The Brokenverse, Part V: Cuimhne (8)
(Warning for moderate violence, mentions of violence, talk of death, heavy/graphic suicide ideation and suicidal attempt related matters. All fandom references belong to their respective owners. NOTE: V will be in more than two halves, due to SL post length restrictions.)
It was always morning when the worst seemed to strike.
Morning when the news of Erin died came. Morning when she had come to say goodbye, for the last time, to all her friends and family.
Morning when the morning news would recap all the previous day's tragedies, when it would report the first tragedies of today.
She could hide, hide, hide in the fields of wildflowers or under the covers of her bed. But she couldn't hide from that first light of dawn breaking through, from the rising sun that would oppress the sky with its heated gaze, whose rays of light shone into her heart, revealing what she feared most, dragging it out into the open. Burning her alive.
It was breakfast when they came to tell her.
It was breakfast when she looked up from poking at her oatmeal and noticed that the camp counselors were going over to the table she sat at, looking almost ill.
It was breakfast when that first feeling of queasiness settled in her stomach, making her think oh no, what if-
And then the memory hit.
And then nothing.
Nothing, because in that brief moment, that moment that marked before and after, where her entire world turnt to dust, the memories came slamming into her like freight trains, like asteroids, like the blast of a thousand nuclear explosions all at once.
They said (the few that had somehow remained conscious) that she screamed like she was dying.
Well, now, ain't that the truth?
She woke up in the nurse's office sobbing.
At first, at the very first, it was How. How because, Ah had just talked to them yesterday and had texted them before Ah went to sleep, how because, Ah had my session over the phone just a few days prior, Ah had managed to make a stupid joke in the group chat a few days prior, they were just there, they were just there, how can they just be gone in the blink of an eye, all gone-
How do so many people cross over the line of life and death so fast, faster than the speed of anything anyone can understand?
Ginger's mother was dead. Ginger's father was dead. Dr.Windsor was dead. Grant, Rudy, Billie, Emer, Nettles and Prancer were all dead.
There has been another Viral Storm Alert-
Coming to you from the realm of Reality-
Part of the coastal of what is known as the 'city state' of Lone Star has been hit-
Affecting on the whole the minor cities of-
-vital for its hosting of the embassy of nearby merpeople's nation-
-including all associated towns-
The voice of the man on the radio in the head of the counselors had sounded so offical. Almost indifferent in a way, to the fact that her parents, her therapist, her friends, any acquaintances she might've had in the city she had been part of, the entirety of Dilly Dally-
Had been swept away in a viral storm.
Perhaps he just gotten used to death. Maybe she should've. Erin had already died. What's a little more death? What's a lot more death? What's so much more death, wiping out almost her entire support network she had had for so long?
She wanted to die.
What's a little more death?
She was going to die.
Almost everyone who had ever cared was dead, anyways.
Nihil had tried to call her. But she couldn't answer him. She knew he knew what she was thinking. But she couldn't bring herself to talk to him. It was too much. All too much. He was the only one left.
He didn't want her to die. They had talked about this before, on his submarine. But that was just talk.
And she had only 'reconsidered' her plan as part of a hypothetical.
Now everything was too real to exist. Too real for her to exist.
She was going to die.
The counselors had very much picked up the fact that she wasn't taking the news well. They watched her carefully, keeping her away from anything too sharp, allowing her to alone in her bunk while the others engaged in camp activity. Being so nice. Speaking softly. Attempting to comfort her, to encourage her to talk. Trying to persuade her, in some way, to stay alive.
But she couldn't do that now, could she?
Not without ma's smile and pa's hugs, not without her friends' jokes and quips and heartfelt messages, not without Dr.Windsor's calm reassurances.
If she couldn't even be persuaded by Nihil's missed calls, how did they think that they could ever get to her?
She was going to die.
They thought that they could watch over her. They thought that they could keep her from harming herself. But she was clever. And they were only mortal, prone to failing at some point.
