pretend this is a diary entry, okay

I got my bus information for school today. I don’t know how the mail system would have gotten it to me a million miles away from this school, but I’m not really sure of anything anymore… well, except for the fact that school starts a week from tomorrow and, without Emma to operate one of the delusion generators on the broken space pod thingy that’s still in the shops, I’m stuck here, and that can’t possibly be good for my already-flailing GPA.
Maxine’s continued with her remarks about how apparently Constance has a crush on me, although I think he would have said something if he actually did. I mean, yes, things almost got serious on Thursday on Girl Scout Camp, but that was a product of high hormones and… yep, just high hormones. Nothing else to blame here.
We got an email yesterday from that snitch that was placed in Allaketo’s castle, and attached to it was a dark, grainy, low-resolution picture of what looked like to be a heavily-damaged and barely clothed body, bright scars and bruises everywhere and blindfolded to hide what looked like massive scarring around the eye area. Maxine, of course, ran out of the room, and we were all confused until we realized that it was Emma… Emma was being tortured by Allaketo, and we currently had no way of stopping it.

she slips into the stars

image

she slips into the stars
not wanting to come back down and feel more pain
but not wanting to die either
for she is blind and almost deaf
and she does not want to suffer anymore
at the hands of Allaketo

she wonders
what has become of Maxine and May and the rest
and whether they are coming to get her anytime soon
hopefully very very soon
for she is on the brink of dying

and lying on the cold slab
forced to listen to Allaketo brag about his “victory”
and complain about she is unable of harboring more damage
she wishes she could pray for sweet release
but there is nobody who could answer her plea

“hey, by the way…”

“So you’re saying that Yasmin… talked to you last night while we were sleeping?”
“Yeah, pretty much.” We were at a different hotel now, switching every few days in a pithy attempt to throw off any snitches that might be working for Allaketo. Maxine sat at the desk, typing something up furiously while attempting to have a crappy conversation with me.
“What’d she say?” Her eyes never left the computer screen, scanning over rapidly scrolling pages of whatever document she’s left open.
BodyNegotiations.pdf. Hmmm. “You know, the same stuff you’d been telling me about. Same crap about being married and missing me.”
“Ah.” She backed out of her chair and crouched in front of the tiny refrigerator, grabbing some drink that Abbey had left before going to the adult lounge downstairs, leaving us alone with a May who was sufficiently wrapped up in her music to not pay any attention to us. “We’re trying to get Yasmin a body back, by the way. Homegrown, almost like the original, although it probably won’t matter that much to you anyway because you don’t remember how she looks like.”
“We being?”
“People from back home.” She crossed the room and plopped back on her chair, her steady gaze returning to the computer. “My brother Evan was transgender, actually…” She twisted the cap off the bottle, sniffing the contents and grimacing before taking a sip. “He silently suffered from dysphoria for a few years until we got kidnapped to this one research facility that we kept being taken to for no good reason and they let him transition. It took a week, I think. I was more worried about him surviving the procedure than how long it took to completely break down his body and rebuild it.”

careless indecision

image

he is tormented inside his own head
tossing and turning in the sheets
everybody taking a break from the internet
and there is nothing to distract him from what is real
May asks him if he is okay
and he says no, his heart is heavy and he needs to fix it alone
but she stays, cuddling up close to him
and now he is wedged in between
the girl he is almost sure he has recklessly fallen for
and the girl who claims to have been there for him through thick and thin

