The Brokenverse, Part V: Cuimhne (6)
(Warning for moderate violence, talk of violence, talk of hate crimes, mentions of death, discussion of suicide/suicidal ideation. All fandom references belong to their respective owners. NOTE: V will be in more than two halves, due to SL post length restrictions.)
"Sounds like you've had quite a rough week, Muirgen," Nihil told her.
"Yeah," Ginger muttered, voice as dull as worn down nails, "Something like that."
Nihil was Ginger's 'misanthrope mate'-a fellow cynic who would rather be shot into space by a cannon rather than interact with about ninety-nine percent of the rest of sparkmanity. He was one of Ginger's oldest friends, an heir of rich parents. When she had first met him, as a small child, he had still lived in one of the high-flutent gated communities near the beach. Now, however, he had managed to live by himself on his own private submarine, having forsaken both the merpeople and human societies of them. By some strange luck, he had found himself in the area lately, and Ginger had managed to send him a message requesting a meetup.
"My condolences," Nihil replied, somber. "I know how much Erin Flynn meant to you."
Ginger nodded. She didn't know what else to say. She was just so tired of it all. Tired of the pain, of the suffering, of the scattered memories that stuck in her hands like shards. The soul-sucking pain of despair sat familiar in her abdomen, gnawing up on all her strength. Sometimes, for a few moments, when she had just woken or gone to sleep, she could feel it dissipate into a haunting smokey grey that made everything feel like nothing; and then she would remember that the world was ending, and the life of her boyfriend, one of her best friends, had already ended.
"You haven't touched your tea," Nihil spoke, causing her to flinch.
"Your tea," he gestured as he spoke. "You haven't taken even a sip. It'll get cold."
She trailed a finger down the cup. The warmth of it was uncomfortable, but she was past caring about that sort of thing by now. She let out something that was meant to be a bitter laugh, but came out more like a sigh. "The world is ending...and ya worried about me drinking your tea?"
Nihil gave her what most people would assume was a grimace, but she knew to be his smile. "I have my priorities in order, Muirgen."
This time her laugh sounded more like a laugh. "Of course ya do." She sniffed. "Of course ya do..." She took a small sip of tea. "Who cares if the world is ending, right? You an' Ah, we were never the optimistic type...Ah guess in a way, we always expected it to end like this."
Nihil stared at her for a few moments before looking away and saying, "Attachment is torture."
"Yeah," Ginger whispered. "Ah know. It's why Ah'm a Gary spam mess."
"Then I suppose you would consider it lucky we are the type to rarely become attached."
"Ah...yeah." She stared into the black liquid of her cup. "Yeah, Ah..."
Ah don't want to watch anyone else Ah love die, or Ah really think it'll kill me.
"Muirgen..." Nihil picked at his cuticles. "Though you and I are both dedicated to the art of cynism, I would like to think there has to be a way out of this apocolypse."
"Oh, really? Well, spam, ya might as well inform the world's scientists that ya've found a diddly darn solution. 'Local hermit finds cure! Entire planet salvaged! It's a bloody miracle!'"
"Drink your tea," Nihil said in response.
Ginger dragged her fingertip across the hot surface of the cup again. "Or what?"
"It'll get cold." Nihil looked back at her, his dark eyes intense. "That's what tends to happen, if you don't drink it in time."
Ginger broke away from his odd gaze, exhaling loudly. "Frankly, my dear...Ah don't give a spam."
"Yes, you do."
She narrowed her eyes. "Nihil, just cause ya saying it ain't making it true."
"Exactly." His gaze was upon her again. "That's exactly it."
Ginger squirmed in her seat. "...ya tryin' to run me through one of ya weird philosophy metaphor things or somethin'?"
"Perhaps." He walked over to her, picked up her tea cup, and promptly dumped its contents into the trash.
"Ah'm gonna take that as bein' a metaphor for takin' a dump."
"I'm dumping out your sorrows, Muirgen." Nihil placed the empty cup on the table. "I'm dumping out your sorrows."
Ginger put her head in her hands. "Nihil, Ah appreciate ya efforts, but Ah don't think that's how that works."