She snuck out into the meadow nearby, where the wildflowers and the tall grass grew, in the dead of night, with a knife in hand.
She sat down in the middle of the field. She checked her phone's clock to make sure it was late but not too late, that she'd be done with before the morning came again, the horrible rising sun and its horrible burning light.
The knife was small, not as sharp as she'd like, but it'd do.
She'd slit her wrists and lay in the meadow until Perilous came to take her to Wynter or Gary. Till the angel of death brought heaven or hell.
Nothing really mattered anymore.
She gripped the hilt of the knife and held out her wrist.
Pressed the blade against her skin.
There was nothing to it, really. Just push and slide through. It'll be like any other time she scratched herself up, except permanent.
She nearly jumped. Looked around. There wasn't anyone there. There wasn't.
And yet, why-?
She pressed the blade again to her wrist.
It was a voice inside her head. Just a voice inside her head. And it sounded it just like-
Ginny, for the love of God, please don't do this.
Like the voice of her father.
She could've laughed. Is this what her brain was trying to do to her now? Try to prevent her from killing herself by having her hear her what her father would say?Her father was dead. It didn't matter anymore.
Ginny, Ginny please, listen to me. Just listen to me-I know you're out there, please, please don't do this.
She swallowed hard and tried to press knife harder against her skin. She couldn't do this-she couldn't bear to hear her dead father plead with her.
Ginny I can feel that you're hurt so, so much, but please! You don't need to do this! You don't need to kill yourself-please! Please! Please just hear me!
Cal, she isn't going to kill herself. She won't. She won't do this.
And now her mother had joined in, too. Reassuring her father that she wouldn't die. What was this? Some kind of intervention? Coping mechanism? She bit down on the inside of her cheek.
It's all our fault May! We should've gone with her! We knew she wasn't well enough to go by herself if anything happened to us! We should've stayed with her! And now it's all our fault! It's our fault she's going to die!
Her father sounded like he was sobbing.
She's not going to die, Cal. She's not-she won't-she won't-she can't-
Her mother was desperate.
It's all our fault! It's all our fault! Ginny please! You won't find us-Ginny! Ginny! Please! I can't-I can't-don't-
Ginny, your father and I don't want you to...*please*.
Ginger's hands were shaking. She could barely hold onto the knife. This wasn't real. In no possible way, could their voices have been real. It had to be in her head. *Why* was some strange part of her so desperate to live that it was making her hear them? Why was she doing this to herself?
And why did it have to sound so real, like they were there?
Her fingers ached. Was it just a memory? But she hadn't ever had a memory like this before. She thought back to what Nihil had said on his submarine: 'You think they could live with that guilt for the rest of eternity? That they were the reason you *killed yourself*?'
Was that what her brain was doing? Conjuring up the idea of what her parents might be thinking beyond the grave? Or was it possible that she was so far gone she could actually hear the dead?
Please Ginny, they pled in unison, please, please don't kill-kill yourself! We can't-we're so sorry-we're so *sorry* we can't be here for you, but please-
It sounded like they were breaking down completely, their voices cracking under the weight of what she had planned to do, interjected with sobs and wails. Her parents were sobbing together, and it sounded like they were there, next to her, crying out to her to not to do it, please, please, please.
She couldn't take it. Fake or real-and it was much too real-she couldn't cope with-with this of all things. To hear her parents crying, begging, all for her not to die.
Her hands were shaking too bad. Her entire body was shaking too bad. She clutched the knife harder and closed her eyes, like somehow that would help her ignore them, but they just got louder.
Please, they kept saying, crying, pleading, *screaming*. Please, please don't do this, don't let this be the end of you!
She put her hands over her ears, but the voices wouldn't stop. Even worse, she could start to hear the echoes of not only her parents, but of her friends.
Ginger, you can't-
Please, please, please, please-
She let out a soft sob. She couldn't handle this. She couldn't handle with all of them crying out to her, from God-knows-where, their voices so loud and clear and full of such agonizing pain, weeping over her, like killing herself would somehow be like a second death for them.