awakening, for realsies this time

Everybody was asleep in the hotel room we’d checked into for the night, May and Maxine forgetting to hit any publish buttons on the crappy drafts that they made after enjoying the feeling of being in a place that wasn’t open to just anybody walking in. They’d swam for quite a few hours, finally returning with tangled hair and the first genuine smiles I’d seen on their faces since they’d come to Zorphia. But now they were sprawled out on the beds; Abbey and the man who’s driven us to the server library sharing one and May on the other, Maxine getting a cot that was of better quality than the standard hotel cots on Earth. May’d agreed to share one with me, on the condition that I, accidentally or otherwise, didn’t smother her in the off chance that I found myself cuddling up to her in the middle of night.
“Alright, mysterious former girlfriend, what do you have to show me?” I inched the chair closer to the desk where the laptop was perched, waiting for me to plug in the little flash drive that Maxine had brought with us. Digging around in her bag as quietly as I could, not wanting her to wake up and pound me for violating boundaries that had never been set up in the first place, I pulled out the flash drive and slowly plugged it in, watching the light blink for a few moments while the computer tried to figure out what it was supposed to do with a piece of electronics that held what pretty much amounted to a human soul.
Rishen, is that you?
I almost fell out of my chair in shock, hoping that in the dark I hadn’t nudged anybody closer to waking up and seeing what was done. “Did… did you just talk to me?”
Yes, but you’re the only one who can hear me since you’re touching the computer.
I readjusted myself, trying to sit normally in the off chance she could see me. “Who… who exactly are you?”
Yasmin Tomariko, age fifteen, legally married in the country of Zorphia to one Rishen Tomariko. Aka you.
“I… I’m Constance. I don’t know who this Rishen person is…”
You. Your birth name. I see you’re going by middle names now… that reminds me of Algeria back in 2013, you know? How she wanted to be called Mriri because she didn’t like being named after an African coun-
“Stop.” I took my hand off the computer, silencing the voice for a moment before I reestablished contact. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Oh… I knew you had some form of induced memory loss, but I didn’t know it was this intensive.
“Yeah, well… it’s not like I asked for it.”
Actually, according to the records I accessed earlier today in this computer- which seems to belong to my mother, Abbey- you did indeed ask for it. Begged for it, thinking it would bring you the same escape as death without actually dying.
I was silent for a while, not sure what to say to this girl from what seemed like another life. Hey, it was another life- the one I didn’t know anything about! Dang it.
Rishen?
“My name’s Constance,” I choked out, trying and failing to sound forceful.
Fine. Constance?
“Yes?”
Do you still feel anything for me?
“How am I supposed to answer that? ‘Yes, I can barely remember you, and I’m not sure that those memories are even genuine, but I still love you?’ How am I supposed to have any kind of attachment to someone I barely remember?” I could feel my voice rising, and I struggled to remain in control of my voice as courtesy to those who were sleeping. “If I told you I had something that could be classified as a crush on somebody else, would you kill me?”

stop breaking the fourth wall, Maxine, we don’t have insurance for that

The walls are made out of a beige stone, unappealing and revealing nothing about the precious payload inside…
“Alright, May, enough staring at the outside of the building,” Maxine whispered to me, taking my hand and practically dragging me through the doors of this new library that we’d tracked the server down- who knew that there were so many libraries on this gol-durned planet? “Let’s hope that Constance’ll make himself useful this time.”
“Isn’t he always useful?”
“Nah. He just stands around a lot.” I looked over my shoulder to make sure that the lady- Abbey, I assumed, seeing as she was the lady that wrote the email- was following us inside. “Speaking of standing a lot, we don’t really have a good plan other than standing around in the fiction section for a while until Abbey gives you a call on that crappy flip phone of yours and we go barging into the employees only hallway, find the server, and copy down whatever files Constance’s girlfriend consists of?”
I dug my feet into the floor, making Maxine stop in confusion in what we realized was the romance aisle, book covers portraying heterocentric couples in slightly suggestive poses. Looking around, she murmured to herself, “man, this library sure has some crappy taste.”
“Maybe you should get a job as a librarian and fix that.”
“Nah, they don’t pay enough for me to live here, and I have a life back in Earth.”
“Funny you say that, because I do too, and it’s been interrupted by you dragging me along to fight in a war that has no impact on me.” I was almost as tall as Maxine when I stood up straight, I realized.
“It will, I promise…” She pulled a blue book from the shelves, flipping through its pages before reshelving it. “May Day, do you ever feel like we’re in a crappy web story written by an immature high schooler that spends too much time on the internet?”
“What- no-” and then I shut up, seeing Abbey open the doors to the employee only hallway and scan the library for us with her eyes in panic. “Maxine, we have to go now.”

“So what was her name?” I was staring up at the server racks, packed up from floor to ceiling and taking up the majority of the room with just enough room to walk around single-file.
“Her name was Yasmin Tomariko.” Maxine was circling around, looking for a USB port since she hadn’t had anything fancier or had any adapters for the alien ports that the servers had. “You know, nobody’s been stuck in a computer long-term, so I’m really interested on what impact this will have on her mental health.”
“Long-term?! What, is it normal in this place to be sticking people’s minds in wires?”
“Only when the person has sufficient funds and it is in the public interest to save that person from a natural death.” She paused, acting as if what she had said wasn’t at all messed up. Here we are on Earth, struggling to even lengthen lives with the one body and lifetime that each person is, and here we have people who nonchalantly stuff the whole of a person into a collection of files that could probably be fit on a portable hard drive. You know, the ones that could be bought with $100. “You find one yet, Maxine?”
“This one right here fits, but since there’s no screen or anything, I can’t tell if it’s making a connection.” She paused; we couldn’t see what she was doing since she was on the other side of the server wall, Abbey watching out for anybody who could possibly be wary of anybody being in the server room and I staying next to her for no good reason. “Oh, wait, the write indicator is flashing, so something must have worked… I wonder why it’s flashing so much, though… Oh, god…
“Maxine, are you okay?” Slightly panicky, I hurried over to her, finding her kneeling on the ground, her face in her hands, her hair draped everywhere over her. “What’s goi-”
I can feel her,” Maxine whispered, looking up at me through her hair. “It’s been so long…” And she stood up unsteadily, shaking from whatever ‘presence’ she had been feeling. “Let’s get out of here. The transfer’s done.”