He shrugged. "Perhaps. Perhaps not."
"What?" He asked her.
"Ya can't..." Ginger struggled. "Ah know ya tryin' ta help me out 'n' all, but Ah don't think dumping ya rare and expensive tea in some kinda symbolism is gonna help very much."
"Because that's not how it works!" She would've banged on the table if she had the strength. But all her energy was busy being funneled into the torturous hurricane that resided in her stomach and was slowly turning her insides to complete shambles. "You can't just dump ya sorrows. Ya can't just get over it by throwin' ya spam feelings in the trash. Ya gotta go through the-the five stages of whatever."
"Is that so?"
"Nihil," she whispered in a low voice. "Ya know if Ah could've just had the option to dump out my feelings Ah would've done it a long time ago."
"I think quite to the contrary, actually."
She lowered her hands from her face and glared at him properly, not caring about the intensity of his gaze. "Oh, really? And how do you know? How do ya know Ah wouldn't take the coward's way out? The selfish route, to just give up feeling anything in the world so that Ah wouldn't give a spam if everyone Ah loved just..." She took a shaky breath. "Ya know me but ya don't, Nihil. Ah'm not one of 'em-what'd'ya call 'em? Inspirations or what have ya. Ah'm-Ah'm not a fighter."
"So why are you still here?" Nihil asked her. "Why do you still care?"
"Ya and Ah both know the answer to that."
"Your family." Nihil said. "And your other friends, though I think they're included in your idea of 'family.' How are they?"
"Dealin' with this, Ah suppose." A sudden burst of guilt hit her. And there's no way in Gary that Ah've done enough to help them, because Ah could barely get a message to you. "Ah don't rightly know. Ah've been failing them." She stared down at the table. "Like Ah always have when it came to these sorts of things..."
"Muirgen, you and I know that's not true. You've been toughing out the global disasters since the day the Plague came to our world."
"And ta what end?" She threw an arm outward into the air. "Ta what end, d'ya think? Ah toughed it out and then Ah went and....and got myself...." She trailed off, silently staring downwards. Something in her shook, a leaf on a branch on a barren tree in the wind.
"It's a bit late for you to suddenly become ashamed of your depression around me," he replied, and she snapped so fast she couldn't stop herself from giving him a bitter glare.
"I'm just saying," he added, causing her to blow a raspberry at him.
"Ya the one who thinks you can dump out my grief and depression into the trash with a tea cup," she replied. "And ya know Ah'm spam well mature."
He raised an eyebrow. "Murigen, you always know how to say the strangest of things with the straightest of faces..."
She snorted. If not for all the broken glass in her, making her feel so numb, she would've given him a smirk, maybe a smile. "Ah ain't even straight."
"My point exactly."
"Good." She stroked the side of her now empty cup, no longer feeling vibrant warmth coming from it. "Suppose there wasn't a proper bi pun, now, was there..."
"What are you going to do?"
"Look up more puns on ma phone and then cry. Wait, what'd'ya say?" She looked at him, confused.
Nihil nodded. "What are you going to do?"
She squinted at him. "'bout what?"
"You have camp coming up soon," he said.
She groaned. "Ugh. Don't even remind me."
"You'll be seperated from your friends and family."
"Ya always know how to make it even worse, dontcha?"
"Muirgen," he said, softly, knowingly, like there was more to his question than she was taking, so much more.
"What," she asked slowly, "are ya asking me...?"
Nihil paused. For a long while, he just stared into nothing, his hands in a steeple, pressed to his lips. Then he said, "You'll call someone if anything gets bad, right?"
"What do you mean by bad-oh." She said. "Are you..."
"....worried Ah'ma....kill myself or somethin'?"
"I don't know."
"Nihil," she said, and this time she was the one with the forceful gaze.
He shrugged, glancing away from her. "I don't know. Would you?"
She snorted. "Ya think Ah could pull off that kind of thing without guilt for what it would do to Grant, to-to all my friends? To my ma and pa?" She took a shuddered breath. The grieving faces of her loved ones was fresh in her mind and painful on her skin. She could hear the memory of Grant's screams, pierceing her like arrows. "It'd-it'd break them. God only knows why, but it'd..." She shook her head, shaking. "Ah couldn't...Ah couldn't...not to them...an' specially not now, oh God...."