She let out another sob, coughing and sniffing, feeling tears run down her cheeks. "What do you want me to do if Ah can't kill myself and join all of you?" she whispered into the meadow. "What do you want me to do, then? What do you want me to do?!"
Somewhere inside her, she seemed to hear an echo of Dr.Windsor's voice-call.
The other voices repeated the phrase, loudly, desperately imploring, call, call, call, call!
She took out her phone with her other hand. She could barely open it with her trembling fingers. She dropped it when she got to the contacts page. She couldn't even look at their names. They were written in her phone like they were alive but they were dead, and somewhere in between death and her own imagination they were crying out to her to call someone.
"Who'd'ya want me to call?" she whispered. Her grip tightened around her phone, like she was going to snap it in half. "Who can Ah even call? All y'all are dead!"
Call, they were still pleading, call. Like that would save her.
And then she thought, as her eyes drifted down the page-Nihil.
She clicked on his name and shakily held her phone to her ear. It only rang once before he answered.
"Nihil?" she asked quietly.
"Muirgen," he said, sounding a little bit relieved. "Are...are you okay? Are you-I tried to call you, but you weren't answering, and I was worried-"
"Yeah," Ginger sniffed. " 'm sorry about that. Ah...Ah..." She tried to swallow the lump in her throat.
"Were you going to kill yourself?" he asked her.
She looked at the knife in her hand. "Y-yeah, Ah...Ah was gonna do it now, but then Ah..." she shivered. "Ah started...hearing these...these voices of....of my parents an'...friends..."
"And they were saying-?"
"They were...they were telling me not to die," she started to cry harder. "They were beggin' me all not to die, just weepin' and wailin' as if they weren't already dead! An' then they told me ta call you and Ah...and here we are, Ah guess."
"Ah...I see," he replied. She could hear him let out a sigh at the other end of the line. "And...are you still planning to kill yourself?"
"Ah..." she looked her fingers, loosely curled around the knife. "Ah...Ah want to, but after hearing that, after hearing them all...like they were real. An'...maybe if Ah didn't believe in the afterlife so much, but if there's a chance that they're really...really up in heaven or what have ya, ta know that...this is what'd they'd be thinking...."
"They didn't want you to die with them, that's for sure," Nihil said.
"Ah know!" she almost yelled back, and then immediately regretted it. "Ah know," she said again, softer, "Ah know that if....when ma and pa...whatever they were doin' when...when the storm hit...they'd've....they'd've been thinking 'well, at least Ginny's safe in camp' because they wanted me to outlive all of this trouble, but Ah can't!" she cried, "Ah just can't!"
"Why not?" he asked her.
"You know w-there's no bloody point in carrying on if they're all dead!" she exclaimed.
"I think the point," Nihil said slowly, "is to keep living on in spite of their deaths."
"Ah...maybe. Ah dunno anymore, Ah just..." She bit hard on her lip. "Ah don't how Ah'm going to make it without them. They all...they didn't deserve this. Out of all the people who managed to survive...why me? Why do Ah-why is it just my luck that Ah get to be the 'last one standing'?!"
"I don't know if there is a 'why' other than the reason being 'circumstance,'" Nihil told her. "I...You are right that they didn't deserve this. No one deserves this. This is..." He let out another frustrated sigh. "Muirgen, I don't know how to fix everything. I don't know why things ended up this way. I don't know how long the world is going to manage before the sun blows out or the planet breaks apart or the viral storms burn us all alive. But you-while there's still a world, there's still hope. Hope for...for something. You've lost far too much out there, something-something you can't replace, but there's...there has to be a way out of this."
"And what would that be?" she whispered. "What 'way out of this' is there when what Ah've lost is 'irreplaceable'? What hope left is there? Hope for-for new friends, maybe?" She barked out a bitter laugh. "Ah...Ah don't think Ah'll be making any new friends any time soon."
