Written & Drawn By
TWILIGHT FORCE LOG Mission Night 239 Monday Memorandum, August 27:
The Gamesman was decidedly antisocial. It took the seductive persuasions of both Mrs. Ichnida and The Senator to convince their reluctant guide that helping them find their flushed teammates might be worthwhile. Perhaps he was weary of his isolation after all.
As they traveled in the direction The Gamesman calculated Alpha, The Professor, The Judge , Nopoin and Mister Cresp might be found, the Twilight Force partners tried to understand more abut him.
“There has to be more to your story,” sensed Mrs. Ichnida. “You’re way out here at the edge of the world, alone, because people keep trying to use you? Weak. What’s really going on with you?”
“Yeah,” agreed The Senator. “You could manage that kind of attention if you thought it was worth your while. My feeling is that you’re a longrider.” Ichnida and The Gamesman are not getting the reference. The Senator realizes she’s used a term that she acquired on a parallel life experience. “Longrider. That’s someone traveling far away from the scene of their crime. Did you do something bad, Gamesman?”
“Yes,” he teases. “I destroyed their sense of reality and flew in the face of their dogma. You know what they do when that happens? They try to kill me. That’s right. They come after me relentlessly, trying to kill me hundreds of ways. No one is safe around me. So many friends, family, hurt – even killed instead of me.”
“Were they trying to kill you,” asked The Senator, “because you kept beating around the bush? ‘Cause I’m feelin’ a bit tempted myself…”
The Gamesman explained, “It’s because they can’t kill me. Nothing can kill me except extreme old age. They’re trying to kill me because they know I can’t die.”
TWILIGHT FORCE LOG Mission Night 240 Tuesday Memorandum, August 28:
They drew closer to the possible location where the majority of Twilight Forcewas swept.
“Yesterday you left us hanging, Gamesy,” complained Mrs. Ichnida. “What makes you think you can’t be killed?”
He still wasn’t anxious to give details, but something about these very friendly females kept him unfolding gradually. Perhaps it was those overnight camp-outs where they’d been sandwiching him in midnight ecstasy?
“It began when I tried to kill myself,” The Gamesman said, surprising them.
“You?” Ichnida gasped. “But why?”
“It was a long time ago. I was alone. I had many opportunities not to be. I never used to be. But I learned how to push people away. And then how to keep them away. At first it was because of insecurity. My mother accidentally convinced me not to trust relationships. She left me when I was five and went off with a man who led her into alcoholism and death by liver failure. But after a while it wasn’t so much about the insecurity. Another girl friend would always come along. Then even a wife. But I rejected them before they could me. They were fools. They were more insecure than I and for less reason. Why should I suffer the indignities of emotional turmoil that fools bring upon themselves and those around them? In hope that they will suffer mine?
“Even objectively, scholars noticed the whole world becoming angrier. Driven crazy by the maddening pace of a society ever-receding from a normal person’s grasp, people were agitated. General levels of cruelty and indifference had risen. Society itself had become the bully, daring me to keep up or drop out…
“So I went to a place on Earth where people go to end their own lives.”
TWILIGHT FORCE LOG Mission Night 241 Wednesday Memorandum, August 29:
The first location where The Senator and Mrs. Ichnida hoped to find their Twilight Force companions yielded nothing. Nonplussed, The Gamesman had another place in mind and led them forth, meanwhile relating more of his strange story.
“I wanted the location of my suicide to be majestic. Beachy Head was such a place, popular among suicides. Leaving the pub in Eastbourne I caught the barman giving my driver a wink, with a nod in my direction…
“The driver asked casually, “’Vacationing, then?’…
“’And It’s right to Beachy Head? Straightaway from the airport to the pub to Beachy Head?’”
“’Sure? I hear it’s majestic.’”
“’So…just going for the view then, eh?’ asked the driver. ‘Sure, yeah, so…lot of stress back on the job I suppose?’”
“So I lie, ‘I’m not going to kill myself, if that’s what you’re insinuating.’” But once we’re there he alerts a ranger and the two of them follow me out toward the cliff.
“At the rolling tip of a 531-foot plunge directly into the water I hesitate. Is this going to hurt? No. Too high up. It will be like driving into a wall at 120 miles per hour. It will take forever to hit.
“So afraid… but…
“I dash for the edge.
“Voices protest. I step into nothingness. Weightless.
“I fall with the water. A vast tunnel opens beneath me. Like a human surge of liquid I tumble, an anthropomorphic raindrop. Sheets of showers slowly morph around me. Suspended air and water is my universe.
“Below I see churning, bubbling, coming up like a train at me…
“I awaken on a rock just out from the cliff. Two small boats are nearby, their fishermen looking puzzled.
“Thanks to the driver the story goes out.”
TWILIGHT FORCE LOG Mission Night 242 Thursday Memorandum, August 30:
Yet another location Mrs. Ichnida and The Senator hoped would be a rendezvous with the rest of Twilight Force was a bust.
“Are you stringing us along for our pussy?” asked The Senator. “Where are our people?”
The Gamesman convinced them once again that he was sincerely trying to help, and headed for a third possibility.
“More about your attempted suicide,” insisted Mrs. Ichnida.
“I tried again,” The Gamesman elaborated. “I journeyed to the northwestern flank of Mount Fuji. I went to Aokigahara, the Sea of Trees, a dark, thick, imposing silence of wooden haunts sucking up all sound, smothering everything.