"I thought you said you were more than willing to give up feeling the world."
She slammed her hand on the table, making it ache slightly. It was painless in comparison to the mental glass that had stuck itself deep inside of her.
"Ya spam bloody well know that's not what Ah bloody freaking in hell meant, Nihil."
"No, I don't."
She was glaring at him yet again, and he still looked at her with a passive, almost clueless expression.
"What in the garyspam blazes-" and then she stopped herself. "What the hell-" and stopped, again. "What in the f-"
"You said you'd make a choice to give up all feeling in the world." Nihil shrugged. "Death is way of doing that, isn't it?"
"Are ya..." she rubbed her forehead hard. "Are ya trying to talk me into suicide, or out of it?"
Nihil gave a slight frown. "I don't want you to kill yourself."
"Thank you for the clarification." She let out a frustrated sigh. "Ya know, sometimes...Ah wonder why Ah'm friends with ya?"
"You enjoy my personality."
Ginger put her head down on the table. "Yeah. That's it. Thanks for reminding me."
"I think you're very strong, Muirgen."
"For putting up with your questioning, maybe."
"You don't want to give up all feeling in the world."
"Ah don't want to give anyone more pain." She gritted her teeth. "Erin's bloody death cause of me. The frickin' storms are goin' round killing millions of people. The garyspam purists and RPSSers and the Anti-interspecies people and the anti-magics and the whole garyspam entoruage of evil is out there doin' hell's work. My parents and my friends, my family, has well enough to worry about that. Ah don't want them worried about me. Ah don't want them..." Her hands were shaking. She could see that, through what had suddenly become a blurry gaze. She couldn't see all the many glass shards sticking into her skin, unpleasant pieces of memories from Nihil and herself. She took a shaky breath and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. "Ah'm not doing that to them. And that's final. Ya got it?"
He paused, and the moment fell away in silence. Then he said, "Muirgen, I'm sorry."
"It's fine." She grinded her teeth. It's fine, it's fine, it's fine...
"Erin isn't dead because of you."
"And how d'ya know that?!" She asked, nearly shouted, shaking fists clenched in her lap, like she was ready to punch his lights out. "Ah'm the last one who saw him! Ah'm the one that let him go into the night, and-and..."
"You couldn't have possibly have known where he was going."
"No, but Ah could've..." She put her head back down on the table and silently screamed. The glass inside her chest ached with would've and could've and should've and-
"Nihil." She suddenly said, softly, quietly. A thought had creeped from somewhere in the dark corners of her mind, making her instantly cold.
"What is it?"
There was a long paused before she finally answered. "They wanted to kill people like us."
He frowned. "What do you mean by 'they'...?"
"Them. The RPSSers. That night. And all other nights, but that night..." She clenched the edge of her chair, as if that would ward off all the knives slowly sinking in and out of her body. "Nihil...the RPSS...they had rounded up a great deal of powered people, and were just gonna force them to go out on tiny little boats and just..."
She stared at the floor. "When Erin looked out at all those people...oh, Lord, that's why he couldn't wait. That's why he couldn't wait. Stupid, stupid, stupid!" She hit herself on the forehead with her palm, the sensation not nearly enough to compensate for the frenzy of emotion and memory tearing her on the inside, all for this stupidly simple epiphany.
"Muirgen, what is it?"
She looked over at him and saw how tense his body was. She had been slowly taxing at his patience with all her emotional outlashing, drawing his memories out, cutting herself on them, and then halfway shoving them back in just so they didn't cause overload. Even Nihil, with his extraordinary calm, couldn't tolerate her constant outburts. She swallowed a lump in her throat. "Ah'm sorry."
"Erin..." She took a deep breath. "Erin looked out at all those people and he didn't just see...He saw people like me. People who could've been me. Cause...cause it could've been...me out there..."