"You can come with me. Once your camp finishes. Or before then. Tell me where it is, and I'll get there. I promise you. We'll find whatever good is left in the world together. I will do anything-Just please don't die, Muirgen," Nihil pled with her, his voice cracking, sounding like the ones now only whispering, please, please, please.
Nihil was still here. Nihil was still alive. For now...she still had one friend alive who wanted her to stay living...and everyone else who was dead seemed to demand she keep on living.
And who was she to deny them?
She wanted to die, but she couldn't do it with the sound of her ma and pa weeping over her, panicked and guilty. She couldn't do it with the pleas of her friends in her head-or of the plea of Nihil. She just couldn't.
"Oh....okay," she said. "You come over here real quick an'...we'll figure somethin' out. Okay? We'll...Ah won't, ah, slit my wrists or nothing, and...we can work this whole 'living' thing out. Together. Okay...?"
"Alright. Yes. Thank you, Muirgen. I will try to be there as soon as I can." He said, and then she thought she heard him say faintly, from the other side of the line, Thank merciful God.
The lump in her throat seemed to grow at the thought of how she had made Nihil feel. "Ah...Ah'm sorry..."
"For uh..." she looked out into the empty field, "...tryin' ta...kill myself an' all. An'....makin' ya worry about me."
She heard him let out a slight, broken laugh. "I'm just glad you're still alive."
Her fingers twitched around the handle of the knife. "Yep."
"I...I have been having a little trouble with my...my parents," he said. "So it's a relief to know that you'll be...still there."
"Your parents?" Ginger asked, and then the realization dawned upon her. "Your...ya parents were still in Dilly Dally, in their beach house, when the storm hit," she whispered in horrror.
She could imagine his bitter smile as he said, "I'm afraid so, Muirgen. It's...it's not been a very pleasant time, to say the least."
"Ah'm so sorry," she whispered.
"I...I'm just glad you're alive," he repeated. "I'm glad you've...reconsidered, as it were."
"Ah...Ah can't really die with the voice of my parents yellin' or-or hearing you being scared for me," she shuddered. "Ah'm....ah should probably go back to bed or somethin'. Ah'll text you the location of the place, an' you can come down here. Ah'll be waitin' for you. Ah promise."
"Thank you," Nihil said, with more emotion than she had thought she had ever heard him express in his entire life. "I'll be there as soon as possible. You should probably get back to bed. Are the counselors-?"
"They've been trying to watch over me," she supplied. "Tryin' to make sure, that well...Ah didn't try an' pull anything like this. Better get back into my bed without this here knife so that they don't know they almost failed."
"Yes," Nihil said slowly. "You should probably go do that."
She stood up. The knife slipped out of her hand and fell onto the grass.
"Ah am," she replied, trying to sound steadier than her trembling body felt. "'Nite, Nihil. Ah'll...be talking to you next morrow."
"Ah...Ah love you," she blurted.
She thought she heard him chuckle softly, sadly, or perhaps it was just static. "I care very deeply for you as well, dear Muirgen."
She swallowed, "Yeah...," and stared for a final time at the knife laying in the ground. The voices had quietened down almost completely, but she had a feeling if she tried to pick up the knife, they'd come back again, just as desperate and pained as before.
Someday, she might lose this fight. Someday, their voices would cease and she might just finish what she tried to start. She didn't believe in herself to be particularly resilient. She had but the faintest, smallest speck crap of hope for the future. Someday might come, and someday she might die.
But today was not that day.
She walked back to her cabin and climbed silently in through the bathroom window, and then into bed.
"If you can hear me," she whispered to the silent voices in her head. "Ah hope you're happy Ah'm alive. Because...Ah don't know if Ah'll ever quite feel happy ever again, without you with me." She curled into a ball on her side and shut her eyes, pretending to sleep.
She'd text Nihil tomorrow, and make a plan with him.
Ginger arrived back into the present with the grace of a drunk pelican attempting to stick a landing. She felt the last threads of the memories leave her fingertips, only for the present ones to stick her right in the palms.