“Warnings guard all entrances. Inside the forest, the thickness increases and the sun is impossible to locate, so bits of tape are here and there on the trees, people leaving obvious trails…
“The trees grow taller. As far as can be seen, absolutely nothing at all but trunks of trees and the dark canopy above them. And chilling silence.
“But I was here to die, to ceremoniously take my own life. What if some madman lunged at me, ripping me apart? I don’t want to die in a horror movie.
“Maybe I’m far enough in. I take out a special, potent mix for a quick, peaceful departure.
“Opening water, I tilt my head to take a drink. A dead woman hangs above me.
“She’s been there a long time. I’m sitting on parts of her before realizing it. It doesn’t trouble me. I take my pills.
“Slowly I see them. The face inside the tree. Bones inside the shoes lying in the mulch. A skull wedged between two branches. But they all fade…
“And I wake up in a Japanese hospital…
“And the story gets out, of course.”
TWILIGHT FORCE LOG Mission Night 243 Friday Memorandum, August 31:
Another day of arduous journey delivers no sign of the five missing Twilight Force crew.
Mrs. Ichnida wanted to know, “How much longer until this part of Borderworld is in space?”
“Soon,” answered The Gamesman. “Less than three of your days.”
“We’re not going to find them, are we?” demanded The Senator.
“It’s a complicated place, Senator,” The Gamesman reminded her. “Not built for our convenience.”
But there was one more area to check, and the women were convinced to follow The Gamesman one last time.
“While we’re traveling, finish your story,” urged Ichnida. “You tried to kill yourself twice and failed?”
“Yes,” The Gamesman continued. “After my failures in the UK and Japan, I’m swamped with media attention. When I don’t agree to any interviews they compile specials about me. “Who is this man, who survived two suicide attempts in two of the deadliest sites on Earth?” I shut it all out, turn it all off and hunker down at home…
“Suicide isn’t a public event. I purposely bump a hot toaster into my bath. The power company experiences electrical outage in our area at that very moment. All I get is enough of a jolt to be stunned…
“More hospital, more attention…
“I pull a fake gun on the Nocanowa police. One hundred and three rounds are fired at me by 11 officers. Nothing hits me, but three pedestrians and a dog are killed.
“Once out of stasis I jump in front of the maglev at rush hour. The train hits the bottoms of my feet first. My knees buckle, I fold against the car, face to the wind. When it slows down enough I slip off and the car gently stops above me.
“More attention than the President.”
TWILIGHT FORCE LOG Mission Night 244 Saturday Memorandum, September 1:
Still making their way to the final area where missing Twilight Force crew may have been trapped, The Gamesman reveals his origin to The Senator and Mrs Ichnida.
“Once I’d survived so many suicide attempts the bids for interviews and story rights poured in. I only wanted to kill myself and now I’m fucking rich…
“Part of the deal is an interview with a producer named Doc Bijak. He asks me, ‘And you still want to die?’…
“I never wanted to die so much as I just wanted the world to be a nicer place. You know, I mean… now I have all this money. And I’ve been thinking about things I could do, like help those in need. I’m feeling optimistic again…’
“’Let’s get this over with,’ he says. ‘By contract you’ve allowed us to end your life. In fact, we are obligated to try. First we offer you one of three choices for a final, assisted suicide attempt…”
“I’m like, ‘What? My agent didn’t say -‘
“’Number one: The Virtual Reality Gas Chamber. As you are painlessly asphyxiated you will be involved in a simulated trip through the cosmos, exploring planets, stars and vast nebula to classical music until you sleep…’
“’Number two: The Surprise From Nowhere When You Least Expect It. Instantaneous. That’s all I can say about it…’
“’Or number three: You step onto the platform and pull the string that will send you plummeting to certain death. It will be somewhat painful for several moments, but you control when…’
“Votes from around the world pour in. Maybe two billion people are waiting to find out how I’m finally going to die…
“’I choose none of the above…’
‘“Let the hunt begin.’ says the host…
“It’s open season on me.”
TWILIGHT FORCE Recovered Files, Mission Period 245, Sunday Memorandum, September 2:
The wall shimmers. No, not the wall, the air between it and Mister Cresp – pulsing!
And here she is, floating beside him!
“My name is Mallika!”
She’s excited. She spills her story, centuries old, to the first person who can hear her since her transformation.
Mallika is a macro electron cloud capable of splitting between several locations simultaneously, allowing her to physically appear many places at once, but never in a form more solid than light. She is a living ghost.
“My father is Dr. Gautama Singh. He believed that society was expanding incomprehensibly, that youth were being overwhelmed by easy bad choices, and he sought to protect his daughter by restricting my choices carefully. Resentful, I decided to frighten my father by disappearing, but afraid to set out on my own I hid in my father’s van, sneaking out once parked at the facility where he worked. Thinking I would hide there overnight, I found my way into the particle collider mere hours before its activation. Hiding miles into the massive underground tunnel housing the supercollider, I had no clue that shortly after the power switched on an electrical fault would cause a failsafe power abort, firing an electric discharge that would unleash tons of explosive liquid helium, wildly affecting 65 superconducting magnets around me. My decimated material body was recovered, yet somehow my existence continues as E-Cloud.”
Cresp wonders about himself. He seems almost immaterial. “No longer a material being, you struggle with your new place in the universe. How long can you go on like this? What is your purpose? And what if it never ends?”
Mallika lets out a heavy sigh. She’s relieved to have shared. But she senses something!
Everything spins. Something is horribly wrong.
end week 35…
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