"He saw people, Muirgen. He did what he did because he is not a violent powerist who believes in scare rhetoric." There was an edge to Nihil's voice as he said this. "You can't say that he wouldn't have risked his life if he was not intimate with a powered person such as yourself."
"Maybe not," Ginger replied softly. She was shaking. Knives weren't much compared to bitter snows, ice crystals sending freezing shocks to her clenched stomach. "But Ah'm allowed to look at the obvious in the face, ain't Ah?"
"Muirgen." His voice fell flat.
"It is obvious. Whether ya like it or not." Ginger took in a breath. It rattled through her ribs. "'Cause Erin would've looked out into those faces and seen me."
"Muirgen," Nihil repeated, weaker but somehow more insistent, and she stopped. She tried to shove the memories off her body, but she couldn't shake the cold. The cold wasn't just memories, and it froze her to her core.
"They want to kill us," was all she could seem to whisper after a long silence. "They really want to kill us."
"I am aware."
"Yeah." She sniffed and looked at him. He was touching the side of his neck. The skin was a darker shade of brown there, with thin layers that could be seen by an observant eye-his gills. He was interspecies. She was a powered person.
There'd be people who'd take one look at them and not see two people, but two problems infecting society. Two problems whose only solutions were supression, or segregation, or elimination.
She inhaled sharply. It felt like a cold knife had slowly trailed the length of her spine, threatening to sink its tip further than skin deep.
"Ah'm sorry for bringing that up," she whispered.
"What are you going to do?" was his only reply.
She looked at him, confused. "About the RPSS? Ya asking the wrong person, Nihil."
"No." He leaned back against the wall. "What are you going to do if everything you're scared of comes to fruitation? What are you going to do out all alone at camp? What are you going to if everything topples downward even further? The RPSS is under investigation currently, but who knows how far the cops will get at this point? The establishment, local or national, is distracted by three million other things, most notably attempts to try and stop the viral storms, or to better predict them somehow. Then there's the fact that at least a few of those people supposed to be investigating would much rather look the other way and let the RPSS 'fringes' do whatever they want."
"This is a huge scandal," Ginger replied, desperately trying to ignore his other questions. She shook her head."Beyond that-this is attempted murder.There's no way the RPSS can present themselves as credible anymore if they have people rounding up others and trying to force them on boats. At least, in Dilly Dally. At least, to the general public."
"Maybe," Nihil said. "But you and I both know how that goes. You think certain sentiments must only belong in shadowy corners, and then, guess what-" he waved his hands out. "The purists are out and proud uniting all the -ists and -isms, and the RPSS and the Establishment Against Intermixing of Sentient Species and anti-magic and anti-whatever-else-there-is groups are all following, getting a bigger boost to their more, what would be considered, 'less polite' sentiments. Not just that you deserve to be trained to supress your natural state or that I'm some poor 'messed up soul' because my parents decided to procreate, but the type of stuff that they usually hesitate to mention to in a more honest manner to the general public-but that they want a removal of our existence."
Ginger felt a horrible, writhing feeling take root in her stomach. She wanted to puke. Still, she said, "Well, it's not like this is new. Decades ago they would be the same way as they are now. Decades ago they were able to clamor much more publically for us to be kicked out or-or killed," her breath hitched on that word. "But Ah guess...Ah mean, that was supposed to decades ago..."
"And now they're riding on the high of the world's catostrophes and fighting under a banner of purist ideology." Nihil shook his head. "This entire world is a hallucigen-induced nightmare meant to eat our sanity."
"Honestly?" She let out a hollowed half-laugh, and attempt to try and get rid of the feeling of horror that had made itself at home with the glass. It was a disgusting slime on her skin and in her body, one she was desperately trying to wipe off before she and Nihil spent the next twenty minutes trying to recover from whatever flashbacks they were threatening to induce. "Ya right on about that."
There was a few minutes pause that was definitely not enough for them to catch their breath from that panic inducing exchange, but still Nihil returned to his orginal question. "What are you going to do?"
"About what?" She asked, more than exapserated at this point. "If the world finally suffers from a complete an' total collapse? If the fragile state of ma life finally shatters and everyone Ah love kicks the bucket? Die, probably!"