She had not intended to go through those memories.
She rubbed her eyes, blinked a few times, and looked around the Chief's room. It didn't seem to be any darker in here than it had been before, and nothing looked any different. She glanced over at the large, mechanical clock next to the closet doors and confirmed that it had only been a few minutes.
Time was strange with memories. Ginger could run through a lifetime of memories in moments if she wanted to, or savor one memory for days. She was glad she hadn't been out for days, but was still worried at how all those memories-all those emotions-had been crammed into such a little amount of time. She could feel several distressing, sorrowful memories sticking all over her skin, sinking deeper and deeper the more she felt herself return-the taste of salty tears, the rawness of a throat that had screamed too much, the pain of various wounds all over her body, of the scars that they brought. It was not at all doubtful that the council had felt the sheer intensity of those few minutes as she had.
"Ah'm gonna get flaggin' fired if Ah keep this up," she groaned, tilting her head back against the wall and closing her eyes. In an attempt to bring serenity to herself, she thought of the ocean, of the memory of just the feel of powerful, gentle waves against her body, of wet sand on her feet. It took a bit, but she was quite practiced, and soon, she could feel the shift in the memories she was drawing, calm ones, even happy ones-the scent of flowers, the warm feeling of a full stomach, a quiet whisper of a reassurance. She tried to not think of how much of a fool she had been, but once she felt everything she was drawing in had turned calm, she scolded herself in the back of her mind. Stupid, foolish, girl, if that wasn't a slip, then ya must be Bergstorm! It's a wonder the chief hasn't traced this nonsense back to your sorry butt!
Well, that's because the Chief didn't know that her power was memory based.
After she had left Nihil to his submarine, after she had left Sithy to the Bus and the Resistance, and came to the Colony in search of their promise of safety, she had originally began to work as some sort of temporary maid in the Chief's house, before she'd be transferred to work on one of the farms. But then it soon became clear that Ginger was useful for something more than cleaning or farming-allieviating nightmares. Because she spent the nights soothing herself to sleep with pieces of happy memories, the effect had carried over to the Chief, making her dream of happier times instead of the horror that seemed to plague her sleep. It didn't take long for the Chief to figure out that the Ginger was the source of her better dreams (though she didn't know the specifics of how) and soon she had gotten the job of 'personal assistant'-staying up from dusk until dawn every night of the week, abosrbing herself in happy memories so that she would draw them from the Chief, in order to help her sleep. Sometimes the council would ask her to do some chore or other for them, but that was usually in the late afternoon. She slept during the mornings. The oblivious darkness of sleep kept her away from the awful morning light. Kept her away from all the horror it seemed to bring.
She sighed, thinking of what Dr.Windsor would think, that she was using all her tools and training in order to force herself to be happy for other people for a living. Dr.Windsor'd probably be displeased, at the very least. But it's how she paid-well, that might change now that she was considered a criminal, but it was how she had managed so far. Performing a job where she was required to 'just be happy.' Well, perhaps she couldn't manage much of real happiness anymore, but she seemed to have gotten down forced happiness quite well. The irony of it all almost made her laugh.
Then she thought of Nihil, and felt a pang of longing in her heart. He had fulfilled his promise and she had taking up his offer to stay with him, for a little while. And it was nice, it was really nice to travel the ocean waters, and to stay with someone who cared about her-but Nihil wasn't used to living with other people, no matter how much he insisted her staying with him wasn't draining. And as much as she loved the ocean and to explore its depths, she found herself longing for a more permanent stay on the surface, a place all by herself. And so she went back to a life on land, promising to keep in touch with Nihil (which she did) and found the Bus, and then, Lonzy. And she had enjoyed the travelling of the bus in the same sort of way she had enjoyed the travelling of Nihil's submarine, and she especially enjoyed Lonzy's company the most out of all her bus mates (though they were quite nice, as well). But then Lonzy had decided she was going to go join the Resistance, and Ginger felt as though she had to find a place to stick it out once and for all. And what better place than the remote, rural Colony, with its promise of safety and security, with its chief who could create a whole force field around the place and maintain it day and night?
