a bitch. Either way, I’ve stopped caring.
Me: It's neither of those things. You stretched yourself too thin, dear. You broke yourself trying to help everyone's problems. You just need time to put yourself back together and learn to prioritise. I keep an eye on a few people and, to my own discredit, ignore the rest. It may sound harsh, but there's only so much caring any one person can do. You went over capacity, now you're reverting to factory settings. But you'll start to care more again, over time.
Ava: But I don't just, "not care." Ray, I resent these people. For bothering me.
Me: I get that, Ava, but I know you and it's not permanent. You stretched yourself so much going to such great lengths to care about the people that it was inevitable for you to eventually snap back the other way.
Ava: -she makes a noncommital noise- Whatever you say, hun. Just, take the papers, talk to Thage, go see if there's anything correlating in Damien's blog that I've missed. Please. I think this is very important.
Me: Yes, dear. Is there anything else I can do for you?
Ava: -she kisses me quickly- Don't be too angry at Thage. I think she works on a different morality level as us sometimes.
Me: So do all people who commit evil acts, but I still get angry at them. -I sigh- I suppose I'll try to co-operate with her, for your sake.
Ava: Evil? I think she's more....Blue and Orange...
Me: I didn't say she was evil. Thage is undoubtedly a good person. That doesn't make taking shortcuts through people's lives a good act.
Ava: Hnrgh. -she shrugs- Anyway, papers, info GET. -she shoos me with her hands-
Me: I love you.
Ava: I love you too, now, get out. -she kisses me and shoves me off the bed-
Me: Yes, dear. -I walk down the stairs and find Thage in the sitting room-
Thage: -she looks up from a book- Evening. What would you and Ava like for dinner?
Me: I'm Irish, so I'll just take whatever you put on the table, really, and I think Ava is too focused on whatever it is she's focused on to care.
Thage: Alright, I'll probably throw some grilled cheese sandwiches together, warm up some tomato soup, and call it a meal.
Me: I lived off sandwhiches and soup for the last months of Ariana's illness, so that's gourmet for me.
Thage: How is Ava? Any improvement?
Me: She's back to full cognition and coherence but she's become somewhat selective in her empathy towards other bloggers.
Thage: I've noticed. -she sips a can of 7UP- And yourself? How are you holding up?
Me: As well as can be expected, I guess. At least she doesn't want to gut me with a mirror shard anymore. She didn't seem terribly bothered by my memories being fake.
Thage: It puts you two closer together, age-wise, so that might be a relief to her.
Me: True, true. She gave me something for you to look at.
Thage: -she looks up- Hm?
Me: They're symbols taken from an Egpytian artifact, similar to hieroglyphics but not. There seems to be some correlation between the artifact in question and both the Heel and the Bone from Dreams In Darkness. She asked me to ask you if you'd come across the symbols before. -I hand her the sheets-
Thage: -she reads them over with a stern gaze- I'm not at all familiar with these, unfortunately.
Me: No, not unfortunately. This is brilliant.
Me: If you're not familiar with them, then that means we have a new lead. If it's not something any of us have come across before, then it's a discovery and discoveries must necessarily lead to progress of some kind.
Thage: This is true. Even a dead end often has an arrow pointing you true.
Me: Right, well, that's good. I was hoping this would take longer though. Ava wanted to be left alone for a while, so now I've nothing to do for the night.
Thage: I just bought a Go board, if you're up for a few rounds.
Me: Eh, I'm not much of a board game person, bar chess, of course, but chess isn't so much a board game as a grand merging of sport, art and science.
Thage: Pity. You can learn a lot about someone by the way they play games of strategy.
Me: What does it say about me that I usually have my queen deployed within the first three moves?
Thage: You're ambitious, a risk-taker, but you rely too heavily on a powerful piece too soon in the game.
Me: And what about the fact that I deploy my queen as a ruse while I move my pawns into a defensive wall?
Thage: You offer a sacrifice with one hand, only to cover it with the shield you hold in the other.
Me: And what about the fact that I establish a defensive wall of pawns so that my opponent will dash his own pieces against the rocks of my castle, thus giving myself greater mobility on the board in order to flank him?
Thage: Depends on the size of the board. If it's a regulation board, you'd place your queen at the knights' and rooks' mercy.
Me: And what if I told you that I won ninety percent of the games I played in school competitions with my queen and both rooks?
Thage: -she shrugs- I'd challenge you to a game of Go to see how you can adapt that strategy to a game of taking territory rather than defeating pieces.
Me: I imagine I would lose rather harshly since I have no idea what "Go" is.
Thage: -she hands me a book of Go rules-
Me: -I try to read it but can't focus- Sorry, it's just not getting through today.
Thage: Fair enough.
Me: I'm having trouble concentrating lately. Whenever I try to absorb new information, my brain starts arguing over whether to view it as Reach or me.
Thage: Why not consolidate both views into one? Look at it as an old soldier, then look at it as a young man.
Me: That's a shaky route that I don't want to go down. It's safer just to stick to one reality.
Thage: -she looks up from the book again- Fair enough.
Me: I have absolutely no idea what to do for the evening.
Thage: We could talk about the goings-on in the blogs.
Me: Sure, update me. I've been catching up on lost sleep and haven't read much.
Thage: Well, Fizzbomb is back, and she seems rather unimpressed with the people who seem to think that this is some action movie.
Me: I will not comment on the irony of that position. Do go on.
Thage: As you might've gathered, Zero's back.
Me: Yeah, I noticed that. Poor bugger.
Thage: You might want to sympathize when he's not declaring war on people who've been tainted by the Black King.
Me: It's in my nature to pity a tragic monster. At any rate, what else is happening?
Thage: Nothing of note, sadly.
Me: I guess no news is good news.
Thage: Or the calm before another storm, perish the thought.
Me: True, I guess. -I sigh- I'm gonna go try and write a poem or something. I'll be in the spare study if you need me.
Thage: Alright. If you need anything, I'll be learning this new game.
Me: Talk to you later.
Now I have to figure out what I want to do for the next few hours. I'm not particularly inspired toward verse at the moment. Hmmm, I spy with my little eye, something with a name that comes from the Irish phrase "water of life". I probably shouldn't...fuck it, I've nothing better to do.