"If your parents and your friends died?" he asked. "That's what you would do? Die?"
"Ya make that almost sound like a bad solution," Ginger bitterly grumbled.
"I would tend to believe it is," Nihil replied, nodding.
"Ya act like there's a point to me livin' if everyone else dies," she muttered. "And there spam well ain't."
"That's not true."
"Ain't it, though?" Ginger looked down at the hands in her lap. They felt so cold and gross, they ought to have been actually covered in something physical. "No one will miss me. My parents an' friends an' Windsor won't be there to grieve over my pathetic existence 'cause they'll already be dead. The world's already in disaster-hell, there are entire groups at this point dedicated to my forcible removal from the frickin' mortal plane. It's not like Ah've got any other reason to live."
Nihil raised an eyebrow. "If the world tells you to jump off a bridge, you would do it?"
She snorted. "Why not?"
He shrugged. "You don't seem the type to give into peer pressure, Muirgen."
"This ain't peer pressure." Ginger waved her arm. "This'd probably be...the universe tryin' to send me a message or some nonsense."
"I sincerely doubt that that's the case." His voice sounded...strained. Ginger saw he was blinking a bit too much. Like he was trying not to cry.
Guilt hit her straight in the chest. She was hurting him by talking this way. But Nihil wouldn't have wanted her to lie. What else was she to say to being presented a situation like that? She was only alive because of her parents and friends and even her therapist. She wasn't sure how to be otherwise.
"You're pretty stubborn, Muirgen." Nihil replied. "A hot headed Dixieian."
"It'd make me tend to believe that you'd only have one type of response if someone told you to go die."
"Really?" Ginger titled her head. "An' what would that be?"
The corner of Nihil's lip upturned slightly. "Tell that person to go and shove it up the crack of their anus."
She felt something of an almost smile creep up her face. "Oh, yeah?"
"Yes." Another pause. A different tactic. "You know your parents and your friends would want you to carry on if they died."
Ginger shrugged. "What would they care? They'd be dead." Just like Erin.
Nihil shrugged back. "You're the one who believes in heaven. You tell me."
Ginger squirmed at the idea of her ma and pa and everyone else watching her commit suicide, an ugly feeling in her chest. The ugly feeling intensified when she imagined Erin watching her debate her own life right now.
He had died because he was scared of people like her being rounded up and killed.
....but genocide and suicide were different....weren't they?
Both end in death, she thought. And death's death, no matter how you play the cards....
Still, she told Nihil, "If Ah died, Ah'd be able to join 'em faster. In heaven." If she wasn't cast into hell, maybe.
"You think they could live with that guilt for the rest of eternity?" Nihil asked her. "That they were the reason you killed yourself?"
The ugly feeling took over her entire chest, making it burn. The ice was melting from the inside out, melting from an entire different kind of fear.
"Well, Ah mean, they wouldn't be living with it," she struggled. "Ya know, cause they'd be dead an' all."
"What?" she snapped. "Ah...Ah got ya point, okay? Ah might have to reconsider my plan about that sort of scenario." Nihil gave her a look. "Okay, okay, Ah will reconsider. Fine." She sighed. "Ah just...don't...like thinkin' about this sort of thing. We've been living in a hell on earth for years now. So much death and hate and violence and Ah...Ah'm surrounded by it. On the news, on the internet, now flaggin' on my flaggin' doorstep, with Erin-Erin-" she put a hand to her chest, as if that would stop the wave of pain that went through her, as if that would stop all the glass. She swallowed hard. "My boyfriend's just been murdered. People are out there in the open rantin' 'bout how they want people like you and me to get murdered. Everyone Ah love is under the constant threat of murder from viral storms and hate groups and-maybe Ah 'should' think 'bout these things. But Ah don't want to. By God," she barely suppressed a sob. "Ah don't want to."
Silence. He didn't ask her what she going to do. Instead, he took his teacup, far past warm now, and dumped its contents into the trash.
"Ya know," Ginger sniffed. "Ah'm starting to think that that tea wasn't as expensive as you said it was."