But she did regret the fact that her communications was so limited. She had told Nihil before hand that she probably wouldn't be able to talk to him much at all anymore due to the Colony restrictions, just to make sure he didn't worry, and he had said, "I trust you."
He trusted her to carry on. She barely had that much faith in herself. She forced herself to be happy all night long, slept all morning, and then stayed in bed the rest of the day unless she was required to do some menial task by the council. She knew she should probably go for a walk or bake or knit or do something, something that might help her cope better, but she just didn't have the energy. The sorrows of the past were locked deep within a box inside her chest, and most days she felt like a dark, heavy cloud hung over the entirety of her being, with the occasional feeling of aches and pains in the whole of her body. Her job cost most, if not all, of her energy. She struggled to change her dress daily, to take a shower every week so that she wouldn't smell too bad. She tried to eat at least twice a day, but it was hard to get up from bed. She could play happy all anyone liked, but the act was tiring on her already tired body.
On the other hand, at least she was still alive.
And now she had taken it upon herself to tangle herself in the probably dangerous secrets of the council, had entertained the idea of going through their memories, finding out whatever it was they knew about the wrongness in the world and, most likely, somehow delivering this information to Lonzy. She was already branded a criminal, trapped in a cell made of energy, so the idea of being able to deliver information without being caught sounded like a far off dream. Then there was the fact that shifting through the minds of the Chief and the rest of her council without their consent disturbed Ginger to her core. The last time she had done something like that....well, she had been under the threat of death, and the memory of the experience made her shudder with sickness.
But what other choice did she have? When she had tried to go about this the lawful way, doing what the Chief said she should do, the Chief had thrown her in jail and called her a traitor.
Then again...whatever it was that the Chief was hiding, it must've been terrifying enough for her to attempt to backtrack on what she had told Ginger and completely deny it.
Ginger sighed. She had thought Hollyvand had been safe, even though she should've known there was trouble around with the tensions high enough in central Dilly Dally for riots to break out in front of the merpeople embassy, before Erin's death. She had thought the Colony had been safe, even though its emphasis on security should've tipped her off on the idea that the Colony was hiding more from just purists and bandits. She was starting to think that her judgement in the safety of a place just sucked.
She wondered what Lonzy would do. She knew that Lonzy would be more than a little upset at the way the council had treated her. Lonzy had wanted her to come with them, to flee the Colony and go on their adventure. She probably wanted Ginger to use the 'TARDIS key' to somehow pilot Candy Man's machine somewhere far away. But even if Ginger could escape through the energy walls of her cells...she was so tired of running and hiding. She touched the chain of her oyster locket. The last time she ran and hid away, it hadn't ended well, anyways. She would try to combat her repulsion, and attempt to get to the bottom of what was going on with the council. At the very least, just so she could know what was really going on.
Ginger wondered what Lonzy was doing. If she was okay. If she had managed to convince the Sailors to take her somewhere she could find the answers she was seeking, the answers that would save the world from total destruction. If even from this far away, Lonzy could feel her through the Force, could feel her conflictedness, her tiredness, her pain.
Ginger shifted her position on the floor so she was laying on her side. The wooden floor wasn't terribly comfortable. She supposed she could ask for a blanket or something when they brought her her next meal, if they brought her her next meal-she was thinking that they would, considering in all her more normal interactions with the council, they came off as uptight but not cruel enough to the point of denying her food, and besides, they probably knew she couldn't do that good of a job on an empty stomach. She hoped she wasn't wrong about them.
She considered that Lonzy could probably feel her through the Force from however far away she was. The Force was a powerful thing, as both Lonzy and the Star Wars movies had informed her.
Ginger thought that, even without having the Force, she would know in her heart if anything ever happened to Lonzy.