Nihil shrugged. "It serves its purpose."
"So ya actually just don't like it," Ginger replied, "Ya just use it for weird metaphors?"
"Well," he looked into the empty tea cup, "perhaps I only really like it because it's rare and expensive. People like to covet things that are put at high prices, and even I cannot purge that habit."
"Ya just dumped two cups of it in the trash, Ah'd say ya probably doing well enough."
Nihil shrugged. "Maybe. Certainly there would be people who would be upset, even if it had been manure."
Ginger wrinkled her nose. "Ya sure?"
"If it was expensive enough. If it was rare enough." Nihil replied. "If it was rare and expensive enough, people would be raving mad over it."
Her eyes narrowed. "Ah doubt poop's gonna be rare enough for that unless the next plague comes with hefty constipation."
He gave a slight chuckle. "Then let us hope that day never comes, Muirgen."
Nihil stared out past her, at a shaded window.
"The ocean is quite beautiful at this time, ironically enough."
"Is it?" Ginger sighed. The glass shards seemed to move with the rising and falling of her chest, hurting. "'course it is. It's the ocean. The ocean don't have a care in the world."
"The ocean is as it always is. Unpredictable and powerful and outlasting the world's disasters time after time."
She snorted. "Don't say that, now, or it might just disappear like the rain. Then we'd really be in trouble."
"Perhaps the rain is just waiting for a day for when it can finally come back from whatever has forced its departure." Nihil continued to stare. "In the meantime, the ocean remains. As it always does. But," he stared straight at her. "I suppose, Muirgen, you are right. I will keep waiting and watching with baited breath. In hope that the ocean doesn't leave a sudden vacancy. It is the ocean, after all."
"Why are ya lookin' at me like that?"
He tilted his head. "Looking at you like what?"
She made a face. "Are ya...tryin' ta be metaphorical or something?"
"That is for you to decide." He shrugged. But then he added, "Do you know something else about the ocean, Muirgen?"
"It would tell anything trying to get rid of it to shove it up its' land crack."
Ginger put a hand to her face. A small smile had finally broken through the shattered glass. "Ah think Ah know why we're friends now."
Nihil gave her another smile. "Really? Why are we friends?"
"'Cause secretly, ya a huge dork." She stuck her tongue out at him, and he raised an eyebrow. "Ah mean to say," she shifted in her seat, "...thanks. For talkin' this all out with me."
"You're my friend," he said. "Even if I don't usually like people. Of course I would converse with you."
"Yeah, but," she waved her hand. "Ya know what Ah mean. About, the, uh..."
"Suicide and death related matters?" He asked.
"Yeah, that." She sighed. "It was nice ta just...be able to get that outta my chest."
"Then I'm glad we were able to talk." Then he continued with, "I would still like to ask you-"
"What Ah'm gonna do?" Ginger asked. Nihil nodded, and she shrugged. "Well, since ya making me reconsider on certain...options...Ah dunno. Maybe Ah'll turn into a hermit and sail the sea, like you."
"You could join me," Nihil offered. "If you need to take up that offer, at any time."
"Nihil, Ah know ya. Ah know ya need ya space. But," she swallowed, and for some reason, there was a lump in her throat. "Thank you. For...offerin' that to me. It...means alot."
"It's no problem, really," he replied. "Though...I have another question for you."
Ginger groaned. "No more deep ones, please."
"It's not-most likely. Where are your parents? Are they waiting on the docks for you?"
"Yeah." Ginger said. "They didn't want me to come alone."
Nihil gave a slight frown. "Then you might not want to keep them waiting, Muirgen."
"Ah'm sure they won't mind," Ginger said quickly, and Nihil gave her a concerned look. "Please," Ginger pleaded. "Can we have a more normal conversation? About your travels or somethin'? Please?"
Nihil nodded. "If you want, then we can. Though I doubt my travels constitute as a 'normal' conversation topic."
"Ya know," Ginger said. "It's 'bout as close as normal as Ah'm gonna get. So it counts."
"As you wish, Muirgen," he said, and then he began to recount one of his tales from across and under the sea as she listened, rapt.